Robert Pinsky to Appear in Lexington

By Laurie Atwater  |  A fierce advocate for poetry and spoken poetry, former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will be coming to Lexington to help celebrate the launch of the latest book from the Student Publishing Program at Lexington High School, Unsaid: Poems from Lexington High School’s Class of 2013.

Photo of Robert Pinsky by Emma Dodge Hanson

The Student Publishing Program (SPP) at Lexington High School was created in 2002 by Lexington High School graduate Anthony Tedesco (LHS 1987).  Tedesco has dozens of projects and ideas in the air at any given time. His work can be found in Details magazine, Saturday Night Live, Boston Globe and the 2010 Sundance Award-Winning film, Homewrecker, and he’s director of The Greatest Living Writers Project which features exclusive video of poetry and best writing advice from over 500 of the world’s top poets.

Despite his busy schedule, Tedesco has consistently maintained his dedication to the Lexington High School project that he co-founded with Karen Russell, English teacher at Lexington High School.  Russell began teaching in Lexington in September of 1980 and has taught English, Social Studies, and Reading and Language within the Lexington Public Schools.  Together with an impressive advisory board, Tedesco and Russell have nurtured the Student Writing Program—even in the years they struggled for funds and published only online.

This year the SPP is excited to once again be in print thanks to the generosity of the William G. Tapply Memorial Fund.  Tapply, a member of the LHS Class of 1958, was a well-known outdoorsman and writer of both essays on fishing and two well-known mystery series.  Tapply taught in Lexington at the high school for 28 years, retiring as a “House Master” in 1990 to write full time.  Later in life he returned to teaching at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. and at Emerson College in Boston.  Tapply died in 2009.  His fellow classmates came together to create the fund in his honor.  Thanks to the gift from the Tapply fund and the Lexingtonians who have contributed to it, students will once again have the unique experience of seeing their work in print.

More than 500 pages, Unsaid would not be possible without the dedication of all the LHS sophomore English teachers who have supported students in submitting over 400 poems. Tedesco’s professional design creates a high quality platform that pays tribute to the students’ accomplished writing. The Student Publishing Program gives one hundred percent of profits from book sales back to LHS to fund future participation.

BOOK LAUNCH     On Tuesday, May 24th, the SPP in partnership with Craig Hall and Lexington Community Education will host a special program and fundraiser to celebrate the launch of Unsaid and to raise funds to support next year’s publication.  

The public is invited to attend this event and support the young writers who have conquered their fears and allowed their very personal poems to be included in the book.  Attendees will see the book for the first time, meet the student authors and hear the award-winning Lexington High School Jazz Combo during the reception.

The program will be emceed by Craig Hall, director of Lexington Community Education. Lexington residents will have the opportunity to hear students read selected poems from both this year’s publication and from upperclassmen who have contributed to previous online editions. The program will also feature readings by Lexington poet and Robert Frost Medal winner X.J. Kennedy.

ROBERT PINSKY     U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky will talk about poetry and what it means to him and read from his latest book Selected Poems. Pinsky is an advocate for young writers and poetry. In 1997 Pinsky was named poet laureate and he served until 2000. During this very public phase of his career, Pinsky launched a great new project that he called The Favorite Poem Project.  Everyday folks were asked to submit their favorite poems and some of them were invited to read their poems as part of a permanent audio archive at the Library of Congress.  This “people’s project” connects to Pinsky’s beliefs about the need for poetry in a democracy and the value of the spoken word.

Pinsky currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Boston University and is poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate. He is a man of varied talents—translator, editor, multi-media innovator and teacher. He is the author of five books of poetry, four books of criticism and a computerized novel. He has received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, Poetry magazine’s Oscar Blumenthal prize, the William Carlos Williams Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 (1996) won the 1997 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Come and celebrate one of Lexington’s most worthy student endeavors, hear some great poetry and music and pick up the new book from LHS students.

Quotes About The Book And Its Publisher, The Student Publishing Program:

“These talented, imaginative young poets have made works using the always-fresh, always-unique, forever-new, yet ancient instrument of their voices. The individual voice is the instrument of poetry, an art that as this collection shows is on a human scale, individual and communal. I congratulate the writers, their teachers, and us their audience.” – ROBERT PINSKY, former U.S. Poet Laureate, professor in the graduate writing program at Boston University, Poetry Editor of the online magazine Slate, Advisory Board Member of The Student Publishing Program, and author of SELECTED POEMS.

“To any writer, writing always seems more a meaningful act if it results in publication. In bringing out UNSAID, Anthony Tedesco and the Student Publishing Program have accomplished something rare and valuable. This book and this program strike me, to the best of my knowledge, as the most remarkable gift to student writers that anyone has offered in America.” – X. J. KENNEDY, Lexington poet, winner of the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry, and author of In A Prominent Bar In Secaucus: New & Selected Poems.

“Words have great power. As School Committee Chair, I use words at the intersection of advocacy and policy. Sometimes, even advocating for the words that seem most meaningful and powerful at the policy level will influence the tone and meaning of all the words down the line. In a similar way, this poetry project has provided our students with an experience reflecting the power of their own words in meaningful expression.” – MARY ANN STEWART, Chairman, Lexington School Committee, Lexington Public Schools

Creating a portfolio of written pieces based on models of good writing sets student writers on a course that they navigate for themselves.  Teachers, then, have the opportunity to become active listeners to what each student feels is the composition to publish, to render explicit what was previously unsaid. – KAREN RUSSELL, Lexington High School Teacher, and founding teacher of The Student Publishing Program

What the students say:

“Being a part of this publication made me feel like I could share things that I can’t otherwise say.” AMBIKA JAYAKUMAR, LHS class of 2013

“I can’t begin to articulate how refreshing it is to have a teacher ask me for my own thoughts and writing I can truly call my own.” VERENA LUCKE, LHS class of 2013

“The poem project allowed us to stretch the boundaries of imagination, talking about things we would have never thought of sharing with anyone.” AISHANI PATWARI, LHS Class of 2013


Unsaid: LHS Sophomore Poetry Book & Launch Event

Tuesday, May 24, 7pm
LHS Auditorium 251 Waltham St., Lexington, MA

Readings by Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, Robert-Frost-Medal-Winner X.J. Kennedy and a selection of LHS sophomores reading from their new book, Unsaid: Poems from Lexington High School’s Class of 2013, along with poetry from other classes and music by LHS’s award-winning jazz combo. The public is invited to come support them as student authors, as sons and daughters and friends, as young Lexingtonians, and perhaps most of all as unique, courageous individuals sharing what they’ve often been unable to say, offering glimpses at who they really are – in their own words.

