News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective


I’m not a sports fan, but I have a mild interest in soccer, mostly why it’s such a hit in the rest of the world, but not in the U.S. I happened to have been in Europe four years ago and witnessed firsthand the way entire countries were riveted by the fate of their team, so it did get me wondering why? This year, with the U.S. fielding a team for the first time in decades, there were ripples of interest in the World Cup. On a local level, we have our own World Cup right here in Lowell, sponsored by OneLowell, which might be a good starting place for any newly-minted or would-be soccer fans. This is the fourth annual OneLowell World Cup, and it makes a fun, affordable family outing. The dates are August 1, 7 and 8, from 8 am to 8 pm at Cawley Stadium. .

If you want to get in the mood, or see what all the fuss is about, OneLowell and the Lowell Film Collaborative are sponsoring a great soccer film: “Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos” at the Pollard Memorial Library, TOMORROW, July 16, at 1 p.m. – FREE admission, air conditioned!

posted in Local Groups, Movies, Sports | 0 Comments

Making a splash for Lowell High

According to Coach Batt (Battistini), five years ago the LHS boys swim team didn’t even have a parent representative on the Friends of Lowell High School and winning a meet was as likely as finding a shark in the pool. Fast forward to last Friday when the Lowell High Boys Swim and Dive Team, fresh off a 10-1 season that included a first ever win against Chelmsford, placed seventh in the State Division I competition held at Harvard University.  If you exclude the private school winners, such as St. John’s Prep which took first place for the fifth consecutive year, and Boston College High School, which took sixth; LHS placed fifth overall for public schools (beating Chelmsford again by 12 points). The top ten Division I teams were:  St. John’s Prep, Lincoln Sudbury Regional, Minnechaug Regional, Lexington,  Andover, BC, LHS, Chelmsford, Westford, and Amherst Pelham Regional.

Aside from the importance of winning, which IS important, most folks know there are many benefits to participating in athletics, and Lowell’s swimmers were no exception. The varsity team met the MIAA’s gold standard for grade point average (3.00-4.00), and equally impressive, nearly every Lowell swimmer who participated in the state meet improved his best-ever high school time, and isn’t that what it’s all about—doing our own personal best. (For details on some records broken, see this Sun article.) Congrats to the team, coaches, parents, and the high school for its support of student athletics. On another note, all 11 winter varsity sports at LHS achieved the MIAA’s GPA gold standard with a combined average of 3.15. Go Red Raiders! (Full disclosure: My son swims on the team.)

posted in Lowell High, Sports | 0 Comments

Kafka in New Orleans

In light (a poet’s light, that is) of the upcoming Super Bowl in New Orleans, Paul posts on RichardHowe.com about Zeitoun, a book by Dave Eggers that tells the story of a man who stayed behind after Katrina. I have been thinking about this book lately because I was also reading The Trial, by Franz Kafka and found eerie similarities between them. Of course, Kafka wrote surreal fiction and Egger’s narrative is about what actually happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American Muslim, but the sense of bureaucracy gone astray with devastating consequences is the same. Kafka, of course, prefigured much of the horrors of the 20th century in his dread-filled, often bleakly humorous works, but Zeitoun’s story is true and happened here. That’s what is so frightening. Check it out, if you wish to see what the unchecked power of the federal government can do to the individual. The word “Kafkaesque” can be applied here. I also recommend Spike Lee’s documentary:When the Levees Broke for an edgy, in-your-face depiction of the disaster. Sorry, Pats fans, but I’m glad the Saints are in – New Orleans needs the boost and, it gives us all a fresh chance to turn our thoughts to what happened there.

