On-Island

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Teen collects more than 1,000 books so more kids can read.

Leah Littlefield collected more than 1,000 books to donate to literacy organizations. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Epstein)

For the past six months, 13-year-old Leah Littlefield has collected new and gently-used children’s books.

When students at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center’s Religious School become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah they have to complete a number of requirements involving study and worship. They are also required to do a mitzvah (social service) project. Leah has always been an avid reader, so, inspired by her love of books, she decided to do a project supporting children’s literacy.

Her project, which she called “Spreading the Joy of Reading” had several components including working with a young student learning to read, and making and selling bookmarks to raise money for a literacy organization. But the primary component was collecting new and gently used children’s books to be donated to literacy organizations.

Leah set up drop boxes at several locations including the Edgartown Library, West Tisbury Library, The Hebrew Center, and at her school, Falmouth Academy. She wrote a letter that was sent out with her Bat Mitzvah invitations requesting that everyone coming to the service bring a new or gently-used children’s book to contribute to her project.

This past Sunday, it was time to hunker down at the Hebrew Center and count and prepare the books for distribution. Leah was surprised that she had well over her goal of 500 books.

“One of the best things about having so many books donated was being able to read them!” Leah wrote in an email to the Times. “I collected more than 700 books and probably read about 30 of them this summer. Donations ranged from Goodnight Moon to Harry Potter and everything in-between.

“One donation that was interesting to me was a book called “Shlemazel and the Remarkable Spoon of Pohost.” It is a folktale about a man who lives in a Eastern European village called Pohost, which is the same place my great-grandmother came from before she emigrated to America.”

“We will be taking all the books off-Island tomorrow,” said Leah’s mom, Lisa Epstein. They will deliver them to Horizons for Homeless Children, a non-profit Massachusetts organization that creates playspaces and provides early education to children who are living in homeless shelters, and are looking for books for kids age six and under.  Many of the brand new books for younger kids will then be given out as birthday gifts.

“Most of the rest of the books we are delivering to Reach Out and Read,” said Lisa. “Their national offices are in Boston and they will distribute the books to hospitals, clinics and pediatrician’s offices all over the country. Leah has requested that some of the books from her project go to Boston Children’s Hospital and some go to participating Reach Out and Read locations on the Cape and Islands. There are several here on the Vineyard.

“I remember when Leah was young she would always be given a new book when she went for her annual physical at Vineyard Pediatrics,” Leah’s mother said. Some of those same books, now gently-used, are going back to Reach Out and Read, since Leah purged many of her own books for her project.

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The Dunn family.

What makes children love to read, a nearly impossible feat in this age when exciting games leap out of smartphones, while earbuds feed music from rap stars? Many of today’s children might not recognize a book if it dropped from a recent Perseid meteor shower.

And yet the love of reading is highly achievable, says Deb Dunn of Chilmark, literacy coordinator at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, and soon-to-be author of an exciting column in this paper called “Read This!” which will help parents cultivate literacy at home.

“Every child can be a reader and a writer,” she maintains.

Deb and I met for coffee on an August Monday at the Plane View Restaurant. For me that meant a (nearly) door-to-door transport on the Number 7 VTA bus, for Deb a car ride from her house up-Island by a route that cunningly avoided all the down-Island mish-mash.

I already knew that natural-born readers, in spite of all the high-tech hoopla, will always be born into the world, just as redheads and butterfly geeks make a small but steady appearance. In my bookstore (Sun Porch Books in Oak Bluffs, 2002–2008), I beheld a regular crew of tots hurtling toward the children’s section.

“He’s passionate about reading!” one of the parents always exclaimed. Of course! That’s why there’ll always be bookstores of one sort or another, and hang the e-book screens that so far have failed to penetrate more than 30 percent of the publishing market.

Deb works primarily with grades kindergarten through six, her stated goal to help reading-resistant students get down to the serious business of sounding out words. “I use rhythm, songs, and chants to help them learn to speed brain and visual processes.”

She sees kids individually and in small groups, and also tries to engage parents in the process (a goal she plans to address in her column). “There are ways to grow vocabulary right from the start. As you carry your infant around with you, you can narrate your day, as in, “I’m buying these blueberries — look they’re almost purple; don’t they smell sweet?” And, hey! check out the Abstract Expressionist painting over there. (Blame the reporter for that last bit, but you get the point.)

Deb continued, “I can’t stress enough the importance of reading to kids at home. I tell parents to be sure they’ve got plenty of books in the house — the library is a great resource, as well as book sales and the book section of thrift shops. Also, for baby gifts, ask for a book instead of yet another onesie!”

Deb, a lifelong passionate reader herself, began reading to her son, Elijah, now 11, in utero. She grew up in New Jersey, attended Clark University in Worcester, and received her master’s degree in education at Lesley University in Cambridge. She went on to teach special education in New Hampshire, and ran an Outward Bound–style brand of outdoor education in the mountains.

She met future husband, Jim Feiner, from afar. The first time they spoke on the phone, she heard bongo drums in the background, and enjoyed this boho element from a man who practiced real estate on Martha’s Vineyard. Their first date took place on Thanksgiving. After that, the two of them traveled back and forth to be together. When Jim invited her to spend a more significant time on the Island, Deb countered, “I’ll just come for the summer.”

We know how summers get stretched out to infinity here. Now she, Jim, and Elijah live in Chilmark. Deb has found that her son’s love of reading flourishes in a domestic sphere that downplays all the techno bells and whistles. A TV cable is nowhere apparent, and at the age of nine, Elijah’s digital games were limited to two on his dad’s computer. Deb has weighed his natural leanings toward non-tech activities — Legos, baseball, joke-telling, and his library of books numbering over 500 — with his natural need to be accepted. Deb recognizes the challenge in a world where third and fourth graders carry cell phones.

“Read This!” will run monthly in the MV Times, starting on September 25, and will include helpful tips for parents to foster a love of reading in their children.

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There’s a gem in the woods of West Tisbury. Just don’t tell too many people.

Mike Gambone and Donnie Morgan manage Hostel International USA's Manter Memorial Hostel in West Tisbury, the Vineyard's only hostel. (Photo by Michael Cummo)

The Manter Memorial Hostel on the Edgartown Road in West Tisbury is surrounded by lush trees that have all but hidden it from the road. But travelers from all over the world have no trouble finding the Vineyard’s sole hostel, according to co-managers Donnie Morgan and her husband, Michael Gambone. This year, the couple will provide accommodations for close to 3,000 people before the season is over.

MCOH0033.JPG“By far the majority of our guests are from the United States,” Ms. Morgan said. “The Vineyard can be a difficult place to get to.” But Mr. Gambone pointed out that they have guests from all over the world; many European travelers who are experienced hostelers often make reservations well in advance for trips with stays in hostels throughout New England, including the Vineyard and Nantucket.

The hostel also hosts bike groups, Scout troops, and programs for the FARM Institute and other local organizations that bring in people from off Island. Now and then, there’s even a wedding.

Dan Usher, a longtime hosteler, talks with Sally Denais, who was visiting a hostel for the first time. (Photo by Jamie Stringfellow)

Dan Usher, a longtime hosteler, talks with Sally Denais, who was visiting a hostel for the first time. (Photo by Jamie Stringfellow) —

On a recent summer morning, guests mingling over breakfast in the big common room included a man named Russ Kane, who’d ridden his motorcycle from Wethersfield, Conn., and praised the “clean rooms, breakfast and the full kitchen available to us.”

Paul Metzler, from Chicopee, had parked his car in Falmouth and put his bike on the ferry. There were close to a dozen guests at the hostel for the African American Film Festival, including two women, Jalisa Goodman and Kim Townes, who spoke about the camaraderie among guests, and that “filmmakers could mingle here, unlike in a stuffy hotel in a city.” The night before, half a dozen of the film festival guests decided to go to a party in Oak Bluffs together. Kim, a Hampton College alumnus, joked that it was “actually sort of treasonous” that she had made friends at the hostel with Jalisa, an alum of Hampton arch-rival Howard University.

A typical dorm room at the Manter Hostel.

A typical dorm room at the Manter Hostel. — Photo by Michael Cummo

It was the first time that Sally Denais, an elegant middle-aged woman from Nahant, had ever stayed in a hostel. She’d spent previous Vineyard visits in a timeshare. “This is great!” she said. “The rooms are comfy, and okay, I sleep in a bunk bed, but I like my bunk bed.” She reported being surprised after going out to a party with three “girls” she’d met and returning to the hostel, not a raucous dorm room, but to complete quiet. “The other girls in my room were like mice!” she said. “Just sleeping lumps in their beds!”

There's plenty of seating in the common room.

There’s plenty of seating in the common room. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Sally, who confided she’d packed popcorn and cookie mix to make later in the kitchen, had just met Dan Usher, who has stayed in hostels all over the world and the country. “You never have to travel alone,” he said, as he and Sally stood at the counter with coffee, sharing travel tales. “In hotels, you don’t meet people the way you do in hostels.” After sharing their enthusiasm for hostels, and in particular the Manter hostel, Ms. Denais and Mr. Usher had second thoughts about letting a reporter know “how great the place is. We’re not sure we want you to write about it!”

MCOH0043.JPGThe building, named to honor Islanders Lillian and Daniel Manter, who built the hostel in 1955 and ran it for many years, is operated by Hostelling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit founded in 1934 to promote international understanding of the world. HI USA owns and operates 50 hostels and is affiliated with Hostels International, which oversees over 4,000 hostels worldwide. The Manter hostel is open to travelers between mid-May and mid-October. As with hotels, most reservations may be made online on their website. Hostels range from urban high-rise buildings with hundreds of beds, to scenic and more remote locations like the one in West Tisbury.

The Manter Hostel has look and feel of a rural summer camp, with a big communal kitchen and dining room, and a large living room but with the added benefit of a decidedly un-camp-like Wifi. It has 67 beds for visitors, in rooms including singles, doubles, and mixed dorms, and accommodations for staff in a variety of combinations, many of which can be changed according to need.

Only travelers, meaning no locals, may rent, in keeping with hostelling’s mission, and may only stay for a total of one week during a season.

The Manters based the Vineyard hostel on a model developed in Europe, first catering to traveling students and youth who once were required to  arrive on public transport, bicycles, or foot. It is the first hostel in the United States that was deliberately built for the purpose, and it has been used as a model for many hostels built since.

Curfews and wake-up calls were once the rule, and it was common for hostels to keep log books where travelers would leave messages to those following in their footsteps about places to go and things to see in the area as well as critiques of hostels visited.

“We no longer have curfews or wake-up calls,” Mr. Gambone said with a laugh, “and have not had a logbook in about 15 years. Travelers now communicate with each other via social media on their cellphones.”

The hostel’s mission is to serve travelers of all ages. “We’ve had no age limit since the 70’s and 80’s when most hostels dropped ‘youth’ from their names,” he said. “Basically if you are old enough or young enough to handle a dormitory and a bunk bed you can stay in a hostel.”

And Manter, as with all hostels, now welcome guests via any mode of transport. There is even parking for guests’ cars.

In addition to co-managing the hostel, Ms. Morgan is also regional manager and Mr. Gambone is maintenance engineer for the Northeast Region of HI USA, which means they oversee the running of seven hostels in New England and New York.

Ms. Morgan loves to travel, so when she left a 20-year career as an educational administrator in Virginia, she took several long trips around North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. “I stayed in hostels for months at a time. Managers would invite me to work after I had developed a sense of what the hostels were all about,” she said. She was not entirely unschooled in the hospitality business, having been responsible for residence halls as a college administrator.

She met Mr. Gambone at Randolph-Macon college when she was about to graduate and he had embarked on one of his first jobs as a college professor. They kept in touch over the years, and both married others. He cycled through a number of jobs over the years, picking up a variety of skills, rebuilding homes, becoming an electrician and even an electrical inspector. Twenty years after they first met, both of their marriages had ended. Mr. Gambone visited Ms. Morgan, who was working for a hostel in Buffalo, and their relationship became more serious.

In 2000 and 2001 Ms. Morgan worked as a seasonal employee at the Vineyard hostel and in 2003 returned to the hostel in Buffalo. After a long distance relationship, Mr. Gambone eventually joined Ms. Morgan in Buffalo; the couple came to the Vineyard in 2010 after a couple of seasons on Cape Cod.

They have experienced a consolidation of the Hostel organizational structure in the last couple of years from one where many hostels were owned and managed by local nonprofit boards to a nationwide organization of hostels with a national board with more standardized rules. Ms. Morgan said that there are several for-profit, much smaller companies unaffiliated with HI USA that operate on a similar model to theirs in the United States.

They open the Vineyard hostel first each year, and only after making sure the staff of five to six is in place. Once the annual town health and building inspections are complete, they oversee the opening of their other hostels. Both Ms. Morgan and Mr. Gambone said that by far most visitors to the Vineyard hostel have a wonderful time.

“One reason our guests have such a good experience at the hostel is because they have such a good experience on the Island,” Ms. Morgan said. “They find people on the Vineyard to be very friendly and helpful. They love the bus system and how helpful the bus drivers are. In most areas of the country where there is a youth hostel no one is aware where the hostel is, but that is not the case on the Vineyard. Here everyone knows where the hostel is. Islanders built it and that helps make it a unique place and quite different than other hostels.”

Information on the Manter Memorial Hostel can be found on their website, www.hiusa.org. Reservations can be made by phone or online (the preferred method), just like most any other hotel. Beds rent for $35 a night during the week most of the season, $39 a night during August, and $42 a night on weekends for members of Hostel International, $3 more for non-members. Membership costs $23.

Leo has a bit of a loud mouth.

Tom Shelby, who has trained dogs and their owners on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York City, answers readers’ questions about their problematic pooches. This week, the dogfather counsels the owner of Leo, a German Shepherd whose barking rocks the planet.

Dear Dogfather,

My wonderful German shepherd dog Leo barks. I guess all dogs bark, that’s what they do, but he’s a big dog, lots of teeth, and he scares people. He barks at people he doesn’t know, and he barks at people he does know, even my sons, who he sees many times every day. When people come in the house, despite his barking, he is all tail wagging and friendly as he can be.

In the car he rocks the planet with barking every time a dog walks by. Help!

What to do, what to do?

A loving owner of a barky dog

Dear Loving Owner of a Barky Dog,

Several years ago a vet who’s a friend of mine was quite dismayed when he was bitten by a dog whose tail was wagging furiously just before the bite. As I explained to him, there are different types of tail wags. If a dog loves to bite he’ll be wagging, looking forward to the bite. Same goes for barking. All kinds. Excited, playful, fearful, warning, lonely, just to name a few.

Sounds to me like Leo’s barking is habitual, which is not unique. Dogs are creatures of habit. If he seems to bark at everything all the time, it’s become a habit. What to do?

First thing Leo needs to learn is the command “quiet.”  As I’ve said often, the best way to train a dog is to have success build on success. Maybe start in the car where it’s just the two of you with a good spray bottle or water pistol. You’re not looking to give Leo a facial, so make sure your H20 firearm sprays a good stream, not a mist.

If people walking close to the car cause him to bark, don’t park next to the fire engine during fireworks; remember, success builds on success. Park where the occasional person with a dog walks by and as the person is approaching the car start getting Leo’s attention by talking calmly to him and offer him treats as long as he’s not barking.

