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Chelmsford High School Alumni Association



Established 1997

Awarding Criteria:  Will be awarded to a senior who exemplifies some of the finer qualities of Mrs. Silva. These qualities include a concern for others, a positive attitude, a sense of humor, and the ability to overcome adversity.  This scholarship requires a 500 word essay outlining how applicant has overcome some type of adversity. 

Jan Silva was an English teacher at Chelmsford High School for a long time (1981-1996). Her attitude toward her job was so positive that she was once heard to say that she and her husband (also a teacher) always started to get excited about going back to school long before vacations were over. Teaching was like “play” for her - in the sense that if you find a job you love, you’ll never “work” a day in your life. She was the kind of teacher that every parent wants for his or her child. She had high standards and brought about a high level of accomplishment in her students, while still ensuring that her classes were enjoyable - sometimes just plain fun. She is rumored to have been a fan of practical jokes as well.

Applicants for her Alumni Association Scholarship are asked to tell how they have “overcome obstacles.” Mrs. Silva serves to this day as a role model for anyone who wants to know how to make the very best of a very bad situation. Half of her adult life was spent facing the physical and emotional challenges of cancer. From the time she was first diagnosed to the time that she passed away she maintained a spirit of victory. She did not allow the pain and inevitable inconveniences to get her down to the point where she gave up. She got sick; she had treatments; she went back to work - and the cycle recurred often enough to have defeated a less determined person - all this while she and her husband were raising a daughter of whom anyone would be proud.

She exercised her option to have the best and last word when she and her priest planned her funeral. At the conclusion of the service, the assembled friends and family were treated to the playing of a recording of Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong singing “What a Wonderful World.” Now there’s a victory for you!