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Penalty for poor sportsmanship

Some may think it’s excessive, but today’s Boston Globe reports that Bud Adams, owner of the Tennessee Titans, was fined $250K for making obscene gestures to fans after his team won against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday. According to the article, after his team’s 41-17 victory, Adams made the gesture from his luxury suite and again from the field. As mentioned here in a recent post on media incivility, the nature of public discourse as a whole is steadily declining. Whether you attribute this hefty fine as arrogance on the part of the National Football League or Adams getting his just desserts for “conduct detrimental to the NFL,“ the notion that it is acceptable for an adult (Adams is 86 years old) to make an obscene gesture to fans of the losing team completely contradicts what we teach our student athletes about sportsmanship. At Lowell High School, where students are familiar with the thrill of victory (on Saturday, our boys cross-country team took first place in the Eastern Mass. Division Championship) as well as the agony of defeat, we expect respectful behavior whether you win or lose. It’s called being a good sport, and if a quarter-of-a-million-dollar fine helps Adams learn the lesson, albeit a little late in the game, I’m all for it. By the way, best wishes to our cross-country student athletes as they compete in the All-State Finals this weekend.

posted in In the News, Sports | 0 Comments

Glorious Morning

This morning, admidst swirling leaves, warm sunshine and bright blue skies, I finally got out on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail from Lowell to Westford. Between work schedules, travel, and bike maintenance issues, I hadn’t yet had the chance to try the trail, although I’ve been an avid supporter for over ten years. Today turned out to be perfect for an inaugural ride. I caught the trail by taking Stedman Street from Westford Street to Route 110, riding straight across and taking a left which let me check out the first leg, which starts from the parking lot at the Crosspoint Towers. The tunnel under Route 3 could possibly be intimidating on a dark afternoon, but was utterly benign this morning, and the presence of joggers, families on bikes and dog-walkers gave the whole trail a pleasant ambiance. I turned around at Crosspoint, biked back across Golden Cove, and met friends in Chelmsford Center where there is bike trail parking by Brickhouse Pizza – I couln’t find a website but here is a write-up from Chowhound. Our friends had stopped there on a previous bike ride and raved about the quality food and good value. The Chelmsford street crossings are a bit convoluted, routing the bikers onto narrow sidewalks at times, but really, no complaints, just happy to not be biking through the Center with traffic which I have done in the past. (This was much better!) When biking through Chelmsford, it was interesting to see how local businesses were advertising to bikers and walkers, and given the amount of people out today, it could well be a recession-buster for these enterprising companies. Leaving Chelmsford, we paralleled route 27, where we escaped traffic noise and viewed marshes, a beautiful lake (I don’t think it could be Freeman Lake, but am not sure what other lakes Chelmsford has) and gorgeous fall colors. Away from the center, even on a busy day, the trail was quiet and allowed for three-abreast biking for long stretches. Arriving at the end of the trail, about six miles from Chelmsford where Route 225 crosses 27, we turned back and retraced our path, about 12 miles in all. I’m so pleased to have finally been out on the trail, to see how well-used it is, and to enjoy this beautiful day outdoors. Thanks to Bruce Freeman who had the vision, the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail who saw it to fruition, and to all the supporters who helped make this a reality. It is truly an asset to our communities.

posted in Healthy Living, Sports | 0 Comments

LHS crew fastest public school boat in nation

Last weekend, the Lowell High School Crew Team sent two boats to the U.S. Rowing Youth National Championships in Cincinnati. Of the 142 teams from across the country that qualified for the event, LHS was one of only 20 public schools to compete in this prestigious regatta. The boys’ lightweight four (comprised of Mike McKeon, Cameron Crockett, Brandon Coombes, Josiah Todd, and Harry Finch) placed fifth overall in the grand final and was the fastest public school boat in the country! This was the third time in the past four years that the Lowell High School crew team competed at nationals. (Special thanks to Coach Jen Bauer for providing this information.)

posted in Education, Lowell High, Sports | 0 Comments

Win a SMART car!

