slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
I don’t know how people who travel a lot keep sane. I’ve been away three weekends in a row, four out of five, and I feel like the threads of my life are unraveling.

I was supposed to be home this weekend, but ended up being away for a lot of it. Rich was involved in a project in Burlington, which led to a free hotel room on Saturday night. So Saturday afternoon I drove to Burlington, we saw a movie and had dinner. Sunday, after Rich went off to his meeting, I met my friend Abby for shopping and lunch. By the time I got home and took a walk, the day had disappeared.

The movie we saw was “Across the Universe,” which didn’t get great reviews (according to Rotten Tomatoes) but I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I guess I’m a sucker for the Beatles and love stories. I can’t wait to see it again, and then buy the DVD so I can watch it again and again and again. I highly recommend it, even if a lot of reviewers don't.





No travel expected this month. Maybe I can finish the book and move onto the month’s worth of New York Times’ piled up in my dining room.

Finally, for the MHS graduates: The girls soccer team won the state championship!

Yuck

Sep. 15th, 2007 11:10 pm
slyvermont: (Default)
Lobbyists can be obnoxious.

Every year, Montpelier High School students spend a few hours one day in September cleaning up the river that runs behind the school. Because of the dozens of abandoned tires they take out every single year, the students started working years ago on a tire deposit bill as a way to solve the problem of tires being dumped in the river.

The cleanup was yesterday (Friday). The Burlington Free Press wrote a story about it. What was different this time -- when the students came back from the cleanup with all the abandoned tires they fished out, they were greeted by tire dealers and lobbyists who examined the tires, and noted their model, make and other information – all to prove that the bill is not necessary, of course. That's the first time they'd done that, and it just seems, well, yucky.

And I just went to the Free Press website for the story, and decided that readers can be obnoxious too. I'm just speechless at their comments:
When these students become productive tax paying VOTING members of society, they can lobby for stuff like this however, a lot of us are tired of these "still wet behind the ears" nimrods pushing for this tax and that. Fire that teacher.
                and
Why fire the teacher? The teacher has done a very effective job of brainwashing the students and indoctrinating them to liberal extremism. These kids will never be productive members of society.
This is a good thing that these kids have been doing, and their good deeds are being undermined and criticized instead of being appreciated.
The whole story is below the cut, just in case some former MHS students want to read it.

slyvermont: (Default)
I'm sharing these two additional photos from the photographer at the paper

Pretty rainbow:



Sitting in the rain (that's me huddling under the purple umbrella):

Graduation

Jun. 17th, 2007 05:20 pm
slyvermont: (Default)
Yesterday was graduation. Description and pictures

Hodgepodge

Jun. 15th, 2007 01:57 pm
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
Graduation is tomorrow. The weather forecast includes chances of thunderstorms. How much risk is the administration willing to take? Because if they play it safe it’ll be indoors, which would be sad -- not to mention hot and sticky.

Caroline got sick Wednesday. She felt better this morning, so went on an outing, but just took her temperature and she has a fever. The next 48+ hours include two graduation rehearsals, a graduation party, graduation and Project Grad, an overnight alcohol-free party, and a work shift. Being sick just isn't in the plan.

The Burlington paper has been running little shorts on local valedictorians, including asking them what their speech is about. As I took my walk today, I realized that none of them are talking about Harry Potter, which would seem to me to be an appropriate topic. After all, Harry is (in theory) graduating from Hogwarts in this last book, and that quote of Dumbledore’s that “it is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” seems spot on for a valedictory speech. Anyway, I wonder how many valedictorians in the world talked about Harry Potter this year.

I had a nice little story in the paper today.

And since I've talked about the yearbook in the past, I'll note that this year's is pretty disappointing. There were some real oddities -- like the seniors were not listed in alphabetical order, only a handful of senior superlatives were included, no picture of the class officers. Lots of things were left out, including the ad that I designed and paid for. 

Prom

May. 14th, 2007 11:39 pm
slyvermont: (boas)
First, a link to the slide show of the dresses designed and created by Morgan.

Behind the cut, the photo shoot at my house.

slyvermont: (chocolate)
Today has been an exceedingly long and tiring day.

I drove to Burlington this morning to go to the bat mitzvah of the daughter of my good friend Abby. I skipped the lunch (the line was much too long, and I didn’t know anyone to sit and eat with), went to the Verizon store to agonize over which cell phone to get, came home and cleaned up the house. Lifted weights at the health club, and then started out on a brisk walk.

