August 1, 2021

Guest Column: Pandemic Surprise—Drive-Ins are Making a Comeback

Editor’s Note: We are delighted to welcome back Linda Ahnert as a guest columnist today. A resident of Old Lyme, she is the former Arts Editor at the popular but now-shuttered weekly, print newspaper, the ‘Main Street News.’ She is also a long-time docent at the Florence Griswold Museum and has volunteered for numerous local art organizations.

One of the unpredictable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic is that the drive-in movie theaters of yesteryear are making a come-back. Photo by Charlie Deets on Unsplash.

Linda Ahnert

When I was young, one of the pleasures of summertime was going to a drive-in movie.  The school year ended in June and a fun-filled expanse of summer vacation stretched before us. 

Those were the days, my friends, when we spent hours at the beach or pool.  In the late afternoon, the Good Humor man jangled his bells and all the kids in the neighborhood came running.  In the evenings, we collected lightning bugs in jars and then released them all at once.  And on weekend nights, families would pile into their Chevrolets and head to the drive-in for a double feature.  

Over the years, these outdoor theaters had been going the way of the dinosaur and practically vanishing from the scene. But with the onset of the pandemic in 2020 when people were searching for safe entertainment, drive-ins are becoming popular once again. 

If you were a kid or a parent in the 1950s and 60s, you certainly remember the “good old days” of drive-in movies.  A neighbor of mine, who grew up in Old Lyme, recalls going to the Waterford Drive-In.  Several women “of a certain age,” who grew up in the Hartford burbs but still spend each summer at the Connecticut shore, remembered the Clinton Drive-In as well as the Blue Hills (in Bloomfield) and a few that were on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington. 

Whether you watched outdoor movies parked in a car along the Boston Post Rd. or on the Berlin Turnpike, it was still the same experience.  After supper, Dad would drive his nuclear family to the drive-in.  (I remember that in families with very young children, the kids were often in their PJ’s, the easier to put them to bed after the show.) 

Dad pulled alongside a pole with an attached speaker and then hooked the speaker over the car window.  Voilà, you had a sound system.  Then everyone waited in anticipation as dusk settled and, yes, there were always a few impatient jokesters who started to honk their horns to get the show going.  Finally, it would be dark enough, the screen would light up … and it was magic time.  

Growing up in Fairfield and Hartford Counties, I have fond memories of the Candlelight Drive-In in Bridgeport where we saw “The King and I” and the Farmington Drive-In where our family watched “Gigi.” A number of people I talked to also recalled specific movies that they saw. 

One woman remembered other recreational activities at the drive-in.  By the time she was dating, drive-ins had become known as “passion pits” where teenagers indulged in their own steamy love scenes.  So when she and her boyfriend went to the local drive-in, they would lie to her mother about where they were going.   

An important part of the drive-in experience was intermission.  After the first feature ended, “It’s Intermission Time, Folks!” or “Time Out for a Delicious Snack in our Sparkling Refreshment Building” would flash before our eyes.  Then, as we walked through the rows of cars to the flat-topped concession stand, images of talking hot dogs and tasty beverages flitted across the screen.  Who could resist those silly ads? 

There was also a ticking clock on the screen counting down the number of minutes before the next movie began.  Ten minutes till showtime!  

Drive-ins were at their peak during the 1950s and 60s because it was the perfect time and the perfect place.  In post-World War II America, the drive-in theater brought together a few of our favorite things—cars and movies.  What better way to be entertained than sitting in the comfort of the family car?  There was also the practical consideration that, in those baby boom years, parents didn’t have to worry about a sitter.  The drive-in was a family entertainment center.

By the 1950s, of course, small black and white screens in living rooms were also becoming the rage.  Before you knew it, there was color TV, then cable TV, premium movie channels, VCRs, and DVDs.  Today many homes are equipped with wide-screen televisions and the 21st century family doesn’t even have to leave the living room to watch a movie.  

 Yes, movie technology has come a long way and today’s kids have grown up with digitally-sharp images and stereo surround-sound. Now living in the age of the coronavirus, a new generation can experience that old-fashioned thrill of watching a flick on a starry summer night.  Drive-ins offer an evening’s entertainment (and getting out of the house) while remaining socially distant. 

Here in Connecticut, there are three al fresco cinemas dating from the 1950s era that are still open—the Mansfield Drive-In, the Southington Drive-In, and the Pleasant Valley Drive-In located in Barkhamsted. And it was recently announced that a brand-new drive-in, which will operate year-round, will open in Wethersfield this September.    

Most drive-ins today have converted to FM radio to broadcast the audio. But some of us will never forget that memorable message on the screen at the end of a Saturday night at the movies—“Please remember to replace the speaker on the post when you leave the theater.” 

Editor’s Note:

‘The Farmer’s Market’ at Tiffany Farms in Lyme is Opens Saturdays for the Season

View of The Farmer’s Market at Tiffany Farms in Lyme.

LYME —‘The Farmer’s Market at Tiffany Farms’ in Lyme open Saturday, June 26, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Vendors this season include

  • Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm
  • Biscotti and Beyond
  • Bittersweet Farms
  • Chatfield Hollow Farm
  • Confections by Tonie Marie (new – confections!)
  • Dondero Orchards
  • Fat Stone Farm (returning!)
  • From the Farm
  • Long Table Farm
  • Maple Breeze Farm
  • Marna Roons. (New – macaroons!)
  • Sankow Beaver Brook Farm
  • TALK Seafood
  • Tiffany Farms Pasture Raised Beef (started in September and was a HUGE success!)
  • Traveling Italian Chef
  • Wave Hill Breads

Jennifer Tiffany, who runs the market with her husband Bill Hurtle, told LymeLine by email, “We have a well-rounded list of returnees in addition to a couple of new vendors to fill our sweet tooth cravings!”

Bill Hurtle and Jen Tiffany who are preparing to open ‘The Farmers Market at Tiffany Farms’ on June 15.

Social distancing is requested and masks are optional.

“The Heart Seen ‘Round Lyme” looks out at the community from the silo at Tiffany Farms.

This year’ tag-line for the market is “Keeping the trade alive as stewards of the land.”

Editor’s Note: We wish Jen and Bill the very best in this venture throughout the season, which lasts until mid-October.

Visit this link to read an article we published in 2019 about the inaugural season at The Farmer’s Market.

 

Live Jazz Jam at Sound View in Old Lyme, Thursdays; Next Session Aug. 12

Photo by dimitri.photography on Unsplash.

OLD LYME —  Live jazz sessions will be held on the following Thursdays at the Shoreline Community Center, 39 Hartford Ave., Old Lyme, starting at 7 p.m.

  • Aug. 12
  • Aug. 26

Piano, guitar, bass and drum musicians will be dropping by to jam all evening.  You can bring refreshments, enjoy the music, and even dance! All are welcome.

This is a fundraiser for the community center with a requested donation of $5.

Parking is available across the street from the community center.

For more information, call Rob at 860-710-1126.

These events are sponsored by the Sound View Beach Association, Inc.

Old Lyme’s Shoreline Community Center Looks to Install Solar Panels Through Innovative Fundraiser

Trinity Solar workers are seen here installing solar panels on a house in Sound View.

Trinity Solar to Donate $100 to Shoreline Community Center’s Planned Solar Installation for Every Homeowner, who has Appointment to Learn More About Solar

OLD LYME — When some of the board members of the Sound View Beach Association, Inc. (SVBA) recently had solar panels installed on their homes, they became aware that there were additional benefits in addition to the ell-documented ones of saving money on their electric bills while also having a positive impact on the environment. 

Gail Fuller, who currently serves as SVBA President, explains, “We discovered a fundraising opportunity that would make possible the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Shoreline Community Center.” The Center is located on Hartford Ave. and sponsored by the SVBA. 

The Center’s bills for electricity in the summer total around $400 a month, which is a financially challenging amount for a small, non-profit organization. To reduce electricity costs year-round, the SVBA Board had determined their best option was to install solar panels on the Center’s roof.

Fuller points out, “This, however, would represent a major expense for the SVBA since the Center is designated a commercial building and therefore not eligible for federal, residential grants.”

The Shoreline Community Center board is hoping to raise sufficient funds to install solar panels on the Center’s roof.