We love “twofors”, something Dr. Baehr was famous for as, time and again, she was forced to trim the budget but always managed to salvage direct student services. This ‘twofor’ is a chance to win a gas-efficient 2008 Smart Car Fortwo (no pun intended) while supporting student learning in Lowell. Tickets to benefit ONE Lowell’s truancy prevention programs are $20 with only 2500 tickets sold. The second prize is 4 clubhouse seats to see the New England Revolution play the LA Galaxy and David Beckham. The drawing will take place at the ONE Lowell World Cup Soccer Tournament on August 3rd, at 6:00 pm, at Cawley Stadium. You do not have to be present to win, but you’ll be missing the best soccer/family event of the summer! Tickets can be purchased online or at Lowell’s newest ice cream shop, Monkey’s, 66 Merrimack Street, or Brew’d Awakening, 61 Market St. We’ll be talking more about the tournament, which looks to be even more successful and fun than last year, but in the meantime, get a raffle ticket before they’re gone!

posted in Local Groups, Sports | 0 Comments

Rowing on the river tomorrow

Let’s hope for sunshine because Lowell High School will host 22 teams at a regatta on the Merrimack River tomorrow and it’s always more fun when the sun is shining. Beginning with a boat christening at 8:30 a.m. in honor of the parents of LHS Rowing who raised the funds to buy it, the all-day competition will be centered at the Bellegarde Boathouse. The racing begins at 9:30 a.m. and will culminate in an awards ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Sampas Pavilion. Despite fierce competition among the 22 teamsmany from wealthier communities that often have newer boats, more coaches, and fancier uniforms and equipment, LHS crew students hold their own and win often. Join the LHS crew community and support our team as we continue to excel in an activity that is growing in popularity across the state. It also provides more college scholarships to our students than any other sport. Go Red Raiders crew team! 

posted in Sports, Youth | 1 Comment

Rafting on the River

Amid the joys of spring finally arrived, perhaps you’re looking for some way to get out, enjoy the weather, and have an adventure? Well, look no further than our own beautiful Concord River. Years ago, whitewater rafting was quite popular with my circle of friends and family. Disclaimer here: Rafting is not for the faint heartedit requires life jackets, wetsuits and actually paddling, but it is truly a fun and exciting adventure. We’ve done several trips down the Kennebec River in Maine as well as experienced class IV rapids in West Virginia. After 15+ years of living in Lowell, we have yet to take on our very own Concord River, and now is the time to do it while the spring rapids are flowing. (Rafting trips on the Concord River run weekends in April and May.) A whitewater gem in the heart of Lowell, the Concord River plunges rafters over three rapids: Twisted Sister, Three Beauties, and Middlesex Dam. The trip, which originates and concludes at the DoubleTree Hotel, 50 Warren Street, includes passage through an 1850s lock chamber as well as class III-IV rapids. Zoar Outdoor runs weekend trips starting at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., for $80 per person, 14 years or older, wetsuits, life jackets and paddles included. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust. It’s a three-hour adventure practically in our back yards, so why not check it out?! 

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City has extraordinary number of talented youth

Do you realize how many talented children we have? For four nights in a row, I experienced firsthand an amazing number of gifted young people who call Lowell home. Their abilities in athletics, academics, and the arts were highlighted in a series of events this week that demonstrated we have more than our share of talented youth with skills as diverse as their population. Monday night’s award ceremony honored our many successful high school athletes. It was also the first of three nights of the preliminary round of the Knowledge Bowl, a Jeopardy-like game pitting middle schools against each other based on the academic prowess of their student teams. The Knowledge Bowl is an evening of fast-paced questions on topics such as current events, literary devices, and math problems that is as entertaining as it is academically rigorous. (The next level of the competition will be in two weeks.) And then, of course, Wednesday saw the boys’ basketball team advance in the state tournament—another in a long list of athletic wins for Lowell students. Thursday was the semi-finals of Lowell High School Idol, Headmaster Bill Samaras’ local spin on the popular television show. As one of three judges that night, I can tell you the 14 acts were impressive, as were the two students who co-hosted the show. It was difficult to choose only eight acts for the final competition on March 19, which will be broadcast live on channel 22, but my favorite was the Derek and Henson dance duo. Their amazing choreography told a story of transformation that was at times laugh-out loud funny as well as intensely moving—not to mention the incredible dance moves. For a list of the finalists and the sponsors (first place winner will receive $500) check: more »

posted in Education, Sports, Youth | 2 Comments

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