Category Archives: InCity Feature

Main South community activist/writer Ron O’Clair runs for Worcester City Council

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Ron, outside the rooming house he manages in Main South. He is a Worcester City Councilor at Large candidate. (photo R.T.)

From Ron O’Clair:

To the registered voters of Worcester, Massachusetts, and those not registered currently who would like to register to vote to support my candidacy for Worcester City Councilor At-Large:

I hereby formerly announce my intention to gather the required signatures on the nomination papers for a seat on the Worcester City Council, here in the City of Worcester.

I have long been involved with citizen activism, having worked with all of my former District 4 Worcester City Councilors since I purposely established myself as a resident here on Main Street in the 700 block, where I have had a bird’s eye view of the goings on in the public streets since the 3rd day of July, 1996.

I worked first with District 4 City Councilor Janice Nadeau, her successor Barbara Haller and, after a time, Barbara’s successor, Sarai Rivera. I have found all three of these women to be tireless workers trying to make the quality of life here in District 4, and the City of Worcester in general, better for all who live and work here.

Over the years I have even sponsored petitions to the Worcester City Council in my attempts to improve living conditions here in the City of Worcester, specifically Main Street, where criminal activity had been allowed to prosper to the point that life in my district became intolerable.

I have always been an ardent supporter of the rights of the people as outlined in the United States Constitution since signing on the dotted line when I became a noncommissioned officer with the United States Air Force Reserve program at Westover, AFB in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.

I have attended and participated in numerous Worcester crime watch meetings, authored many articles to bring attention to the problems facing our city, and most of all, observed with a critical eye the root causes of what I perceive to be the decline of Worcester since the time of my youth, until the current time we live in now where disrespect for authority seems to be on the rise, and a sizable percentage of Worcester residents are involved in  illegal activities that stem directly from the sale and use of illegal narcotics.

I was initially educated in the Worcester Public School system – one of the finest in the nation – and have credits towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science with the Community College of the United States Air Force. I left formal education early to enter the workforce, due to a pressing need within my family, earning a G.E.D. through the Worcester Night Life program in order to qualify for entrance into the military with a high school education or its equivalent. I never stopped seeking knowledge and have the accumulated wisdom learned the hard way, by practical experience.

I have a strong desire to help transform the City of Worcester back into a place where anyone can succeed on a basis of equality. There will be many people who will try to discredit me, something I have been dealing with since I was 25 years old, and a victim of the old “good ole boy” corruption then in power in Worcester County. Throughout the entire ordeal, I never gave up being an ardent supporter of law enforcement, which is essential to maintain a Democracy, such as the one we live in.

I will run my campaign like my idol John F. Kennedy did, meeting and greeting as many voters as I can in a grass roots effort to secure enough signatures on the nomination papers to get on the ballot in the upcoming election.

My record of service to my City of Worcester, and my country, speaks for itself, and will withstand any challenges made upon it, despite my having been diagnosed with bi-polar. Winston Churchill was said to suffer from the same malady, and it did not affect his ability to help govern Great Britain to victory during the Second World War. Truth be told, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see firsthand how the criminals and those diagnosed mentally ill are treated within our institutions, and society in general. I will advocate on the behalf of those afflicted, as I have met some of the best people in the strangest places.

If elected to the position that I seek, I will faithfully execute the duties of the office that I enter, and work ceaselessly to make the City of Worcester a better place to live for ALL of its residents, regardless of any labels put upon them based on race, handicap, religion, sexual orientation, gender, illness or age.

Please consider voting for Mr. Ronald L. O’Clair, City Council At-Large in the next election.

Thank you, and may the God of your understanding bestow upon you many blessings.

Ron O’Clair, Worcester

Want to contact Ron? Please email him at ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

Easter is around the corner …

I’m re-posting this excellent story on rabbits as pets (no bunny-cake-walk!) written for InCity Times by my gal pal, Franny M. We went to UMass Amherst together eons ago and are still gal pals! These days, when we start gabbing on the phone, it’s like we’re back at the UMass vegetarian dining hall, BASICS: I’m carbo loading and drinking 4 glasses of skim milk cuz I’m running and skinny and LOVE MILK. Franny’s eating her BIG SALAD, her signature supper at UMass, listening to me whine BIG TIME. I’m whining to Franny about writing, men, grades, men, Green Island, my father, men, my professors, men, writing … . Franny, being the loving person she is, is taking it all in and offering her gentle, sweet, good advice, which meets my brain and goes NOWHERE. She tells me of her loves, hopes and dreams, too.  We do this for three years. SPECIAL.

You know, if you’ve got college-bound kids, why not check out UMass Amherst? A great university! Thousands of kids, thousands of classes to take, what with Hampshire, Smith, Mount Holyoke and Amherst colleges nearby, hundreds of concerts, art, art, art, great engineering programs (civil, electrical, mechanical, software …) COOL PEOPLE galore. AN ADVENTURE LIKE NO OTHER!

