CYAN YELLOW MAGENTA BLACK mation about the bond referendum
by coming to meetings and building tours, calling the district hotline at (908) 8899665, or visiting the district Web site at www. njcommunity. org/ spfnet/.
* * * * *
Dr. Carol B. Choye is the Superintendent of Schools for the Scotch PlainsFanwood school district.
From the Desks of the Staff At The Leader/The Times
Geographical Bigotry: Why Where You Live Doesn’t Equal Who You Are
By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Linden and Westfield. It’s just geography. Surely, you have seen the glitterfilled snow globes that mystify us with their tiny villages and miniature people roaming about within the glass boundaries. Nothing over that border can touch them. They can afford to be oblivious to the worlds around them.
Then, there is The Truman Show, which depicts an experimental fantasy existence with people and towns that cannot touch the main character, played by Jim Carrey.
We don’t live in either of those existences. We live in two communities within the same county, breathing the same air, eating the same food, sleeping on the same mattresses. The sun rises and recedes in the same sky. Yet, working in Westfield for over two years, my ears have picked up more disparaging comments about my hometown than I care to admit. It’s a topic I’ve been discouraged to broach. But we all whisper about it over lunches and
many snicker at the sound of Linden’s name.
If you knew your Arts & Entertainment editor lived in Linden all of her life, would you like her any less, not say hello passing her at a symphony concert, or buy her a cup of coffee? Well, I do and I see no difference between you and me.
Linden is not a race or a creed or a sex different from that of Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood or Mountainside. So, why should we allow ourselves to become bigots against a town, just because its not ours?
Some of the greatest minds have come from towns and cities that would cause most of us to turn our noses up in the air in disgust. Linden is not one of them. But, I’m proud to be one of its greatest minds.
* * * * *
Michelle H. LePoidevin is the Arts & Entertainment and Education Editor for The Westfield Leader and
The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
Michelle H. LePoidevin Importance of Community
Service Should Be Focus For Town Youth New Police Chief Sets Stage
For New Opportunity For Teenagers in Westfield
By STEVEN KRAKAUER
As a teenager, I see things from a little different perspective then other writers for this publication. Through all of our articles about Police Chief Anthony J. Scutti’s resignation and new Chief Bernard Tracy, one issue is still pressing for Westfield teens: Will we have a Police Chief who we can respect, who will respect us, and most importantly, one who we’ll trust?
Last year, in April, MSNBC taped a special program entitled “Lessons
of Littleton” at Westfield High School (WHS). Many students felt that their voices were not heard, and the high school later hosted a town meeting to open the forum up to any student who wished to speak.
Although comments ranged from drug use to cliques at WHS, one issue that came up time and time again was the relationship of teens with the police. Student after student came to the open mikes with their stories about how they were in some way mistreated, stereotyped, or disrespected by town police.
After about five such stories and almost an hour of open commenting, Police Chief Scutti stood up in the audience. He invited the students to arrange to meet with him at a later time, but wouldn’t comment on anything at the town meeting.
This obvious attempt to “shoo” off the accusations was just another way the police seemed to be disrespecting teens. In all fairness, however, none of these students ever sat down to speak with Chief Scutti as he offered them to do, and although the effort was weak, Chief Scutti did give an option.
This was last year. Chief Scutti was Westfield’s Police Chief for 14 years, the age of some students in WHS. Why had it taken this long for the police to begin to address the problems teens had with the department?
Now that we have a new Police Chief, I would hope we could begin this relationship now. Having a strong bond between teens and the police could benefit greatly. More programs between the school and the police could provide for less tension between the two parties, and shatter the “bad guys” image many students have of the police department as a whole.
In the October 12 issue of The Westfield Leader, Chief Tracy was quoted as saying, “If there is one promise I can give the people of Westfield, it’s that I will attempt to be fair and ensure that my department will always be fair.” I hope this statement holds true, especially with teens of the community.
* * * * *
Steven Krakauer is a reporter for
The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood, covering sports events and other issues. He is a student at Westfield High School.
Ode to the Special Teachers By SUSAN M. DYCKMAN
They’re the first to get bumped from classroom to cart
Whether their specialty is music or art.
When class sizes get dicey, they make the journey
From rooms of their own to halls pushing a gurney.
They trundle their wares through the school with a smile
From classroom to classroom, they manage with style.
Still, they must meet high standards of district and state
Even under conditions that are quite second rate.
Their creativity’s not stifled, it’s amazing how they do it
They rise to the challenge, they make their way through it.
I salute their resourcefulness, their passion, their zeal
Hoping better days are ahead for these teachers on wheels.
In the interests of space, many school districts, including Scotch PlainsFanwood and Westfield, have been forced to put their music and/ or art programs on carts rather than
devote precious classroom space to these courses.
Like their counterparts teaching regular classes such as math, language arts and science, “specials” teachers are expected to cultivate specific proficiencies among students related to the visual and performing arts — namely, dance, music, and
theater. And whether or not you agree with the wisdom of testing kids on their skills in these areas (I don’t!), tested they will be — in grades 4, 8 and 11 — because the state has deemed it necessary.
If teachers are going to be held accountable for imparting certain knowledge and skills related to music, dance, theater or art, and students are expected to understand, perform and produce in these areas, both parties deserve to work together in a setting that nurtures, encourages and, ultimately, celebrates artistic expression.
It’s hard to achieve that when resources are restricted to what fits on a cart.
* * * * *
Susan M. Dyckman reports on the issues facing the Scotch PlainsFanwood Board of Education as well as other topics.
Susan M. Dyckman Presidential Race Deserves
Our Interest: Our Vote Helps Us Shape Our Future
Susette F. Stalker Western New Yorker Neseman
Offers Random Thoughts
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 31
Dr. Choye By SUZETTE F. STALKER
As has always been the case in Presidential election years, the current campaigns have generated a blitz of media attention and heightened public interest, and rightfully so. The man who wins this year’s race for the White House will take the reins of a nation which has enjoyed recent prosperity but also faces diverse challenges both here and abroad.
Over the past several months, voters have had an opportunity to become acquainted with the two Presidential candidates and their respective platforms via newspaper, television and radio, the Internet and through individual interviews and a series of debates.
It has been lamented by some that neither Vice President Al Gore nor Governor George W. Bush has captured the public’s imagination in the way other candidates have; that they lack the kind of charisma which galvanized the campaigns of Presidents
John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
While personality has proven to have played an integral part in the success or failure of past campaigns, it is vital that the American people not become apathetic toward either the candidates or the issues, and that all eligible citizens exercise their right to vote in the Tuesday, November 7 General Election.
Issues such as health care, quality of education and preservation of Social Security have all been at the forefront of this year’s campaigns. The next administration will determine policies that will affect each of these areas, as well as many others, for the entire nation in the years to come.
The topics which have dominated the current Presidential campaigns will impact each of us, our parents and our children, to a greater or lesser degree. Each of the two candidates brings to the table different experiences, insight and skills which will come into play as decisions on key issues are made.
We should make it a priority to be an informed and interested electorate since, thanks to the democracy in which we live, we have the power to influence our own destinies and that of our society overall through the officials we choose to represent us, at every level, from local to national.
As we are always reminded during election seasons, the democratic process itself is something we often take for granted. Our right to choose the leaders of our government is perhaps the greatest privilege we possess.
While no government is flawless, one brief glimpse of oppressive regimes or ineffective administrations elsewhere in the world should be a sobering reminder every time we step in the voting booth of just how lucky we are.
* * * * *
Suzette F. Stalker is the Community Editor and Social Editor for The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
Melissa Betkowski By MELISSA BETKOWSKI
This past summer, the Town of Westfield sponsored a series of roundtable discussions called “Four Mondays in June” which were aimed at evaluating issues of importance to the entire town.
At the first meeting, a question was raised in regards to requiring participation in a community service activity in order to graduate from Westfield High School.
Board of Education President Darielle Walsh responded that by doing so, it would be “imposing others views on the children.”
Some might ask, “What’s so wrong with that?”
It would be one thing for the schools to require participation in a program that was affiliated with a church, synagogue or other religious institution, but certainly if students were given options as to what kind of service they wished to perform, it is questionable whether anyone would oppose such a program.
