Ferraro Family receives ‘Family of Year’ award

Award winners
Contributing to the fabric of the church and community

By Charles F. Bennett
Turley Publications Staff Writer

WILBRAHAM – One way or another, the five members of the Ferraro Family of Wilbraham have all been involved with church and community service projects in town.
A past Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 10195, and a 13-year member, Fred Ferraro and his wife Glenda, and daughters Neliana, Maricel and Isabel, were recognized by his fellow Knights at the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner in the St. Cecilia’s Parish Center Saturday night March 16.
The Ferraro’s were presented with the Family of Year Award by Fr. Joesph Sorrano. The presentation was coordinated by K of C Lector Joe DeRoy and the dinner was chaired by Donald Flannery.
The Knights of Columbus is one of the world’s largest family fraternal organizations according to its website. Families are the foundation of what the Knights do to help others and with the Family of the Year Award presented this year in Wilbraham, they recognized the importance of the Ferraro family.
Fred said he was honored that his tribe was singled out to receive the award. “Because, there are lots of families who participate in the St. Cecilia’s community,” he said.
The Ferraro’s will also be nominated for the organization’s International Family of the Year Award.
Each Ferraro family member is a leader or contributes to the fabric of the church and general community. The entire family has been involved with many charitable causes in the area including a booster of Knights of Columbus activities and fundraisers.
Fred
Fred tries to stay humble and under the radar. He is a director of retirement services at MassMutual Retirement Services and has worked for the company for 23 years. He has served as a chancellor, warden and trustee for the Knights. He is president of the New Women’s Center that he and his wife of 24 years, Glenda, founded 2 ½ years ago. The center is a crises center that aids pregnant women who need help.
Fred serves as a chaperone of youth during the March for Life trips, a chaperone for Steubenville East, a youth retreat. He is chairman of the Keep Christ in Christmas Birthday Party, past chairman of the Soccer Challenge, a director of the Survival Center Dinner, has volunteered at the Knights’ Thanksgiving and Easter Food Drives, Free Throw Contest, St. Patrick’s Dinner fundraiser, Rosary events and the Road Race for scholarships.
Fred and Glenda both serve as group leaders of Teams of our Lady that supports healthy marriages.
Glenda is a lead counselor at the New Women’s Center and an Eucharistic minister, a member of the Moms group and the Cenacle Prayer Group for Priests at St. Cecilia’s.
Neliana, 18, was a 2012 winner of the Valley Press Club Scholarship and is freshman at Quinnipiac University. When she attended Minnechaug Regional High School she was president of Celebrate Life, an altar server, volunteered at Wilbraham Public Access and is a Scout retreat leader. She is a youth member of the Girl Scouts Board of Directors.
Maricel,16, is a junior at Minnechaug. She is vice president of Celebrate Life and recently led a project to collect items for needy people in Haiti. She is an altar server and attends youth retreats. She is a youth member of the Girl Scouts Board of Directors.
Isabel, 13, volunteers for various church and Knights of Columbus projects and attends retreats.
All members of the family run stations at the Keep Christ in Christmas Birthday Party, prepare roses for the Pro-Life Rose Sale, help with raffles at fundraisers, man stations at the K of C Road Race and sell tickets to all those events.
Fred said the family philosophy is to participate in as much as they can. “The friendships you build are very good. It gives you a great feeling.”

Charles F. Bennett can be reached at cbennett@turley.com.

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Should town move elections to special primary date?

