Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Spin and I

We (Chris Morrill and Ben Tan) created the Étudiant because WHS's other "news source", the Spin, is mostly composed of editorials, and isn't doing its job as a "newspaper."

I wrote that more than a month ago, when Chris and I created the Étudiant. Along with my movie reviews, last night I submitted an editorial to The Spin about...The Spin. It explains in more detail why we feel that The Spin isn't doing its job.

Yet Another Editorial

I care. Those who know me well know it. Those who don’t, well, you just learned it, assuming you’ve been reading this. But my point is, I care about this little thing called The Spin. If it weren’t for The Spin, I wouldn’t go to the movie theater nearly as much. Sure, maybe I’d go see something like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, but paying eight bucks for Corpse Bride? I did it for The Spin.

I love this newspaper. I’m writing an editorial about it right now, but I only want to help it. See, if you ask me, The Spin has recently been going through an identity crisis. If you’ve read (or even skimmed) the last few issues, you get the impression that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Translation: the writers of The Spin can’t agree on what it should be.

In ways, The Spin’s like a “real newspaper”, like the Times or the Globe. This April’s issue had the cover stories “Ms. Freedman Talks with a WHS Freshman” and “Living the Swiss Life.” Looks like a newspaper. Open it up, skim it, and you’ll find six editorials. Yesterday’s (May 23 as of this typing) Globe had three. It makes me wonder: do WHS students care about current events, or would they rather read an article like “Give Us More Electives!” or “School Starts Too Early”?

In that case, why not just make The Spin a quarterly collection of opinions? I can see it now: we’d leave actual news to the Item and Observer, since they take space from great articles like “The Late Policy Sucks” and “Wait Until College to Get a Boyfriend”. But once that happens, The Spin wouldn’t be so great a title. No problem: we’d change the title to Piss and Moan Quarterly.

Or, we could make it like the other half of the recent issues, like a “real newspaper”. Something that non-students could take more seriously. Read an issue, ignore the editorials, and you’ll find some great stuff. There’s articles about the Math Team, the Drama Club, and faculty. My pal Tim Cushing interviewed a member of Death From Above 1979 last issue. And of course, not every opinion piece is that bad: that guy who does the movie reviews is particularly sharp.

But maybe I’m being a little too caring. Maybe a half-fact, half-opinion stack of paper stapled together is just what The Spin should be. I won’t pretend to be an expert.

I will say this: I’m getting tired of people crying and moaning about not getting what they want in life when they should be appreciating whatever they have. I for one appreciate what I see as a great power. We, the students, write The Spin. Not Ms. Tinker, not Ms. Shilling, but us.

If you and your friends send in a bunch of papers, whether they be fact or opinion, you’ll determine what the next issue will be like. If you, like me, desire a change around these parts, you can help make that difference by just writing an article. Why sit around and wait for that change when you can help make it?

But, of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Something I'd like to say....

Don't worry, I'm not going off on a rant, I just need to explain something. I'm busy. Chris is busy. We have lives. We don't have the time to post original articles everyday. On the flip-side, we (or at least I) want to keep this blog frequently updated. I post links that I find relevant to a current event at our school.

On that note, tomorrow is Memorial Day, and it's great that we get a day off on it, but we should know why. Perhaps Wikipedia explains it as well as I could, if not better.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A news article or a quick plug?

Chris and I, along with our band The Revivalists, will be hosting a concert at the Winchester Elks Club Friday night 7-11. Ticket proceeds will go to Common Ground Collective. Here's some audio samples to get you ready for the show, assuming you do the right thing and go.

Audio samples at the Revivalists' MySpace page

Audio samples at Slydell's MySpace page

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm not dead.

