Category Archives: Schools

The multiculturalism of crepes

DSC_0002My youngest son goes to a magnet elementary school in our neighborhood. The latter fact is more the reason he attends that particular school than the arts and humanities centered curriculum, but we do enjoy many of the activities based upon the school’s theme.

This week the school community’s marked their Third Annual Multicultural Celebration. My son came home very excitedly to share that his class would be representing France. After a visit from a French college student, he was obsessed by the thought of making crepes as our contribution to the event. The sound of his voice repeatedly saying “crepe” in an attempted French accent, convinced me that this was an idee fixe that deserved to be indulged.

After a tedious remarkable number of suggestions from my 9 y/o with regards to how to make crepes (the batter must be made the night before cooking, beer is a necessary ingredient…), I located a reasonably simple recipe on Epicurious. Late Wednesday night, after closing the Wine Bar, I stirred up a triple batch of the recipe and went to sleep with a clear plan – and conscience.

After school, I hit up the store for a medium sized jar of Nutella and, upon arriving home, immediately got busy heating up two nonstick sauté pans. I brushed the hot pans with melted butter and got into the rhythm of working two pans, while also peeling and chopping a few apples to cook with brown sugar and cinnamon for an alternate filling.image

The process was satisfyingly quick. In barely an hour, I had approximately 40 filled crepes, divided into two dishes with about twice as many Nutella ones than apple. I dusted the crepes with powdered sugar and we were on our way.

The event (and the crepes) was fantastic. The number of nations represented on the incredibly laden tables was mirrored by the audience in the multifunction room. The smells and flavors were rich in a way completely unrelated to any world currency. It was positively heady. I am so lucky to live in a city where my children have the opportunity to attend school with such a culturally diverse population. C’est magnifique!DSC_0004

 

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Cooking, Education, Events, family, Food, Local, Recipes, Schools

An open letter to paleandpasty

(Dear readers: Please read this article, complete with comments, and then come back.  Okay, done?)

I’ve got some information for you, paleandpasty.  Take that fence picket out of your ass and have a seat.  I am so tired of people like you anonymously criticizing my city.  From your self-perceived superior, suburban vantage point, you make general statements about personal safety and outrageous property taxes in Albany.  Let me tell you a couple of things.

In the more than 20 years I’ve lived in Albany, I’ve been mildly physically threatened once.  Yes, once.  It was fairly recently and I related the details here.  While the situation was less than comfortable for me, the way I felt after that incident didn’t come close to approaching the degree of physical unease I experienced this week when I witnessed a brutal physical attack in the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts on Delaware Avenue.  In Delmar.   At 3:15 in the afternoon.  Bad people and bad things happen to be in every community.  Stop trying to perpetuate the misimpression that Albany has the monopoly on such things.

As for taxes, I just wrote the check last week for my school taxes.  I paid 60% the price that a suburban friend paid.  Of course, their property and their school district are both valued higher than mine.  I understand that, but I certainly don’t believe that their cookie cutter ranch, which has less square feet and character than my home, or their mostly homogenous school system, which is more than a little white bread, is worth 40% more than what I paid.  My children have access to AP classes, courses through HVCC and opportunities to explore and experience community resources, too.  Those things are not suburban exclusives.

In closing, I’d like to add that my children are not being raised to believe it is okay to make anonymous statements criticizing the choices made by others.  I don’t know where you grew up or attended school, but that is a lesson you seemed to miss.  You are more than entitled to live where you want, but please stop trying to validate your choice by maligning mine.

Sincerely, Silvia Meder Lilly

 

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Education, Local, Observations, Rants, Schools

Censorship

image: anh-usa.org

It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose. The longer you live, the smaller the world becomes and the more likely it is that the individual spheres of one’s personal world will begin to overlap. Last night I helped train our new server at the Wine Bar. She is a former student. Sigh.

I obviously share a lot of my personal life and thoughts here, but it mostly feels anonymous. I don’t really know who reads this stuff and thus am often surprised when I meet someone in real life who knows about me or my adventures and antics. I do think, though, that I’ve done a decent job of keeping my day time school life separate from my night-time restaurant life. Until yesterday, that is.

I kind of pride myself about being ‘Me” wherever I am. That doesn’t mean, though, that I necessarily am comfortable being my blunt and sometimes bawdy self behind the bar with a young woman who used to attend the school where I teach. Must I now censor myself?

As I consider what I can  and can not say while in the presence of a former student, why don’t you take a moment to ponder the First Amendment and the right to free speech on a literary level?  Next weeks marks the  American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week.  While I figure out the best way to say what I want, you can maybe read a book by authors who have used their words to freely express themselves.

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Filed under aging, Albany, Lark Street, Local, Schools

Randoms…

  • Lincoln pick up trucks don’t make sense to me.
  • My 9 y/o son has underarm body order. I’m concerned.
  • I wish TU readers understood what a print journalist is – and is not. It’s not about popularity, it’s about writing.
  • Pulling through the front “driveway” at ASH on Whitehall to avoid the red light, is one of the most outrageous examples of douchebaggery that I have ever witnessed. A close second is cutting through to Whitehall from Mapleridge by driving around the barricade and over a lawn. Really.
  • Sometimes the school year feels long, but the last two weeks of the academic year are always the fastest.
  • I buy a lot of cereal in my house yet Cheerios and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes remain my favorites.
  • Even though I have been lucky enough to visit the Cape every summer for the last 16 years, I always get excited by the thought of being there. Beachcomber here we come!
  • Speaking of summer, as I receive my last real paycheck until September, I’ll say a prayer for no major emergencies in the next couple of months.  Feel free to join in.
  • Evening runs in June are bliss.  The lengthy twilight makes everything better.
  • I am tired of cooking the same rotation of meals for my children and wish they would eat more vegetables and grains instead of expecting meat at every evening meal.
  • There isn’t a single SPAC concert on my radar this summer.
  • It would be a better world if the ratio of positive to negative blog (and elsewhere) comments was more in the 5 to 1 range. I’m so tired of reading people’s anonymous complaints.

