‘A Dream Come True’: New Children’s Librarian Always Envisioned Helping Chelsea Kids

‘A Dream Come True’: New Children’s Librarian Always Envisioned Helping Chelsea Kids

New Children’s Librarian Katherine Palencia said landing the position at the Library is a dream come true for her.

When new Children’s Librarian Katherine Palencia sits at her desk in the basement of the Chelsea Public Library near the Children’s Rooms, it’s a place that has been familiar to her since she was a little girl – coming to the library with her mother and experiencing a safe, learning environment.

Now she has been hired as the new full-time librarian after having worked part-time at the library for about 10 years, and is excited to share her love of reading with a new generation of Chelsea kids.

“I didn’t want to leave Chelsea because my family is here and my memories are here,” she said. “I don’t want to work in any other area. I want to help Chelsea grow and I want to be part of the growth…This position is a dream come true for me. I worked here in high school and came back after college and have been here since 2011. It’s a dream come true because I believe in what the library provides – the education and the free access to information. I enjoy seeing kids excited about reading or coming to work on their homework. I want to help them out. It’s a dream come true because I have always seen myself here.”

Palencia attended St. Rose School as a girl, and then went to the Williams Middle School. She attended Chelsea High School and graduated in 2007. She graduated from Salem State and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Library Science at Cambridge College.

Palencia said her memories of the Chelsea Library are very comforting, and she hopes to be able to pass that on.

“I think it was the people who made it very special,” she said. “They had great relationships with my mother coming in here and being able to feel comfortable and to ask questions. They always quenched the curiosity I had.”

Palencia has been spearheading the English as a Second Language program that meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., and now she has expanded that to working in the Children’s area.

She said her big push right now is for the upcoming Summer Reading Program.

“I am already really excited about summer reading,” she said. “I am looking for any local businesses wanting to collaborate with the Chelsea Public Library to donate prizes. It could be as simple as a free ice cream cone, or as much as a free bike – which the Knights of Pythias donated last year.”

She said they will be bringing back the story times soon, and will have a full range of winter and spring activities soon as well.

“I’m a life-long Chelsea resident and also very proud to be Latina,” she said. “I’m happy that we can bring in more Spanish speakers. Our staff does a great job and we have so many knowledgeable people to help accommodate everyone.”

Cutline – New Children’s Librarian Katherine Palencia said landing the position at the Library is a dream come true for her. Having fond memories of attending the library as a girl, she said she is excited to pass that on to a new generation of Chelsea kids.

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Senior Center Quilters Have Been Creating for 25 Years

Senior Center Quilters Have Been Creating for 25 Years

The Chelsea Senior Center Quilting Group, formerly known as the Empty Spoolers, makes about 12 quilts a month to be sent to disadvantaged children and babies. The group traces its origins back more than 25 years.

The Chelsea Senior Center isn’t known as a textile manufacturer, but truth be told, a case could be made on the second floor for the quilting group that has been meeting for 25 years – producing an incredible 12 homemade quilts per month.

The quilters have long ties back to the original Empty Spoolers, who started quilting at the Center even longer than 25 years ago.

The group is so established that some of the newer members have had a previous generation put their hand to the quilting club – with their mothers or another family member having had participated in the original group.

With the great work of Eileen Gregory (original member), Angela Panaresse (original member) Irene Malachowski (original member), Bunny Shuman, Louise Finnegan, Cathy DeVitto, Pat Doucette, Jackie Mackay, Elaine Patti, Anita Arsenault, and Ana Garcia, the group makes approximately a dozen quilts per month – no small feat.

The quilts are made with care because they are made for disadvantaged youths and babies. After they are finished, they are shipped out to babies and young children that are under the care of the Boston Medical Center, Mass. Dept. of Children and Family (DCF-Chelsea) and they have gone as far as Armenia. The quilters are open to visitors, and the public is encouraged to come see how they work. Anyone who would like to stop by the Senior Center to view some of the work and talk with the Empty Spoolers can do so every Friday from 9 a.m. – noon.

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Berkowitz School Drum Corps Keeps the Beat Going

Berkowitz School Drum Corps Keeps the Beat Going

Fourth-grader Yandeliz Rodriguez-Gonzalez confessed this week before the Berkowitz School Winter Concert that

Berkowitz fourth grader Yandeliz Rodriguez-Gonzalez is shown drumming during Tuesday’s Winter Concert at the school. She is one of about 20 kids from the Berkowitz that are part of the Berkowitz Advanced Drummers – a program that is three years old. She said drumming is just in her blood.

drumming is just in her blood.