In support of the Shoreline Community Center’s fundraiser, Trinity Solar has offered to donate $100 to the SVBA for every homeowner, who has an appointment in their home with one of their solar experts. If Trinity Solar subsequently installs solar panels on that home — regardless of the town in which the house is sited — the Center will receive $1,000 towards its own solar installation.  
Trinity Solar will provide home- and property-owners with a no-cost solar installation funded by federal grants for residential homes. 
 
There is no commitment for signing up for an appointment. The benefit is learning more about solar from a company that has been in business for many years and is also supporting the community.  
Trinity Solar states on its website, “We believe solar is the most practical form of renewable energy on the planet and seek to make it accessible to as many people as possible.” 
 
Fuller comments enthusiastically, “The SVBA is excited about this fundraiser and the opportunity to install solar [panels] on the Shoreline Community Center.”  
She notes, “If you are considering solar or would just like to learn more about your options, make sure to contact Trinity Solar through our partnership. There are two ways to sign up.  You can click on this link and enter your name, address and contact information or call 800-655-2500 and be sure to mention the Sound View Beach Association.”
Editor’s Note: For more information about Trinity Solar, visit their website.

Lost Dog: Please Help Find Harley

Harley.is missing. Please help find her.

OLD LYME — Harley is a friendly, frisky, nine-year-old Morkie, who weighs 7.5 lbs. She has been missing from her home at 1 Duck River Lane since noon on Friday, July 16. A reward is being offered for her safe return.

Her hair was fluffier when she disappeared, she has had several teeth extracted, and was wearing a black electric fence collar.

If found, she can be put in a harness but not a collar due to danger to her trachea.

If you find Morkie or have any information about her whereabouts, please call or text Ken Main at 860-917-1011.

Large Turnout for Successful ‘Community Connections’ Networking Event at Lyme Academy

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts Chairman Michael Duffy addresses the guests at Wednesday’s networking event hosted by Community Connections at the Academy. All photos by Suzanne Thompson.

OLD LYME — It was a glorious afternoon on Wednesday when around 70 community members gathered on the lawns at Lyme Academy of Fine Arts in Old Lyme for the first ‘post-COVID’ event hosted by Community Connections.

Attendees enjoyed catching up with old friends after more than a year of semi-seclusion due to the pandemic.

Local non-profit leaders and volunteers along with a number of community leaders mingled outside under a warm sun.

Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold (in red shirt) chatted with the publisher of ‘estuary’ magazine Dick Shriver. Maryam Elahi, President & CEO of Community Foundation of Eastern CT (in black and white hat), also joined the conversation.

Representatives of Lyme Academy took the opportunity to give presentations describing plans for the future of the institution. Their vision is one of a vibrant institution returning to the mission of its founder and also becoming once again an active participant in the community.

Newly-appointed Lyme Academy Artistic Director Jordan Sokol addressed the guests. The new Executive Director of the Academy, Mora Rowe, is seated to his right.

There was enthusiastic participation in the presentations …

Guests responded keenly to the presentations.

… and opportunities to tour the grounds of the Academy.

Evan Griswold and Laurie Walker assisted at the event.

Refreshments, including wine and delicious Benko Box treats from Carlson’s Landing, were served …

Pollinate Old Lyme! Co-Chair Cheryl Poirier (center) chatted with friends.

Conversations continued …

Lyme-Old Lyme’s Food Share Garden President Jim Ward (center, smiling) connected with other local volunteers.

There was lots of listening …

Long-time board member of the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Ned Perkins (in pink shirt) happily discussed the success of the library’s recent renovations.

… to a variety of speakers …

Tina Birkic (in green), who chairs Community Connections, welcomed all the guests.

… and the event was deemed a huge success by the organizers and guests alike. Tina Birkic, Community Connections Chair, concluded, ” It was a beautiful, sunny day. We were very happy so many people were able to attend and reconnect at such a lovely location.”

Old Lyme Open Space Commission member Greg Futoma chatted with other non-profit leaders.

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Pollinate Old Lyme! Co-Chair and Region 18 Board of Education member Suzanne Thompson for all the photos.

UPDATED: Lyme Selectmen Approve Equality Resolution

LYME — Latest Comment Posted 7/16: UPDATED 7/12, 11:30pm, with Lyme Selectman’s comments (in red): According to the published minutes of the Lyme Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting held Tuesday, July 6, the board approved a motion to adopt, “a Resolution supporting equality.”

The Lyme Sustainability Committee had proposed adoption of the Resolution, “both for its affirmative value along with the points awarded for such a resolution adoption as the committee moves forward to gaining state recognition as a Sustainable Community.”

Selectman John Kiker (D) proposed the motion and Selectman Parker Lord (R) seconded it.

Asked by email how he felt about the Lyme BOS approving the Resolution, Selectman Kiker responded, “The resolution is a public reaffirmation of the Town’s longstanding policies and values, which moves us closer to our goal of becoming a SustainableCT community.”

He continued, “Lyme has long had policies in place prohibiting discrimination of any kind, and strives to live up to the promise of those policies,” concluding, “Lyme is a welcoming, inclusive community that believes in the founding American principle that all people are created equal.”

The following is the full text of the Resolution that was passed:

RESOLUTION SUPPORTING EQUALITY FOR ALL 

WHEREAS, racism and racial prejudice have been a part of our nations long history; and 

WHEREAS, racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, employment, health status and criminal justice; and 

WHEREAS, our nation was founded on the principal that All Men (and Women) Are Created Equal; and 

WHEREAS, discrimination against any group of people is contrary to our belief in, and our value of, equality; and 

WHEREAS, discrimination in any form carries a social and economic cost; and 

WHEREAS, Lyme considers itself a welcoming and inclusive community

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of the Selectmen of the Town of Lyme hereby

Reaffirms our value and belief that All People are Created Equal

Disavows any words or actions that would discriminate against any group of people, including, but not limited to, discrimination based upon race, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation or identity, disability, or economic status

Declares that the Town and its government will act in ways to prevent and remove discrimination and will not accept discrimination in any form from its employees and volunteers

Supports efforts in the community and schools that will educate on issues of equality

Supports efforts to reduce economic inequality in the Town of Lyme.

Editor’s Note: More to follow on this developing story.

Lyme’s Senior Center Reopens Slowly Under Carefully Phased Timeline

A limited number of in-person exercise classes are now being held at the Lymes’ Senior Center. Photo submitted.

OLD LYME — Lymes’ Senior Center is undergoing a carefully-planned phased opening with the safety of everyone at the Center paramount at all times. May and June were very successful months with a combination of outdoor programs, services, and entertainment offered.

One hundred and fifty five people visited the Center in person over the month of May and Stephanie Gould, Director of the Center, comments enthusiastically, ” It has been great to see people enjoy the in-person programs and services again.”

She adds, “We also continue to offer virtual programs, in which approximately 500 people participated in May.”

Gould notes, “My hope in enacting the phased opening is that it will give people much-needed opportunities to see and be with each other all while keeping people safe.”

After conferring with other Senior Centers regarding their reopening plans and keeping in mind the Lymes’ Senior Center’s own building limitations, Gould explains, “After the 4th of July holiday, we moved to our next reopening phase by bringing certain programs and services that can be socially-distanced inside. Masks and preregistration continue to be required.”

By the end of July, air filters will have been installed in the remaining four heat pumps. At that point, the whole building will be serviced with air purifiers and Merv filters.

One change to the old policy is that if you are fully vaccinated, you will no longer be required to wear masks outside, although you always can do so if you wish.

Gould comments, “We hope to be targeting other, non-socially distanced programs to return indoors starting Aug. 9. Masks and preregistration will still be required. These programs will include cards, Wii, movies, and so forth.”

Meanwhile, larger entertainment events will still be held outside through the fall.

It is anticipated that in-person meals will return to the Center sometime this fall, possibly in September. The precise date of return will be determined by the Estuary Senior Center and the local Area Agency on Aging. Gould notes, “In the meantime, we are offering a few outdoor lunch opportunities in July and August to get people together, which will be held outside under the tent.”

Gould expressed her thanks to everyone for their patience, “… while we work to safely get our Senior Center back to the lively, happening place that it was pre-pandemic.”