For tickets, book pre-orders please visit or call 800-705-6551. Books ordered before May 24th can be purchased for $24; after May 24th books will sell for $34. Event tickets are $7 in advance; $10 at the door. LHS students admitted free with student ID.


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Youth Counseling Center


Join Us!The LYFS Open HouseSunday May 22nd, 1 to 3pmParker Hall, First Parish Church7 Harrington Road, Lexington, MA.There will be speakers, a power point, and a visit to the new LYFS office space.Please join us.For more information, email Bill Blout – bblout@LYFSinc.org781-862-0330As a non-profit, we are dependent on donations so we appreciate all contributions. Checks can be made out to: LYFS Inc., and send to 7 Harrington Rd, Lexington, MA 02420.  (781-862-0330)  

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Free Counseling Center Opens

Left to right- Betsey Weiss ( Board member), Bill Blout ( President), Elise Goplerud ( Youth Advisor) Tim Dugan ( Board Member) Sharon Stirling ( Staff Counselor), Conne Counts ( Treasurer) and Michele and Cooke ( Clerk) . Absent - Mary- Jane Donovan ( Legal Counsel and founding Board Member ) and Joan Robinson ( Board Member).

By Laurie Atwater  | A Safety Net for Teens in Crisis

Social safety nets are not taken too seriously until something “bad” happens.  For the past decade Lexington has struggled to find the appropriate mix of services to provide to the young adults in the community as well as the most effective structure for delivery.  As concern has mounted over student stress, student suicides and “risky behaviors” uncovered in the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted each year at high schools all over the country, communities have responded in different ways to the need for services.With cutbacks and struggling local economics, safety net services are usually the first thing to go. In Lexington it has taken many dedicated volunteers and activists to advocate for, and ensure, a fully-functioning human services department that serves all members of the community including youth and families.  The town has maintained its Youth Services Director—an important part of the team that works with law enforcement, the public schools and mental health professionals to help families access services and make useful connections.  And recently the community and the schools have responded to the issue of academic stress by forming The Collaborative to Reduce Student Stress to work with the schools, the faith communities and other organizations to address policies and programs that will help students deal with academic stress.

However, the most critical need has remained unmet until this March when the Lexington Youth and Family Services (LYFS) opened its doors at the First Parish Church in Lexington.  LYFS is a private, non-profit, after-school safety net for teens looking for an accepting place to express their problems and access counseling.  “We want to add another dimension to the existing services in town,” says LYFS board member Betsey Weiss.  “We are open after school when counseling services are not available at school or through the town,” she says.  Weiss also notes that counseling services at LYFS are free and do not require insurance.  That can be so important to a young person who wants to get help but does not want his or her parents to know or to someone whose problem is their parents.

So what kind of student would seek help in this kind of a setting?  “It could be a high achieving student who is depressed, but doesn’t want to worry parents,” LYFS President and volunteer therapist Bill Blout explains. “Or perhaps it is a more serious problem like suicidal thoughts or self-injury.”  According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey 50 students indicated that they had actually tried to commit suicide, and over 200 had thought about it. Over 300 students admitted to being depressed.  Clinicians know that this type of depression can escalate to other risky behaviors like substance abuse including excessive drinking and risky sexual behavior.  Board member Conne Counts says that so many kids “feel invisible” at the high school. “It’s good for them to have an outlet for their concerns,” she adds.

“This is not a drop-in center,” explains Bill Blout. “We are a crisis-intervention center open after school in an easy to get-to location. It’s a private counseling space.  “The location was very important to the success of the program because it needed to be within walking distance from the high school and close to public transportation.  When the First Parish offered the group what used to be the “bridal suite” they were so grateful and remains so.  The facility has a separate entrance which makes it perfect for this use. LYFS is not affiliated with any religion, but appreciates the powerful gesture that First Parish has made to support youth in the community.

Michele Cooke, board member and general clerk for the group has done an amazing job transforming the space into two warm and inviting rooms—a waiting room/office and a meeting room for clients and clinicians. It’s a “safe space” for kids to seek help for anything that is disturbing them. So far staff counselor Sharon Stirling sees lots of kids convincing their friends to come in because they are worried about them.  “We didn’t know what would happen when we opened the doors,”  Blout says. “I actually thought it would be a couple of months before we saw anyone.”  They’ve have had over 20 teens stop in to check it out!

LYFS Youth Advisory Board member Elise Goplerud has been spreading the work at LHS; she has been giving short talks in freshman health classes to introduce the service to students.  “We did a week on depression in the health classes,” she explains. “It was a perfect time for me to go in to each class and tell them about LYFS.”  Elise says she stresses the relaxed noncommittal environment and the fact that it’s free.

So far six Lexington therapists have volunteered their time to offer free counseling services.  This is an enormous advantage and something that the group agrees is very special about Lexington.  “This is a very busy time—after school—for therapists who see adolescents and teens,” explains Tim Dugan, a volunteer therapist and LYFS board member.  “This is when we see our patients so we are very grateful to our volunteers.”  Blout explains that they not only have six therapist signed up and ready to go, but the also have another six who are in the process of committing to the program.  “We have a great group of professionals in town who are ready to step up and give three or four hours a month,” says Betsey Weiss a seasoned Lexington activist and volunteer.Both

Bill Blout and Tim Dugan were involved a couple of years ago when the Lexington Human Services Department was being reorganized.  They have both worked extensively with at-risk teens.  Over time they became increasingly worried about the lack of a real safety net for young people who are troubled and could hurt themselves.  While they were happy that the Youth Services Director position at the town level was preserved, they knew that many of the most troubled teens would not seek help unless they could do it in an anonymous and non-threatening environment.

After the Youth Summit conducted by the town and the schools, they decided to collaborate on a non-profit counseling model.  It has been several years in the making. Many hours went in to formulating a mission statement, establishing clinical guidelines and setting up a legal framework.  Founding board member Mary-Jane Donovan who is an attorney donated her legal services to the effort.