And then had one of the worst falls of my life. I was crossing the railroad tracks, lost my balance; when trying to save myself I wedged my toe in the rails and fell down flat on top of the rail ties and rocks. I knocked the wind out of me I fell so hard. I wrenched my toe, got several bad scrapes, have a couple of bad black and blue swollen spots, pulled my back and twisted my knee really badly. I had to sit still, on the tracks, for 5 minutes before I could even breathe, no less move. Luckily trains rarely use these tracks, and luckily I had left my iPod at home. I limped home and put ice packs everywhere.

Caroline and friends eventually appeared to get dressed up for prom. They had gotten their hair done up at a beauty parlor; there were boutonnières (or "man flowers," as Zoe called them) in my refrigerator. Jessie had gotten dates for her and Caroline (I’m still not sure exactly how she managed that) with two guys in her Irish Humanities class. I had invited all the parents over so they could take pictures. The picture taking went on forever and the parents thoroughly embarrassed everyone. Then the boys arrived. No one knew how to pin a boutonnière onto a tuxedo, so that caused more hysterical moments. Eventually everyone left.

I went to the prom because I wanted to see the picture taking of all the prom dresses made by Morgan, the designer I wrote about a couple weeks ago. All the chaperones came outside to watch. The paper is planning to put a slide show of the dresses on the website; I'll link to it when that happens. And I will put up pictures of the girls in their finery, but not now.

Because everything just hurts too much!
slyvermont: (harry disco)
"Rapping in the 802"

It took us forever to write this headline for today’s paper – and it’s not even that good ([personal profile] hollywdliz would have done better, I'm sure). It is  our lead story, about this hysterical and addictive rap video created by three MHS students about Vermont and Montpelier. Not only was it on our front page today, it was a feature on VPR this morning.

802 is Vermont’s area code. You have to listen to the song several times to catch the lyrics, which I’ve now done because we played it numerous times at work yesterday and I saw/heard staff and faculty watching it at school, too.

Lyrics are behind the cut (except for a few lines I can’t quite catch). I know there is a way to embed the video in this entry, but I can't figure it out, so here's the link to the YouTube page.

slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
[profile] kataline and her friends have gotten involved in this really interesting protest at school. A new student organization which is spreading the word about genocide in Darfur put up posters around the school with “testimony” from victims, including rape victims. A teacher complained, saying that the testimony might be upsetting to rape victims at the school. The administration took down the posters.

[profile] kataline and [profile] sylvei (who weren’t even members of the group before) decided this squashing of student expression and the issue could not be ignored. They went to the group organizer, and suggested putting the testimony onto T-shirts, that kids will then wear at school. This morphed into a general rally and march with kids to wear the T-shirts. The kids spent the whole week making these shirts. [profile] kataline was in charge of media relations. The TA had a story today.

Then, they wake up this morning to find 6 inches of snow on the ground (don’t even get me started) and a two-hour delay to the start of school. The rally has been postponed to tomorrow.

I just love it when students become activists.
slyvermont: (typewriter girl)
I remember in high school being bummed that I wasn’t voted “Class Writer.” In my yearbook, we had a modest number of “class celebrities” – class writer, actor, artist, athlete, dancer, singer, doer (yes, lame I know). For some reason we didn’t have “most likely to succeed” – I have a very vague memory that this was on purpose, because we thought it was stupid.

MHS’ yearbook has “Senior Superlatives.” Some of the ones being proposed for this year’s yearbook are a hoot.

Some are to be expected: Most athletic, most likely to succeed, most school spirit. Best eyes, best sense of humor, best smile. Class clown, class artist, class dancer. (Although missing are class actor, class writer and class singer. Although there is class rapper.)

Then they got creative. Class flirt. Class ego. Class partier. Class cell phone. Class spaz. Class stud. Class gossip. Most uptight. Most unpredictable.

And then the ones that I will be amazed if they actually appear in the book, since they could be censored by the administration: Hottest Bod. Class pimp. Class Barre (Barre is our sister city which is more working class/blue collar than Montpelier).

And the two that showed how totally out of it culturally I am: Class BAMF and Most responsible for bringing Sexy Back. (Both also candidates for  principal censorship.)

The one I found the most amusing: Most likely to be seen flexing.

What’s nice is that there are enough categories listed that every person in the class could be covered (and I hope they do it that way).

I wonder if anyone has actually looked into how many “most likely to succeed” people actually were successful. I know I’ve googled several people in my high school graduating class who were “big men/women on campus,” – the best, the brightest, the heads of this club and that organization, etc. –  and their names are nowhere to be found on the Web. Which I find really odd. It's like they peaked in high school, and never lived up to their potential. Or they are highly successful in careers that are overlooked by the Web -- which seems unlikely.

Anyway, to make this interactive -- did your yearbook have any interesting "senior superlatives"? Did the "most likely to succeed" become successful?

Vandalism

May. 17th, 2006 03:44 pm
slyvermont: (Rant)
Last night, sometime before 4 a.m., someone came to the high school with a chain saw and cut down a beautiful apple tree.
Last week, in another act of vandalism, someone cut a hole in the greenhouse, put a garden hose through it, and then turned the water on.
This morning, a senior posted a sign outside pointing to the missing tree that said: "This was not a senior prank." The school has no clue who is guilty, or even if it is the same people.

It's just sad that there are such vindictive, cruel people out there.

I took a picture of where the tree once was. Its twin is in the background; the stump is barely visible in the foreground.

slyvermont: (ritaskeeter)
Here's a juicy item in our Sunday paper:

“Police late Friday night found what appeared to be the remnants of days of underage drinking at a Liberty Street residence.

Montpelier police were informed of an underage drinking party by an anonymous caller, who told police Miles F.’s parents were out of town in Thailand and that in their absence underage drinking was occurring on several evenings.

Police arrived shortly before midnight Friday to find empty, partially empty and full beer bottles scattering the residence, loud music playing, dozens of empty beer cases in trash bags on the porch and two teenagers just arriving. Miles F. was not there.

Police poured out the partially filled bottles, took six full beers as evidence, told the arriving teens to tell their friend that police would be watching the place, secured the door as much as possible and left a Montpelier Police Department business card.

Officers were also trying to contact the homeowners. No charges have been filed.”

One of the “arriving teenagers” is a kid I know. I saw her in school today and had a lengthy conversation with her. I also learned more from other parents.

The mom had asked a woman named Judy, who is quite well-known for being flighty and flaky, to stay at her house with her two kids (for some reason the second, older one, was not mentioned). Despite being given this responsibility, she had left for a few days to "give the boys some space." Don't even get me started on what I would want to do to someone who I entrusted to take care of my kid who then decides to leave for a few days.

Here are some interesting questions:

1. Can the police just enter a house like this, and gather evidence, without a warrant, on the basis of an anonymous phone call? The girl I talked to said she saw no evidence of a warrant. Does the fact that the door was open make a difference? How did the cops know the drinkers were underage if no one was there?

2. Can the police demand that the teenagers give their name? The girl I talked to was told that she had to do that. She was very upset by the whole thing, mainly by the way the cops were acting. They were bullying her and demanding information, when all she did was show up after the cops had gotten there.

3. Should the cops have released Miles’ name? Why didn’t they just release the homeowner’s name – which would be the mom’s name (and there is no dad involved, just a mom). Miles is 16 or 17. In fact, for all the cops know Miles could have been out of town too and other kids decided to use the empty house to party in.

Montpelier kids are so newsworthy. Just a few weeks ago, at a house on the same street, the cops/EMS transported a bunch of MHS kids to the hospital after they all got sick from pot brownies.
slyvermont: (Default)
Caroline testified yesterday before the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee. You can listen/read to the Vermont Public Radio story here, and read the Times Argus story and see a picture here. She's been working very hard on this legislation, which would create a tire deposit similar to the bottle deposit.

Funny story: Caroline has been suffering Vermont's one-degree-of-separation intensely. Lobbying in the Statehouse, she meets  politicians who notice and comment on her last name all the time. The VPR reporter knows me and Rich.

In a bizarre coincidence, Rich was scheduled to testify before the same committee that afternoon. While Caroline was testifying, a committee member noted her last name -- and her response was that they would be seeing her father later that day. When Rich showed up, the members told him that they hoped he did as good a job as his daughter.

(Hopefully they both did a better job than I just did frosting her birthday cake for the party tonight. There must be special tools and tricks of the trade I don't know, because the frosting looks like it went through a hurricane. All that matters is that it tastes good, and there's enough chocolate and sugar to ensure that.)

slyvermont: (chocolate)
Yesterday was the MySpace discussion at the HS parents group. We had a large turnout – well, large for us (instead of the five to seven regulars we had about 25 parents). I had an internet connection and browsed around MySpace, demonstrating how to search for kids, and then showing several students’ websites – all from a high school about 80 miles from here. I showed one girl’s site whose pictures included one of her dressed in a bikini, another one of her squeezing her boobs (minus the bikini) and another of her kissing a girl. I showed Myspaces of kids who give detailed information about their lives, making them easy to find. I did show them some of the positive things – a band site, a Harry Potter discussion group – and talked about how it is used to keep up with distant friends.

The principal then talked a bit about what’s been happening at the school (although I think he wasn’t quizzed enough about that). The superintendent and his wife – who happens to be a lawyer in the AGs office specializing in cybercrime – were there, as was another parent who works for the state doing investigations into Internet crime. The local cable station was there, taping me – which means I got to say dirty words on camera (I read from several MySpaces where the kids used four-letter words). That part was very strange – I am going to be on TV saying really yucky things.

Parents asked a lot of questions, but they were quieter than usual for this type of meeting. In retrospect, I wonder if they were somewhat stunned. When you start browsing MySpace, it becomes numbing. It’s an assault on your senses in every way possible.

I’ve decided that I really hate the site. At first I thought it was merely annoying and stupid, with all the loud graphics and ads and music. But after seeing all the incredibly stupid and dangerous things kids are putting up, reading news stories of how pedaphiles are using it as a virtual playground to find victims (one article describes it as a catalog for them), and learning how the site is used for harassment and bullying – I’ve decided it needs to disappear. Now. (And the fact that it is owned by Rupert Murdoch makes me want that to happen even more.)

I tend to be pretty open-minded about these things (I mean, I’m posting this in LJ and I have lots of friends thanks to the Internet), but MySpace is dangerous. People panicked about AOL open chatrooms, but there kids used fake screennames and did not include their photos, hometowns, birth dates, etc. In MySpace, their websites mirror their lives. And while I understand the yearning teens have to be independent and create a space of their own – the Internet may not be the place to do that. At least not on MySpace, which is too easily searched and browsed. It gives me the willies.

Not to mention that dealing with MySpace is taking up too much time in school. I know some people feel that it’s not the school’s responsibility to deal with this. The problem is that MySpace is being used to harass both students and teachers. Someone put up a fake MySpace of a MHS teacher that really really upset him – affected how he interacts with students. That is the school’s business. According to the principal, he’s been dealing with this constantly in the last two weeks – and he met with other principals this weekend, and they all said the same thing.

I have a question. Myspace is for teens, and facebook is for college students and friendster is for 20-somethings. Who is livejournal for? If I search, will I find as many unsavory and disturbing things about livejournal as I did for MySpace? My general sense is that teens can be as stupid on LJ as they are on MySpace, but MySpace makes it easier for them to be stupid – one reason being that while MySpace is a place where people go to meet people, livejournal is more of a blogging site. Am I wrong?
slyvermont: (Tonks)
This is a question about class rings.

I vaguely recall when I was in high school being on the ring committee to design our class ring (this must have been an experiment in a different persona; in retrospect, I am amazed I did this because I am so not a class ring type of person.) I’m pretty sure that the ring was available for purchase senior year. Rich remembers that timetable from his high school. Same in college – I remember that rings were sold senior year.

In Caroline’s school, the sophomore class designs the ring and it is for sale sophomore year. If you don’t buy it sophomore year, then you can buy a ring later, but it costs considerably more because it’s a separate buy.

Sophomore year seems so early to me. OK, if you get one sophomore year then when you go steady you can wear your beau’s ring around your neck on a string. But senior year is when you buy the yearbook and become all sentimental and get the class ring.

Survey question: When did class rings go for sale in your high school/college? Am I nuts, or is sophomore year too soon?
slyvermont: (Default)
Details are still forthcoming, but apparently no one knows who won the class officer elections at the high school because the ballots were lost. Or thrown out. Missing in action.

Isn’t that a juicy scandal to lead the HS paper with?

We had a newspaper meeting yesterday. I made a few stupid mistakes – like, totally forgetting to say my name and get everyone to say their names – but overall I think it went OK. It’s so nice that we actually have real news to report. Between the election scandal and the fact that there are no advisors for either yearbook or theater – some good juicy stuff. I can't stop chuckling over the fact that a whole stack of ballots is missing. A comedy of errors.

I know Montpelier is “boring” – but I went to a huge high school in a large city, and I don’t remember having this much news.

Here’s another cute story from our small town.

Language teacher Mr. Skea has been teaching here for decades. One of his former students is now an accountant in town; his wife owns a clothing store and they’ve got two kids in the high school. When the son walked into the teacher’s room earlier this year, Skea hands him a yearbook that’s 20+ years old and says: “This is your father’s yearbook. He left it here when he graduated.”

So Nathan brings it home and gives it to dad, who says – “this can’t be my yearbook, I already have one.” "I've never seen your yearbook," responds his wife. He opens it up, and sure enough, there’s his name and all the comments written by his friends and classmates.

Now why exactly the teacher was holding onto this is beyond me.
slyvermont: (Default)
Tuesday night was crazy again at work. I designed the front page, and agonized again over Katrina photos. I liked the end result, but it was tough. Too many photos, too many stories. We’re a small newspaper, with a small news hole; it’s just so hard to pick from all the choices.

Today I went to the high school faculty meeting, and talked about the parents’ group and the school newspaper. I am still the parents’ group co-president (why or why?) and the advisor for the newspaper. When I said I was volunteering again to advise the newspaper, one of the teachers (Barb – the art teacher) started clapping. Others followed. That was pretty cool. And very unexpected.
slyvermont: (Monet)
But first: I went to see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants last night. I cried for half the movie. What a tearjerker, and I loved every minute.
ETA: And there was a trailer for Harry Potter!!
OK, onto what the seniors at MHS are up to.

Last year’s prank was one for the books. The kids stole all the cafeteria chairs and hid them so well that the staff could not find them anywhere. Since there are a lot of chairs and they are big and bulky, this was quite an accomplishment. The cops were called in. Eventually the chairs turned in a shed on campus, so in a sense the administration looked pretty stupid to have missed them.

This year’s prank – again, students snuck into the building and what they did took hours. They painted all the ceiling tiles in the school’s lobby. The problem with this “prank” is that the end result is quite beautiful – a stunning ceiling mural. This poses an interesting ethical dilemma. The kids technically defaced school property and could have gotten hurt while doing it, a liability issue. Yet, the end result is a keeper. Should the kids be punished? The mural deleted? (You can see a photo of the mural here.)

Then, when it became clear that this prank wasn’t mischievous enough, the seniors decided on another decorating scheme. They tore out photos from porno magazines and pasted them on a skylight spelling out “2006” (trying to blame the juniors for this one). Caroline witnessed the janitors trying to get them down – they kept bringing in new, taller ladders. How the kids accomplished this task is quite a mystery.

I guess I’ll answer my own questions here, too. I tend to veer on the more lenient side on these things. I think kids are going to do senior pranks every year, I think their creativity and diligence is admirable, and I think trying to stop them is a futile endeavor. I don’t believe in the “kids will be kids” mantra all the time – bullying shouldn’t be ignored, for example. I support leaving the mural up as is – and perhaps “punishing” the kids by making them paint all the other ceiling tiles on the first floor.
slyvermont: (Default)
I walked into the high school main office today, and on cue, the secretaries all started humming the SW theme music. I think they were waiting all day for me to walk in.

The school principal told me he’d never look at me the same again. I didn’t have time to ask him what exactly he meant.

I’m getting emails from perfect strangers (thankfully to my work account).

Life is strange.
slyvermont: (Default)
Well into the game, one of our players jumped on top of an opposing player, and they both went crashing to the floor. The other girl was seriously injured. Moaning, crying, writhing on the floor. Here’s what went wrong:

1. It took awhile for an adult from her team to actually get to her and tend to her.

2. They stood over her and did nothing for an awfully long time.

3. Finally, they brought over ice and a wrap. She is still in very serious pain.

4. In a way that must have hurt tremendously, they got her to the stands. She sat in the front row. Right in the path of the players if one of them stepped out of bounds.

5. She sat there, crying, shaking, white as a sheet. She just sat there. I'm not a doctor, but it was quite clear to me that she was in shock -- real, medical shock.

6. The refs called a foul on our team as a result of the play. Our coach (you know, the upstanding guy that is so respected) actually complained.

I was furious. Rich said the first thing someone needed to do was call an ambulance. It was obvious that this was a serious injury. I simply could not concentrate on the game when just across the court was this girl crying in agony.

So I got up and left. Other people hanging out just outside the gym were also appalled at the way her team was not treating this seriously. One said that a dad in the crowd who is a doctor said that it seemed evident from the way the leg was bent that she had broken it.

We won. But I think the whole game was tainted and I have a bad taste in my mouth from the whole experience.

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