Her father is a drummer, often playing the bongos around the house, and the rhythm has rubbed off on her as well.

So when her school began offering the Drum Corps, she signed up immediately two years ago and hasn’t stopped keeping the beat since.

“I love the salsa rhythm; it’s just in my blood,” said Yandy. “I got inspired to play the drums from my dad because he is a drummer. My dad is Puerto Rican and he’s been playing the drums since he was little. He has taught me the salsa rhythm and I have enjoyed playing at school now too. It feels great to play with others. They are with me and understand me and understand why I’m so obsessed with drums.”

Yandy is one of about 15 young people that participate in the Berkowitz Advanced Drummers (or B.A.D. for short) , a program championed by Berkowitz music teacher Richard Romanoff to help bring instrumental music experiences to the children.

Beyond the drumming, kids are able to also play keyboards, violin or ukulele.

“The drumming group has been a very positive experience and has become very popular with the students here,” he said. “I’m just trying to open up opportunities for students and give them as many opportunities as I can to help them make music.”

Romanoff came to the Berkowitz three years ago, and Principal Adam Deleidi said he had been at Somerville High School for 11 years prior. However, he wanted to experience how younger kids seek musical experiences, which drew him to the Berkowitz.

“He’s done a lot with instruments and the drumming group is one example of that,” he said.

Fourth-grader Daniel Booth has been involved only four weeks, but already he has found that drumming is an outlet for his creativity and also a way to better understand math – which is his favorite subject.

“It is like math because you really need to look at the symbols and have to know when to start and end and stop,” he said. “It takes math to know what you’re going to do. My teacher, Mr. V, taught me math is always going to be in your life even when you’re not in school.”

Booth said it has been his first chance to play a musical instrument, and he realized that he probably should have been playing the drums for a long time.

“I’ve learned you can do different tones on a drum and you can really do anything on a drum,” he said. “Drumming has become one of my favorite things of all because I always have been thinking about the beat in my head. Every time I drummed on a desk or on a book, I felt like it had a good beat to it.”

For Yandy, she said being able to drum at school has been a relief in the mornings.

“To me, it’s kind of calming,” she said. “It’s like talking with music.”

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Chelsea Public Library Holds 13th Annual Family Literacy Day

Chelsea Public Library Holds 13th Annual Family Literacy Day

The Chelsea Public Library and Raising a Reader are inviting the community to the 13th Annual Family Literacy Day: Chelsea Reads, on Saturday, November 3, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Chelsea Public Library, to encourage families to visit the library and read together.

“I was born and raised in the U.S., but my mom didn’t speak English, and I felt like I was lacking in my vocabulary,” explained Jeanette Velez, Coordinator for the Chelsea/Revere Family Network. “I wanted to make sure my boys were always reading and learning. Take the time and read in any language with your child because that will help them build a vocabulary.”

Families can spend time working on fun literacy activities, such as decorating baseball caps, at the over 13 local community organization tables. Children, infants to teenagers, will enjoy face painting, taking pictures in front of a green screen, and receiving free backpacks filled with books.

“The backpacks are the heart of the event because that’s what we started out doing and continue to raise funds for,” said Sarah Gay, Chelsea Public Library director. “For some kids it’s the only opportunity for them to get new books. I love seeing people with a lot of books and being happy.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino is among the special guests who will be reading to children during story time; and pages from “Can You Say Peace?” by Karen Katz, will be mounted on boards for families to read as they walk through the library.

“Chelsea is a diverse city,” said Velez.  “With everything that is going on in the world, we are encouraging kids to know we are all the same.”

Clifford the Big Red Dog will be greeting visitors, and Off Broadway Dance Studio will also be performing Latin and Bollywood routines.

“There was a time 25 years ago when kids didn’t know what a library was,” said Margot Johnson, co-founder of Literacy Day, former traveling bookstore owner, and retired member of Reach Out and Read, Chelsea MGH. “Literacy is very important.”

CUT LINE:

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Family Literacy Day Committee: Margot Johnson, Sarah Gay, and Jeanette Velez.