Now they are very anxious to get up and running.“Too often towns wait until there is a crisis like a suicide,” Blout says. “Then they act. We wanted to get out ahead of the crisis and hopefully we can fill that gap in services in Lexington.”Currently the offices are open ever Friday from 3-6 and they will be open during the summer as well. Staff counselor Sharon Sterling is always in during these hours to see patients, do an assessment and make future appointments.  In the future the group hopes to expand those hours and offer additional services like support groups, peer leadership opportunities and a crisis hotline. Of course, because they are a nonprofit, they are relying on donations and they are applying for grants.

Join Us! The LYFS Open HouseSunday May 22nd, 1 to 3pmParker Hall, First Parish Church7 Harrington Road, Lexington, MA.There will be speakers, a power point, and a visit to the new LYFS office space.Please join us.For more information, email Bill Blout – bblout@LYFSinc.org781-862-0330As a non-profit, we are dependent on donations so we appreciate all contributions. Checks can be made out to: LYFS Inc., and send to 7 Harrington Rd, Lexington, MA 02420.  (781-862-0330)

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Making Music and Making Connections

Holly Stumpf with several of her students

By Elena Murphy  |  Holly Stumpf’s Unique Teaching Style Helps Her Students Hear the Music All Around Them

On a recent afternoon, students are smiling widely as they start thumping on drums or shaking a rattle made of beads in Hollace Stumpf’s classroom at Harrington Elementary School.

So is their music teacher. “I’ve always enjoyed making music with others,” says Stumpf. “When I began teaching, I wanted kids to feel music is connected to their lives.”

Recently, her approach has won recognition. A music specialist at Harrington for a number of years, Stumpf was named a Distinguished Educator by Yale University School of Music, one of only 50 educators from around the country to receive the biennial award. Educators who win this award have integrated music with other curriculum and included a multicultural perspective.

Finding connections to other subjects students are learning, and bringing influences from around the world into the classroom is something Stumpf has always done. When she was just out of college, she read about the Orff Schulwerk, an institute founded by composer Karl Orff. The institute offered a program that was unlike anything she had heard about in her studies to become a music teacher and flutist.

Stumpf says Orff saw similarities between learning music and learning a language. In his view, students need opportunities to listen, imitate, and experiment as they develop mastery. Unlike schools that only taught musical technique, Stumpf took percussion and movement classes along with ensemble and music theory. Students connected music to dance, art, and everyday life. Stumpf says, “In a broader sense, Karl Orff was teaching how culture is in a lot of places.” It was only in the West, she says, that music was increasingly being separated from other activities, such as dance.

This experience changed everything about how Stumpf saw music education, and after two more years of studying and playing the flute professionally in Europe, she returned to the United States and embarked on a career that has brought influences as diverse as African drumming and the study of bird songs together.

“I realized I wanted to teach through music, not just teach music” in terms of technique, says Stumpf. To achieve that, she says she’s integrated music with almost anything in the curriculum, and has enjoyed collaborating with teachers over the years. When one class studied birds, she asked each child to choose an instrument that sounds like the bird they had researched, and replicate the bird’s song. She also blends in music theory, such as pointing out woodpeckers’ style of rapidly tapping their beaks sounds “staccato,” while smooth, more melodious songs are “legato.”

Students in her class also look at painting or sculpture to learn about music. The polygons in an Edward Hopper painting, she says, can be connected to different time signatures, with four-sided figures representing four beats and triangles representing three beats for a measure of music.

As Stumpf sees it, “If kids are doing things, they’ll remember a lot better.” So she has younger students compose music based on shapes: circular drums, a triangle, and rectangular wood blocks. She also has them recognize the high and low notes they can produce with their voices, so when she explains “pitch,” they already know the concept.

But she doesn’t stop with teaching musical technique. “When you want kids to be creative and experimental, think about expressing emotion,” she says. To do this, she uses “small frameworks,” such as asking children to “improvise a rhythm” with only two notes, before adding more notes or other guidelines.

The biggest challenge is “kids get stuck in their own heads that they ‘have to do it right.’” With just two notes to work with, they can create a pattern, and know they have achieved a goal, “and I can honestly tell them they’ve been successful,” says Stumpf.

To show how music figures in daily life around the world, Stumpf often invites guest artists to perform. After a trip to Senegal, Stumpf arranged for an African drum and dance performance followed by a workshop for students. This year, she had Hawaiian dancers perform in traditional dress, so students saw “authentic movement and instruments.”

Stumpf says that once a teacher decides to bring in multicultural influences, “it affects everything you do.” She’s been to Africa twice, most recently to Ghana, and as a result, enjoys African drumming herself. But her diverse interests also include English country dance from 600 years ago, and she has even taken up the cello to play in a chamber music quartet.

“If students see ‘different’ and make a connection or remember experiencing something different in my classroom, and recall that they liked it,” that’s part of “making the world a better place,” says Stumpf. “Different can be interesting.”       


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Facelift for a Lexington Icon


By Heather Aveson  |  The Hayden Recreation Centre Renovates For Families and the Future


 “It’s at Hayden”, “I’m headed over to Hayden”, “Take a right at Hayden”, these are all phrases that any Lexingtonian knows refer to the Josiah Willard Hayden Recreation Centre on Lincoln Street. Hayden is such an integral part of life in Lexington that we may not think much about it until earth movers, construction signs and fences draw our attention.

Originally built in 1958 the building is undergoing its first major renovation since 1990. The changes will not only help the center further J. W. Hayden’s wishes for the organization, but mechanical upgrades will bring the building well into the 21st century.


Josiah Willard Hayden came from a background rich in local history. His Great Great Grandfather was Samuel Hayden, a colonel in the Revolutionary Army and Lexington Minuteman. His “Great Grandfather six times over”, as John Chase describes him at the building dedication in 1958, was Simon Willard, who founded the Town of Concord.

Hayden grew up in Boston as part of a wealthy merchant family. He was the younger brother of Charles Hayden. Charles amassed a great fortune during this lifetime and dedicated himself to philanthropy. Although best known locally for funding The Hayden Planetarium in Cambridge, he was a major donor to The Boys Clubs of America and other groups.

