New Cupola in Rochester’s Historic Town Center

It was a magnificent sight to behold as a new cupola soared skyward on June 17. It soared with its bronze and copper eagle perched inside the peaked roof. It soared with its glistening copper roof. It soared as a symbol of what can be accomplished when people come together and share talents, resources, and time. Rochester’s Plumb Library wears its new cupola with pride as a work of art in the historic village center.

But let’s back up to how this truly elegant piece of engineering and design came to be.

Library Director Gail Roberts told The Wanderer, “The project came about because the old cupola, which was original to the building and built in 1976, leaked and sometimes the rain would pool up in the attic and would drip down into the library. Not good! Andrew Daniel, Rochester’s Facilities Manager, explored it and found that it was open to the attic underneath, as the original idea was to have a light in the cupola. He suggested that we get a new cupola in the style of the old one, and that he would close up the space underneath it.”

            After looking into the cost to replace the cupola, it quickly became apparent that a new one was out of the question. “It was cost prohibitive,” Daniel said.

Daniel said that the cost for a new cupola was about $14,000. “There was no way the town could do it.” Daniel knew of the skills and cooperative climate at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School as he had worked with the students and instructors there on other town projects. He approached the school about building a new cupola, and Daniel said, “They saved the day.” Yet the school alone, even with the town’s assistance, couldn’t get this job done.

Daniel spearheaded collaboration between OCRVTHS carpentry shop and businessman Richard Miranda, owner of Diversified Roofing Systems located in New Bedford.

Miranda heard through a mutual acquaintance that the town needed some help and that Old Colony was willing to build the wooden structure. Miranda donated copper sheeting for the roof and the technical expertise to apply the metal to the multifaceted roofline.

“I went to the old Apponequet High School. They had shops back then. My grandfather always told me do whatever you want, but have a trade to fall back on,” Miranda shared. With that sage advice, Miranda did two things: he followed his heart, and he developed a successful trade and business. On staff, Miranda also has a graduate of Old Colony. He is paying it forward both in terms of sharing knowledge and resources while honoring his grandfather’s memory.

“We did the copper work,” Miranda said of the shiny new copper-covered roof the cupola sports. “It’s a dying art,” he demurred. He said the students were very helpful and willing to learn. “We spent the whole day teaching the kids – I even shut off my phone,” he said with a chuckle. “It took about one hundred man hours to do the copper because of the angles,” he said.

Carpentry instructor Douglas Sims, who took over the project that was started by retiring instructor Stu Norton, said the students built the wooden structure using rough drawings provided by Daniel. He said the students also worked with manufacturer’s instructions for the tricky part of installing the four window sections. Of the day spent working at Miranda’s shop, Sims said, “The five students didn’t want to leave!” Norton said that opportunities such as this are beneficial, “Kids get to learn with very little cost to the school.”

Daniel said he was going to try to install the cupola himself in three pieces. Miranda once again provided vital support. Miranda donated hours to the installation of the finished piece with a team of workers and a very large crane that hauled the cupola up and onto the library roof peak. Daniel said that the new cupola’s appearance was in keeping with the aesthetics of the other buildings in the town’s historic center. He also beamed with pride, “I repaired the eagle.”

Roberts thanked everyone for all they had done to make this project come together, “We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help. Now we’re good for another hundred years.”

By Marilou Newell

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Sippican Lands Trust Scholarship Winner

The Sippican Lands Trust Executive Director Robin Shields enthusiastically announces the recipient of the 2016 Sippican Lands Trust Helen A. Arthur Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.

This year’s recipient is Emil Assing, a senior at Old Rochester Regional High School. Assing has been admitted to the University of Vermont where he plans to pursue his education in environmental science. More specifically, Assing strives to focus his degree to incorporate his interest in organic chemistry.

Assing is recognized for his excellence in academics, athletics, civic leadership and community service. In particular, the SLT appreciates his commitment to the environment and his drive to want to address environmental issues in the future.

Funds for this award are made available through the Sippican Lands Trust Scholarship Fund, which was created and named after Helen A. Arthur, a beloved resident of Marion and long-time volunteer for the SLT. Helen had a deep interest in the preservation of the beautiful open spaces in Marion.

Founded in 1974, the Sippican Lands Trust strives to acquire, protect, and maintain natural areas in Marion. Its purpose is to conserve land, protect habitat and offer public access to the beautiful protected lands of our town.

