August 23, 2017

Old Lyme’s Children’s Learning Center Creates a Delicious ‘Edible Garden’

The OLCLC Edible Garden is thriving.

The cold start to the month of June may have had many gardeners worried about their harvest. Thanks to the pro bono labor of Anu Koiv, the children of the Old Lyme Children’s Learning Center (OLCLC) have already been enjoying fruits and vegetables from their thriving edible garden.

Anu Koiv not only works pro bono on the edible garden, but also on the beds that surround the OLCLC.

“Not only do the kids get to learn about eating healthy foods, but they learn about sustainability and how to manage their own garden,” says Alison Zanardi, director of the OLCLC. It is not very often that preschoolers have the opportunity to interact with a garden and a myriad of different fruits and vegetables like this one. The kids can interact with the plants in the sensory garden, feeling and smelling different tantalizing plants, like mint, cacti and more.

Vegetables patiently waiting to be picked by the preschoolers.

Preschoolers are free to walk around the garden during their time outside and select whatever food that they choose from their luscious garden. Kale chips, fresh tomatoes, blueberries, and strawberries are often enjoyed as snacks.

More vegetables in the Edible Garden that are ‘ripe for the picking’ by the preschoolers.

Anu Koiv is the mastermind behind the garden, and the staff and students are all extremely appreciative of the work she has done.  Not only is she building a garden for the benefit of the preschooler’s education, but also to benefit the wildlife who will be inhabiting the garden. “We’re inviting nature back into the landscape of the courtyard. Each and every plant has ornamental and food value,” notes Koiv.

Pike’s Playground is named in honor of Connie Pike, founder of the OLCLC.  Children can interact with plants in the sensory garden.

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Lyme-Old Lyme Graduates Told, “Go Off … Save the World,’ But Know, ‘Old Lyme Will Forever Welcome You Home’

The traditional cap toss rounded off a special evening celebrating the Class of 2017.

It was a truly beautiful June evening last Thursday as 118 students received their high school diplomas along with the privilege of calling themselves alumni of Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS.) Principal James Wygonik, class advisor Brett Eckhart, and four empowering students reflected in different ways on the class’s past four years at LOLHS.

Lyme-Old Lyme High School Principle Jim Wygonik told the Class of 2017 they had made the school “An even better place.”

Wygonik recalled the Class of 2017 as one never to be put down nor to sidestep a challenge. He described how, when told that public prom proposals would no longer be permitted this year as in some cases they could be upsetting, the class dutifully complied on the personal level, but, on the group level, took matters into their own hands. In a very public event, a large group of class members proceeded to invite him to the prom!  Wygonik said that inspired response demonstrated, “The culture you have fostered,” and as a result, that day, “Our school became an even better place.”

Class of 2017 Adviser Brett Eckart proudly wears the Class of 2017 pin with which he displaced the one for the Class of 2005.

Brett Eckart, who served as Class of 2017 Adviser and is a social studies teacher at the high school, used a multiplicity of props to enhance his speech to the class.  He confessed that he knew this class was tired of hearing about the “Great Class of 2005,” which he had always regarded as the ultimate class in terms of their character and achievements.  He duly placed a large 2005 pin on his gown to remind them of that fact one last time.

Lauren Quaratella stands with a fellow graduate, whom she first met at Lad & Lassie Pre-School.

But by the end of his speech, after describing some of the many memorable times he had shared with the Class of 2017, he reached down into the podium, pulled out something and then proceeded to stick an even larger 2017 pin over the 2005 one to indicate how this class has now risen to prominence in his mind over that of 2005.  Eckart also reminded the class not always to focus on their destination but to savor the journey along the route.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent ian Neviaser, Board of Education Chairman Mimi Roche and Board of Education member Nancy Edson share a smile after the ceremony.

Class President Callie Kotzan opened the ceremony by saying goodbye to all things about high school that will be missed, both important and unimportant. She formally gave her last goodbye to the Class of 2017 and encouraged her classmates to hold on to that inner child, despite all of the changing that comes with growing up, saying, “As we go off into the rest of our lives I encourage you to find the beauty, and although we are growing up it does not mean we must lose our passion and excitement for life.”

Twins Maggie and Abbie Berger celebrate their graduation.

Honor Essayist Rachel Hayward used the children’s book, Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Doctor Seuss to highlight the accomplishments she and her classmates have made, and the endless opportunity that awaits the class in the future. Quoting Seuss’s famous words, she told her classmates, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose,”  …  and the direction Hayward has chosen for herself in the autumn is Lafayette College, Pa.

Salutatorian Laura Wayland steps down from the podium after giving her speech.

