The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 3, 2010

Opinions

Support the Carlisle School through the CEF and CSA

Many worthy causes are asking for donations at this time of year. The Carlisle Education Foundation (CEF) and the Carlisle School Association (CSA) deserve consideration because both volunteer groups work hard to support the Carlisle School.

Since 1990 the CEF has raised money to bring new technology, projects and programs to the school. For example, it is currently seeking donations for the new engineering lab and multi-purpose room to be created during the school renovation project. In the past, CEF grants funded the schools’ first mobile computer lab of 25 laptops and the first two ActivBoards. Both have proven very useful and the school is well on its way toward the goal of one mobile lab per grade and an electronic whiteboard for each classroom. Grants from the CEF have helped the school acquire educational software such as Lexia for early reading skills and ALEKS used in middle school math. CEF grants have also supported the after-school classes in science, engineering and math and helped the school start a student cable TV show.

In addition, CEF has provided significant support for the world language program. It has paid for the school’s membership in Primary Source, an organization that offers subsidized tours and education about foreign countries. Their website (www.carlislecef.or) notes that in the past several years 35 Carlisle teachers have taken courses through Primary Source and a dozen have traveled to China or Ghana.

The CSA has a more hands-on mission and provides an important liaison between parents and the school. A small army of volunteers is mobilized through the CSA to help in the school library as well as with lunch and playground monitoring. The CSA publishes the Husky Handbook student directory. It also hosts many activities for parents and students, including parent coffees, social dance classes for sixth-graders, a yearly ice-skating event and teacher appreciation luncheons. The CSA also organizes the Walk to School Days and the new school composting and gardening project. For more information about the CSA see their web site at www.carlisleschoolassociation.org.

Both groups focus on broadening the educational experience at the school, not replacing normal public funding. However, CEF and CSA grants have been used to fund more essential services during economic downturns. In 2002 the CEF donations were used to keep the school library open full time, to fund a teacher’s aide for the seventh grade, a permanent substitute and a reading tutor. At the same time, a grant from the CSA was used to prevent elimination of the school’s chorus program.

Residents can help maintain the excellent quality of the school by becoming informed voters and by attending school committee meetings. Another way everyone can help is by generously supporting the CEF and CSA.

Word count

I’ve been counting a lot of words since I started to write for the Forum some five years ago. Usually up to 500, but never more then 600, words that were supposed to reflect – however loosely – on my life in town.

In recent years I have been endlessly counting words, in English and other foreign languages as well. The Forum column naturally intersected with my work and life: depending on what documentary film project kept me busy, I was logging words in Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish and Portuguese, as well as Hebrew, French, and occasionally Arabic too. It’s been a constant multilogue of cultural, geopolitical experiences that took me places, some times literally and often from behind my desk at my hometown, northwest of Boston.

Depending upon reliable Internet connections and decent time zone differences, I found myself writing from a small café in Paris, or from a hotel room in Buenos Aires. New York City was a constant source of inspiration, and many a time, the muse kicked in at airport terminals or on a plane. Random environments offered a distant backdrop to universal content that hopefully resonated with our local realities.

But it was an old woman in a rural village in the Ukrainian heartland that provided one of the least expected ties between my “day job,” the Forum writing and Carlisle. During the filming in a village so rural that even locals had a hard time locating it on the (pre-MapQuest days) map, trying to reach the remains of a house of a villager who sheltered three young Jewish sisters during WWII, we ended up crossing through an elderly woman’s backyard to avoid the flooded dirt roads. As we carefully made our way through the mud, between her flock of geese and her German Shepard dog, which barked violently while chasing us along the metal wire that ran across the barren yard. Smiling warmly at us and visibly emotional, the old woman spoke to us in Ukrainian. With no translator onsite and no common language to communicate, it came down to the minimal pleasantry exchange of Good Day and Thank You in Ukrainian on our end.

It wasn’t until a few years later that I sat down to log and edit this abandoned clip of footage from Ukraine that I understood what that woman was trying to tell me: “Thank you for filming the house,” and then added, “My dear cranes, my distant children . . . let me kiss you.” It was through the impromptu exchange of emails with my Forum editor Maya Liteplo who shared with me a personal, moving anecdote that I got to learn about rural Ukrainian dialects and the symbolism of the cranes in the Ukrainian folklore. The cranes that return to their homeland each spring are the souls of the soldiers who died in WWII. All of a sudden we happened to share a tender memory that had nothing to do either with the film or with the Forum – the recent loss of a father.

And I realized that this is a lot more than a shared zip code. This is really about connections to a place and its people that meshed into my own experiences. I’ve been counting more than 10,000 words over the last five years, and no matter where I was, they always came from the heart of Carlisle. Take my words for it.

569 words

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