Local Coverage about events in the Town of Woodbridge, CT

Earworms, Halloween, Babbit and Picking Up The Pieces

I’ve been suffering from an earworm infestation recently. Earworms,those snippets of songs you get into your mind and can’t get out. For people of my generation, Minnie Ripperton’s “Loving You Is Easy because you’re beautiful” lyrics may come to mind when we think about earworms. If you have a kid at home who likes Degrassi High the words, “Maybe there’s a shark in the water” is likely to come to mind.

There’s a blog called something like “Picking up the pieces...” that I’ve been stumbling across a bit recently and every time I see it mentioned, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Carefree Highway” comes to mind:

Picking up the pieces of my sweet shattered dream
I wonder how the old folks are to night

This morning, I read the latest on Facebook from Sarah, a friend who recently lost her father. Yesterday, in the middle of the night, she wrote

Massive flight delays, flight changes, hotel vouchers, and one LONG middle seat flight later, I'm in Phoenix.

Eight hours later, she posted

Westward bound, to San Diego and Dad's funeral mass. Gonna be a tough day; feeling very grateful for the support of family and friends. And hugs. Always grateful for hugs!

Then, earlier today, she posted another the lyrics from a song that has also seemed to be an earworm for me recently.

"And He will lift you up on eagles' wings, bear you on the breath of dawn-- make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand."

I remember singing this at many funerals, most recently my cousin’s. I also remember the way it was twisted in a stunning production of Richard 3, and depending on my mood either version becomes my earworm.

When Sarah’s father died, she posted

Our cowboy just rode on to more peaceful pastures. Godspeed, Dad. You will be missed each and every day.

On Thursday, State Rep. Mike Lawlor wrote:

Its happy hour in heaven. Eileen Purcell McNamara Lawlor had a great run. She loved her family and her friends. She will certainly be missed.

When I wrote about my uncle’s passing, a friend commented about how Roger was always the perfect gentleman. Somehow, I could easily see him waiting at happy hour ready to offer Eileen a drink. I imagine Flo Woodiel being there as well, along with Kim’s mother and grandparents. A year ago, a friend named Carol ended her battle with Leukemia as did Irv a year and a half ago. I imagine them there and perhaps even Rocky, my high school classmate that was murdered thirty four years ago this October.

So, it was with an eagle’s wing’s earworm that I took my daughter the the Beecher Road Parent Teacher Organization’s big fundraiser of the year, the Halloween Hoot. Fiona quickly found her posse and ran off to the haunted house and other attractions. She is old enough to do that fairly well, but I felt it was important to stay at the school in case she needed something. We agreed that I would sit in the corner of the cafeteria where I could quietly sit and read.

A while ago, I had loaded an eBook of Sinclair Lewis’ Babbit on my cellphone. I sat down and read for a while. Babbit’s growing disillusionment with the American Dream and the vacuous lives of himself and is friends mingled with the hymn about death and the Halloween Hoot.

I looked around the room. These are good people in a small town. Many were focused on their little cats, cows, ladybugs, witches, or princesses. There were several Mario’s this year joined by a sumo wrestler and a taco. The taco costume was pretty cool. The kids all seemed to be having a great time, except for one toddler who had been overstimulated and was melting down. If the parents got a chance, they would exchange a few simple words with other parents. Some were in mourning because the Yankees lost last night. Others talked about getting pumpkins or even politics.

And He will raise you up on eagle's wings...

Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, or All Saint’s Eve, comes from the combining of two traditions. One is Samhain, a Gallic harvest festival. It is celebrated at the end of the harvest as the border between this world and the otherworld grows thin. All Saint’s Day, in Western Christianity is November 1st. It is a day to remember the saints who have gone before us. A hymn that I’ve always loved from All Saint’s Day is For All The Saints.

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

So, the Halloween Hoot: I sat in the corner, reading George Babbit’s disillusionment with the world around him. I looked at the good people around me, and thought how I could likewise be disillusioned. Yet at the same time, I was aware of the thinness between this world and the next, of how we are all born astride the grave, and the earworms crawled in, the earworms crawled out, the earworms played pinocle... No, another earworm.

Fiona returned to drop off her bag of goodies and run elsewhere. The Super Mario’s blithely ran around the cafeteria. Maybe Babbit is right, or maybe there’s a shark in the water. Maybe we are all just picking up the pieces of various sweet shattered dreams.

