How Do I Ask A Question on May 12?

I need to clarify a couple of things about our upcoming “Meet the Candidates” night and this blog seems like one good place to start. I have had some questions about why the questions have to be submitted in advance and why they can’t be turned in during the event. There will be an opportunity for audience members to write questions and submit them during the event. Jerry Mottern, our elementary principal, will circulate through those in attendance and accept questions in writing during the evening and then giving them to the PTA moderators.

Just in the interest of time, the PTA moderators have to make some decisions about which questions to ask. We want to ensure that each candidate has a fair and equal opportunity to answer each question, thus the timed responses of 2 minutes per question. If you think about it, that’s a minimum of 8 minutes per question. How long can people possibly be there? In an hour, if we figure an additional two minutes to pose the question, that’s ten minutes per question and only six questions per hour. I’ve already had twenty two questions submitted!

I also want to be clear that this is not my event and I’m not controlling the questions. Every question that has been submitted has been forwarded to our PTA moderators and they will choose which to ask with an eye toward asking as many diverse questions as possible. This is the community’s election, not mine. As the superintendent, I will work diligently with whomever this community elects–I have no hidden agenda and have worked hard to be open and honest and as transparent as possible.

We aren’t allowing random questions from the floor for three reasons. One, we want all candidates to have the chance to answer all of the same questions. Two, we won’t allow personal attacks. These are our community members who are volunteering their service to the district–no one deserves to be publicly attacked for that service. A public forum where we invite candidates to share their ideas on the issues should be respectful and fair. Three, just in the interest of time and to allow the PTA moderators to ask as many questions as possible, we have to have some control of the question and answer time frame.

We are not having a BOE meeting to follow the “Meet the Candidates” night so that we can allow as much time as possible for BOE candidate questions. Please join us, please submit your questions in advance, at the beginning of the event, or during the event and allow the moderators to ask as many diverse questions as possible. It should be an interesting evening and a chance for you to learn more about what our BOE candidates think. I hope to see you there!

May 12, 2009 “Meet the Candidates” Night to follow the Public Hearing which begins at 6:30 in the High School Auditorium

Home Sweet Home

We are safely on the ground in New Jersey and ready for our bus ride home to Gowanda! I know many of our students will be reading the blog now that you’re home. Would you do something for me? Please read through the posts and think about what the trip meant to you. Did it change you in any way? Was it worthwhile? What was your favorite part of the trip? Would you recommend that other students go on future trips? Please post a comment to this post so that we can share your thoughts, ideas and feelings with the 600+ people who followed this blog over the past two weeks. This is an open invitation for our adult participants and chaperones to post your thoughts too!

It was my distinct pleasure and honor to join all of you and to “tell my little piece of the tale” here on the blog. Now tell your piece!

Love & Good Memories Always, Kimberly Moritz

Day 9 – Last Post

Remember Grace Kelly and her tragic and beautiful story? We took a gorgeous drive from Cannes to Monaco today and her presence is still very strong. This principality is ruled by the Grimaldi family and it is one of the most beautiful locations in the world.

We visited the palace and saw the church where she married her prince. We watched the changing of the guard and saw the track and streets where Formula One racing takes place.

As it was our last day onย the tour we felt fortunate to spend it in such a fantastic place. After Monaco we toured the Fragonard perfume factory–where they manufacture their own perfumes from only natural\pure ingredients. They are not exported and so we had the chance to buy some very unique fragrances–bring home French perfume was definitely a bonus treat.ย 

Next we were on to Nice, one of my favorite locations. We had three hours of free time when most people shopped, but Ms. Crowell and I sat in a sidewalk cafe eating mussels and french fries–delicious but enough for 10 people.

The kids had bed check at 10:00 and are in their rooms preparing their suitcases. It is bittersweet to end this tour; two years of planning and anticipation hopefully resulted in the trip of a lifetime for each of them.

Personally, I can’t think of a better group with whom to travel–I have thoroughly enjoyed my roomie, Mrs. Dempsey, and all of the adults of Bus #1 + our awesome kids. Getting together with all of the great participants from Bus #2 each night and at meals made it even better. Perhaps we can get Randolph involved in the trip that takes place two years from now–what do you think Randolph? Thanks for the opportunity to share the experience with you!

Day 8 – Cannes, France

The Leaning Tower of Pisa! Without the best weather we arrived in Pisa, Italy and enjoyed every minute anyway. The kids took some wonderful pictures and as always, shopped for souvenirs. Dana Anderson says that instead of EF for Education First it should be SF Souvenirs First. We are bringing home a lot of “stuff”.

Now we are in Cannes, France in a lovely hotel not far from the beach. As you may know this is near to where Brad and Angelina have purchased a home. Previously they stayed in this hotel in room #6, the room that Mrs. Dempsey and I are sharing and Brad Pitt slept in the same bed that I have tonight.

It’s a good story, don’t you think? ๐Ÿ˜‰ We will see the home that they bought tomorrow, along with Monaco and the formula one race tracks. Tomorrow is Nice, the nicest place I’ve ever been and most likely our best day yet.

The day after tomorrow is our trip home. As wonderful as our trip has been, I am really missing my husband and my daughter and am anxious to head home. You can bet I’m not the only one feeling this way! Bon Nuit du Franc.

Day 7 – Friday in Florence, Italy

So Gowanda, are you missing us yet? We’ve been gone a full week and so tonight’s post will be filled with pictures of your kids. We thought that seeing a picture of your child would be the best post we could give you after one week away.

We had the best food of our trip today. Stopped for lunch outside of Florence and had pasta (of course, it’s served here as the first course like our dinner salads before a meal at home) followed by lasagna. Dinner was also good and the entire group enjoyed sightseeing in Florence.

It’s probably the worst we’ve seen for pickpockets. Two men walked along our group for a bit but in our vigilance, we noticed them and I took their picture! Even after that, they hung around and our guys totally took care of it. Watching them, standing as a perimeter around us, and making it clear that we are not an easy mark–that’s what our boys and male chaperones did to handle it. Hey, Frank Fonti and John Swanson can be very intimidating, you know.

On a personal note, I was glad Tallon didn’t have to hit anyone after giving me his money, watch and passport-he is very aware of everyone around us and pays attention to make sure no one is a problem. A couple of our other guys, (Corey, Josh and Dylan) have also been very observant.ย  I think a week without karate has made Tallon a little stir crazy and punchy. The Brocton chaperone who’s with us takes karate from my husband and Tallon grabbed her in a front choke once and a rear choke another time–just to keep her on her toes. Michelle did just fine but I’m afraid by Sunday he’ll have her sparring in Monte Carlo.

This is the time in a trip that gets a little bit weird. Part of me feels sad that it’s almost over and part can’t wait to see my husband and daughter; to talk to my mom and get back to work. Plan on your kids feeling the same way, but know that they return to you stronger and more capable than when they left you.

Enjoy all the pictures tonight!

Picture removed as requested by Gowanda Superintendent

Day 6 – Rome in One Day

In the words of Johnny Cash, “I’ve been everywhere man, I’ve been everywhere”. That’s how we feel after this day that seems to have been at least 48 hours long.

We began at the Coliseum this morning where you can see our chaperones were prepared for battle. I’m sure every Italian thought “here come the Americans” with these two enthusiastic teachers leading our charge. We then walked to the Forum and enjoyed a wonderful guide who was able to paint the picture of ancient Roman times quite effectively.

We saw the Circus Maximus where they once held chariot races and now host concerts and the balcony where Mussolini stood to address the masses.

On to Vatican City! We toured the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica–each of which deserves its own post, but I’m exhausted! It’s quite an expectation you’ve laid out for me so that I feel obligated to post before bed each night as I know many of you are checking (according to my stats about 300 people in addition to those who subscribe through an RSS feed).

There were lots of purchases at the Vatican and this was a special part of the day for many in our group. We spent some time visiting a large Square which the name escapes me (maybe Piazza Noveno?) but there were artists and I was able to purchase an original oil painting, something I do on every trip as my way to remember it.

This was followed by a visit to the Pantheon which is equally remarkable to the rest of the day’s visits. Visiting Rome with its thousands of years of history really gives me this enormous sense of time and place that we don’t have in the US. It’s reassuring to me in a way–as if to think that all of the things we’re so worried about now are quite small given the course of our entire world history. I wonder if others feel this way? I was also struck by the enormous lengths we go to in expressing our faith in the colossal buildings that we construct. Why does each religion seem to try to outdo the others in displaying a faith and love of God through these extraordinary measures? It makes me think a lot about the troubles in the Middle East.

