Members of the Ben’s Bells Newtown (BBN) team visited Pequenakonck Elementary School in North Salem, N.Y., recently. A family session on January 31 had 140 students, teachers, and parents all working together to make beads and/or paint Kindness Coins. The program allowed BBN volunteers to continue their mission of inspiring, educating, and motivating each other “to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby changing our world.” It was the first event for the two groups. Meanwhile, Ben’s Bells is celebrating its first anniversary in Newtown. Jeanette Maté, the founder of Ben's Bells Project, based in Tuscon, Ariz., visited Newtown along with a few volunteers in early January 2013. They were joined by a few Newtown residents to hang the first Ben's Bells in public places, creating more than 1,000 opportunities for residents to discover the random acts of kindness.
Recently, a friend offered me some tortilla chips from a local restaurant. I declined, explaining that lately corn chips were making me congested. (What the heck?!) That got me lamenting to him about how much I missed snacking on corn chips, and how Fritos had figured predominantly in my childhood. Just saying the name “Fritos” conjures up a memory of corn chips so salty they made your fingers and lips hurt. The chips are thick and crisp, requiring a solid chomp to chew them, more so than with the oh-so-breakable tortilla chips that crumble at the sight of salsa. Fritos are just the right amount of curl and size to fit snugly on the tip of the tongue, I discovered years ago, where the flavor can be savored a little longer, so long as there is no one around to see.
Nearly a century separates the lives of the man recognized as Newtown’s first historian, Ezra Levan Johnson, and Newtown’s first official historian, Daniel Cruson, but uncanny similarities between the two men make them brethren. Both teachers, Mr Johnson spent the majority of his teaching career at South Center and Sandy Hook School districts, and served on the Board of School Visitors for 58 years, until his death in 1914. Mr Cruson retired in 2005 from Joel Barlow High School in Redding, after teaching in the history department there for 37 years. Despite their commonalities, there is also a decidedly different approach to parsing Newtown’s history to the townspeople between them. Today’s reader might find Mr Johnson’s publications unwieldy, Mr Cruson said. “He was what we call an antiquarian historian,” he said, meaning that Newtown’s first historian tended to publish antique documents in whole. A modern historian, such as Mr Cruson, is more scientific in their research, and apt to condense information from a large document into a more user-friendly form.
Survivors and supporters gathered at Newtown High School Monday night with one goal in mind: fighting cancer. Kicking off this year’s Relay For Life, which will take place from the evening of May 31 into the morning of June 1, the tenth such event in town, chair Chris Farrington, a 13-year survivor, said the year’s theme is “party,” not a birthday party, but other types of celebration. Also joining the kick-off was honorary chair and cancer survivor Mary Ann Jacob, who spent time Monday night speaking with guests; and American Cancer Society representative Dave Andros. Newtown's Relay for Life will return to Newtown High School this year, after a five-year break from that location.
Valentine’s Day came a little early for some of Newtown’s youngest as well as the town’s most experienced residents. For the second year in a row, the Newtown Youth Basketball Association (NYBA) teamed with Newtown High School’s girls’ basketball program, the cheerleaders, and the NHS culinary department to hold Senior Citizen Appreciation Night, a pre-Valentine’s Day dinner for the community’s senior citizens.This year’s event, which was held at Newtown High on February 6, drew 60 seniors who were greeted by elementary school-age and high school basketball players.
Beth Bogdan visited Newtown the weekend of January 31-February 2, and spent time that Saturday at The Resiliency Center of Newtown (RCN). There, she and RCN Founder Stephanie Cinque packed up items that had been sold during the Second Annual Music For Newtown Auction. Over $6,500 was raised for the non-profit organization that provides free and confidential services, programs, and events to assist in the healing process for anyone in the greater Newtown community impacted by the events of 12/14. Both auctions have featured special and/or limited edition items related to music. Artists including Black Sabbath, Florida Georgia Line, and Lorde were among the first to donate items to this year’s event. By the time the auction went live on January 22, items included an autographed guitar from Anberlin, signed posters from Neon Trees and Colbie Caillat; signed photos from Nickelback and Psy; signed CDs from Bon Jovi, Cassadee Pope, and Ben Howard; signed vinyl from Jack Johnson; and a signed set list from The Naked and Famous.