Friday, October 27, 2000
I've always found writing editorials one of my least favorite elements of this job. This is one of the hardest I'll ever write, because with this issue we say good-bye to Mary Hult as the Mosquito's news editor. Although she swears she'll still be involved with the paper in some aspect, her daily presence and guidance will be greatly missed here at the office.
I first got to know Mary years ago, when I chaired the Carlisle School Association meetings and Mary's husband Tim was a school committee member. Those were the contentious days of massive school overrides and town divisiveness, of highly emotional school committee meetings followed by equally tense CSA meetings. I recall Mary, sitting like the quiet center of a whirlwind, responding calmly to parents' overwrought questions, saying that she could not speak for the school committee because that was her husband's province, but that these concerns could be best handled by attending a school committee meeting and posing the questions to the people who could answer them. How simple; how sensible. And people listened to her.
Years later, I came to admire these qualities of objectivity and level-headedness yet again when I began working with her as a fellow editor. Whether struggling through a time of town scandal or Town Meeting, Mary has always embodied for me that first line of Kipling's poem "If:" "If you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you." Working on a small-town newspaper, where every story involves your neighbors, it is rarely easy to steer a fair and true course. Mary has always shown the rare ability to temper objectivity with compassion. She is one of the fairest people I know, a talent that has made her so successful on editor/reporter relations. In another life, she would have made one heck of a judge.
Surely Mary will be missed, but it is a testament to her that she will leave so small a hole behind. Her thoroughness and professionalism have made us at the paper demand more of ourselves over the years. Her high standards set the bar in our hunt to find her successor, a hunt that ended in the felicitous hiring of Maya Liteplo. Listening as Mary has been training Maya, I have come to the conclusion that Mary is leaving us in equally capable hands. Working at the office may not be the same for us without Mary, but for the reader the paper will remain the same. She has already changed that for the better.
A Job Well Done
When we first moved to Carlisle in the early 1970s our children were very young and so we didn't know much about the Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS). We had heard rumors that there were problems at the high school. The principal was suddenly denied renewal of his contract, which would have given him tenure, and shortly thereafter the superintendent abruptly resigned. Then, in 1978, Elaine DiCicco was named principal. Twenty-two years later, despite the effects of Proposition 2-1/2, the downsizing of the student population and faculty, and now increasing student enrollments, the high school is continuing to prosper under her leadership and guidance. She has announced her retirement at the end of this school year, completing a total of 33 years at CCHS.
As a parent of three children who graduated from CCHS and as a member of the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (CCRSC) from 1981 to 1988, I can attest to the incredible job she has done for the students, faculty, and our communities. Miss DiCicco always attended the twice-monthly meetings of the CCRSC. She constantly reminded us that the administration, faculty, parents, committee members and the community all had their specific agendas, and that someone had to represent the students. She felt that this responsibility was hers and the school committee's. I remember two specific situations in which her passion for the welfare of the students was evident. The first involved asking the CCRSC to support her in sponsoring a resolution at the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association to require that female lacrosse players wear protective helmets to prevent head and primarily eye injuries. Despite strong opposition from coaches, players and the Women's Lacrosse Association of America, the resolution passed and helmets became mandatory. This requirement has since been rescinded, but I still feel it was the appropriate response to ensure protection of the players.
The second was her effort to avoid any driving tragedies during Prom season. For the Junior Prom because of the ages of the students involved, she proposed that students come to the school and then be taken to and from the Prom by buses, thus decreasing the amount of driving required by the students. For the Senior Prom she required that all attendees arrive on time and any who left early could not return. She also threatened to call the parents of kids who left the Prom early. As a consequence, students usually remained until the last dance.
I doubt that there are many high schools that have had a principal so intimately and fervently involved in their school and students as Miss DiCicco has been. We should all be extremely grateful and thank her for a job so well done. May her retirement years be long, healthy and fruitful.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito