Monday, September 29, 2008

NEAT Schools Committee Meeting Wed 7pm

The NEAT Schools Committee will meet Wednesday Oct 1st at 7pm at the NEAT Office (668 Main St).  Sheila Daniels from the Middletown Board Of Education will be coming to meet with us and discuss how we can have open communication with the Board Of Education about the North End educational experience.  
We will have an open discussion time for fifteen minutes before and fifteen minutes after meeting with her to discuss any new issues.
This will be a great opportunity to start a relationship with the Board of Education and help ensure the success of our committee.

NEAT Holds Elections

It's time for NEAT to hold its annual elections.  Come to the October 8th NEAT meeting (6:30 at the Green Street Arts Center) and cast your ballot.  We will be electing officers and board members.  If you would like to nominate yourself or others, please contact NEAT at 346-4845 or email

In addition to elections, this meeting will be a workshop about elections.  NEAT will be hosting a political forum, with a panel that includes State Senator Paul Doyle and Councilman Grady Faulkner, among others.  

Come to vote, or just come to learn about the political process and why you should care who represents you.  
The Teen Dreams Society, NEAT's youth leadership club, will also be running a voter registration booth at this meeting, so if you're not already registered, this is your chance.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Well Worth Saving...

It's been a whirlwind year for Macdonough Elementary School, the North End's main school for K-5. Earlier this year, budget problems faced the school board, and teachers, parents and neighborhood leaders fought successfully to keep the school open. Now, we have more cause to celebrate.

ConnCAN, a non-profit organization, and leader in the field of education has named Macdonough to be the third most improved schools in the state. The 2008 CMT scores showed an average of 21% increase in students "at goal" across the board. Also, ConnCAN highlights 10 schools state-wide as "success stories", with a video and spotlight on their website, and Macdonough was chosen for this honor, as well. The video will be filmed in the coming weekse.

Just a few years ago, Macdonough struggled to keep pace within the district. Now, it is in line with the district and state averages in math and reading and exceeds them in writing. The school has new leadership, dedicated teachers and a community that believes it can succeed. 

Congratulations to Teachers, Staff, Students, Parents and community members for proving that this school is well worth saving. 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

MHS Voting Reforendum: Sept 23

A message for MHS PTA Co-President Yvette Henley
Just in case you haven’t heard, voting on an MHS referendum will be held on Tuesday, September 23. Passage of this referendum is absolutely critical to the success of the high school construction project and our city, overall. Passage has NO IMPACT on taxpayers. The increase in the project cost ceiling is needed to allow for over $1.3M in grants awarded to the project by the CT Clean Energy Fund and CT Innovations (Fuel Cell) and state legislature (Area of Assembly Generator) to be spent. Passage also changes the bond language to allow for other potential grants to be accepted. At present, these additional funds can not increase the bonding for the project and, therefore, will result in work to stop on demolition of Woodrow Wilson Middle School and construction of the new high school athletic fields. Again, a yes vote will not change the cost to taxpayers.
Unfortunately, there is currently misinformation, confusion and apathy related to this referendum. Parents of children in the school system need to understand the importance of participating in this vote on Sept 23. Voting will be held at Moody School , City Hall and South Fire from 12 to 8pm.

Dist. 1 MacDonough School will vote at City Hall, 245 deKoven Drive.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Voter Registration Bus Stops

As a very important election nears, the Teen Dreams Society is looking for more places to register North End residents. If you have any suggestions, we'd love to hear them. You can call the NEAT office (346-4845) or email with your ideas.

If you not registered, or would like to volunteer to register people in your neighborhood, please don't hestitate to call!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moody PTA Meeting Recap

A group of Moody parents and grandparents from NEAT's new Schools Committee attended the school's first PTA on Tuesday night. We found many opportunities for Moody families to be involved, including baking something for the election day bake sale and volunteering at the fall book fair in October. Volunteer shifts can be as short as two hours and if there is interest, NEAT School's Committee could organize a group to do it together. The PTA is working hard to make sure Moody students can go on field trips, have extra supplies in the classroom, and some extra activities to make the year more fun. It would be great for us to help out in anyway we can.

Parents also brought up concerns about the lack of communication about the new lunch policy and no introduction letter from the new principal. Moody parents should expect two letters home addressing these things very soon.