Brothers Charles and Josiah enjoyed the advantages of a privileged youth spent enjoying the outdoors and sporting activities. Gayla Beu recounts Josiah’s desire to share those benefits with other children in a 1962 Hayden newsletter. ‘Mr. Hayden, a rich man’s son, had had a very happy childhood, with many advantages. He wanted many children to enjoy the sort of things he had, including the opportunity to learn games and sports” 

When Josiah and his wife moved back to the family’s hometown of Lexington in 1904 he was surprised, and disappointed, to find that there were no gymnasiums in town, not even in the schools. William Greeley, a contemporary of Hayden, remembered the situation this way. “The attic room in the Hancock School provided a cramped and dangerous makeshift for smaller children to play their games in, and was responsible for a broken nose or an injured arm at intervals. The children of High School age longed for a gymnasium of some kind, but with little hope of having one.” Josiah Hayden, William Greeley and Henry Putnam set off to remedy the situation.


The three formed the Lexington Gymnasium Foundation in 1906 and started looking for an appropriate location to hold classes. They settled on the second floor of what was then known as Historic Hall and which is now the Masonic Temple at the fork of Bedford and Hancock Streets. Again, Mr. Greeley recalls those early days in a paper titled ‘The Lexington Gymnasium Association.’ “Classes were soon enrolled and ready to begin. We found an able teacher named Vickers, living in Arlington. He took the girls’ classes while I took the boys, two evenings each week.” Things went well for a year until “…security of the floor construction began to be questioned and a careful inspection showed that it would not be safe to continue with the gym classes. It was a sad blow.” The year long experiment ended with an exhibition by the children at Town Hall to which the whole town was invited.


The group turned their attention to outdoor athletics. Probably a wise move as solid ground was less likely to give way to active children than an aging wooden structure. A ‘baseball nine’ was fielded, games were well attended and a small fund was being accumulated. According to Greeley, as Treasurer, J.W. Hayden decided to take custody of these funds and build a nest egg for the construction of a proper gym. Research later showed that the initial “nest egg” was a $2 deposit in the Lexington Trust Company.

Photo, courtesy of The Worthen Collection

Baseball games were not the only fundraisers in support of the Gymnasium Fund. Hayden took the effort from playing field to Pageantry. He sponsored both the original 1915 “Pageant of Lexington” and the even more grand150th anniversary Pageant in 1925. The pageants were extravagant affairs full of lighting effects and melodrama. The widely published article ‘Lest we Forget’ describes the 1915 pageant this way. “The English arrive, and possess Lexington: over the hill comes a catafalque borne by angels carrying a doll, and the program says it represents the birth of Lexington.” The 1925 pageant took the event to a whole new level. Ms. Beu describes it as “similar to that of 1915, but said to be “far ahead” of it. World-famous dancer, Ruth St. Denis, portrayed the figure of Freedom in an unforgettable role.”

From his efforts in the field of pageantry J.W. Hayden was able to deposit $4,154.14 into the Lexington Gymnasium Fund. By 1938, the fund had grown to $10,000, still far short of what he’d need to realize his dream.


Board Member Dave Eagle and Director Don Mahoney in the lobby where a large observation window will allow viewing of the pool area.

In 1937 Charles Hayden passed away a bachelor and left his vast fortune and philanthropic foundation in the hands of his only brother J.W. Hayden. Josiah administered the foundation with a steady hand and an eye to the interests in athletics and recreation that he and his brother shared. Shortly after Charles’ death The Articles of Organization were drawn up for The Josiah Willard Hayden Recreation Centre, Inc. with Josiah as President and Treasurer. The document set forth the following purposes.

“To assist and found, equip, build, and maintain buildings and gymnasia…for mental and physical recreation, and whole educational entertainment and physical training of youth of both sexes in said town of Lexington…

To establish a place of meeting of the youth of Lexington for their moral, mental and social improvement and development and in general to do all things which may promote directly or indirectly their intellectual, social and physical welfare.

To assist and advance any and all religious, educational, charitable and benevolent activities for the moral, mental and physical well being, upliftment and development of the youth of both sexes of the Town of Lexington.

To aid deserving boys and girls of the Town of Lexington and assist them in attending education institutions in this country and abroad”

A clear vision of Josiah’s desires had now been set forth. But it would be another 20 years before the vision became a reality. It wasn’t until his death in 1955, from injuries received in a devastating car accident on Concord Turnpike here in Lexington, that money from the estate become available to fund the organization and construct the center of educational and recreational training for the youth of Lexington that Hayden envisioned.

On January 24, 1958, fifty-two years after the Lexington Gymnasium Association was originally formed, The Josiah Willard Hayden Recreation Centre buildings were dedicated. John Chase, the centre’s first President charged the residents with these words. “…from now on it behooves the officers and Directors of the Centre, the members of the staff and, most important of all, the people of the Town of Lexington to breath life, high purpose and dedication into this frame of opportunity which Mr. Hayden has provided.”


It’s hard to imagine a centre with more life than Hayden. Generations of Lexingtonians have learned to swim, played basketball, gathered and grown at Hayden. Don Mahoney is the current Director, “When I got here in the ‘80’s I got a lot of parents that came in and said, ‘I came here as a kid’, now I have grandparents saying the same thing”.

Some things have changed since those early days. The centre was originally two completely separate buildings, one for boys and one for girls, and the offerings were different as well. Dave Eagle is a member of the Board and the Building Committee, “Back in the ‘50’s it was always separate. Sewing and arts and crafts for the girls and woodworking for the boys.” Don Mahoney adds, “On the girls side it was called arts and crafts on the boys side it was pottery.” Josiah Hayden had never mentioned anything about wanting separate facilities, but his brother Charles had been a big supporter of The Boys Club, which was always separate from The Girls Club. It was a common configuration for the times. Tom Brincklow practically grew up at Hayden. Tom is a Lexington Native who now teaches Phys Ed in the LABBB program. “When I used to go as a kid there was a boys side and girls side. Joe Burns was in charge of the boys side. I look back at it now and I laugh, but that’s just the way it was. I don’t think that would go over now.”