Please do not hesitate to us if you have any questions at 508-748-3080 or info@sippicanlandstrust.org. Visit us on Facebook and www.sippicanlandstrust.org.

Symphonic Concert a ‘Celebration of the Sea’

Spectators had a ‘whale of a time’ at the Tri-County Symphonic Band’s 14th Annual Benefit Pops Concert this past Sunday at the Tabor Academy in Marion.

Under the baton of Philip Sanborn, music director of the Tri-County Symphonic Band for the past 10 seasons, the ensemble delivered a performance with such vibrancy and excitement that one couldn’t help dancing in their seat.

This year’s theme, “Celebration of the Sea,” was inspired by where the group rehearses. According to Sanborn, “We’ve been rehearsing fifteen yards from the sea all these years. Why don’t we dedicate this [concert] to the sea?”

Pops concerts such as this characteristically program popular pieces as well as light classical music, making them a great way to introduce oneself to the world of classic band repertoire in a casual way. Tri-County’s program featured nautical selections, including swashbuckling sea chanties, maritime marches, and a premiere work.

Now in its 54th season, the Tri-County Symphonic Band has been dazzling audiences and enriching the cultural life of Southeastern Massachusetts since 1962. The musicians come together every Tuesday evening at the Fireman Performing Arts Center to rehearse, some coming from as far as Connecticut and Rhode Island. They perform a variety of musical genres, from classic band repertoire to contemporary favorites. As stated in the concert program, “the primary aim of the organization has been to make live performances of quality concert band repertoire available in the community and to give musicians a chance to share their love for the art of making music.”

One of the highlights of the program was Robert W. Smith’s Song of Sailor and Sea. The Tri-County Symphonic Band delivered the piece with great character and style, especially the percussion section with their extensive feature that included whale sounds, rattling chains, and a ship’s bell. It was difficult to tell whether the ocean sounds the audience heard came from the band or the Sippican Harbor just outside the tent.

Another highlight was the premiere of An Evening Sail on Buzzard’s Bay written for the group by Rochester’s own John Wallace. The peaceful composition well captured the mood of a tranquil sail over glassy waters. The symphonic band also performed selections from Horner’s Titanic and Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End to the audience’s delight, and also featured a virtuosic performance by alto saxophonist, Michael Raposo. Raposo, currently a student at the Hartt School of Music, gave a well-executed performance of Carnival by Philip Sparke with his beautiful tone and excellent technique.

And finally, no Pops concert would be complete without John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever, an audience favorite and a classic finale to a successful concert. When asked what he thought the audience would like best, Sanborn responded with, “Everything … It’s all good!”

All proceeds from the concert will benefit the scholarship fund of the Tri-County Music Association. This association is dedicated to “encourag[ing] our young people to pursue careers in music education or as instrumentalists by providing them an opportunity to perform and by awarding scholarships.” The association also offers summer music study grants to high school students and awards a total of $12,000 each year.

Katrina Arabie, a 2015 recipient of the John R. Pandolfi Scholarship and member of the Tri-County Symphonic Band, expressed her appreciation: “I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to play at the Benefit concert. I received the scholarship in 2015 which helped further my education at the University of North Texas. The ensemble provided me with many connections to other music educators in the area.”

The Tri-County Music Association and the Tri-County Symphonic Band are true gems to the community, and in the words of trumpet player Roger Haber, dedicated to “keep music live and alive.” From the abundance of supporters at Sunday’s concert, it is clear that the band is treasured by the community as well.

By Ashley Perry

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SHARKS!

Imagine, if you can, a shark 20 feet long, hundreds of pounds of muscle and bones, and whose brain has developed over eons of time for one purpose and one purpose alone – to hunt.

That is the job of sharks across the globe regardless of their size. And the mere utterance of the word ‘shark’ evokes a singular response from humans – panic. That is, unless you are Dr. Gregory Skomal, well-known shark expert, frequent contributor on the Discovery Channel, and Marion resident.

On June 10, the Marion Natural History Museum hosted a program that featured Skomal as the guest speaker. Addressing a group of about 40 attendees at the Marion Music Hall, Skomal’s presentation sought to educate while gaining mindshare that sharks are far more complex than simple eating machines.

Skomal said that until recently, the study of sharks was pretty limited. They were nearly impossible to track, their behavior unseen except for those few who may have had the misfortune of a close encounter or if the fish surfaced to pursue prey. But, in 2009, an uptick in shark migration north, along with the development of sophisticated tracking tools that employ acoustic telemetry with satellite based technology, Skomal and his team began to learn much more.