Rogers Lake Hosts ‘Fantastic’ Boat Parade

Maureen Plumleigh and friends enjoyed participating in Rogers Lake’s Second Annual Boat Parade on Independence Day 2021. Photo submitted by M. Plumleigh.

LYME/OLD LYME — Last year, Rogers Lake residents took matters into their own hands after both the Sound View and Lyme Independence Day parades were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. They came up with an inspired solution to the social distancing issue associated with parades and held the “1st Annual Rogers Lake 4th of July Boat Parade.”

This year, they followed up with the 2021 Rogers Lake Boat Parade, which was held Sunday afternoon, and in the words of the Rogers Lake West Shores Association (RLWSA) Facebook page author was, “Fantastic.”

Here are some photos of the great event, which was clearly another huge success, courtesy of the RLWSA.

Lyme Celebrates Fourth of July with Jovial Parade in Hometown Style

All photos by Michael Dickey.

LYME — UPDATED 7/5, MORE PHOTOS ADDED: The rain stopped, the day was brightening and Lyme’s traditional Independence Day stepped off making such a welcome sight after the pandemic forced its cancellation last year.

This year’s parade Grand Marshal was Carolyn Bacdayan, pictured above, who recently retired from her position as the Town of Lyme’s longtime historian.

Bacdayan proudly rode as Grand Marshal in the parade in a car owned by Tink and George Willauer, and driven by George.

This was many people’s first view of the parade.

These trusty gentlemen bearing arms led the parade.

And then came the Grand Marshal …

… followed by the ladies of the Lyme Garden Club …

… followed by the Cub Scouts of Lyme’s Pack 32 …

 

… followed by an army jeep driven by Bruce Noyes accompanied by his wife Tammy …

… followed by a patriotically-decorated family boat …

… followed by a Lyme Ambulance …

… followed by a Lyme firetruck …

… followed by a Lyme Forestry truck …

… followed by the Lyme Fire Rescue ‘Gator’ …

 

… followed by this flag-bearing jeep …

… and its lovely lady passenger!

An alpaca from the Evankow farm drew loud cheers. Everyone will miss seeing him again at the 2021 Hamburg Fair, which has been cancelled for the second summer in succession this year.

The alpaca had a friendly nose-to-nose ‘meet and greet’ with a handsome, white dog along the parade route, and ultimately climbed into the back of a jeep Cherokee to make his way home.

Someone had even thoughtfully decorated the Cove bridge.

Several boaters viewed the parade from on the Cove …

and this whimsical little fellow was also seen watching from a Cove side house.

This little guy gave an important message to the world …

… and finally, the fruit popsicles are an ever-popular closer to the event!

 

Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to the Dickey family, pictured above, who made this article possible by providing all the photos and editorial for it. The order of the photos is ours and not intended to be an exact replica of the sequence of the parade!

Wet Weather Fails to Dampen Spirits at Sound View Independence Day Parade

Joann Lishing leads the Independence Day parade through the streets of Sound View. All photos by Valerie Melluzzo.

OLD LYME — Despite the less than favorable weather, hundreds turned out to celebrate Independence Day a day in advance this past Saturday in Sound View.

The parade, which was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 pandemic, was a welcome sign of a return to some sort of normalcy.

An ever-smiling Joann Lishing, pictured above, led the parade proudly marching while holding high the Stars and Stripes for the full length of the parade.

Several US Veterans traveled in this stylish car down the parade route followed by youngsters on decorated bikes and parents cheerfully pushing even younger folk on strollers and tricycles.

As always, a great time was had by all.

Lyme to Hold Traditional Independence Day Parade This Morning

Janis Witkins, who was Grand Marshal of Lyme’s 2015 Independence Day Parade, is shown in this photo being driven by George Willauer in his splendid antique automobile. This year’s Grand Marshal will be Carolyn Bacdayan, the recently retired Town of Lyme’s longtime historian

LYME — The Town of Lyme advises area residents that the traditional July 4th Parade will be held Sunday, July 4, at approximately 10 a.m., in celebration of Independence Day.  The parade will begin near Camp Claire on Cove Rd., cross Rte. 156 and end at the Lyme Grange. 

The grand marshal for this year’s parade will be Carolyn Bacdayan, the Town of Lyme’s longtime historian, who recently retired. Bacdayan will ride as grand marshal in the parade in a car owned by Tink and George Willauer.

The traditional firing of muskets signals the start of the Lyme Fourth of July Parade. Photo by Michele Dickey.

Temporary street closings will be in effect during the parade, travel delays are possible and parking may be limited in some areas.  

Rte. 156 will be closed from approximately 10 to 10:15 a.m. between Sterling City Rd. North and South.

Lyme Town Hall, Lyme Public Library, the Transfer Station and Hamburg Recycling Center will all be closed Monday, July 5, in observance of Independence Day.

More Than 1000 Books Sold at BookCellar’s ‘Amazing’ Stock-Up Sale

Customers enjoyed browsing the books on sale, which were displayed on the library’s new patio. All photos by Joan Overfield.

OLD LYME — The Summer Stock-Up Sale held at the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library this past Saturday was a great success. More than 1000 books along with 200 CDs and DVDs were sold.

Since all the items were donated and all those working at or involved with the sale were volunteers, the total amount of  revenue raised at the Sale directly benefits the Library.

Books, books, everywhere!

Attendance during all four hours of the sale was high at all times.

And the band played on …

Claudia Condon, co-chair of the BookCellar, commented after the event was over and the numbers finalized, “We had an amazing day in the BookCellar as well as outside on the Library lawn and patio. It was such a festive occasion with wonderful music and fabulous refreshments.”

Katie Huffman, OL-PGN Library Director, expressed her sincere thanks “to all of you who made it happen,” which included not only all the BookCellar volunteers, but also all those community members, who came out to support the sale.

Hundreds Celebrate Summer Solstice With Stroll Down Lyme St. Enjoying ‘Make Music Day’

Lyme Street was filled with cheerful folk enjoying the sounds of ‘Make Music Old Lyme’ and visiting with friends they had not seen in a long time due to pandemic restrictions. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

OLD LYME — ARTICLE UPDATED, PHOTOS ADDED: The air was warm and spirits were high early on Monday evening when more than 500 people took a stroll on Lyme Street to enjoy the music of a dozen bands and solo performers, who together created Make Music Old Lyme. 

‘The Voice’ finalist Braiden Sunshine drew a large crowd in front of Center School. All photos by Alan Poirier except where otherwise indicated.

It turned into an evening of wonderful musical entertainment and also the opportunity to reconnect with friends after a very long and challenging year.

Plywood Cowboy played on the steps of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

The celebration spanned the length of Lyme Street from the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, where Steve Dedman of Plywood Cowboy played all the way up to the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts where the Old Lyme Town Band entertained on the front lawn.

The Old Lyme Town Band gave a rousing performance in front of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts.

A number of people brought chairs and moved from performance to performance to enjoy the evening full of folk, indie rock, Americana, and more.

Welcome to Space performed at Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau as part of ‘Make Music Old Lyme.’ From left to right are Thomas Pennie, Colin Hallahan and Jess Kegley with Noah Rumm on drums. All four are members of the Lyme-Old Lyme High School Class of 2019. Photo by Tracy McGlinchey.

Many residents were surprised to learn that all of the musicians donated their time and talent to support the international Make Music Day credo of free music for all.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Lions did brisk business selling hot dogs and hamburgers.

The Lyme-Old Lyme Lions Club sold over 100 hamburgers and more than 100 hot dogs …

Steve Patarini and Dean Montgomery performed on the new patio of the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.

… and meanwhile, The Chocolate Shell generously offered a 10 percent on all purchases.

Hot Strings Café could be found in front of Patricia Spratt for the Home.

Cheryl Poirier, a lead organizer of Make Music Old Lyme, told LymeLine after the event that she felt it was, “A highly successful night  … [and] a great time was had by all!”

The Nightingale Fiddlers and Friends played in front of … where else, but Nightingale’s Acoustic Cafe?!

The comments we have seen about the event on our Facebook page and here on LymeLine strongly suggest that was the universal opinion!

The Moving Target Band played in front of The Village Shops.

