The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 16, 2009

Opinions

Calling Clark Kents

Covering town affairs is part of the Mosquito’s mission as a community newspaper. However, to do the best job possible, the Mosquito could use your help in two areas – reporting and feedback.

Because there are no full-time employees, the paper depends on volunteers and part-time reporters to cover the news and additional writers would be a great help. This year it is more important than ever that residents stay well-informed. Carlisle officials are working under extremely difficult economic conditions to prepare a budget as well as building project requests for the Carlisle School, Highland Building and Gleason Library.

Residents need to know the details of each proposal and how it may impact funding other projects in the next few years. In particular, the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District is interested in renovating or replacing the high school and has submitted a statement of interest for state aid for a future construction project. Will spending now affect the town’s ability to support high school improvements down the road?

Do you have one or two free evenings a month? Why not try your hand at reporting? We provide flexible scheduling, training and on-going support. Covering a meeting is a great way to meet people, learn something new and at the same time help the community. To learn more about reporting, call us at 1-978-369-8313.

Your comments, tips and ideas are also very valuable. There are several ways to share your thoughts: pick up the phone, send a quick email to feedback@carlislemosquito.org, or if intended for publication, submit a letter to the editor via mail@carlislemosquito.org, (or use the drop box at Ferns, or mail it to 662A Bedford Road, Carlisle, MA 01741.)

On the edge of the nest

In May 2009 I launch my second CCHS senior. High school is a very different experience from Carlisle’s K-8. The year in Carlisle has an ancient tidal rhythm moored by vast communal, community events: Sixth Grade Spaghetti Supper, 7th-grade play, citrus sales and wildly enthusiastic SRO concert crowds; 8th-grade class trip. High school is far more diffuse. Students “get into” entirely different things and spread out and away from any center like ripples in a big, big pond. But there is one ritual that (almost) every family undertakes, all at the same time: college applications. Here’s a thumbnail on this family’s journey. What you want when your child applies to colleges is to be able to hold with them deep, empathic, honest, reciprocal conversations about their hopes, fears, interests and passions; to reach and illuminate their best selves. Anyone with a teenager knows this ideal is laughable.

So with my eldest daughter, my wife and I had the normal involvement, which is to say a mutually dissatisfying series of questions and evasions, requests and blocks, all of our suggestions apparently DOA. And why not? If she was doing it properly, she was committing to paper her private hopes and terrors, tentative bragging and uneasy shyness, only slightly more public than what she might write in a diary. Besides, our knowledge of colleges other than the one we attended was 25 years out of date and probably wrong back then. Our daughter ended up at a fine school where she’s happy and doing well.

For daughter #2, I modernized. Following sound 21st century management principles, and recognizing my utter lack of core competence, I outsourced this business-critical function by hiring a college admissions advisor. This was the best move I could have made. The woman who worked with my daughter is very intelligent, conscientious, warm, thoughtful, funny, empathic, knowledgeable about colleges, and ethical. She had the conversations I couldn’t; she has the current college knowledge I lacked. She didn’t write or re-write essays, she doesn’t have pull with admissions committees, she didn’t tell my daughter where to apply. Instead, she helped my daughter figure out her best fit. She was marvelous. I have already reserved her 2010 calendar for my sophomore.

More modernity: The kids at CCHS support each other. They aren’t cut-throat. Hardcopying Facebook, they created a “Wall of Non-Acceptance,” for “students who have been deemed too good for the following institutions” where they pin up their own rejection letters. Then they “write on the wall” of friends, and it’s good. On someone’s rejection letter from MIT another student wrote, “I would have failed Chem without you.” On another: “You made Stats a party.” Another: “You’re too smart for Stanford.” Banding together against the common foe, someone circled the name of the dean of admissions at an august institution and added the helpful biographic footnote, “Lives with his mom.”

Maybe our children have learned some really important lessons about hanging together, going through exhilaration and disappointment together, making communities when you need them. To me, that’s Carlislean.

 

 

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