Why is it called Easter? Origin of Easter

The date of Easter, when the resurrection of Jesus is said to have taken place, changes from year to year. The reason for this variation is that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.

Easter is quite similar to other major holidays like Christmas and Halloween, which have evolved over the last 200 years or so. In all of these holidays, Christian and non-Christian (pagan) elements have continued to blend together. Similar was the case with Easter, which falls in close proximity to another key point in the solar year: the vernal equinox (around March 20), when there are equal periods of light and darkness. For those in northern latitudes, the coming of spring is often met with excitement, as it means an end to the cold days of winter.

Spring also means the coming back to life of plants and trees that have been dormant for winter, as well as the birth of new life in the animal world. Given the symbolism of new life and rebirth, it was only natural to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of the year.

The naming of the celebration as “Easter” seems to go back to the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England, Eostre, who was celebrated at beginning of spring. The only reference to this goddess comes from the writings of the Venerable Bede, a British monk who lived in the late seventh and early eighth century. As religious studies scholar Bruce Forbes summarizes: “Bede wrote that the month in which English Christians were celebrating the resurrection of Jesus had been called Eosturmonath in Old English, referring to a goddess named Eostre. And even though Christians had begun affirming the Christian meaning of the celebration, they continued to use the name of the goddess to designate the season.”

Bede was so influential for later Christians that the name stuck, and hence Easter remains the name by which the English, Germans and Americans refer to the festival of Jesus’ resurrection.

What’s With the Rabbit?

Where does the Easter Bunny come from?

Source: Good Housekeeping, TheConversation.com, Time, History.com

There is no mention of a mythical hare who delivers eggs to children on the day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection — so how exactly did the Easter Bunny become a prominent symbol of one of Christianity’s most important holidays?

One theory, according to Time, is that the symbol of the rabbit stems from the ancient pagan tradition believed to have started the celebration of Easter — the festival of Eostre, which honored the goddess of fertility and spring. Supposedly, the goddess’s animal symbol was a rabbit, which have long traditionally symbolized fertility due to their high reproduction rates.

As for how the specific character of the Easter Bunny originated in America, History.com reports that it was first introduced in the 1700s by German immigrants in Pennsylvania, who reportedly brought over their tradition of an egg-laying hare named “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” As the story goes, the rabbit would lay colorful eggs as gifts to children who were good — so the kids would make nests in which the bunny could leave his eggs, and would even sometimes leave out carrots in case the hare got hungry! Eventually, the custom spread across America to become a widespread Easter tradition — and over time, the fabled bunny’s delivery even expanded from just eggs to include other treats such as chocolate and toys.

Why does the Easter Bunny bring eggs?
Rabbits are mammals and don’t lay eggs, so, why does the Easter Bunny lay eggs on the holiday. The answer may be as simple as the fact that eggs, like the rabbit, have long been an ancient symbol of fertility, rebirth, and new life — all things associated with the springtime celebration of Easter!

From a Christian perspective, eggs for Easter are said to represent Jesus’ resurrection and his emergence from the tomb. According to History.com, the tradition of decorating eggs for Easter may date back to the 13th century, when eggs were traditionally a forbidden food during the Lent season — which is why people would decorate them as the fasting period came to an end, and then eat them as a way to celebrate Easter Sunday.

What does the Easter Bunny look like?
The Easter Bunny is traditionally depicted with a white rabbit costume with long ears, often wearing clothes in human-like fashion. He can typically be found at Easter parades and other celebratory events for the holiday carrying a basket filled with colorful eggs, candy, and other treats to give out to kids

Outside the US. It’s not always a bunny that brings the Easter eggs — in Australia, for example, the spring holiday is greeted with the Easter Bilby, a rabbit-like marsupial native to Australia that’s known to be endangered. Other animals include the Easter Cuckoo in Switzerland and, in some parts of Germany, the Easter Fox or the Easter Rooster!