The event was part of an international celebration of free music for all produced by the Old Lyme Arts District in conjunction with the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition and Nightingale’s Acoustic Cafe arranged the musical lineup.

The Midnight Anthem delighted crowds in front of Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

This was the third year Make Music Old Lyme has been presented; it was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whiskey and Aspirin and friends performed in front of The Cooley Gallery.

At the end of the two-hour event, a ‘Kazoo Parade’ led by Dan Stevens brought people to Studio 80+ Sculpture Grounds, where a final jam session involving many of the performers continued.

After a jovial musical march up Lyme Street, several of the musicians stopped a while at Gil Boro’s studio to make more music. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

Make Music Old Lyme returns next year on the Summer Solstice, Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

The grand, unplanned finale at Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds made for a perfect end to an amazing evening. Photo by Cheryl Poirier.

Old Lyme’s ‘Crosby Fund for Haitian Education’ Changes Lives in One of Poorest Parts of Globe

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education is guided by the deep conviction that a brighter future for Haiti depends on educating its youth and preparing them for professional careers in Haiti.

How has an idea conceived in Old Lyme, Conn. been able to grow into an organization that is making a critical difference in the lives of more than 500 students in one of the most economically-deprived parts of the Caribbean island of Haiti, which, in turn, is one of the poorest countries in the world?

The answer lies with one woman, Rebecca ‘Becky’ Crosby, who along with her husband Ted, founded the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education (CFHE) back in 2003.

How did it all begin?

Crosby explains her first trip to Haiti was in 1999 and came about through the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme (FCCOL) when Amy Bruch was working there as an Associate Minister. Bruch had connected with the late Dr. Wayne Southwick of Old Lyme, the retired chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Yale University.

Annually, Dr. Southwick led a team of doctors from Yale to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschappelles, Haiti, where they performed surgeries round the clock and at no charge for local people. Deschappelles is located in the rural Artibonite Valley about 90 miles north of the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

Inspired by Southwick’s work, Bruch decided she, in turn, wanted to take a team of volunteers to the same hospital to support his efforts. She successfully organized the trip pulling together a group through the church, one of whom was Becky Crosby. They took a sewing machine with them, Becky recalls, and their primary task was to make privacy curtains for the hospital.

Ted and Becky Crosby attended the opening of a new Medical Center in Liancourt, Haiti in May 2021. The Center was founded by one of the graduates of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education program, Dr. James Kerby Estimé, who named the Center in Becky’s honor.

During their time on the island, Becky noticed a young man, who was regularly sitting outside the place the volunteers were staying. One day Crosby asked him why he was not in school and he explained that he had previously been fortunate to have a sponsor from the US, but that those funds had ceased. Since school is not free for anyone in Haiti, he was no longer able to attend as his family simply could not afford it, and he hoped by interacting with some of the American visitors in town that he might be able to find a new sponsor.

Becky says, “I was surprised to learn that school was not free,” and made the decision almost on the spot to pay for the young man — Oltin — to finish his high school education. Doing that turned out to be harder than she thought since there was no postal service in Haiti and the young man had no bank account. Becky, however, was determined and finally found a way to pay his tuition through an American doctor working in Haiti.

Three years later in 2002, Becky returned to Deschappelles to meet with Oltin on his graduation from high school. She recalls, “I saw him and it was a wonderful visit.” She adds significantly, “I could not believe what the gift of an education could do.”

She started to research the overall statistics for education in Haiti and was stunned to find that only 55 percent of children in the country attend elementary school, a number which drops to 15 percent for those who graduate from high school, and finally falling to a mere 2 percent, who go onto university.

Less than half of Haitian families can afford school for their children, therefore, one of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education’s main goals is to provide full scholarships for students from Pre-K through university.

It suddenly became crystal clear to Crosby that, “If you want to build Haiti, you need to educate the youth.” At that transformative moment in her life, she made a personal commitment to try and do something to meet that almost overwhelming objective.

Returning home, she shared the idea with her husband Ted, who was supportive of the concept, and in response set off on his own fact-finding trip to Haiti in 2003.

After Ted returned and expressed his full commitment for the project, Becky returned to Haiti again and began to, “Come up with ways to create the organization” there and “Form a board to select the students [who would receive scholarships.]

Returning to her home in Old Lyme, a determined Becky started work to find donors locally, who were willing to fund students in Haiti, who would otherwise not finish high school.

Not an easy task by any standard, but a short while later, she had successfully recruited 32 people willing to do just that and thus were formed the first seeds of the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education. Becky says, “We started with 32 friends who sponsored 32 students,” adding with a chuckle, “I had no idea when I started where this was leading.”

The Crosby Fund for Haitian Education also offers a wide range of additional academic support at their Education Center in Haiti’s Artibonite Valley.

Where is the organization today?

The numbers are nothing short of staggering.

A total of 523 students are now supported under the organization’s banner including 98 in post-secondary schools, 53 at university and 45 in medical technician or vocational training facilities. More than 80 schools across the Artibonite Valley are now involved in the program.

More than 90 percent of the Crosby Fund’s scholarship students advance to university or technical school and subsequently, CFHE graduates are employed at three times the national average.

Moreover, Faulkner Hunt of Lyme, who serves as CFHE’s Marketing Director, states, “Our goal is to get kids educated,” not just as an end in itself, but, “To get them to a place where they are gainfully employed.”

Has establishing the CFHE had any unexpected effects?

The project has been life-changing for Becky on a personal level in many ways.

Most significantly, when the CFHE had reached a total of around 300 students under its wing, she felt she had to step down from her role as Associate Minister at the FCCOL — a position she had taken after Catherine Zall’s departure (Zall had followed Bruch) — and devote her energies full-time to the fast-growing organization.

The Medical Center in Liancourt, Haiti, which is named after Becky Crosby.

She explains that she stepped down with three clear objectives in mind.

The first was to find or build some sort of “permanent place” for the CFHE, which could both house the staff and offer classroom space. The second was to establish an endowment fund and the third, and perhaps most important, to set up “some sort of staff in the US” to work on “succession planning” for the organization to establish continuity for it in perpetuity.

Becky says proudly, “All of this things are now in place,” which in turn has helped enormously with “Planning for the future.”

Building the Education Center in Deschapelles met the first goal. The three classrooms and and computer lab allow for a wide range of tutoring opportunities, which Becky emphasizes are extremely important, mentioning, “Math is a huge problem.”

Literacy, especially among adults, is another major challenge. “The students’ parents could not read or write … they had no idea how to read a report card,” Becky explains. The CFHE follows a state-run literacy program for adults, which currently has 56 students enrolled, but has recently adopted a youth literacy program sponsored by USAID, which had 52 students registered in January 2021.

With more than a trace of emotion in her voice, Becky said, “It is so moving to see someone my own age struggling to write their own name … and then go back [after the program has been completed] and see them writing easily. It is very, very touching.”

How are the students selected who are to receive scholarships?

Becky explains, “We have a great staff in Haiti, which includes six graduates of our program.” Using their knowledge of the community, they select candidates whom they determine will benefit from financial support. The process clearly works since the graduation rate of students supported by CFHE is significantly higher than the national average.

The 2020-2021 academic year saw 221 scholarships granted to secondary students in grades 7 to Philo (a 13th college preparatory year.) These students attend 37 schools in the region.

Apart from scholarships and tutoring, another piece of the Crosby Foundation’s work is their career development program. Becky says passionately, “Graduates need jobs … it’s tough to get a job … we’re trying to keep them in Haiti.” The program assists graduates in securing internships and jobs across Haiti, and Crosby points out it has already produced doctors, nurses, computer programmers and administrators, most of whom are now employed in Haiti.

She adds the CFHE has also helped students along other career paths including assisting four agronomy students set up a farming business.

What is the impact of donations from Lyme, Old Lyme?

An extraordinary aspect of the financial support for CFHE is that the “vast majority” comes from Lyme and Old Lyme according to Hunt. He comments it is remarkable, “These two little towns  can take up so much compassion for a little area in Haiti,” adding, “It’s such a great example of selflessness.”

Referring to all the CFHE donors, Becky says, “I wish I could bring them all to Haiti so they could see what they’re doing for the youth of Haiti. I wish I could share that experience with the people, who have helped us.”