When his mouth opens to bark he hears a firm “Quiet” with a spray between the eyes a split second after the word quiet. If he shuts up offer him treats as the person passes the car. Frankly, a toy poodle is more likely to respond to a little water than a German Shepherd, but try it anyway. You never know!

If that doesn’t work I’d consider an E collar, using a vibration mode as opposed to electric stim. If that doesn’t work I’d suggest the help of a pro to ensure proper timing and stim intensity. It should be weak enough to startle, not hurt.

Leo needs a “door turmoil routine” for people coming to the house; a routine to eliminate the turmoil at the door. Initially, thank him for barking to let you know somebody’s approaching the house. It’s one of his jobs. Then he’s told to go to his “spot,” located out of the way but with a view of the entering guests, and sit and stay, If he barks, it’s “Quiet,” and have the guests enter. After “Hello’s” with the visitors, Leo is told to come forward to meet the guests with a treat. No barking allowed at this point.

I’m a big fan of this routine because it’s a tone-setter. If he’s out of control when people come over he’s set the tone of the visit — unpleasant. But if he’s trained to do this routine, the tone that’s set is one of good manners and cooperation. You may need a pro’s help to effect this routine, especially with an intimidating German Shepherd.

Good luck

The Dogfather.

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The Martha’s Vineyard Partnership for Health will kick off a free six-week workshop series next month to help people with chronic health conditions, such as chronic pain, depression, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and high blood pressure. Beginning September 13, sessions will be held weekly on Saturdays from 10 am to 12:30 pm at the Oak Bluffs Library.

The Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (My Life, My Health) was developed by Stanford University. The program’s goals are to empower people affected by chronic diseases to self-manage their care to help them live a healthier, active, and independent life through lifestyle and behavior changes, according to a press release.

Participants will learn techniques to help them deal with the problems, frustrations, fatigue, pain, and isolation that sometimes accompany a chronic health condition, according to the workshop teachers, Rebecca Kline, a registered nurse, and Doreen Anderson, a certified health coach.

The sessions offer simple tools and interventions to help people better manage their health conditions, reduce the risk of falling, and improve nutrition and physical and mental health.

Participants will learn appropriate exercises for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility, and endurance. Medication use and skills for communication between family, friends, and medical professionals also are addressed.

Pre-registration is required. Call 508-269-9044 to register by phone, or leave a message to request a registration form by mail or email.

MV Partnership for Health is a chronic disease management program run by Island Health Care and the Vineyard Health Care Access Program. The Partnership is funded by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Community Health Initiative.

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A Movement Workshop for Island Schools.

Young dancers in a Yard program at West Tisbury Elementary. (Photo by Sofia Strempek)

When some of the Island’s children return to school next month, they’ll find an additional “R” to the Three R’s – rhythm.

The 2013 camp Make Kids Dance was such a success that the Yard will be running dance programs in Island schools. (Photo by Sally Cohn)

The 2013 camp Make Kids Dance was such a success that the Yard will be running dance programs in Island schools. (Photo by Sally Cohn) — Sally Cohn

The Yard – Martha’s Vineyard’s premier proponent of dance – is introducing a program, “Making It,” into the curriculum of Island schools. Working with professional dance troupes from off-Island, kids will learn about movement and building choreography. Created by David White, The Yard’s Artistic and Executive Director, patterned after the Kids Make Dance Camp at The Yard, and administered by Jesse Keller (who teaches a similar workshop at the Y), it will be customized to fit the available time and needs of the participating schools.

While some may consider it frivolous to bring a movement workshop into the syllabi, the program is about much more than dance. Keller explains. “While (the students) definitely learn movement skills, this program is not meant to focus on teaching kids steps. It’s more about the kids’ creativity and how they can link movement to their everyday problem solving, life skills, literary skills, and things like that.”

She cites a week-long workshop they held at the high school in April. “We brought in David Parker and The Bang Group (from New York). They’re a tap and rhythm group but they also work a lot with props. We worked with the students on a piece that the (professional) group performed. They were in Velcro suits. Afterwards, we did our warm-up and split all the kids into teams. We gave them five pieces of different types of Velcro — suits that they could put on, Velcro-covered balls, things like that. The task was to, in a group, learn how to connect and disconnect these in three ways and in movement only.”

According to Keller, not only did the kids learn to work together creatively to accomplish the task and see the everyday objects in a different light, but kids who normally would not associate with each other laughed together and had fun. “They were working with kids that they probably wouldn’t be hanging out with at lunchtime,” Keller explains.

David White further elaborates, “We had kids who were on the autistic spectrum who had aides with them. In the case of those kids who were part of this process, the aides uniformly said that they had never seen their kids so immediately productive in that kind of situation – working in groups, socializing.”

“And the real beauty of it,” Keller adds, “was every single kid in the high school participated.”

Also, by bringing in pros like The Bang Group from New York, the Everett Company from Providence, Rhode Island, and H.T. Chen from Chinatown in New York, the programs expose students to artists who are making a living in their field – a boon to kids faced with career decisions.

After the April workshops (held at several Island schools), and the success of the summer camp, it wasn’t difficult to bring Island schools on board. The Yard already has Chilmark, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs Schools scheduled. “But,” says Keller, “we’re still having conversations with the (other) public schools, and the Charter School, figuring out what would work for them.” Some schools, like Edgartown, see it as fitting into their physical education curriculum, although it can be used to address particular subjects.

David White sees it as fitting into almost any area of the curriculum. He views movement as a potential science lab. “Dance is three things,” he explains, “Take one material thing, the body, take two immaterial things, space and time, and you mash them up. That’s a physics problem.” He also considers it a cultural lesson. “Chilmark School is looking to do an ancient China thing,” he relates, “And we’re bringing in H.T. Chen and his company from Chinatown.”

The program at Edgartown School will work with fifth and either seventh or eighth graders, one day a week, for one period, spread over ten week. Teachers will be consulted on a continuing basis throughout the program. “That’s where we’re gauging our success,” says Keller. “Being in very close contact with the teachers during the entire process.” They’ll be asked how it’s affecting their day, if they’re seeing changes in the students. If they’re seeing more focus. In addition, an in-depth questionnaire will be filled out by the teachers and principals at the end of the program.

During the April workshop, the physical education teacher asked the students to journal throughout the process and that helped shape the current program.

Ultimately, it’s fairly certain that every student will take away something from “Making It.” David White explains, “Movement and dance provides a different kind of creativity, a different kind of firing of neurons in the brain, that can stimulate all sorts of things in the intelligences and aptitudes of these kids in other areas.”

And it builds confidence. “It’s made so that every kid can succeed,” Keller says. “Every kid can do it.”

What are the symptoms of the other tick-borne diseases?

All of the tick-borne infections have a nonspecific initial presentation, that is, there is no way to distinguish them just based on signs and symptoms. Yes, acute (new) Lyme disease cases usually have the expanding rash (more than 60 percent of the time, perhaps more…the rash can be under the hair on the scalp and easily missed) but someone with fever (more than two days), headache, chills, muscle aches, migratory joint pains, and fatigue could still have Lyme disease. But on Martha’s Vineyard it could also be anaplasmosis (also called human granulocytic ehrlichiosis or HGE), babesiosis, deer tick encephalitis, Borrelia miyamotoi disease (BMD), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (although a widespread “spotty” rash usually develops), or tularemia. You could even have West Nile fever or another of the three or four mosquito transmitted viruses, although most of these are marked by a stiff neck. You could also just have the flu or enterovirus, and many of the listed signs and symptoms could be seen the day after too much merry making. Usually, though, unless you were truly naughty, debauchery-based symptoms would not persist more than a day.

Lyme disease is the most common of all of the tick-borne infections, perhaps 4-10 times more common, and should be at the top of the list for the Island doc’s differential diagnosis for anyone with fever, headache, etc. during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day). Some docs will just assume that it is Lyme disease and issue a prescription for 3-4 weeks of doxycycline or amoxicillin (for those who are in the sun a lot). Doxycycline will treat Lyme, anaplasmosis, BMD, spotted fever and tularemia and so even if the exact diagnosis is not made, the patient gets better and there is no harm done. If amoxicillin is given and it is not Lyme disease or BMD, patients will come back sick and that will prompt a further workup. Babesiosis is not treated by these antibiotics and requires specific oral drugs. Deer tick encephalitis and the mosquito-transmitted infections have no treatment, other than supportive care.

The M.V. Tick Borne Disease Initiative has a Medical Education Committee that has made great progress in continuing education for Island health care providers, and has advocated for a standardized approach to the “summer fever” patient. Such a standardized approach would include appropriate use of testing, presumptive treatment using doxycycline, aggressive follow-up, and reporting of all cases.

Visit the MV Tick Borne Disease Initiative website, sponsored by the Island-wide boards of health (www.mvboh.org) for tips on prevention.

Sam Telford is Professor of Infectious Disease and Global Health at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.

At the Edgartown Bridge Club at the Howes House on Monday, August 18, 10 tables were in play.  North-South winners Paul Howes and Bill Cline, followed by Barbara Besse and David Sokol in second, Diana Dozier and Gerry Averill in third, and Sandy and Michael Lindheimer in fourth. Finishing in first place East-West were Mollie Whalen and Joe Ashcroft, followed by Molly Mattoon and Judy Cronig in second, Carol Whitmarsh and Sari Lipkin in third, and Linda Smith and Louise Reed in fourth.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Bridge Club on Tuesday, August 19, nine tables were in play for a club championship. Finishing first overall were Bea Phear and Nancy Neil, followed by Barbara Besse and Sandy Lindheimer in second, Barbara McLagan and Rich Alpert in third, Michael Lindheimer and Bob Iadicicco in fourth, and John O’Keefe and Andrew Jacknain in fifth.  Also placing in the North-South direction were Sari Lipkin and Carol Whitmarsh in second place, Gerry Averill and Anita Persson in third, and Eric Stricoff and Rhonda Cohen in fourth.

At the Island Bridge Club in West Tisbury on Thursday August 21, seven tables were in play. In the North-South direction Ed Russell and Deirdre Ling finished first, followed by Bob Henry and Barbara Besse in second, and Foster Osborne and Charlie Harff in third.  East-West winners were Sandy and Michael Lindheimer, followed by Gerry Averill and Pamela Furtsch in second, and Carol Whitmarsh and Sari Lipkin in third.

At the Bridge Club of Martha’s Vineyard on Saturday August 23, seven tables were in play.  Finishing first North-South were Duncan Walton and Ann Brown, followed by Eric Stricoff and Rhonda Cohen in second, and Charity Randolph and Calvin Bass in third. East-West winners were Brook Robards and Jim Kaplan, followed by Hester Boxill and Charleyne Roberts-Hayden in second, and Tillie Foster and Emily Robertson in third.

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Lily Lubin, left, and Anna Marques.

Wondering where your friends and classmates from the class of 2014 are headed? Check out our interactive map to see graduates all over the globe.

Salutatorian Barra Peak.

Salutatorian Barra Peak. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Barra Peak

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

What elementary school did you go to?

Tisbury Elementary School.

Have you always lived on Martha’s Vineyard?

Yes.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school?

Force yourself to go outside your comfort zone — just a little bit — and try new things. Really make an effort to meet new people.

What are you most excited about right now?

Living in a city where there’s all kinds of things going on all the time.

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

The classes. MVRHS has some awesome teachers, which means there are lots of really, interesting, engaging classes in all the disciplines. I learned a ton!

What are your plans for the future? (For the fall: college, internship, job, travel, program, etc.)

I’m starting at Harvard College this fall.

Did you have a mentor, teacher, or family member that helped you in a large way during high school?

My mom was extremely helpful and influential during high school. Not only did she provide support when I was struggling or frustrated, she taught me most of what I know about writing. She taught me how to edit. Having that at home made high school much easier.

Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories from high school or even elementary school that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

Unfortunately not. I was usually the quiet kid observing from the sidelines. Nothing exceptionally funny or embarrassing happened to me.

What has been a highlight of your summer so far?

Working at Camp Jabberwocky. I got roped in to be a counselor at the last minute (totally unplanned, at least by me) and it ended up being a great experience. I met a lot of really cool people.

If you are leaving, what will you miss most?

The water! And trees, and wind. Living in a city, I won’t have access to any of them.

Avery-Lazes.JPGAvery Lazes

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

What elementary school did you go to?

Marthas Vineyard Public Charter School.

Have you always lived on MV?

I moved from Long Island New York when I was 4.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school?

Focus on your academic classes but find electives that you enjoy so you can really enjoy going to school.

What are you most excited about right now?

I am currently most excited about two things. I’m a volunteering for my first time at camp jabberwocky and am having an incredible experience and I am also a month away from starting my first year at berklee college of music in Boston which I am also extremely excited about.

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

Without a doubt my favorite times in high school were my classes in the culinary arts department as well as the music department.

Did you have a mentor, teacher or family member that helped you in a large way during high school?

Lots of people helped me in high school but I’d say that the people that helped me the most while actually in school were Jack O’Malley (culinary arts teacher) and Mike Tinus (music teacher).

Charlotte Benjamin.

Charlotte Benjamin. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Charlotte Benjamin

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

What elementary school did you go to?

I went to the Edgartown school until fourth grade and then moved to West Tisbury.

Have you always lived on MV?

Yes.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school? (What tips would you give underclassmen?)

Popularity seemed so important my freshman year. I wish I hadn’t cared so much about what everyone else thought, I think it held me back socially. Also if you’re going to be late to school in the morning, you might as well go out to breakfast.

What are you most excited about right now?

Moving to New York City to go to college next month!

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

I had the opportunity to do a senior project in the last semester of my senior year. I wrote and recorded my own album and uploaded it to bandcamp and soundcloud. The senior project program at the high school gives you so much freedom to be creative and do something you love, I was surprised at how few students took advantage of it.

What are your plans for the future? (For the fall: college, internship, job, travel, program, etc.)

Marymount Manhattan College! Wooh!

Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories from high school or even elementary school that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

The Powderpuff games at the high school are usually pretty heavily attended. I remember going my freshman year and accidentally tripping over an upperclassman’s foot in the stands, stumbling, trying to catch my balance for about 30 feet and finally falling flat on my face. The worst part was everyone in the stands had a perfect view of the incident and there was a chorus of sympathetic ‘ooh’s’ all in perfect unison as soon as I hit the ground.

What has been a highlight of your summer so far?

I’ve been playing so much music this summer with Elijah Berlow and Zoe Zeeman. We’ve been doing gigs at bars and restaurants, even some private parties. It’s crazy to me that there are people that will give you money to do something you love with your friends.

Shane Metters, left, and father Garry Metters.

Shane Metters, left, and father Garry Metters. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Shane Metters

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

What elementary school did you attend?

I went to the Tisbury School from kindergarten all the way to high school.

Have you always lived on the Vineyard?

I moved down to the Vineyard after spending the first few months of my life in my grandmother’s apartment in Bar Harbor Maine.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school? (What tips would you give underclassmen?)

For advice, I would tell underclassmen to take in as much knowledge as they can while they’re still young and don’t be afraid to try something you may think could be a blast.

What are you most excited about right now?

At this very minute I’m most excited about finally getting this barge into Vineyard Haven after a long ride from Cuttyhunk. I’m also extremely happy to be moving on in my next chapter to see what life has to offer.

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

What I enjoyed most from high school was being around such a great group of kids who are all into something completely different from one another and to know that they supported each other even if they barely knew them.

What are your plans for the future? (For the fall: college, internship, job, travel, program, etc.)

For the future, in 2 weeks I’m headed to massachusetts maritime academy located right in Bourne to continue an education for my passion for the water.

Did you have a mentor, teacher or family member that helped you in a large way during high school?

John Packer has been a mentor to me since I was about 10 years old. He taught me how to operate heavy machinery and to handle barges in all types of situations.

What has been a highlight of your summer so far?

The highlight of my summer has been being around such great people who care for you in every which way. I have to say I’ll miss a lot of the faces I’m used to seeing everyday but am excited to meet new ones down the road.

Sam Permar was the master of ceremony.

Sam Permar

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

What elementary school did you attend?

I went to the West Tisbury School from kindergarten until 5th grade, and the Oak Bluffs School for middle school.

Have you always lived on the Vineyard?

I’ve lived on the island since I was one year old- I was born in West Chester, PA, but my family moved here seventeen years ago.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school?

I would tell myself four years ago not to try so hard to fit within a certain group of people- I think that the happiest people are those who are open to everyone. It took me a couple of years in high school to figure that out.

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

I enjoyed getting closer with different people every year due to the shifting classes and schedules each year. Every year, I met new people that I am still very close with. I might not have even met them if I didn’t encounter them in those classes or activities.

What are your plans for the future? (For the fall: college, internship, job, travel, program, etc.)

This fall, I’ll attend New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where I’ll be studying acting in the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, a studio that is based on Strasberg’s acting techniques. I’m incredibly excited to be going to Tisch- it’s been my dream since I knew what college was. My schedule includes acting training three days a week on a 9-5 schedule and academic classes on the remaining two days, and that is exactly what I want as a college student throughout the next four years. I’m also so thrilled to be living right in New York City, immersed in city life.

What tips would you give underclassmen?

My advice for underclassmen is that when thinking about colleges, it’s not just about how good you look on paper and what your GPA is- it’s also about who you are as a person and what you’ve experienced to get you to where you are now.

Lacerda-Teles-Geddis.JPGKeilla Geddis

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

Which elementary school did you attend?

I went to the Charter School.

Have you always lived on the Vineyard?

Yes, I have always lived on MV.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school?

The best advice I could give would be to take your time. Its always exciting to rush into being in the next year above. But then high school flies by fast and you end up missing it. And also be yourself, you’ll make your own friends without trying to act like someone else just ‘cause you look up to them. Enjoy your friends, and take advantage of the education you’re given. Because you’ll look back on it, and when you do you’ll want to appreciate it.

What are you most excited about right now?

Right now I’m most excited to start beauty school. I want to learn everything.

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

While I was in high school I really enjoyed being with my friends the most. I liked study halls, art class, and personal training.

What are your plans for the future? (For the fall: college, internship, job, travel, program, etc.)

My future plans right now are to get through beauty school, go to college in California. Possibly open up salon after a couple years. And major in interior decor.

Did you have a mentor, teacher or family member that helped you in a large way during high school?

I had a teacher,  Mrs. Norton. She helped me tremendously. And I could never thank her enough.

What has been a highlight of your summer so far?

The highlight of my summer so far I would say is just working and making money and modeling.

What will you miss most about Martha’s Vineyard?

What I will miss most when I leave is the beautiful summer setting. I love my island, it’s my home.

Lily Lubin, left, and Anna Marques.

Lily Lubin, left, and Anna Marques. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Lily Lubin

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

What elementary school did you go to?

I went to the Charter School from 4th grade on. Before that, I moved around schools in Boston and Newton.

Have you always lived on MV?

No, I lived here until I was 5, then I moved to Boston for 3 years. I came back the summer before my 4th grade year.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school? (What tips would you give underclassmen?)

I would tell myself to try different things, classes, sports, musicals, clubs. I definitely did sports and the musicals freshman year but clubs are fun and you get to find out what you like. Also talk to your teachers, reach out. It doesn’t matter if people think it’s weird you’re friends with a teacher, the teachers of MVRHS have had wonderful amazing lives, and it would be great to hear stories and learn from them outside of class.

What are you most excited about right now?

I’m really excited to go off to college in 2 weeks. It’s a big step and I’m moving (back) to Boston. After 9 years on the Vineyard, the change is going to be nice, but it’s still close to home.

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

I really loved talking to the teachers during breaks or before classes, you really got to know a lot about them and they’ve done lots of cool things. I think I spent more time this last year in Ms. Kurtz’s room than the cafeteria.

What are your plans for the future? (For the fall: college, internship, job, travel, program, etc.)

I’m going to Emerson College this fall to study Film. I want to be a director in the movie business. It’s a big dream but film is my passion and college is meant for you to learn what you love.

Did you have a mentor, teacher, or family member that helped you in a large way during high school?