Skomal said the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, of which he is closely connected, tags sharks allowing researchers to study the feeding and migratory patterns of sharks. He said, in 2015, AWSC tagged and/or identified 141 sharks, 41 from the previous year. One of the more fascinating aspects of tracking the sharks Skomal shared was the absence of feeding activity. The researchers learned that sharks simply bite their prey and wait for it to bleed out, descending into the depths where feeding takes place.

With more than 40 years of protection in the northeast, seal populations have soared, Skomal told the group.

“Seals are now rebounding. There are resident populations in the Weweantic River and in Sippican,” said Skomal. “That’s a whole lot of dinner. This is why we have this emergence of white sharks – new cafés.”

As seals move closer to shore in July and August, Skomal said the sharks move with them into waters as shallow as 5 feet deep. However, Skomal said, the white shark is a more temperate animal, feeding at cooler lower depths, perhaps 10,000 feet down.

“They go to dark water where the seals can’t see them and they wait,” Skomal said.

Skomal said receivers have been set up along the eastern seaboard primarily in Florida, but now with a new concentration of sites in the northeast. These acoustic arrays help cities and towns manage human activity on beaches while also providing scientific data on the animal’s behavior. He hopes to receive funding to set up receivers in Sippican Harbor and near Aucoot Cove, scene of the July 25, 1936 fatal encounter between a young swimmer and a great white shark.

Another organization Skomal is affiliated with is Ocearch. On the website www.ocearch.org, you can view the tracking information for a variety of marine species including the great white shark. The goal of the data collection is to “aid in conservation and education.”

“All these steps are baby steps,” Skomal concluded. “It lays the groundwork for building on technology.”

He said that in a couple of weeks the Discovery Channel will air a program on sharks with Skomal providing research information and, yes, he’ll be in the program. With an impressive command of the subject matter and an engaging, easy style, Skomal brought to light the importance of his ongoing work – to track and study white sharks. And, although most sharks are not aggressive towards humans, his fear is “a young juvenile shark doing something.”

For more information on great white sharks or other marine animals, you may visit www.atlanticwhiteshark.org or www.mass.gov Department of Marine Fisheries. And don’t forget to look for Skomal’s show on the Discovery Channel.

By Marilou Newell

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Voters Adopt 23 of 25 Articles

With a turnout exceeding the required 100 needed to build a quorum, which Greenwood “Woody” Hartley made sure was noted for the record, the Rochester Annual Town Meeting on June 13 succeeded in passing a number of articles with little to no discussion. However, a couple of zoning bylaw amendments required further explanation for some residents fired up over First Amendment Freedom of Speech rights. Another personnel bylaw was amended on the floor, and a citizen petition to place strict limitations on two-family conversions was unanimously postponed indefinitely.

Although both easily passed the 2/3 vote requirement, two zoning bylaw changes pertaining to signage regulations elicited some debate from residents concerned mostly about political signs, which are required to be removed from properties within 48 hours after an election.

“Most of these regulations are already in effect and they’re scattered all over…” said Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson, specifying that the bylaw amendments change very little about current regulations. Article 22 simply sought to organize the bylaws and omit redundancies between different board regulations. “What we’re trying to do is make things smoother…. We’re not taking anybody’s rights away.”

Article 23 was a follow-up to Article 22, which inserted definitions and omitted outdated language from the signage bylaw.

Article 14 brought Highway Department and Fire Department employee, as well as representative of the Personnel Board, Harrison Harding to the microphone to speak out about the proposed amendment to the personnel bylaw to eliminate the existing sick day buyback which pays non-union employees 50% of their pay rate for each unused sick day upon retirement or resignation.

Harding said first that the town meeting warrant, which stated that the Board of Selectmen along with the Personnel Board sponsored the article, was misleading.

“It was never discussed by the Personnel Board at all,” said Harding. He proposed amending the article to apply the change to new hires only, as well as language that would allow current non-union employees to carry their unused sick time over with them should they switch employment positions within the town.

Woody Hartley said he found Harding’s approach “fair, reasonable, and perhaps appropriate,” before town meeting voted to accept Harding’s amendment to the article. The article passed with the amendment with only just a few ‘nays.’

With a decisive vote, Town Meeting voted unanimously to indefinitely postpone Bradford Estates resident Tobias Paulo’s citizen’s petition to ban two-family conversions within 1,200 feet of the nearest single-family house, roughly a quarter-mile distance.

