Looking back at 2013, part 3

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Mon., Dec. 30, 2013
Calliope Sanderson (front) and other cast members rehearse 'Anything Goes.' File photos.
Calliope Sanderson (front) and other cast members rehearse 'Anything Goes.' File photos.

It almost wouldn't be summer in Glastonbury if it didn't include a summer production by Glastonbury Youth and Family Services' Creative Experiences. In 2013, the troupe put on the classic "Anything Goes," which was the 39th annual show, and there are already big plans for next summer's 40th anniversary and the 40th summer show directed by Chris Gullotta.

The Town Council also got into discussions about the proposed Town Center Zone, which would essentially combine current zones into a mixed-use (residential and retail) zone. One point of contention was about the minumum size of new lots. Some wanted to see that as low as 20,000 square feet, while the proposal was suggesting 40,000, which is still lower than the current minimum of 60,000 square feet.

“Are you trying to promote little, tiny, individual buildings with individual lots with individual parking, or what the trend has mostly been the last few years?” asked PZC Chair Sharon Purtill. “We're tending to prefer one curb cut, coming into parking preferably in the rear, with more of a streetscape kind of look.”

Parking and density issues were also discussed at length, as was the effect on neighboring residential (only) zones. Some nearby residents said that a zoning change that would add to any sort of  further commercial development in the town's center would effectively squeeze them out, by making their property values decline. The zoning change is still pending and will next be discussed in January.

Schools got back into session with a few new faces in new places. Among them were Bobby Skarvelas and Rebecca Comenale, the two new assistant principals at GHS. Both had been teachers at the school, making for something of an easier transition.

Also new to GHS was the iPad initiative. Sophomores and freshman received the 1,100 iPads and were offered education sessions on how to use them and how to download the educational apps they will be using during the school year.

Brian Czapla, Glastonbury schools' director of educational technology, said the iPads offer a differentiated approach to instruction and a more-participatory place in the classroom. “They can try things, touch things, see things and collaborate with other students,” he said. “The apps and online resources really bring math and other subjects to life, as opposed to reading something out of a text where there is no interaction.”

The 51st annual Art on the Green exhibition had one of its most successful events, partially due to great weather, as thousands came out to browse, appreciate and purchase works from artists from all over the country.

“This is wonderful,” said Art on the Green Chair Katherine Simmons. “This is a really good, steady flow.”

“The quality of vendors here is just amazing,” said Alicia Meredith of Alicia Nicole Designs of New London. “It brings in a nice customer base, who appreciate the artistry that they see.”

Sixty-year firefighting veteran Warren Bantle was honored as Glastonbury's Firefighter of the Year at the banquet hosted by The Exchange Club on Sept. 19. Bantle joined the department in 1953 as a member of Station 1, was a member of the Naubuc Fire Department (the social organization of the department), and is still active as a member of the Fire Police.

“I want to thank everybody here tonight,” Bantle said. “Especially, I want to thank my wife. I wear this uniform, and I'm very proud of it. I wore my nation's uniform for six years, and I was proud of it. So, all of you guys, be proud to wear your uniform, because it is great.”

The Glastonbury Human Services Department also lost its leader, when department head Patricia Schneider stepped down in September to take a similar job in Mansfield. Co-workers sent Schneider off with a semi-impromptu gathering at the Riverfront Community Center on Sept. 26.

“I'm going to miss this community, and working with the people,” Schneider said. “It's the best of the best here.”

Election season kicked off early, at least for the students at Smith Middle School. The student body elected its student council officers for the school year. Twenty-three total candidates vied for the four offices of president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, and each gave their campaign speech twice – at separate assemblies for the seventh and eighth grades – on Sept. 25.

Remarkably, with more than 1,000 votes cast, a tie occurred for the office of president. Ava DeMartino and Zack Tabellione were named co-presidents. Abhishek Malani won the office of vice-president; Emme Kierstein will be secretary; and Chris Scarangella earned the most votes for treasurer.

After the election, Principal Donna Schilke said that while not all students can become class officers, all of their input is valid, and many thoughts expressed by the candidates will be discussed and considered. "These kids have a lot of great ideas," Schilke said.

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