Shrewsbury – Douglas and Judith Adair, with their children Amy and Alex, arrived in the United States for the first time in 1998 when Douglas’s work brought them here from England for 16 months. Judith said they were excited to return in 2001 when her husband’s work brought them back to the United States. The family officially declared this country “home” when Douglas and Judith became United States citizens in January.
“After 10 years green cards are renewed,” Judith said. “At any time they can choose not to renew them. We’ve made a life here and wanted to stay, be part of the U.S., and make it permanent so we applied for citizenship.”
An immigration lawyer helped them navigate the five-month process and gather the required information, which Judith described as very detailed, including all travel outside the United States since they moved here; where they went, when, and the duration of each trip.
“We had to provide information on our parents, our full background, fingerprints, and were given 100 citizenship questions to study,” Judith said. “We had a booklet and a CD to study. I listened to the CD in the car every day and Douglas and I quizzed each other.”
Judith, a secretary at Spring Street School in Shrewsbury, enlisted the help of the fourth graders.
“Each class was given 25 of the questions and I asked them to quiz me,” she said. “I thought it would be a good idea because immigration is part of the fourth-grade curriculum so we all could be learning together. They were very excited. I made one visit to each classroom and each student asked one of the questions. I got them all correct.”
The next step was an interview and the test.
“During separate interviews we were asked questions about our background and our intentions in the United States,” Judith said. “Out of the 100 questions we studied, we were asked 10 and had to answer six correctly. After the interview, you are told whether or not you are being recommended for citizenship.
“Our own kids, Amy, 25, and Alex, 22, were very proud of us. They were 11 and 8 years old when we moved here and they plan to become citizens as well. We definitely have a feeling of permanency. All of our family is still in England and Scotland but they understand why we want to be here. We became citizens during a ceremony at Mechanics Hall with 85 countries represented and more than 500 people.”
The fourth-graders at her school were very excited to find out they had been approved to become citizens.
On her first day to work as a United States citizen, Judith arrived to a large American Flag made with students’ handprints, signs, patriotic decorations and traditional American foods made by colleagues. She received many emails and cards from students and parents celebrating her citizenship.
“Every student handed me a little flag and two classes sang ‘Proud to be an American’ to me,” she said. “It became a real community affair at school and it was a very patriotic event. I was surprised at how emotional I felt. I am very proud to be a citizen of the country I have called home for the last 14 years. My children have been educated here from elementary through college so we have all made a life here. I also feel more a member of our community as I am now able to vote on issues that affect me and my family.”]]>
Marlborough – Watching a history lesson come to life can be a magical, entertaining and educational experience. Actor Kyle Blanchette treated the third-grade students at the Francis J. Kane Elementary School to a live theatrical performance April 14, portraying Benjamin Franklin from the time he was a child through his senior years.
“I love what I do because I get to work with young children each day and truly inspire them,” Blanchette said. “This is important … as all of these shows are about historical figures. The students get to really understand that there is not really a difference between themselves and these people that we hold on pedestals if they are willing to read and educate themselves and become better members of American society.”
Benjamin Franklin is known for many things. He was an important founding father, a tradesman, inventor, diplomat, scientist and politician.
Through costume, wig and voice changes, Blanchette, who is from Young Audiences of Massachusetts, took the audience through the life of Benjamin Franklin. The program began with a journey back to the year 1787. As the youngest child of 16 brothers and sisters, young Benjamin lived in a rather rambunctious household. His father was a candlestick maker and did rather well financially.
At the age of 10, Franklin joined his father at his shop and helped contribute to the family. He hated the smell and the hard work. He knew he needed to learn a trade and make a living so he joined his older brother at his print shop. He mastered the art of writing and printing but set sail aboard a ship heading to Philadelphia at the age of 17.
In his early 20s, Franklin opened his own printing shop and printed the “Pennsylvania Gazette.” He married his wife, Debra and had three children. He opened the first free school library and organized the local fire department. He invented the Philadelphia Fireplaces, which gave more heat while burning less wood.
“During the American Revolution, his advice was sought after,” Blanchette said. “He was so beloved, that when he died at the age of 84 in the year 1790, there were 20,000 people at his funeral.”
During his lifetime, Franklin also experimented with electricity after noticing the charges that were in the stormy skies. Using this information, Franklin invented the lightning rod, which helps protect homes today from lightning strikes.
To demonstrate this to his audience, Blanchette used a Van de Graaff generator, an electrostatic machine, to show a charge moving a piece of yarn, tape or other small items.
Some of the lesser known things he invented include swim fins, bifocal reading glasses and the first battery. He also designed the first American paper money and printed it.
When the program concluded, the students got a chance to ask questions. When asked about his face on the $100 bill, Blanchette said: “He was one of our most important founding fathers.”
The program was sponsored by funds from the Kane Parent-Teacher Organization and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
For more information about Young Audiences of Massachusetts, visit yamass.org.]]>
Region – Avidia Bank recently donated $1,000 to the Mark Fidrych Foundation to further their mission of enhancing the lives of children and adults with disabilities or special need through sports and sports education.
Avidia Bank is a $1.2 billion mutual community bank, headquartered in Hudson, with branches in Hudson, Westborough, Clinton, Leominster, Marlborough, Northborough and Shrewsbury.]]>
Marlborough – Rotary District 7910 District Governor Mary Valentine Callahan announced that humanitarian Deepa Willingham will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Rotary District Conference at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Marlborough, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 15-17.
Willingham is a naturalized citizen of the United States, born and brought up in Calcutta, India, where she obtained her primary (under the stewardship of her teacher Mother Teresa), secondary and undergraduate educations in Calcutta and graduate degrees in the U.S.
