John Ford

Marshalling a plan for former school building

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — City officials presented a plan to sell the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Porter Street on Thursday night, for a potential reuse that could include senior market-rate housing and a commercial component. But school officials opted to take no action.

City Council President Darren Cyr and James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, presented the option to the School Committee, requesting that the 19 Porter St. property be transferred to the Public Property Committee of the City Council to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit bids for its sale to a developer.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, chairwoman of the School Committee, said she was looking for the committee to make a motion to approve the transfer of the site, with a minimum asking price and timeline for when that sale could be complete. If those conditions weren’t met, the property would revert back to the School Committee.

School Committee members opted to set that minimum sales price at $4 million, and require the sale be completed within a year. The other condition set was that a School Committee member, John Ford, would sit on the RFP committee, the board responsible for preparing the document.

Ultimately, the School Committee opted to table a vote on the transfer of the property until their next meeting, upon a motion made by member Donna Coppola. Coppola said she wanted to take time to allow the committee’s attorney time to research the matter. Voting against the motion to table were Kennedy and Patricia Capano, vice-chair.

Cyr said the initial plan was to demolish the former Marshall Middle School, but a contractor reached out to city officials and wanted to buy it. His vision for the building wasn’t the vision the city had, but it let officials know there was interest in the property, Cyr said.

Lamanna said the cost to demolish the building is estimated at $2.2 million, which was part of the money bonded by the voters for the construction of the new Marshall Middle School, which opened last year on Brookline Street. If that money is not used for demolition, he said legally it could only be used for capital projects that could be bonded for 25 years, which would likely be for the construction of new buildings or additions on the school side. If the property is sold, he said the proceeds would go toward bondable projects more than five years. The proceeds would basically go into a reserve fund that would allow the city to plan ahead if, for example, a boiler in a building went.

Ford said he knows the issue is to sell the building and get some cash for the city in a cash drop situation, but he was hesitant about selling any more school property. He said there was some uncertainty about whether there would be any potential buyers, and he couldn’t see anybody paying big money for some place that’s going to cost lots of money to remediate.

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“We’re in a city where we’re land strapped,” Ford said. “We’re land poor. I don’t want to eliminate jobs on the city side. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I really find myself in a position where it’s going to be hard for me to vote to give up any land.”

Kennedy was in favor of the transfer. For 25 years being in public life, she said she also disagreed with selling public land and felt that in most cases, it was better to bank that land.

“The reason why I’m capitulating on this particular piece of land, is that first of all it’s not big enough to build a new modern middle school, so that idea is right out,” Kennedy said. “So, it would only be usable for an elementary school or something of that size. It’s not appropriate for a police or a fire station or anything because it’s basically, it’s on a residential street.”

She said she was more comfortable letting go of this piece of land, because it wouldn’t even be appropriate for a new Cobbet or Tracy Elementary School, because it would be out of that general area of the city.

“And in light of the difficulties that we’re having making the budget come together in this year, it seems like a piece of land that may not be as valuable to the city as someplace that was located deeper into West Lynn,” Kennedy said.

Cyr said an RFP would potentially be to solicit bids for a mixed use, which would include senior market-rate apartments, as well as some commercial use, such as doctors’ offices that would cater to seniors. A small portion of those units, because of federal funding, could be allocated as affordable, he added. He said there is a true need for senior housing at marketable rate in Lynn.

Lamanna said the building was last assessed at $8 million. He said the Massachusetts School Building Authority funded the new Marshall Middle School because the assessment was that the old school on Porter Street was beyond repair. Cyr said it would cost upwards of $50 million to bring the former school up to today’s standards, for it to be restructured for a school use.

Cyr said he was a lot more hopeful after Thursday’s meeting that the transfer would be approved by the School Committee.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

City seeking student sanctuary

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — The School Committee adopted a policy to protect students from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It would be bad if we turned our backs on these kids,” said Oscar Ross, who has a daughter in Lynn Public Schools who dreams of being both a police officer and a cook. “If we don’t give them the chance to be what they want to be.”