Looking Ahead

Becky expands enthusiastically on what she calls “the real joy” of the achievements of the CFHE, saying, “When a kid you’ve picked off the streets does really well at school, even university, gets a job, gets married, has kids that go to school … Bingo, that’s the dream! This is what we are trying to do. It’s not going to happen overnight … we don’t expect miracles … but ultimately it’s nation-building one step at a time.”

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Crosby Fund for Haitian Education, visit their website or follow them on their Facebook page. If you would like to donate to support the work of the CFHE, visit this link. All contributions regardless of size are gratefully accepted.

Lyme-Old Lyme HS Principal Tells Class of 2021 its Key Quality is ‘Resiliency … [and so] You Will Not Just Survive, You Will Thrive’

OLD LYME — 6/13 UPDATED 3:20pm: It was a perfect evening for the Commencement Ceremony of Lyme-Old Lyme High School’s 115 members of the Class of 2021.

They marched in, mostly masked …

Lyme-Old Lyme High School Principal James Wygonik (pictured above) reminded the Class of 2021 of the saying on the coat-of-arms of the Benedictine Monks, who were founded in 529 AD, which says, “When you cut it down, it grows back stronger.”

Valedictorian Connie Pan ‘s speech was filled with touches of humor. Photo by Warner Swain.

 

The theme of Valedictorian Connie Pan’s speech was trees. Urging her classmates to, ” Just imagine for a moment: we are all trees,'” she continued, “We are gathered here to celebrate our growth, as well as a future of branches arcing towards the sun.  We have been through storms, through uprootings of our friends and peers, and therefore, we all have some of the same roots.”

She ended her speech on a profoundly positive note, saying, “This is the place from which we grow, stretching our limbs into the light of the world.  I couldn’t ask for a better place for my roots to be.”

Salutatorian Megan Cravinho, pictured above, brought her childhood step-stool to the podium to ensure she could reach the microphone and then referenced it throughout her speech in relation to the growth — not necessarily physical — that the Class of 2021 had experienced in their four years of high school.

The crux of her message was, “Whatever your next steps are, and even if you need a step-stool along the way, the room for growth is boundless. Keep expanding and improving, taking chances, finding new opportunities.”

Honor Essayist Riley Nelson is pictured above. The theme of her speech was the importance of walking and she reminded her fellow members of the Class of 2021, “Sometimes it will feel like you’re walking too slowly but that is allowed. There will be times when you have to force yourself to slow down before you burn yourself out … there’s no race to the end, even if it seems like that sometimes.”

She concluded, “We’re allowed to take our time, to not know the direction, to go at our own speed, and bring friends along on the journey. We’re allowed our own pace. A walking pace.”

The Mildred Sanford Outstanding Educator Award, the recipient of which is selected by the senior class, was longtime English teacher Karen Duhamel, pictured above.

Another English teacher, Jill Ressler, was presented with a bouquet by Principal Wygonik in recognition of her retirement after 15 years tenure at the high school. She stands in the photo above at left with her colleague — and Mildred Sanford Award recipient — Karen Duhamel.

The choir sang …

The band played …

 

And there were smiles here, for valedictorian Connie Pan and her family  …

… there, for this wonderful group of lady graduates …

and everywhere … especially for these two fine young men, Jake Quaratella and Gabe Lavoie!

Here are the speeches from the evening:

Lyme-Old Lyme High School Principal
James Wygonik

To our Board of Education, Superintendent Neviaser, administrative team, the best teachers in America, families, alumni, community members, and of course the class of 2021, it is my honor to welcome you to the 48th Lyme-Old Lyme High School graduation exercises.     

To the parents and families of our graduates.  I am confident that I speak for the administrative team and our faculty when I say that you have been great partners in this journey. Thank you for trusting us with your children.  May I remind the graduates that your families are your biggest fans.  They will be there for you.  And believe me, you will need them.  Never take for granted their love and support.  You will be astonished how smart your parents will become in the next few years.  Don’t be afraid or too proud to lean on them. I am going to pause my remarks, so each of you to take the next ten seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are.

I do fear that I am currently dreaming and when I wake up all of you will be on my computer screen.  For now, we will work under the presumption that I am awake.  So let’s continue.

On the coat-of-arms of the Benedictine Monks founded in 529 AD is the Latin phrase su-keesa where-esket.  It translates into “when you cut it down, it grows back stronger.”  For the past year, this pandemic did its very best to” cut-down” if you will, your senior year.  The disruptions, restrictions, and distractions were too numerous to count.  To many, just getting through the year would be monumental.  But the class of 2021 raised the bar at a school with already high standards.

I first noticed something special back in the Fall.  

The math team, despite having to conduct their matches via Zoom won the Middlesex County title and finished as one of the top ten schools in the state.  Our artists dominated the Shoreline Art show.  No traditional Robotics season.  No problem.  Let’s just build a satellite.  While most other schools were cancelling concerts and musicals, we moved the music outside under the stars and produced a first-class movie.  COVID shut down spring sports last year.  Fast-forward to this year. Despite having only one player with varsity experience, our girl’s tennis team went undefeated to win the state championship.  Heck, they may never lose again.  Something as simple as our day to day operations ran smoothly because of you.  You did what leaders do.  You led by example.  As a class, you never settled.  You never made excuses.  You just flourished.  Everything this year was harder.  But you kept getting better.   There is a saying that the same boiling water that softens the potato, also hardens the egg.  It’s what you are made of, not the circumstances.  Class of 2021, you are an inspiring basket of eggs. 

47 classes have walked across this stage before you.  Each with many talents and gifts.  But you will leave here with a distinctive quality that no other class as a whole can claim.  Resiliency.  And that quality will serve you for the rest of your life.  Nobody goes through life undefeated.  But watching you this past year… how you dealt with disappointment, restrictions, and limitations has convinced me that whatever curveballs life throws, you will not just survive.  You will thrive. My money is on you. 

In closing I am not going to wish you a life of success.  Success is what others think of you. Success is adding value to yourself. Instead I wish you a life of significance.  I believe significance comes when you add value to others—and you can’t have true success without significance.  Your contributions and leadership during this pandemic have added value to our school and our community.  Carry that mindset with you as you begin the next phase of your life’s journey.

Su-keesa where-esket.  “When you cut it down, it grows back stronger.”

Class of 2021.  Thank you.  You led us.  You made us better.  Remember that you are Wildcats for life.  I wish you all the best.

Valedictorian
Connie Pan

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?  I’ll give you a second to think about it.  

Maybe some of you thought about sturdy sycamores, or delicate willows, or cartoon Truffula trees from the Lorax animated film, circa 2012.  Personally, that was my choice.  Maybe you didn’t think of any particular species, but said, a big tree. A strong tree.  A pretty tree.  Whatever tree you thought of, hold onto that thought for a little.  

Trees are some of the most fascinating organisms on this planet.  They take months, years, decades to stretch their branches up to the sky and dig their roots into the ground below.  Roots hold the soil in place, help the tree acquire nutrients, and provide habitat for other creatures.  They’re wonderful – and have you ever seen a tree growing on top of what looks like bare rock, too stubborn to starve or fall over?  Have you ever seen a sidewalk cracked and broken because some obstinate tree’s roots destroyed the pavement in a quest for life?  Roots cling, they nourish, they have power.  

Just imagine for a moment: we are all trees.  We are gathered here to celebrate our growth, as well as a future of branches arcing towards the sun.  We have been through storms, through uprootings of our friends and peers, and therefore, we all have some of the same roots.

I’ve spent my whole life in Old Lyme.  I’ve grown up with some of you, our trunks nearly intertwined with how close we’ve been throughout the years – I don’t have many memories of childhood without you in them.  Some of you I met a little later, but my roots are tangled with yours anyway.  I know that each tree in this forest will have stories in its rings, because our class is complex, layered, and magical.  Every time I talk to anyone in our grade, I learn something new, both about them and about myself.  I’m so grateful for all of you. 

Of course, trees can’t grow to their fullest potential without a little help.  So I want you all to think about the people who have supported you, and I’ll be selfish for a little bit and take the time to thank the people who supported me.  

