Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Learning

Summer school.  (shudder)

When I was going from the seventh to the the eighth grade it was thought that some additional math classwork would be beneficial to me, and would give a well deserved break to Mrs. Doherty.

To be quite frank, it wasn't the information I needed, it was a new audience.  The crowd in the "7-F" class had gotten pretty stale.  I needed fresh faces to pick up my class clown act, and summer school looked to be just the place to find them.

That was until I was told that I would not be attending summer school locally.  Oh, no, it would be a couple of towns away in Norwood at St. Catherine's.

St. Catherine's.  This was the Paris Island equivalent to summer school.  The nuns at St. Catherine's also taught us Sunday School after Mass at St. Edwards in Medfield.  They knew us.  Worse, they knew me.  Even worse, they seldom laughed, unless they were inflicting some sort of punishment upon you.  It was widely whispered that they each had a black belt in karate, and had worked for the the CIA in Cuba.

Or, so the rumour mill had it.  I was too scared to pursue the thought any further.

That summer was the longest summer of my life.  I arrived to class on time.  I sat where I was told to sit, I spoke only when spoken to, and I did my homework.  All of my homework.

I did not break in a new audience that summer.  No new jokes.  No new gags.  No prat falls.  Nada.   I actually ended up learning more than I did in the entire previous school year.

Go figure.

True fear can fuel ones desire to learn, and I was scared to death that summer, which resulted in my becoming the smartest, best behaved, highest scoring seventh grader in New England for six weeks.  Then,  summer school was over.  I had a head full of new stuff, a better appreciation for the learning process, and understanding of just what it was the teachers were actually trying to do for me.  But, all that aside, I still had an act to polish up since I opened at the Junior High right after Labor Day, and the summer was waning.  There were laughs awaiting!

Today, tactics have changed dramatically. When it is determined that a child needs some extra class work, or if they have a desire to just learn more, there are programs that are far more effective,  than what I had experienced.

In the June edition of the Sturbridge Times there is an article of just such a program here in Sturbridge, Sturbridge Advanced Learning. I won't attempt to rewrite what is already an excellent article in the Times, but will ask you to read it, and then take a visit to their website at

They sure seem a lot less scary, and more effective than the six foot seven inch, black belted ninja nun that taught me in summer school.


  1. Thanks Wally! It doesn't sound like that will be a tough experience to beat. Maybe you should stop by and participate in "Play, Act and Communicate" or "Detective 101" to exorcise the demons. If it makes you feel better, I don't think any of our teachers is over 5'6" :)

  2. Thank you, Lara. A demon exorcism is way over due!


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