Thursday, June 30, 2016

New York Historical Society

The other purpose for the trip to New York City was to see the Mo Willems exhibit at the New York Historical Society. After standing in a crowd for nearly two hours it was nice to walk and stretch our legs as Ashley and I hoofed it from 46th Street to 71st Street (170 Central Park West, to be precise). There I learned this was built in 1804 and is the second oldest museum in the United States (the oldest is the Charleston Museum). 

I fell in love with Mo Willems books when "Today I Will Fly" became the first book Ashley read by herself. I was surprised to learn the Elephant and Piggie series debuted in 2007 when Ashley was five. It just ended with his 25th book in the series called the "Thank You Book." I sniffed a bit at the end of that era, even though I have only read about a half dozen of the books in the series. 

I should have taken a bunch of pictures in the room, but I read something that said taking pictures was prohibited. Rule follower than I am, I did not take any pictures, but this sign at the entrance. (Note, I read this after taking other pictures.)

The exhibit had "phones" so we could hear him talking. I was enamored by them, but I suspect Ashley was afraid of lice and refused to listen, hence I only stopped at a few stations. There was so many neat tidbits to learn, such as Mo Williams used to work for Sesame Street, hence Elmo's name (the Mo), or so he'd like to believe. Gerald (of Elephant and Piggie fame) has a name. Say Elephant Gerald fast and you discover who he was named for. Piggie he believed did not need a name, that he just looked like a Piggie and was secure in not having a name (Gerald, on the other hand, is a big worry wart). 

The museum will soon have a huge Hamilton exhibit (just as Frozen is taking over Disneyland, Hamilton is taking over Manhattan). Sounds like it will mostly include items they already own, just displayed more cohesively and with some additions.

Federalist Papers

They also had a Picasso that was used as a curtain for a play (Le Tricorne). It was enormous and in excellent condition. I did not take a picture of that.

I do want to note we received free admission courtesy of our local library's museum pass program. Visit you library's website to see if they have a similar program.

Let's Ride Lawrence

For the past few years a few Sustainable Lawrence has organized a ride in honor of their founder, the late Ralph Copelman. The purpose of the ride, also called "Let's Ride Lawrence," is to encourage people to use their bicycles more and depend less on their cars, just like Ralph did. This year's ride was held on Sunday, June 6 at 10 AM, a time when there is very little traffic.

I'd guess about 20 people participated in the ride, including the three of us. The weather was potentially drizzly, which may have kept some other people away.

We gathered at the high school, crossed Princeton Pike, rode on some side streets before turning left, the left again. The hardest part was probably crossing Route 206. We cut through Rider's parking lot (they were paving the main area), and then rode on the Johnson Trolley Line for a bit. I highly recommend everyone check out the Johnson Trolley Line, it is flat and relaxing. When the Federal Government grants decides to build a bridge over I-195 then the northern and southern sides of the trail will be connected. After we left the Trolley line, we turned left and crossed 206 again (in a less populated area) and returned to the school.

With the exception of Don having a flat tire, the ride was a success. One person turned off near his home, but everyone else finished. After the ride Don continued with one of the organizers to help take down the red balloons used to indicate turns. I came home and went for a run to sort of turn the day into a mini-duathlon. 

We were all pleased that the rain held off.

Library Boxes in Trenton

Many of you know I have a Little Free Library sitting in front of my house. It was a birthday present. 

Jacque Howard has taken the Little Free Library movement and ratcheted it up quite a few notches. He, and a group of local artists, are taking old newspaper boxes and converting them into Little Free Libraries throughout the city of Trenton. He calls his project Books on the Block. Earlier this month he hosted an unveiling at Champ's Bar in Trenton (across from the former Rossi's). A quick search for how many boxes will be made and distributed throughout Trenton did not yield an answer. Hopefully Jacque will read this and chime in and I can update it.

Here are some pictures from their grand opening. The boxes will never be this close to each other again. Each was created by a different artist, most (if not all) from Trenton. The hope is different people and businesses will want to adopt the boxes and keep them supplied with books, and looked after. They have plenty of donated books, and continues to seek more. does not want to make this a hardship for anyone, instead they are trying to unite the town, much as what happens each year with Art All Night.

Putting the finishing touches on her box.
THIS Mercer Me story goes into a lot more details. The gist is the same, but the article mentions the donors (Trenton Downtown Association and Classics Books) and gives more information.

Tons more boxes like this are at Champs.

Every community would benefit from having a Jacque Howard live in it and advocate for it.

Lead up to Graduation

We had our ups and downs at Ashley's school. There were things I would have changed, and probably should have pushed harder to change. The science education (or lack of) would be top of the list. We reached a point when I said if she stays that year, barring the school closing (which it was not in jeopardy of doing) she would stay until graduation and enjoy the rights, privileges, and traditions of being the big kid on campus -- finally. Next year she returns to being the small fish in a big pond. Let her enjoy this year.

I wrote some thoughts about it before Spring Break in March, and added to it just after Spring Break with the field trip to Broadway.