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Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

A state budget advocacy organization – Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center – has released a report this week detailing a five-year roadmap to fix the state’s education funding crisis – a plan that would require $888 million over five years and mean $21 million more in state funding per year for Chelsea Schools.

Colin Jones of Mass Budget told the Record that the report – titled ‘Building an Education System that Works for Everyone: Funding Reforms to Help All Our Children Thrive’ – details a plan that would allow the state to increase school aid – specifically to communities like Chelsea Revere, and Everett – by around $200 million per year over a five-year period. That phased approach would lead to restoring what the 1993 education reform law promised, he said.

“The big picture is our school funding and the system isn’t really providing the resources that are needed for kids across these Gateway Cities like Chelsea,” he said. “The formula for funding hasn’t been updated in 25 years and the school district with the least wealth are facing the worst of it. We looked at the budgets and found that many of these districts are spending 25 percent below what they are supposed to spend on teachers. To make up for it, they have to shift money from other areas or get additional revenues or make cuts to other areas. That’s leading to these big budget gaps.”

Supt. Mary Bourque said the research confirms what the Chelsea Schools have been saying for quite some time.

“The Mass. Budget research validates what we have been saying as superintendents for years,” she said. “In 2013, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents did their own research which placed the underfunding of school districts at over $2 billion. In 2015, the Foundation Budget Reform Commission – of which I was a member – placed school districts also at over $2 billion underfunded. Now in 2018, we have MassBudget research attesting to the same. It is time to address the flaws that are well documented by multiple groups. It is time to fund our schools and place our students first.”

Jones said the formula fix needs to address the disparities between wealthy and poorer districts. Right now, he said Weston spends around $17,000 per student, while Chelsea Revere, and Everett are around $11,000 per student.

He said it should be the other way around.

He said the current formula requires districts to spend a set amount on teacher salaries, and in order to do that in the current funding climate, districts like Chelsea have to cut the extras, ask for City money or seek out grants. If that doesn’t happen, then it leads to cuts, bigger classes and no extras. Another byproduct is not being able to maintain school facilities properly.

“There are big gaps in these districts and it’s where you’ll see bigger class sizes, less money for the arts and less for enrichment programs,” he said. “You see them have to cut ties with long-time successful partners. They can apply for grants, but they shouldn’t be in that position. Education reform was about the districts doing their job at educating the kids and the state giving them what they needed to do it…We’re now starting to see a backsliding to what it used to be like before education reform.”

In Chelsea, the Foundation budget now is at $113 million, and state Chapter 70 education aid is $90 million. Under the new plan by Mass. Budget, by 2023, the school foundation budget would be $134 million and the state Chapter 70 aid would be $110 million.

It’s a gain of some $21 million per year in aid that the Chelsea Schools have been calling for over the past several years.

Jones said they consider their report a blueprint for fixing the statewide problem – a problem that is especially apparent in cities like Chelsea Everett, and Revere. He said he is hoping that it garners attention on Beacon Hill and becomes a point of discussion.

“We can fix this,” he said. “We have a blueprint now. These things will cost money to implement. There is a price, but we’re in a good economy and we’ve had good revenue collections at the state level. We’re looking at a phased approach of $200 million each year for five years.”

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Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer Registration Begins

Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer Registration Begins

Registration is open for Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer. Come and join the Chelsea Pride family. Registrations will be on Mondays and Wednesdays 5pm to 8pm down Carter Park and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. down Mary C Burke baseball field. Registration fee is only $80 for the first child ($50 for each additional child). The following items are required when signing up

Certified Birth Certificate (returning players not required)

Up to date physical form

Last report card issued (4th quarter from 2017-18 school year)

Chelsea Pride Football is a grade-based youth football league. We offer the following

1st-2nd grade – flag football

3rd-4th grade – flag football

5th-6th grade – tackle football

7th-8th grade – tackle football

Cheerleading

Chelsea Pride Football is open for Revere and Everett Children for football and cheerleading.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at chelseapridefootball@yahoo.com. Or visit us on Facebook at: Chelsea Pride Football & cheer

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Chelsea’s Chavez to Offer Workshops at Gardner Museum

Chelsea’s Chavez to Offer Workshops at Gardner Museum

Drawing on the themes of Life, Death & Revelry, local artist Silvia López Chavez will offer workshops at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum designed to engage visitors in the exhibition with hands-on activities. Chavez’s Saturday Open Studio series will run every Saturday, starting June 30. She will also host studio workshops as the visiting artist on Saturday, June 30 as well as during Third Thursdays on June 21.