(BTW – I think Fran – a vegan mom with 4 carnivore kids and carnivore hubby!!! Franny!?! – did a terrific job with the story! She loves her bunnies! )  

– Rosalie Tirella

THINKING OF GETTING A RABBIT FOR THE KIDS THIS EASTER? THINK AGAIN!

By Franny McKeever, volunteer for the House Rabbit Network

I have a story, not unlike many, when choosing a family pet. We wanted a puppy but my husband had allergies. We couldn’t have a cat for the same reason. So we tried the next best idea which was a rabbit. A rabbit, after all, didn’t need to even be in the house, did it? People kept rabbits in outdoor hutches all the time. My parents did when I was young. I called a breeder and got the name of a hutch builder. He built one he said was a good size for a rabbit. It was 30”x 24”x 14”. He delivered it and we put it on our non-winterized back porch.

We then found a small black Lionhead rabbit at our local pet shop. It was May 1st , Easter time, so there were plenty of baby bunnies to pick from. They couldn’t tell me for sure if it was male or female but were pretty sure it was a boy. We named him Henry. We were advised by the hutch maker to put the bunny on a table when we took him out of the hutch or else he would just go wild and run all over and not want to go back in the hutch. We didn’t listen. We put Henry down and he ran circles around the porch and did these funny, spasmodic jumps in the air we later learned were called binkies, which we could plainly see he was doing out of the sheer joy of movement.

My children and I sat with him as he nibbled our books, climbed all over us and licked our noses. I had no idea that some rabbits would lick you as a puppy does. There were things about rabbits that were so wonderfully surprising. For instance when a rabbit is being petted and feels supremely happy he softly grinds his teeth in a purring sort of way. We were falling in love with this little rabbit. After a while it seemed really cruel to leave him in the cage. We moved all the wicker furniture that he had been chewing out into the yard and bunny proofed the porch. This entailed hiding any electrical wires, keeping any plants out of reach and keeping small things off the ground. When he chewed the wood doorways we gave him apple tree sticks instead.

We took Henry to the vet for a first check-up as we were advised to do and also to see if he was really a he. After a couple more trips to the vet we had to change Henry’s name to Greta. We had a good rabbit vet and not all vets are qualified to treat rabbits which are considered exotic animals. They gave us rabbit diet and litter box training information which I’m pretty sure would not have happened 20 years ago. There has been a slowly growing trend to see rabbits for the sociable unique animals that they are and include them as house pets that can have quality lives in are homes. We were advised to come back when Greta was 4-6 months old to have her spayed. It would cost about two hundred dollars. This would not only help prevent female cancers but also help her to live a better life as a house pet and maybe enable her to socialize with another rabbit without fighting or just as importantly without reproducing. Rabbits don’t need any help in this regard. They can produce between 4-10 babies possibly on a monthly basis. Which only adds to the unwanted rabbit epidemic that exists in shelters and backyards across the country.

We noticed at around Greta’s five month birthday her hormones began to kick in. She was trying hard as she could to romantically befriend a beach ball in our living room. She also began to mark her territory, a hormonal behavior, by leaving fecal pellets in a trail around our house. We made an appointment to have her spayed. We brought her in on a morning and were able to take her home later that day. They gave her a shot of pain medication before she left . They told us to feed her normally and make sure she was drinking within 24 hours and eating within 48 hours. We also needed to watch her incision site and make sure she was healing properly. We watched as she recuperated for a few days and started getting back to herself. She became completely litter box trained again it seemed overnight.

Now everyone in our house was content with Greta. I however began to sense that she was lonely. It seemed sad to see her sleeping by herself alone for hours as rabbits do during the day. Rabbits are crepuscular which means they are most active in the morning and evening into twilight. Though we socialized with her a great deal, as we have four children in our home, something didn’t seem quite right. I had read that although all rabbits have varying desires for friendship they are by nature highly social and in their natural environment live in warrens and are never really alone. They eat together and sleep together and seek comfort, warmth and companionship from one another. Domesticated rabbits also exhibit similar behaviors with people who care for them. Rabbits communicate mainly by way of their own physical movements. It is often easy to guess what some of these movements and postures mean, but sometimes you just don’t understand unless you are another rabbit. I felt Greta needed a friend.

This time I decided I would not go to a pet store. I decided adopting was a better idea. My whole outlook on rabbits was evolving. I found The House Rabbit Network online, a rabbit organization led strictly by volunteers who’s only motive was to rescue unwanted rabbits, find adoptive homes for them and to give the public the best educated advice on rabbit needs and care. They had a website with photos of rabbits awaiting adoption with a description of each rabbit’s own personality traits. They had a hotline I could call for any rabbit questions I had. I was amazed at how dedicated all the volunteers were and so anxious to help me find the right rabbit. They only adopt out spayed and neutered rabbits. This would work out perfectly for me since I was going to need to bond rabbits. Bonding is a procedure that can take weeks or months depending on the personality of the rabbits and how much time is spent working at it. It entails letting the rabbits getting used to each other slowly until they eventually spend more and more time together and with perseverance and some luck become compatible. Rabbits that do bond usually spend most of their time together and it is a truly satisfying thing to behold. Male and female rabbits generally bond more easily than same sex combinations. An HRN volunteer interviewed me over the phone and she then emailed me a list of bunny foster homes to visit.

