Rochester Council on Aging

On Thursday, September 28 at 2:30 pm at a forum at the Rochester Senior Center, the Rochester Council on Aging will launch its year-long initiative to seek national senior center accreditation from the National Council on Aging. We are encouraging anyone who wants to learn more about the process, or who may be interested in volunteering to take part in the process, to attend that day. Anyone of any age who participates in the senior center is welcome to participate. The more the merrier. It’s not difficult. You can do it! Don’t worry! We will guide you through it! We want and need your input!!! We need your help to do this!!!

The self-assessment phase of the process, which is approximately a nine-month commitment, consists of organizing nine (9) committees of volunteers to review the senior center operation over the past five (5) years, using nine (9) basic standards: Purpose & Planning, Governance, Administration & Human Resources, Community Connections, Program Planning & Implementation, Fiscal & Asset Responsibility, Evaluation, Records & Reports, and Facility & Operations.

Following the self-assessment process, a five-year strategic plan is developed, which incorporates and is based on the results coming from those nine (9) committees. Additionally, a portfolio notebook containing required documents and reports, including the strategic plan mentioned, is assembled and submitted to the National Council on Aging for review.

Lastly, an on-site Peer Reviewer (a current or former Senior Center Director from an accredited senior center) will visit our senior center for a day, after reviewing our portfolio notebook, and will speak to those volunteers and staff members who assisted in the self-assessment process.

The Peer Reviewer consults with an off-site Peer Reviewer and together they compile a lengthy report, which is submitted to the National Council on Aging, with their recommendation for full Accreditation. Shortly thereafter, we will be notified as to whether or not we achieved full accreditation status.

Join us on September 28 at 2:30 pm and find out what it’s all about. Refreshments will be served.

Bristol Aggie Hurricane Relief Effort

Bristol County Agricultural High School has always stepped up and helped local community members who are in need. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, Bristol Aggie would now like to make a difference on a national level.

The Animal Science Department at Bristol Aggie is teaming up with Operation Bullpen (with Curt Schilling) to help people in need by establishing a donation center where they will collect donations of animal feed and supplies that will be delivered to Texas, Florida, or any other areas that have animals in need from these devastating hurricanes. Needed supplies include: food, toys, treats, collars and leashes for cats and dogs; livestock feed, hay, halters, crates and blankets; water, feed bowls and pans, and animal beds; medical and unopened cleaning supplies; and work gloves, shovels, brooms, wheelbarrows and ropes. Although their first priority will be to collect animal supplies, they will also take supplies for people as well. A complete list of requested animal and human supplies can be found on the Bristol Aggie Animal Science Facebook Post at https://www.facebook.com/Bristol-Aggie-Animal-Science-Department-806666166071187/.

Bristol Aggie’s goal is to fill an 18-wheeler truck full of supplies to help the animals and people in need. These supplies will be driven down to hurricane devastated areas and put directly in the hands of people and shelters that need them. The first truck will leave the school campus on Monday, September 18. With access to as many trucks as can be filled, Bristol Aggie hopes to fill more than one.

Bristol Aggie is hoping to make this a large-scale effort in a short amount of time. Donations can be dropped off at Bristol Aggie Animal Science Department, 135 Center Street, Dighton, MA 02715. If you prefer to schedule a local pick up/drop off or would like more information, please contact one of the following Tri-Town Bristol Aggie students:

– From Rochester: Hannah Smith (774-271-2793), Hannah Johnson (508-728-1251), or Melanie Beaulieu (774-281-8070)

– From Mattapoisett: Lauren Paine (860-782-1574)

The Bristol Aggie Animal Science Department can be reached at 508-669-6744 ext. 129.

Building the Bulldog Block

This week, ORRHS launched its new schedule with a specialized period called the “Bulldog Block.”

Announced last school year, the Bulldog Block is a shared school-wide period aimed towards making academic help and clubs more accessible to students – things that usually take place after school, meaning that conflicts between sports, multiple clubs, and jobs often occur.

The Bulldog Block ran for 35 minutes each day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday of last week (Monday was a holiday and Thursday was a late start for the high school).

Here’s how the Bulldog Block works:

During the first school day of each week, students will meet with their assigned advisor and plan out what they will do during the period for the rest of the week. Students can also be pre-assigned by teachers on certain days to make up tests or attend a club meeting.

Members of the Dreamfar club, which trains for and runs a marathon each year, were one of the first groups to plan a meeting during the Bulldog Block.

