Archives for May 2011

Sign of the Times!

Members of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce took to the links earlier this month for its Annual Golf Tournament at the Lexington Golf Club. For the second year in a row a team from CAMBRIDGE SAVINGS BANK took first place in the foursome competition. Three of the players, Peter Donavan, Fred Gilgun and Stephen Leonard, made a return appearance from last year’s winning team. Adding new Lexington branch manager, Jeff Korzec, to the team made them unstoppable.

Kudo’s go out to the following skill winners as well. Dave Higgins of Waxy O’Connors for the longest drive (Male), Dina Scianna of Cambridge Trust Company for Longest Drive (Female) and Fred Gilgun of Cambridge Savings Bank for Closest-to-the-Pin/Longest Putt.

 

 

 Jim Freehling, David Siekman,Dan Busa and Spencer Betts of the Lexington Rotary Club

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Senator Ken Donnelly

Providing aid to our veterans is one of the key services that the Commonwealth performs. State wide, the caseload for Veterans Services has increased by 40% in the last three years. With the economic downturn, the increasing number of older veterans living on fixed incomes, as well as younger veterans coming home from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is clear that the need for Veterans Services is as important as ever. The Town of Lexington has seen a dramatic increase in the number of veterans seeking services and aide from the Veteran’s Service Officer (VSO). From serving five veterans in 2002, to now serving approximately 91 veterans, not only has the need for monetary assistance increased, so has the administrative demands for the VSO. The need for these veterans ranges from helping with their food and living expenses, to getting health benefits, to providing job training and counseling. The position of the VSO in Lexington is evolving from one that was done in a few hours each week, to one that requires on average 15 hours of work. For example, each Veteran who applies for assistance needs to go through the intake and assessment process to determine what types of funds they need. Some of these veterans are homebound, therefore requiring the VSO to make home visits. Given both the increase in veterans seeking benefits, and the increase in administrative duties, the current level of funding does not meet the demand. The question is where can we find this funding? It is obvious that additional funding is needed for almost every social service program run by the Commonwealth as well as essential services in each town. Unfortunately, we cannot make more money just appear. This then leads to the age-old problem of who of our needy residents need assistance more? Do we take money away from our public schools that are educating our Commonwealth’s future so that the brave men and women who defended our country can receive the services they so greatly deserve? Or would it be more preferable that the funds for our veterans are taken from the Adult Day Health Centers, which serve thousands of adults across the state who cannot care for themselves independently, yet are not at the stage of needing to be placed in a nursing home? Neither of these options is acceptable in my opinion, nor any option that would take money from one service program to give to another. It is our responsibility as a Commonwealth to help our neediest and most vulnerable residents. The problem the Commonwealth faces is a lack of revenue. Without generating increased revenue, we will continue to have to make the difficult decision of who needs our help more, those with mental disabilities or veterans, children in need of a safe learning environment, or elders who need living assistance? Instead of only looking at how we can cut funding, we must start looking at how we can generate more revenue. This includes continuing successful initiatives to bring new businesses to Massachusetts, as well as reviewing our tax structure to effectively pay for the services we need. There is currently a bill before the Senate to address this. Senate Bill 1416, An Act to Invest in Our Communities, would increase the income tax while at the same time increasing the personal deductions, holding down tax increases for middle and working class families. The net revenue increase could then be used to fund programs like Veterans’ Services, without having to take funding away from other critical programs. Sharing scarce and diminishing resources among our vulnerable residents does not reflect the kind of Commonwealth we wish to be. It’s time to have a real discussion about how we fund critical services in a fair and sustainable manner.

 

 

Senator Donnelly represents the

Fourth Middlesex District in the Massachusetts

State Senate. He currently

serves as Senate Chairman of the

Joint Committee on State Administration

and Regulatory Oversight. If you

would like to contact Senator Donnelly

or his staff, they can be reached at

their State House office by calling 617-

722-1432.

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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 LHS.225pm.org 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

OPEN HOUSE

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.

THE MAN BEHIND THE NAME

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.

HOW THE PLANS ALMOST FELL THROUGH – LITERALLY

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 NEST EGG

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.

A NEW CHAPTER SETS THE STAGE FOR THE JOSIAH WILLARD HAYDEN RECREATION CENTRE

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.”

LIFE, PURPOSE AND DEDICATION

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

UPGRADES, UPDATES AND FAMILY FRIENDLY

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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