Mary Sweeney, a retired teacher, said that during her career, students had to worry about getting their homework done.

“I never faced situations of kids being deeply afraid,” said Sweeney. “I think with the issues of immigration and ICE — it’s a reality.”

The panel voted unanimously to adopt a policy that affirms the schools are safe and welcoming sanctuaries for all students, regardless of their immigration status. The document said the resolutions are intended to ensure that all Lynn Public Schools students have the same right to a free, public education and will be treated equally.

“The mission of Lynn Public Schools is to maintain a multicultural school community dedicated to the realization of the full intellectual, physical, social and emotional potential of its students,” reads the resolution. “The city is enriched and strengthened by its diverse cultural heritage, multinational population, and welcoming attitude toward newcomers.”

Committee member John Ford pointed out that while he agreed with where the resolutions were coming from, he believed they were only reaffirming what the district already does. Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham agreed.

“I believe we have welcoming schools and that our teachers are wonderful and welcoming,” said Latham. “We have not had a case where ICE has come into our schools.”

She added that she believes ICE is restricted from taking immigrants into custody at schools and churches.

“Rather than us saying we already do that, we’ll be able to say that we have a policy for that,” said committee member Donna Coppola. “I think it would be a huge reassurance to our students. Let’s be upfront and be what we are — a proud community — and show others that we care.”

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Latham and committee members expressed concerns about a resolution included in the original draft that prohibited federal immigration law enforcement officers, or personnel assisting them, from entering a school building.

“I worry about training teachers not to allow law enforcement to come into the building,” she said.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy added that she was “very uncomfortable” with the section of the resolution because it should be recognized that federal law supersedes local law.

“It seems to me that it’s not a valid exercise of a city’s rights in the presence of federal government,” she said.

The panel amended the resolution to state that law enforcement can enter the building, but must remain in the main office until his or her credentials are verified and the superintendent is notified. The vote will be subject to final approval of the language.

Under the policy, the district will not inquire about, record, or request information intended to reveal the immigration status of a student or their family members. They will not disclose private information without parental consent, and staff will refuse to share all voluntary information with immigration agencies to the fullest extent permissible by the law.

All requests for information from a student’s education record will be immediately forwarded to the School Department’s attorney. The motion also noted that the district does not ask for immigration status when families register children for school.

A letter will be sent to parents and staff summarizing the resolutions in simple language. A list of all available resources, including community-based organizations and legal service organizations, will be provided to each student and made available at each school. It will be translated when necessary. Teachers will be trained on the policy before the start of the school year, when they become familiarized with all other policies.

In the next 90 days, Latham will be expected to develop a plan for training teachers, administrators and other staff on the new policy and best practices for ensuring the wellbeing of students, who may be affected by immigration enforcement actions. The plan will be implemented within five months.Legis

A copy of the resolution will be submitted to the Massachusetts Attorney General and to Lynn’s federal, state, and local legislative representatives.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

 

Search for special ed administrator continues

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNN There will be a delay in bringing a new special education administrator to the schools.

Thursday night, the Lynn School Committee unanimously approved Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham’s recommendation to repost the position.

“I feel strongly that we have not yet interviewed the candidate we need,” said Latham. “We need someone with district-level experience.”

Latham said six candidates were in the running for the position, with resumes reviewed, interviews conducted and references called.

However, she said none of the candidates had the kind of district-wide experience in a large school system that she feels is necessary to succeed in Lynn.

The school committee has final say on the position and could have gone ahead to appoint a candidate without a recommendation from the superintendent. But the board agreed to repost the position and have Latham present the qualifications she would like to see from candidates to the committee.

In addition to district-wide experience, Latham said she would like to see someone who has a strong curriculum background.

“I hope to have someone in place by July 1,” she said.

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The position will pay about $110,000, but could vary slightly based on experience and education, committee member Jared Nicholson said. He said the person hired would oversee all of the special education services in the Lynn Public Schools.

Prior to the Thursday meeting, members of the school committee unanimously put forward two names for the superintendent’s consideration, Ellen Kelleher-Rojas and Lesia Diego. John Ford, a school committee member, also submitted a third name, Jeffrey Lappin.