I was out of town over the weekend, hence a lack of updates. Coming soon: a collection of students' thoughts on the MCAS, and movie reviews for The Spin. Here's an MCAS-related article to keep you busy.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Your flood stories

Did your basement get flooded over the weekend? Somehow affected by all this rain? Post your story in the comments.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

No more peddlers at the lake

No "Revere Beach"

around our lake

Selectmen deny license requests


WAKEFIELD — “I don’t want to see this turn into Revere Beach,” Selectman Albert Turco said before the Board of Selectmen voted this week to deny a request for a peddler’s license to sell pre-made sandwiches and other items from a cart near Lake Quannapowitt.
The requestor, local resident Roy Antonuccio of Oak Street, sought a license to sell submarine sandwiches, salads, fruit cups, Slush, candy and bottled beverages from a cart around the Lake. Antonuccio is the owner Roy’s Cold Cuts, which has been in business for 45 years in East Boston.
Another request came from William Onessimo of Rockland, who was seeking a transient vendor’s license to sell produce from a stand at 518 Salem St.
Arguing against Antonuccio’s request, Turco noted that it would be the fourth peddler setting up shop around Lake Quannapowitt. The town already has a slush vendor who operates near the Lower Common, Turco observed, a sausage and hot dog stand on North Avenue, and Fred’s Franks at the head of the Lake.

“I think we have enough,” Turco said, “as far as peddlers who are on public property selling goods around the Lake.”
Turco further argued that the town is not adequately enforcing the law with respect to the current peddlers. “It’s my opinion, looking at the law, that they should be required to move and none of them do,” Turco said.
In response to a question from Chairman John Carney, Town Counsel Thomas Mullen explained that by law a peddler’s license requires the licensee to move from place to place. If an applicant intends to set up shop in one location and stay there, a transient vendor’s license would be the appropriate permit, according to Mullen. As an illustration, Mullen said that someone setting up a tent and selling Christmas trees from a fixed location would need a transient vendor’s license.
Carney said that he did not disagree with Turco’s position that the license request should be denied. “I think this is ridiculous,” Carney said. “We have businesses around town that are paying taxes. Before you know it, everybody’s selling stuff around the Lake and not paying taxes.”
Selectman James Good also agreed with Turco. “If we constantly let these peddler’s licenses go out,” Good argued, “we’re turning this town into a honky-tonk operation. I’m appalled that we’re allowing so many of these,” Good said, noting that in his view, the presence of the vendors also contributes to the litter problem around the Lake.
The board voted 5-2 in favor of Turco’s motion to deny the request. Turco, Carney, Good, John Encarnacao and Betsy Sheeran voted to deny, with Phyllis Hull and Stephen Maio voting in favor of granting the license.
Onessimo’s request was for a transient vendor’s license to sell produce from a stand at 518 Salem St., on land owned by Stratis Falangas adjacent to the Montrose Drive-In ice cream store. Good moved to deny the license, with Turco seconding the motion.
Selectman Maio argued against granting this license, noting that there are already traffic problems in that area.
As the location in question is private property, Hull asked Town Counsel Mullen why the property owner couldn’t simply grant the vendor permission to use his property. Mullen explained that the law also requires the vendor to get a license from the town. Mullen said he believed that approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals would be required as well in this instance.
Carney again drew the distinction between transient vendors and tax-paying businesses.
The board ultimately voted to deny the request by a vote of 5-1, with one abstention.

From http://www.wakefielditem.com/news.htm

Monday, May 8, 2006

The Item's obituary for Wally Moccia, Jr.

'Wally' Moccia Jr. dies at 88

Longtime selectman

WAKEFIELD — Longtime local politician John W. “Wally” Moccia Jr., who died Friday at the age of 88, knew how to get things done.
Operating out of his Wally’s Cleaners, Moccia — who served 25 years as a selectman — would welcome anyone to his shop to talk about the town he lived in his whole life. If they had a problem, they knew Moccia was one guy who would listen.
And help.
He was elected to eight consecutive terms on the Board of Selectmen, beginning in 1960. He decided not to run for a ninth term in 1985.
Asked that year what his recipe for political success was, Wally said, “Work hard for the people, make yourself available and try to (solve) their problems.”
Admittedly, Wally was not the most polished politician to ever sit on the board, but he sure was effective.

“My main concern has always been to serve the citizens. ... We (selectmen) owe them. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to serve the town.

