News in Brief
Postage rates go up on Sunday
An increase in postal rates goes into effect Sunday, with prices going up across the board for all services by about 5.4 percent.
The price of a stamp for a one-ounce first class letter rises from 37 cents to 39 cents and a postcard from 23 cents to 24 cents. The cost of mailing packages weighing one pound by Priority Mail will increase from $3.85 to $4.05. The postal service web site at www.usps.com lists all of the changes.
According to a statement from the U.S. Postal Service, its governors voted for the rate increase in order to comply with a federal law passed in 2003. That law requires the postal service to establish a $3.1 billion escrow account, with the use of the funds to be determined by Congress at a later date. Postal officials stated that without this federal mandate, the 2006 rate increase, which is the first since 2002, would not have been necessary.
Regional High School alums pave way to college nod
Although April, when most high school seniors hear from colleges, is three months away, some Martha's Regional High School (MVRHS) seniors have begun to receive letters of acceptance from colleges and universities of their choice, according to school officials.
Michael McCarthy, high school guidance director, said Vineyard students have already won acceptance to two- and four-year schools across the country, including the University of Colorado in Boulder, Drew University in New Jersey, Northeastern, and Holy Cross.
Peg Regan, MVRHS principal, said the success of Vineyard students in gaining early acceptance reflects the involvement of students, parents and the community in providing the best educational package. This year's senior class will also be helped by the accomplishments of earlier Island students she said.
"It has been my experience that when a college has a very good experience with a student from a certain high school that they will then look more closely at other students from that high school," she said. "So our students are doing us a great service by not only getting into good schools but also by paving the way for the next group of kids."
This Friday afternoon the school will host a meeting in the performing arts center with recent graduates and ask them to share their experiences and tips with the members of the senior class. Students will not be the only ones benefiting from the experience of recent graduates. Ms. Regan and Mr. McCarthy will also speak with the former students. "We get lots of good feedback about what helped kids succeed and what did not," Ms. Regan said.
While he said he had no specifics about how many students had received early acceptance, Mr. McCarthy credits the level of achievement to the students. Many excel not just in academics but also participate and excel in the arts, athletics, and music, and volunteer in the community. "We have some very strong, talented, hard-working, focused kids who care about their education," he said. "They strive and they produce in a lot of areas."
Tularemia forum offers information and Vineyard study results
A public lecture and forum about tularemia on Martha's Vineyard will offer information about the disease and provide an update to Islanders who have been participating in a research study to develop a vaccine.
The event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 5:30 in the Baylies room at the Whaling Church on Main Street in Edgartown. The forum is open to the public and is free. Refreshments will be served.
Tularemia, sometimes called rabbit fever, is a potentially fatal disease caused by the Francisella tularensis bacterium. Over the past several years, an unusually high number of pneumonic (airborne) tularemia cases have been diagnosed on the Vineyard.
Small wild animals, mainly rabbits, carry the bacteria that cause the disease. Pneumonic tularemia is thought to occur when bacteria from an infected animal becomes airborne when the dead animal or ground around it is stirred up during mowing, brushcutting, or excavating. During recent Island outbreaks, landscapers and brushcutters were advised to wear masks while working outside.
Last year, representatives from the Epivax, a Providence, R.I. biotechnology company began conducting a Vineyard-based study to develop a tularemia vaccine, sponsored by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Twenty-six Islanders have been participating in the study over the past year by providing blood samples.
Julie McMurray, Epivax project manager, is returning to host an event similar to last year's, along with Dan Rivera, associate director of molecular biology at Epivax. "The overall information we have now about tularemia is enormous, compared to even two years ago," Mr. Rivera said. "We have a good idea of what the disease is and how to combat it.
In addition to providing basic information about the disease and answering questions, Mr. Rivera and Ms. McMurray will provide an update on the Vineyard study. "The results we're getting are very interesting," he said, and may lead Epivax to request an unfunded extension of the study beyond its tentative termination date of September 2007.
Ms. McMurray and Mr. Rivera also will discuss a request from the National Institutes of Health asking Epivax to collect tularemia samples for other researchers, as well. "For a researcher to be able to get samples from such a controlled environment like the Island, it is such a valuable resource," Mr. Rivera said. "The studies are a benefit for the Island in the long run."
Scott Campbell nominated for 2006 Disney award
Scott Campbell, an art teacher at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, has been nominated for the 2006 Disney Teacher of the Year Award. Mr. Campbell's nomination recognizes success and creativity in the classroom.
Since 1989, Disney Teacher Awards have been presented to teachers who construct learning environments where students and teachers alike explore, imagine, and engage in a variety of stimulating ideas and experiences, according to Disney officials.
"Sixteen years ago, we started celebrating local heroes by establishing the annual Disney Awards to celebrate and honor America's finest educators," Terry Wick, vice president of Disney Worldwide Outreach, said in a press statement. "This nomination process shows thousands of teachers across the country how much their work means to their students, colleagues, and communities."
"We are very fortunate to have an Island community that supports the arts through the commitment of resources and time, year after year, " a delighted Mr. Campbell said this week.
Mr. Campbell must now submit an application to the Disney committee established to consider the candidates. The application must include several essays describing his classroom and approach to teaching, the impact of high stakes testing, how he approaches collaboration in his school and career, and a description of an event that shaped him as a teacher. The honorees will be announced in late spring and celebrated at a gala in July. Four will be selected as outstanding teachers, and one will be named the 2006 Disney Teacher of the Year.