I had a couple of teachers that really helped. Mr. Sawyer actually helped me discover my love for film and we could always chat about movies. Mr. Wilson was also very important, he helped me with assignments even after I moved up from his class. And Ms. Kurtz, I started Freshman year with her by my side as an Oompa- Loompa and we just became friends.( Those were the three people I had write my recommendation letter, you don’t have to say all three)

Do you have any funny or embarrassing stories from high school or even elementary school that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

Well I was awkward all throughout high school, so I have lots of stories. A favorite was when I was an Oompa Loompa in the Willy Wonka musical freshman year. During the teaser performance I had to do a cartwheel in front of the whole school and my wig fell off. There was silence and then I heard somebody yell “HER WIG FELL OFF.” Everyone started laughing, and I laughed too.

What has been a highlight of your summer so far?

I went to Disney World with my best friend Ina Thigith as a celebration for graduating. It was a great week and I love Disney so much.

If you are leaving, what will you miss most? Also, where is your favorite place to be on the island?

I’ll miss my teachers and mentors, my cat, my wonderfully vast movie collection (sadly I cannot bring them all with me.) And of course my family. I don’t have one favorite place on the island, but I love the outdoor tables at Mocha Motts. It’s always fun to get a Peach Iced Tea (ask for iced tea with peach syrup) and chat with a friend.

Jesse Herman

Graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014

What elementary school did you go to?

I went to Edgartown Elementary School

Have you always lived on MV?

My mother moved to Martha’s Vineyard from Brooklyn, NY when I was a baby because she thought I would have a better life here.

What advice would you give yourself four years ago, when you were first entering high school? (What tips would you give underclassmen?)

I would just tell them that anything that you do in high school will be dwarfed by your accomplishments as an adult or as a contributing member of society. Don’t take everything too seriously. There was a lot of ridiculous drama that in the end was meaningless and stupid. I hate to say it but by the time its all over is when you really figure everything out.  Work hard and get good grades, and remember its just high school.

What are you most excited about right now?

I am excited to move into my dorm and start college.

What did you enjoy most during your time in high school?

I enjoyed the friends I made and a lot of the teachers I had. There are some fantastic teachers at M.V.R.H.S

What are your plans for the future? (For the fall: college, internship, job, travel, program, etc.)

I am going to go to college at S.U.N.Y Albany in the fall.

What has been a highlight of your summer so far?

The highlight of my summer was seeing Derek Jeter play one last time at Yankee Stadium

If you are leaving, what will you miss most?

It will be hard to miss the island because it is part of what I am. I have lived in Edgartown for over 15 years. I carry that with me everywhere I go and I will never forget the places I used to hang out as a kid.

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Martha's Vineyard superintendent of schools James H. Weiss.

The Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools are ready to open for students on Thursday, September 4, after a busy summer of hiring, planning, and facilities projects.

Unlike last year, the superintendent’s office in Vineyard Haven is fully staffed and ready for opening day. At this point last year, we were still awaiting the selection and arrival of a new assistant superintendent, director of student support services, and early childhood coordinator. Thankfully, those positions were filled during the year with Matt D’Andrea as the assistant superintendent, Phil Campbell as the new director of student support services, and Midge Jacobs and Alecia Barnes sharing the early childhood duties.

The big changes this year are at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), where we have an almost totally new leadership team. Leading MVRHS will be Gilbert Traverso, who comes to the Island from Springfield where he was the principal of the Putnam Academy. Joining Andrew Berry as an assistant principal will be long-time science teacher Elliott Bennett. The school’s new special education director is Nancy Dugan, who replaces Will Verbits. Nancy worked in Barnstable for many years and comes to the Island from Mashpee, where she served as assistant special education director. Finally, replacing Robert Drobneck as vocational director is Ty Hobbs, who traveled all the way from Alaska to head our vocational programs.

Guidance director Michael McCarthy and technology director Woody Filley will need to provide the historical perspective to their fellow teammates, based upon their many years of service to the students of the Vineyard.

Over the summer, we replaced roofs on the Tisbury and Chilmark Schools, moved several shared services programs to new locations, and did some renovations at the high school. We also purchased two new off-Island buses as well as several smaller special education buses. The process for replacing the superintendent’s office is moving forward with the selection of an owner’s project manager (OPM) and the investigation of various methods of construction – modular or stick-built, for example.

In the curriculum and instruction area, we are moving forward with the shift from MCAS to PARCC testing at the elementary level as well as the continued implementation of the new educator evaluation system. Elementary schools across the Island will all offer a full year of honors algebra to capable eighth graders, as well as pre-algebra to many more. This will have an impact upon the high school in years to come and is the result of many years of work. World language has also seen renewed emphasis at the elementary level with a more structured Spanish program. At the high school, Portuguese returns as an offering as we phase out German, and the nursing assistant program continues to grow into a full Chapter 74-approved program.

This year is special because in November there will be an election for the members of the Up-Island Regional School District school committee, which only happens every four years.

As I was preparing my comments for the opening convocation at the Performing Arts Center on September 2, I came across some interesting facts about the superintendent’s office that were researched a few years ago by Chris Baer, the high school’s art, technology, and design department chairman. These facts show how far we have come. Before 1895, each town on the Island not only had its own school, but its own superintendent. The first Island-wide superintendent of schools was Clifton Alden Snell of Edgartown, who served from 1895 to 1900. It is my pleasure to carry on that tradition and serve as the Island’s superintendent for my 10th year.

Superintendent James Weiss was hired to lead the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools in 2005.