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A year after gas disaster, community shows resilient spirit

by Paul Tennant, Eagle Tribune

Last year’s gas disaster failed to break Lawrence’s time-honored ability to fight back.

The Community Spirit celebration at the Stadium Plaza on Winthrop Avenue provided ample evidence that this old mill city just doesn’t give up. Lawrence’s young people – its future – played a prominent role in the Saturday afternoon festivities.

The Lawrence High School Dance Company, led by Quity Morgan, wowed the crowd with energetic hip-hop steps. They also taught the audience how to dance to the music.

The young members of the company proudly wore shirts with the message “I am Lawrence.”

Noah Peña, 6, got up on the stage and sang “One Small Voice.” Noah was among several students of Kelsy Duran, a Lawrence voice teacher, who demonstrated their vocal talent.

Shantell Jiminian, 14, a freshman at Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School, sang “Pricetag” in English and Spanish. The song expresses the message that “people should love each other,” despite their differences.

The Lawrence High dancers screamed with delight at her performance.

Jariel Ontivero, 8, a third-grader at the Lawrence Family Development Charter School, pleased his listeners with his rendition of “Love.”

The fires and explosions of Sept. 13, 2018, left thousands of residents of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover without gas service. They could not take showers in their own homes, most could not cook and with winter right around the corner, they were without heat.

The disaster claimed the life of one man, Leonel Rondon, 18, who was remembered Friday with a memorial Mass and the dedication of a square in his honor.


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