To not condemn is to condone
Last Saturday was an inspiring display of solidarity outside of Wallingford’s Town Hall, as our community rallied behind a group of brave Asian-Americans who shared their personal experiences with hate.
While I commend Mayor Dickinson for attending, it is what he did not say that bothers me. When he began to speak, several pickups full of counter-protestors disrupted proceedings by revving their engines and yelling profanities.
There was no ambiguity about who these people were, they proudly flew their Trump flags, and yet the myor continued with his prepared speech as if nothing was happening. As the local leader of the Republican Party for almost four decades, it is Dickinson’s moral obligation to condemn these acts for what they are — acts of hate — but when handed the opportunity to directly address these fringe members of his own party, he did nothing.
I do not believe these individuals represent the majority of Republicans or even the majority of Trump voters, but silence from elected officials is precisely what gives them the confidence to commit these brazen acts of bigotry.
For an example of how a leader should rise to the occasion, look no further than the response of William Tong, state Attorney General. The agitators returned during his speech, but rather than ignore them, Tong acknowledged what had occurred. He condemned their actions without hesitation, reflecting on how the moment serves as a poignant reminder of what it is like to be a minority everyday.
While a rebuke from Mayor Dickinson may now be too little too late, it would still be better than silence. Given the last 38 years of silence, however, I will not hold my breath. Instead, I draw hope from the courage displayed by the event’s young organizers, and their demands for a better future.
Riley O'Connell, WallingfordGrant support
My name is Gage Rovelli and I am a Junior at Coginchaug High School and I received a grant from Coginchaug Education Foundation (CVEF). I would like to take this time to thank CVEF for providing generous support and to tell you a little about what I did with this opportunity.
The grant afforded me and other student volunteers the opportunity to offer RSD-13 students FREE math tutoring during the summers of 2019 and 2020. Our Math Tutoring Program focused on rising 7th graders but evolved into helping all students during the pandemic. It was run by Coginchaug Regional High School (CRHS) student volunteers and taught students on a one-to-one basis. The tutoring was provided through 30-minute sessions both in-person and via zoom. Over both summers, 24 CRHS tutors taught 52 RSD-13 students and donated over 180 hours of FREE math tutoring.
The grant allowed us to educate future local scholars and funded all the materials that we needed to do so. It also allowed each volunteer to obtain educational experience by way of teaching these students and helping them advance their skills in mathematics and hopefully even have a little fun.
Our Math Tutoring Program will run again this summer thanks to the running start provided to us by CVEF and their grant program. CVEF is continuing to give out grants for other organizations as well. CVEF will open up their 13th grant season on March 1 with applications due on May 1st.
You can find the application by going to their website: www.coginchaugvef.org. Thanks for reading about my experience with CVEF and most of all thanks to CVEF for helping our communities!
Gage Rovelli, DurhamFocus on the positive
I encourage school districts to focus on positivity in their schools. Mental health has always been a large and at times overlooked issue both in schools and outside of schools, and the pandemic has only made things worse.
When I was a student at Sheehan (2014-2018, and four other Wallingford schools since preschool prior to that), I saw at times students would become callous toward these issues the more they heard about them. While I do not in any way believe that schools should stop talking about mental health, I encourage school districts across the country to focus on positive student-to-student interactions.
There are a variety of ways schools could accomplish this, and some of them will have to vary based on the age of the students. In elementary schools, teachers can put a large emphasis on random acts of kindness. Similar strategies can be employed with older students, and there can be programs to recognize students that go above and beyond in showing school spirit. When I was at Moran, I coordinated to display artwork of students in the main hallway, and that had a positive impact on the students who saw it.
As a town, we need to be united in a vision that engages all stakeholders to share what is positive in our schools. Thank you.
Rajan Doering, Wallingford