The Planning Board held its public hearing for Paulo’s article and voted not to recommend it. Voters sided with the Planning Board on the matter.

Also during Town Meeting, voters adopted a proposed bylaw regulating the withdrawal of water from any ponds, streams, surface, or sub-surface water in the Town of Rochester. The other three towns that are part of the Mattapoisett River Valley Water Supply District also adopted their own versions of the bylaw to protect drinking water sources from possible contamination.

The article stems from semi-recent complaints by the Towns of Mattapoisett and Fairhaven over local landscaper Yard Boss’ withdrawal of water from the Mattapoisett River for its hydro-seeding truck. This new bylaw prohibits the withdrawal of water within the town into vehicle tanks or tanks contained in any vehicle. A permit may be issued by the town, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or the U.S. government, the article specified.

The bylaw set a penalty of $100 for a first-time violation and $500 for subsequent violations.

In all, 23 of the 25 warrant articles were adopted, including the reduction of the Annual Town Meeting quorum back down from 100 to 75; adoption of the FY2017 operating budget of $20,403,762; and the purchase of an ambulance for $240,000.

The Special Town Meeting article to transfer $67,318 from the town stabilization fund into the snow and ice removal account also passed.

By Jean Perry

 

RDA Or NOI – That Is The Question

The June 13 meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission had a long two-page agenda. While there were hearings that moved along swiftly, there were others that came to a snail’s pace. One hearing, a seemingly simple Request for Determination of Applicability for a driveway paving project, was one such hearing.

Marcia Waldron, 7 Dexter Lane, came before the commission seeking a Negative determination for her RDA filing. Waldron plans to pave a 12.5- by 48-foot section of her driveway.

Before opening the hearing up to public comment, Rogers told the audience that the commission was only looking to determine if Waldron’s request was a RDA or if it should be a Notice of Intent.

Abutter Maryanne Brogan, 10 Dexter Lane, objected.

Brogan had submitted a letter requesting that Waldron file a costly NOI versus a RDA with accompanying engineered stormwater calculations. She contends that drainage issues will affect her property negatively if Waldron’s driveway is paved.

There ensued minutes of discussion with Brogan asserting that the original developer of the cul-de-sac development was not allowed to pave the driveway due to a ruling by DEP.

Rogers said of Waldron’s driveway, “There is very little difference between compacted stone dust and asphalt … runoff would not be impacted.”

Brogan pushed harder.

Brogan said that when Waldron’s house was built, truckloads of fill were brought in to raise it up and that, due to drainage concerns at that time, the developer had to put a retention pond on the property. She feared that a change from pervious to impervious surfaces would cause stormwater to drain onto her already very wet property. Brogan also said that she had called the DEP and had been told that any change to the driveway surface needed to be supported with engineering calculations.

Rogers didn’t agree.

“We are here to determine if the request rises to a NOI notification versus an RDA,” said Rogers. “We’ve never asked anyone to provide runoff calculations for a single driveway,” he told Brogan. He explained that even four new homes with driveways did not trigger the necessity of runoff calculations.

Brogan retorted, “It’s against the law to change your land and impact your neighbors.”

Rogers responded, “Even if we require an NOI, we wouldn’t be looking for calculations.”

Several other abutters spoke on behalf of Waldron’s application, saying they were not concerned with the paving plan, that stormwater runoff was not an issue at this location, and felt the paving project would have no impact on the area.

The commission voted to allow the RDA to be heard and rendered a Negative 2 determination.

As Brogan left the meeting, she told Conservation Agent Liz Leidhold she’d be filing an appeal in the morning.

Another RDA filing that seemed straightforward needed time to review. Dennis Arsenault, represented by David Davignon of N. Douglas Schneider and Associates, presented a request to have established wetland delineations accepted for the 10.3-acre site at the end of Snow Fields Road.

Mapping evidence supplied by Davignon showed a parcel with what he described as “two wetland systems” that dominated the drawing. He said that, in the past, Arsenault’s land had been primarily accessed via Interstate 195.

Davignon asked for a one-month continuation in order to give the commission and Leidhold sufficient time to study the request, noting that his client was not in a hurry.

Several abutters were in attendance, with one questioning the possibility of a stream running through the property, but not marked on Davignon’s map, and another questioning if the property could be developed for commercial use. The application was continued until July 11.