“We discussed new team names and colors because we’re forming a separate SouthCoast high school marathon club,” said senior Hannah Powers.

In addition to extra help and clubs, student meetings are also slated to take place during the block. For example, on Friday the freshman class had an assembly on the roles of the student government positions ahead of their class election. The National Honor Society also had their first gathering of the year, coincidentally on the subject of NHS elections as well.

With their first week of Bulldog Blocks under their belt, many voice their support for the budding program. In a class of 18 seniors, all unanimously agreed that the Bulldog Block was generally helpful for them.

“It’s convenient for meetings, but not so much for working on homework assignments,” said senior Grace Stephens. “With only thirty-five minutes, it’s not feasible for getting anything major done.”

The general consensus among teachers was positive as well. In multiple subjects, teachers have begun organizing certain days of the week for different levels of their courses to come for help.

“I spent time helping a third-year student today and it went really well,” said Latin teacher Judy Pretat. “At the moment, the Bulldog Block makes the day feel really long, but once we get used to it, it will be fine. I honestly think it’s a really good idea, especially since it’ll keep us from pulling certain leadership club members out of classes for meetings.”

ORR’s new technology teacher MJ Linane said, “I think it’s a much better management of after school activities.” He continued, “When people have to plan in advance about what they’re going to do for each day, they make a much more thoughtful choice. I’d like to see the directed studies become a version of this.”

By Jo Caynon

 

The Metaphysical Monarch

The monarch butterfly is a world famous member of the Lepidoptera order that is remarkable enough to be described by Aristotle’s term ‘metaphysical,’ his way of understanding the underlying nature of things and creatures of the world.

The monarch is the only one of its kind to annually complete an almost supernatural inter-continental migration of 2,500 miles each way to and from a selective few acres of fir trees on a single Sierra Madre mountainside in Mexico. How on Earth is that possible?

For one thing, it might be said to be a privileged sovereign survivor of its realm by being endowed with a body chemical that is poison to predators. For another, when it leaves our shores for its remote winter destination, the monarch can travel between 50 to 100 miles a day along the Atlantic flyway as the only butterfly that can do so like a bird.

Like others of its kind, the monarch can only see to navigate in daylight hours. It uses coastal peninsulas as visual guides for direction with the position of the sun as its reference point, and possibly the gravitational pull of magnetic fields as a cross reference to navigation.

Many of us have been astonished by the seasonal gathering of a myriad of numbers of monarchs on almost every plant to rest and feed on prominent points of coastal land, and stage up for the next leg of their journey.

At dawn with the rising sun, they can rise up on warming thermals high enough where the air is thin, or to catch a free ride with a favorable prevailing wind over a vast expanse of water. The record distance recorded by electronically tagging an individual monarch was an astonishing total of 265 miles in a single day.

All butterflies reproduce with the same metamorphosis re-birth cycle – from egg to larva, to pupa, and then to adult. Eggs are laid singly or in rows, as in my illustration, and the eventual emerging larva becomes a caterpillar then into a butterfly.

All too soon they must migrate for two reasons: they cannot stand freezing weather and larvae food supply does not grow on winter sites.

Consequently, the migration back here northward must fly along where plants are plentiful. Due to the distance, two generations must reproduce on the way here, in addition to two more during the following summer. Amazingly, those that winter in the same trees are the fourth generation from those that originally left.

Today, even modern scientific methods of research cannot completely account for the monarch’s remarkable unbroken generational chain of migratory heritage of passing the baton of capability through reproduction and the re-birth of natural instincts.

To Native Americans, it was more simple through their keen observation, as well as a living part of the process. They saw it clearly as just one of many unbroken circles of life on Earth orchestrated under planets in the sky where the end of one cycle is but the beginning of another. Call it reincarnation, if you will.

In summary and in closing, my circle of reasoning of this train of thought goes back with me to the opening title of my article with the premise that the incredible journey of the monarch is undeniably metaphysical.

By George B. Emmons

Opening Reception for Balance: Real and Abstract

It was an art lover’s delight on Friday night, September 9, at the Marion Art Center, when local artists Bess Woodworth and Betsy Payne Cook kicked off their month-long show with an opening reception. Attendees admired both abstract combinations of color and pastel plein air paintings displayed in the MAC’s Cecil Clark Davis and Patsy Francis Galleries.

Woodworth specializes in pieces blending color and texture to evoke emotion, while Payne Cook creates realistic paintings using pastels.