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Teacher Changes Bring Large Turnout to Woodbridge Board of Education Meeting

The reassignment of a second grade teacher to be a reading specialist and the hiring of a new teacher to fill her place brought out one of the largest crowds to attend a Woodbridge Board of Education meeting in recent years.

Over the summer Language Arts Specialist Diane Krivda accepted an assistant principal position at the Bethany Community School. Ms. Krivda was a valued member of the Beecher Road community and it was with mixed feelings that her resignation was accepted. There was sadness that a great educator was moving on mixed with joy about the continued success of her career.

Pizza Comes to Blue Check

Blue Check Pizza

Saturday afternoon, Woodbridge citizens lined up at Blue Check Deli at the corner of Amity and Center Road to celebrate the grand opening of Blue Check’s pizza and sample some of the first pies out of the oven. Blue Check Deli has been a family owned business in Woodbridge serving sandwiches since 1976. It has been a long process to get the ovens installed ,working just right, and to refine the recipe.

The town of Woodbridge borders New Haven, a city famed for its pizza. Many people in the Greater New Haven area have stronger opinions about pizza than they do about politics or religion. I have not seen research indicating the apizza preferences of Woodbridge residents, but people waiting for second slices at Blue Check compared their first slices favorably to Sally’s in New Haven with the added advantage of it being just around the corner.

Besides more common pizzas like cheese or pepperoni, Blue Check offered broccoli rabe pizzas, bacon pizzas, and steak, pepper, and cheese pizzas. An exact menu and pricing was not available, but the folks at Blue Check said that the pizzas would be priced competitively.

The initial hours in October will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 2:30 until 8:30. Extended pizza hours will be announced later, although there are not currently any plans start delivery any time soon.

(Cross posted at the Woodbridge Citizen.)

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Exit 59 Traffic Study Public Meeting

On Wednesday, October 6th from 6 pm to 8 pm, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, together with stakeholders from Bethany, Woodbridge, and New Haven will hold a public informational hearing about the traffic patterns around Exit 59 of the Wilbur Cross Parkway.

The meeting will take place at the Mitchell Library, 37 Harrison Street in the Westville area of New Haven. It will offer the public a chance to learn more about the study underway and provide feedback.

This is part of an ongoing process which included a stakeholders meeting at Woodbridge Town Hall back in June. There are three additional stakeholders meetings planned and an additional public meeting planned for the spring. The study is expected to continue until the fall of 2011.

Besides traffic congestion problems, environmental and business aspects are being considered. Parts of the study area are within the 100 year floodplain, and seem to flood more frequently than that. The stakeholder committee also includes members of local businesses that get impacted by the transportation problems and looks at public and pedestrian traffic as well as vehicular traffic.

There is a study website that provides more details on the study, including presentations and reports so far. Members of the public are encouraged to review the website, participate in public meetings about the study and provide feedback to local elected officials.

Note: This article was originally posted at the Woodbridge Citizen

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Beecher Road PTO Meeting

Monday, the Beecher Road School PTO held its first meeting of the new school year. Mothers, fathers, teachers and administrators were all in attendance to hear Second Grade teacher, Peter Halsey talk about the Responsive Classroom.

Mr. Halsey has been a long time responsive classroom consulting teacher. He spoke about the importance of teaching students good social skills to complement their academic skills. To do this, the classroom environment should be child centered with as much intrinsic motivation instead of extrinsic motivation as possible. Students who have choices in how they will learn their academic material will be better motivated.

Key aspects of the responsive classroom is the morning meeting and teachers not only talking about appropriate behavior, but modeling it. The teaching methodology fits nicely with the Reading and Writing Workshop methodologies that the school has adopted based on work at Columbia Teacher's College.

Woodbridge School District Superintendent Dr. Guy Stella also attended the PTO meeting and talked about how the responsive classroom related to the school climate project. This project tracks improvements in student behavior. Just as data from the Connecticut Mastery Tests is being used to continually improve the academic performance of Beecher Road School Students, data from the school climate project can be used to improve the social performance through programs like the responsive classroom.

The meeting ended with a vote to approve the PTO budget and a discussion about various PTO goals for the year. Popular events like the Halloween Hoot are returning and there are many opportunities to help with the PTO. To encourage greater participation, the PTO continues to have babysitting available during PTO meetings and is now having a raffle for attendees. All parents and teachers are encouraged to participate in coming PTO meetings and activities.

Note: This article was originally written for the Woodbridge Citizen. I encourage residents of Woodbridge to read the Citizen, and to consider writing for it.

In addition, I encourage parents in all communities to attend and write online about their boards of education and parent teacher organizations.

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