2016-06-23 / Opinion


Consider Running for Office

To the Editor:

Students always come first. That’s what schools are all about and that’s what school districts always herald. Of course, June is the perfect month to underscore this fundamental concept as we happily celebrate activities like moving up and graduations. Usually these joyous events capture news headlines as we cheer on young people and applaud their hard work.

What, therefore, can we make of the recent headline emanating from the Newport School Committee? We read not about the achievements of our students and the good educational news from the school district, but rather about an accusation that a majority of four members have broken the law. Talk about lousy timing!

It appears that there is validity to this accusation. The result of the action by the simple majority is to order an administrative reorganization but without the involvement or any input from the superintendent. Under state educational law, this responsibility clearly belongs to the superintendent with the advice and consent of the School Committee. Reacting accordingly, the School Committee Chair, who voted with the minority, has charged the four in the majority with a violation and filed a complaint with the State Education Department.

Nice going School Committee, let’s forget about the students altogether, especially at graduation time, and have a food fight!

For us in the community, there is always a remedy available in a democratic society…elections.

To that point and simply put, our community needs Newporters to run for office. The deadline to declare is June 27-29 and it’s rapidly approaching. Even though the issue here has to do with the School Committee, if truth be told, we should ensure that every office (state senators and representatives, City Council and the School Committee) is thoroughly competitive. Only then can we expect anything close to a thorough exchange of views and the opportunity to select the best available candidates to represent us. Personally, I would urge and recommend candidacy for the School Committee as the one most critical for the future improvement of Newport. Remember, we get the government we deserve.

Please consider becoming a candidate and contact the Canvassing Office this week or next for the details. Newport, and especially our children, need you.

Dave Wixted

Benefits of Loop System

To the Editor:

The article by James Merolla (“They Really ‘Hear the Word’ at St. John’s,” June 16) was excellent. I congratulate Pastor Nathan Humphrey and St. John the Evangelist Church on their installation of a loop system to help the hearing impaired.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, East Main Road, Portsmouth successfully fitted similar systems in 2012 in our lovely old Church (constructed c.1847) and in our magnificent new Parish Hall. We also received financial assistance from Rhode Island’s Episcopal Diocese in Providence and their Mudrak Fund. The following additional information may help those considering similar installations:

We selected the Oval Window Audio Satellite III packaged system, and installation was efficiently carried out by ATR/Treehouse, Providence.

The link from the loop to the hearing aid (or a small receiver for those without a hearing aid) is of course wireless.

Extensive information on hearing loop systems and Oval Window is available on the Internet.

I can personally attest to the enormous advantage of such systems for the hearing impaired.

Noel Ashworth
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

Impressive Animal Advocates

To the Editor:

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sybil Grayko at one of the Sequin stores. Sequin collects donations to support the Ewaso Lions, a Kenyan-based lion conservation initiative founded by Shivani Bhalla.

Ms. Grayko, a second-grade teacher at the Pell School, was intrigued with the Ewaso Lions, as she recently taught a class to her students about endangered species and the subject captivated them. They only wanted to know more, and this short lesson plan developed into an important part of her class’s curriculum.

Due to my knowledge of the subject, and as a manager at Sequin, Ms. Grayko asked me to address her class. After all, I was here in Newport and Ms. Bhalla in Kenya.

What a remarkable experience for me. The children were wonderful, attentive and interested with insightful questions. They called themselves animal advocates, and, as such, each had chosen their own animal to research. Animals that one would expect were being studied, such as rhinos, elephants, and tigers, but included others such as the red panda and fennec fox that I daresay many adults are unaware of.

The students even wrote a letter to City Council detailing the reasons to start a zoo in Newport. Their argument was quite compelling!

To say that I was impressed is to put it mildly. Ms. Grayko and her students are a credit to the Pell School. Hopefully the lesson they learned will always be remembered; they will always be animal advocates not only for endangered species, but for those domestic ones closer to home.

Thank you for inculcating that important message.

Deb Elliott

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