Town Clerks cope with election schedules

By Charles F. Bennett
Turley Publications Staff Writer

REGION – In a case of national affairs intruding on local communities, information has surfaced with the announcement that a South Boston legislator, Cong. Stephen Lynch (D-Massachusetts) will challenge Cong. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) of Malden, forcing a special primary election for U. S. Senator proposed for April 30.
Markey and Lynch will compete in the Democratic ballot to fill the seat recently held by new Secretary of State John Kerry who was appointed by President Obama last week. On the Republican side, as the Times goes to press, former Sen. Scott Brown said he would not run for the seat. After the primary, the special election for Kerry’s Senate seat will likely be held June 25.
The entrance of candidate Lynch reverberates down to the Hampden and Wilbraham town clerks who have learned that a bill was filed by Mass. Secretary of State William Galvin to allow boards of selectmen to move town elections, originally scheduled close to the date, to the same day as the April 30 primary.
Hampden Town Clerk Eva Wiseman thinks it’s a good idea. Wilbraham Town Clerk Beverly Litchfield does not.
Hampden
Wiseman said the regular town election has long been scheduled for Monday, May 6. “That’s less than week after this new April 30 special primary,” said Wiseman. It would cost the town extra funds to hold two elections that close together, she said. “If the elections were separate, we would have to pay two separate groups of poll workers. That would be costly, and would mean setting up and taking down the voting machines in the Town House twice. We can’t just leave the machines set up for a week. Groups like the Scouts use the Town House for other things,” she said.
Wiseman said if the Legislature approves the combining of the elections it would next go to the Hampden Board of Selectmen who will have the choice to combine them or not. Wiseman sent a letter to the selectmen Jan. 31 recommending they combine the town election with the primary. “I would strongly urge the Selectmen to approve making that change for 2013. The Annual Town Election, scheduled for May 6th, would otherwise be less than a week after the special primary. The financial benefits, reduced staffing issues and logistics of combining the two would certainly make it the most sensible action to take,” she wrote.
Wiseman said she would keep the selectmen informed about the official legislative decision.
Wilbraham
Wilbraham Town Clerk Beverly Litchfield said the town elections, May 18, won’t be held so close to the April 30 primary as the Hampden one and she would prefer to keep them separate. “We wouldn’t save much money in combining them. If the primary was held the same day as our town elections, we would still have to have two print two separate ballots and have separate check-in and check-out tables. Turnouts for primary elections are very low. It would be better to have our own election (May 18). It would be a much cleaner election,” said Litchfield.
The office of state Rep. Angelo Puppolo in Wilbraham provided the Times with a copy of the primary bill filed by Galvin and co-sponsored by Rep. Angelo M. Scaccia of the 14th Suffolk District.
The bill, House Docket No. 3295 was filed Jan. 18 as an act to administer special state primaries in only the year 2013. A brief reading of the bill notes that, if the date for holding a preliminary or town election or annual town meeting falls within 30 days before or after the date set for a special primary or election, the town council – in the case of Wilbraham or Hampden, their boards of selectmen – after consulting with the town clerks of the towns, may change the election as long as it takes place before June 30. But the selectmen must approve the change at least 35 days before the election would be re-scheduled for.

Charles F. Bennett can be reached at cbennett@turley.com.

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Our school administrators are 100 percent focused on the kids

By Mary Marek Holman
Guest Columnist

The incident in Newtown obviously has touched all of our hearts; however, for me, it also reminded me of another tragedy/crisis in our recent past, September 11.
I was a teacher at Wilbraham Memorial School at the time and I would like to take this opportunity to share with the town how our town, school administration, and police force responded to that crisis because I am not sure if they have ever really been recognized for their efforts that day and I think in light of recent events, our residents would feel reassured by the town’s response in a similar crisis.
As soon as the town realized there was a “situation” that day (remember at first, we all thought it was just one plane that accidentally hit the tower; it was not until the second plane hit that the country suspected we were under attack), a swift discussion took place: Do we close the schools? Send the kids home? It was decided not, as many parents were at work and we would be sending kids home to empty homes (an unsecure location).
Safest Place
The schools were deemed the safest place for them to be under the circumstances (as the buildings were designated shelters etc, we just treated it like an emergency shelter situation). At the time, there was still speculation that there were planes in the air, that one may be heading for Westover, that terrorists may attack the schools. It was like Pearl Harbor, I imagine; nobody knew what was happening for sure, but we were hoping we would not be hit.
Immediately, the police came up and surrounded our building; we had placed the school in lockdown and locked all doors and windows but the police were there to physically surround the building and posted themselves at all doors, road blocked the entryway etc. Although we were, in effect, under attack, I never felt safer; our administration and Police Department took swift action and immediately responded securing our locations town wide. No one could have gotten through to any of the schools.
I just wanted to share that memory with the town at this time because although it was a terrible, terrible day, and the events in Newtown no less terrible, I want our town and residents to feel secure, knowing that we have an effective administration and a police force that responds immediately and comprehensively to any and all potential threats.
In addition to being a former educator here, I am also a mom with a son in the schools here, so sending him back to school this week was a little anxiety producing, as it was for many moms post-Newtown I assume; but remembering 9/11, I was reassured the town had it covered. As before, administration took swift action, this time posting help online and reaching out to let us know they would be there for the kids if they needed help and invited us to contact them with any questions (how lucky are we to have gone from one excellent superintendent to another?
It was Dr. G at the time of Sept. 11, now we have the amazingly effective and affable Marty O’Shea, the best principals and vice principals in the state. How could we get luckier than Mr. Hale? Mrs. C? Deb Thompson? Mr. Roy? Mr. Handzel? And all our other wonderful leaders? Not to mention each and every teacher and staff person to our lunch ladies and maintenance engineers?
From the inside, I can assure you every last one of them is 100 percent focused on the kids and keeping all our kids safe and smart. So while we may all be in mourning for the horrible tragedy in Newtown, please take heart that our town is, and always has been, an effective and safe place to be. The entire school system and police department unfortunately had a dry run akin to the recent tragedy when it took on the 9/11 crisis and I know, and want to share with all of you, that they performed not only effectively but admirably.
Take heart that they all value, protect and serve our children as much as their very own! Our hearts go out to Newtown and while no one can prevent all tragedies, please be assured that the Wilbraham School System and Police Department are always on guard protecting and enriching our children’s lives. Thank you to both!

