Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 09-11-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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CUMBERLAND – On any given day at the Blackstone River Theatre, you might find a group of adults playing the five-string banjo or prac- ticing their mountain dulcimers or learning the art of basket weaving. These classes and workshops, along with many others, are all part of the Heritage Arts Studio initiative at the theater, 549 Broad St., which offers les- sons in traditional art forms taught by respected performers and teachers, says BRT Executive Director Russell Gusetti. Enrollment for the fall session at the theater, which is celebrating its 20th year of programming this year, is currently open. What's unique about the classes, Gusetti said, is that they're geared toward adults and taught in a group setting. "If you have always been curious about a certain instrument or dance style … and want to learn it in a non- threatening, very affordable environ- ment, this is the place to do it," he said. Classes include a six-week series of beginner, continuing and advanced beginner five-string banjo lessons, taught by Ed Sweeney, which will take place on Saturdays, beginning Sept. 14. Sweeney, a performer who is also on BRT's board of directors, will also teach continuing beginner classes in guitar on Saturdays, starting Sept. 14. The fee is $90 per student per six- week session. Sweeney will also teach a six-week group guitar workshop for inter- mediate acoustic guitar players on Mondays, starting Sept. 16, and will hold two 90-minute guitar workshops on both Beatles and Christmas music for intermediate finger style guitarists on Saturdays, Nov. 16 and Nov. 23. Other classes include total begin- ner and continuing beginner ukulele with Armand Aromin on Thursdays, starting Oct. 10, as well as workshops in continuing mountain dulcimer on Saturdays, Oct. 26 and Nov. 16, with Aubrey Atwater and beginner moun- tain dulcimer with her husband, Elwood Donnelly. Donnelly will also teach a basket weaving workshop on Sunday, Nov. 17. Atwater, also a member of BRT's board, will lead a four-week class in Singing Traditional Folk Songs on Wednesdays, beginning Oct. 9, and will also teach a clogging workshop on Saturday, Nov. 2. Atwater said she's one of only a couple of people in the region who teach and perform clogging, which she learned in Kentucky, so a work- shop like this is a "rare opportunity." The classes and workshops are not intimidating, she said. Taught with warmth and hospitality, they are "open to people curious about folk tradition." Percussionist Kyle Forsthoff will offer beginner and continuing begin- ner workshops in bodhran, the Irish drum, on Sundays, beginning Sept. 29. Laura Travis will host a two-day workshop in Celtic stone carving for beginners on Saturday, Oct. 5 and Sunday, Oct. 6. Also offered are nine-week sessions of seven levels of fiddle classes with instructor Cathy Clasper-Torch who performs in The Gnomes and as part of the Atwater-Donnelly Trio and has taught at the theater for over 13 years. With about 50 adult fiddle students ranging from age 16 to 86, Clasper- Torch said, "it's a nice flow of new students but what's also really heart- ening is how many have continued to keep it up." She said the group setting is "not as intimidating as a private lesson might be" and that it's fun because every- one in the class is there because they want to be there. Tir Na Nog Irish Dance continues to offer 23 levels of non-competitive Irish step dance classes for children and teens with instructor Erika Damiani. Hard shoe, soft shoe and troupe classes are available. Both Tir Na Nog Irish Dance and the advanced fiddlers, who call them- selves The Broad Street Fiddlers, often perform outside of BRT, but Gusetti noted that students are not PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | SEPTEMBER 11-17, 2019 LETTERS / THE VALLEY 19 Dube: Parents need to know more facts about charter schools Erika Sanzi's idea of report cards for schools is a good start to clearing up some misconceptions that parents have about schools. Especially in the past year, the RICAS results news has painted with wide brushes over some key data that parents should be aware of. This is especially true in the char- ter world where a handful of strong charter schools obscured that many charters performed quite poorly, even compared to their sending districts. There has been a narrative recently that charter automatically equals better and this is dishonest to the parents who are applying to charters and sending their children believing that it is a better educa- tion. All of R.I. schools need to do better; there is no doubt about that. However, when it comes to a par- ent deciding where a child will get a better academic experience, often the neighborhood public school is better than the charter and the data proves this. Highlander Charter had 15 per- cent proficiency in English and 9 percent in math. This is lower than allelementary schools in Pawtucket (the lowest ELA score was 19 and the lowest math was 16) and significantly lower than many of those schools (Varieur: 45, 38. Potter-Burns: 41, 33. Curtis: 36, 38. Greene 29, 32). International Charter sits directly next to Varieur and has a similar population, yet while Varieur had scores of 45 and 38, International had 32 and 22. Looking at Providence shows the same results with schools like Highlander and Paul Cuffee (15, 19) drastically underperforming many Providence Public Schools (remember: these are the same schools that are struggling with management, crumbling school buildings, poor morale … we have read the stories and heard that the commissioner wouldn't send her children to any of these schools). Remember those charter numbers from above and then here are three Providence Public Schools: Vartan: 49, 35. Reservoir: 42, 32. Kennedy: 35, 27. These charter school parents and applicants have a right to know that, although their school has been given the freedom and flexibility to put more teachers in the class- room, extend the school day, and set many other parameters includ- ing parent contracts, and uniforms, much of this is window dressing. Their neighborhood school with a strong teachers' union and expe- rienced educators in the classroom is often a better academic choice. I applaud Erika's suggestion that we look deeper and are more honest with parents. Parents who apply to a charter school should be presented with these numbers to make informed decisions that go beyond broad strokes in the news. ERIN DUBE Pawtucket School Committee deputy chairperson Back to school at Blackstone River Theatre Heritage Arts Studio lets students discover, reconnect with music and dance traditions By MELANIE THIBEAULT Valley Breeze Staff Writer melanie@valleybreeze.com CATHY CLASPER-TORCH teaches seven levels of group fiddle classes at BRT. She has taught there since 2006. Cumberland resident and BRT Board Member ED SWEENEY teaches both guitar and five-string banjo classes at Blackstone River Theatre. KYLE FORSTHOFF teaches beginner and advanced beginner bodhran, or Irish drum, classes. GUSETTI See BRT CLASSES, Page 32 Do you know someone celebrating an October Birthday? The Valley Breeze Birthday Club for OCTOBER will be printed on October 3, 2019. Forms should be received by The Valley Breeze by Friday, September 27, 2019. Send in the name of someone with his or her October birth date and $2 per edition and we'll include them in the club. The check should be made payable to The Valley Breeze for use in the Breeze charities fund. Mail to: The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite #204, Lincoln, RI 02865. Thank you! Greetings should be 10 words or less. Name: .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. Date of Birth: ............................................................................................................................................ Age: .............................................................................. From: ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ Contact Phone Number (for questions, not publication) ................................................................................................................................................. Edition (please check): Cumberland/Lincoln edition ($2) Pawtucket edition ($2) Observer edition ($2) North Smithfield/Blackstone/Woonsocket edition ($2) North Providence edition ($2) Making a Difference in the Lives of Others 610 Smithfield Road North Providence, RI 02904 (401) 353-6300 Sub-Acute Rehabilitation, Long-term Care, Secure Dementia Care and Hospice Services Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapy Private and Semi-Private Rehab Rooms Admissions 24 Hours ~ 7 Days per week We accept: Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Health, Neighborhood & Medicaid Hopkins Manor

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