“The workshops are inspired by the Life, Death & Revelry exhibition,” says Chavez. “My hope is to allow visitors to experiment with the art materials and techniques I use in my own studio practice while having fun with color and creating personal meaning around the idea of Life Cycles.”

With roots in the Dominican Republic, Chavez is an interdisciplinary artist who believes in the power of the creative process as an agent for positive change. The Chelsea resident has collaborated on projects and public art works throughout the city and the Greater Boston area, including murals at Uphams’ Corner, the Charles River Esplanade, Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, and Northeastern University, among others. Her exhibit record includes the Fitchburg Art Museum, Boston Children’s Museum, and the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She is also an artist-in-residence at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Chavez is an award-winning graphic designer and has worked with high-profile companies and institutions for more than 15 years. She holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and continues her studio art practice at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Through the Polly Thayer Starr Artist Series, the Museum supports four artists in the Boston area by providing them with opportunities to develop artistic experiences and engaging workshops for visitors. The series allows artists to consider their work within the rich cultural context of the Gardner Museum and the unique legacy of the Museum’s founder, Isabella Stewart Gardner, through a structured three-month collaboration period of thought, exploration, and workshop implementation.

The Polly Thayer Starr Artists design and implement curriculum for Saturday Open Studios and lead hands-on activities at the Museum. Chavez’s workshop series evolved from her collaboration with the Museum throughout April, May, and June.

Chavez’s workshops will run every Saturday, June 30 through September 1, from 11 am to 4 pm. Open Studio events are included with Museum admission.

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Is This Really America?

Is This Really America?

The national disgrace that is occurring at our southern border is something that we never could have imagined happening in the United States of America.

The images of children separated from their parents and locked behind chain link fences evokes the worst horrors of the 20th century —  the concentration camps and gulags to which millions of people were consigned by the very worst dictatorial regimes.

For almost 250 years, America has been not merely a place, but an ideal for the proposition that all men are created equally and that every person has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In less than a few days’ time however, the principles that Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers so eloquently, yet simply, put into words in the Declaration of Independence have been destroyed.

The justification for what, by any standards of decency, amounts to an inhumane policy resembles a classic case of reductio ad absurdum.

The New York Times columnist David Brooks (who is a conservative writer) put it this way in his analysis of the language that is being used when they talk about the situation:

“This is what George Orwell noticed about the authoritarian brutalists: They don’t use words to illuminate the complexity of reality; they use words to eradicate the complexity of reality.”

If we say nothing then basically we are telling these families and their children that they are getting what they deserve. If separating people into metal cages is okay, then what does that say about our society and ourselves.

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Sports 06-21-2018

Sports 06-21-2018

Bruins Beat

by Bob Morello

Bruins’ Blades coming to Chelsea

The Boston Bruins will be returning to Massachusetts and New Hampshire libraries this summer to continue their “When You Read, You Score!” reading programs, presented by Velcro Companies. They will be at the Chelsea Public Library (569 Broadway), on Tuesday, July 10th from 2 – 3 p.m.. On Wednesday, June 27, the Bruins will host a kick-off event pairing Bruins Development Camp prospects and local students for games and other reading activities at the Waltham Public Library (735 Main St., Waltham).

2018 marks the ninth year the Bruins will partner with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Library System, and the third year partnering with the Children’s Librarians of New Hampshire to support literacy programs and encourage reading among youth across the two states.

Throughout the summer, Bruins Mascot Blades and members of the Bruins promo team will visit libraries across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in an effort to promote youth literacy. At each “When You Read, You Score!” library visit, children and teens will be able to meet and interact with Blades, participate in Bruins arts and crafts, fun backyard games, and have the chance to win official Bruins prizes by competing in hockey trivia.

“Literacy is one of the most important abilities for students to develop and builds a strong foundation for success in life; so we are proud to be working with the Bruins to bring educational and literacy programs to the kids,” said Fraser Cameron, CEO, Velcro Companies. “‘When You Read, You Score!’ is an innovative way to connect with kids and sharpen their reading skills by making learning engaging, exciting and fun outside the classroom.”

To help inspire children and teens to keep reading over the summer, Bruins players, including Patrice Bergeron, ZdenoChara, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask have helped libraries develop a summer reading list that also includes librarian picks for the best hockey books. To see the “Favorite Books of the Boston Bruins” list, visit BostonBruins.com/SummerReading.