An active Rotarian, Willingham served as district governor for Rotary District 5240 in 2010-2011 and is the past president of the Rotary Club of Santa Ynez Valley, being named as the Rotarian of the Year during her year as President and being honored by many other humanitarian awards from both the Rotary and non-Rotary world.
She is the founder of PACE Universal, a U.S. literacy and holistic village rehabilitation. It is her aspiration to make the first PACE Learning Center be a model for duplication around the world.
Her passion for education dates back to the 1960s, when Willingham served as lecturer and was a teacher/coordinator of special educational programs for the federally funded Upward Bound program. She was involved with educating ‘at risk’ high school students from the inner city and was a founding board member of Cornerstone House of Santa Barbara, an organization dedicated to non-institutionalized care and education of severely handicapped children.
Over the past 11 years, much of her time and personal resources have been dedicated to the founding and developing of the Piyali Learning Centre (PLC) outside of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India, as a means to counteract child trafficking, through education of female children and empowerment of women.]]>
Southborough – Wildlife biologist Rebecca Watters, a Southborough native and graduate of Algonquin Regional High School, came back to her hometown April 16 to give a presentation about her experience and studies on wolverines at the Southborough Community House. Watters currently lives in Bozeman, Mont., and goes on yearly expeditions to the northern Mongolian mountains where she conducts extensive research on these rare animals.
Wolverines are an elusive species, according to Watters, and it has proven to be a difficult task for researchers to fully comprehend their traits and lifestyle. Their habitats lie in cold secluded regions and they depend on the deep spring snow to build their dens. Watters explained that wolverines are members of the weasel family, with the ability to disperse up to 500 miles and defend territories up to 500 square miles. Although these mammals generally weigh up to 30 pounds they have the tenacity to hunt and kill a full-grown moose, making them one of the toughest animals in North America.
Watters received a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Saint Lawrence University, served in the Peace Corps for two and half years in Mongolia, and attended graduate school for environmental science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. While
doing her master’s research on wolves in the Greater Yellowstone, one of Watter’s contacts invited her on a wolverine field expedition. She was intrigued and agreed to hike high up in the Absaroka Mountains.
“The first night out, a wolverine came into our camp, which in and of itself was astonishing,” said Watters. “There are wolverine biologists who work on the species for decades and never see one in the wild.”
The wolverine ended up spending over 10 minutes in the campsite. It was a combination of that experience, being in the elevated snowy wilderness, and the fact that these species are poorly understood and hard to study that inspired Watters to take on the challenge of researching wolverines.
Watters found out that there was an unstudied population within Mongolia and in April of 2013, National Geographic sponsored a five-person expedition to the country’s mountains. In the course of 23 days, Watters and her companions trekked approximately 230 miles in an ecosystem that proved to have many challenges, including frozen lakes and snow that was well above their waists. Despite the hardships the team was able to locate 28 sets of wolverine tracks, collected 33 samples of DNA, and found remains of elk and birds that
were eaten by wolverines.
One of the challenges this species currently faces is the increasing temperatures, melting the snow that wolverines depend on. Wolverines have a low reproductive rate, giving birth to only one or two kits every other year, and have been nominated for the endangered species list several times. Watters strives to spread knowledge and preserve the lives of these creatures.
“The next generation of biologists have a big task ahead of them with … the rising climate change,” Watters noted. “It’s also important for people to appreciate the outdoors and species that are a part of it.”
For more information, visit The Wolverine Foundation at wolverinefoundation.org.
Grafton – During its April 21 meeting, the Grafton Board of Selectmen again reviewed the proposed articles to be included in the warrant for the Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, May 11.
Proposed Article 33 would have dealt with taking $150,000 from the Stabilization Fund and adding it to the Comprehensive Master Plan and Economic Development Plan. However, after a discussion it was suggested that the town has more work to do before it can update the Master Plan, last done in 2000. Selectman Dennis Flynn wanted to proceed with this article but both Chair Brook Padgett and Selectman Bruce Spinney did not. Town Administrator Timothy McInerney commented that he’d recommend a meeting between the selectmen, the Planning Board, and other interested boards before updating the Master Plan. David Robbins, the chair of the Planning Board was in attendance and also recommended not proceeding at this time. The board then voted unanimously to delete this article from the May Town Meeting.
Also at the meeting, the board welcomed State Rep. David Muradian, R-Grafton, and thanked him for his work on creating an annual state budget more favorable to Grafton.
In other business, a meeting to consider reclassifying just over four acres at 79 Old Upton Road under state Law 61a was postponed to Tuesday, May 5. A representative of Parker Environmental gave an update of the Follette Street Monitoring Project in which he said pollution was slowly decreasing at the site, with a 75 percent decrease in the past seven years.
McInerney recommended that Jessica Gomez be appointed as treasurer/collector; that external candidate Nichole Larsen be appointed Planning Board administrative assistant; and that Jayne Zwicker of the Conservation Commission be appointed administrative assistant to the town clerk. All positions were confirmed unanimously by the Selectmen. Finally, Lindsey Fox was appointed to the Grafton Cultural Council.]]>
Tickets are $10 each and be purchased at the door, at the In Your Shoes table at the Westborough Spring Festival on May 2, from Tom Potosnak at the Spring Festival (he will be performing there are 11 a.m.), or by email at email@example.com.
For more information about the show, visit www.tompotosnak.com. For more information about In Your Shoes, visit www.inyourshoeswestborough.com.
Free, but registration is required. To register or for more information, visit www.sudburyvalleytrustees.org or call 978-443-5588.