But on Thursday night, the members agreed that they should select someone who has Latham’s trust and recommendation.

“On the reposting, I would like to see who is out there,” said committee member Lorraine Gately.

Lynn storms the schoolyard gates

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNN — School and city officials will meet over the next week to address the parking issues in school lots during snow emergencies.

In the meantime, if there is a snow emergency before the next school committee meeting in two weeks, the city will allow parking at the same school lots that were open to residents last winter.

The issue came to a head over the past weekend, when parking during snow emergencies was limited to the city’s middle and high schools. In the past, snow emergency parking has been allowed at some, but not all, elementary school lots.

The move left city councilors and some school committee members fielding a number of angry calls from constituents.

“This hit me, with the parking restrictions, out of nowhere,” said Ward 7 Councilor John Walsh Jr. “The people I represent had no idea this was happening … the lots were closed, no direction of where they should go or what they should do.”

School Committee member Lorraine Gately said she was also upset when she found out that only five lots would be open during the snow emergency.

City council president Darren Cyr noted that Lynn is a densely packed small city, where parking is at a premium.

Councilors remove locks, open Lynn lots for snow parking

During Thursday night’s school committee meeting James Lammana, the city’s attorney, said the school committee has the authority to determine which school lots are open and which are closed during a snow emergency. However, Lammana said that in 2013, the committee delegated that authority to the city’s inspectional services director, Michael Donovan.

Donovan defended the decision to close the elementary lots during the snow emergency, citing the need to have the lots cleaned and ready to open for school.

“In 2015, I listened to the School Committee’s extreme displeasure when we were not able to open on the second day after a storm and we were closed when every other school system was open,” said Donovan.

Both Donovan and the city’s parking director, Robert Stillian, said there were safety issues associated with allowing cars to park in some of the school lots.

School committee member John Ford said he had been ready to make a motion to have all school parking lots open to cars, but after hearing from Donovan and Stillian, said he believed the city and schools could work on a compromise proposal.

“For the sake of the citizens in congested areas, we do have to open up some of the lots,” said Ford.

The committee approved a plan to have city and school officials work together to look at what lots should be opened and which should be closed and bring that proposed policy change to the next committee meeting on Jan. 26. Until then, the school lots that were opened during snow emergencies last winter will be opened if Mother Nature intervenes before that date.

Three seek Special school job

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham is expected to make her recommendation for the next administrator of special education to the Lynn School Committee on Thursday.

Members of the school committee unanimously put forward two names for the superintendent’s consideration, Ellen Kelleher-Rojas and Lesia Diego. John Ford, a school committee member, also submitted a third name, Jeffrey Lappin.

Information on the finalists’ backgrounds, including current job positions, was not made available by school officials on Monday. But Ford said all of the candidates are working in various aspects of special education in Massachusetts school systems.

Latham could not be reached for comment.

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Jared Nicholson, a school committee member, said the position will pay about $110,000, but could vary slightly based on experience and education. He said the person hired would oversee all of the special education services in the Lynn Public Schools.

Nicholson said the committee would have to vote on a candidate, but ultimately hires on the recommendation of the superintendent. Six people were interviewed by the school committee and top administrators publicly last week, and from that pool, three finalists were chosen.

“I thought they had good leadership experience, good subject matter experience,” Nicholson said of Kelleher-Rojas and Diego, the two names he put forward.

He said they were able to discuss formally what their philosophies were for special education, how to run the department and had more relevant experience than the other candidates.

Nicholson said he was looking for experience in a candidate, someone who has in-depth involvement in special education and is ready to take on a position of great responsibility and great importance to the district. He was also interested in the philosophy they bring and the commitment to making sure students have all of the resources they need.

Ford said he also submitted Lappin’s name because he thought he was worth notice.

“I just thought I saw something in him that might be good,” Ford said. “His resume was pretty good.”

With the other two candidates, Ford said he thought they interviewed well and had the experience.

Ford said the superintendent could decline to recommend anyone to the school committee on Thursday, and instead choose to repost the position.