To my wonderful teachers, no matter how large or small of an impact you think you’ve had on me, thank you.  The teachers in this school have been like the rain for this tree, like gentle showers of wisdom, support, and guidance. Whether you’ve helped me write my poetry (Mrs. Cleveland, Ressler, Duhamel, and Burke), supported my independent projects for charities (Madame), or simply asked me how I was in the hallway each day (DH), I have a lot of love in my heart for you.  Mr. Allik, you get a special little shoutout, as the person who put up with endless tantrums and tears, who has worn me down so much that I’m finally following my passion in college.

I have to thank my friends and peers as well. You’ve been like the sun to this tree, helping my leaves turn green and unfurl.  As I look at all of you, I’m so lucky.  I get to make jokes with you, listen to you read your poems out loud, eat lunch with you, go to the gym with you, cheer you on at sports games, watch you go ham at spirit week challenges every year (George Danes, you know who you are), go on endless goodwill trips with you, do crosswords with you when we should be listening in class, or even just pass by you in the hallway.  You guys shine so bright – it’s wonderful and terrifying and I love you all.

And I need to say one last thank you.  To my family, you are the soil I’m rooted in.  You are the people who have supported me unconditionally, who wipe my tears when I cry, who teach me about life and love through everything you do.  In particular, I need to give a special shoutout to the strongest person I know, the one who has dedicated her whole life to making mine better.  Mom, you have taken me to thirteen-hour swim meets, let me scream when I’m angry, held me as I sobbed.  People think I’m successful? I would be nothing without you cheering me on, reminding me of appointments I have to go to, and last but not least, waking me up in the mornings so I’m only tardy instead of absent.  I couldn’t be here at all without you, both literally and figuratively.  So, to my wonderful family, I love you more than I can say in words.

Just as we have grown through our four years here, our class has helped the school grow too.  We have won championships, performed in shows, made new clubs, served our peers and community – you name it, we’ve done it.  I could not be prouder of the things my peers achieve, or of the dreams I know each one of us carries forward.  

The class of 2021 is passing down the torch – we are leaving behind our sports uniforms, our textbooks, our seats at lunch, and our mission to make this school and these towns a better place to learn and grow.  I know that we will thrive after getting these diplomas, just as I know this school will thrive beyond our time here.

This, friends, is the place that we are from.  This is the place from which we grow, stretching our limbs into the light of the world.  I couldn’t ask for a better place for my roots to be.

Salutatorian
Megan Cravinho

How have we grown? 

I keep asking myself this question, pondering whether I’ve grown at all. Like in many families, mine carries the tradition to measure the kids and cousins’ height on the pantry door. Mine is all marked up with pencil lines, names, and dates. Even some friends joined in throughout the years. Just a couple weeks ago, I opened up the pantry door full of marks, and measured myself once again. (pause) Turns out, I haven’t budged a quarter inch since 2018, our freshman year. I brought my childhood step-stool today just to make sure I could reach the mic. And yes, I still use it to reach the higher shelves in the pantry too. 

On the other hand, all of us still have a-ways to grow, but growth isn’t always physical. Our class, in hindsight, has made tremendous strides over the past four years. We have progressed past our freshman pranks and thanks to our government-mandated education (pause), we’ve been provided space to develop into the unique individuals we are and will continue to become. Each of our niches at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, Wind Ensemble for me, maybe environmental or ping pong club for you, has contributed to our quote on quote high school experience, shaped our vision for the future, and impacted our passions, interests, and purposes. 

I hope we can all agree that when we are going through life, it’s hard to see how much we change over time.  Growth isn’t always noticeable. In Tait’s case, I am not so sure. He shot up to a tall 6’3’’. 

However, I have seen you adapt and thrive for every curveball thrown, bump in the road, or obstacle, you know, like a global pandemic. We have picked up new skills. Yes, different ones than how to use noodletools or create MLA citations. Among the new skills, learning to play with instrument bags and masks on! It really isn’t as easy as we make it look. These challenges have pushed us to move on and up. 

What initiates growth and progress?

Taking advantage of the challenges life brings and capturing new opportunities has proven successful. Our time used in a constructive way has allowed us to grow into ourselves. Through our senior projects, which varied from writing a fantasy novel to building a meat smoker to starting a sustainable clothing shop, our creative freedom flourished in the project’s limited direction. 

Keys to adulthood and moving onward are rooted in our already solid foundation.

Whatever your next steps are, and even if you need a step-stool along the way, the room for growth is boundless. Keep expanding and improving, taking chances, finding new opportunities. Don’t dwell on past accomplishments and the glory days of high school. Seek out new challenges and keep reaching for the highest shelf, even if you need a step- stool to help get you there. Our families, friends, and teachers have been that step-stool and supported us through the high school journey – we all needed it when we got here, but hopefully now we can all reach the top shelf on our own.

Congratulations Class of 2021 on your momentous achievements and in advance, congratulations on your future growth.

Honor Essayist
Riley Nelson

I want to start by saying a few thank you’s. Thank you to all the teachers, faculty, and staff, for all the support you have given us over the past four years and especially for enabling us to have a senior year that was as close to normal as possible. Thank you to friends and family for being there for us, especially the parents in the audience. And thank you to my fellow members of the class of 2021. Congratulations to us. We’ve made it. And what a journey it’s been. 

When I began thinking about what I wanted to say today, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how to put it into words. We’ve definitely been through a lot these past four years. How was I supposed to fit all the feelings, memories, and emotions into one compact lesson that I could send you all off with? It was a struggle. I likely still would have been stuck without an idea if my mom hadn’t worked through things with me. (Thanks, mom). We were sitting in her car when she reminded me of the memory.

When quarantine first began, I’m sure like the rest of you, I struggled with the sudden loss of all the normal activities of high school life. The boredom was overwhelming. But then I received a text from a friend. “Wanna go for a walk?” It was something simple, and I was allowed to do it because we were outside. My friend and I could walk for hours, sometimes talking about nothing or everything, it didn’t matter. Sometimes we picked a direction, sometimes we just wandered, doing multiple laps around that neighborhood and still not wanting to go home. It was during those times that I learned the importance of walking. 

This is likely the point where you’re thinking “walking? There’s nothing special about walking. It’s just the easiest way to get from one place to the next,” but I would beg to differ. There are so many things that walking can teach us. I do agree that walking is simple but I also think that is the beauty of it. We don’t have to worry about how we’re doing it or how we look to other people, we can just be. Another thing to be learned from walking is that we don’t always have to know the direction. We can wander and take time for ourselves and trust that our feet will be able to get us to where we need to be.

The important thing to remember is that we are allowed to be lost. We do not have to know what comes next, or how we are supposed to get there. Sometimes our paths will be confusing. You’ll end up standing at a crossroads with four different directions to pick from and you’ll have no idea which is the one that is supposed to lead you “home” wherever that may be. You are allowed to take that moment, to slow yourself down and just be lost. Where we are right now is one of those crossroads. I will be the first to admit that I feel lost. We are leaving our familiar path and venturing on to find new ones. It is a terrifying feeling but I know that it is not a forever feeling. So I will allow myself this moment to breathe. And then I will walk across this stage and begin walking again. 

The people we walk with may be just as important as “the walking” itself. Some people stay for long periods of time while others are gone in no time at all. People cross our paths, or stumble onto them, or sometimes block them entirely. We must learn to deal with these things and accept that they are part of the walking experience. Sometimes we even get pulled onto other people’s paths. I likely would have stayed home for a while longer if that friend had not reached out first. My life would have been wholly different if she had not sent that text in the first place. You have the power to change other people’s paths like she changed mine. You have the power to pull people onto your path or let your paths diverge. It is entirely up to you. 

Sometimes it will feel like you’re walking too slowly but that is allowed. There will be times when you have to force yourself to slow down before you burn yourself out. You don’t have to run, to be the first to everything all the time. Remember that we are allowed to take things at a walk instead of a full out sprint.  

Remember there’s no race to the end, even if it seems like that sometimes. We’re allowed to take our time, to not know the direction, to go at our own speed, and bring friends along on the journey. We’re allowed our own pace. 

A walking pace.

