Category Archives: Schools

Writing my son’s college essay (in my mind)

Dear Prospective College Admissions Officer -

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I can only imagine how many of these letters you must read and how difficult it must be to evaluate potential students from mere words and numbers on a page. Since neither words nor numbers adequately describe my oldest son, maybe I can offer some assistance?

To satisfy the need for percentiles and numbers of measurement, let me offer this – he was 5.5 weeks premature and, at one time, weighed less than 3.75 lbs. His father and I were advised that he was at risk of never recovering from the health challenges he faced and that, even if he survived, he might never walk. He crawled at twelve months and finally walked at 17 months. He was a willing participant in speech, OT, PT and special education services beginning at the age of 18 months, never complaining about the demands made upon him, the leg braces he wore or the frequent doctor’s visits.

Early in my son’s elementary career he was diagnosed with ADD and prescribed medication, which he continues to take. In the ensuing years, his dosage has been adjusted but he has also developed coping mechanisms and skills to increase his self-control and capacity to stay on task. His study habits and commitment to academic endeavors are remarkable and his grades in recent years reflect his strong work ethic.

While standardized tests are not my son’s strength, his passion for history has clearly been documented in his mastery of the NYS Regents’ exams in history. While his math and science scores have not been as stellar, I couldn’t be prouder of his decision to retake state exams to improve his transcript, despite his guidance counselor’s assurances that the importance of the grade ultimately was negligible.

My son has tackled the college search process with realistic independence, researching academic requirements and offerings, along with campus activities and opportunities. He has scheduled his own campus visits and participated in the process with excitement and enthusiasm and welcomes the new opportunities which will be available to him on campus.

In addition to his interest in history and government, my son is curious about the world.  He is an experienced traveler and witnessing his response to some of the world’s wonders has been one of the most rewarding gifts of parenthood.  He truly is one of my favorite travel companions and his choices, in terms of foreign locales to visit, have broadened my world immensely.

In closing,  if you’re looking for a student who shows their worth when they are faced with a bubble sheet, your institution may not be the right one for my son, but, if you’re seeking students who demonstrate their abilities when faced with challenges, my son may be exactly who you want to join your academic community.  Like his father and I, you’d be lucky to have him.

 Sincerely, a proud parent

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Filed under Boys, Education, moms, Schools

Reflecting on 30 years

IMG_0314Despite my attempts at processing the hundreds of distinct thoughts and images in my head following my trip to the past last weekend, my mind is still in a whirl.  During my drive north, while I tried to assert a sense of order to all that had been stimulated in my head, I realized that the 30th reunion I had attended had prompted more questions than it had answered and I wondered if other alumni felt the same way.  I wished that I were better in those sorts of situations, more open to approaching others and initiating conversations.  I had wanted to feel a connection with those around me, a connection which ultimately I could only find in fits and starts.

I’ve attended each reunion planned by the class Dynamo, Robin.  There have been four.  If I take the time to consider what compels me to insert myself in an environment which doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable, my only conclusion is that I’m seeking something, some sort of resolution or denouement.

Kind of silly, right?  What can be learned from surrounding myself by people with whom I shared a building, along with some experiences 30 years ago?  I just don’t know.

High school was not four years of social activities and academic achievements for me. I was not present for much of it, figuratively and literally.  I felt lost in the hugeness of the high school after the intimate experience of my Greenwood Lake education, going from a class of 65 to one of more than 400 in the blink of an eye.  Cliques and expectations were well established and I flitted between groups (heads, brains, jocks) committing to none.

Each reunion has invoked a similar lack of ability to engage.  I simply don’t know what to say to anyone.  There are familiar faces, some from high school so long ago, others from social media, and flashes of memories race through my mind.  But where does one start when it comes to covering the last three decades?  And – to what purpose?  My high school experience will never change and my future probably doesn’t include any of the people I struggle with to make meaningful conversation.  If an opportunity presented itself – say a classmate was going to be in the Albany area and wanted to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, I’d be interested.  I’m just more comfortable interacting in a smaller, lower-volume setting.  Perhaps that’s my take away, my conclusion?

I think this was my last reunion.

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Filed under aging, Education, Events, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, relationships, road trips, 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