School committee member Donna Coppola said she thought Kelleher-Rojas and Diego had lots of experience.

“It could look like a good match for us, for Lynn,” she said. “We’re trying to look for the right match. For me personally, this job is a very big job.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Talking attendance in Lynn schools

Gene Constantino (Item file photo)

By Bridget Turcotte

LYNN Students take days off from school for many different reasons, a principal told school committee members Thursday, but relatively few abuse the attendance policy.

Committee members weighed these words before deciding to leave the current policy intact.

The current policy, last reviewed in 2014, allows seven days of unexcused absences per academic quarter.

Committee member Lorraine Gately requested a closer look at the policy at a meeting last month. She expressed concern that many students are taking advantage of the policy and aren’t developing good work habits.

Gene Constantino, principal of Lynn Classical High School, spoke in favor of the current policy, pointing to the high-needs students who could suffer from a lesser amount of unexcused days.

“We have kids that take days like vacation days,” he said. “I think the key is to try to change that. We have a high-needs group. Many of our students miss school for legitimate reasons.”

Some students face unique challenges with their family or home life, he said. Others miss school because they need to take care of their younger siblings.

“What would happen to that student who already knows he’s failing?” he said. “What hope am I giving that student if I say ‘I’m sorry, you already have four absences for the quarter.’”

Rather than change the policy, he suggested principals and teachers handle the problem within the school. Making each day and class important and offering incentives for perfect attendance will encourage students to go to school, he said.

“The kid who is taking extra days, yeah, it will prevent that kid from taking those extra days,” Constantino said. “But the kid who is struggling with trauma is going to suffer.”

Committee member John Ford said he would rather have a few children who know how to cheat the system than make it impossible for students who are struggling to succeed.

“We want the kids who can graduate to graduate,” said committee member Jared Nicholson. “Not to push people off the edge who are close.”


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Lynn puts foot down on violence

John Ford and Fred Hogan mount the “Stop the Violence” banner at Lynn English High School. Photo by Paula Muller

By Leah Dearborn

LYNN — Marchers made some noise for peace on the streets of Lynn Saturday.

The third annual “Stop the Violence Lynn Peace Walk” drew hundreds of local middle and high school students in addition to other supporters.

“We’re trying to bring awareness,” said Ward 6 Councilor Peter L. Capano, one of the five founders of the event. “Just the idea that peace versus violence is always the way to go. There are a lot of good role models in the walk.”

Marchers followed a route that began at English High School and went down Goodridge Street before turning onto Chestnut, then over to Essex Street and Washington Street before eventually stopping at the gazebo at Lynn Common.

The Stop the Violence Lynn Committee (STVL) originally formed to give the city’s youth an alternative to violence, said Antonio Gutierrez, an outreach worker with Lynn Youth Street Outreach Advocacy (LYSOA).

STVL member Fred Hogan said he helped found the walk because he saw students he once coached veer onto a path of violence, a pattern he wanted to prevent in the future.

Students turned out representing a variety of groups including cheerleaders from English who shouted cheers as marchers moved along the city streets.

Emely Florian, 16, a member of the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at English said events like the peace walk help distract youth from unproductive activity and give them something useful to do.

Several local business and organization representatives were also at the peace walk to show support, including Daily Item Community Relations Director Carolina Trujillo.

STVL has organized a number of other events since the group formed, including a yearly speaker series that brought U.S Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz to Lynn. STVL member John Ford said there are plans to alternate the location of the walk every other year with a West Lynn route.

“If we help one kid, it’s worthwhile,” said Ford. “We want to keep kids as active as we can.”

 

After much noise, committee passes school budget

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynn City Hall.

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — After a contentious debate, the School Committee passed a $138.5 million school budget.

Disagreement revolved around an extended-day program that the panel wanted to see included in the spending plan. Committee member Donna Coppola lobbied for the program that proponents say would benefit families.

“Most communities around us have this extended-day service for their kids,” she said. “I want to see it in this budget.”