The first major renovation in 1990 ended the separation by joining the two buildings with a cut-through. This coincided with the welcoming of adults to the facility. The Centre developed schedules that allowed adults to use the pool and gyms in the morning and later in the evening, reserving prime time in the afternoons and early evenings for the kids. Making more use of the facility fit perfectly into Josiah’s vision. He stated in his will that it was his “hope that the buildings maintained by the Recreation Centre shall be kept open at all reasonable times and made so attractive that the youth of Lexington will make constant use of its facilities and of the privileges which it affords.” And the numbers show that Hayden Rec Centre is doing just that. “On a good day we’ll have a 1,000 visitors between the rink and this facility. We have more than 3,800 members and they’re all from Lexington. We can keep the membership costs low because the endowment offsets the operating costs so everyone can enjoy it,” says Don Mahoney


Looking at an aging infrastructure and increased usage by youth, adults and families led the Board to consider some major building upgrades. Improvements had been made along the way mostly to improve energy efficiency and conservation. Dave Eagle points out that all seventy-seven windows have been replaced for greater heat savings and all the lighting has been upgraded to be more efficient as well. When the board realized how much water was being used at the centre, they dug a well that provides water to irrigate the field and make ice for the rink.

But now it was time for a major facelift. About two years ago the three building committee members, Don Mahoney, Dave Eagle and Bill Kennedy began meeting to discuss their options. “We got input from the staff and some of the kids. At first it was no holds barred,” says Don Mahoney. But, those old partners time and money had their say too. Don continues, “then it became, what do you need? And what would you love? One of the essential things is that we have to be ready to go at full speed when September comes.”

Everyone agreed adding a family changing room and upgrading the boys and girls locker rooms were a major priority. Then there were the aging mechanics and utilities serving the building as well new ADA regulations to be considered. A renovation of the second floor was also in the running. Then sticker shock set in.

As a private foundation, all the funds for building, upkeep and operation come from the endowment left by Josiah Hayden. The board votes on any allocation, and this was going to be a big one. They decided to cut costs by saving the second floor renovation for a later time. Ready to move ahead, the Centre’s endowment was caught in the economic downturn and construction was delayed for a year until their financial situation improved. Now it’s full speed ahead throughout the summer with a completion date of September 12, 2011.

The main lobby has been turned into temporary changing rooms while the boys and girls locker rooms have been taken down to the concrete walls and floors and will be replaced with brand new facilities and a family changing room will be added for those with young children.



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Lexington Open Studios

Click on the image to download a copy of the Lexington Open Studios Guide and Map.


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Six painted Chairs Fundraiser!

The Lexington Historical Society’s ongoing Munroe Tavern fundraising project, Six Painted Chairs features the talents of six local female artists have donated their time and talent to decorate each chair in her own style, and the public can bid to win the chair (or chairs) of their choice at $10/chance.  The raffle drawing will take place on November 19th at a special gala evening at the Lexington Depot, but you don’t have to be present to win your chair! Contact the event co-chairs Pat Perry or Christina Gamota with any questions or for tickets at: or or the Historical Society.


Features: Open to All


Phone: 781-862-1703


Price: $10/chance

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Markey calls on Obama to deploy Strategic Petroleum Reserves; Seeks Repeal of taxpayer subsidies to large oil companies

By Jim Shaw

|  April 27, 2010  |

With the price of gasoline soaring out of control, Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) called on President Obama to tap the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves, which according to Markey will swiftly and significantly address the issue of the spiraling cost of gas for average hard working Americans.  With a Medford Getty station serving as his backdrop, Markey stood firm in his resolve to help consumers gain the upper hand over big oil companies and their drive towards record profits.  Markey said, “Now is the time for President Obama to deploy the Strategic Petroleum Reserves. We have over 730 million barrels of oil in reserve. If ever there was a time to do it, it’s now, and as soon as possible.”

 Markey explained that previous administrations have tapped federal oil reserves which resulted in immediate short term relief. He said, “The first President Bush used his executive powers to deploy the Strategic Petroleum Reserves in 1991 and the price of gasoline dropped precipitously. President Clinton used it, and President George W. Bush used oil reserves and again the price of gasoline dropped precipitously. It’s a weapon that works!”

 Markey also called for a repeal of taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies that will cost $40 billion over ten years.  “As oil companies report the largest profits in the history of the world, there’s going to be an outrage against these companies.”  Markey reported that while Republican leaders in Congress want to continue oil subsidies, they have moved to cut funds for wind, solar and other alternative energy resources by 70%.

 While Markey acknowledged that the White House has yet to move on deploying the strategic Petroleum Reserves, he did indicates that he has the support of several members of Congress.  Markey exclaimed, “We need to do this now. Our economy is in jeopardy if we don’t”


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By Laurie Atwater  |

The issues the DeWolf descendants are confronted with dramatize questions that apply to the nation as a whole: What, concretely, is the legacy of slavery—for diverse whites, for diverse blacks, for diverse others? Who owes who what for the sins of the fathers of this country? What history do we inherit as individuals and as citizens? How does Northern complicity change the equation? What would repair—spiritual and material—really look like and what would it take?

Many of us in Lexington have now seen the film by Katrina Browne called Traces of the Trade as part of a program of showings and community conversayions sponsored by Lexington CommUNITY and the Lexington Interfaith Clergy Association.  In that film, Brown retraces the notorious “Triangle Route” of slave trading from America to Africa to Cuba and back to America. This route was used to move human cargo—Africans captured or kidnapped for the express purpose of being sold to Europeans or Americans.


Hidden History

Browne learned of this history from her grandmother on the DeWolf side. The DeWolf family of Bristol Rhode Island is, respected and well-known.  This hidden history was not discussed within her family, but Katrina came to realize through her extensive research that three generations of DeWolf men were the biggest slave traders in America.

Browne began digging for information: journals, ship logs, old ledgers and other family memorabilia told a sordid tale.  How could this upstanding Episcopal family of clergymen, merchants and solid citizens be human traffickers?

Once Browne started down this path she reached out to her cousin James DeWolf.  James joined her in her journey and ultimately wrote a book about his experience called Inheriting the Trade.  I spoke with James DeWolf earlier this month by phone.

“Katrina had approached me early on and asked if I had heard about some history of slave trading in the family.  She wanted to make a documentary film and I thought that was a really wonderful idea and I was helping her to raise money and do some research.  So, by the time she discovered that our family had been the leading slave traders in the east, I was already deeply involved in the project.” DeWolf has spent practically a decade since the making of the film devoting himself to educating and speaking to groups about the slave trade and its impact on our country.


