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News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

Controversial agenda for LHS subcommittee meeting

Tomorrow night, April 13, the LHS subcommittee will meet at the Rogers School, starting at 7 p.m., with a short, yet controversial agenda. First up is clarification regarding the decision to use half of the proceeds from this year’s annual golf tournament to restore Alumni Field instead of the full amount going toward student scholarships as in previous years. The second agenda item is a review of a report on student scores on advanced placement tests over the last three years: how the scores compare to course grades, and how last year’s students did compared to their peers nationally. Finally, the third agenda item is a discussion of the course weighting issue as it relates to the Latin Lyceum, particularly freshmen year. Yesterday’s Sun published an article on the program, which based on the many comments on its website, certainly stirred strong feelings from students, parents, teachers and others. As always, Lowell School Committee meetings are open to the public, and the community is welcome to attend.

posted in Education, Lowell High | 0 Comments

Complete and mail census form now

If you’re like me, you probably threw the envelope in a pile with junk mail to deal with another day. Well, that day is coming soon: Mail your completed form before April 19 or a census worker will have to come to your door to collect the information, and you know the state can’t afford that expense. We also can’t afford NOT to count every resident. That gives us all about 10 days to mail the information, so do it today! Keep in mind, census data is used to qualify for billions in federal aid for schools, hospitals and transportation needs—about $2,000 in federal aid per resident. Census data also determines how many representatives Massachusetts sends to Congress, meaning we need every resident to be counted so we can keep our 10 congressional seats! If you have questions or need to see a form, check MassVote here.

On a local note, Secretary of State William Galvin visited the Daley Middle School in Lowell a few weeks back to pitch the importance of the census to sixth grade students. (It was part of a statewide education effort conducted in several schools.) After his presentation, the questions from our students shed some light on their unique perspective of all things census, such as: If you’re pregnant do you count as one or two people? If you struggle with reading or don’t speak English well, will someone help you? And if you are homeless or in the hospital, how will your information be included? (Out of the mouths of babes, we learn the reality of our community.) Since most of us don’t have those challenges, we should just complete the form and get it in the mail asap!

posted in State Concerns | 0 Comments

Creative and humane stories

At the back of the library copy of Olive Kitttredge by Elizabeth Strout, there is an interview with the author at which Olive is present and, in truth, Olive is so real to me that I can very easily imagine the scene, especially where she tells Strout that something is “none of your damned business.” That’s Olive for you. (I’m a little afraid she might call me up if I say too much about her, except I don’t think she reads blogs). The imagined encounter is also a good illustration of the humor that can be found lurking throughout the book, even in some of the more difficult situations (I’m thinking of the hostage situation where Olive starts in about her religious mother-in-law for one). Another sly undercurrent occurs when Olive says to her husband Henry about the Kennisons, a retired couple from Massachusetts, that “she must spend her life making up for his boorishness.” You immediately think that the same could probably be said of Henry about Olive! For the truth is she is rather difficult.

The book is made up of thirteen stories, all set in a coastal town in Maine (Brunswick?) and all either revolving around or somehow alluding to Olive. While Olive is not quite the center of the book, somehow the web of stories brings her to the foreground, probably in a way that would seem odd to her, since she has trouble, in the beginning at least, of seeing herself through the eyes of others. The setting, if you’ve ever spent any time in Maine, is as real as Olive- with lobstermen, donut shops, church suppers, the wry humor of the people and the skeptical attitude displayed towards out-of-staters, those “from away.” On the other hand, as a friend pointed out, the human drama could be situated anywhere – the problems of marriage, children, aging, the dangerous reefs that must be avoided in any long-held relationship, the problem as well as the need of other people. Strout doesn’t say too much, but her methods bring a world to life and with it a connection to our own worlds – our own hopes and fears. Get to know Olive; she’s worth it.

posted in Books | 1 Comment

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