Category Archives: Schools

Joe (go to) College


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?


Filed under Boys, Education, Schools

Happy trails

DSC_0009At one point Sunday afternoon, as Chrissy and I ran over snow and sand and through mud and ice, I had to laugh at how lucky it is that we both find the challenge of trail running to be fun.  Yes, fun.  It’s like being a kid again, running through the woods to either get somewhere, or maybe away from someone, not really knowing exactly where we’re going, but having the luxury of enough time to simply run.

On Saturday we did the Parker 5k, a seriously challenging lope through the woods which Chrissy blazed through.  We were down a lunar b*tch, unexpectedly, but we both rallied for respectable finishes on a morning which was far more benign than expected.  There was no rain and the mud provided an obstacle or added an element of excitement, all in the eye of the beholder.

Aren't they lively looking?

Aren’t they lively looking?

A couple of remarks I heard post-race were validating, the race was “humbling,” and the trail “grueling.”  No one was complaining. This event is pleasingly small with only about 100 finishers and everyone who participated appeared remarkably healthy and fit.  As Chrissy said, it felt much more like a friendly group run through the woods than a race.  Next year, hopefully we’ll be our usual running threesome. Missed you, Karen!

Sunday was a gorgeous day – the first day of the year for me to run wearing only a single layer and sleeveless, at that.  We met at the Pine Bush’s trailhead #7, where we consulted a posted map and quickly determined we had no idea how to read it properly.  It was mid afternoon and we had time and an app on our side so we headed in, bearing right at most forks in the trail as we sought a longish run.  The scenery was absolutely beautiful and the day was an ambiguous one, early spring which easily could have been mistaken for mid fall.

"Mudders"We skirted a deep ravine and ran on the narrowest of paths up steeper than expected hills.  There was mud, but no real standing water and we both were glad we had worn our mudders from the previous day again.  We encountered fewer than a handful of other intrepid fun seekers and I have a new desire to familiarize myself with this large nature area.  Saratoga State Park’s trails have nothing on this place in terms of challenge and beauty and I can’t wait to go back for another, even longer, loop.

We wrapped up our running adventures with a first of the season soak in Chrissy’s hot tub.  It was a good weekend.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Events, friends, Local, running, Schools, Spring, sunday, upstate New York

Good morning, heartache

My middle son is going through a phase which I am calling his “asshole phase.”  Please, hear me out on this.  He is a smart, social, funny and athletic kid and I love him dearly, but he is having a very difficult time understanding that “with great power comes great responsibility.”  As a parent who remembers high school as a time of not necessarily applying myself, I am empathetic to a certain extent, but when I consider the advantages he has compared to what was available to me, my indulgence of his laziness starts to dry up.  Time to figure it out, my friend.

Possessing the myriad of gifts and advantages he has, yet not using them, has prevented him from fully participating in sports this spring.  This should be his third year playing lacrosse, but instead of suiting up and getting on the field, he’s sitting on the bench because of academic probation.  I am so appreciative of the fact that there are academic requirements for extracurricular participation.  It prevents me from dropping the hammer and once again being the “bad cop.”

Today is the last day of his freshman year’s third academic quarter and he has failed to submit his outstanding work for the past 10 weeks of school.  Looks like he’ll continue to be a bench warmer rather than an active participant in his chosen spring sport.  C’est la vie.  It hurts my heart to see him not achieving all he is capable of, but at least I don’t have to worry about him getting hurt physically, right?

As the middle guy struggles with time management and fulfilling the expectations and responsibilities which come from growing up, my little guy is taking steps away from me.  This morning, as I parked my car to walk him into school, I noticed his friend walking down the block, solo.  I pointed out his buddy and asked Quinn if he wanted to walk into school with just his friend.  He quickly said yes and happily joined his classmate for an independent “big guys” walk to school.

I got back in my car, pleased that I would be uncharacteristically early for work.  Before I turned the key, though, I took a moment to watch my baby walking away from me and felt a squeeze around my heart.  He’s growing up soo fast!  I paused, thinking about how parenthood at times feels like a series of nearly physical exertions – sometimes we push from behind, other times pull from ahead.  As I drove away from the curb I glanced over at Quinn at the same moment he turned back to look at me.  We both smiled.

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Filed under Boys, moms, Schools

Moms@Work – September summary

Here’s what was going on over at Moms@Work…

Thanks for reading.  Always.

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Filed under moms, Moms@Work, Schools

Love and hate in the 518

photo(157)Knowing me as you do, you can probably predict that there are far more things that I love about the Capital District than I hate. How about we just get the negatives on the table so we can get to the good stuff?

I really hate the careless drivers I observe during my runs around town. It would be impossible for me to count the number of red lights I have witnessed drivers blowing through, and I’m not talking about yellow lights either. These are traffic lights which have been red for at least 3 seconds, which means they were beyond stale yellow when approached. Hey drivers, how about a great big cup of slow the hell down?

My other driving related complaint is drivers not recognizing the pedestrian’s right of way. I’m not even talking about in those (fairly)new crosswalks around town. I’m talking about when a car is stopped at a stop sign or red light. A couple of weeks ago, I legitimately dodged a car when the driver, who had a red light, decided to proceed despite the fact that I was in the crosswalk directly in front of him. When I approached his window, after literally screaming and leaping out of the way of his car, he refused to even look at me or acknowledge that he had nearly hit me. Jerk.

Now, enough of that. Let me express some love for my adopted home. I’ve got two high schoolers this year and I am loving the opportunities which are available at Albany High School. My junior has a grueling schedule, complete with an AP history class and an advanced math course through HVCC. For a grand total of $150, he is earning 3 college credits, as well as the knowledge that he is capable of college level work. My freshman has thrown himself into sports, playing JV soccer on a team which looks like representatives from the United Nations, so diverse in appearance are they. There’s also rec lacrosse weekly and swimming to look forward to later this year.

photo(158)This morning, my middle son and I participated in the first annual Falcon 5K, to benefit the ACSD booster club, in Washington Park. The day was picture perfect and the turnout was terrific – 500+ strong. There were dozens and dozens of student athletes and the sense of community was strong. Everything I saw, reaffirmed my choice to live and educate my children in Albany. Activities like this, and the upcoming Local Harvest Fest, are the kind of amazing, local events which add quality and connection small city living.

Shout out to all the volunteers and race planners, along with AHS alum, Jason Gough, who acted as emcee. And seriously, Pat Fahy, is the hardest working woman in local politics. I can’t go to an event without seeing her! She inspires me with her hard work and always energetic participation.

The 518 looks great.

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Events, Exercise, family, Local, running, Schools, sunday

Impressions from a spring concert

photo(133)Last night’s concert at my son’s middle school made an unexpected impact upon me emotionally. I’m not usually inclined to tears, but this gathering of kids, led by their obviously committed teachers, left me absolutely weepy. Here are the thoughts I had while sitting in that auditorium…

…there was a boy with a cast on his arm nevertheless playing saxophone.  During the presentation of the 8th grade participants,* a-soon-to-be graduate was introduced and described as having run in the rain to be present at his final Middle School performance. Each ensemble which took the stage was a remarkable variety of tall and short, dark and light, with every shade of skin, and texture of hair, imaginable.  Feet tapping, bodies swaying, heads nodding, everyone unified by the music they were making together. Beautiful.

I am so glad that my children attend a school where these opportunities are offered and valued.  The fact that this school is filled with a population often described euphemistically as “urban,” adds a richness to the experience for each and every student there.  These are kids that have interests and passions and talents, all of which are being fostered by the Albany City School District, and witnessed by their families.  It was a great evening and everyone involved should be proud.

*My son was introduced as the “one and only Griffin Lilly.” Never have I been more proud.

Follow up to Destination Lame:
I phoned the principal early this week and expressed my concerns about the trip.  She and I didn’t speak directly, it was more a game of phone tag and a series of voicemails, but I am satisfied with her response to my issues.  The trip, as presented to parents, is a bit different from the trip originally approved by administration.  The principal will be addressing the changes to the original itinerary and modifying the trip to add more structure and formal activities, as time and budget allow.  I was impressed with her immediate response and serious consideration of my concerns.


Filed under Albany, Boys, concerts, Education, Events, family, Music, Schools, Spring

Testing – 1, 2, 3

No notice on this really – I’m sorry!  It’s my fault, not Pat’s.

From NYS Assemblymember Pat Fahy:

Local Education Forum:  School districts across the region are feeling the strain of limited federal and state funding, a convoluted funding formula, and increasing testing and other state and federal mandates. To give voice to these concerns, the Capital Region legislators will host a local forum to hear from educators about the Impact of State Mandates and Testing on K-12 Students on Wednesday, June 5th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 711A in the Legislative Office Building in Downtown Albany. The forum will provide an opportunity to hear from urban, rural, and suburban school districts on these challenges and all are welcome to attend.

Maybe you can get there?

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Filed under Albany, Education, Events, Local, politics, Schools