Greta’s first “bunny date” didn’t go so well. Greta jumped all over the other petrified rabbit. Our sweet, calm little bunny was a maniac with him. We were advised to keep trying but went home a little wiser. This might not be as easy as we thought. The next bunny date was a bit further away. This HRN volunteer had several foster rabbits in large basement. They were there because she couldn’t bear to say no to a homeless bunny. One of the rabbits was in a cage by himself. He was a beautiful little white Lionhead with spots she had picked up from a nearby shelter only days before he was going to be euthanized simply because they lacked space. He had an all too common history. He had been purchased from a pet shop the previous Easter, most likely an impulse buy or a gift for someone who had no idea or concerns about the needs of a rabbit. As a result he spent the next several months caged in a basement with little human contact. His diet seemed to have been neglected as well since he seemed to have no idea that as a rabbit he was supposed to be eating mostly hay and vegetables and not a bowl of pellets (originally designed for farmed rabbits because they were cheap and fattening). He was not surprisingly, ultimately dumped off at a shelter. Yet it could have been even worse. He could have been one of the countless “Easter bunnies” who’s novelty wears off after the holiday when the reality of actually caring for the rabbit sets in.

He could have been one of the many who get released outside. After all, rabbits are woodland creatures aren’t they? Well not these domesticated rabbits. These guys haven’t a clue about how to avoid being the prey animal that they are, or where to keep warm in a blizzard. I was learning all about the Easter rabbit epidemic that exists every year in the spring, when pet stores and countless breeders cash in on the commercial idea of a cute, fuzzy, baby bunny at Easter time. These tiny animals are often taken from their mom even before they have weaned and are physically and mentally ready to go.

Rarely does the consumer understand what this 7-10 year commitment will entail. They don’t know that most of these baby bunnies will grow to be 2-12 pounds. They will need to hop and exercise to be physically fit and healthy. They will need love and companionship of a person or another rabbit for mental health and well being. They know little or nothing of the sensitive digestive systems the buns have and how they can get sick and die almost overnight if not cared for properly. Most think it is fine to keep a rabbit in an outdoor hutch or a cage and just toss some food and water into their little prison cells. No one in their right mind would do this to a cat or a dog. It would be considered inhumane! Yet somehow for a quiet little rabbit this has always been acceptable behavior. So we were happy be able to find a friend for Greta and at the same time be able to give an unwanted bunny a better life. He was surprisingly sweet despite his background but not surprisingly he seemed starved for affection. We tried putting them together and they seemed almost indifferent at first, which was a good sign. We would have to come back for him as he wasn’t yet neutered. After a few more weeks we were able to take him home.

I read about bonding and made numerous calls to a very dedicated volunteer at House Rabbit Network for advice and moral support. If you have never bonded two rabbits together it is very unique experience. We kept Linus, our new rabbit in a pen on one side of the living room and Greta was free to roam as usual and penned separately at night. She became obsessed with the presence of the new rabbit and would spend most of her time nonchalantly inspecting Linus’s area. When they were together she would frequently mount him, not really a sexual behavior so much as a way to assert her dominance and let him know who was who. He would occasionally try to do the same thing. As long as they were not hurting each other this was an acceptable way of their sorting things out. We would take them on little field trips to our small bathroom so they could be in neutral territory. They gradually began to eat next to each other and soon began to hang out together. The day I saw them resting outstretched side by side I knew things were going to be okay. Not long after we took all fences down. Once rabbits are bonded you should really never separate them as they become attached. The whole process lasted about two weeks which I’ve been told is not long. I knew we had done a good thing. Greta and Linus had become buddies.

Rabbits make a wonderful house pet. They are certainly not a “ good starter pet” as I have heard them described. They require an adult caregiver who is educated in rabbit care and has the patience to enjoy the subtle personalities of a rabbit. Children can enjoy them as well but need to be able to respect the rabbit’s space. As a prey animal a rabbit is by nature a nervous creature and those who live with them need to let them grow to trust them. They are funny, sweet, interesting affectionate animals. A rabbit is not the right pet for everyone but for some it can be such a wonderful addition their lives.

The Piedmont neighborhood’s Mother Teresa: Donna D.

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For nearly three decades former nun Donna Domaziano has helped feed the poor and hungry of Chandler, Pleasant, Austin and Piedmont streets out of her MUSTARD SEED SOUP KITCHEN, located in the heart of the Piedmont neighborhood on Piedmont Street.