As predicted, the last couple of months of the year went by in a blur of traditions and hoopla, culminating with graduation on June 3.

During the year the 8th graders were bus safeties. I hope she enjoyed riding in the back of the bus, because I suspect she'll be relegated to the front again come September.

On Field Day the 8th graders are team captains, which necessitated another class picture (of course).

There was saying good-bye to their second grade prayer buddies -- Ashley and her prayer buddy both think they had the best one.

In early May the 8th graders led May Crowning during their monthly worship service. 

This was followed by trying to take a class picture on the playground on a nice day when everyone was wearing their uniforms. A Herculean task. The weather was rainy in May, there wer at least five students wanting to dress down for their birthdays, and one gil who (rightfully so) took off a week as her grandfather's life was coming to an end, and did pass. I finally took this picture with that girl missing. They went back and retook the picture to include the girl.

The class parents put on an amazing class party -- amazing in its simplicity. Over the years one kid said all they needed to do was have cupcakes and juice boxes and it would be great. They did more than that (including getting their teacher in one of these balls), but it was simple by their standards, and just as much fun. Tet another class picture.

The 8th graders together with the art teacher, Mrs. Gladwell, create a ceiling tile that will stay at the school until they replace the ceilings I suppose.

One of the more charming, and fastest, traditions is the playing of pomp and circumstance on their last day as they walked down the halls for the last time as students. Younger students handed them notes as the passed by. Unfortunately 2nd grade was on their field trip (see the part about her awesome prayer buddy) and was really bummed to miss it. I was surprised how many of them broke down into tears -- even some fairly new to the school. I was also surprised I did not. I used the camera to distance myself from the moment. 

The whole end of the year was bittersweet, as everyone told me it would be. In a blink of an eye I'll be writing a similar post about the end of high school. So not ready.


I have often said I don't get the concept of 8th grade graduation. In our township I'd guess 90% of the graduates after attending middle school for two years are walking across the parking lot to go to high school next year, with the rest going to private, Catholic, or a high school in a new town, where they will expect to graduate. It was different in the inner city alternative middle school where my mom used to teach. There many of her students would not graduate from high school, many ending up in gangs or jail, or both. 

With that said, I loved Ashley's 8th grade graduation. For them it is a true ending. The 29 of them will never all be together again. Some of her classmates started at the school 11 years earlier in the 3 year old pre school class. Others started that year when their Catholic school closed. Ashley started in third grade. Six years in one building is a long time.

From the school day mass
Her graduation ceremony was broken into different parts. First there was the during the school mass where they wore caps and gowns and sang their graduation song. Father Gerard talked about his time at a Catholic high school when his parents had to pay the astronomical sum of $25 a month (or something like that) and hoped he wouldn't get in (he did). A week and a half later was the actual graduation.

The first half of the June 3 service
My favorite picture of Ashley
from the day
was a mass. Father Gerard even told a new homily with advice for the graduates, such as Be the Hands of Jesus. They said a Parents' Prayer of Thanksgiving, and the graduates sang the secret graduation song: "I'll always remember you" by Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana. Ashley kept the details of the secret from me because she knows I am not a Hannah Montana fan. I love the chorus:

But yesterday's gone, we gotta keep moving on.I'm so thankful for the moments, so glad I got to know ya'.The times that we had, I'll keep like a photographAnd hold you in my heart foreverI'll always remember you

A fitting song to sing at the end of era.

Then began an hour of the usual graduation "pomp and circumstance." You might think with only 29 students it couldn't take that long, but it still took an hour to distribute diplomas and hand out the many awards. We spent at least another half an hour taking pictures and chatting with family not going to the post-graduation party with us (we had a limit).

Some pictures from the day.

Ashley with the awesome Miss Shields

Getting ready with Maddie, Bridget, and Dora 

The processional

Love the smile, but wish it was clearer

Giving flowers to the parents

Receiving an award

After graduation with Lassya, Rose, and Veda

Dora and Ashley with their prayer buddy, Grace

Ashley will be joining Carly and Reilly next year

With the grandparents

With Father Gerard
The rose she gave me and the carnation she carried

School Spirit Award

Diploma with class picture

President's Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence
(All As since 6th grade and 90th percentile and above on
Terra Novas)

After graduation we went to the post party hosted by the 7th grade parents at a country club. The theme was Around the World, which I loved, and fits their home room teacher's passion for international travel. I did not take many pictures at the party.

The goody bag included many treasures: a tee-shirt mysteriously signed by everyone, a class picture on the playground, a mug, a box for memories, a photo album with a few starter photos (which I provided), and some candy. This week a photo montage/video the Klinks put together arrived in the mail as another treasure.

The class has already started to disperse. A couple of days after graduation one moved to Florida and will attend a performing arts high school, another is moving to Pennsylvania. Of the 29, 18 are going to Notre Dame together, the others are going to local public, private, and Catholic schools. They probably won't ever all gather together, but they'll always have graduation and many other memories.