For four years a growing number of West Middle School students have been helping their fellow students with developmental special needs to be more thoroughly involved in the school community. Serving as peer mentors, they’ve helped go over lessons, break down stereotypes and create a more inclusive school experience.
Now, with 34 West Middle mentors moving to the ninth grade this fall, there’s talk of bringing the mentoring program to the high school with them. New principal Chris Lord said the program, called Excel, has him interested and he is talking to the schools advisor for special education about it.
We’d like to offer praise for the students involved in this program for being good students and improving their school; praise to the middle school administrators for fostering this program, and encouragement to the high school leaders, including Lord, for considering its expansion. Often when a new person comes in, the leader talks about listening to the community. But listening only goes so far without strong action to support what’s successful and squash what’s not. The school year hasn’t started yet, but Lord is already getting involved and considering how to make positive change. That’s a good early indicator of the type of leader he may be.
As for the Excel program, it seems to be a feel good story - with feel good results - all around.
Stiff fine would hold
National Grid accountable
The power outages of last October’s freak snowstorm and Tropical Storm Irene are a distant memory for most, but we’re glad to see they were not forgotten by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office.
Coakley recently announced that the results of her office’s investigation into the electrical utilities’ handling of the storms showed, “National Grid’s preparation for these storms was inadequate and its response was unacceptable.” National Grid acknowledged it failed to meet customer expectations but said Coakley’s recommended fine of $16 million — the largest penalty ever proposed against a utility in Massachusetts — was “extreme.” The Department of Public Utilities said it would take Coakley’s recommendation under advisement. The penalties, if enacted, cannot be passed on to National Grid customers.
The evidence of National Grid’s lackluster preparation for the storm was evident all over the state, including here in Andover, where many were without power for days during and after the October snowstorm, and places such South Church and Memorial Hall Library had to open their doors so people would have a place to shower, eat or remain connected and safe.
British-owned National Grid has been roundly criticized for failing to spend enough on maintenance of its lines, apparently being more interested in earning a comfortable dividend for its investors instead of keeping its customers across the pond satisfied, safe and secure.
Coakley’s office found that National Grid officials violated four separate storm response obligations under the company’s emergency response plan. They were:
Failing to communicate effectively with customers and municipalities throughout the two major storms.
Failing to provide timely damage assessments.
Failing to properly staff for the two emergency events.
Failing to respond to public safety calls about downed wires.
“Combined, these two storms left nearly a million National Grid customers without power, some for more than a week,” Coakley said.
Meanwhile, it’s been noted that National Grid treats itself to rate-payer funded excesses. Some time ago Coakley’s office forced the company to take off ratepayers’ backs $1.5 million in outrageous expenses such as the cost of shipping an executive’s wine cellar to the U.S.
It is time to hold the company responsible.