We have also heard many different concerns about the buses. NEAT has requested a copy of the district bus policy and will have it available on this blog and at our office. If you have concerns, please look at the policy. We can discuss any further concerns at the Schools Committee meetings, the first Wednesday of each month.

Thanks to those people who came to the meeting. It was great representation from the North End.

Arts Explorers Program At Oddfellows Playhouse

Oddfellows Playhouse with collaboration with the Middletown Youth Services Bureau is forming a unique program called Arts Explorers. Art Explorers is a program blending intensive arts training with job readiness skills for students enrolled at Woodrow Wilson Middle School during the 2008-2008 school year. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about as well as "specialize" in three areas of artistic exploration (literary, performance, and visual arts). Working with professional mentor artists, by the end of the program students will have created and publicly released original work of art, from a new play, to a art gallery, to a literary magazine, or anything a mind can imagine!

Anyone willing to participate will receive a stipend for their work, PARTICIPATION IS LIMITED TO 24 STUDENTS so register early! Participants will commit to the program which will last for the school year and with meetings being held once weekly from 1-1/2-2 hours per week. All skills are encouraged to join and are welcome!

Here are some benefits of the program..

Make some money!

Have fun!

Make new friends!

Learn new skills!

Transportation is provided!

For more information contact:

Jeffrey Allen
Oddfellows Playhouse
128 Washington St.
Middletown, CT 06457
Phone: 860-347-6143

Program is expected to begin in October!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hiking Trip Part 2

The mountain we climbed was Mt Monadnock, which is, according to Bill Warner, the second most climbed mountain in the country. It was a very challenging climb and some of us felt the accomplishment for many days...with both mind and body receiving benefits. No moose sightings this year but Izzi, Rachel, and Katya's cooking sure tasted good when we got back to the AMC lodge. Outhouse humor was in full force and in keeping with the traditions of the NEAT Hiking Club. Wisely NEAT staff withheld the details of plumbing deficits from Shaniece, hoping to surprise her with the excitement of her first outhouse experience until arrival at the lodge. Shawn forgot to share that he was the first to take the polar plunge. His example set the bar for the rest of the, not to be outdone, North End thrill seekers including a relay team that would make Michael Phelps proud.

The NEAT Hiking Club is paid for a grant from the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Prevention Council. Many thanks for their continued support.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Moody PTA Meeting tonight! at 7pm

Moody's PTA will have their school year kick off meeting on Tuesday Sept 16th at 7pm. We strongly encourage North End parents to be involved with the PTA. The more representation we have, the better we can make the school for North End students. If there is interest we will set up a carpool and ride share through NEAT. Please call the NEAT office for more information (346-4845) or email

Monday, September 15, 2008

September NEAT Meeting

September's NEAT Meeting was really great and we covered a lot.

Sadly, our President Cookie Quinones announced her resignation last night. She has served with us for four years and helped us accomplish so much. She is now busy with so many positive things in her life that we will be seeing her now as NEAT member instead of as the President. Thank you so much for your service, Cookie.

As we've written about on previous blogs, the transfer of Donovan Park, or MacDonough School's playground, to the Board of Ed has been approved. The final approval needs to be made by the Common Council before it is official. NEAT members were a large part of the process to make this change (see blogs "Problems In Donovan Park" and Donovan Park update for more information). It would be great if we could see this all the way through by going to the Common Council Meeting in support of the transferring the park. We will let everyone know when that meeting will be.

It's time to elect NEAT officers and board members and we are looking for a nominating committee. This is a quick and easy committee to join. If you'd like to help with the nominations or have ideas of who might make a good board member, call the NEAT office (346-4845)or email to sign up.

The 2008 election is coming up quickly and it is VERY important that North End residents vote. We will be holding voter registration drives around the North End in the next few weeks. If you are not registered, please come by the NEAT office or one of our registration tables (look for the Teen Dreams Society) and we will help you to register and give you some information about how to vote and where to vote. Anyone interested in helping register people in your neighborhood, please call the NEAT office or email

NEAT will be hosting a democracy forum at the next NEAT meeting on October 15th. We will be discussing how voting effects you, your family, and your neighborhood. We are still in the planning process, so if you have any ideas, please feel free to share them with us, call the office or email

The NEAT Schools Committee formed at the last meeting and we are looking for more members. The committee will come together to talk about the school experience for North End families. We will discuss issues within the schools for North End parents, attend Board of Education Meetings, PTA meetings, and work to support local allies within Middletown's schools. For more information or to join call NEAT or email

Thanks to everyone who was a part of last night's meeting. We had some great participation and great ideas. See you all next month.