“I’m happy the people gave me the opportunity,” he explained.
In times of trouble, people didn’t have to go any farther than the dry cleaner’s he ran on first on Water Street, then Albion Street and most recently on Princess Street with his late sister Marion LaFrance. Wally would lend his ear and, if he thought it justified, he’d throw all he had into rectifying the situation.
He smiled as he told the Daily Item 21 years ago about an old saying among those seeking his guidance at the cleaner’s: “Get your number and stand in line.”
People could count on Wally and, in turn, he could count on their vote on election day. They’d stroll into the shop daily or ring him on the phone at home, seeking advice or help. He said many requests actually were outside the selectman’s purview but Wally was very successful acting as a liaison between residents and town departments.

“They don’t know how town government works but they do know Wally’s a selectman and they call,” he said. “Many of the old timers never accepted the fact there is a separation (between the selectmen and other town boards and departments). They came to me many times because they thought the selectmen were the boys to see when they wanted results.”
A product of the town’s public school system, Wally served with Company E, 182nd Infantry, Americal Division during World War II in the Guadalcanal campaign. He was honorably discharged and married Wakefieldian Jeanne Evangelista in 1947. They enjoyed 51 years of marriage; she died May 3, 1998.
He opened his dry cleaning shop in 1945, which was managed by his sister. They moved it to Albion Street in 1956 and to Princess Street in 1965. He was an active member of the Wakefield Chamber of Commerce.
Wally served as president of the Woodville School PTA. He was on the then-newly formed Capital Outlay Expenditures Committee from 1954 to 1959. For three years in the 1950s he was on the Recreation Commission. In 1957-58, Wally served as president of the Lions Club, an organization with which he enjoyed a 55-year affiliation. Wally was also on an earlier version of the town’s Traffic Committee.
He was a life member of the Elks Club, a member of the Knights of Columbus and St. Florence Church, and was a founding member and past president (1950) of the Crystal Community Club.
In 1959, he made his first attempt at elected office, losing to Tom Morse by 10 votes in a contest for selectman. The next year, he became a selectman, winning election to the then one-year term. For the next 25 years he would be a political fixture here. Wally was active in both the Middlesex County Selectmen’s Association (president in 1969) and the Mass. Selectmen’s Association.
In 1967, Wally was named the Crystal Community Club’s first “Outstanding Man of the Year.” He was the Chamber of Commerce’s “Wakefieldian of the Year” in 1978, and the West Side Social Club’s “Citizen of the Year” in 1979.
Last September, the Wakefield Lions Club presented him with an award for his 55 years of dedication to the organization.
He is survived by his sons John “Wally” Moccia III and James Moccia, both of Wakefield, and his six grandchildren.
The funeral from the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., will be on Wednesday at 9 a.m., followed by a funeral Mass in St. Florence Church at 10 a.m.
Calling hours at the funeral home will be tomorrow from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Mr. Casey and the Lockdown Drill


"Lack of lockdown drill worries teacher" by BILL O’CONNELL

WAKEFIELD — A teacher has raised “personal concerns” over failure to conduct vital lockdown drills at Wakefield Memorial High School.
At a recent faculty meeting, teachers and other school staff discussed “crucial safety procedures” but failed to address the lack of lockdown drills, which have been performed regularly since incidents like the school shootings at Columbine began to plague our nation’s schools.
Veteran WHS Social Studies teacher Joseph Casey brought the lack of lockdown drills to the attention of WHS Principal Elinor Freedman in a letter.

“With the news of the day during the last month and as recently as this past Monday documenting suspected plots against various schools across the country,” Casey wrote, “it appears that we have failed miserably to address this possibility in a manner that would establish any confidence in our ability as an institution to face such an imponderable circumstance.”
A lockdown drill takes place when, for example, an unwanted person enters the campus. The classroom teachers would secure the room by locking all the doors and closing all windows. The teachers would then instruct students to sit on the floor in the middle of the room, away from the doors and windows. Red and green cards are also handed out to teachers to place outside their door or on a window to indicate a good or bad situation. Police and fire officials then respond and take charge of the scene, using faculty and staff to gather reports or information.
Casey wrote that the lack of sufficient practice and training, especially during drills where students aren’t involved, “cannot under any circumstances be considered an appropriate initiative to provide for the safety of the students or the staff.”
Casey said in his letter that a handful of teachers were involved in a drill that took place toward the end of the last faculty meeting, but that it wasn’t sufficient training to protect the students in the school.

“Sending teachers to their ‘A’ block day ‘1’ assignments to lock only themselves in their classroom falls far short of the necessary preparation to meet a potentially catastrophic situation on a number of levels,” Casey wrote. “In fact, many staff members who had no class assignment during the block specified were not included even in this minimalist initiative. Most compelling is the fact that the most vital element in the process, the students, were not involved in that drill.”
Freedman defended the decision to not perform a lockdown drill during the 2005-2006 school year and said the students and staff at Wakefield High are prepared for emergencies.

“I don’t want the perception out there that we’re not safe,” Freedman said. “We’re addressing safety concerns on an ongoing basis and we’re constantly making sure there are protocols in place to keep all the students safe. And most schools in Wakefield do some practices every other year. The faculty is paying close attention.”
Freedman explained that a schedule of planned drills and practices was made at the beginning of the year with central administration. Freedman said this year, the school has gone through evacuation drills to the Charbonneau Field House, bus evacuation drills and drills to exit the building and surrounding property. Freedman also said there was a faculty review of all the safety procedures during special sessions with new teachers entering the school system and safety is addressed in one way or another at every faculty meeting.

“We’ve haven’t done a full lockdown practice per se, but we did have a semi-emergency,” said Freedman of a recent power outage in the school where students were confined to their classrooms until school officials could figure out what happened. “We have a schedule of practice for students. We’ll do some this year, some next year. I don’t want the public to think we’re not paying serious attention to this.”
Casey said he performed some of the drills with students in his classes (some seniors and some sophomores) and it still took them time to get adjusted to the procedure, one session lasting as long as 20 to 25 minutes.

“If we had a lockdown today, the whole freshman class would never know what to do,” Casey told the Daily Item today. “I’ll be the happiest guy in the world if I’m wrong. Even if something never happens, I’d feel better knowing I said something.”


The following is a copy of the letter written by Casey to Freedman.
Ms. Freedman:
The discussion of “crucial safety procedures” at our last faculty meeting raised personal concerns over the fact that we have not truly practiced the vital lockdown drill necessary to orient our students to classroom procedures focused upon the need to reassure and protect them should a lockdown be required.
With the news of the day during the last month and as recently as this past Monday documenting suspected plots against various schools across the country, it appears that we have failed miserably to address this possibility in a manner that would establish any confidence in our ability as an institution to face such an imponderable circumstance. The decision to have a “drill” similar to the one conducted at the tail end of the last faculty meeting cannot under any circumstances be considered an appropriate initiative to provide for the safety of the students or the staff. Sending teachers to their “A” block day “1” assignments to lock only themselves in their classroom falls far short of the necessary preparation to meet a potentially catastrophic situation on a number of levels. In fact, many staff members who had no class assignment during the block specified were not included even in this minimalist initiative.
Most compelling is the fact that the most vital element in the process, the students, were not involved in that drill. After the (sophomore) dance last month a letter was sent home to parents and guardians assuring them that as an institution we were gravely concerned for the safety of their children using the words “There is nothing more important that we do.” That assertion, however, pales in the face of what we have done in this instance. We have done nothing to orient the members of the freshman class; and are depending upon the memories of the upperclassmen to see them through. The large numbers of staff members who are new to the building have also been unfairly placed in jeopardy in that they have had no opportunity to simulate this crisis in fact.
This bothered me to the extent that during the past week I addressed this matter with my senior and sophomore classes on my own. With their unequivocal cooperation, I was dismayed that before I was able to establish a minimum comfort level it took at least 20 to 25 minutes to address these matters with these “veterans” who had been through the practice process with at least four different teachers within the last year.
I am troubled by this discovery and feel that it is unconscionable to expect the response necessary in such a crisis without the opportunity to practice it, as we have done in the past, with all of our students in each of our classrooms. Moreover, the dark history of such tragedies regrettably indicates that casualties without exception have been suffered by individuals in this class ... building staff and students.
I would again be dismayed if the response of parents, guardians and the citizens of this community were anything less than outrage and their assessment of our conduct as one of “incompetence,” “misfeasance” or even “malfeasance” should they even become aware of our failure to provide their children with the instruction and practice necessary to prepare for such a crisis.
May we place this matter on the faculty agenda immediately?
Joe Casey

Friday, May 5, 2006

Safety first!