To pay for it, Coppola proposed cuts including $25,000 from security system updates, $30,000 from technology network supplies and maintenance, and $18,000 — the amount that would fund the program — from the superintendent’s public relations account.

John Ford, a committee member, argued that the board doesn’t have enough expertise to decide on making cuts.

“It’s more prudent to ask Mr. McHugh to find the money in the budget,” he said, referring to

Kevin McHugh, the district’s business administrator.

Ford added that it would be inappropriate to make assumptions that money could be “cherry picked” from individual line items.

Superintendent Catherine Latham opposed any changes to the budget. She said it is too late, noting that contracts have been signed and commitments made.

“There are 26 schools, 16,000 students,” she said. “I am making decisions to make sure everything is run. The budget here is not frivolous. This budget does not deprive the students in this city. There is nothing wrong with this budget. I stand by it.”

While committee member Jared Nicholson said he agreed with the importance of providing the after-school program, he expressed concerns about eliminating necessary items.

The board approved the budget on a 4-2 vote, with Coppola and member Maria Carrasco opposed. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy did not attend the meeting.

Latham agreed to consider the possibility of an after-school pilot program to be offered at one to two high-risk elementary schools. She said she would talk to teachers and report back to the committee by October.

More than 30 percent of the school budget goes to the department, said McHugh. It includes 22 percent of teachers’ salaries and 53 percent of the non-salary budget, he said.

The city plans to hire a new special education director who will oversee the department that serves more than 3,000 students.

Latham said the ideal candidate will be a dedicated person who knows a lot about special education.

The school committee finalized the qualifications for the position. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Education in administration of special ed. A doctorate is preferred, but not required. The salary for the position will be negotiated.

The position was vacated by Cheryl Menino, who retired after 15 years.

Jessica McLaughlin, assistant director, is serving on an interim basis until a permanent hire is selected.

Latham said a new director is expected to be chosen in less than a few months.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Shoe City Classic enters 24th year

COURTESY PHOTO
Simmie Anderson is the director of the Shoe City Classic basketball tournament in Lynn.

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — The Shoe City Classic, a basketball tournament at Marian Gardens this weekend, promises to be an event that entire families can enjoy, says organizer Simmie Anderson of Lynn.

“I want everything around it to be almost bigger than the basketball,” Anderson said.

But if you like basketball, there will be plenty there to keep you interested. Now in its 24th year, the Shoe City Classic has expanded to 24 teams over three divisions: 22-and-under (college), 18-and-under (high school) and 14-and-under (middle).

Anderson said there are teams from New Hampshire, Brockton, New Bedford and Boston in addition to the ones that Lynn’s basketball players put together. Headlining the event is Antonio Anderson, who attended Lynn Tech and was on the University of Memphis team whose appearance in the 2008 national championship game was vacated over issues involving Derek Rose, who was a freshman on that squad.

Also scheduled to play are Tony Gallo (Tech), Dwight Brewington (English), Corey Bingham (Tech), Alvin Abreau (Classical), Jarell Byrd (Classical and English), Jasper Grassa (Classical) and Keandre Stanton (English).

Marian Gardens, which is on Anderson Way near Lynn Tech, will be outfitted by portable lights for the weekend.

Anderson has been involved with the tournament since 2005 and became its director in 2013.

“What makes me want to do this is the ‘Stop the Violence’ campaign in Lynn,” he said. “It’s something that brings all the neighborhoods together. We’ve been doing this for 24 years, without any incidents. We take pride in it, and I enjoy doing my part. And it keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Anderson said who attend can expect to see “a lot of good, young talent that’s coming up. And, he said, family-type fun.

“We’re going to have bouncy houses for kids, things like that,” he said, “Just a fun, family atmosphere. If you have kids, just let them come and have a good time. Bring the lawn chairs and just enjoy yourselves.”

Anderson said that many basketball players who have moved to other parts of the state and country call and ask him when the tournament is so that they can come home and watch it.

Anderson singled out Ward 6 councilor Peter Capano and Lynn School Committeeman John Ford as two people who have worked with him to make the weekend happen.

