Aside from right before an election, mid-May to mid-June is the busiest time of year for a community newspaper. School calendars are jam-packed with end of year festivities, the weather is clearing so charities plan their fundraisers for a mild spring day and government is trying to wrap up their budget deliberations in time for summer vacation. Add in the fact that it is an election year, and candidates are popping up all over the place, and we’re swamped.
<*d0*p(0,9,0,10.367,0,0,g,"U.S. English")>I’m not complaining, don’t get me wrong – I’d rather be too busy and have too much stuff for the paper than vice versa, but when you’re working every night and both weekend days, the idea of generating a lighthearted column is especially daunting. I considered giving myself an unauthorized break and taking this week off from Write of Way, but undoubtedly, one week from now, former Sports Editor Ed Owens will text me to hassle me about being lazy. Even in West Virginia, he still knows how to get under my skin.
So, not to disappoint, here are some observations from a week with too many stories:
• If you and your family are looking for something fun to do next weekend, don’t miss the Family Fun Day on June 3 to benefit the MS Dream Center. There will be sports, games, contests and plenty of food, plus live music, and you can feel good about spending a few bucks to support Rhode Islanders with multiple sclerosis.
• Stop reading and go to Crabtree & Evelyn in Garden City Center. I initially thought that owner Carole Fahey was closing at the end of the month, but she’s ready to shut the doors as soon as her inventory is cleaned out. Based on the swell of people that have been filling the store lately, that doesn’t leave much time. She thinks it could be closed as early as this Friday, so don’t miss out on huge sales. If it’s already closed by the time you read this, I apologize; I sent out a mass text to my friends giving them the heads-up and it’s very likely that my sister Kelley bought every last item of Vera Bradley.
• A lawyer, a businessman and a pastor walk into a bar … sounds like the start of a funny joke, right? No, it’s the Dist. 26 State Senate race. Let the games begin.
<*p(0,9,0,10.388,0,0,g,"U.S. English")>• I’ve been to a lot of Eagle Scout ceremonies in my time, but the event at Shepherd of the Valley Church on Sunday was probably the most emotional. At just 18 years old, Derek French had grown men crying and up and coming Scouts lauding him as not only a good friend, but also a literal lifesaver. It’s not often you hear those kinds of anecdotes about a teenager.
• Stopped by the Cranston West art show on Sunday before the Eagle Scout ceremony, and I have to say, I would pay good money for any of that work. And Kelly Strawderman, if you read this, your paintings are absolutely incredible. I can’t believe you’re in high school.
• I spoke with Miss Rhode Island Olivia Culpo late last week, and she is as poised as she is beautiful. Now, to be in the pageant, you can’t exactly be ugly, but I love watching pageants and I think Olivia is probably the prettiest Miss Rhode Island we’ve ever had. This could be our year, Rhody! Vote for her on Twitter, Facebook and MissUniverse.com.
• Can you imagine being 100 years old and living alone? Neither can I, which was what made my interview with Marianne Welshman all the more interesting. She, for one, was entirely unimpressed with her accomplishment. That kind of humility amazes me, almost as much as her talent on the harp.
• Went to a Cranston School Committee meeting on Monday night, expecting to add another story to the list, but nothing really happened. If you serve on that committee and noticed me fist pump when the meeting ended a half hour later and there was nothing to report – I apologize.
• Nothing to report, for now, I should add. Tom Barbieri, principal of Bain, was officially appointed principal at Cranston West at the meeting. Congratulations to Tom, who very much deserves the accolades his colleagues heaped upon him this week. You’ll hear more about the move and Tom’s plans in Jen Cowart’s annual “Who’s Who in Cranston Public Schools” this summer.
<*p(0,9,0,10.237,0,0,g,"U.S. English")>• If you have never heard of College Visions before, get acquainted. It’s a college access and support program for low-income first-generation college bound students in Rhode Island and they are doing truly wonderful things. They’re providing the support that families want to offer but often can’t when they are unfamiliar with the college application process. The students who go through CV are so grateful for the opportunity, and they don’t plan to waste it, either. Talk about a non-profit that’s worth your support.
• Went to a dance lesson at Cedar Crest Nursing Home last week. Those folks know how to get down.
• Visited Ferri Middle School in Johnston on Monday and it put a huge smile on my face. A special education inclusion classroom with six students spent the last two months researching municipal government. Each student focused on a different town entity, from the police department to the Mohr Library, and reported their findings to an audience of family, friends and teachers. They were proud of their work, and so they should be. I was especially impressed with the song they performed about Johnston, “our kind of town.”
• Down Hartford Avenue, at Winsor Hill Elementary School, their second grade counterparts had a similar assignment. This time, though, the students created a mini-society, elected a mayor, appointed judges, sheriffs, a business licensing committee, etc., and learned how to function in a very lifelike environment. Students ran their own businesses, paid taxes and, as two political conspirators found out, suffered consequences when it appeared a student in power (chief of staff to the Firework Valley mayor) was angling to get his best friend a high-powered position as tax collector. To hear a second grader use terms like “tax auction,” “suspension” and “bailiff” is pretty impressive. It was also pretty adorable.