Class President
Lucas Wood-Muller

Fellow students, teachers, staff, and family, thank you for being here to celebrate the class of 2021’s graduation. Now, you’re probably wondering who this handsome, charming, and amazingly awesome kid is speaking, and my name is Lucas. I am honored to have the privilege and opportunity to speak before you today.

Where do I even begin? Should I start with the hellos, the goodbyes, the thank you’s? I honestly don’t know.

To all the teachers who have had me in their classes , first of all, I’m sorry, but thank you for all that you have done for us. Thank you for devoting your professional career to making ours. To the custodians who kept our school clean, especially this past year, thank you. To all the groundskeepers and maintenance workers who make sure we have a beautiful school to come into every day, thank you. To the security guards, who make sure we have a safe school to come into, we thank you. To all the people who made sure we had the best school experience by devoting their time for us, we thank you.

In my four years at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, I have always wanted to say thank you to this one person, but I never knew how to approach them. This teacher has, by far, made my high school experience, and gave me a reason to show up to school every day. This teacher goes out of his way to help each and every student and seems like he would give the shirt off his own back. They say you can tell when someone is meant to have the job they do, and this is one of those people. I took away much more than the subject this teacher taught us. I learned respect, dignity, quality,  humbleness, and selflessness. I don’t think I would be the same without you. You made every part of my day, so a very special thank you to Mr. Goss thank you for all you do.

And I can’t forget to give a special shout out to Mr. Rayder, we love you. I would also like to have a big thank you and shout out to our other class officers, Emma Boardmen, Megan Cravino, Schulyer Greenho, and Franki Donato. 

To my fellow graduates, we made it. It has been a long journey no doubt, but we are still standing here today. I remember seeing some of your faces on the first day of preschool at Grasshoper Green. We have been a part of each other’s lives on a daily basis. We grew up together, and we’ve  shared some incredible memories together. I can still think back to our first day of kindergarten, our first talent show at Lyme school, the first field day, that first girlfriend,  and all the love and joy of  being young, innocent kids, and it feels like it was yesterday.

But now, we are in the spot we always wished to be as kids, and it kind of sucks. I know I’m feeling the senioritis, it’s crippling. But that’s just the message I want to share with you all. Think back on how fast these past few years have gone. I know I would give anything to go back and restart. Think about what it’s going to be like in 10 years, or even 30 years.

Cherish the time you have now and appreciate today. Love the people around you. Tomorrow is never promised, so live like it is ending. Be loyal to those who are loyal to you, or should I say, “to thine self be true.” Focus on yourself, and be proud of the person you are.

The key to happiness isn’t the number in your bank account either, it’s about how much of an impact you make on everyone around you every single day. You can’t measure what’s inside a good person’s heart. A simple smile can make someone’s day.

So to conclude, to all of my classmates, my friends and family. I love you all, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of you. I wish all of you the best success, and a happy life. Goodbye and good luck, woody out.

CLASS OFFICERS

Lucas Wood-Muller, President
Emma Boardman, Vice President
Schuyler Greenho, Secretary
Connie Pan, Treasurer
Francette Donato, Class Historian

CANDIDATES FOR DIPLOMAS

Paige Marie Alpha 
Colbe Kent Andrews
Benton Mehadin Arafeh-Hudson
Kaylee Ann Armenia 
Sophia Lane Arnold 
Juliette Frances Atkinson 
Sonia Swan Bair 
Rachel Katherine Barretta
Olivia Louise Bartlett 
Michael Dominic Battalino
Maxwell Otto Bauchmann 
Jason Richard Beebe
Ava Campbell Berry
Emma Ann Boardman 
Truman Arthur Boller
Sadie Helen Bowman 
Kyuss Buono 
Keenan Lawrence Burr
Erika Yanira Carcamo Martinez 
Kate Margaret Cheney 
Chloe Mae Cleveland
Hunter Collins 

Emerson Mylon Colwell III 
Jackson Martin Cowell
John Berry Cox 
Megan Dorothy Cravinho 
Axel Damian Cruz
Michael Patrick Cushman
Patrick Nuhad Dagher
Richard Joseph Damiano III
George Stratton Danes 
Bianca Serapilia Dasilva 
Trube Anthony Dean
Nicholas Anthony DellaGrotte
Emily Jane DeRoehn 
Maxwell Carson Diebolt
Francette Mae Donato 
Corah Serene Engdall 
Leslie Dorothy Farrell
Isabella Mary Flagge
Sadie Caffry Frankel
Fiona Mary Frederiks 
Riley Madison Hope Fruth
Eveliz Adelaide Fuentes
Jackson Richard Goulding 
Ashton Jahieem Eric Gratton
Tyler Adam Gratton
Samantha Kelly Gray
Schuyler Bates Greenho 
Lillian Ellette Zager Dolan Grethel 
Emma Rose Griffith 
Thomas Ian Haley
Isabella Faith Hine
Aryn Teresa Jones
Regan Joshua Kaye 
Corey Aidan Klimaszewski
Lily Olivia Knight
Samuel Nelson Koenigs
Paige Elizabeth Kolesnik 
Destiny Rose Kus
Avery Rae Lacourciere 
Grace Ann Lathrop 
Gabriel Llunga Lavoie 
Justen Helene Lessard
Peter Joseph Lodi
Owen Russell Macadam 
Mackenzie Rose Machnik 
Luke Doheny Macy 
Madelyn Michele Maskell 
Elle Addison McAraw 
Emma Kay McCulloch 
Brendan James McTigue 
Emma Meekhoff 
Brianna Frances Melillo 
Marina May Melluzzo 
Michael Joseph Milazzo 
Riley Elizabeth Nelson 
Timothy Shane O’Brien 
Sophia Grace Ortoleva 
Connie Wendy Pan 
Olivia Day Papanier 
Nicholas Pasquale Parrillo
Anwyn Mae Paynter 
Lauren Adam Pitt 
Gavin Lawrence Porter 
Aidan Nelson Powers 
Ezra Nelson Pyle 
Jacob Leary Quaratella 
Jeremy Nelson Rand
Ethan Rivera
Anthony Jonathan Rosario
Julie Lynn Rudd 
John Turner Ruhling
Sean Thomas Sagristano
Hayden Brooks-McCall Saunders 
Tait Alexander Sawden 
Jesper Fredrik Silberberg 
Isabella Catherine Oulahan Smith 
Tessa Leighann St. Germain 
Kassidy Elizabeth Standish
Jake Talin Stewart 
Lian Elise Thompson 
McKenzey Pepper Thompson
Angus James Graeme Tresnan 
Nicholas Andrew Vandette
Katrina Marie Wallace 
Lauren Elizabeth Wallace 
Kelly Marie Walsh 
Alison Grace Ward 
Avery Thomas Welch 
Alden Bryce Wilson
Lucas Reed Wood-Muller
Joshua Matthew Yumbla
Katelyn Paige Zbierski
Ellery Hope Zrenda

 

Lyme Academy Welcomes Community Back to Campus with Upbeat Concert

OLD LYME — Hundred came out yesterday evening to enjoy a free concert hosted by Lyme Academy of Fine Arts featuring singer Chris Gregor on guitar, who was followed by Brad Bensko and Kathleen Parks.

The crowd seemed genuinely pleased to be back on the grounds of the beloved institution, which has experienced a period of uncertainty in recent years as it transitioned back from a degree-granting college to a fine arts academy.

It was an evening for all ages …

… with something for everyone.

The music delighted the audience …

… and a wonderful evening was had by all.

There will be another free concert next Thursday evening, June 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. on the grounds of the Academy featuring the Java Groove.

Don’t miss it!

Lyme-Old Lyme HS Seniors Kick Off Graduation Festivities with Jubilant Parade

All photos by Michele Dickey, except where indicated.

OLD LYME — 6/12 UPDATED: MORE PHOTOS ADDED Parents and townspeople came out in throngs yesterday evening to cheer the Lyme-Old Lyme High School seniors as they drove their cars through Old Lyme in a jubilant parade to celebrate their upcoming graduation this evening.

Cars were gaily decorated …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Old Lyme Emergency Services participated with their usual vigor …

The Old Lyme Fire Department helped out as always …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

It was a huge parade …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

…which wound its way down Lyme Street.

They rode solo …

They rode in twos here …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

… and twos there.