The Profit Motive

“Generally, economic historians say there have been times in history when slavery was profitable and times when it was not. In every time it was profitable, societies have done it.  It’s hard to find great societies that didn’t condone slavery at one time or another.  What happened with slavery is driven by economic self-interest and it is something that human beings are perfectly capable of being a part of,” DeWolf says.

Economic opportunity also drove the supplier side of the slave transaction. “Every single person who was sold as a slave was enslaved by Africans and traded to white traders on the coast,” DeWolf says.  “These societies were never trading their own people; they were trading people they thought of as others.” He explains that slaves were often captured deep into Africa and walked hundreds of miles to the coast where they were first sold to Europeans and then later, to Americans. “Groups in African society jumped at the chance to make huge profits,” DeWolf says.


Not Just a “Southern” Problem

“Getting people to understand their own connection to this history is always a challenge,” DeWolf says.  While it’s true that most families did not have a direct family link to the slave trade, everyone was indirectly involved. In fact, many common people bought shares in slaving trips as investors just as you would buy shares in the stock market today. They shared financially in the successful sale of Africans. Outfitting these slave trading missions kept many people employed from bankers to provisioners.  The philanthropy bestowed upon various cities and towns by wealthy merchants like the DeWolfs is still evident today.

DeWolf makes the point that New Englanders have rewritten their history to omit their complicity in the slave trade.  But in fact, it was the businessman in New England states—especially Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut—who created the Triangle Trade and supplied the South with slaves.

In the agrarian South, before the American Revolution, the primary crops were tobacco, indigo and rice.  Slaves and indentured servants were used to grow and harvest these labor intensive crops that were ultimately exported. This expanded the economy of the colonies. The financial success of the colonies was also dependent upon the sugar that was procured on slave trading missions and made into rum stateside.

Slavery had reached its peak in the late 1700s and was declining until the invention of Eli Whitney’s cotton engine (gin) in 1793.  This machine which mechanized the removal of sticky seeds from short staple cotton, revolutionized the agricultural model of the South. The South’s soil and climate was perfect for this cotton crop.

Suddenly this labor intensive crop could be hugely profitable and farms began springing up across the South to meet the demands of English textile mills. Slavery once again, became a huge money-maker as demand for labor rose.  Huge shipments of bales of cotton regularly left American ports bound for mills in England.

Eventually Americans began getting in on the action and started to open cotton mills of their own (many of them the slave traders themselves).  “The whole reason we have the mills in Massachusetts was because of the cotton picked by slaves.  Wherever we had rivers we saw cotton mills—in Concord, Newton, Watertown and Lowell.  And of course at that time, everyone understood that connection to slavery,” DeWolf explains.

“When we started to rewrite how we thought about our history here in the north, we downplayed slavery.  We didn’t hide it completely, but we pretended it was a brief thing and we started to think of ourselves as having a powerful abolition tradition at the same time.  We washed away the many other economic connections to it,” he says.

DeWolf also talks about the widely held notion that the North was a righteous hotbed of abolitionists.  “It is true that New England, along with other places like Philadelphia, spearheaded the abolitionist movement,” he says. But he adds, “The white working class in Massachusetts was very worried that freed slaves would be competition for wages after the Civil War.”


Collective Responsibility?

Understanding this history has put the DeWolf family unwittingly in the center of an issue that they never thought much about.  What is our shared and ongoing responsibility for this shameful part of American history and what can we do about it? This is perhaps the most important work of the film and the filmmakers.

Moving the film into the public sphere through communities, schools, public television and religious organizations has allowed Browne and DeWolf to spread the word about the business of slave trading, its ties to the Northern states and its impact on the economic development of the country. There is little doubt that the profits from the slave trade and the free labor it provided built an economy that was strong enough to free itself from Britain.

The film argues that slave labor is part of the very foundation of our country and that every citizen has benefitted from the proceeds of that labor with the ironic and tragic exception of the direct descendants of the slaves themselves.

The legacy of slavery has left us with African Americans who still suffer the consequences of years of being classified as second class citizens.  While their families were torn apart, and both men and women were forced into labor and servitude, white families from all strata of society profited from the fruits of that labor.

Through the exploration of this one family we get an interesting look at racial attitudes across white socio-economic lines and a revealing exploration of “white privilege” through the lens of their family experience. We get a glimpse into the black/white divide as it exists today—and the difficulty of connecting to events in the past.

According to DeWolf, the concept of white privilege is not readily understood by whites. “It goes to the very heart of who we are,” he says. “Whites want to believe that they have gotten where they are because of hard work and merit.”

Through explorations of family dynamics this film exposes just how sensitive people can be on that topic.  In one scene James DeWolf’s father feels compelled to explain that he would have gone to Harvard whether he was, or was not, a DeWolf.  He explains that his family had no money (not all DeWolf descendants shared in family wealth) and his father was just a minister.  He worked hard and got to Harvard on his own merits, he asserts.  But, he neglects to say that his father also went to Harvard as did his father. This legacy of higher education is a type of white privilege that many whites don’t even enjoy!

Another cousin goes on to argue that he was not as privileged because he attended the University of Oregon. Failing to recognize their own privilege is just one example of how people don’t connect the dots when it comes to race according to DeWolf.  “It’s so emotional,” DeWolf admits. “That’s the way privilege and oppression has always worked. It’s the fine gradations that allow people to look up—from where they are. When people are given a little more privilege they tend to bond with the system and defend it.


Not My Problem

James DeWolf admits that the conversations that happen around the screening of this film can be quite difficult.

“Part of it is people are coming to the material from different backgrounds and from different life experiences,” DeWolf says.  “Also, people can have different philosophies and it’s such a big topic. Certainly it’s a loaded topic. When people are confronted with the history their first response is often, ‘This isn’t me!’ Because this happened so long ago, and because it has been whitewashed in most history curriculums, we naturally feel distanced from it.  Avoidance is part of our inheritance,” he says, “and it is very human.”

It is especially difficult for people whose families immigrated to the United States many years after slavery had ended.  But, DeWolf says that the immigrants came because of the financial opportunities that were created during the industrial revolution. Opportunities that would not have existed without cotton—cotton that was grown and harvested through slave labor.