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Filed under Random, Schools, SPAC, Summer

Confession – I didn’t vote yesterday

I’m hoping that publicly admitting my failure to act as a responsible citizen will help me to exorcise the guilt I’ve been feeling since last night’s decision to not get in my car and drive to yet another new polling location.  You know I’m a big believer in exercising one’s civil rights, and I truly believe that those who don’t vote really shouldn’t feel entitled to offer an opinion on politics or education.  So – why didn’t I get myself to Hoffman Ave last night?  Well, I just didn’t feel like it.

I’m generally happy with the education my boys are getting in the Albany City School District.  My only minor complaint is a lack of communication from the attendance office at the high school.  I mean, my middle son has a crazy amount of tardies, yet I’ve never received notification about his inability to make it to class, particularly his first class of the day, on time.  Not a big deal in my situation, or should I say his, but potentially problematic for students who may be truly teetering between passing and failing.

I’m glad the budgets in both my community and the district where I am employed passed.  I know folks complain about taxes all the time, but I think my taxes are fair and I’ve never resented paying them.  After years of teachers being in the crosshairs when it comes to public vilification and perception, the focus has changed a bit recently.  It seems that school boards and administrators are now on the receiving end of the public’s wrath and dissatisfaction.  God forbid we should look both higher (state and federal policy makers) and lower (parents and caregivers) when we assign blame for standards not being met.

I’d say more, but, since I couldn’t spare the time to vote, I’ll spare you my opinion on the subject.

Did you vote?

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Filed under Albany, Local, Schools

Lorax night at ASH

DSC_0003Any idea what the items are in the picture above? Perhaps you’ve got a sweet tooth and recognize them as Twizzlers and Wonka nerds. I suppose you would be correct literally, but had you been at Lorax night at ASH, you’d identify them more literary as truffala tree stumps and seeds. And delicious, of course.  Those Wonka nerds are the bomb!

You know the story of the Lorax, Dr. Seuss’ primer on environmentalism, right? Although the book was published more than 40 years ago, it continues to resonate with kids and the message of “speaking for the trees” still, unfortunately, remains timely. Last week, Quinn and I attended a fun family event which used the Lorax as a springboard for an array of activities which were creative and surprisingly fun.

We began (and ultimately concluded) our evening in the gym with an awesome obstacle course. There were things to crawl under, through and over, as well as a mini trampoline and a couple of soft hurdles. You could almost see the satisfaction on the face of the parents as the kids repeatedly attempted the course, tiring themselves out and promising a quiet remainder of have evening. Good job, PE teacher!

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We next headed to the “planting station” in the lobby of the school. Long tables had been set up with rinsed and recycled milk cartons and there were a variety of vegetables seeds available for planting. We’re hoping to see our pea shoots any day.

By this point, we needed some sustenance. The cafeteria was our next stop and we put together a delightful mixed bag of treats, including the aforementioned truffala seeds and stumps. We also tossed in some goldfish and barbaloots (gummy bears) for good measure. Adequately fortified, we made for our final destination – the sculpture spot. Here, we found a pile of recycled items (small cardboard boxes, empty plastic bottles, egg cartons) to spark our 3-D creativity. Quinn made the awesome rocket below.

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I wish I could say we attend all the events offered at my son’s school, but it just isn’t always possible. I am, however, so glad we made it to Lorax Night. A literary inspiration, some physical activity, environmental awareness, inspired recycled art and candy?  Yes, please.  It was terrific.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, DelSo, Events, family, Local, Schools

Joe (go to) College

image: envisioningtheamericandream.files.wordpress.com

Did you happen to see this article in the Times Union recently?  I’m sure lots of folks feel gratified by their decision to reside in one of the successful suburban districts which are considered to be the best in the region.  Me?  I’m left with more questions than answers by the conclusions drawn and I want more information.

  • How many of the students attending those schools immediately after graduating high school, complete their programs in either two or four years?
  • How many of the students attending 4 year schools graduate from that same institution in 4 years?
  • What is the median household income in each of those school districts?
  • How about the average educational attainment in those same households?

I may be in the minority here, but I’m not overly concerned with whether my children go to college immediately after high school. And I’m not talking about the trendy “gap” year either.  If higher education is the logical step on a path leading to a long-term career, what I’m curious to know is this: how many 18 year-olds truly know what they want to do professionally for the rest of their lives?

On a recent evening, the teenaged Lilly boys and I had an interesting conversation about college – getting in, being successful, and paying for it.  In my mind, college isn’t a prolonging of the carefree days of high school with the added benefit of being away from home and playing beer pong.  It’s a serious and expensive investment.  Why take that on when you’re 18 unless you are either

a. incredibly motivated or
b. able to take advantage of an opportunity to attend a school with a substantial scholarship?

My route to college, and ultimately a Master’s Degree, was not direct.  After leaving high school in my senior year, I worked full-time and supported myself. At the age of 21, I tentatively dipped my toes into higher education by taking a couple of night classes at the local high school in the village where I lived.  The following year, I moved to Albany and began studying full-time.

Do I regret not taking a more traditional path to college?  Not at all.  If I were to do it all over again, the only thing I would change would be to have taken even more time to have traveled.  I wish I had taken my hospitality skills on the road and spent some time waitressing in resort areas where I could have made bank while experiencing new sights.  For me, the important thing about having a college degree isn’t about when you start earning it, it’s more about when you finish it.  What do you think?

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Filed under Boys, Education, Schools