The Mustard Seed, started by Worcester’s Catholic Worker folks, who believe the words of Jesus live more powerfully through community service to the poor and progressive political involvement, than regular ol’ church, serves delicious, nutritious, homemade meals (soup to dessert!) every day. Many of the meals are prepared by Worcester churches – of all denominations. The churches come in with their food and prepare it at the Mustard Seed, with guidance from Donna.

Street folks come in, working folks without the $$ means to cook a big, healthy dinner for themselves stop by, single moms with little kids partake, too. … Donna, who lives at the Mustard Seed, is a kind of modern-day Worcester Mother Teresa! With the poor, of the poor, for the poor. Donna welcomes all! Loves all! Especially the poorest!  No questions asked! No judgements passed!

Thank you, Donna, for caring!

– Rosalie Tirella

Here are some photos taken at the Mustard Seed last week by ICT contributor RON O’CLAIR. Thank you, Ron!

Pics and cutlines by Ron O’Clair:

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A plate of food ready for the next person in line. It consisted of roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, mixed vegetables, and a fresh dinner roll. There is always coffee and milk for those who want it. Sometimes there also is Cool Aid to drink with your meal.

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Mustard Seed Director Donna Domaziano standing with the servers who brought in the meal. They came from one of the area churches that take turns feeding the hungry, one day a month per parish.

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A young mom, with her children, waiting to partake of the meal.

Go, Dolly, go!!!! Worcester’s 20th Latino Film Festival – March 24-29

Worcester’s 20th Latino Film Festival!

Dolly V.’s been working her magic for two decades! She and her film festival are loved by so many Worcesterites! Dare we say it? They’ve become two of Woo’s cultural icons! Dolly works with Steve S. of Cinema 320 to make it all happen. Cinema 320 has brought amazing, independent films from all over the world to Worcester – since 1982! Films that you would typically have to drive into Cambridge or Boston to see you can enjoy right here in Worcester! Thank you, Dolly and Steve!

Check out this this great festival, complete with guest speakers …

March 24 – 29

Clark University, 950 Main St.

All films (all with subtitles) will be shown in Room 320 of the Jefferson Academic Center at Clark University.

General admission:

$6; $4 students and seniors.

The festival is presented by:

Centro Las Americas, Assumption College, Clark University, Holy Cross college, Quinsigamond Community College, WPI and Worcester State University.

For more information, visit the website: 

Cinema320.com 

Coming attractions!  CLICK HERE and go to LATINO FILM FESTIVAL on the menu bar to learn more and see trailers for the films!

FILM SCHEDULE:

“No,” 7:30 p.m. March 24.

In 1988, Chilean strong-man President Augusto Pinochet calls for a “Yes” or “No” referendum vote on whether he should stay in power. Ad-man Rene Saaverda (Gael Garcia Bernal) leads the team campaigning for “No” using marketing strategies from the Cola wars. However, his boss heads the “Yes” team. Based on a true story.

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“Nostoros Los Nobles” (“The Noble Family”), 7:30 p.m. March 26.

It’s bad news for the three grown but spoiled children of a Mexico City patriarch. He’s cut off their family fortune — and they’re going to have to get jobs.

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“El Boxeo,” 1 p.m. March 28.

Director Alan Swyer is a former boxer, which helped him get an amazing 80-plus interviews with ring legends, promoters and trainers.

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“Pelo Malo” (“Bad Hair”) 7:30 p.m. March 28.

In this widely praised slice of everyday life film from Venezuela, a 9-year-old boy wants to straighten his curly hair, but his hard-working mother is very much against the idea.

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“Las Vacas con Gafas” (“Cows Wearing Glasses”), 1 p.m. March 29.

Marso, an artist and art professor, has a disease that could render him blind at any time and forces him to look at his life anew.

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“Sleeping with the Fishes,” 4 p.m. March 29.

One girl’s journey of self-discovery and the dynamics of her zany family in a Latino Jewish home in Brooklyn.

Shrewsbury Street’s Boulevard Diner …

… iconic, family-friendly, hip, American, huge breakfasts, French toast, pancakes, omelettes,

 

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… homemade lasagna, homemade spaghetti and meatballs, homemade soups, griddle-sizzzzle,

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… Italian-American deliciousness, OPEN 24/7 – just like a diner!, cozy, beautiful,

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… beautiful Italians, feisty Italians, hard-working Italians,

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…  great prices, sandwiches galore, turkey dinner as good as your nanna’s,

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… REAL – not artsy fartsy ...AUTHENTIC 

ONE OF THE BEST IN NEW ENGLAND, so says The Boston Globe!

Visit soon!

Boulevard Diner

155 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester 508-791-4535

– Photos and text by Rosalie Tirella.

Some of the coolest, most unique gifts …

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A few years ago Rosalie picked up what is now her fave cozy VINTAGE Mr. Rogers Sweater at Goodwill on Park Ave, Worcester. For around $2 !