NEAT's Schools Committee

The Schools Committee is a place where we can work together to make positive changes for North End families with in Middletown Schools. Come discuss any problems that you and your family may have with your school and the school experience with other families just like you.

As a committee we will:

• Create a place to share your experiences and find out what the education issues are for North End families

• Attend Middletown Board of Education Meetings to be sure we are up to date about BOE issues and show that we want to be involved with policy decisions

• Support local allies with in the schools, including teachers, community advocates, and Board of Education members who advocate for positive policies for North End parents

• Work to find real solutions to these issues and advocate for ourselves, our families, and our neighborhood so necessary changes are made and our solution can be successful

• Join and support your school’s PTA.

If you are interested in better education and better school experiences for North End families, please sign up for this committee. For more information or to sign up, call the NEAT office at 346-4845 or email Alicia at

Friday, September 12, 2008


Oddfellows Playhouse has additional financial aid and scholarship slots for fall classes, so this is a great chance to try out something new or take a class you've been holding off on. Spaces are available for classes in all three age levels, but are going fast. You can call the Playhouse at 860-347-6143 to register.

Stage 1 (ages 6-8)

Stage 2 (ages 9-11)

Stage 3 (ages 12-14)

Teen Rep (ages 14-19) in High School or recent graduate

There are still spots available in the toddler/pre-schooler classes, but financial aid is more limited.

Also, the North End Troupes are starting up soon. This is open to kids of many ages and is FREE! The North End Troupe meet twice a week. Snack is provided.

Visit for additional information, or simple call 860-347-6143. Transportation is available to and from the Playhouse.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Moody PTA Meeting Tues 16th

Moody's PTA will have their school year kick off meeting on Tuesday Sept 16th at 7pm. We strongly encourage North End parents to be involved with the PTA. The more representation we have, the better we can make the school for North End students. If there is interest we will set up a carpool and ride share through NEAT. Please call the NEAT office for more information (346-4845) or email

My Hike to Mount Menadanock By Shawn Grimes

On August 23, 24, and 25, 2008 10 adults 14 kids and 2 young children went to Russell Massachusetts to go hiking at Mount Menadanock. We all stayed in a cabin in a camp called Noble View. The first day we got there everyone helped to unpack all the supplies for our three day stay. We then went hiking to a gorgeous swimming hole where the water was crystal clear and ice cold. There was also a pretty waterfall. We then hiked back to the cabin where we were staying. The next morning every one woke up at 7:00 A.M to get ready go hiking. We all got in the car and made our way up to Mount Menadanock. The hike took five hours and the view was amazing. We went back to our camp and ate supper and played some games. Then on Monday morning we got all packed up and hit the road back for Connecticut. I was really lucky to go because they only choose a limited number of people. So if you get the chance to go on the three day hike you should come because it is really fun.

The NEAT Hiking Club is paid for a grant from the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Prevention Council. Many thanks for their continued support.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

MacDonough PTA Meeting Sept 11th

The MacDonugh PTA will be meeting tomorrow, Thursday Sept 11, at 3:30 in the school's library. If you are a MacDonough parent, this a great time to join the PTA and help us make this a great year. We strongly encourage new members to come by and want to get as many parents involved as possible. Please call the NEAT office (346-4845) or MacDonough School (347-8553) with any questions and to find out how you can volunteer with the PTA.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Register to Vote!

We're inching up to the 2008 election and many North End residents are not yet registered to vote. I can't stress enough how important voting is for a neighborhood like ours. So, we're launching a voter registration campaign. Our teen leadership group, the Teen Dreams Society, will be doing voter registration drives and, along with other NEAT members, intend to hold a political forum in October.

In the meantime, are you registered to vote? Are you confused about the registration process? Do you have a criminal record and don't think you can vote? You may be wrong. Please contact the NEAT office if you would like help registering to vote or would like more information about the process.

If you're interesting in helping with NEAT's North End Votes campaign, please email or call the NEAT office at 860-346-4845.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Building Computer Basics

In October, NEAT will be hosting another Building Computer Basics class, this time, with an emphasis on the types of programs that are common for home and office use. If you want to make a family budget, make a resume, write a thank you note, but are unsure how, this is a great class to get you started on using the very common Microsoft Office programs. These classes run Thursdays in October.