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School Budget Cuts Starting to be Felt in the Community

School Budget Cuts Starting to be Felt in the Community

Closing a $3.1 million budget gap is never painless, but now in the weeks after those cuts were announced, many in the community are starting to take notice.

This week, one of the most notable cuts that is being discussed is the removal of the librarian from the Chelsea High  School (CHS) Library.

Supt. Mary Bourque said the cuts, including the librarian, were part of the School Committee’s attempt to deal with state funding discrepancies that have been dealt to the City over the last few years. She pointed out that last year, the Schools had to cut the elementary school librarian as well.

Now, the school system is left with only two librarians at the Middle School level.

Bourque said they had to prioritize teaching and learning, as well as their turnaround plan that is already in place. When making tough decisions, the librarian at CHS was a hard, but clear, choice.

“We needed to stay close, first and foremost, to the principles that would help meet the needs of our students,” she said. “We used data and we based the decision on the data. This is our third year of budget cuts. It’s illustrative of the broken state funding formula…This year we’re cutting the librarian at the high school because of the standards we stood on. We looked at the data and circulation numbers are down. Kids at the high schools are doing a lot of research online now. There were only about nine books a day being checked out for a 1,500-student body.”

Speaking up big for the CHS librarian was fellow librarian Martha Boksenbaum, who is the Children’s Librarian at the Chelsea Public Library. She said a school librarian shouldn’t be sacrificed, especially since the librarian at the elementary school was cut last year.

“One might argue that if there isn’t a School Librarian, students can just go to the Public Library instead,” she wrote in a letter to the Record this week. “In reality a School Librarian does things the Public Library cannot possibly do. School Librarians are part of the school; they know the teachers, the teachers know them and they work together on a daily basis so School Librarians can make sure students have what they need to complete their assignments.

“Students in Chelsea deserve more than this,” she continued. “While school funding is tight and hard decisions have to be made, this is a sacrifice Chelsea High students should not have to make.”

Bourque said she did a survey and found that most schools in the area were down to one librarian districtwide. That was true in Revere, Saugus and Malden. In Winthrop, there is no librarian in the schools.

In Chelsea, they left the two middle school librarians because they also teach classes, where the elementary and high school librarians did not teach.

“Librarians are the support services for students and are necessary, but when you have to decide whether to increase class sizes by keeping the librarian or keeping class sizes at 30 and cut support services like librarians, that the choice,” she said. “We can’t cut the teachers in the classrooms.”

The school librarian was only a small part of the cuts made to the School Budget.

Other cuts included:

  • Three administrative positions.
  • 10 instructor positions.
  • Two whole-class paraprofessionals.
  • 10 one-on-one paraprofessionals.
  • Discontinuation of the 5th to 8th grades Citizens Schools at the Brown Middle and Wright Middle Schools.
  • Mandatory Connect Digital Lead Teacher Platform.
  • Reduction in the extraordinary maintenance and technology budget.

Of all of those, Bourque said they needed to be careful about pushing off the maintenance and technology budget.

“You can only do that so many years in a row before it comes back to bite you,” she said. “We have to be careful in doing that.”

Meanwhile, Bourque said the cuts are a call for the community to unite in lobbying the entire legislature to support Senate Bill 2325, which was proposed by Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz. Bourque said that bill contains all of the fixes to make sure cuts like this wouldn’t have to happen for a fourth year in a row.

“It behooves us all to be on the same path with our advocacy,” she said.

House Budget contains pothole account to help schools like Chelsea

The House Budget passed last week by the state House of Representatives has some encouraging news regarding school financing – and word from Beacon Hill is that the funding changes will outlast any vetoes from Gov. Charlie Baker.

The House put in a $12.5 million “Pothole Account” to help districts hurt by the change in ‘Economically Disadvantaged’ definitions a few years ago. Last year, there was no such funding, but this year it looks like that money will make it through.

The money would be allocated to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and they would be charged with disbursing it to the affected district.

Supt. Mary Bourque said the pothole account in the House Budget is good news, but she hopes that there are some changes.

“First of all, $12.5 million will go fast,” she said. “I have asked Sen. Sal DiDomenico to petition that DESE isn’t in charge of disbursing that account…We need to get it passed first, but second I would like to see that DESE isn’t in charge of that money.”

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