“Without Pete, it would be impossible to do this,” said Anderson, “and the same for John Ford,” who, he said, helped secure the alternate site in case of rain, which is the Fecteau-Leary School on South Common Street.

The games begin Friday at 6 p.m. and will start at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with the championship game slated for 8 p.m. Sunday.

Flag football tournament draws 170

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Keoni Gaskin and Jamie James break out in laughter after Gaskin’s interception for the Lynn Tech entry in the Lynn Flag Football Tournament.

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — Roughly 170 flag football players descended on Manning Field Saturday for the inaugural Stop the Violence: Lynn Parks and Recreation Flag Football Tourney, and organizer Rob Smith feels the event met his committee’s objectives.

“We wanted to get the kids off the streets, to give them something to do for a day,” said Smith, a longtime assistant in both football and basketball in the city. “We wanted to get them away from the TV, and get them to do something constructive. I think we accomplished that.”

Actually, Smith said, the turnout was better than he thought it would be.

“I think the kids really responded to what we were trying to do,” he said. “It was a great day, and a great feeling to see everyone having a good time.”

In all, 16 teams participated, free of any admissions or registration fees.

“We got some great sponsors who stepped up to help us, and because of that, the kids who played didn’t have to pay anything,” said Smith. “A lot of businesses came forward, and John Kasian at City Hall (Community Development) found us a day the facility wasn’t being used, so we didn’t have to pay for that, either. And Lisa Nerich from Parks and Recreation was awesome, too.”

This was Smith’s idea.

“I was just sitting around wondering whether there was something we could do over the summer, before our 3-on-3 basketball tournament in September,” he said. “I thought of the flag football, and ran it by the rest of the committee, and we went with it.”

It was a lot of work, he said.

“Getting sponsors is huge,” he said, “but also getting water donated was a big thing too. We got a lot of help from WalMart and Stop & Shop. We had to get footballs, and the flags. Everybody stepped up.”

In grammar school championship action, the team sponsored by Lynn School Committee member John Ford defeated Luli’s, 27-20, led by David Brown Jr. and Brian Vaughan Jr., both of whom scored touchdowns. Former Lynn English standout, and current coach at Excel High School (South Boston), Brian Vaughan was the coach.

In middle school, Julianna’s Hair Salon defeated Team Nicholson, 33-14. Most Valuable Player Mathius James had three touchdowns. Lou Rivera Jr. also played well. Lou Rivera was the coach.

The high school championship game was the last of the day, with Rick’s Auto Collision defeating AWCC Auto Works, 38-20.

Rick’s was led by the Dylan and Cody Mullen, who each threw a touchdown pass and caught one. West Lynn Pop Warner coach Andre Robinson coached the team.

Committee members included Smith, former English High girls basketball coaches Fred Hogan and Rachael Bradley, Ford, Antonio Gutierrez, Ebony White, Ward 6 City Councilor Peter Capano, former English football coach Peter Holey and Val Deland.

Lynn pins down wrestling tournament

ITEM PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Little Jalena Perry tries to drag Brady Gleason out of the ring to earn a point in Saturday’s wrestling tournament at Lynn Beach.

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — Even at 10:30 in the morning, it is blazing hot and, for the 60 wrestlers who landed on the beach across from the James J. Ward Bathhouse, there’s no shade.

“We thought about the heat,” said Jared Nicholson, Lynn School Committeeman, as the thermometer reached into the 90s Saturday, “I would have been happier if we’d had a little bit of a breeze. But then again, wrestlers are tough.”

It was the first Lynn Shore Showdown, an exhibition wrestling tournament that is part of Nicholson’s mission to promote the sport in the schools.

Wrestlers of all ages and weight classes tried their hands at grappling in the soft sand of the beach, minus the headgear they wear in more structure competitions while rolling on gymnasium floor mats. Instead, two areas of the beach were roped off to set the parameters, even though wrestlers exceeded the boundaries.

For a first-time effort, Nicholson was happy with how it came out.

“I wasn’t sure how this was going to go,” he said. “Earlier this week, didn’t have many people registered, but it really took off in the last few days.”

