I want to thank everyone who voted for me and elected me to the Bennington Select Board. You have no idea how energized and focused that makes me feel.
I want to thank all of you who encouraged me to run and gave me your enthusiastic moral support and excellent advice, your letters of endorsement to the Banner, your kind words to friends, and your votes.
It’s important for me to thank the other candidates as well. I congratulate Justin Corcoran on his win, and I want to recognize Rachael Fields, Peter Brady, Mike Bethel, and Frank Dawson.
Someone remarked that by being candidates we "put ourselves out there under public scrutiny for a thankless task." I don’t think it’s thankless to volunteer to serve your community. I’m sure that the other candidates feel the same way I do. So to them I say, Thank You.
When I concluded my remarks at the WBTN/CAT-TV forum, I said that if you elected me to the Select Board, I would work hard for you every day. That was a promise. And I will keep it.
Taking offense at an attack from the outside
Few things can bring a disparate group together like a perceived attack from the outside. Katherine Q. Seelye’s New York Times piece "Heroin Scourge Overtakes a ‘Quaint’ Vermont Town," published in the Times March 6 and subsequently reported in the Banner, turned MAUHS student concern from a fear of the outbreak of World War III to outrage over the characterization of their school as a haven for drug addicts. Pretty much every one of the nearly 60 seniors who come into my room every day reacted with disbelief and dismay, even those less accustomed to taking issue with a lack of fairness.
MAUHS students, faculty, and staff are not in denial about a community-wide drug problem that includes our schools, and is marked by an increase in heroin use. But they take issue with unsubstantiated assertions made by journalists and, we are led to believe, by a law enforcement officer.
Our students certainly don’t know everything, but they know enough not to use glittering generalities like "Everyone is doing it." Nor would they risk unsubstantiated assertions like "You find Baggies in the hallway." In 28 years at MAU, I have detected, very rarely, evidence of marijuana use -- probably more frequent, actually, 20 years ago -- but I have never seen a heroin baggie, large or small, full or empty, in the hall.
Students were so revved up by Friday, March 7, that I decided to switch my planned impromptu writing assignment to reading and responding to Seelye’s article. Here, with their permission, are some of their more moderate reactions, not including remarks about individuals:
"They not only made our town look bad, they made our schools look horrible."
"I’m sure a lot of young adults and adults are doing heroin, and that is a big problem, but they shouldn’t blame it on our school."
"We do have a drug problem ... however statements made about the schools are totally wrong and downright disgusting."
"The article made it sound like everyone in the school is using heroin and the teachers aren’t doing anything about it. Which is not the case."
"Other officers are in the school much more ... and I believe [they] would have a much better view of the way kids in the high school deal with the heroin epidemic out in the town.
"Everyone should stop this nonsense and solve the issue instead of talking about it and giving false information."
"Bennington has to face the fact that there are people in our town suffering from these addictions and we need to address it."
"Maybe instead of thinking so badly about these people, we do something about it."
"Where are the facts?
Whatever problems we may have in our community, we are not "quaint" and we are not "overtaken."
MAUHS English Teacher