Salutatorian Laura Wayland, who is headed to Yale University in the fall, compared the hard work, pain and accomplishments she had experienced as a dancer, to those she had endured and achieved as a student. She encouraged her fellow classmates never to forget the hard work needed to find blissful happiness in life, advising them to, “Let those passions guide you, and ground you, in the complex dance that is life, and then noting optimistically, “As long as you continue to follow your passions, and follow your dreams, you will be able to accomplish anything.”

Valedictorian Natalie Rugg smiles after giving an emotional, stirring speech.

Valedictorian Natalie Rugg opened her speech by thanking her family, friends and teachers, “who have supported and inspired me through the past 18 years,” saying, “I would not be the person I am today without you all.” Then she addressed her classmates, declaring, “We all have bright futures ahead of us. With the unmatched education that Region 18 and Lyme-Old Lyme High School have offered us, we have a breadth of tools at our disposal.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Board of Education members, administrators, faculty and seniors file into the Thursday evening’s graduation ceremony led by the Class Marshals.

Rugg continued by recognizing the beauty and intimacy of the town of Old Lyme and encouraged her peers never to forget the town from which they came.  As the daughter of a career submariner, Rugg commented, “My hometown could have been anywhere: Guam, Hawaii, California. But I ended up growing up here in Old Lyme.” Noting that, “The beaches may not be as beautiful as those in Guam,” and “the weather isn’t as predictable as California,” she stated proudly, “Out of all the places in the world, I would not have rather grown up anywhere else than in Old Lyme.”

Celebrating a certain graduate with a special sound.

Rugg elaborated noting, “Yes, Old Lyme is small, but it’s also a beautiful, tight-knit community,” adding, “I realized that this place, this is my hometown.” and stating unequivocally, “When I’m in Providence next year {Rugg will be attending Brown University in the fall], I’ll introduce myself as growing up in Old Lyme, and one day I’ll bring my children here and show them around, just as my parents did for me.”

The LOLHS Chorus sang ‘Unwritten’ under the direction of Chorus Director Kristine Pekar.

Looking out over the “sea of seniors,” an emotional Rugg gathered her composure and said firmly, “And, my classmates, this is your hometown, too. Even when we’re taking on the world, we’ll still have Old Lyme to keep us together.” Fighting back tears, Rugg took another long pause and then concluded, “Though we will soon be going off to save the world, remember that Old Lyme will forever welcome you home. Reserve this one day to revel together and embrace the place that has made you the brilliant person you are now.” 

Mildred Sanford Outstanding Educator Award winner Jon Goss chats with a graduate after the ceremony.

Continuing a privilege afforded to the senior graduating class, officers of the Class of 2017 then presented the Outstanding Educator Award in memory of Mildred Sanford to the faculty member selected by their class, Technical Education teacher Jonathan Goss.

Jay Wilson conducts the LOLHS band playing Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance.’

After the distribution of diplomas, the newly-pronounced alumni threw their caps high into the air in the traditional, celebratory hat toss, the band struck up the Sine Nomine Ceremonial March in a British Style by Ralph Vaughn-Williams and the graduates marched out into the arms of awaiting friends and family to celebrate their success.  

The LOLHS Chorus led the singing of the school’s Alma Mater.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

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Morrissey Cycles Moves Into Town

The storefront at 151 Boston Post Rd. in Old Lyme.

Opening earlier this spring, Morrissey Cycles is quickly becoming a go-to spot for cyclists in the shoreline area. Located at 151 Boston Post Rd. in Old Lyme, Steve Morrissey and his experienced staff sell, fix, overhaul, rent, and demo all sorts of different bicycles. “We have people in place that can help with anything. If I don’t have the answer, someone else in the building will,” Morrissey says cheerfully.

‘Experienced’ is really an understatement when talking about Morrissey’s reputation as a bike mechanic. After quitting his job at the Mystic Cycle Center years ago, Morrissey set out to ride from Connecticut to San Diego in just 52 days. From there, Morrissey ended up in Colorado where he began a five-season stint as a mechanic for the U.S. Cycling Team.

Bike guru Steve Morrissey know bikes inside and out — as do his staff.  He says, “We have people in place that can help with anything. If I don’t have the answer, someone else in the building will.”

A young Steve Morrissey working on a bicycle for a Tri-Flow Lubricants ad.

Starting in 1997, Morrissey traveled all around the world with U.S. Cycling, working on mountain, road, and track races. Morrissey took part in eight world championships, numerous tours and national championships, but the pinnacle of his experience was his involvement in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, where he was the head mechanic for U.S. Cycling.

It was in Sydney that Steve helped Lance Armstrong win a bronze medal and even more notably Marty Nothstein win gold in the men’s 200-meter sprint. Morrissey reflected on how nerve-racking it was to be working on such an important race and what it was like being the last person to put a wrench on Nothstein’s bike before he set out on his quest to bring home gold.