The meet attracted wrestlers from as far away as Rhode Island, where Nicholson got the idea for having this tournament.

He was studying for the bar exam at the time, he said, and needed something to distract him. He found out about a Narragansett Beach tournament, and entered and thought it was a great idea for Lynn.

“For one thing, it’s a great way to promote the sport,” Nicholson said. “I’d really love to see it take off in the high schools. And we have these beautiful beaches. What a way to show off our seashore.”

Implementing a beach wrestling tournament involved a considerable amount of work, mostly getting permits, he added.

“For that,” he said, “I have to thank the Friends of Lynn and Nahant Beach. They were very helpful.”

Nicholson began wrestling at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School as a 165-pound strong safety on the football team.

“My freshman coach was also the wrestling coach,” he said. “He recruited me. He said he thought I’d make a good wrestler.”

Nicholson, who also played football all four years at Lincoln-Sudbury, said the two sports complement each other.

“There’s the physical fitness aspect of it, obviously,” he said. “There’s also the contact aspect of it. You can’t be afraid of physical contact.”

Nicholson continued wrestling at Princeton University, and maintained his love for the sport. Last winter, he introduced it to Marshall Middle School, under the direction of coach and history teacher Frank Vieira.

One of their disciples, eighth grader Victor Morales, was among the participants. He was pitted against two high school students. While he didn’t win either of his matches, he held his own, Vieira said.

“But don’t forget he was up against guys much older and heavier than he was,” Viera said. “He scored some points. He did fine.”

Morales followed a program established by Vieira during the summer.

“It’s mostly going to the gym and jogging,” he said. “It’s important to stay in shape.”

Among those attending Saturday was John Ford, Nicholson’s school committee colleague.

“You’ll see me at anything that involves kids,” said Ford. “Jared is doing this for them, which is the right thing to do.

Ford said wrestling is the perfect sport for inner-city schools.

“It’s inexpensive, for one thing,” he said. “I’d like to see it in all the schools.”

This fall, the three high schools will combine for one program, run out of Lynn Vocational Technical Institute. Athletic director Joe Skeadas said it will be co-educational, part of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference.

Nicholson said one of the tournament’s aims is to get school students involved in something constructive so they won’t get into trouble.

“Summer’s a tough time,” he said. “We want to get the attention of kids in a good way, and one thing you can say about wrestling is that it’s a positive bonding experience. Sixty wrestlers competed hard, showed great sportsmanship, and had a lot of fun.”

Student may make the grade in Lynn School Committee

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — School Committee members are embracing a plan to have a student representative sitting next to them during meetings in the Bennett Street administration building by the beginning of the next school year.

Having a student voice on the seven-member committee is not a new idea, said committee veteran Patricia Capano, but it is a valuable one.

“The simplest reason to do it is to provide communication between us and the schools,” said Capano.

Committee member Jared Nicholson urged adding student representation during the Jan. 28 committee meeting. Nicholson and Capano said state law already provides a mechanism for giving the committee a student voice.

Five-member student advisory committees outlined in the law allow students elected from each high school to be advisory committee members. The committees are charged with electing in June an advisory committee chairperson who “shall be an ex-officio, nonvoting member of the school committee.”

Committee member John Ford said a student representative could provide a two-way street between the committee and school administrators and students.

“It gives us a student perspective. There could be issues where students have a different slant. I’ve found out from Student Government Day that they are pretty outspoken,” Ford said.

Capano credited former Committee member Charlie Gallo with strengthening the committee’s dialogue with student government representatives at local schools and said a student representative will enhance that communication.

“It can be a catalyst for change,” she said.

Committee member Lorraine Gately said committee participation is an opportunity for the student representative to learn about the municipal government process during committee meetings.

“I think it would be an excellent experience,” she said.

A veteran teacher, Gately said students are aware of concerns and needs in schools “probably more than anyone else.

“They are well aware of how schools are run. I think that student input would be great,” she said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.

Time to get a student view on local schools

Here’s to the Lynn School Committee for moving forward with a plan to bring a student representative into its Bennett Street administration building meetings.

