Friday, October 15, 1999
CSA welcomes newcomers
On a recent gorgeous Friday morning, 18 newcomers to Carlisle were greeted by an equal number of "old-timers," including school Superintendant Davida Fox-Melanson, as the Carlisle School Association launched its "Friendly Faces" program. Friendly Faces matches each new family in the Carlisle School with a family that has been here awhile. The Friendly Faces family provides support, information, and general hand-holding as the new family overcomes the challenges of getting settled in their new community.
Friendly Faces is a new program of the CSA's Newcomer Services Group, formed in 1998. Then CSA President Kathy Rubenstein started Newcomer Services in response to the rising numbers of families (between 30 and 40) moving into the Carlisle School each year. Many on the CSA board remembered the disorientation of their own first months in Carlisle, and there was a general sense that something should be done to help.
Last year's Newcomer chair Chris DeBruzzi found that new residents were often tripped up by the little things. She was appalled, for example, to talk to moms who were trying to navigate the Carlisle social scene without benefit of either a Husky Handbook or Red Balloon Phone Book. Announcements and memos to parents sometimes carried an assumption that "everyone knows what this is and where to go"not true for the most recent arrivals who may never have experienced a Spaghetti Supper or French Café.
Building on Chris's experience, I took over the reins of Newcomers this year. A suggestion by Anne Marks that we start a newcomer buddy program similar to one in place in the Arlington Schools led to the Friendly Faces program. At our coffee on October 1, newcomers had an opportunity to meet each other, talk with the superintendent, and chat with members of the CSA. Conversation heard over coffee and cake confirmed the need for connection and information: "My kids seem to be fitting right in, but I've been too busy to meet anyone." "Someone told me there's a Stop and Shop in Chelmsford. Where's Chelmsford?" "My kid wants to play soccer, but I'm totally confused as to how to get him into a program." " I've been assuming the shaggy dog look since I have no idea where to get my hair cut." "How do I get to this Pig 'n Pepper? Is Westford far?" Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. "This was a great way to start making connections and begin to feel a part of the community," said Janet Bryan, a newcomer to Suffolk Lane.
Twenty-four new families with school-aged children have moved to Carlisle since last June. This is not counting many new kindergarten families, as the school has no way of identifying them. (New upper-classmen are identified as they are added to the enrollment).
Although we hear much about development in Carlisle, most of these newcomers are moving into existing neighborhoods such as Autumn Lane, Rutland Street, Nowell Farme Road, etc.
Friendly Faces will continue throughout the school year, and is free to all new parents with children entering the Carlisle Public School. For more information, please call Cecile Sandwen, CSA Newcomer Chair at 287-4369.
Other resources for newcomers include:
· Concord-Carlisle Newcomers Club - outings and socials for adults, playgroups for children (PO Box 162, Concord, MA 01742)
· Carlisle Parents Connection - activities and playgroups for pre-schoolers
· Concord-Carlisle Youth Resources: information and links to various children's programs and activites (website www.CC4Youth.colonial.net)
· Carlisle Public Schools Handbook: a CSA publication which describes rules, routines, and yearly events at the Carlisle School. Available from the Wilkins office (369-6550)
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito