These changes will have lasting effects

When life shut down last March, preparation for that eventuality was scant to nonexistent. Who expected that not only would that happen, but also that it would last so long? Well, Bill Gates and other pandemic watchers may have foreseen it, but for general society, it all came as quite an unpleasant and unwelcome surprise. And for no one (who wasn’t affected directly by the disease itself) was it a source of more upheaval and long-term repercussions than for educators, students and their families.

For students, every year and even every semester within each school year can be critically important for their development. But it’s not always predictable which semester of which year will be that defining moment for any young person: the moment when a light bulb goes off and they decide they love math, or science, or history, or art; that moment when they try out for the school play and are surprised when they win a part; the moment when their practice for their team of choice pays off in winning a tournament game. The list can go on and on. All these things define  a school experience, and these can be hard or impossible to replace when direct connection must be put on hold.

So the challenge for teachers has been great, trying to find new ways to keep their students engaged. Fortunately, Connecticut in general and Region One in particular have found ways to do everything they could to have students benefit from in-person learning. This school year, the Region One elementary schools have kept in-person education the norm, only having that change when individual classes had some exposure to diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Then, just those students would be asked to quarantine for a period of time, and manage their schoolwork remotely, until judged to be ready to meet in person again. 

Housatonic Valley Regional High School took up a varied model for the school year, with a mix of in-person and remote classes (For details, see story by Senior Reporter Patrick Sullivan on page A3 this week.) When there was an outbreak of COVID after the holidays, the school went to all-online learning for a time, but came back to the mix as quickly as possible, Jan. 19. This has surely made for a year when teachers, students and parents had to be creative, resilient and flexible. 

While there may be some gap in academic progress, though, during this year of COVID, it could be that the tools found to cope with adversity will be the thing these students retain and carry with them the rest of their lives. Those skills of finding a path forward through unforeseen obstacles may be among the most useful lessons they can learn during their elementary and high school years. 

For those who have found themselves struggling during this school year, students and educators alike, you should know you are not alone and the community is only hoping the best for all of you as you deal with the restrictions of a pandemic. And if it all seems too much sometimes, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help from your families or school counselors and teachers. They will be there for you. 

Thanks go to the Region One administrators, especially Superintendent Lisa Carter, for being open and transparent with the community about planning and implementation of goals throughout the school year. Kudos as well to all the students, parents and teachers who have persevered through some very tough times. There may now be some hope for brighter times as more of us gain access to vaccines, and teachers and child-care givers have become eligible for them.

Latest News

The Creators: An interview with filmmaker Keith Boynton

Keith Boynton, left, with Aitor Mendilibar, right, the cinematographer who shot “The Haunted Forest” as well as “The Scottish Play” and “The Winter House.” In the background of is Vinny Castellini, first assistant director.


Keith Boynton is a filmmaker who grew up in Salisbury, Connecticut. He attended Salisbury Central School, Town Hill School, and Hotchkiss. He has made numerous feature films including Seven Lovers, The Scottish Play, The Winter House, and is just wrapping up a new film, The Haunted Forest, which is a horror/slasher movie. Boynton has made numerous music videos for the band Darlingside, and for Alison Krauss. He is a poet, a playwright, and comic book art collector.

JA: This series of stories The Creators focuses on artists, their inspiration, and their creative process. Keith, what was the seed that got you started?

Keep ReadingShow less
Millerton director is an Oscar nominee

Arlo Washington in a film still from the Oscar-nominated short "The Barber of Little Rock."

Story Syndicate

John Hoffman, a Millerton resident, has been nominated for his film “The Barber of Little Rock,” which he co-directed with Christine Turner, in the Best Documentary Short Film category at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards.

Distributed by The New Yorker and produced by Story Syndicate Production in association with 59th & Prairie, Better World Projects, and Peralta Pictures, “The Barber of Little Rock” explores the efforts of Arkansas local hero Arlo Washington, who opened a barbershop at 19 years old and, with a mission to close the racial inequality gap in his community, went on to found the Washington Barber College as well as People Trust Community Federal Credit Union. Washington’s goal is aiding his primarily Black neighborhood, which has historically been underserved by more prominent banking institutions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Gone With The Winsted: 
The Civil War in The Litchfield Hills

President Lincoln by William Marsh, 1860.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1861, following the election of Abraham Lincoln to the United States presidency on a platform to prohibit the legal slavery of African Americans, seven southern states seceded from the country, and the American Civil War began.

While no battles were fought on the soil of Connecticut, Peter C. Vermilyea has gone to lengths to detail the political climate of Northern communities and military recruitment efforts in the early years of the conflict in a new book from The History Press, “Litchfield County and The Civil War.” Vermilyea, a history teacher at Housatonic Valley Regional High School and the author of “Wicked Litchfield County” and “Hidden History of Litchfield County,” will appear at the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village for a discussion Saturday, March 2, at 2 p.m.

Keep ReadingShow less