The sweater’s tag is so 1950s – all America is #1! Love the automobile!

“THE WORLD’S BEST FEELING! AMERICAN FEELING!”

WOW.

The Goodwill Store on Park Ave is open 7 days a week – most days ’til 7 p.m. Great selection of some wonderful dresses, skirts, blouses, jackets, etc! For $2, $3, $4! Lots of their clothing is very gently used. Some of it vintage – but you have to SPEND TIME LOOKING!!! Make a shopping date with a gal pal and have fun! Proceeds go to running their job training programs for people in recovery and more! 

… can be found at Goodwill, the Salvation Army and, of course, ABBY’S HOUSE GIFT THRIFT STORE on 52 High St.  and UNIQUE FINDS on 1329 Main St. (Webster Square).

Why pay “vintage stores and shops” the extra money (they mark up $$ big time) when you can go straight to the source – the places they go to buy their stuff? And you can buy the clothing/items for a song! And support great causes and local small business folks who actually make a living selling their stuff. It’s not just a hobby. It’s how they pay their rent/ buy groceries.

CLICK HERE to visit Abby’s House website and learn more about Abby’s House thrift gift store and Abby’s House Women’s Shelter. All $$ from Abby’s thrift store goes to fund the shelter!

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Above: Hundreds of unique gifts, hundreds of vintage toys at Unique Finds at 1329 Main St., Worcester! This sprawling, quirky store is filled with items for around $5 and is open 7 days a week – ’til 8 pm. Check out UNIQUE FINDS today!

– photos and text by Rosalie Tirella

Celebrating the good at North High School

By Edith Morgan

I’m sure you have all heard the story of the blind men who were asked to describe an elephant: the one standing by the tail said elephants look like a rope; the one in the middle thought they were like a wall, and the one at the front end said they were like a snake. (That is an abbreviated version, of course).

Looking over the media frenzy about events at North in the past couple of weeks reminded me of this story, and also of the edict about what sells: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

So, in the absence of a fire, explosion, death, or other newsy calamity, we have the usual stuff designed to make headlines and cause fear and panic. So, I feel compelled to restore he balance.

For example, the “fight” at North High School involved about 10 students, according to Principal Lisa Dyer ( I believe only three were actually arrested), and the last bomb threat was NOT a local call, but was traced to Melbourne, Florida.

When I got in touch with various persons at North High,  I was met with so much gratitude and help, so much eagerness to tell the story of all that is being accomplished, that I just HAD to round out the picture, and give voice to students and staff who are boosters of their school.

Mayor Joe Petty has been quoted as saying, “There are so many good stories coming out of that school – those kids should be proud.” And many of them are, and they took the time to write down some details for me.

All mentioned the fact that North High is the most diverse high school in Worcester, serving recent arrivals from all over the world: about 30% of North students are learning English. And about 85% of North students live below the poverty line – and many are the first in their families to go to college. These facts place a greater responsibility on the staff to help them get into the best colleges.

The school is structured into three “learning academies, one on each floor:”

1. A School of Social Systems and Justice (SSJ) headed by Assistant Principal Elizabeth Lupafya:  offering electives in criminal justice, forensics, psychology, introduction to government and early childhood education. Seniors can participate in internships at the courthouse, fire stations, and elementary schools.

2.The Health and Science Academy (HAS) headed by Assistant Principal Bruce O’Connell, offers the Alled Health Program, As part of the Worcester Pipeline Coalition, with UMAss Medical school.  Students now can graduate as  Certified Nursing Assistant – and soon there will be opportunities to be EMT’s and other health professional certificates. (This program was featured on Channel 5 this year). Five students each year go into the Nursing program at QCC>  Course offerings include pathophysiology, CPR, and human anatomy.

3. The School of Technology and Business (STB)Headed by Assistant Principal John Creamer, offers electives in technology, marketing, and multimedia. Students here mostly do their internships in-house, serving North’s tech and audiovisual needs.
As can be seen, great experiences in exploring various types of careers and interest are available to the 1300 students at North High.

North High students have a direct pipeline to their school principal: approximately 12 students meet with their principal every Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. as members of the Principal’s Advisory Council – working on ideas for graduation rate improvement and establishing routines that will help students want to stay in school.

North High senior Nancy Lopez wrote me a great essay detailing …”how amazing North High is)… She says that    “North is home to every kind of student that anyone can think of: we have the musicians, the artists, the writers, the builders, the thinkers, the doctors, the nurses, the dancers the mathematicians, the engineers – we have it all!” She then details the clubs:  Art ( led by Mr. Harthan), Music (led by Mr. Thibodeau, and Drama Club led by Mr. Savage – meeting after school and  sharing their productions with the public. There is also a program called CSI (Collegiate Success Institute)  that partner with  Holy Cross College, and is open to Juniors. For those taking SAT’s , there is LGR (Let’s Get Ready) offering free help to Junior and Seniors to help them develop strategies for getting perfect scores.

