Wednesday evening, the Beecher Road School Parent Teacher Organization held its annual back to school Ice Cream Social. As with other years, it was a well attended event. Sen. Joe Crisco and State Rep. Themis Klarides were both on hand to help PTO members, Superintendent Guy Stella, and members of the staff serve ice cream to students, parents and community members.
Parents sat in lawn chairs and compared notes of summer vacations and hopes for the coming school year as children ran around with their friends or danced to the music of a DJ.
Wednesday was a particularly hot day and many enjoyed the cold ice cream. Others talked about the effect of the heat on education. The Horace Porter School in Columbia, CT closed early because of the heat on Wednesday and the Laurel School in Bloomfield, CT is closing early today because of the heat. While there are currently no plans to close Beecher Road School early because of the heat, such a move would create complications with bus routes.
Beecher Road School appears to be adequately handling the current heat wave. While there have been scattered reports of students heading to the nurse's office because of the heat, it has not been at such a level that the administration has needed to take action, and so far, there is only one report of a class having to be moved because of excessive heat.
Indoor air quality has a significant impact on education which needs to be carefully considered at Beecher Road School. Events like the BRSPTO Ice Cream Social provide an important opportunity for members of the community to gather for a fun social event, as well as to share concerns about what is best for long term education in our town.
(Cross posted in the Woodbridge Citizen.)
With a week left before proposals are due to the town of Woodbridge, CT concerning the purchase or long term operations of the Country Club of Woodbridge, I have been asked to provide my thoughts about how the club has been run over the past two years.
For those not acquainted with the recent history of the club, in 2009, The Woodbridge Country Club experienced financial difficulties. Instead of the land being sold to a developer, the town stepped in and purchased the property. For the past two years, the club, renamed the Country Club of Woodbridge has been run for the town by a management country. Now, the Town of Woodbridge is seeking either a long term manager or a buyer.
I live approximately three quarters of a mile from the club. I have walked to the club to sled on its hills in the winter, just as my wife did when she was younger and would walk with her parents and grandparents to go sledding at the club.
Much of the focus of the current management has been on the golf operations and although I worked as a caddie about forty years ago, I am in no position to comment on that aspect of the operations. I also have eaten at the club restaurant from time to time. I was disappointed that the chef who had been at the club in 2009 did not return in 2010. I believe he provided real value to the club. I am glad that the town's Request for Proposals has asked all bidders to address issues of retaining current staff.
The aspect of the club that I have used most has been the pool. We were one of the first families to sign up for pool and tennis membership in both 2009 and 2010. I have used the pool extensively. In 2009, the pool didn't open until late in the season, and not many people joined. It often felt as if I had a great private pool to use in 2009. 2010 has been a different year. There have been days during 2010 which saw more people use the pool that used it in all of 2009.
As with any operation, there are minor things I would like to see done differently, yet all in all, through the difficulties of these first two years, the pool operations have been excellent. It is my hope that whomever buys or enters into a long term agreement to manage the club continues to run the pool the way it has been over the past two years.
The Town of Woodbridge has made a wise decision in purchasing the club and handling its operations as it has for these first two years. Hopefully, the decisions made by the town concerning the future operations will be as wise as these initial decisions and the people of Woodbridge will have this wonderful facility remain available, boosting the value of all the properties in town.
(Cross posted at the Woodbridge Citizen.)
It is already hot, sticky and hazy at quarter of nine in the morning as I drive Fiona to camp. The town recreation director is sitting at the entrance to the camp dressed up in a silly outfit to welcome the young campers. “Oh yeah, I forgot about that,” exclaims Fiona.
I drive the old black car through the slalom of small cones to get to the drop off point. As we approach, Fiona shouts out, “Oh, I see two of my friends”. The green is covered with counselors wearing their Woodbridge Recreation Department T-shirts.
I pull the car to a stop and Fiona says, “I think I’m a mermaid this year”. Yup. Her group this year is called the mermaids. A counselor approaches the car and Fiona rolls down the window greeting the counselor saying, “I missed you so much”. The counselor checks what grade Fiona is going into and they are gone.
No longer are there tears of departure, fears of how much she will miss mommy or me, or other protestations. Nope. She is out of the car without so much as a ‘bye’, or ‘thanks for the ride’.
And so, summer camp begins.
(Cross-posted at the Woodbridge Citizen.)
Perhaps the pinnacle of theatrical experiences is when we become so immersed in a production that we are watching that we forget the theatre we are sitting in, and willing suspend any disbelief that we have somehow been transported to some fantastic other world taking place on the stage. For me, Amity High School’s production of Les Miserable failed to reach that pinnacle. I was all too aware that I was sitting in the high school theatre, next to my eight year old daughter, about whom I worried if she would be able to make it through a three hour production well past her bed time. Also sitting next to me was my wife, decompressing after a long drive home from Hartford after a vehicle fire had closed I-91. Beyond them was my mother-in-law, my priest and his wife, my daughter’s school bus driver, and many friends from about town gathered for this important social event. This suspension of disbelief was further challenged when the smoke machines set off the fire alarms during Act II.
Beyond this, was the music of Les Miserable; much of which I knew by heart, and somehow, a 19th century France where the only communication is by people singing in English makes a suspension of disbelief more difficult. As the musical started, my mind wandered to political implications. In the opening scene Jean Valjean learns that his criminal background prevents him from finding gainful employment. Of course this was two hundred years ago, and we don’t have issues like that in twenty first century Connecticut, right? This year’s “Ban the Box” bill which would made it illegal for the state and businesses that contract with the state to ask applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime during the first round of review, failed to make it out of committee.
Yet there was, perhaps, a more important willingness to suspend disbelief taking place at Amity High School last night. While the production failed to completely transport me to 19th century France, I did forget that I was not at a professional production. Early on when Marla Morris, in the role of Fantine, sang “I dreamed a dream”, my mind wandered to the sensation Susan Boyle created when she sang that song on “Britain’s Got Talent”. Yes, Simon Cowell might have some snide comment Marla Morris’ performance, but you won’t find comments like that from me. I thought her performance was stellar. It set the stage for high expectations for the rest of the night.
With this, I wondered how well Dalia Medovnikov would be able to carry off the great song “Castle in the Cloud”, in her role as the young Cosette. I was not disappointed and instead look forward to seeing her perform in a starring role at Amity High School when she is older.
Of course, the real star of the show was John Jorge in the role of Jean Valjean. After his performance as Roger Davis in last year’s production of Rent, there was little doubt that he would make an excellent Jean Valjean. This role demanded much more versatility as we followed Valjean through the years, and Davis carried it off with exceptional talent.
Ken Adair, after his success as Benjamin Coffin III in Rent last year, turned in another great performance as Valjean’s nemesis, Javert. Likewise, Connor Deane, after his success as Tom Collins in Rent last year, provided another strong performance, this time as Marius, and it was great to see Alli Kramer in her role as Eponine.
It has often been said that many standing ovations are caused by people wishing to get to the parking lot and head home, and it could easily be imagined that after a three hour performance, some people might stand for that reason. Yet that was not the case at opening night. Instead, the audience stood and clapped and did not move. Even after the house lights came up, there was no rush to leave. My eight year old daughter, barely still awake reveled in the experience, telling friends that she liked it even more than Mama Mia which she had seen at the Bushnell in Hartford.
No, the Amity High School production of Les Miserable did not transport me to nineteenth century France. Instead, it transported me to a small community in Connecticut that values the arts and has high school musicians delivering performances that exceeded many professional performances that I’ve seen. That is a place I’m much happier to have been transported to.
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes
(Cross posted at the Woodbridge Citizen.)