Other business included Negative determinations of RDA applications from Matt Hotte, 1 North Street, for the construction of a farmer’s porch; Michael Michaud, 3 Crooked Bow Path, to plant grass and build a 16- by 12-foot shed; Stuart LeGassick, 5 Beacon Street, for home improvements and the construction of an addition.

Rounding out the RDA filings, Daniel DaRosa received a Negative 3 ruling for the construction of a cantilevered addition to an existing porch.

In the NOI category of hearings, William Macropoulos, 12 Howard Beach, filed an ‘after-the-fact’ NOI for a jetty repair that included a protrusion into the water that had not been part of the approved plan. The commission discussed remediation with Davignon, who represented Macropoulos. Rogers concurred that remediation might be acceptable since “jackhammering it out” didn’t make sense.

Commission member Mike King suggested that Macropoulus might give the town shellfish seeds as worthy remediation, rather than simply paying money to the state for the error. Davignon said he would discuss that with his client as he asked for and received a two-week continuation.

Dennis Gallant, Brandt Island Road, received an Order of Conditions for the construction of a single-family home, as did Jane Finnerty, 19 Shore View Avenue, for repairs to a stone seawall.

William Farran, Angelica Avenue, sought an Order of Conditions for the construction of a new single-family home on a parcel previously deemed ‘unbuildable.’ The plans will include a home build to FEMA flood plain standards with the addition of fill to support the necessary pilings.

Rogers told Mark Manganello of LEC Environmental Consultants, “I want to confirm with the Building Department that FEMA allows for fill in a flood plain.” He continued, “I want to be ahead on this one,” he said while pointing out that construction taking place on another home, one adjacent to the town landing on Mattapoisett Neck Road has. “Everyone calling … I want guidance from our building inspector.” The hearing was continued until June 27.

The Town of Mattapoisett in the personages of Highway Superintendent Barry Denham and Jon Connell of Field Engineering received Orders of Conditions for three NOI filings for roadway projects. These projects are part of the ongoing updating of sewer and water systems throughout the village area. The streets affected will be portions of Barstow, Pearl, and Cannon. When asked by one resident living on Barstow if the pink granite curbstones that are historic to the streets would be conserved and reused, Denham assured her that was the intent of the Highway Department.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for 6:30 pm on June 27 in the Town Hall meeting room.

By Marilou Newell

 

Marion Rec Open Registration

Marion Recreation will host Open Registration from Monday, June 20 through Saturday, June 25 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm at its facility located at 13 Atlantis Drive in Marion. Staff will be available to answer questions and help enroll participants for upcoming programs. Sailing, Swimming, Basketball Clinics, Dance and Theater, the very popular Silvershell Summer Program and many more are all open for registration. Participants are encouraged to register early; space is limited in some programs. As always, registration forms can be mailed to Marion Recreation, 13 Atlantis Drive, Marion, MA 02738 or dropped in the drop box at the gate of the facility. Information on programs is available by visiting www.marionrecreation.com.

RMS Hosts 23rd Annual Concert

It’s an amazing sound when you put together 150 music students who have studied their musical scores, practiced endless hours, and pay close attention to their instructors. And so it was on June 10 when Rochester Memorial School hosted the 23rd annual summer concert, a syncopated collaboration between this local school and the elementary schools of Martha’s Vineyard.

Larry Stone, retired musical director from Martha’s Vineyard, used to fly to work everyday from his Acushnet home to the school on the Vineyard where he was the music teacher. He was familiar with RMS and, in a moment of inspiration, imagined a program that would bring together the music students from Vineyard elementary schools with those from Rochester, giving the students a richer musical experience. That was 23 years ago – 23 wonderful years of music education and just plain fun.

RMS Music Instructor Christine Williamson, whose long tenure at RMS is also 23 years, said, “It’s a cool thing for the kids to play their instrument with other students, make new friends, enhance the learning experience…” She said the annual concert is a highlight of the school year for all the students and teachers at RMS.

As the students prepared for the concert, the music instructors took turns going over various pieces of music reminding the musicians, “Cymbals, you are the most important part,” or, “Tubas, don’t run away from us,” or simply clapping out the beat, “One and two and three and four.”

The Vineyard schools participate in year-round fundraising, Stone said, that allows the students to travel to Rochester. About every two years, the Rochester students visit the vineyard, Williamson said.

The students played eight pieces – ranging from classical to contemporary – that entertained the entire school while demonstrating the full range of their musical chops. Bravo!

By Marilou Newell

 

An International Goodbye

Finals week has left students drained, yet relieved to begin the months-long decompression period known as summer vacation. It’s the moment students are excited about from the moment they begin school in September – a time to spend time on what they enjoy doing, while spending time with their friends on the sunny New England coast. But, for many friend groups, a gaping hole will be ripped from their social circle as the foreign exchange students return to their home countries.

This year, five exchange students were welcomed with open arms and hearts to Old Rochester Regional from all corners of the world. Josefin Bakken (Sweden), Marco Li (Hong Kong), Egeman Öztürk (Turkey), Nils Sünderhauf (Germany), and Louise Vis (Netherlands) may not have been at ORR for very long, but they all certainly left a mark on the school and its community.

The program that allows exchange students to study at Old Rochester is the American Field Service (AFS). The AFS finds volunteer host families who are willing to house an exchange student. Exchange students are assigned host families based mostly on shared interests. AFS club supervisor Kim Corazzini said, “A family that was very interested in the arts might chose an exchange student with similar interests.”

The AFS criteria for host families are broad, with the most important factor of all being whether or not the foreign exchange student will be placed into a safe, loving home. Host families aren’t required to have a kid in high school nor do the exchange students need to have their own room (but a separate bed is a must!).

After exchange students are assigned to host families, it’s time for them to make their flights across the ocean and into their homes for the next year. Most of the exchange students were, naturally, a little nervous about staying with a family they had never met before.

“Honestly, if I said I didn’t feel the anxiety, or that I wasn’t scared, that would be a total lie,” said Marco Li of Hong Kong. “But after the first day, I knew that my host family were good people.”

After the initial anxiety of arrival, the exchange students felt right at home here in America. For Egemen Öztürk of Turkey, however, the excitement completely overrode the anxiety. “I was so happy that I was standing on my feet by myself at literally the other side of the world,” he said.

But across the board, the United States was perfect for meeting new people, as Louise Vis of the Netherlands explained.

“The best part of being in America was making new friends that I will have forever,” said Vis. America also taught the exchange students invaluable lessons, Vis said. “I’ve become more mature.”

Every country has its own nuances – whether they are its culture, its food, or the nature of interpersonal relationships. These small cultural details lead to what makes every country and its people unique, and by living in a new country, the exchange students were able to witness those differences firsthand.

The most common difference seemed to be the reduced level of freedom here in the Tri-Town. Li, Öztürk, and Josefin Bakken of Sweden all agreed.

“Teenagers in Sweden get so much more freedom. We can go out anytime, without really having to talk to our parents,” said Bakken. Li and Bakken both said that the most important difference between America and their respective countries was the way people treat each other. America, they agreed, is a very open country.

“Because we live in a city, we aren’t that close to each other. You guys live in a small town, and basically everybody knows each other,” explained Li. “In Hong Kong, we aren’t as nice to each other. We can be a bit cool sometimes, which makes it more difficult to be friends with a lot of people because we close ourselves up to new people.”

Bakken felt the same about the apparent lack of warmth amongst people.

“I expected people to be very open, which they were,” said Bakken. “You can talk to anyone, which is a big change from Sweden. Our subways are like libraries; they’re so quiet.”

Öztürk says his biggest cultural difference is the pastimes of teenagers, as well as the availability of transportation.

“Teenagers here do sports more than Turkish teenagers, but Turkish people hang out more than American teenagers,” said Öztürk. “And transportation is so hard here. It is not hard at all in Turkey.”

As for expectations of America, most were gained from TV, the Internet, and stereotypes. The most common, as one might easily guess, is the rude, overweight American. Öztürk, after his year here, said that from his experiences here, that stereotype didn’t hold up.

“They [Americans] are more fit than I thought, and they are so nice!” he said.

Bakken said he had perceived American high school to be very similar to High School Musical.

“I remember the first day I came, people were wearing jerseys because they had a meet or a game, and I was like ‘Oh My God, it’s High School Musical.’”

To those of us who have experienced the U.S. education system first hand, it’s clear that real American high school is very, very different (and slightly disappointing) compared to High School Musical, which is a sad fact Bakken very quickly learned.

And now that it’s time for their sad departure, one can’t help but wonder what things from America our exchange student friends will miss the most. Vis, Bakken, and Li all said that they’ll never forget the people they met here. In addition to the people he met, Öztürk said that the thing he will miss most is his “host mom’s cooking.”