They rode in threes …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

… and fours …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

… and more!

In fact, they rode in crowds!

… and such a great time was had by all.

It was a Grand Parade indeed …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Spirits were high …

They waved …

Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Photo by Liz Frankel.

They cheered …

And the cars just kept on coming!

and coming …

and coming …

Still more …

They stood proudly atop this jeep …

and that car …

and that truck ..

and these ones too!


Even the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall joined the celebrations to offer its own words of congratulations …

It was indeed a night to remember!

Two Lyme-Old Lyme HS Grads Selected for Team US Men’s Eight Competing at Tokyo Olympics

LYME/OLD LYME — In a truly remarkable achievement, two Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) graduates have been selected to represent the US in the Men’s Eight at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Austin Hack, LOLHS Class of 2010.

Austin Hack, who graduated from LOLHS in 2010, and Liam Corrigan, a member of the LOLHS Class of 2014, both rowed for LOLHS and then went on to represent their respective universities at Stanford (Hack) and Harvard (Corrigan).

Hack is the only returning member of the 2021 US Men’s Eight. He was a member of the 2016 US Men’s Eight team, which came in fourth in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.

His list of rowing accomplishments is encyclopedic with an abbreviated version including membership of the following national teams: Junior, 2009-10; Under 23, 2011-12; Senior, 2013-15, 2019; and Olympic, 2016, 2020.

In terms of international results, Hack finished fifth in the the eight at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and also fifth in the four at the 2019 World Rowing Cup II.

He won bronze in the eight at the 2016 World Rowing Cup II and won the eight at the 2016 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta.

Going back further than 2016, the list is equally extensive and can be viewed in detail at this link.

Hack has been working part time for McKinsey and Company, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was living and training in Old Lyme. Part of his training was on a bicycle adapted by Steve Morrissey of Old Lyme on which Hack ultimately set new records on all the Strava segments in town.

Asked how they felt about their son, Austin, and Corrigan’s success in being named to the US Men’s Eight, Dr. Gregory Hack and Dr. Barbara Hack told LymeLine exclusively, “We are beyond thrilled for both Austin and Liam! On the men’s side of rowing, the US will only be sending an 8+ and a 4- to Tokyo.  To think that of those 12 seats, two of them will be occupied by sons of Old Lyme is just incredible!”

The Hacks added, “It’s a testament not only to their grit and strength, but also to their years of training/coaching starting right here at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.”

Liam Corrigan, LOLHS Class of 2014.

Corrigan graduated from Harvard with an honors degree in Physics and Astrophysics and while at Harvard, he was captain of the men’s crew.

Since graduating, he has moved to Oakland, Calif. to train with the men’s training center for the upcoming Olympics. His accomplishments with Team USA include finishing fourth in the pair at the 2017 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, placing fifth in the four at the 2015 World Rowing Junior Championships, taking eighth in the pair at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and finishing ninth in the eight at the 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships.

Corrigan recently rowed in the men’s four that won the B final at the 2019 World Rowing Under 23 Championships.

Responding to a question about how they felt after learning Liam had been selected for the US Men’s Eight, Brian and Joan Corrigan said, “It is difficult to describe how overjoyed and proud we are to see Liam on his way to achieving goals, which he set for himself many years ago. We have watched him work diligently over the years, and are ecstatic that he is finding success.”

They noted, “We are grateful to LOLHS, the Old Lyme Rowing Association (OLRA) and the Town of Lyme for their support over many years,” concluding, “We feel so fortunate to live in such a wonderful community.”

Liam Corrigan is at the front right of this photo of the Harvard boat.

Speaking on behalf of the OLRA, Candace and Paul Fuchs commented, “‘The Old Lyme Rowing Association is bursting with pride over the dedication and perseverance of our athletes and their families, which brought us to this historic moment. In partnership with the Town of Old Lyme and Regional School District 18, our little organization is pleased to provide a place for big kids to play and find success.’

Sadly, neither family can attend the Olympics in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Barbara and Greg Hack ended their email to us enthusiastically with the words, “Go Old Lyme!  Go USA!”  We wholeheartedly second that sentiment and wish Austin and Liam every success in their Olympic endeavors!

Editor’s Note: Old Lyme Rowing Association (OLRA) oversees LOLHS crew, and Blood Street Sculls. Blood  Street Sculls was established by Fred Emerson (on Blood Street) around 1965, for the cultivation of rowing for local high school students, college students and adults.  

Some of the country’s most notable athletes called Blood Street Sculls home in the early days including  Jim Dietz who is one of the most decorated scullers in US history (named to three US Olympic teams).  

A strong supporter of the nascent sport of women’s rowing, Fred Emerson organized some of the first  women’s national championships to be held on Rogers Lake in 1971, which included athletes who would  ultimately represent the US in Olympic competition.  

Blood Street Sculls was an incubator for rowing programs for high schools and colleges across New England. USCGA and Connecticut College got their start in this manner.

Anita DeFrantz first learned to row as a Connecticut College student, rowing on Rogers Lake. DeFrantz went on to represent the US in the 1976 women’s eight. She was a vocal legal authority when US athletes were prohibited from  competition in 1980 and she has risen through the ranks of international rowing and is currently the vice  president of the IOC.  

Significant achievements — excluding those by Hack and Corrigan —  by OLRA athletes since 2000 include:

Olympic Athletes
2008: Andrew Bolton Men’s lightweight four spare
2012: Sarah Trowbridge Women’s Open double sculls  

World Championships  
Sarah Trowbridge: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011  

Under 23 World Championships 
Hannah Paynter: 2019  

Junior World Championships  
Christiana Congdon: 2017  

Since record-keeping was initiated in 1997, over 100 athletes in OLRA programs have gone on to  represent their university in collegiate rowing competition.  

Paul Fuchs, Director of Rowing, holds the men’s lightweight course record for Head of the Charles, and competed on seven US World Championship teams. He has coached at the Olympic and World  championship levels and serves on the Executive Council of FISA, the international governing body for  the sport of rowing.

Artist and Community Volunteers Turn Prison Cell into Garden at Flo Gris Museum; Solitary Garden Artist to Give Talk Sunday

OLD LYME — As part of the Florence Griswold Museum’s current exhibition, Social & Solitary: Reflections on Art, Isolation, and Renewal, the Museum is collaborating with the New Orleans-based artist jackie sumell to install one of her “Solitary Garden” beds on the Museum’s grounds.

A group of volunteers from the community will work with the artist to create the fixtures and plant garden

Thursday, June 10, from 10 am to 5 pm
Friday, June 11, from 10 am to 5 pm
Saturday, June 12, from 10 am to 1 pm

If you wish to volunteer for this project, visit https://florencegriswoldmuseum.org/solitarygarden/

The Solitary Garden project comes to life through correspondence between a volunteer and a currently incarcerated “gardener.” Their letters articulate to the Museum what kinds of flowers or plants are grown in the garden bed. Each Solitary Garden is a gesture of hope connecting an isolated person to the outside world through the restorative act of nurturing plants.

The size and layout of sumell’s 6’ x 9’ plots replicate prison cells, with “fixtures” made from biodegradable materials that will disappear over time as the plants and flowers mature.

The gardener is currently incarcerated at the York Correctional Institution, a facility for women in Niantic. By pending agreement with the prison and the gardener, we will soon be able to share the gardener’s initials.

Photo of jackie sumell by Maiwenn Raoult.

Artist jackie sumell works with gardeners incarcerated around the country and encouraged the curator to connect with someone in prison locally.

The Hartford artist Judy Dworin of the movement-based, multi-arts Judy Dworin Performance Project works with women incarcerated at York and helped identify the gardener based on her past involvement in both gardening and writing programs at the prison.

Sumell will be at the Museum on Sunday, June 13 at 2 p.m. for a free talk on the grounds. She will speak about her Solitary Gardens and The Prisoner’s Apothecary, a traveling project that grows plant medicine in collaboration with incarcerated individuals and distributes it to affected communities nationally.

The Solitary Gardens project cultivates conversations around alternatives to incarceration by catalyzing compassion. This project directly and metaphorically asks us to imagine a landscape without prisons.

Editor’s Note: The artist’s name is intentionally lowercase. The Florence Griswold Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT.