Category Archives: InCity Voices

🇺🇸☑️The 2024 Presidential Race🇺🇸🗳️

By Jim Coughlin

Jim.🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 photo submitted.

Well, As I see it, it looks like next year’s presidential election will be a rematch between incumbent United States president Joseph R. Biden and former President Donald John Trump. There is a saying, “history repeats itself” and we, as a nation, should set our sails and get ready for this rocky election campaign to begin.

It has been approximately 70 years since the presidential elections of 1952 and 1956. They both featured President Dwight David Eisenhower, “Ike” as the Republican nominee and Adlai Stevenson, the then governor of Illinois as the Democratic nominee.

In both elections, Eisenhower handily defeated Stevenson.

In 1952, Eisenhower won 55.2 % of the popular vote to Stevenson’s 44.3 l %. In the electoral college, Eisenower won 442 to Stevenson’s 89, only managing to win 9 states, all of which were in the southern United States. Interestingly enough, Stevenson DID NOT even win his home state of Illinois in either election. In 1952, Stevenson won the southern states of West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas to capture 89 electoral votes.

I am told by a friend who is an avid political researcher and historian that the reason why Stevenson won those southern states is because his Vice Presidential running mate was an avowed segregationist.

In 1956, the results were similar in that Stevenson almost duplicated the states he won four years earlier, with the exceptions being that he lost both West Virginia and Louisiana. In the popular vote, Eisenhower won 57.4% to Stevensin’s 42.0%, and captured 41 electoral votes.

But next year’s election will not be anywhere close to the 1952 and 1956 elections. It could end up being the closest presidential election ever, even closer than the elections of 2000 that featured former president George W. Bush and former Vice President Al Gore, (involving Florida), and the one in 2004 between President George W. and Massachusetts’s own John F. Kerry, then a United States Senator, (involving Ohio.)

Unfortunately, it will be all about the great divide that we, as Americans and as a nation are currently experiencing between Democrats and Republicans, and between the backers of Biden and Trump. It does not have to be this way. But as history is our judge, our politics has in recent years got very combative and, indeed, extremely personal. Sady, today having a difference of opinion on which candidate one is supporting for president has been known to strain many friendships and relationships.

I believe that we, as Americans, can do better than that.We should learn to talk to each other and respect each other, and if I may invoke the age old adage of “to agree to disagree” and to above all respect the other person’s opinion, without taking offense at their differing opinions.

The best way to accomplish this is to begin to talk with people with whom we politically disagree. And to do it, respectfully. That is to listen to others, and their different views from our own, and to then see where common ground can be reached.

This is not an impossible task.

The national polls all indicate that this election will, indeed, be a cliffhanger between Biden and Trump. A recent poll that came out in the New York Times after the former president’s recent indictment by the United States District Court for the District of Washington, D.C. had both Biden and Trump at 43%.

However, this poll did not indicate the electoral college breakdown which at this stage is impossible to either predict or even speculate.

On the Republican side, there are about 14 candidates seeking the nomination, with only two of them, former Governors Chris Christy of New Jersey and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas being Trump critics. The remaining candidates all occupy the camp of those being either supportive of Trump, or are afraid to criticize him, while at the same time they are all wanting you to vote for them, instead.

Quite frankly, I can’t figure out that particular political reasoning.

Hutchinson, for his part in the wake of the recent Trump indictments has called upon him to end his candidacy, while Christie has been extremely critical of the former president, mostly for his poor judgement, especially in the area of good government issues and political transparency.

Together, Hutchinson and Christy along with another candidate, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd are Trump’s very well deserved opposition within the ranks of the Republican Presidential candidates.

Another candidate that is somewhat of a Trump critic is Trump’s former Vice President, Mike Pence who figured prominently in the attempted initial certification of the presidential vote by the United States Congress on January 6th, and the subsequent insurrection that occurred at the United States Capitol Building.

To his everlasting credit, Pence was a true leader that day when he refused to go along with Trump’s demand to have him as the Vice President block the certification by the Congress of the individual state’s votes for president. The proponents of this measure within Congress wanted to send some electoral votes back to the individual state legislatures what they called a “recertification of the votes.” If this was done, it would have undoubtedly resulted in the presidential election ultimately being decided by the United States House of Representatives.

In this process, according to the constitution, each state’s congressional delegation would have only one vote in selecting the next president of the United States, and NOT having the people of the United States decide who would be elected president of the United States.

This would have been EXTREMELY UNDEMOCRATIC for our republic. Thank goodness that this did NOT happen.

Pence has not registered too well in recent polling for the Republican nomination, mostly at about 3%. At this stage, it is not entirely certain whether Pence will be allowed on the debate stage on August 23rd with the other candidates because he needs to have an increase in two areas in order to qualify: campaign donations and better poll numbers. However, if he reaches those two postulates, this could be his moment to shine and publicly criticize Trump for what he has previously criticized him for, namely his concoction regarding the attempt to block the vote certifying the election of Joseph R. Biden as the 46th President of the United States on January 6, 2021.

If Christy gets to debate on August 23rd, he will undoubtedly add an especially good flair to the debate because he is especially well suited to challenge Trump on good government issues on which Trump is especially vulnerable given his past political performance in this particular area. He will be especially good at doing so because he can easily employ his very well developed lawyer skills as the former United States Attorney (for the District of New Jersey) in fighting it out with the former president.

One Republican candidate who may eventually become a strong contender for the nomination is South Carolina United States Senator Tim Scott who has been rising in recent public opinion polls. He could be a very strong candidate especially in the Iowa Caucuses that is historically known for its large number of Evangelical voters attending their party caucuses.

An issue that will surely surface within the Republican primaries is the question of Trump’s legitimacy as a candidate and whether the twice impeached, and three times indicted former president should be the Republican standard bearer to go against President Biden in November.

There is also the possibility that the former president may soon be indicted by the Fulton County District Attorney in Georgia for his well known effort in urging the Georgia Secretary of State (in a taped telephone conversation) to help him “find 11,780 more votes” which Trump said “was one more than he needed” in order to win the state.

It will be interesting to watch these issues eventually work themselves out in preparing for the Republican presidential nomination.

So, stay tuned and let the race to the GOP presidential nomination begin.

🙂Parents! For your consideration as we start the new school year!📚🎒

By John Monfredo, retired Worcester Public Schools teacher and principal and former WSC member

It’s back to school! Downtown Spencer, this morning: mom and son Yohan wait for the bus. photos: Rose T.

Yes, it’s back to school time! It’s time for parents to motivate their children to make the switch from vacation to school time.

Parents are the key to a successful school year!

Remember, research continues to say that no matter what the parents’ income or background was, students with involved parents continue to earn higher grades, enroll in higher level programs, attend school regularly, show improved behavior and successfully graduate and go on to higher education.

As a former teacher and principal, I can attest to that statement, for I have seen it happen. Parents can make a huge difference by encouraging their children to talk about their school day and listen to their thoughts about their school.

Remember, talking to your children about school sends a message that you value their education, and the discussions provide an opportunity for children to use the language they are learning in school.

Listen, I know firsthand that parenting is a difficult job, but it’s a rewarding job, too! So let’s look at some common sense approaches you can follow as you start the new school year with your children:

First, set up priorities such as bedtime for sleep is the center of a healthy lifestyle, and it will get your child off to a good start at school.

According to research, parents need to keep a bedtime routine during school time. An idea: an hour before bedtime put away all electronic devices and help children wind down. Use that last hour for reading before turning off the lights.

Staying with wellness, it is also important that your child eats a healthy diet. Remember, wellness and academics go hand in hand. Eating fruits and vegetables and getting in the proper amount of physical exercise is essential.

Moving on to reinforcement of learning:

Parents need to develop good management skills at home such as homework time, helping kids with their backpacks before turning in and placing their backpacks near the outside door.

Another management skill for parents: retrieve backpacks as soon as children come home and get those papers out! Sign those permission slips and add appointments on to the family calendar.

ROUTINES can be a powerful force in keeping everyone on the same page. Consider a checklist for the simple tasks of who gets to use the bathroom first and what’s for breakfast, if your child eats breakfast at home. Also, set the rules for cell phone use, computers and watching television during the school week.

Moving on to homework … Please consider these strategies:

As stated, make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. Try to avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions.
Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper and pencils are available.

Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.
Help your child with time management.

Lilac! You can’t go to school with Yohan!

Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don’t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.

Be positive about homework.
Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.
When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.
Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
Stay informed.

Talk with your child’s teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child’s class rules are.
Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.

Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.

Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.
Reward progress in homework.
If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

In addition, parents also need to make every effort to meet their child’s teacher early in the school year. Teachers are always very excited about meeting their new students and the new parents. It is always best to make an appointment to meet with your child’s teacher to introduce yourself and let them know you are there to support your child’s learning!

Taking time to meet and introduce yourself and your child to the school principal is also a way to let your child know other adults at the school are there to help them. These are especially good ideas to use if your child has special needs or if the family may be going through difficult times such as divorce, an illness or death of a family member, or a recent or pending move.

Another idea worth mentioning is … DO JOIN THE SCHOOL’S PARENT GROUP! You want to be informed!

These are just a handful of ideas that I would share with my parents when I was a teacher and principal. Try them out!

Best wishes for a great school year, and should you need any help/advice feel free to contact me at

Let’s all remember that “school is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside.” Remember, parents, you are essential to your child’s success! Stay positive and never give up!

🍿🎬FROM LUIS:🎥A Movie Review!🙂🎟️

By Luis Sanchez


Luis Sanchez. photo submitted

It has been approximately 20 minutes since I left the movie theater, and I am still speechless as to what I have just witnessed. This is what cinema was made for. Before I begin, I would like to clarify that there is an abundance of things to cover for this film, but I am unable to touch upon all of them in order to provide a general and open review of the movie as a whole.

Oppenheimer is a biographical film based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, it follows Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer as he takes part in the Manhattan Project and contributes heavily to the production of the first atomic bomb. It stars Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt as Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, Matt Damon as General Leslie Groves, and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss. With its cast alone the film gathers a lot of attention and is able to effectively convey to the viewer a complex plot that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

The film actually carries two stories: the creation of the atomic bomb and Strauss’ Senate confirmation hearing as Secretary of Commerce. Overall, I believe that both plots worked well together and actually complemented each other. In the beginning it felt as if both stories were on opposite ends, and I grew worried as to whether it would pay out in the end; however, the film does well on making them meet in the middle.

This movie takes the viewer on an educational ride where you will grow confused at times, but being patient will pay it all off. For the first hour or so of the film (it has a runtime of three hours) I was extremely overwhelmed. The film flipped back and forth between both stories which, as I mentioned before, felt as if they were on opposite ends. In addition, the film would flip back and forth rapidly. I believe there is not a singular “scene” in the first hour of the film that lasts for more than five minutes. The same goes for dialogue: the most two characters exchanged back and forth was perhaps for 10 lines, and the scene would once again change. Nevertheless, I believe this was done on purpose to provide more of an emphasis on the climax of both stories, when we see the scenes begin to last longer and the conversations slow down. Although, I still believe that some scenes could have been cut out to make the movie shorter. Taking those scenes out wouldn’t have made the movie better, but it would have allowed me to come home earlier.

There is also an intelligent play of visuals that further builds tension for the climax of the bomb. If the viewer pays close attention she may be able to catch a few references to theoretical physics in these visuals. Another thing to praise Christopher Nolan for is his minimal use of computer generated imagery (CGI) which helps keep the viewer grounded and feel more “inside” the story of Oppenheimer.

The audio effects of this movie deserve applause. We live in a time where a movie goes beyond what we see but rather what we feel. The more senses appealed, the greater the emotion evoked. I find it insane as to how I could simply close my eyes and only listen to this film yet still be able to feel what Oppenheimer was showcasing. There is great timing and contrast between the loud and the quiet. There is so much more to say but it is difficult to describe through words. The contrast, the parallels, the story. Sometimes the audio was more meaningful to me through what it did – not the voices. The audio was impactful at the right moments, sometimes lifting me off my seat more than any horror movie I’ve ever seen!

In the end, Oppenheimer is a masterpiece. I already want to go see it again, and I am most definitely reading the book before the summer ends.

I rate this movie 9.6/10 which is the highest I have ever rated a movie in my time writing movie reviews for CECELIA. A round of applause for Christopher Nolan! I would not be surprised if this film was nominated for an Oscar. I recommend you go and watch it in the movie theaters because that’s how it is meant to be experienced.

Remember, theory will only take you so far.


By Nahani Meuse

Two winters ago, outside the Federal Courthouse in Downtown Worcester. Photo: Rose T.

It has been 18 months since the Worcester City Council asked for a report on heating and cooling centers in Worcester. It has been SEVEN months since Worcester City Manager Eric Batista told the City Council that Worcester was just 60 days away from finalizing agreements on heating and cooling centers in our city. For the homeless, our seniors and most vulnerable.

And here we are, with still NO access to appropriate cooling or warming centers in the second largest city in New England, Worcester.

What is happening here? Where is the accountability? Where is the HUMANITY?

We have a rising homeless population being absolutely failed at every level. Loss of shower programs. Loss of detox and treatment beds. Loss of client-centered shelters. Homeless encampment sweeps. One year-round homeless shelter at capacity. No affordable housing options. New planned projects several years out.

Public housing waitlists pushing a decade or more. Dwindling housing subsidies. No cooling or heating centers. In two months we could be looking at near-freezing temperatures outdoors, and yet the City Manager has no plans for keeping people safe.

Dozens of homeless advocates and professionals continue to plead with the City for services – plead for funding and plead for adequate shelter beds.

Fundraisers have been held.

Properties have been visited, vetted and construction plans proposed.

Private funders have offered the capital. The benefit is clear, the data supports the model proposed, and yet the City Administration wants to focus on solely housing.

That sounds amazing, in theory; we would all prefer that everyone be housed versus staying in a shelter.

However, we know that is not realistic. The affordable housing stock does not exist here in Worcester! The affordable units planned are many years out! So where should the city’s unsheltered population live for the next 5 to 15 years while they await an affordable option?

Unsheltered folks are routinely offered “SRO” (single room occupancy) options that force them to live in congregate settings that are not well managed, theft runs rampant, and code violations make the unit uninhabitable.

When someone voices a legitimate complaint, they’re ignored. Many of these “rooming houses” log dozens of emergency calls every month. This is not a solution, these are trap houses that continue to victimize an already rampantly abused and overlooked population.

July 26 and July 27 the City allowed the Worcester Public Library on Salem Square and the Worcester Senior Center on Providence Street to offer space for cooling. Two whole days this entire summer that folks were offered a cooling option. That is shameful!

What about the 61-year-old woman sleeping unsheltered on Lincoln Street who couldn’t walk to the library or senior center? What about the severely asthmatic 34-year-old sleeping unsheltered at Bell Pond who couldn’t get to the library or the senior center? What about all the folks who “could” make it to the library but had to leave at 5 pm when it closed, although the sweltering temperatures would persist until sun down?

Does anyone care? What are we doing in Worcester if we don’t value human life and human decency?

🍁Next week school!🏫 🎒 Worcester Public Schools families and students, here’s some advice!📚🥞💻


By John Monfredo, retired Worcester Public Schools teacher and principal and former Worcester School Committee member

Mr. Monfredo and hundreds of books donated to his and his wife Annemarie’s annual book drive – all for Worcester County kids! photos submitted.📚

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
in any direction you choose!

– Dr. Seuss.

Greetings from CECELIA/InCity Times, WPS students, parents and school staff!

It’s back to school time, and this week one can hear all over our city the voices of kids and parents: “I can’t believe that school has started! Summer vacation is over!”

Yes, if you live in Worcester, school starts this coming Monday, August 28 – for WPSchools grades 1 to 12, with pre-school and kindergarten children starting school August 31. Our city schools will be screening kindergarten children by appointment from August 28 onwards …

Putting on my former school principal hat (Belmont Community for years!), I would like to urge our teachers, especially our new teachers to the school district, to reach out to our parents early on and write a letter to them introducing themselves, stating their goals for the year and letting parents know that they want them to part of the learning process. Parents are too often an untapped asset in building our students’ pathways to success.

Again, as I have mentioned several times in the past, research confirms that regardless of a parents’ background, when PARENTS are involved in their children’s education, the results are more student success! You don’t need to be a researcher to know that family involvement can make a positive difference in school attendance, student behaviorand academic achievement. What is needed is for schools to develop and ensure that parent involvement is embraced and not just given lip service. All schools need to welcome family members to their schools. If schools don’t make the invite, the lack of positive interaction will stifle family-school connections.

furniture 017
Back to school, Worcester!

I would also encourage our WPS teachers to call parents throughout the school year with good news about their children, for so many times the only conversation parents have with the teacher is when something goes wrong. A one-minute telephone call to a parent with good news can make a difference in the climate of a school. As a former principal, I can attest that this strategy of accentuating the positive works! It’s a fantastic way to establish rapport with parents. In addition, every teacher needs to keep in mind that students may forget what you said, students may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Thus, a message of “I care” about you succeeding in school must be established.

Get kids reading – read to them, too!

Moving on to our parents …
As mentioned YOU are essential in the success of your child having a successful school year. At home parents need to set up priorities such as bedtime because sleep is at the center of a healthy lifestyle, and your child needs to get off to a good start in the morning. According to research, it’s essential that parents keep a bedtime routine – especially during school time. Another suggestion is an hour before bedtime put away all electronic devices to help kids wind down and use that time for reading before turn they in for the night.

breakfast-parfait-cocoa-637x320-1513965834 (1)
Healthy breakfast parfaits are tasty, too! Make sure kids eat a terrific breakfast – remember, our schools provide free breakfast and lunch to all WPS students!

Another wellness tip is for children to eat well – have a healthy diet. Wellness and academics go hand in hand. Eating fruits and vegetables is essential, as well as making sure that your child has the proper amount of physical exercise. Remember – healthy students tend to do well in school.

Parents need to develop good management practices at home with their children, such as establishing homework time and helping their child pack their school backpacks before turning in and placing them near your front door. Speaking of backpacks, parents need to retrieve them as soon as their children come home and get those papers out – sign permission slips and add appointments on the family calendar. Routines can be a potent force in keeping everyone on the same track. Consider a checklist for the simple tasks of who gets to use the bathroom first and what’s for breakfast.

Luis Sanchez! Get your kids involved in school sports – fun and good for bodies and minds!

Parents need to work with their child on the importance of concentration, whether it is in studying your math facts or studying for a trigonometry test. Research suggests that turning off access to emails and computer games is essential. Also, set the rules … the cell phone, computer and the television are off limits during homework time. Most important, find a quiet place for your child to study.

Other suggestions:

· Review the school’s handbook and the district’s web site.

· Contact the teacher immediately if your child doesn’t understand an assignment or if you notice a change in your child’s behavior or school performance.

· Worth mentioning … participate in parent meetings and conferences and special events at the school. Do join the school’s Parent o?Organization!

On behalf of CECELIA/InCity Times, I wish everyone a great school year!

Don’t forget – visit your library for school projects and to supplement what’s being taught in the classroom! CECELIA file photo: Jim Coughlin

And should you need any advice or assistance, please feel free to contact me at

📚🎒🇺🇸💻Meet Maureen Binienda, Worcester School Committee candidate!📣🚸🥦🎈👗👟🏵️

By John Monfredo, retired Worcester Public Schools teacher and principal and former Worcester School Committee member

maureen closeup 2 2023
Maureen Binienda built her education career at Worcester’s South High School, first as a teacher, then as assistant principal and finally principal. She was loved by students and parents and always put students first. Her innovative programs addressed hunger, poverty, kids’ dental, health and hygiene – as well as their education and career needs. photos submitted

Former Worcester School Superintendent and longtime South High principal and teacher Maureen Binienda is running for Worcester School Committee. To my knowledge, she will be the first school superintendent in Worcester to ever run for a seat on the School Committee! I believe if elected, she will bring a wealth of knowledge to the job surrounding teaching, staffing our schools, appropriate courses, student physical and mental health, AP class work, sports, internships and career exploration, mentors, the needs of poorer students and families and more.

As an educator for 47 years, Mrs. Binienda is well known in Worcester and well liked. She’s been in many roles and tirelessly served our school system with so much dedication and pride! As a former Worcester School Committee member and WPS teacher and principal, I have had many conversations with the public about Maureen Binienda. Community members spoke to me about her passion for education, her amazing work ethic, her love for the city and, most important, her willingness to do all that she can do to provide the best education and more for all our children. As many stated, she follows through on her commitments.

As a Worcester School Committee member, if elected, I believe Maureen would bring passion, knowledge, empathy, honesty, years of experience, love of kids and integrity to the job. Parents have always appreciated her reaching out and giving them a chance to articulate their opinions. As one parent said to me several years ago: “Mrs. Binienda has an outstanding work ethic, is able to look at both sides of an issue, knows how to establish consensus, and is well respected by the community.”

City students and their parents depend on an excellent Worcester Public Schools system for so many things in addition to the “three R’s”! File photo Rose T.

The time and effort Maureen puts into her job has been outstanding – because not only is she seen everywhere within the community, she is not afraid to deal with difficult problems within our school district. In addition, Maureen gives of herself in assisting others. For example, helping start South High’s Andy’s Attic where needy kids can get free gently used clothing, coats, shoes and boots. She’s been spotted volunteering at Andy’s Attic on a Saturday – sorting clothes for those in need.

Watching with pride …

She’s helped bring cheer to our immigrant families and adult education students at the Fanning building in downtown Worcester by helping serve Thanksgiving dinner for a community feast. She’s fought to assist our students in need pushing for scholarships for them from our local colleges.

In an interview with Binienda, I inquired why she was running for the school committee. She said, “I am committed to this community and want to continue to do all that I can in making a difference for our children and their parents. I have devoted 47 years of my life to education and want to continue to share my expertise in helping our district move forward. I just love trying to make a difference in our city.”

Having spent a lifetime at South High as a teacher, assistant principal and principal, I asked her to talk about some of the accomplishments that were close to her heart. She spoke about her assisting in the establishment of Andy’s Attic, the start of a South High food pantry, rallies to encourage all students to enroll in AP courses, the building of relationships with students, early on being a life-guard at the old South High, directing the South cheerleading team, being its variety show director, starting community service projects for the kids to engage in and tying those events into the teaching of volunteerism and civics … and a host of other terrific endeavors.

Then, in 2016, there was an opening for superintendent in our Worcester school system, and Maureen embraced the challenge. She applied for the job. In an interview for the position, she referred to herself as an individual who will go above and beyond to educate and support our WPS students. Since that interview she has more than lived up to her promise. As our school superintendent she was innovative and led the Worcester Public Schools with vigor and professionalism. Thanks to her leadership the district was more prepared to get through the COVID pandemic with improved technology programs and the purchase of the necessary computers for our students. During that period, we had students engaged in meaningful opportunities in and outside of school. In addition, there was an expansion of the College and Career Opportunities at the high school level, with such programs as an expanded AP Capstone, an expanded College Application Celebrity Day … more students received the Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas and additional training for students in their PSAT and SAT testing continued. Chronic absenteeism was reduced, as well as suspension rates. Maureen also provided additional professional development to instructional staff in early literacy, math, science and social emotional learning. Under her watch, she placed school safety within the schools as a high priority and emphasized positive relationships, respectful interactions, acceptance and caring for others. She also brought to the school district many nationally known speakers. Our school district emphasized the importance of sharing information with staff on bias, discipline and social and emotional learning.