The idea has a number of benefits and new committee member Jared Nicholson, an energetic supporter of the idea, and his committee colleagues are quick to point them out. First of all, placing an “ex-officio” non voting student on the seven-member committee is an exercise in democracy that will not be lost on students.

Under state law, a five-member student advisory committee representing local public high schools, is required to meet at least every other month during the school year with their adult counterparts. This advisory body’s last major responsibility prior to the end of an academic year is to pick the student representative who will bring student concerns to the School Committee.

Adults run schools and elected school committee members map out the policies for school operations, but students know what their peers think and they know what is “really going on” in a school.

It’s easy to say teenagers are too busy with mobile devices, homework, sports and social lives to want to participate in essential democratic exercises like picking someone to be their voice on Bennett Street, but that viewpoint is narrow and stereotypical.

Leaders emerge from every walk of life but young leaders must be nurtured and encouraged to grow and take risks. Local high schools already embrace this belief by participating in Posse scholarships. Posse sends high school students who emerge from a rigorous leadership testing process off to college with their tuition paid and surrounded by fellow Posse leaders.

The scholars are more than likely to be the same students who seek election in their schools to the student advisory committee and take an interest in becoming student representative to the School Committee.

It won’t take a great leap of imagination for a student representative sitting in the committee’s Bennett Street meeting room to glance at Nicholson and say, “I can follow in those footsteps,” and then look at older and more veteran committee members and follow the examples they set.

In return, committee members can look at local schools through the eyes of a student representative. The view may not always be a rosy one. As Committee member John Ford said last week, students can be “pretty outspoken” about successes and shortcomings in local schools.

But how else will elected school officials get an honest view on teenage substance abuse, sexual relationships and other challenges as well as student achievement if they are not listening to and speaking with students?

Stage set for Lynn inauguration

Item Photo By OWEN O’ROURKE
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy’s Chief of Staff Jamie Cerulli walks across the stage at the Lynn Auditorium with a poinsettia for Monday’s inauguration ceremony. 

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — The City Council and School Committee inauguration ceremony next Monday night will be a homegrown affair featuring elected officials and a local judge, musician and pastor.

Scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the evening’s formalities will be presided over by Council President Daniel Cahill and represent the first time two new councilors and two new committee members take the oath of office.

Cahill took the oath of office as a committee member in 2004 and was first sworn in as a councilor in 2008.

“No matter how many inaugurations you participate in, each is very special. It’s an honor to be elected by the voters,” he said.

Lorraine Gately and Jared Nicholson won committee seats in November and join Patricia Capano, Maria Carrasco, Donna Coppola and John Ford on the board. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy serves as committee chairman.

Councilors-elect Brian LaPierre (at-large) and John “Jay” Walsh Jr. (Ward 7) join Cahill and councilors Buzzy Barton, Peter Capano, Dianna Chakoutis, Richard Colucci, Darren Cyr, Wayne Lozzi, Hong Net and William Trahant Jr.

Escorted into the auditorium by Lynn police and firefighter honor guards, the elected officials will take seats on the auditorium stage and watch as the English High School Marine Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets present the colors.

Local musician MaryBeth Maes will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” followed by an invocation delivered by East Coast International Church Pastor Kurt Lange. Following a performance by the Mak’n Step squad and dance team, Lynn District Court Judge James Lamothe will administer oaths of office to councilors and committee members.

Although Cahill will be the evening’s master of ceremonies, Kennedy will deliver the inaugural address. The evening will conclude with a performance by the Angkor Dance Troupe, with councilors meeting after the inauguration to pick a president, vice president and Water and Sewer Commission representative.

Cahill is seeking another term as president, but the other two leadership seats are up for grabs with Council Vice President Rick Ford’s decision not to seek reelection last year and Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi declaring he does not intend to seek another term representing the council on Water and Sewer.

“I’m proud that in 12 years we helped hold (water and sewer) rates down,” Lozzi said.

School Committee members will also meet following inaugural ceremonies.


 

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.