Many feel that because their families came to America after the Civil War and didn’t own slaves, they weren’t complicit. This simply denies the history according to DeWolf.  It’s especially difficult when they know that their own families also experienced so many hardships in pursuit of a better life in America.  But, DeWolf says—they had white skin and because of that it was automatically easier for them to succeed.

“Even if they [immigrants] had little in the way of education or money—just by the virtue of being white the moment they walked of the ship the were walking into an upper echelon of American life.  Being poor and white gave their children access to opportunities and education that black families did not have.”


Post Racial?

African Americans in our society start off at a different point. “If you’re born black in this society you’re not likely to have access to the same opportunities,” DeWolf explains. “People who want to put this all behind us are mistakenly under the impression that the history is no longer affecting us—that in the 50s and the 60s we had a Civil Rights movement—and everyone has had equal opportunities since then,” says DeWolf says.

DeWolf claims that there is fatigue on both sides of the issue.  “But in the case of race we still have a great deal of prejudice in our society and a great deal of inequity.  We have made progress in many ways, but it’s the ways that we have not moved on from the history that needs to be addressed,” he says.

Some intellectuals and political activists in both the black and white communities feel that at this point in history, after affirmative action, desegregation, and the many social welfare programs designed to assist the black community, their lack of economic and social progress is their own fault.

This is simply not the case DeWolf says.  Lack of social mobility can be traced back to unfair practices across all areas of society from education to employment to credit.  These practices grew out of prejudice that has its roots in slavery.  When you actually count people as less than 100 percent human, as we did to blacks in the United States, the attitudes continue to persist.

Many of these attitudes led to practices that were hidden from view, including the notorious red-lining mortgage practices by banks, which were designed to keep blacks from moving outside of the cities and into the suburbs.  The concentration of urban black populations in the cities has made them vulnerable to poor schools because schools are financed by property taxes. Lack of education is directly tied to lack of social mobility.  And the cycle continues.

Ever since the election of Barack Obama people have been talking about a post racial America.  But if it were indeed post racial, the statistics on blacks across all measures of social mobility would show less disparity with whites (and even other minority groups).

This compelling lack of real progress since the civil rights era is what inspires DeWolf to keep this conversation moving forward into communities, schools and faith organizations.  As a family, DeWolf says, “we support a national dialogue and education process to lead the United States toward racial reconciliation.”

Join Representative Jay Kaufman at his Open House on May 19th when the topic will race in our community.

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By Laurie Atwater  |
Race to Nowhere (PG-13), the acclaimed film about the epidemic of unhealthy academic stress among students across America, is coming to Lexington.
There will be two screenings, both at Cary Hall, 1605 Mass Ave. Show times are April 28, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and April 29, 10 a.m. to noon. Doors open 30 minutes before show time. General admission is $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Admission is free to the first 300 students, $5.00 per student thereafter. To ensure a seat, advance registration is strongly recommended. For tickets and advance registration, visit
 A community conversation about the film will take place Thursday, May 5, 7:00 8:30 p.m., at Temple Emunah, 9 Piper Road, Lexington. This event is free-of-charge and open to all who have seen the film. Students are especially welcome. Refreshments will be served. Watch calendar listings for additional community conversations.

Race to Nowhere is coming to Lexington. The acclaimed film about America’s “achievement culture” and the burden of stress that accompanies it, will surely open to sell-out crowds in Lexington, as it has all over the country. Make sure you do not miss this film.

I am very grateful to the Lexington Montessori School for allowing me to attend their screening of the film which was sold-out the night I attended. I visited their impressive campus for the first time and was joined by parents from many different communities eager to understand the issue of stress in the schools and what they can do about it.

The film opens with a sea of students walking up and down the stairs of a school in a zombie-like state. Voiceovers say things like: “I can’t remember the last time I went outside,” or “Mom checked me into a stress center.” And saddest of all: “Nobody knows me.”

Parents in the small audience of 50 or 60 were riveted to the screen as kids gave voice to their anxieties and struggles. Most stressed about grades and homework and time—so little time—to finish all of their resume-building activities and then just be a kid.

Kids are taking it all in.  The bad economy.  Increased global competition.  Stressed-out and money-strapped parents.  .War.  Another war.  Tsunami.  Floods.  Nuclear melt-downs.  College competition.  For today’s students, it must feel relentless.

At school they swim in a sea of competition.  Competition with other kids.  Competition for spots on sports teams, leads in plays, solos in band and coveted slots at a few elite colleges.  The list goes on and on before you ever get to high stakes testing.


Issues arising from “teaching to the test,” are plaguing school districts, for teachers and students. Attaching such high value to testing can distort the entire intent of education turning teachers into sergeants drilling their recruits so that they will perform well and earn accolades for their schools. Students worry about being promoted to the next grade and schools worry about accreditation or rankings. All of this preoccupation with tests can leave deep learning and deep thinking in the dust. In the film, teachers are demoralized and the most passionate teacher drops out. They feel reduced to test-trainers. Their passion and joy is hijacked; they burn out.

Experts like Denise Pope, a veteran teacher, curriculum expert, and lecturer at the Stanford University School of Education are featured in the film. Pope who wrote, Doing School talks the schools and parents sending the wrong message to students. Learning is being sacrificed for memorizing and cheating is rampant.  The goal is to cross the finish line and forget about how you got there—almost instantly.  And forget they do.  One boy says he crams for tests and promptly forgets everything he “learned.” The fact that skills like critical thinking and problem solving—the muscle memory of learning—are being sacrificed to a curriculum that is “a mile wide and an inch deep” is troubling. The results are beginning to show up on college campuses. The film asserts that 50 percent of Cal State and U Cal students must be remediated in freshman year.

Then there is self-esteem. Students become jaded and stressed having their existence measured by score after score as though they have no value beyond numerical outcomes. They quickly learn to “do school” as Pope calls it. The students who do not engage in this “race” often drop out intellectually or emotionally.

The film sets out with a big subject and in truth it could be broken up into many films with the list of issues that it raises—ignoring middle students, the fervor over Advanced Placement classes, unprepared students who have always had “training wheels,” isolation, the consumption culture, excessive homework and more. Perhaps the most provocative question is raised by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, a noted expert in the area of resilience who fears that the current system of education is stifling creativity. “Without creativity, we will have no leadership and no innovation,” he says.


In this documentary, producer Vicki Abeles, a 48-year-old lawyer, introduces us to her own children, now ages 16, 14 and 11. She details her struggles to succeed and admits that she “wanted to give them [her children] the opportunities that I didn’t have growing up.” When her kids starting getting sick, not wanting to go to school and generally acting stressed, she wants to understand why. Then a 14 year old student in her town commits suicide because she fails a math exam. Abeles dedicates the film to her memory.

Sometimes the film seems to swim in the soup of despair—full of anecdotal evidence from teachers and students who confront Abeles’ camera—and a little short on data-driven information.  But you can understand that the voices of the teachers and kids are far more compelling than pie charts and survey results. In the end the film succeeds because parents nod away in agreement throughout the film and stay around to discuss its implications.  That’s what it’s meant to do.

Many viewers may also think; This is getting old. Haven’t we been talking about student stress forever?  The fact is we have been talking about stress for a very long time.  According to Jennifer Wolfrum, the head of school health education for the Lexington School System, this is a topic that cycle around with regularity in Lexington.

“Hopefully this film will promote conversation,” she says.  “The issue of stress is not going away.  It’s going to be an ongoing issue, so, it’s a matter of keeping it on the radar screen.  That is my hope when we do these types of things.”  While it may seem to each new group of parent activists that the issue is new, it has actually been concerning Lexington parents for some time.  Wolfrum tells me that in the mid-90s they were offering relaxation and hypnotherapy to combat stress.  In the late 90s there was an academic stress committee. “I see it sort of comes and goes in waves,” she says.  “They’ll be a period of time when parents or students or both will [be concerned] about it, and we do surveys and we come up with ideas and things to do to address it.  And then, the energy behind it—all of the people doing these extra things—sort of dies down until it comes back again.”


Right now in Lexington, the Collaborative to Reduce Student Stress (CRSS), which began as a small group at Temple Isaiah and has grown to about 50 or 60 members from different faith communities, has taken up the cause and is doing great work with the schools and other organizations around this issue. B.J. Rudman is the spokesman for the group. “About three years ago,” he explains, “a group of mostly parents and grandparents decided to get together to see what we could do to help. There are many groups in Lexington that deal with youth—the schools, the town, the PTAs; we want to collaborate with these groups with a particular focus on reducing stress.”

Rudman sees the screening of Race to Nowhere as a perfect example of how the group can be helpful.  “The idea actually came from the SHAC (School Health Awareness Committee) group at the high school.  “Many people have raved about the movie,” Rudman says.  The CRSS decided to step up and offer to plan the event.  Their volunteers have organized the screening and will staff the event. Following the screening, on May 5th at 7PM there will be a moderated community discussion there will be a community discussion at Temple Emunah. CRSS has also helped SHAC create their new website

“My perspective is, a key to change is a change in community attitudes. People need to be educated and this is a very powerful way to do it,” Rudman says.  “We recognize that some stress is good, but too much stress is not healthy and ironically, too much stress actually inhibits academic performance.”

The scientific literature on stress and performance has been well documented in recent years and more recently it’s being updated to include research into the effects of technology on the developing brain. It may not be that academic stress and the focus on high stakes testing is the single driver of this epidemic of stress that we are seeing; technology may also be playing a major part in the problem.


Dr. Sion Harris, a Lexington resident and member of SHAC, is a researcher at Children’s Hospital specializing in adolescent substance abuse and prevention strategies. She also has two children in the Lexington public schools.

“What is a 24/7 plugged-in world doing to brain development and our ability to maintain attention?” she asks.  Especially in adolescents whose brains are not fully developed. “It does require effort and high-order brain processing to be able to focus and tune out distractions,” she adds. In fact, teens are being bombarded by information all of the time—especially now that their phones are essentially pocket computers keeping them linked to the internet.  “We know that teens don’t have the prefrontal cortex development to be able to inhibit these behaviors,” Harris says. In other words, they can’t resist the urge to text or to go on Facebook if it’s available—even if they are supposed to be doing something else like homework.  “Even adults have a difficult time putting down the Blackberry,” Harris laughs.  “You can really see why the stress is ratcheting up.”  According to Harris kids are staying up all night texting and losing valuable sleep and brain processing time. “There are definitely casualties to being over-stimulated and over-connected and I do think that is one of the reasons that kids are more stressed today.”

But it’s not the only reason. As Race to Nowhere illustrates, high school students are clearly very concerned about being “successful” in life.  What that has come to mean in our society is following a certain path of achievement—high achieving high school student with a great resume gets into a top college (preferably an Ivy League school) which will guarantee you the American Dream.  This scenario is becoming more unrealistic as colleges become more selective and expensive. “We need to redefine what it means to be successful in this culture,” Harris says.

Dr. Blaise Aguirre is an instructor at Harvard Medical School and the medical director at 3East at McLean Hospital which specializes in treating teens and young adults. “Academic stress is real,” he says, “and kids do feel the real and competitive nature of their school lives.”  However, academic stress is not the only stress that causes anxiety among students.  He cites a study in which 4300 students were exposed to a list of common negative life events.  Students were asked to check those they considered “bad” that they had experienced in the previous six month period. The results were compiled into a list the most frequently reported events. Academic stress and school didn’t even appear in the top eight. “Most kids admitted to hospital because of stress-related depression,” Aguirre explains, “are [there] because of relational issues and not academic stress.”  But, according to Dr. Aguirre, there is also no question that any form of stress “is neurobiologically tied to depression.”  In individuals with a genetic predisposition it is a stronger link.

Dr. Harris says that her work has shown her how important it is for children to develop social-emotional competencies when they are young.  “If we are going to address this culturally, we need to engage the parents of younger children.  “Over the course of my work,” she says, “I see how much social and emotional competencies are important in kids.”

Social competency and resilience are protective agents when it comes to the adolescent brain.  The teen brain is impulsive and prone to risk-taking.  Kids without coping skills often become depressed or engage in behavior that can be dangerous to their own safety.  “Resilience can be innate for many people,” adds Dr. Aguirre, “but for those who do not have it, it can be taught.”  In fact, Dr. Aguirre uses mindfulness in his practice with young people.

The Race to Nowhere is a conversation starter. Bring your older children if you can and plan to attend the community conversation on May 5th to share your thoughts and ideas with the community.



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