While Morrissey’s resumé is unparalleled in the area, his competitive days are now behind him. Despite his history as a professional race mechanic, Morrissey affirms that he does not run a pro shop. “I tell people that I am a family shop.” Morrissey Cycles works with all sorts of bikes, for riders of any age. Whether you are biking across the country, need a simple tune-up, or you are buying your very first bicycle, Morrissey Cycles has the experience and knowledge to assist any rider with any problem that might present itself.

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Fun in the Sun! Lyme School Students Celebrate School Year End with Refreshing Field Day

Students and staff of Lyme Consolidated cool off with the help of the Lyme Fire Department at the school’s field day.  All photos by Jacob Ballachino.

The students and staff of Lyme Consolidated School couldn’t have asked for nicer weather for the school’s annual field day held this past Monday. An afternoon of fun was a great way to bring the academic year to a close and spend some time getting away from the classroom and enjoying the weather.

Students skidded through the water as they made their pass through the water.

Under clear blue skies and a hot June sun, students enjoyed fun sports, games, races and more. A majority of the students found refuge from the unforgiving sun in a one area designated for water games. Others who were able to withstand the heat long enough played soccer, kickball or on the playground.

As the school year comes to a close, the fifth graders enjoyed their last field day before moving on to the middle school.

Around 2:30 p.m., the Lyme Fire Department arrived as the students lined up by grade and waited expectantly for what was undoubtedly the highlight of the afternoon. As the firetruck launched a massive stream of icy cold water, the children jumped with excitement. The students sprinted out into the cold power of the hose after Lyme School Principal James Cavalieri called for their line to do so.

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Mass Dispensing Exercise Held in Old Lyme to Prepare for Bioterrorism Attack

Joanie Bonvicin receives her “medication” from a Visiting Nurse in Old Lyme Town Hall during the Mass Dispensing Exercise held Tuesday.

On Tuesday, June 6, Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall was the site of the first full-scale, mass dispensing exercise in the state. The goal of the exercise was to simulate a realistic outbreak of anthrax, one of the more likely agents to be used in the event of bioterrorism, or any other agent that might be used in such an attack. Old Lyme’s emergency preparedness made great strides through the completion of this exercise, and the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) along with the Visiting Nurse Association were both vital contributors in the process.

The exercise was successful in that the ‘throughput’ time between someone arriving at town hall and being dispensed with the appropriate medicine was reduced from over six minutes to approximately two during the morning. Some minor hiccups in the process were identified, which, when subsequently eliminated,  enabled the process to be streamlined. Qualified evaluators kept a close eye on the practice, noting at each stage what worked and what needed improvement.

Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) Operations Lead Kris Magnussen (center) answers a question from a volunteer during the Exercise. Mike Caplet, LLHD Region 4 Supervisor in foreground keeps a watchful eye on the process.

Ledge Light Operations Lead Kris Magnussen, who is an Old Lyme resident, explained that measuring the throughput was important because, “It tells you how many people you can handle in an hour.”  This, in turn, enables LLHD to be able to estimate the total number of people that can be dealt with in any specific period and to determine how many dispensing points are needed for a certain size of population.

Magnussen spoke appreciatively of the assistance LLHD had received from Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder in enabling the exercise to take place.  Magnussen commented, “Bonnie is a great supporter.”

Busy times at the Dispensing Desk.

The participants in the exercise were town hall employees who volunteered to assist and seniors who were attending the Lymes’ Senior Center that morning and volunteered to be driven over to town hall to participate.  This latter situation mimicked the likely situation in a real bioterrorism emergency of a group of people arriving together at the same time. Each participant was timed from their arrival in town hall through to their departure. As participants exited, they were asked a series of questions about their experience, with the aim of improving anything that could expedite or facilitate the process for them. 

Louise Wallace sits by the exit doors, where she questioned every participant, marking down their questions, concerns, and suggestions. Photo by J. Ballachino.

I decided to test the process for myself. As I walked in to the town hall, I was quickly greeted and directed to the computer and printer station. Using Dispense Assist, an online screening tool, data regarding my age, weight, gender, and medical information were documented. Upon completion, a voucher was printed out for me to give to the volunteers at the dispensing station.

Submitting this information took a few minutes, but this step can be expedited if the participant completes the form and prints the voucher before arrival. Vouchers can be found at http://www.dispenseassist.net/default.html. Once the voucher was given to the dispensing station, the volunteers quickly provided me an empty tablet container which in a real life situation would have contained the correct prescription of Doxycycline that I would need to take for the next 60 days, had I been exposed to anthrax germs.

The correct “dose” of “medication” is handed to a participant in the Exercise.

By the time I received the medication and exited the exercise, less than five minutes had passed. Magnussen noted, “When the participants came prepared with a printed out voucher, it takes them under two minutes to receive the correct medication.”