Lest I have given the impression that it’s all study and no  human service at North, here is a brief foray into community serve by North students:

Of course, there is the NHS (the National Honor Society) according to Nancy, a “community of students who, besides being excellent students, also love help their community ). One example is their holiday project helping 50 families in need of food.

I have not the space to detail all the AP courses being offered at North, nor the winning athletic teams fielded by North. Those are features shared by all Worcester Public high schools.

But perhaps not all of them also offer great after-school activities like cooking classes, yoga and Zumba!

Nancy closes her remarks  thus: “I think that what really makes us  unique is the fact that we are so diverse yet we have strong relationships between staff, teachers, and students. ……Thanks to God, my mother and North, I have a roof … where to sleep, an education,   and … places where I can go and fulfill … my passions.  North High has an AMAZING staff that is willing to do WHATEVER it takes to keep their students safe, warm, fed, clothed and loved.”

Student Bryan Paula also wrote about how North High had become his home these last four years. Besides naming all the programs and opportunities I have  already mentioned, Bryan talks about North High’s Posse program, making it possible for students to get full college scholarships. Many North High students are accepted  into renowned schools. And the Worcester Tech/North High track team is “currently  doing fantastic and is on their way to nationals.” Bryan concludes his remarks thus: “As expected, the experience is not the same for all students, which is why I can only speak for myself … . We are all trying to fix our home, and we are doing our best to coexist”

North High School also has a very active ROTC program, with many community service activities in addition to their regular duties, and Major Godin sent me a long list of all the events that his cadets have participated in the past year: Earth Day at Lake Park; staffing the March of Dimes Walk ;putting out grave decorations for Memorial Day at Hope and Rural Cemeteries, setting up Treasure Valley for the Boy Scouts; staffing Canal Fest, Revolution of 1774, and StART. They also participated in the Columbus and Veterans’ Day parades.

There is so much more to tell! But I hope InCity Times readers have a little of the flavor of North High, as it really is, through the eyes of some people who are there every day and who make their contributions in so many ways. My thanks in particular to Principal Lisa Dyer, students Nancy Lopez and Bryan Paula, staff members Major Godin and Bruce O’Connell  who took time out between snowstorms and their February vacation to answer my plea for information about the great people and programs at North High. It is always easier to criticize and tear down, but I have found that when you ask people to focus on the good, everyone is so eager to help.

In the present difficult times, I was very gratified to see how easy it was to get so much positive feedback in such a short time – and appreciate the courage it took to go against the tide of fear being created . I always remember that “the coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but once.”

Let us keep speaking up in defense of the best idea America has to offer: A free and quality education for ALL its children.

Tears of joy! Music to my soul! Ringling to phase out elephant acts by 2018

Thank you, PETA! Thank you, PETA!

Thank you to all the great moms, kids, dads, school teachers and regular folks who saw the insane heartlessness and MADE RIGHTEOUS NOISE, educated loved ones, strangers and politicians with passion AND smarts, stayed true and tenacious to the cause! Elephants do not belong in travelling shows!  They belong in their true home – the wild … nature in India and Africa.

I’d like to think InCity Times, which has been on this issue for almost 14 YEARS!!!!, played a teeny part in the turnaround.  The ELEPHANTS NEED TO BE FREE campaign! I am so proud of us for helping create positive change in Worcester … and the world!

Thanks to STEVE BAER, DEIRDRE HEALY and DEB YOUNG – InCity Times writers and animal lovers who wrote so beautifully and intelligently about elephants in our paper and on this website! Check out our circus FB page on this website. Deb’s posted some stuff for ya!

I would like to see this MONUMENTAL VICTORY FOR ELEPHANTS enacted now! Happen today! Right this very second! Still, I’m VERY HAPPY! Very happy indeed!

– Rosalie Tirella

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Baby Elephant at Ringling Bros.

Baby Elephant at Ringling Bros.

Ringling to Phase Out Elephant Acts by 2018

Written by PETA March 5, 2015

For 35 years, PETA has protested Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ cruelty to elephants. PETA also caught Ringling’s abuse on video and released to the world a former Ringling trainer’s photos of the circus’s violent baby-elephant training to the world.

We know that extreme abuse of these majestic animals occurs every single day, so if Ringling is telling the truth about ending this horror, then it’s a day to pop the champagne corks and rejoice.

Elephants at Ringling Bros.

However, many of the elephants with Ringling are painfully arthritic or have tuberculosis, so their retirement day needs to come now.

Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf, too long for a baby elephant beaten with bullhooks (a sharp weapon resembling a fireplace poker that Ringling handlers use routinely), and too long for an animal who would roam up to 30 miles a day in the wild but who is instead kept in shackles.

If Ringling is serious about this decision, then it needs to end its use of elephants NOW. 