Mary Marek Holman of Wilbraham, a parent of a Minnechaug Class of 2015 student, is a former fifth grade educator at Memorial School, who has retired due to illness.

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Minnechaug and Academy students get involved with Wilbraham’s 250th anniversary

Gaziano McCarthy horiz
TIMES photo by Charles F. Bennett

Michael Gaziano (left) and Brian McCarthy set up their equipment at an interview at the Times for their original film “Wilbraham, Our Story”.

Student Ambassadors bring youthful creativity to celebration
By Patricia O’Connor
Special to the Times

WILBRAHAM – If the 250th Anniversary of Wilbraham Youth Ambassadors are any indication the future of the town is in good hands.
For the past several months, a small, dedicated group of students from Minnechaug Regional High School and Wilbraham & Monson Academy have been hard at work creating Wilbraham- centered projects for the town’s 250th anniversary celebration.
Some of these works will be highlighted during the First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve. Others will be showcased at 250th events throughout 2013. Projects vary widely and are based on the students’ personal interests and talents. This was indeed the very basis for the creation of the Ambassador program; an avenue to highlight the talents of our young people. Wilbraham’s got talent and the 250th Planning Committee is committed to showcasing that talent.
Young Filmmakers
Displaying their filmmaking talents at the Brooks Room on New Year’s Eve will be two seniors, Brian McCarthy and Michael Gaziano. Brian and Michael have created films in the past and hopefully will continue. They, with the help of a crew of fellow students, have created an original film entitled “Wilbraham, Our Story”.
The short documentary opens with stunning views of Wilbraham, past and present. The images are shot over powerful dialog. It then concludes with first-hand accounts of the last 50 years presented by Wilbraham residents who remember those years well.
Diana Gerberich, president of the Key Club, will head up the Ye Old Bake Sale at the United Church on First Night. Diana will preside over the sale sporting a colonial style costume. Her recipes are old time favorites gathered from various sources including an internet search. Diana has garnered help with the baking from a group of her classmates, including Ambassadors, Dakota Robinson and Chris Ingerson. Diana will also perform with the Minnechaug Jazz Band at the WMA Chapel. Finally, the lights at Gazebo Park and beautification of Veteran’s War Memorial will be another of her contribution to our 2013 town celebration. The latter is part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
Choreographed
Minnechaug sophomore, Samantha Peck-Dionne will share her love of dance when she presents an original piece “Dance Through Time”. Samantha has been dancing since she was very young and now attends the Dance Studio of Wilbraham. She has recently begun competing in local competitions with their senior team. Her performance will incorporate the styles of dance enjoyed by teens over the last 50 years.
Samantha has chosen a medley popular music from each decade of the last five. This dance has been choreographed with the help of her dance instructor, Lisa Bruckner, and will be performed in the Brooks Room on First Night.
Junior, Chris Ingerson has partnered with Carol Gauthier, art teacher at Mile Tree School. Chris will use his photographic skills to take photos of locations around town. Gauthier will then use Chris’ photographs as inspiration for her young students to create original works of art. Watch for these works to be displayed sometime this spring.
Carolyn Cross, a Wilbraham & Monson Academy student, will have a booth at the Wilbraham Library. The focus of her project will be the history of WMA. You can learn all about the school from Carolyn. She will also be participating in tours of the WMA campus to be held in the spring. Megan Wells, another WMA student and a musician, will be presenting her project at a later date in 2013. She has written an original piece of music, entitled, “Rainbow”. Megan has gathered a group of friends and formed a band to help her with her presentation.
Finally, new to the Ambassador program are sophomores, Dakota Robinson, Marissa Falcetti, and Bridget Lawler who are still exploring possibilities for their project. Dakota is the sophomore class vice-president. Marissa will be singing with the Minnechaug Madrigal Singers in the WMA Chapel on First Night. She hails from a long line of musical talent. Dakota, Marrisa and Bridget have been friends since elementary school.
Get Involved
Wilbraham’s last birthday celebration took place in 1963. Don’t wait for the next celebration in 2063 to participate. Join the fun now. We welcome more Ambassadors. Come show us your talent; write a song, paint a picture of your favorite spot in town, partner with a younger class, organize an event and let the 250th steering committee showcase your work.
Ambassador applications can be found on the student/parent page of the Minnechaug website, or the Town of Wilbraham website (under the 250th link). For more information contact Roberta Albano 596-4566 or Pat O’Connor 596-7236.

