2017-03-30 / Opinion


Newport’s Future Is In Good Hands

To the Editor:

Recently, my wife and I became involved with the Pell Elementary School, and from what we observed, the community is very fortunate to have such an innovative institution with dedicated and competent administrators and teachers.

Although we are primarily summer residents of Newport with a grown daughter, and therefore have never made use of the Newport Public School system, my wife and I have come to realize that the health of the community is to a large part dependent on the health and well-being of its public school system. It is where the citizens of tomorrow learn their basic citizenship skills, and where seeds of leadership and responsibility are planted and nurtured.

About three years ago we were introduced to the Pell Elementary School by Ann and Bob Conner, friends who were active with the Pell School Tech Endowment Fund. This fund was formed to solicit contributions from the private sector to finance the purchase of state-of-the-art technology tools not affordable for many of the students. As part of our due diligence we asked for a tour of the school and the opportunity to meet some of the faculty and students.

We made a number of trips to the school, and each time came away more impressed than before with the students, the obviously dedicated and competent faculty, and the far-sighted and committed administrators. If this was an example of what the Newport School system was, then only good things would follow.

Most recently, and spurred on by a bequest in my mother’s will, my wife and I decided to create a Trust whose purpose is to fund an artists-in-residence program at the Pell Elementary School. With music as the theme, we wanted to bring inspired artists into close contact with the Pell students in unconventional settings. Just like Silicon Valley prides itself in using disruption to kick-start progress, so the Pell Inspiration Program (“PIP”) was structured to use surprise as a way of capturing the student's attention and open them up to new thoughts and ideas. The goal of PIP is not to teach the love of music (although we believe that will be one of the side benefits), but rather to demonstrate in a very personal way what inspiration and commitment can accomplish.

The first step in getting this program off the ground was to convince the school administration of its value and importance, a task that we faced with some trepidation, fearful that it might be viewed as peripheral and disruptive. We met with Supt. Colleen Jermain, and we quickly realized that our concerns were unfounded. In fact, her enthusiasm and commitment reconfirmed that we were on the right path.

Last week, we had our inaugural program. For three days, the Bohemian Quartet, a regional string quartet, played music in the halls, in the classrooms, and in the cafeteria. They played music, and exchanged thoughts and ideas with the students. At the end of the three days we believe PIP had an impact on the thoughts and horizons of the children who will one day contribute to and lead our community.

And it was not only the children of Pell School who did all the learning. We learned that dedicated and committed people can make a difference. We learned just how fortunate Newport is to have the Pell Elementary School to start the children off right.

It is said that our future is in the children. At the Pell School, Newport’s future is in good hands!

Peter Gerard

No Should Mean No

To the Editor:

In response to the article “Cell Tower Lessees May Get April Workshop” in the March 23 edition of Newport This Week, I sent the following letter to the Newport School Committee members.

I truly hope what was printed in the Newport This Week is completely inaccurate.

The School Committee, the Newport Community and TelCom lawyers viewed and discussed at length “both sides of the coin.” The issue was then voted on to end the telecom leases. Rightfully and justly the leases are to be terminated and the tower taken down, not simply "adjusted."

Please do not allow the Mega telecom companies to continue to manipulate your decision. Please recognize there is no good faith from these bullying companies, their intentionally inaccurate statements, and their false alarms. The physical structure remains 136 feet above our community (60-foot ledge plus a 76-foot tower). This industrial blight remains in a residential neighborhood. It should have never been erected in the first place. When does NO mean NO? I would hope that a school committee member would understand this concept. This is not a moving scale.

The Newport School Committee and our community have had many "discovery workshops" and exhaustive nights of informative discussion. The resulting vote was to terminate the leases and remove the death tower of gloom. No one wants to continue this circus by allowing the corporate snake charmers to interfere, prolong, and use back channels to manipulate the current committee.

Who on this school committee will demonstrate genuine credibility, be true to the vote, be true to this community, and finalize the leases to remove the tower of blight? And who will allow special interests over their own community?

Hey Newporters, I am tired of this too, but this is what is happening in your back yard.

Please reach out to a school committee member to say “you want the industrial blight to go away.” This community appreciates the several honorable school committee members who are steadfast in supporting their word to end this now.

Stephen Turcotte

Return to top