Pedro Da Silva’s Legacy

Two years ago — as a Central High School sophomore — Pedro Da Silva heard an announcement about Open Choice.

“I think I was the only one who listened,” he says, referring to the lottery that brings Bridgeport students to Westport.

Though he was in Central’s magnet school program, Pedro wanted more. “It was a tough environment to learn in,” he explains.

He was accepted. Even before his 1st day as a Staples High School junior, he noticed a difference.

Staples sealWhile registering for classes, guidance counselor Deb Slocum  “ran over the entire building, looking for an AP US History textbook for me,” Pedro says. “She went to such a huge extent to help.”

When school began, he noticed a great academic difference. He had to drop a couple of AP and Honors classes. Even so, he struggled to keep up.

“In Contemporary World Issues they were talking about the Ottoman Empire,” Pedro recalls. “I had no idea what that was.”

He wrote down everything that was unfamiliar. At home each night, he researched what he did not know.

The first month was tough. Fortunately, Pedro found his new classmates very friendly. “I thought they might be snobby,” he says. “But everyone was so nice. I noticed the atmosphere immediately. It’s so warm and inviting. Mr. Dodig (the principal) has built such an accepting school.”

Joining Staples Players and Choir helped too. “At Staples you’re not judged for liking the arts,” he says with relief.

Pedro Da Silva, standing proudly at Staples.

Pedro Da Silva, standing proudly at Staples.

Pedro acted in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” and last year’s One-Act Festival. Next month, he’s directing a One-Act. In the winter he’s on the swim team. He’s vice president of the St. Jude’s Charity Club.

Now — as he prepares to graduate in June — Pedro wants to do one more thing.

He wants to leave a legacy.

Through a college application Facebook group, he met a boy in Kansas. “He lives in an area like Fairfield County, where some communities are much more affluent than others,” Pedro says. His friend created an inter-district student government. Each school sends 2 representatives. They meet monthly, sharing ideas about connecting their schools while breaking down barriers and social stereotypes.

Pedro would love to do the same thing with Westport, Fairfield and Bridgeport.

“Stereotypes are not real,” he notes. “There are really nice people everywhere.”

Central HSWhen Pedro announced he was leaving Central, his Bridgeport friends warned him that Westport kids could be snobs. Staples students have their own ideas about Bridgeport students.

“We’re all just teenagers going through the same issues,” Pedro says. “We should be able to advocate together, and learn from each other.”

Pedro has already made a start. He’s brought Central friends here, to see Players shows. Now, he’s talking to Dodig and the Student Assembly to move his idea forward.

Meanwhile, he’s waiting to hear back from colleges. And he’s gearing up for his senior internship, at the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board in Norwalk.

Pedro will leave Staples with many good friends, wonderful memories, and an important lesson.

“No matter who you are, or what your background is, you can excel,” he says. “At Staples, I’ve been able to set my sights high, and learn how to accomplish as much as I can.”

12 responses to “Pedro Da Silva’s Legacy

  1. Pedro has been such a gift to Staples. Because he came to us so late in his high school career, he was able to see us with a fresh set of eyes. It is always healthy to hear from others how fortunate our students are to live in Westport and attend its schools. What I am most proud of, however, is that Pedro found Staples staff and students to be friendly and welcoming. We work hard at that and his statements are validating. Pedro has flourished here and will use what he has learned to do great things. He has a big, caring heart. I look forward to following his career for years to come.

  2. “He wrote down everything that was unfamiliar. At home each night, he researched what he did not know.” What a fantastic practice, I only wish I’d approached high school the same way!

    It says so much about this young man, a quality that separates those excel academically – intellectual curiosity. How fortunate for Staples that Pedro came to us, and vice-versa. It also speaks volumes about his generation – this young man wants to reach out to his peers and connect and lift everyone up, together. I’m so proud of the millenial generation, they constantly amaze me.

    My own daughter graduated Staples three years ago, and she left with the gifts of curiosity, a thirst for learning, and a strong sense of service that have served her well. Hats off to John Dodig and a dedicated and talented team and all of Westport’s educators for helping our children acquire and nurture such amazing gifts. We are very fortunate indeed.

  3. Bart Shuldman

    We are not 99 and 1, we are all Americans.

  4. Roberta Tager

    Bravo to Pedro! Bravo to Dan!

  5. Susan Woog Wagner

    Sounds like an amazing kid and a wonderful addition to the Staples community!!!

  6. Love Pedro’s inter-district student government concept. I hope this becomes a reality. It would indeed be a fitting legacy.

  7. Caitlin wilson martinez

    AMAZING! Amazing job Pedro your family and friends are so proud of you! We all agree, no matter your background you can always excel! Keep your mind and spirit free and you will always see the truth in everything. Keep it up Pedro!!

  8. Sally Palmer

    I love to hear stories like this young man’s!

  9. Mary Ann West

    Picking up on Fred Cantor’s sentiment, Pedro: what help do you need to make this happen? I and I’m sure many parents would support your idea and could be a resource to create the implementation of an idea to reality.

  10. Susan Hopkins

    Pedro, hold on to your inquiring mind. It will serve you well all the days of your life.

  11. Adriana da Silva

    I am very proud of my son Pedro da Silva. I love you

  12. Nancy Powers Conklin

    What a fantastic guy with a wonderful attitude. I find it amazing that he has had such a positive experience. Good for him and for the student body and staff. We need more of this type of positive experience! I wish Pedro all the best for his future!