All classes will be held at the Green Street Arts Center. These "Art of Living" classes are run in partnership with the Green Street Arts Center, with Support from Liberty Bank and funding from the Bank of America.

All classes are free and open to everyone. Childcare will be provided, but please let us know in advance if you need it. Please call the NEAT office (346-4845) to register or email to

Friday, September 5, 2008

Teen Dreams Update

The Teen Dreams Society held it's second voter registration drive at Macdonough's Back to School Bash and it was a great success. The group has now registered 30 North End residents to vote, getting closer to a goal of at least 60 new North End voters. Don't worry if you missed us, we will be set up all around the North End at different times before the election and will be happy to help you register and get to know more about voting and how it really does matter for you and your family.

If you have any questions about registering to vote, how or where to vote, or just want to register and you're afraid you'll miss us, give Izzi or Alicia a call at the NEAT office at 346-4845 or email

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Amazing Grace Food Pantry needs your help

The supply of food at Amazing Grace is very, very low. Late summer is always difficult at the pantry, but the situation this year is dire.

Kathleen Kelly, coordinator at Amazing Grace, is buying many cases of food at local grocery stores just to keep a cross section of nutritious items on the shelves for our shoppers. And she tells us that many more people are coming in asking for help – most talking about how hard they are working trying to make ends meet.

We appreciate all you do to keep the shelves stocked, but if you are able to help out with these specific items, it would be greatly appreciated. Please pass this appeal on to others who might be willing to donate, or distribute it through your e-mail or print networks – friends, co-workers, faith communities, clubs, etc.

Here is what is most in need:
SOUP & PASTA SAUCE top the list
CANNED BEANS (any kind except baked beans)
CEREAL (any kind except Corn Flakes)
PASTA (any kind except elbows)
SIDE DISHES (boxed potatoes, hamburger helper, rice dishes, etc.)
at the bottom of the list is BAKING MIXES (cakes, brownies, etc.)

The usual drop-off times are noon - 4pm, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays - at the pantry, 139 Main St. Ext., Middletown. Volunteers are often at Amazing Grace at other times, so call 860-347-3222 if you need to arrange another drop-off time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Home-ownership Workshops

Do you want to take your first steps toward owning a home? Are you interested in improving your credit to prepare for -? NEAT is hosting another round of Credit Counseling and Home-ownership Workshops in September, running every Thursday at 6:00 pm.

Rosa Carrero from Liberty Bank will present four info sessions designed to help people take the first steps toward buying a home. Topics include credit counseling (Session 1), finding the right home (Session 2), the lending process (Session 3) and understanding Legalities (Session 4). Participants in all four will receive A certificate of completion that meets one eligibility requirement for The City Of Middletown grant and down payment assistance, CHFA and CHFA Down payment assistance programs. If you have taken these classes before and want to brush up, or if you missed a class and want to catch up, please give us a call.

All classes are free and open to everyone. Childcare will be provided, but please let us know in advance if you need it. Please call the NEAT office (346-4845) to register or email to

Monday, September 1, 2008

Back-to School Info

Its that time of year again. The first day of school is Thursday, September 4th but there are a few other dates to remember:

Macdonough: Sept 2: 3:30-4:15 Kindergarten open house, 4:15-5:00 pm, grades 1-5 open house, 5:00-7:00 pm back to school bash. Please come!!

Sept 4, First day of School at 9:05! All students meet on the playground to meet your class. The PTA will be sponsoring a welcome breakfast for new families from 9:05-9:30 am in the Cafeteria, but any parents are welcome to come and help welcome new families. There is a back to school celebration assembly 9:30 am. All families and parents are welcome and encouraged to attend

If you have any questions, please call the school at: 860-347-8553
Also, in case you are looking for them, teachers assignment letters were mailed out today.

Moody School: August 28 Kindergarten Open House for parents at 3:00 pm and for students at 5:45 pm. September 3 Meet and Greet for Grades 1-5 4-5pm.
You can call Moody at 860-347-2561

If you aren't sure which elementary school your child will be attending, please call the curriculum office at 638-1440. You can also always call the NEAT office with other questions and we can help you figure it out. 346-4845.