School Talk: A statement from 1897 on school budgets
By Josh O'Gorman
Staff Writer | March 04,2013
In honor of the upcoming school budget votes, I would like to share a brief statement from a local school board.
“The usual amount of dissatisfaction has been expressed throughout the town the past year in regard to our schools, but not withstanding this, the most of our schools have been profitable to the town. I would suggest that parents express more interest in our schools; keep the children in school. Five schools of 26 weeks have been supported as children in the east part of the town have been schooled in the town of Bridgewater.
United States Histories have been added to the text books of the town the past year at a cost of $20.00, other school books have been purchased to fetch up the aggregate expense for books for the year to $50.00.
This statement came from the 1897 Sherburne Town Report. It sparked a few thoughts for me. First of all, there has always been and will always be people who express “the usual amount of dissatisfaction” with its schools. Anyone who remembers the good old days when a community supported its schools without complaint or reservation is remembering a time when he or she was in school and not aware or concerned with the school budget. Adjusted for inflation, those history books would cost $543 today and the total cost for books that year would have been $1,348.
What’s my point? School has always been an expensive proposition, because education is an important endeavor and things that are important cost money. You get what you pay for, folks, and I have no doubt there were Sherburne taxpayers back in 1897 arguing that in those tough economic times the kids really didn’t need new history books. I’m not suggesting which way you should vote on anything, but just hoping you’ll recognize that tough economic times and calls to slash school budgets are nothing new. I think Jeff Tweedy of Wilco sums it up in his song, “You Never Know”
“Come on children
You’re acting like children
Every generation thinks
It’s the end of the world.”
Manufacturing exhibits at Montshire Museum
I recently had a roommate who really enjoyed a program on the Science Channel called “How It’s Made” that shows the details behind the manufacturing of all sorts of things: ham, Venetian blinds, baseballs and so on. Fans of that show and the generally curious will enjoy a new exhibit at Montshire Museum in Norwich called “How People Make Things.”
The exhibit links familiar childhood objects to a process of manufacturing that combines people, ideas and technology.
“How People Make Things” is inspired by the factory-tour segments from the PBS children’s program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and it offers hands-on activities using real factory tools and machines to create objects with four manufacturing processes: molding, cutting, deforming and assembly.
Visitors can use a die cutter to make a box and a horse, operate a three-axis mill to carve a block of wax, assemble parts of a real golf cart, and race a robotic arm to see who can more quickly assemble a replica of the signature trolley from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Everyday products featured in the exhibit include 10,000 Crayola crayons in 90 colors, 10,000 plastic pellets, 300 ice cream cups, stop lights, cooking pans, sneakers, baseball bats, baseball mitts and matchbox cars.
The exhibit will run until June 2. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.montshire.org.
Are you gifted?
I was reminded of Garrison Keillor’s regular closing to the weekly news from Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” The Vermont Council for Gifted Education — yes, there is an organization with that name — is looking for applicants for the 2013 Nicholas Green Distinguished Student Award. This award is made to a student in third through sixth grade who has distinguished himself or herself in academics, leadership or the arts.
An essay and a letter of recommendation are required. Students may nominate themselves or be nominated by parents, teachers, students or community or civic groups. One student will receive the award.
For an application packet, email Alice Maurer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Completed applications must be postmarked by March 31. The winner will be announced April 15. For more information about the award, visit www.nagc.org.
The Mettawee Community School is holding “Mettawee Mania: A Talent Extravaganza” at 7 p.m. Saturday. In addition to what will be an extraordinary display of singing, dancing and who-knows-what-else, it will also be an opportunity to support the Pawlet and Rupert food pantries. For every nonperishable food item, the donor will receive a free raffle ticket for entry into drawing for a Kindle Fire HD 16GB Tablet. There is no limit to the number of items one person may donate.
Tickets are on sale at the Mettawee Community School. Adults are $7, seniors and students are $5 and children 3 and younger are free. For more information, call 645-9009.