In a day and age when the morals, ethics and overall character of our youth are questioned, perhaps a schoolsponsored community service program might be a step in the right direction, as well as a shot in the arm for an anemic youth population.
That isn’t to say that all of Westfield’s youth is unambitious, uninspired and uninvolved. A number of area students are highly active within the community. What lesson could those who are active within the community help others learn?
The second meeting focused on responding as a community to citizens in need, and again the idea was raised about youth involvement. Come on, Westfield, get active.
Learning to give back to one’s community is an important lesson to be learned, and the sooner the better.
Concerns about requiring community service have been raised. These include concerns about overburdening already overly involved students. First, the number of hours of community service that would be required would likely be a very insignificant number that over the course of a school year would be very easy for a student to come by.
Colleges, such as The College of New Jersey in Ewing require community service, but at 10 hours over a semester, it is very easy to complete.
On the subject of colleges, community service looks quite good on a college application.
In this season of election mania when there is a certain buzz about the future of Westfield and the topic of education is on everyone’s lips, please think long and hard about the topic of community service education.
Don’t think about what potential detriment it could have on students, but instead focus on the benefit such a program could bring to Westfield. You’ll be glad you did.
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Melissa Betkowski is a reporter for The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
By DALE NESEMAN
Western New York? Where is that? Anywhere west of Rochester. Buffalo is in Western New York. Upstate is just that: upstate. Watertown, Pottsdam, Adirondack Mountains, these places are upstate.
Now, I know people from around New York City like to think of everything north of White Plains as being upstate but we like to think that if you are from the city you are from Buffalo. If you reside on the island, you live on Grand Island, a suburb. And the Bills are the only NFL team from New York State.
I am sure Hillary Clinton saw this coming, but some of the most offensive questions she has been asked during her campaign against Rick (Little Ricky) Lazio for the Senate, have been something like, “Why did you stay married to the jerk?” No matter what she says, she can’t win.
Feminists wonder why she didn’t bounce the meatball out of the (White) house immediately after finding out about Monica Lewinsky. The conservatives figure she is so addicted to power that it was impossible for her to send him packing back to Arkansas without damaging her future campaign.
Clinton bashers would have attacked her for putting her ambitions first if she had filed for divorce. Maybe, just maybe, she took her wedding vows seriously. Maybe she really loves the guy.
She also had her daughter to think about. Whatever the real answers are, there are much more important questions to be asked during this campaign.
The folks from my hometown, Hamburg, N. Y., have instituted a unique program called Character Counts that brings together leaders from the business community, schools, churches and
civic groups to discuss and come up with a plan to foster good character, not only in children but adults as well.
That’s a tough assignment. Even if the task is daunting, and it is, it’s nice to know people care enough about the problem to at least get together and talk about it.
Speaking of character, a volleyball coach at nearby Clarence High School, who stresses virtue over victory, has what he refers to as the player’s honor call. It may have cost his team a spot in post season play. With the score tied at 1515, the umpire ruled that the opposing team had touched the ball four times before sending it back over the net, awarding the point to Clarence.
But Clarence’s Jeff Glick knew that the ball had touched his wrist, not the opposing team’s player, for the fourth hit. He told the referee who ordered the point played over. The opposing team won the point and eventually the match.
“If I hadn’t said anything we would have won the game on a bad call,” said Glick. “That just wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.”
Honesty. What a concept. * * * * *
Dale Neseman is the cartoonist for
The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch PlainsFanwood.
of $154,000 per residence) would be estimated at approximately a 22 1/ 2 point increase for debt service alone in any one year.
This would translate into a $38 increase of the average household for that year. The subsequent years will increase or decrease accordingly, based on the repayment schedule determined at the time of the closing of the bonds.
Our goal in bonding these projects is to assure that all residents pay their share of the cost of the projects in proportion to their use and benefit from the project. By spreading the payments out for 20 years, this means a resident who may move in year five only pay for five years of use and the new owner, who will benefit for the remaining 15 years, will pay for that share.
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Robert Viglianti is serving his fourth term as the Mayor of the Borough of Mountainside.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19
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