One of the loves of Maureen’s life: South High!

When asked what will be the main areas that she will discuss during her campaign for Worcester School Committee she stated: “My focus will address the following:

“1. Providing a safe school environment for ALL students, review current discipline policies and practices, and look for input from staff members and PTO‘s as to what needs to be done.

“2. Monitoring the fiscal budget ensuring that funding costs address the needs of the district.

“3. Connecting schools with the community to provide additional academic, cultural and civic opportunities for students to learn and grow.

“Obviously, there will be additional topics to discuss but those would be my top priority.”

This past school year, Mrs. Binienda finished up as interim superintendent at Quaboag School District and will now be in a similar role for one year at the Easthampton School District. When asked if this would present a problem in her run for Worcester School Committee, she said there will not be a problem with her new position, if she is elected to the school committee post in Worcester this fall.

There you have it! We wish Mrs. Maureen Binienda much success in the coming weeks as she campaigns for Worcester School Committee!

Maureen Binenda and John Monfredo acknowledging WPS students’ hard work and achievements.

🗳️Pam’s Village Vignette and Luis’ movie review🍿

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts – Movie Review

By Luis Sanchez

Luis Sanchez. photo submitted

A movie directed by Steven Caple Jr. stars Anthony Ramos as Noah Diaz and Dominique Fishback as Elena Wallace. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts takes place after the events of Bumblebee (2018). The audience sees Noah and Elena work together with the autobots and the maximals as they try to stop the Earth from being eaten by Unicron.

I have always been a huge Transformers fan, and the movies played a role in my interest in robotics. But with a new movie this year I was able to see it from a different perspective.

To begin with, I think that the humans are a huge downside of any Transformers movie. It takes away from the large-scale battles. I always feel as if the humans are only there to place a risk on humanity which would be the only reason that viewers would be interested in the conflict of the movie. This is incorrect. I think that a movie can still be successful without having human characters in it. All it takes is for the director to place an emphasis on the different world at stake, and that will make everyone interested. I have seen different Transformers shows that take place on Cybertron, which is the world where some of the Transformers are originally from, and I have been invested in it. The humans in this movie just make it seem less genuine to the Transformers name. I wish we could see a movie about the Transformers – not just a side quest where they try to protect the Earth.

One of the standout aspects of this film lies in its awe-inspiring visual effects. From the very first frame, the audience is transported into a world where giant transforming robots coexist with humanity. The meticulous attention to detail in the CGI brings these colossal mechanical beings to life, showcasing their intricate designs and the seamless integration of their robotic and human forms. Every explosion, every transformation, is a feast for the eyes, immersing us in a dazzling display of cutting-edge technology. The visual effects team has truly outdone themselves, capturing the essence of the beloved Transformers franchise in a way that feels both nostalgic and fresh.

But it’s not just the stunning visuals that make this film shine. The heart of any great blockbuster lies in its storytelling, and this film delivers with an engaging and satisfying plot. While some may argue that the narrative follows a familiar formula, it is the execution that sets it apart. The filmmakers masterfully balance exhilarating action sequences with moments of genuine emotion and character development. We become invested in the struggles and triumphs of both the human protagonists and their robotic allies, rooting for them as they navigate a world on the brink of chaos. The plot takes unexpected twists and turns, keeping us guessing and ensuring that the excitement never wanes.

Overall, this movie was satisfactory. It did not surpass any of my expectations, but it did meet them. I’m glad I get to see many of these autobots in the big screen again, but I sure hope that one day I will get to see a film in their own habitat. I will rate this movie a 5/10 and recommend waiting for a digital release to watch it with your family.


Voting in Quinsigamond Village

By Pamela Jordan

Yes, half the country felt this way about Trump!

This is a different kind of Village Vignette … a semi-political one. I remember Election Day. The voting booths were set up in the all-purpose room of Quinsigamond Elementary. There was always a coinciding bake sale to raise money for school adventures. It was always very popular-a vote and a cake.

The Village was predominantly Democratic, although there was no minute breakdown of voting patterns back then. The Democratic lean came from the presence of the many Union members who called the Village home.

It followed in subsequent generations. I am a dyed-in-the wool Democrat and will be until I die. The first campaign I ever worked for was McGovern v. Nixon and we know how that turned out! The Dems are for the working man, the Republicans protect the rich – a sentiment that still exists today.

Regardless of how you normally vote, we cannot allow a twice impeached, twice indicted (with more to come), guilty sexual abuser, disgraced ex-president another shot at the White House. He has no regard for the rule of law and has been caught red-handed with classified documents. Once again it comes down to tape recordings of Trump admitting he held on to vital documents. He stamps his feet and say “Mine, Mine, Mine!”

He has a core base of around 35% of Republican voters who drank the Kool-Aid and will believe anything he says. Past that, he has ruined the Republican Party in the circus-like House where very little is getting done for America. They have gone so far as allowing an indicted Rep. George Santos of NY to keep his seat in order to maintain a slim margin in the House. No useful bills of any significant importance have been proposed by Republicans.

So I am off the soap box. I wonder if there are still bake sales on Voting Day at Quinsigamond Elementary? If you know, please let me know.

🌹Remembering Sara J. Robertson, Worcester’s first woman mayor👏

By Jim Coughlin

Jim Coughlin. photo submitted.

Sara J. Robertson served as Worcester’s first woman mayor from 1982 to 1984. She died May 8 at her home in Hobe Sound, Florida. She was previously elected to the Worcester School Committee in 1969 and became the fourth woman elected to the Worcester City Council in 1979.

The Worcester City Council until 1973 could have been considered a “men’s club” because no women had ever been elected. Then came the election of 1973 when three women were elected to the council: Mary Scano, Barbara J. Sinnott and Barbara C. Kohin. That year was considered “The Year of the Women.”

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Candidate Sara Robertson, 1985. Photos courtesy of the Worcester Historical Museum.