Worcester City Hall, Feb. 24, 2015: A cool elevator ride, nifty cake and the Charles E. Scott plaque unveiling

By Ron O’Clair

Scott, Charles E (#2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles E. Scott

I was assigned to cover the Charles E. Scott plaque unveiling ceremony on the 2nd floor of Worcester City Hall, last night, just outside the Election Commission Office and had the great fortune to ride up in the city hall elevator with the members of the Scott family who had come to honor Ronald Scott’s grandfather, Charles E. Scott. He was the second person of color to have successfully won a seat as a Worcester City Council member way back in 1918, serving until 1921, and again winning a seat in 1926 which he held all the way to 1937.

Along the way to the ceremony, the elevator stopped on the first floor where we were joined by Parlee Jones, another InCity Times contributing writer and a well known Worcester activist. I, being the garrulous and gregarious type of person I am, struck up a conversation with the Scott family leader, Ronald Scott, while waiting for the elevator to arrive in the basement. We talked about Worcester, and its people, and what it is about Worcester down through history that sets our city apart from other places.

It is the Worcester melting pot of various races, ethnicities and cultures working together to make the city a better place for all that sets us apart from other places. I believe we’re a city where anyone from anywhere can come to find a sense of community, acceptance and opportunity, as evidenced by Charles E. Scott.    Worcester has a rich and plentiful history of examples of notable citizens that have risen above challenges placed before them to achieve their version of the American dream.

Charles E. Scott was small in stature, and when he spoke before a crowd, he would stand upon a wooden “soapbox” which he used to carry with him everywhere. That very same wooden soapbox was presented by Dr. Thomas L. Doughton, College of the Holy Cross Professor, while he explained just how it was that Charles E. Scott was able to become elected to the Worcester City Council in a district with mostly white, European voters.

It was not until 50 years after Charles E. Scott left office that other people of color were able to succeed winning election as City Councilor. Stacey DeBoise-Luster was the first female of color to have that privilege when she successfully ran for Worcester City Council in 1997, becoming the first female African American City Council member in 1998, and serving two terms. During her second term she resigned her seat to take a full-time position with the Worcester School Department as Human Resources Director, a job which she still holds today. Her exit made it possible for Juan Gomez to become another Worcester person of color to attain the office of City Councilor, as he was the next highest vote getter in that election.

As was pointed out last night by Worcester City Councilor at Large Morris “Moe” Bergman, Worcester is a city where people have a fair chance at obtaining their goals based upon the content of their character, in the immortal words of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., rather than the color of their skin.

I was glad to have had the opportunity last night to see, meet and greet the many Worcester notables and citizens who attended the ceremony honoring Charles E. Scott: Barbara Haller, Bill Coleman, Moe Bergman, Gordon T. Davis, John Monfredo, Juan Gomez … .

And the cake that Bill Coleman arranged to have donated by Stop & Shop supermarkets was delicious and historical! The left side of the large cake was vanilla, and the right side chocolate, with a fresh strawberry sauce between the layers – on top a lithographic image of Charles E. Scott! The Scott family was able to take home the center portion of the cake with the lithographic image of their grandfather, due to Bill having had the foresight to bring a couple of aluminum trays with plastic covers along. Bill took home the rest of the cake.

I believe Worcester in unique! It is my birthplace, and a place where people can thrive, if they obey the law, work diligently and apply themselves to the goals they have in mind. Charles E. Scott was a prime example of that …

Your opinion counts! You may contact me at: Ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

The proposed academy for gifted WPS students at Doherty High School: a closer look

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Worcester’s Doherty High School is located on Highland Street. (photo: Rosalie Tirella) There will be a public hearing on the proposed academy this month. Please attend and voice your ideas/opinions!

By Edith Morgan

For some weeks I had been hearing that the City of Worcester was considering establishing a “gifted and talented program” at the high school level.

I have always been interested in the education of that particular, usually neglected group (at least in Massachusetts public education) – we have long had many kinds of academic enrichment programs, academic advancement programs, (AP and others) and more and more opportunities for students to pursue their areas of interest, be they science, math, language, and the various performance and production arts.

So when our editor asked me to look into these plans, I was happy to get the information, and to try to understand what was being proposed.

On December 4, 2014, Worcester School Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone presented a proposal to the Worcester School Committee, which was being developed as a result of Mayor Joseph Petty’s announced goal at his inauguration in 2012 to establish an exam school in Worcester. He appointed an Ad Hoc Committee which was charged with “studying the feasibility of establishing an exam school for students in Grades 9 through 12 which would develop and promote academic excellence relevant to success in the 21st century” as stated in the Ad Hoc committee’s report in February 2013.

