Friday, May 31, 2019

Middle School Naming Committee Meets Without Controversy

Advocates for keeping Wilson's name
on new middle school gather.
The storm clouds were brewing on Facebook, and on local cable talk shows, but the formative meeting of the naming committee for the new middle school was conducted with a minimum of controversy.  That controversy may still rear up at the public hearing scheduled for June 19.

The controversy is based on one group's desire to retain the name Woodrow Wilson Middle School, and the viewpoint of others that the school should be renamed because of Wilson's racist past.

The group decided on an additional four meetings of the committee with the next meeting, on June 19, spent gathering public input.  The location of that meeting has not been set.

The committee.
Nearly a dozen residents, and graduates of the old Woodrow Wilson High School gathered at Snow School for the meeting.  The committee, appointed by the Board of Ed, consisted of two Board of Education members, two school administrators, two teachers, a student each from Keigwin and Woodrow Wilson, two parents and five community members.

Before the meeting, chaired by BOE member Lisa Loomis, could even begin former Common Council member Hope Kasper asked why the committee was meeting.

"Under what authority are you meeting, and taking up this task," Kasper asked before the meeting was gaveled.  "What's the statute that gives you authority to take this up when it's a Common Council responsibility?"

"We'll get to that," Loomis assured.  She then went on to inform the gathered residents that no public testimony would be allowed at the first, and formative meeting, where she explained that ground rules would be set for upcoming meetings, and a historical perspective of school names would be considered.  She also indicated that the BOE directed the committee to only consider name of individuals who were deceased, and who had a major significance in Middletown.  She noted that the committee could also consider geographical and other place names.

Loomis assured those gathered that the committee had the authority to consider new names for the middle school, granted by the Board of Education in a unanimous vote, and that under city ordinance 2322 the full board would vote on a name and pass it to the Common Council for approval.

Town historian Deborah Shapiro and WWMS assistant principal David Mierzdjewski,  provided background on the naming of the two high school in Middletown (Woodrow Wilson, and MHS), which were merged after the new high school was dedicated.

Ida Keigwin
Shapiro explained that Middletown High School began mid-nineteenth century in the basement of Middletown's Russell Library, and served students from Middletown, Cromwell, Haddam and Middlefield, and that the second high school, founded much later, served students from South Farms, and other rural areas of Middletown.  It was named after President Woodrow Wilson who was born in Virginia and spent his early life between there and Georgia.  He was later a professor for under two years at Wesleyan, and who then moved on to Princeton, where he became university president, and later Governor of New Jersey, and then President.

Bill Corvo talks about Ida Keigwin
Longtime resident Bill Corvo,  a self-proclaimed history buff, assisted by Keigwin assistant principal Dan Raucci, provided a history of Ida Keigwin, longtime educator in Middletown.  Corvo had a personal perspective because Keigwin taught his father Max Corvo, and was an inspiration to her.  Corvo later found success as head of US intelligence in Italy during the Second World War.

Corvo provide insights into Keigwin's dedication to educating immigrant children who were new to the US, and her advocacy of peace and understanding.  Corvo vowed to donate his collection of letters written by Keigwin to his father, and his father's notes from her class, to the library of the new school if the committee decided that the library would be named for the deceased teacher.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hike the Katchen Coley Mountain Laurel Preserve this Sunday, June 2 at 10 am!

The City of Middletown is sponsoring a Connecticut Trails Day hike at the Katchen Coley Mountain Laurel Preserve on Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 10 am.  This property is dominated by the Connecticut State flower, the mountain laurel, and consists of moderately sloped terrains.  All ages are welcome, as are leashed dogs.

We celebrate the purchase of this recently acquired Open Space Parcel for a number of reasons, including:
1. The property lies in a large greenway in Middletown. Greenways are corridors of land designated by the city and/or state to be permanently protected from development. They are important for protecting natural resources and habitats, as well as providing recreational opportunities for residents.

2. The property is dedicated to Katchen Coley, an ardent advocate for conservation, and a dynamic Middletown resident.  Katchen Coley, who passed away in 2013, spent over 40 years advocating tenaciously for land preservation and environmental protection on behalf of the City of Middletown, and at the State and Federal levels.  She was a mentor to many and sometimes used unique methods, such as bringing several loaves of Bernie O'Rourke's bread to Senator Joe Lieberman as a gift when she was on an environmental mission in D.C.  She knew he really enjoyed the Irish Soda Bread!

3. Preservation of this property protects the land around the Blue Trail in the Maromas. You may not know that a number of properties adjacent to the Blue Trail are privately owned, and therefore the trail is vulnerable. 

More information about the property will be available at the meeting place. Meet at 10 am at the preserve on Bear Hill Road in Middletown.  Please bring water.  Suggested footwear-sturdy shoes. Dogs are allowed on leashes. 

Length of hike - Approximately 1-2 Miles.

Florsheim Will Run For Mayor

Ben Florsheim, a Democrat, and community outreach assistant for Senator Chris Murphy, has thrown his hat into the ring in the race for mayor.  Florsheim is one of five Democratic candidates who have declared in a run for the city's top spot.  He joins Mary Bartolotta, Geen Thazhampallath, Bill Russo and Valeka Clarke in a race that will likely be settled in a September primary.  Common Council member, and former mayor, Seb Giuliano is the only Republican who has joined the race.

Florsheim is a Wesleyan grad who has been active in local politics, and is a member of Middletown's Democratic Town Committee.

More on Florsheim here.

Summer Rowing Program Starts Monday

From Rebecca MacLachlan, Central CT Rowing
Come Learn to Row this summer. There's no better place to be than on the CT River!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

MxCC Info Session for Social Sciences, Education, Public Service Programs on June 1

Come visit Middlesex Community College in Middletown and learn about careers in the social and behavioral sciences, education, and public service fields on Saturday, June 1 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in Chapman Hall, room 605. Find out how you can get started in a degree or certificate program offered at Middlesex Community College before transferring to a four-year program or advancing in your career! For a list of featured programs, click here.
RSVP to or 860-343-5753. Walk-ins also welcome. The Middletown campus is located at 100 Training Hill Road.

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree: The Rough & Tumble (Americana Folk) and David Eberly (Piano)

The Rough & Tumble

May 31 @ 8-10 pm | $12

Join us for a night of live folk music!

The Rough & Tumble are as easy to detect as a stray dog on your doorstep– and as difficult to send home. The dumpster-folk, thriftstore-Americana duo, consisting of Mallory Graham & Scott Tyler, have been hobbling around the country in their 16’ camper since 2015. They picked up a couple of actual strays along the way– two 100lb dogs, Puddle & Magpie Mae– and have been making themselves at home in living rooms, bars, theaters, and festivals across the country.
Even at their start in 2011, The Rough & Tumble are collectors. Trinkets, instruments, stories shoved in cupholders, and scraps of paper sticking out of old books they never planned to read, the duo couldn’t resist filling their pockets with tiny things that may be useful down the road. Until they hit the road. Limited in space, The Rough & Tumble are a new kind of collector: songwriting with illustration, and arranging each song with a menagerie of instruments, ranging from acoustic guitars to mailbox snares to a banjulele. “Their Americana music is restorative, their performance highly entertaining, their orchestra of unusual instruments intriguing, and… jokes and stories are worthy of an HBO special.” (Linda Bolton, Cozy Cabin House Concerts).
The stray folkies are as industrious as they are scrappy, releasing five EPs and two albums in their 8 years. The Rough & Tumble’s 2018 release We Made Ourselves a Home When We Didn’t Know, brought the listener to the road and the road to their home, an album “as cozy, comfortable and inviting as a well-worn couch.” (Bill Kopp, Mountain Xpress). This is in addition to their weekly livecast, a monthly blog, a Cook & Color Book, a food blog, 2018 SERFA Official Showcase Artist, and playing upwards of 150 shows a year.
The Rough & Tumble are headed back into the studio in early 2019 for a later year release. Catch them online at, or pawing at your front door on their never-ending tour soon. Details/ Reserve here

Aligned with Source: A Personal Development Workshop & Meditation
June 1 @ 10:30-12 pm

Topic: Seeking Perfection
What are your expectations of self & others? Are you more often pleased or disappointed? What is this perfection you seek?
Official Facebook Page
Suggested Donation: $10 (Give what you can)

Music Workshop w/ Rob DeSorbo

June 1 @ 1-4 pm | $10 *Last Session*

Bassist and Musician for 48 years, Rob DeSorbo began on the Connecticut music scene in the mid 70’s. He started playing Rock and Blues, grew into Jazz and Jazz Fusion. Blue Mountain Band (BMB) started 1971 (Rock / Blues) then (Fusion and Jazz) originals and continued until 1981. He spent the next 40+ years recording and doing Live Shows. He studied Music at the college level courses for 3 years in Simsbury High School. Music composition, theory and orchestral studies. Rob then continued his studies for 2 years at Hartt School of Music West Hartford, CT in Upright Bass studies and method, Additional Theory and Composition courses.

We will engage in music discussions, ear training, scales, modes, arpeggios, Circle of fifths and Fourth and practice methods. Chord structure and harmonic values in and around chords. All Instruments, vocals and skill levels welcome. Come enhance or add to your current education in music. Music is a never-ending study and accomplishment.

Check Out Rob’s Official Facebook Page!

Each session is $10 non-members, $5 members

The Buttonwood Tree is not bar it is a Cultural center to enlighten and educate.
Details here/Reserve seats

David Eberly

June 1 @ 7-9 pm | $15 

David is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of the Hartt School, University of Hartford. He received a bachelors degree in 1976 was in Music with an Emphasis in Piano. He also received an Artist Diploma in 1978.
He played in the Al Jarvis Orchestra and was a member of Pulse from 1979 to 1992; the Sam Passco Orchestra from 1989 to 2016; the Jerry Carrillo Orchestra from 1978 to 2014. He is an active member of the Hartford Men of Harmony Barbershop Chorus (formerly Insurance City Chorus), 1985 to 2018. He played a concert at the Hartford Jazz Society, performed jazz and classical music on WWUH, and has been a guest DJ on Jazz Programs.
David has performed in the Hartford Public Library’s Baby Grand Jazz series, and will be performing at the Simsbury and Bloomfield Public Libraries. He regularly plays at The Waverly Inn in Cheshire, along with many Assisted Living Residences (Atria Hamilton Heights in West Hartford, Brookdale of Farmington, McAuley in West Hartford, Village Gate of Farmington, Middlewoods of Farmington and many other locations).

The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts Center is located at 605 Main Street, Middletown. There is ample, free parking behind It's Only Natural market. Refreshments, viewing of Buttonwood's Art show, the bookstore and refreshments are all open and available. Call for info: (860) 347-4957. If you want to see what events we have lined up for the month check our website's event calendar here.