And although we must say our sad goodbyes, the exchange students who flew their way into the hearts of the school community in planes from all over the world will never be forgotten. They hold a special place in the heart of Old Rochester, and their smiling presences will be missed by those left here in America. Take it from AFS club supervisor Kim Corazzini,”Their friendship and cultural awareness is priceless.”

On a happier note, Old Rochester’s AFS program is one of the best in the state, and it recently received the “Top Global Learning Schools,” which is awarded to schools that demonstrate “their commitment to international education.” ORR was one of three schools in Massachusetts to receive the award.

This year has been incredibly noteworthy for the group. Because the school welcomed so many foreign exchange students into our community, the AFS was given a scholarship to send two students to another country for two weeks over the summer at no cost in a program called a ‘Global Prep’ exchange. AFS members who wished to be in the running for the scholarship were required to answer a few questions about why they would be the best fit for the trip. After review by a board of teachers, juniors Tessa Camboia and Colleen Garcia were selected. Both girls chose to go to Spain. The students will leave for their two-week cultural immersion on July 5.

The trip will take Camboia and Garcia around Spain, from Madrid to Segovia to Salamanca. The experience in Spain will resemble a long-term exchange in that it will require the students to stay with a host family they’ve never met. During their days, the exchange will allow its students an opportunity to attend Spanish courses, perform community service, and take mini field trips to learn about the history of Spain.

Of all places, why did the two students select Spain as their dream destination?

“I picked Spain out of all the countries available because it’s always been a place I would dream about visiting and knowing that I would expand on my Spanish speaking and listening skills intrigued me,” said Camboia. “I feel that being strong in a second language truly does benefit you in the future no matter the career one hopes to go into.”

Both girls are equally excited, and Garcia explained what she’s looking forward to the most.

“I’m most excited about immersing myself in the Spanish culture and connecting with my roots, as well as meeting so many amazing people as I am sure to!” said Garcia.

Next year, the AFS will continue pursuing its goal of educating the Old Rochester community of cultural differences around the world. Camboia summed up the importance of the AFS club nicely when she stated, “The AFS club is basically just a club where you allow yourself to learn about cultural differences and accept them. It empowers adolescents to break out of the shells and try new things.”

If you have any questions about the AFS club in general, going on an exchange, or are interested in hosting an exchange student for a full or half year, please feel free to email AFS club supervisor Kim Corazzini at kcorazzini@orr.mec.edu for more information.

By Sienna Wurl

 

ORR to Rein in Cell Phone Use

Cell phones have become too much of a distraction at school, ORR Principal Michael Devoll told the Old Rochester Regional School Committee on June 8 before proposing to amend the student handbook to restrict personal cell phone use at school.

“We find students with cell phones in classes … to be the single greatest distraction facing our students and the single greatest impediment to students’ success in the classroom,” said Devoll.

Allowing teachers to use their discretion is too gray of a cell phone use policy, said Devoll. As of September, cell phones must be kept inside lockers and can only be accessed during transition periods between classes, which can range from four to six minutes.

“The problem is the temptation of a cell phone in a pocket or on a desk,” said Devoll. “It’s become the single most distraction that we face.”

Devoll admitted that he, eight years ago as vice principal, advocated strongly for cell phone use in school, thinking that would increase students’ technology, organizational, and communication skills.

“So now we’re back here eight years later saying it’s become too large…” said Devoll, adding that the amount of time spent using cell phones borders on unhealthy and that the students are “victims, really, of this device in their classroom.” He continued, “It’s basically shut down a lot of learning…”

And you should see the cafeteria during lunchtime, added Devoll. More kids are on their cell phones on social media and playing games and using apps than interacting with their peers. It’s also far too common, he said, to see students walking the halls preoccupied on their phones or sitting in study period with earbuds on.

Devoll acknowledged that this new policy isn’t likely to be popular among the student body, especially since being separated from their devices might initially cause some angst.

Students will have a “three strikes and you’re out” consequence for not leaving cell phones in their lockers, and after that the device will no longer be allowed in the building. Excessive breaking of the new policy could result in suspension.

“We’re not saying ‘no’ to technology,” emphasized Devoll, adding that ORR was one of the first schools on the South Coast to allow cell phone use in the school. “We’re saying that we need a stronger academic focus and this does that.”

The next meeting of the Old Rochester Regional School Committee is scheduled for September 7 at 6:30 pm in the junior high media room.

By Jean Perry