Highs and lows from last week: Parade organizers, Auth appointment and more

Highs and lows from last week: Parade organizers, Auth appointment and more

(High) Jeff and Beth Frenette get to work just their daytime job for the next month or so until their second job kicks in again — coordinating the annual Westerly-Pawcatuck Columbus Day Parade. The Frenettes took on the heavy lifting from longtime leader Joe Potter, who remains president of the Permanent Columbus Day Parade Committee. The work to line up all those bands and entertainers that make this the biggest parade in the region is nearly a year-round effort. From wooing big names — like singer Billy Gilman this year — to taking care of the small details, it’s Columbus Day nearly every day for the Frenettes.


(High) A Bulldog is going Charger green, but it’s all good. The Chariho School Committee last week named Gerald Auth, 37, as director of Chariho Tech. Auth is a Westerly native and still lives here with his wife and family though he’s been serving as director of the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center for the past six years. A Westerly High School standout athlete and son of a popular Westerly physician, Auth is known to many in the region. He starts his new job Oct. 23. “He brings a wealth of experience,” Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said. “He can hit the ground running. He’s local. He lives in Westerly, so he has a commitment to the region.”


(Low) With a complete redesign of the elementary schools at stake — in addition to regular operations of a school district — the Westerly School Committee will have a full agenda for the foreseeable future. It’s too bad then that last week board chair Diane Chiaradio Bowdy, Patricia Panciera went into attack mode on Gina Fuller, the committee’s vocal opponent to last year’s redesign proposal rejected by voters in November. To believe that one member had such sway over so many voters is a tough call to make. The details of the project, which called for the closing of State Street School in the heart of town, were out there for all to judge. The voters made their decision. “I want to move forward but what you did is wrong,” Chiaradio said to Fuller. For the sake of students and families, we hope the full board is truly ready to move on to the next plan.


(Low) We hope cooler heads prevail regarding the Westerly Middle School project in which students shop for food to fill holiday baskets for area families. The project may get the axe from superintendent Mark Garceau or he may simply recommend a different approach. He feels the project takes students away from their core studies for too long. Proponents say the planning, budgeting, assembling and distribution teaches students several lessons including compassion and awareness of those less fortunate. It’s a project that should continue, at the very least in some form of its current iteration.


(High) What a great idea for a community birthday celebration for Westerly Library and Wilcox Park on Saturday. Event organizers had a massive cake made by Ocean House bakers, large enough for 1,000 slices. With games for kids, musical entertainment for adults, a park-wide happy birthday sing-a-long led by the Chorus of Westerly — and did we mention cake — this was a great way to continue the year long celebration of one of the community’s best and most important assets. And after all it’s not often you get to attend a 125th birthday party.


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