After so much history and a very long day (but in a good way) you might think our day was done. But no! After dinner, we walked to the Trevi Fountain, where we threw coins into the fountain while making a wish. The wish I made while doing this in 1999 obviously came true as there I was today, back in Rome as I had wished for back then. This night walk was just a lot of fun and we were treated to an Italian gelato (Grimm’s fifth one of the day, I think!) and a walk to the Spanish Steps. Our small town kids from Gowanda had eyes that showed excitement and happiness at this bit of night life. It was so much that I hope they remember it all. I know that writing on this blog will help me hold onto the details, I hope our kids are using their journals.

On to Florence, Italy tomorrow. We’re entering some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It truly was worth every penny we paid–don’t regret it for a moment. Love again from Italy, Kimberly

Day 5 – Ciao from Roma!

It’s10:00 pm and we’ve just finished dinner in a wonderful Italian restaurant
at our beautiful hotel. It was the best meal we’ve had and is by far the nicest hotel. Today was a travel day, leaving for Rome at 7:30 am and arriving at 8:45 pm. We did have stops for breaks and lunch, plus one “surprise”.

Our tour guide announced that we’d be stopping at a ceramics factory, with authentic Italian products like olive oil and cheese. What she failed to mention beforehand to any of us was that they also sold wine including free samples. Now the samples were in little Dixie cups and had about a thimble full in there, but I’m guessing some of our kids took advantage of the situation and since we had no advance notice, we hadn’t given our usual speech about what was and wasn’t allowed. Four of our kids even purchased wine to bring home to you-, the parents–and that is all in our possession. We will hand it directly to the parents upon our return home. They wanted to do something nice for their parents and I guess they didn’t realize that we actually import Italian wine into the US DAILY! It will be a pain in the neck to transport, but remember, it’s perfectly legal here for our oldest students to purchase and consume alcohol. Not allowed by us as a school trip, but legal here. Everyone handled it very well, no one was trying to hide anything, and the potential problem is averted. Bill Schindler gave our tour guide quite an earful for having allowed it when we’ve been clear since day one that we are a careful and conservative group.

Hey, it’s not as bad as when two girls got tattoos on one of my tours in the nineties–but I know just how Bill feels right now, worrying that parents (and his boss) will be upset. I assure you we have it totally under control. Figured best we use the blog to tell you lest you hear an exaggerated version and worry.

The highlight of the day came when we visited Assisi. I remember this beautiful place well from a trip I led in 1999. This is where St. Francis of Assisi is buried in the basilica. He is the founding father of the Franciscan tradition in the Roman Catholic church and is the Patron Saint of Nature. I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to be if I chose to take vows of poverty and celibacy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Tomorrow is a huge day for us and we continue to enjoy your comments on the blog. Thanks for reading and writing. Tomorrow we see the coliseum and the Vatican–tonight we sleep in a hotel on a hill overlooking the city. Sleep well Gowanda. Love from all of us mid-way through our trip of a lifetime.

Day 4 – Venice, Italy

For many of our students the day started with a six o’clock walk to the beach with Mr. Schindler and Mr. Swanson where they went for a swim in the Adriatic Sea. Can you even imagine? We also wished a happy birthday to our beautiful seventeen year old Marya.

We then took a water taxi to Venice. I don’t know quite how to post about something that left me so speechless. I was overcome when I first saw this remarkable and seemingly unreal city. It honestly feels as if you’re in a movie of a far away location in both time and place. I found myself crying as I was struck by the fact that I was standing in Venice, Italy–this centuries old city. It is too much to put into words. I hope I’ll never forget that view as we approached the city or how I felt.

The gondola rides were absolutely unforgettable. I’m so glad that we elected to do this–for the rest of our lives we’ll be able to point to that in movies and photographs and say, “I did that once!” We did some shopping (too much for me) and walked the streets of Venice. Michelle (the group leader from Brocton) and I spent the afternoon free time sitting in the square enjoying the sunshine and people watching. A perfect day.

The kids will want me to mention that we saw some famous actor, who’s real name I can’t recall, but I know as Doogie Howser. They were very excited about seeing him here–geez, you’re in Venice for crying out loud, how can Doogie Howser be more exciting than that?

Thanks for all of the comments you’re leaving, Must admit that many make me choke up as I read them to your kids. I’m not sure that I haven’t missed something valuable by taking this opportunity to completely unplug, but figure this will serve as my journal in many ways. (Even though I’m not including all of my personal observations like the hours I spent in the night thinking about how to stop my roommate’s snoring!)

We’re midway through the trip and tomorrow we travel almost all day to Rome. We’ll stop in Assissi along the way. Ciao from all of us in Italia!