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A model for a new East High

Now that the future of East High School lies partially in the hands of the University of Rochester's Warner School, a suggestion to position the school for success is to reorganize it into a K-12 community school serving the eastside neighborhoods. There are several reasons why a community school-based model is worthy of consideration:

1) Educational research indicates that a school with a community-based culture can connect to the local neighborhoods and improve community ownership. When ownership increases, so does student attendance, and eventually academic achievement.

2) Having 500 high school, 500 middle school, and 500 elementary school students would be more manageable than 1,500 high school students embroiled in cross-city rivalries. A K-12 setting would also enhance long-term parental connection throughout their child's elementary and secondary school years.

3) The school's Teaching and Learning Institute would benefit by having younger students in the building so that high school students could learn to teach and read to them. Such a situation would enrich a college partnership in developing future teachers for the district.

One thing is for certain: finding solutions to the present dilemma at East High School will require an imaginative mindset – both within the local community and from outside. The combined efforts of all those interested in the future of East High School and its students will assuredly result in an organization that puts community ownership at the top of the priority list.


Do we need another theater?

It is proposed that a quarter-million dollars or more be devoted to a study about the need for a downtown performing arts venue.

Maybe it is difficult to find places on the calendar when the Eastman Theatre is available for booking. However, there is a vast history of this stage presenting plays, musicals, operas, and special productions. It should also be recognized that except for blockbuster shows, particularly those with special effects, touring theater no longer exists.

As demonstrated especially by the Rochester Jazz Festival, the city and surrounding towns have a great number of spaces for music, drama, dance, recitals, and productions.

Except perhaps for yet another "Phantom" tour, has any producer gone on record that Rochester is bypassed because there is no venue?


Priced out at the Med Center

The fees for parking at the University of Rochester Medical Center are outrageous and way out of line. The University of Rochester, which the URMC is a part of, has nearly $2 billion in its endowments. That's "billion" with a "B."

Charging outrageous fees for parking adds to the burden of the poor and middle class. It is just one more thing to worry about when you have a member of your family as a patient at URMC. The high costs of medical care are enough of a shock – and then add on the daily costs of parking.

Perhaps the next time a multi-millionaire wishes to give a substantial amount of money to the URMC, they should direct the money to subsidize the parking fees. Or better yet, direct some of the $2 billion in the endowments to finance the parking garage.

As a side note: parking at Unity Hospital is free.


When dorks grow up

Kimberly and Beck are dorks – and I use "dork" as a term of endearment. A cousin of "nerd" and "geek," "dork" carries with it an understood sweetness and innocent aloofness. Dorks are harmless and many times fun, but still not cool enough to hang with the A crowd. Sometimes this is of their own design; more often than not, they've been ostracized. I was something of a dork during my formative years, and I still remember episodes of contempt or scorn. They hurt, yes. But they shaped me for the better.

When I look at that publicity photo of Kimberly and Beck, that's the one thing that comes to mind: they're dorks-with-a-capital-D. I can't help but look in their faces and see dorkier teenaged versions of themselves. I'd bet that they've felt the sting of being left out – that on more than one occasion they were ridiculed by those higher up on the social food chain.

So I can't wrap my head around their mean-spiritedness, the vitriol with which they attack people that they perceive as being "below" them. There were a few times, after I found my social niche, that I attempted to turn that scorn around on to people that I perceived to be below me on the social ladder. As an adult, I look back on those times with shame, regret, and humility. I can't imagine adults not feeling a twinge of disgrace after publicly mocking someone the way that that these two did.

I realize that this is their schtick; they're crass and "edgy." Controversy brings in listeners. But even if it is an act – "Hey, c'mon, it's just a joke" – is this how you want to be entertained? This point-and-laugh mentality? This lowest common denominator tripe at the expense of an already-marginalized swath of society?

Let's not be so lazy with our humor. Let's not go for the knee-jerk bullying-for-a-laugh. Even if you disagree with the issue at hand, you can still make your case without ridicule.

Come on, Rochester. Even if it's "just a joke," we're better than this. Even – and especially – the dorks.



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