“We often will look at two artists who have applied [for a show],” says Executive Director Kimberly Teves, “and know that their artwork fits together.” That’s exactly what happened with Woodworth and Payne Cook.

The abstract paintings featured in this month’s show are by Woodworth, who began exploring her artistic talents after 25 years as a reading specialist. Her pieces that explore relationships in nature and between people are created on yupo paper, a synthetic paper that is both waterproof and able to be wiped clean.

“If I don’t like it, I can just throw it in the bathtub,” she said with a laugh. The paper doesn’t actually absorb the paint; it dries only by evaporation, so it allows for interesting textures to form while the paint is drying. The results are unique – abstract paintings that blend colors in ways that aren’t easily done using regular watercolor paper. These paintings are Woodworth’s latest creation, and she loves the process from start to finish. “It’s fun,” she says. “You can get lost in them.”

Pastel painting is a fundamental part of Payne Cook’s life. She writes a newsletter called Painting In and Out, teaches workshops and classes, and has even organized a week-long painting workshop in Wales, Great Britain this year.

“This show is really a culmination of thirty paintings in thirty days I did in January 2016. Some of them are upstairs. They made me think about the fact that what I wanted to do was to take that feeling that I have of being on location and bring it to the forefront of my artwork.”

Her paintings on display vary from quaint European country cottages to bustling nighttime city streets. She paints in mostly plein air style, which allows her to fully immerse herself in the moment. “I have really tried to capture something of where I was so I could take it home with me.”

The public is encouraged to visit the Balance: Real and Abstract exhibition, which runs from September 8 through October 7 at the Marion Art Center.

By Christina Musser

Dr. Joseph W. Pelczar

Dr. Joseph W. Pelczar, 74, of Mattapoisett, died September 15, 2017 peacefully at home.

He was the husband of Laura (Grant) Anderson.

Born in New Bedford, the son of the late Joseph H. and Josephine (Pejko) Pelczar, he lived in Mattapoisett most of his life and wintered on Amelia Island in Florida.

Dr. Pelczar was a graduate of New Bedford High School, class of 1960 where he also played baseball and later graduated from Tufts University Dental School. He then served in the U.S. Navy and later founded Sassaquin Dental Associates in New Bedford. He was a member of Buzzard’s Bay Rowing Club. Dr. Pelczar enjoyed gourmet cooking, gardening, golfing, traveling and sport fishing.

He frequently visited his second home in northern Maine where he enjoyed fishing on the lake.

He was a loving husband, father and grandfather.

Survivors include his wife; a son, Joseph J. Pelczar of Fairhaven; a daughter, Stefanie B. Mansfield and her fiancée Nicholas Palmerino of Hingham; and a grandson, Ty P. Mansfield.

Private arrangements are with the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home For Funerals, 50 County Rd. (Rt. 6) Mattapoisett. For online guestbook, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com.

 

Tri-Town Profile: Aaron Polansky

Name: Aaron Polansky

Role: Superintendent, Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School

Age: 41

How he came to Tri-Town: He lives in Raynham and grew up in Natick, but he spends his days (and many nights) in Rochester.

Favorite Tri-Town spot: “It’s in the neighborhood next door (to Old Colony), the lake. In the summer, because I don’t have to wear a suit to work, I bring a kayak and a book. I’ll row out, drop my oars and read in the middle of Snipatuit. It’s beautiful.”

Ever seen a celebrity locally? “We had (author) Temple Grandin here to speak last year. I went and drove to Burlington where she was speaking to pick her up and talk to us. She was very down to earth and good with the kids. I’d love to get James Spader to come here and talk with the kids.”

Aaron Polansky: A Passionate Voice for Old Colony

By Jonathan Comey

After the 13th straight loss to begin his high school wrestling career as a Natick High freshman, Aaron Polansky was ready to give it up.

“They needed a varsity wrestler, one hundred and three pounds, and I heard the word ‘varsity,’ not necessarily ‘wrestling,’ and said, ‘I’ll give it a shot,’” Polansky recalled, sitting in his office as Superintendent of Old Colony Regional Voc-Tech in Rochester.

He didn’t know it at the time, but 30 years later he would see it as a turning point in his life. “I told my mother, ‘I don’t know if this is for me,’ and she told me no, I had to finish what I started.”

So he worked at it, and by the end of his sophomore season, he qualified for the state tournament. He’s been striving ever since, and followed an educator’s questioning path through life to a speedy rise to his role as the head of Old Colony.

He says he found an identity in wrestling that he was searching for, and he feels that his job (among others) is for his students to find their own special thing.

“I think there’s a lot that can be taught with any interaction,” he said. “Any extracurricular, someone who’s involved with wrestling or music or anything, it’s all about discipline and motivation and collaboration. Or through foreign language, or whatever their passion may be. That’s the beauty of education – finding someone’s passion and using it as a mechanism to better their life.”

Polansky’s tenacity and likeability have served him well – first as a teacher, then out of daily education working for a landscape design company while coaching wrestling at Hudson High and acting as the state head of USA wrestling.

After five years out, he came back to education full time in 2008 as assistant principal and then principal at Bristol Aggie. The father of six had been mulling over a move to superintendent jobs, and decided to apply and interview at Old Colony without thinking he’d be a leading candidate, but wanting to see how the process went.

“And here we are,” he says with a smile, gesturing to his office as he finished a tastefully prepared school lunch of chili with a grilled cheese sandwich.

He feels like he’s a good combination for the small school with a hard-working base.

“I think it was a really good fit,” he says. “This is a really warm community, and my philosophy is people first. I really think the school committee and the people involved came off as warm. Felt like a really great opportunity.”

As he nears his first anniversary at Old Colony, he says he’s learning how to adjust to his new role while harnessing his own desire to lead.

During a tour of the school, Polansky makes several stops – a history lesson, a learning group led by a student, welding and woodcutting, cosmetology, and math. He stops to take a picture for social media, poses for a group pic with some kids in the gym, makes jokes, and tries not to disrupt. Although Polansky is the boss of all of it, he looks like he’d be happy to rip off his administrator’s suit and be coach, teacher, buddy.

Polansky says his goals for Old Colony are modest: more advanced academic classes, an expanded homecoming weekend, new programs, more involvement in the community. Mostly, he wants to be, in his words, a “servant/leader.”

“It’s hard really, because I have to be respectful of what others want to do. I spent most of my first year getting to know people, and I wanted to be careful of not taking on too much. I want it to be a collaborative team where everyone complements each other well. I think we’re very high functioning as a team. The teachers we have, the student body we have – it’s a team effort, it’s gone incredibly well. Being in this setting makes me feel connected to the kids, and that I can build a community around what we are.”

Polansky continued, “I’m being very authentic when I say it’s a great place to be. We can really make a difference in the lives of kids. They’re not a number in our hallway, they’re a name. I feel lucky to wake up every day and impact the lives of students.”

ORR “Grand Gathering” Reunion

There were more hearing aids than at a Miracle Ear store. Artificial knees and hips came in a close second, but the young at heart were in full attendance at the “Grand Gathering” reunion of the four original Old Rochester High School classes of 1962 through 1965 recently held in Marion.

Nearly 90 alumni and their guests reacquainted themselves with old friends, many not seen in over a half century. They told “war” stories, exaggerated their academic achievements and athletic prowess, blushed at the mention of an old flame, exchanged photos of grandchildren and generally partied the evening away like it was 1962.

The first graduates of ORR gathered together as one under a giant tent on a sunny Saturday proving that you can go home again, although one alumnus heroically subscribed to the old maxim “the show must go on” as she bore the strain of not knowing if she had a home to return to as Hurricane Irma bore down on her Florida residence. Other alumni from as far away as Indiana, Ohio and Louisiana secretly glanced at name tags trying to recognize faces from their youth. Recognition brought hugs and kisses, and the years melted away.

But in the fall of 1961 they were all strangers entering a brand new high school. Some came from Wareham High, others from Fairhaven High and the remainder from the Tri-Town primary schools. The students were not the only ones new to the building. Alumni formed a long line to greet faculty favorite Norman Fuller who was one of the school’s first teachers who began his career at ORR in 1961 and stayed for 30 years.

The original ORR cheerleaders gathered in a line to practice their high kicks, although suggestions they do cartwheels were summarily rejected. No doubt they remembered how they cheered the first football team and its captain Charles Jefferson, the original bulldog, who was in attendance. Charlie, whose coach heard someone in the crowd call him a bulldog for his fearless play, suggested the team adopt the nickname “Bulldogs” and so a nickname was born soon to be followed by a real live bulldog mascot name “Trouble.”

Memories flowed while the rhythms of ‘60s tunes drew the adventurous, mostly female … just like in high school … to the dance floor, and the guys talked candy red cars and little deuce coupes. As the sun faded and cool temperatures settled in, a warming fire blazed in a giant fire pit. If the diehards who lingered listened carefully, you could almost hear the strains of the Beach Boys singing “Be True to Your School.”

By Dick Morgado (Class of 1964)

Mattapoisett Cultural Council

Mattapoisett Cultural Council seeks grant proposals for community-oriented arts, humanities, and science programs until October 16. These grants are available to support a variety of cultural projects and activities in and around Mattapoisett – including exhibits, festivals, field trips, short-term artist residencies or performances in schools, workshops, and lectures.

This year, Mattapoisett Cultural Council will distribute about $4,000 in grants. Previously funded projects include: theatrical and science programs for children and adults at Mattapoisett Free Public Library, concerts by SouthCoast Children’s Chorus and Seaglass Theatre Company, youth concerts and music education by New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, programs and exhibits at Mattapoisett Historical Society and in-school arts and science programs sponsored by the Mattapoisett PTA and Friends of ORR Drama, among others.

Mattapoisett Cultural Council is now accepting online applications at www.mass-culture.org/. Paper applications will not be accepted. Applicants are encouraged to review local funding priorities at http://www.mass-culture.org/Mattapoisett#. Questions may be addressed to MattapoisettLCC@gmail.com.

Mattapoisett Cultural Council is part of a network of 329 Local Cultural Councils serving all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. The LCC Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation, supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, sciences and humanities every year, awarding more than $3 million in grants to more than 6,000 cultural programs statewide. The program promotes the availability of rich cultural experiences for all Massachusetts residents.

Reflecting on ‘Incredible’ Miss America Journey

After almost two weeks spent under the bright lights of Miss America rehearsals and appearances, Jillian Zucco found herself enjoying two things on Monday: her cellphone and the sun.

Driving back to Mattapoisett from New Jersey, she reflected on life back in the real world after 13 days spent competing for the Miss America crown. Zucco was eliminated as they cut the field from 51 to 15, but her mind wasn’t on anything but the positives.

“It was absolutely incredible,” she said. “It was so exciting! The energy in the room was just crazy, and to know that millions of people were watching us on national television was so cool.

“I was sort of just happy to be there in the first place and really just to be on the Miss America stage, so I was so happy and joyful to be there in the first place that making the finals would have been icing on the cake,” she said. “Without it, I’ve still got the cake.

“I mean, I think we are all in it to win it, but maybe some are more about the win than the journey. I think the key is to be about the journey; there’s only one Miss America and fifteen finalists.”

While Zucco only got a few minutes of screentime on Sunday night – spurring many of her fans across the SouthCoast to take pictures of the TV for social media – the entire 13-day experience was a whirlwind. From 7:30 am (when they started the day and gave up their cellphones) to 11:00 pm (when they got them back), there was usually something going on. Contestants were driven back and forth from their rooms to rehearsals or recordings through underground tunnels.

While Zucco missed the sunlight, the glow of cameras and performance lights more than made up for it.

“It was incredible and non-stop the whole entire two weeks,” she said. “The first week we did a lot of rehearsing, a lot of promo, video and photo shoots, then the second week we had three nights of preliminaries and the interviews.”

They rehearsed in a ballroom as the Miss America stage was being constructed, and after a week of waiting, they got to perform on it this past Tuesday.

“The first time being on that Miss America stage was really cool. Everybody cried,” Zucco says, the emotion coming through in her voice. “Because we worked so long! This was my fifth time competing. Some of the other girls, they had tried five times also. A lot of little girls dream about being on the Miss America stage.”

“And the stage is … it is unbelievable,” she said with emphasis. “There’s this huge crown that holds up all of the lights. It’s so amazing, and the whole thing lit up is insane.”

She won a $5,000 scholarship for placing third out of the 51 contestants in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) branch of the competition, and has earned a total of $40,000 in scholarships during her time competing in pageants.

Zucco now goes back to work and will have a busy year as she balances public appearances – available to be booked through MissMass.org – with her job as a registered nurse. She will be hosting a blood drive at Boston Children’s Hospital later in the fall.

She was second in the Miss America competition in the “Miracle Maker” award for Children’s Miracle Network fundraising.

“This whole experience has just really reinforced for me that there’s something to be said about perseverance and to never give up,” she said. “I’ve just learned so much and gained so much from competing … the opportunities, the resume material, the people that you meet. I think I’m happy to just go for it, focus on the journey and not the outcome, because it’s what you learn along the way that’s so much more valuable.”

By Jonathan Comey