An interesting development that transpired during the exercise was that it became clear that in the event of a real emergency, once town hall employees had received their own medication, they could then assist other arriving to navigate the process to obtain their own. Old Lyme Emergency Director David Roberge was on hand to support the exercise and said, “This is a really valuable process … we are learning a great deal.”

Residents of Old Lyme can be pleased that they now are a step up on other areas in regards to emergency preparedness. This mass dispensing exercise demonstrated to the LLHD how the town would be able to deal with a bioterrorism event, and identified which aspects of the exercise need improvement.

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The Lyme Tree Woman’s Exchange Awards Grants to Three Non-Profits

The three recipients of $1,000 grants from The Lyme Tree A Woman’s Exchange in Old Lyme,(from left to right) Kathy Allen of Thames River Community Service, Inc., Kathy Zall of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, and Robert Wilkins of Dance With Wood, gather for a photo at last Tuesday’s ceremony.  All photos by Jacob Ballachino.

A short ceremony was held Tuesday at The Lyme Tree Woman’s Exchange of Old Lyme when grants of $1,000 each were presented to representatives of three local non-profit organizations.  The Woman’s Exchange, a non-profit gift shop featuring mostly hand crafted and artisan items made by consignors, as well as jewelry, baby and children’s clothing, antiques and collectables, donates all of its proceeds to other charities.

The three recipient organizations on Tuesday were the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, Thames River Community Service, Inc., and Dance With Wood.

Kathy Zall, Executive Director of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center (third from left) accepts a grant check as she stands with (from left to right) Hilde Reichenbach, Sandy Dowley, and Joan Culbertson, all of The Lyme Tree, A Woman’s Exchange..

The New London Homeless Hospitality Center provides basic necessities such as underwear, socks and toiletries as well as shelter to the homeless.

Kathy Allen of Thames River Community Service, Inc. (second from left) receives her check from The Lyme Tree A Woman’s Exchange.

Thames River Community Service, Inc., supports individuals and families, particularly single mothers, who are moving from shelters into more permanent quarters providing them with start-up packages of dishes, kitchen items, bedding, linens, and so forth.

Robert Wilkins accepts a grant on behalf of Dances with Wood, presented by (from left to right) Hilde Reichenbach, Sandy Dowley, and Joan Culbertson.

Dances with Wood provides wooden kits to seriously ill children in hospitals; the kits include all the parts, tools, and instructions to make boats, boxes, barns, trucks and cars with the aim to empower creativity within hospitalized children.

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Sun Shines Brightly on Another Highly Successful ‘Tour de Lyme’ Cycling Event

Off they go! Bike riders start their choice of Tour de Lyme route.

Nine hundred and fifty cyclists from all around the area woke up on Sunday morning to the early spring sun shining down on the registration tables of the 5th annual Tour de Lyme. The event started and finished at the beautiful Ashlawn Farm on Bill Hill Rd. in Lyme, Conn., for the third consecutive year. Participants could choose between a myriad of different rides both through the trails of Nehantic Forest, Beckett Forest, and Mount Archer or through the winding roads of Lyme.  The event even offered an eight-mile family ride.

First started by John Pritchard five years ago, this year’s Tour de Lyme hosted by the Lyme Land Conservation Trust was a huge success and through registration fees and charitable donations, the land trust is able to maintain and expand the beauty of Lyme’s forestry and wildlife. In an effort to keep the town of Lyme as rural and well-maintained as possible, the Tour de Lyme is clear proof that a small organization can have a big impact.

Musicians entertain during the post-ride picnic at Ashlawn Farm.

The start times of each individual ride were staggered with the intention that all riders arrive back at the picnic around the same time to enjoy live music, several unique food trucks, and even physical therapy free for anyone who participated in the ride.

The 950 riders had a choice of four different routes on the road, and two routes through the woods. Brian Greenho, Tour de Lyme Mountain Bike Director and course designer, took time out from his busy schedule on Sunday to talk more with me about the event. He explained that has been heavily involved with the mountain bike aspect of the tour since its commencement, helping adapt the routes in order to make it more attractive to the riders.

Riders set off enthusiastically from Ashlawn Farm in Lyme on the mountain bike route.

Greenho noted that by obtaining one-day permission to use land from six private land owners, “The Tour de Lyme provides an opportunity for riders to get out into the trails and explore all three forests [Nehantic, Beckett, and Mount Archer] with hundreds of other riders,” adding that this is, “… something that would be inconceivable any other day of the year. Plus it gives the riders a chance to see the land that [Lyme Land Conservation Trust President] John Pritchard and the Trust itself work so hard to protect.”

Year-on-year participant growth in the Tour de Lyme can be seen through each of its first five occurrences. The Lyme Land Conservation Trust intends to keep the event going — and growing — in years to come and in a clear validation of that goal, it certainly seemed that all this year’s riders left the 2017 event enthusiastic for the next.

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