Patricia O’Connor is co-chair with Roberta Albano of the 250th Anniversary Student Ambassador Committee.

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Minnechaug sophomores take early career steps

Mock interviews held to prepare for the ‘world of work’

By Angela Carbone
Turley Publications Correspondent

WILBRAHAM – The auditorium of the new Minnechaug Regional High School became a business “casting call” of sorts on Friday, Dec. 7 when the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce held its annual Career Readiness Program. Sophomores waited for their names to be called to a mock interview; local businessmen and business women gave each of the 69 students a taste of entering the world of work.
Kalyn Burke, of New England Promotional Marketing, greeted student Hajra Yusuf with a smile and a handshake. Burke asked questions and encouraged Yusuf to expand upon her answers.
A Minnechaug graduate herself, Burke said she has been part of the mock interviews in the past and was glad to volunteer again. “I’m hoping the students get some real life experience out of this. In the digital age, learning to present yourself is very important,” she said.
Feedback
Lori Kuhn, a group manager at Massachusetts Mutual in Springfield, said the mock interview event is a great program. “Every interviewer does things a little differently. I give feedback right off the start.” Other interviewers waited until the end of the interview to give pointers on improving job-seeking skills. Kuhn stressed making eye contact immediately, offering a handshake, and sharpening responses to questions. “I had one student say last year he wasn’t interested in washing dishes. I told him: Never say you’re not interested to an interviewer,” Kuhn said.
Many students had already learned the lesson of first impressions being lasting impressions. They came prepared by dressing for the part, and all had questions to ask of the interviewer.
Wearing a shirt and tie, student Jack Callahan, said he welcomed the chance to see what a job interview was like. “We learn how to get a feel for it,” he said. One thing he learned was to answer more decisively, he said. “I had a lot of long pauses.” Still, he thought the interview went well. “I wasn’t nervous. I feel like I have good people skills.”
Arno Cai, of Wilbraham, said he already works, but in his family’s business. The interview was valuable experience, he said. “It felt real,” Cai said. “The questions were serious. In the end, I felt it was a good experience. It teaches us what to expect.”
Well-Prepared
Erik J. Skar, insurance agent with the MassMutual Financial Group, advised some students to dress more conservatively for interviews, but said the students were well-prepared and poised. “They had really good eye contact. That’s a huge thing in an interview and it’s one of the things I look for,” he said.
Sophomore Sydni Gamble, of Wilbraham, said she had indicated she wanted to interview as a sales associate for American Eagle, but she hopes to become a dental hygienist. She, too, rated the interview as an important learning tool. “I was nervous, of course, but (the interviewer) was very nice. It did go smoothly, better than I thought it would,” she said.
Student Stephanie Opal interviewed with Jules Gaudreau, of the Gaudreau Group. “I wasn’t really nervous,” Opal said after the brief interview concluded. “I think I made good eye contact.”
Gaudreau was impressed with the Minnechaug students. He had recently conducted interviews for a real opening with his company. Several of the young women he interviewed at the mock event, even at a young age, presented themselves as more viable candidates, he said.
Terry Nelson, former Wilbraham selectman and retired human resources specialist at Monsanto, has volunteered several times to conduct interviews. Nelson now runs his own consulting business. “I’m always impressed by these students,” Nelson said. “I think they are well prepared. They know the value of their experience. Even if it’s babysitting, they recognize that it shows responsibility and the ability to lead children.”
Minnechaug business teacher and Key Club adviser, Katie L. Hastings, helped organize the event. Hastings made sure every student had an opportunity to experience the interview.
Elissa M. Langevin, vice president and branch manager of Florence Savings Bank, said the chamber’s Career Readiness program is designed to teach high school students the skills they need in order to go out in search of their first jobs. The mock interviews are the culmination of a week of work in which students learn how to complete a job application, write a resume, and compile a list of personal references.

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