In the November 1975 election, the women councillors were all defeated for re-election. Robertson was elected to the School Committee in 1969 – she was not popularly elected mayor.
Robertson followed in the footsteps of the first two women elected to the school committee: Helen Bowditch and Christine Plumley, both of whom were elected in the 1960s.

However, the story of how she became Worcester’s Mayor from 3,000 miles away, living in Long Beach, California is very telling: She came out East to live in Boston in the early 1960s to get her Masters Degree in government at Boston University. Shortly after that, she moved to Worcester. Robertson, while living in California, was active in the League of Women Voters, and interestingly when she first came to Worcester, The League of Women Voters was the very first political connection that she made here.

It was this relationship that marked the beginning of Robertson’s political involvement in Worcester that would later see her elected to both the Worcester School Committee and City Council and eventually being made Worcester Mayor by her fellow councillors in 1982.

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A power broker.

Robertson served as the League’s president for three years. It was from this position that she was able to become recognized for her good government efforts which included women from the league sitting in on City Council meetings as observers and conducting efforts to register new voters for the first time outside of Worcester City Hall. In October 2006, Robertson made a recording for the Worcester Women’s Oral History Project in which she candidly spoke of her political history in the city. She described this particular effort as “what she did that put her on the map.”

The Worcester City Council had voted to approve voter registration sites outside of City Hall for the very first time. However, Robert J. O’Keefe, the Worcester City Clerk who at the time ran the city’s elections and voter registration, refused to do it.

Robertson relayed the following story: The first registration site was all set to take place in Green Island. However, as it turned out, it was initially not that easy. There was a door closed by the City Clerk. This was something that she probably didn’t anticipate happening. But Robertson persevered and subsequently enrolled a city councillor along with a monsignor in the Worcester Catholic Diocese (who later became bishop) in order to make the voter registrations possible.

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Mayor Robertson in 1983. Serving the people of Worcester with grace and class.

Robertson was ready to go that night. She attached a loud speaker to her station wagon, anticipating that voter registrations would happen, and had tables and chairs set up. Even though the city council voted for the voter registrations, the obstinate City Clerk had refused to come down and register the new voters. (Early voter suppression?)

She recalled: “I called (City Councillor) Joe Tinsley and he came down and said, ‘Bob, we (the city council) voted for this to happen, come on.’

Bob said ‘No, I’m not going to do it,’ she said.

Robertson quoted O’Keefe as saying, ‘If people can’t come down to City Hall to register, they shouldn’t vote.’

However, this setback did not deter Worcester’s first female mayor from still working on this effort. She then enrolled a religious leader in an attempt to sway the O’Keefe from his refusal to adhere to a vote of the Worcester City Council, approving of the registrations.

“I got on the phone with Monsignor (Timothy J.) Harrington, not a bishop yet, and I said, ‘Monsignor, we are having a problem here at Green Island.’ I knew we had a good bond. I’m not even Catholic. He (the Monsignor) came down and said, ‘Bob O’Keefe, I think you want to go down there and register people.’ And that’s how it happened. These vignettes. Yes, I did make a difference. And we did it all over the city. It was great.”

Sara Robertson was very right for challenging the former city clerk relating to new voter registrations. She and her colleagues in the League of Women Voters should have been openly welcomed and embraced by O’Keefe – not rejected.

It should not have been necessary for Robertson to complain to a city councillor and a member of Worcester’s clergy in order to have the City Clerk comply with the council vote providing for the voter registrations. Government works best when it reaches out to the citizenry to bring new voters into the political process. That is what our democracy should be about. The voter registrations should have been a natural for the City Clerk, and not something that he was being forced into doing. This is still happening all over America – voter suppression in Black and minority and poor communities.

Through out her political career, Robertson was known for her patience, persistence and diligence – in being very directed in whatever she wanted to accomplish. She was always known for being a good government city councillor and mayor. Perhaps, it would be fair to call Robertson an “iconoclastic” mayor. An iconoclast is one who challenges long held customs, values and traditions of the past.

In 1991, then Mayor Jordan Levy decided not to seek re-election of being chosen by his council colleagues to lead the City Council. This election of mayor, which Robertson eventually won, once again showed the people of Worcester the political strength and determination that Robertson possessed. She demonstrated that she could be just as assertive and effective in winning the Worcester mayoralty as her male colleagues had been in the past.

There were four candidates in contention for the Mayoralty: Thomas J.Early, John B. Anderson, Joseph M. Tinsley and Timothy J Cooney, Jr. Robertson’s name was not in the mix. It took the councillors 27 ballots to choose a mayor and the voting extended over a number of weeks from November to mid-December.

Robertson, Sara J (1983)
A Worcester booster!

Some of the contenders dropped out of the selection process, thereby releasing their supporters to vote for other candidates. One of those Mayoral contenders was Councillor Timothy J. Cooney who served as Mayor in 1987. Cooney was the last mayor selected from amongst the council members before the city charter was changed providing for the direct election of the mayor by the people, with the top vote getter in the council race automatically ascending to the Mayor’s chair.

Cooney had nothing but praise for his former council colleague: “She had a lot of energy and was well spoken on the council floor. She did an excellent job serving as mayor. She made her mark being a woman mayor. There were nine councillors, and she was the only woman and I’m sure it wasn’t easy.”

Cooney said Robertson’s election as mayor “was a surprise to everyone.” He speculated that Councillors Levy and Tinsley were the people who were very instrumental and pulled Robertson’s mayoral election together. Tinsley was the 5th and deciding vote on December 15, 1981 making Robertson Mayor. At this meeting, he announced his support for Robertson, extended his hand and congratulated the mayor-elect.

Interestingly, Kathleen Toomey, the niece of former City Councillor and Mayor Tinsley is now a member of the city council. In the past, Toomey has told me, “I am a Tinsley.”

In a article in the Worcester Telegram published on May 8, 2023, Robertson once said and thereby verified Cooney’s “surprise assertion” amongst councillors after she was chosen as Mayor in 1981. Robertson was quoted as saying in the Evening Gazette on December 16, 1981 after her election as mayor in 1981, ” l am just stunned. I’m just shaking.This is just unbelievable.”

I happened to be in attendance at the city council meeting that night. I witnessed, first-hand, the surprise on the part of councillors and those in the audience at Robertson’s historic election or should I say, “herstoric” election. After the vote, I had a conversation with the Mayor-Elect’s husband, Gavin, that evening outside the city council chambers.

Robertson was the city’s first woman councillor who succeeded in breaking the glass ceiling at Worcester City Hall in relationship to the Mayor’s office. Because of Robertson, her mayoralty opened the door for another future woman mayor, Konstantina B. “Konnie” Lukes to serve as Worcester mayor from 2007 to 2009.

Worcester mayors, before Robertson, did not promote Worcester the way she did during her mayoralty. She brought a new vitality and energy to City Hall and in particular to the Mayor’s office. 1982 – when she became mayor – also marked the opening of the Worcester Centrum. Before then, Worcester was not a place that many from outside the city would come to visit. However, the opening of the Centrum also happened in 1982 which dramatically changed all that. For the first time, Worcester was being visited by people of all ages, especially the young, from throughout New England for all kinds of events at the Centrum – including music concerts. Before this, Worcester was in effect, “land locked” in that those who lived here stayed here, and very few from outside, came to the city.

All of a sudden, Worcester became an attractive place to visit. This paved the way for Robertson to become a very effective ambassador for promoting the city. She was frequently a guest on Boston television and radio stations and appeared throughout the region before various chambers of commerce and other civic groups. Robertson was an excellent marketing agent for promoting our city’s great gems and resources: our higher educational institutions; our public schools and our then-budding high tech and world-class technology.

During her mayoralty, and as a result of her promoting the city, Worcester’s perception in the public mind throughout Massachusetts and New England was forever changed from previously being regarded as “Boston’s largest suburb” to now being a city on the move. Worcester was a city on the upswing in part because of Robertson. As a direct result, Worcester was then placed in greater business, educational and governmental competition with the other large cities in southern New England such as Boston, Springfield Hartford and Providence.

Currently, a majority of the membership of the City Council is composed of women: there are six women and five men.

Robertson’s legacy in Worcester’s government is, indeed, a strong one. She started the tradition of more women serving on the Worcester City Council, which continues to this day and, as a result, the city council is more representative of the citizens of Worcester. She was, indeed, a political trailblazer in making it much easier for the many women councillors who succeeded her. Among them were Stacey Luster Dubois, Barbara Haller, Konstantina “Konnie” B. Lukes, Kathleen Toomey, Sarai Rivera, Candy Mero-Carlson, Donna M. Colorio, Thu Nguyen and Etel Haxhiaj.

If Sara Robertson could look down from the heavens above and see the city council’s current six women, it would undoubtedly bring much satisfaction to her.

On a personal note, when Sara Robertson was serving on the Worcester School Committee inspired me as a student at Doherty High School in the early 1970s. Somehow, I had thought that the voices of young people were not welcomed at City Hall. However, Sara set me straight and she and I had a conversation in which she encouraged me to directly petition the City Council with my ideas for Public Policy initiatives. Her suggestion directly resulted in me being successful before the City Council with a number of my initiatives. Among them were the City Manager Francis J. McGrath Blvd behind the Worcester Public Library at Salem Street in honor of the former City Manager, the re-naming of the Worcester Federal Court House, (done through an act of Congress) in honor of former Worcester Congressman Harold D. Donohue. The City Manager’s had enrolled former Congressman Joseph D. Early on my petition, and his effort resulted in his filing a bill in the House of Representatives renaming the Federal Court House.

Another one of my efforts before the City Council was was the naming of The Elizabeth L. “Betty” Price Park on the site that once stood Prospect House, the multi service center that Betty had served as Executive Director for many years.

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1994: the official Mayor Sara Robertson/City of Worcester portrait unveiled. Hanging in Worcester City Hall where you can view it, along with the city’s other past mayors/community leaders.

In a recent telephone interview with Sara Robertson’s son, Gordon, who currently serves as the Director of Planning, Design and Construction for the Parks and Recreation Department in Denver, Colorado, he lauded his mother for her service to the City of Worcester. He said, “My mother, Sara Robertson, dedicated the majority of her adult professional life to the City of Worcester. She loved the City, but more importantly, she loved the people of Worcester. And she fought for them. My two sisters and I, Bonnie and Sarah, lived her love for the City by campaigning with her, going to festivals and VFW halls, and entertaining families and acquaintances from all over the City. It was a rich childhood of experiences that we wouldn’t trade for the world. We admired our mother for her strength of character and convictions. We are proud of her glass shattering at City Hall and her devotion to her friends and family.”

“We miss her very much,” he said.

On Friday, June 2, members of the Robinson family held a reception at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester for members of the public who came by to visit with them and paid their respects.

Mayor Sara J. Robertson truly was a pioneer, and her legacy will carry on with the women now serving on the Worcester City Council.

🙂From the Worcester Historical Museum … CELEBRATE!🥳

SMILEY is making his rounds at NNO WORCESTER! photos: Worcester Historical Museum

From the Worcester Historical Museum, 30 Elm St., Worcester:


After a three-year hiatus, National Night Out (NNO), Worcester was celebrated by hundreds this past Tuesday at Fuller Family Park in Main South.

NNO is a crime prevention event celebrating the connection of local law enforcement and the community, aimed at promoting police-community building and partnerships to make our neighborhoods a safer place to live.

The Worcester Historical Museum had a very special guest spreading positivity and good will to all in attendance: SMILEY!🙂


Join us and Smiley🙂, Friday, October 6🍁 at Elm Park🌲!
1 p – 4 p for the 25th World Smile Day Community Celebration!🎉🥳

Too cute!

Special thanks to our local law enforcement agencies for all they do to make our community a safe place to live, work and play!

The WPD🙂 coordinator of the event is all SMILES!🙂🙂🙂

Today is always the right day to make new friends! And SMILE!🙂

🎓🎈Worcester Public Schools High School Seniors Write Their Futures👏

By John Monfredo, retired WPS teacher and principal and former Worcester School Committee member.

Last month’s CECELIA highlighted the talents of Worcester and Spencer high school graduates. Photo: R.T.

CECELIA/InCity Times wishes our local high school graduates the best in all their future endeavors. We know that they will go on to do great things! To our graduates: you are now starting on a new journey. We hope that you never lose sight of your dreams and ambitions.

With that in mind, CECELIA newspaper held an essay contest across Worcester for our busy seniors. We asked them to write essays about their dreams and plans after high school graduation. After a very difficult time judging the essays (all were very good), my wife Annemarie – a retired Nelson Place teacher – and I came up with our three top winners: Gold Medal winner was Kiana Rodriguez of Worcester Technical High School, Silver Medal winner – Davien Sawyer of Doherty High School, and Bronze Medal winner was Tommy Nguyen, also of Doherty High School. Runners up were Gabriel Pinon of Worcester Technical High School, Teagan Dunn of Burncoat Senior High School and Anthony Alves of Doherty High School. Prizes for their efforts were awarded by the Woo Sox, the Worcester Bravehearts and the Worcester Historical Museum.

Kiana Rodriguez wrote in her winning essay that almost every 2023 high school senior is buzzing with excitement and is looking forward to making a difference in the community. She wrote: “How can I possibly make a small difference to help benefit our world? Ever since I was little, I always imagined a career in the healthcare field. As I grew older this plan solidified more, and I found the career I am passionate about and want to pursue. A pediatrician is a doctor who works toward helping children and moderating their health. Not only do I want to be a pediatrician, I want to specialize in pediatric oncology. My small difference towards the world is helping cure kids of deadly diseases that impact their daily lives.”

Silver Medal winner Davien Sawyer sees his future in the business world. He plans to attend UMass Amherst and major in business at the Isenberg School of Management. He indicated: “One of my long-term goals is to open my own business. Studying business at UMass Amherst, in my opinion, is the ideal first step toward achieving this goal. I am excited to learn from world-class faculty and gain a deep understanding of business practices at the Isenberg School of Management, which is largely viewed as one of the best business schools in the country … I also recognize that starting a business is difficult, and that there will inevitably be setbacks and failures along the way. I am committed to learning from my mistakes and developing the resilience required to continue working toward my goals.” He also wrote that he plans to work hard to achieve his goals and make a positive difference in the world.

Bronze Medal winner Tommy Nguyen of Doherty High, in his opening lines voiced, “I can now place a checkmark next to a high school diploma after 12 years of working for it. Now begins the biggest challenge of my life to date … My college journey will start. Since I was young, I always wanted to experience college life because of the great stories I heard from the people around me … Academically, as a college student I will be majoring in computer/electrical engineering. I want to join the 4+1 program where I get my master’s degree in my fifth year of college, instead of staying for the typical six years.

“Hopefully my college journey will go as smoothly as my high school … I will be the second person in my family to get a college degree and the first to get a masters when I complete my college journey.“

Next, Anthony Alves, another Doherty High School student who was a runner up, also plans to attend college because his dream is to become a Mechanical Engineer. He went on to write in his essay: “Success has many different meanings to different people. For me, success means being able to help others through the knowledge I have learned and being a kind person who just wants to make life easier for others. I have gained many positive qualities through my schooling and upbringing that will help me be successful in my career of choice which is engineering… My future goals are to create or build things that will benefit people in need. The people should always come first and making life easier for them would be an accomplishment. I want to use my knowledge and talent to create products that will make this world a little better.”

Runner-up Gabriel Pinon wrote that right now he is interested in becoming a licensed plumber. He wrote: “Plumbing is my first choice as a career right now, but I cannot tell the future and I may not enjoy it as much as I think I will. My back-up plan will definitely be to enlist into the Army.” Gabriel went on to write that being young gives him many opportunities to explore paths in life and, perhaps if more people did just that, people would live happier lives. In the end, he said, “Definitely do try to have one career that you can focus on, but leave space and keep an eye out for any opportunities to take. It is okay to take risks while you are young.”

Our other runner up, Teagan Dunn from Burncoat High, has big plans. She first wants to graduate from Fitchburg State University and then work on a doctoral degree. She has many thoughts about the future, from being an actress, to movie director and writer. As a successful individual she wants people to ask her how she did it and her answer would be: “By being kind and working hard. Kindness is fleeting in our world, but I believe some still have hope and are waiting for a voice to speak for them … I am independent in every way and love to show off my work. I am an intelligent woman who wants to lead an army of respect.”

Congratulations to all the Worcester Public Schools seniors who participated in our essay contest! We wish all of our graduates much success and happiness! Remember the words of Minor Myers, Jr: “Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.”

John Monfredo with hundreds of donated books from his annual WORCESTER: THE CITY THAT READS BOOK DRIVE. photo submitted.


🎓Cute note to us from a WPS senior – Teagan Dunn – who participated in our essay contest:

“Hi, Mr. Monfredo!

“I’m not sure if you remember me, but I won runner up in that essay contest for what I wanna do after college, and I emailed you to say thank you for the opportunity and gift bag. I’m only reaching out again to say thank you again! I went to that Woo Sox game with my step-sister and had so much fun! We even got our hands signed by an opposing team member who happened to be standing by, and we just couldn’t waste the opportunity like everyone else in the crowd! … Thank you so much again! We had an amazing time and saw not only our team win but a great fireworks display afterwards!

“I’ve been meaning to email you sooner, but so many things have gotten in the way and my personal life, and I finally just had a moment to sit down and gather my thoughts and say what I wanted to say: how much this means to me! … Oh, before I forget!, #5 of the Iron Pigs (team) who signed our hands used a pen my theater teacher had given me and other students in our class. He said that he hopes we would use these pens in the future when we are famous and signing autographs. So it’s a cool thought – to know that I had someone in the big leagues holding that same pen!”

– Teagan Dunn