Wakefield's junior prom is on the 13th. Only eight days! Read about a Philly suburb's safety reminder to prom-goers.
Click here to read the Delco Times article.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

In case you need a reminder...

WHS students will take the SAT on Saturday at 8:00 AM. Here's an article I found about the dreaded test.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

User fee for playing

WAKEFIELD — In order to put artificial turf down and upgrade Wakefield playing fields, parents of youths involved in sports may be charged another fee.
During a meeting of the Athletic Fields Committee yesterday afternoon at Town Hall, a number of options were presented where the town would take out a bond for a certain amount of years in order to do some work on the sports fields across Wakefield.
In an effort to recoup some of the costs, the idea of a $30 per child/per family field usage fee was raised.
A debt service schedule was analyzed for general obligation bonds of two, five and 10 million dollars. The committee thought a $5 million bond would be sufficient to fix Beasley and Walton Field. Currently number one priorities and the most used and torn up spaces in all of Wakefield, the committee wants to put in artificial turf and new lights in both areas. A new track would also be requested at the Beasley.
About $2 million could be spent on the Beasley area at the rear of the Memorial High School, with around $500,000 spent just on a new track. Around $2.3 million could be spent at the Walton Field, located at the Galvin Middle School, on two fields ($1.8 million) and lights ($500,000).
All action is pending the approval of the Board of Selectmen. The committee has a July 1 deadline to submit a report to the selectmen.
For the Walton, they want to keep the lights but put in an additional two fields of artificial turf. The parking lot/basketball court area and a two-bay garage could be removed and give space for a minimum of two more large soccer fields and more smaller ones for a total of five athletic spaces. If upgraded, the community could also use the newly built snackbar at the southwest corner of the field. Also, the Walton Fields could be used in August for Pop Warner games.
Zoning Board of Appeals member Charles Tarbell brought a list of fields and what could possibly be added or changed about each one. Nasella Field could possibly see a total of two fields with new fences added. When added to the capacity of Fernald Field, Wakefield Little League would have five fields to hold games.
Sullivan Field stands to remain the same except for a possible secondary use of the outfield as a soccer field in the fall. The committee discussed the status of the BMX track, which apparently is used by a professional racing organization out of Chicago.
Blatz Field, located behind the Woodville School, could be turned into an ‘A’ location for softball “with an appropriate fence so that the high school can play games at the field.” The Yeuell School field could also be labeled as an ‘A’ softball location with an appropriate fence and a secondary use as a soccer field.
Moulton Playground on Harrington Court already has a great baseball facility with plenty of outfield room for a secondary soccer use of one full size field or two smaller fields. Mapleway Playground in Greenwood already has two softball fields with a secondary soccer use. Tarbell wrote in his review that they shouldn’t put a lot of money into Mapleway until the Arundel Avenue project is developed so it can be looked at as a “total package.”
The committee strayed away from talking about Landrigan Field because the project itself would be monumental. But the Beasley Oval, Walton and Landrigan fields are seen as priorities for turf.
Fernald Field, the J.J. Round Park, Sullivan Field, Vets’ Field and the space available at the Doyle School all stand to remain generally the same.
The committee also adopted a “mission statement” that says they want to have multiple use fields with maximum capacity as opposed to having sport-specific fields.
Selectman Stephen Maio, who received permission from his board to set up the committee, said he hopes to get the field renovations into the School Building Assistance Program. If so, the town would be reimbursed from 40-50 percent by the state. “It depends on what the town wants to provide to youth sports,” said Tarbell. “If the goal is to provide fields, sacrifices need to be made.”
With 4,000 youths involved in sports programs, that would result in around $120,000 the town could use for debt service.
One committee member said the fee may not work because Reading recently tried to institute at $25 per-child fee that was fought by families and parents alike.