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Year in review: Key events of 2013 left indelible mark on Boston

Yawu Miller | 12/30/2013, 1:26 p.m.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the longest serving mayor in Boston history, told a packed crowd at Faneuil Hall last March that he would not seek re-election. (Photo courtesy of Mayor Menino’s Office)

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Police SWAT teams converged on the area of the bomb explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last April.

From the departure of Mayor Thomas Menino and the resulting political shakeup to the school assignment policy, Boston underwent major changes in 2013, and not all of them good. The tragic marathon bombing and ensuing days-long manhunt for the perpetrators also left an indelible mark on the city.

The year rolled in quietly, with newly-elected U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren holding a swearing-in ceremony at Roxbury Community College, a move seen by many as an acknowledgement of the pivotal role the state’s black, Latino and Asian voters played in her election.

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(Michael Ivins/ Boston Red Sox photo)

David Ortiz was named most valuable player for the 2013 World Series.

In March, the Boston School Committee voted to change the school department’s three-zone controlled choice system for the first time since 1989. Racial and ethnic classifications had been dropped as a factor in school assignments in 1999, but parents had lobbied to keep the existing three-zone plan in place to afford families more choices. Then, in 2012, a renewed call for a return to neighborhood schools and an end to busing prompted the latest changes to the policy.

Under the new policy, which will go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year, the school department will generate a list of every school within a one-mile radius of a student’s home, and will include nearby schools in the top-tier of student performance. Parents can rank their choices on the school department generated list. The assignments will be made by lottery.

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The 150th anniversary of the first black Union regiment’s attack on Fort Wagner in South Carolina was celebrated at the State House in Boston on July 18. Among the speakers was Gov. Deval Patrick, who laid a wreath in front of the Robert Gould Shaw Monument, dedicated to the memory of the 54th Regiment. Seated center is Winifred Monroe, the only living granddaughter of Henry Monroe, who was a 13-year-old drummer boy on that fateful day.

In one of the more disappointing developments, the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center abruptly shut its doors in February, in the midst of federal and state investigations into the institution’s finances. Employees were left without paychecks and patients were re-assigned to other community health centers. In April, Attorney General Martha Coakley placed RoxComp in receivership. The Warren St. building is likely to be sold to cover the health center’s debts.

In March, an independent audit of Roxbury Community College detailed serious shortcomings in the administration of the school, including misallocation of resources and the underreporting of crimes on campus. RCC President Terrance Gomes resigned. In June, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education approved the RCC Board of Trustees’ selection of Valerie Roberson as the new president of the college.

Also in March, Menino ended weeks of speculation, announcing he would not run for reelection as mayor. The mayor’s announcement led to an outpouring of thanks for his 20 years of service to the city and unleashed a tidal wave of pent-up political ambition as three city councilors gave up the safety of their seats to vie for the corner office.

In all, 12 candidates threw their hat in the race for mayor and 19 for the four at-large City Council seats. And even more running for District Council seats. Menino’s announcement seemingly paved the way for a summer filled with candidate forums, mass mailings, robo calls and door-to-door campaign volunteers.

April 15, 2013 will likely go down in history as one of the most terrifying days the city has endured after brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonated two bombs near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring 264. Many Bostonians were gripped by fear in the minutes and hours following the bombing, wondering whether and when another bomb would detonate.