By June of that year, the committee’s recommendations went to the superintendent who was charged with creating the proposal that went to the school committee in December 2014.
A great deal of research, discussion, visiting of other programs, and study of what was being done elsewhere, went into the final report and recommendations of the Ad Hoc committee. Its members were drawn from educators at all levels, parents, and community members – to solicit the widest possible views.
In the “background” section of the proposal, Dr. Boone summarizes present programs offered by the Worcester Public Schools, at various levels and trying to serve gifted and talented students at all levels.

In the Burncoat quadrant students with gifts, talents and interests have many opportunities, often recognized for their achievements, in music and the arts. Also, academically high achieving students are offered 23 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at no cost in the Worcester Public Schools, and there are opportunities to earn college credits while still in a Worcester public high school through dual enrollment in local colleges and universities.

The report emphasizes that this pilot program is not to replace any of the existing programs but is to offer an additional option, and promises to support and enhance existing programs.

According to Dr.Boone, “It should be clearly noted and understood that this ‘Pilot Innovation Academy’ is not designed to replace or supplant an of the existing programs serving gifted and high achieving students. Rather, the “Pilot Innovation Academy” will be an additional option within the Worcester Public Schools portfolio of school programs and options. The district will continue strong support and enhancement of those existing programs.”

The program is supposed to attract students from all over the city, “who have demonstrated exceptional interest in and ability to be successful in a rigorous high school program of studies leading to advanced college readiness.”

When I inquired why have it a Doherty High School, I was told it was the most centrally located of our high schools, a consideration since these students would have to be bused in from all over the city.

There would be room for 250 students in the school, grades 9-12, with no more than 62 students in any grade. The first class would be ninth graders. The curriculum to be followed would be that of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. focusing on English and literature; languages and culture; individuals and society; including history, geography, world religions, global politics, experimental sciences – i.e. chemistry, physics, biology, chemistry environmental science, and mathematics.

Anyone wanting details on the curriculum, its history, the nations and states using it can Google it (ibo.org, and for a definition, see Wikipedia) and do further research, as this program has been in existence for many years, in many places. Students could get a certificate, or if they take the final exam, a diploma.

The report includes a detailed, long list of application criteria, to be reviewed and scored by a panel made up of local higher education members. If, as often happens with new programs, there are too many students eligible, there will be a lottery.

The report includes a detailed budget, which includes costs of $236,000 for the year of planning, with two fulltime staff members, a fulltime clerical member, and $80,000 for staff development and miscellaneous expenses associated with starting up this program. In the succeeding years, costs will involve $1,050,500 for year 1`; $1,146,550 for year2; $1,877,412 for year 3, and $1, 969,049 in year 4, the year the first group “graduates.” Details are available from WPS administration.

Further costs for transportation can not be figured until we know where the selected students will be coming from.
The final section of the report contains a detailed timeline, starting with the December initial presentation to the school committee, then expects the school committee to schedule at least one public hearing on this idea, with oral and written comments to be received. From January through August 2015 the first year’s planning and training and hiring will take place, and in August 9 of that year and advisory council will be appointed.

In gathering the above material I spoke to a number of people who asked a number of questions, regarding location of the program, selection criteria to be used, the cost and source of the funds at a time when some of our classrooms have over 30 students because staff were laid off, and with many in only half-time kindergarten, and the advantage of IB over AP programs. There are also questions as to what effect this program would have on existing programs already working well in our schools. I would be very interested in the answers to these questions. This program is to be voted on yet, and there is much work to be done before the first class begins, if approved, in September 2016. Dr. Boone has already received comments and continues to hear from interested parties. Hopefully, there will be much input when the school committee, after voting approval, holds its first public hearing this month.

On a deeper philosophical level, I am concerned that this is a mere extension of existing programs, heavy on academics and testing, and not “innovative” but merely “new” to our schools. Massachusetts has always done well by the academically talented, as demonstrated by our #1 position in the various tests. But there is a great difference between the enrichment programs and the academically advanced programs, and the very rare, genuinely gifted programs, of which there appear to be very few in the public sphere in the U.S.

The criteria for identifying the creatively gifted, the innovators and the inventive, are quite different from those used to find those who will succeed in college. In my experience, the creative and innovative, who are so very important to our future, tend not to test well, tend to express boredom with routine and give unexpected answers to questions. They tend to take risks and pursue their own preoccupations, and are often the bane of teachers, as they give answers that are unexpected or of a higher order than those scored high by the test=makers. Study the life stories of the great inventors, the real innovators, the creators. They are characterized by unusual motivation in areas that fascinate them, they are not afraid of failing time and again in pursuit of an idea, and they are able to look at problems in different ways and see many solutions. They often score poorly on IQ or achievement tests, but seek solutions that may someday save us from disease, war, and other banes of civilization. They DO NOT usually appear in IB or AP programs. But they DO appear in the oddest places, regardless of family income, background, color, or culture.

If we were going to really innovate, these are the students we should find and nurture, as they are badly under-served. The IB program offers a great academic challenge above and beyond our AP programs, beginning at an earlier stage. Keep tuned …