A Brush with Fame: Women’s History Month

Women who Captured their Surroundings

Name: Alma Thomas, AKA Alma Woodsey Thomas

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Died in Washington, DC
During the 1950s Thomas attended art classes at American University in Washington As a black woman artist, Thomas encountered many barriers; she did not, however, turn to racial or feminist issues in her art, believing rather that the creative spirit is independent of race or gender.

Alma Thomas began to paint seriously in 1960, when she retired from her thirty-eight- year career as an art teacher in the public schools of Washington, D.C. In the years that followed she would come to be regarded as a major painter of the Washington Color Field School. Alma Thomas emerged as an exuberant colorist, abstracting shapes and patterns from the trees and flowers around her. Her new palette and technique—considerably lighter and looser than in her earlier representational works and dark abstractions—reflected her long study of color theory and the watercolor medium.

Although Thomas progressed to painting in acrylics on large canvases, she continued to produce many watercolors that were studies for her paintings. Thomas’s personalized mature style consisted of broad, mosaic-like patches of vibrant color applied in concentric circles or vertical stripes. Color was the basis of her painting, undeniably reflecting her life-long study of color theory as well as the influence of luminous, elegant abstract works by Washington-based Color Field painters such as Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis.

Thomas was in her eighties when she produced her most important works. Earliest to win acclaim was her series of Earth paintings—pure color abstractions of concentric circles that often suggest target paintings and stripes. Done in the late 1960s, these works bear references to rows and borders of flowers inspired by Washington’s famed azaleas and cherry blossoms. The titles of her paintings often reflect this influence. In these canvases, brilliant shades of green, pale and deep blue, violet, deep red, light red, orange, and yellow are offset by white areas of untouched raw canvas, suggesting jewel-like Byzantine mosaics.

Man’s landing on the moon in 1969 exerted a profound influence on Thomas, and provided the theme for her second major group of paintings. In 1969 she began the Space or Snoopy series so named because “Snoopy” was a term astronauts used to describe a space vehicle used on the moon’s surface. Like the Earth series these paintings also evoke mood through color, yet several allude to more than a color reference. In Snoopy Sees a Sunrise of 1970, she placed a circular form within the mosaic patch of colors and accented it with curved bands of light colors. Blast Off depicts an elongated triangular arrangement of dark blue patches rising dramatically and evocatively against a background of pale pinks and oranges. The majority of Thomas’s Space paintings are large sparkling works with implied movement achieved through floating patterns of broken colors against a white background.

In her last paintings, Thomas employed her characteristic short bars of color and impasto technique. The tones, however, became more subdued, and the formerly vertical and horizontal accents of Thomas’s brush strokes became more diverse in movement, and included diagonals, diamond shapes, and asymmetrical surface patterns. During the artist’s final years, the crippling effects of arthritis prevented her from painting as often as she wanted.

In 1972 she was honored with one-woman exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; that same year one of her paintings was selected for the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Before her death in 1978, Thomas had achieved national recognition as a major woman artist devoted to abstract painting.

Name: Mary Rogers Williams (September 30, 1857 – September 17, 1907)

Education: Smith College

Revolutionary artist Mary Rogers Williams, a baker’s daughter from Hartford, biked and hiked from the Arctic Circle to Naples, exhibited from Paris to Indianapolis, trained at the Art Students League, chafed against art world rules that favored men, wrote thousands of pages about her travels and work, taught at Smith College for nearly two decades, but sadly ended up almost totally obscure. Mary and her surviving sisters Lucy, Abby and Laura were all-star students at Hartford Public High School.

She was second in command of Smith College’s art department from 1888 to 1906 under Dwight William

Tryon and earned acclaim for paintings of her native New England and scenes from her wide travels in Europe, from Norway to the Paestum ruins south of Naples. She often depicted high horizons, whether in meadows or medieval hill towns, under ribbons of sky.

A member of the New York Woman’s Art Club, she exhibited there (1899, 1902, 1903) and at venues including the American Water Color Society, Art Association of Indianapolis, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Gill’s Art Galleries, Springfield, Massachusetts, American Girl’s Club in Paris, National Academy of Design, New York Water Color Club, Society of American Artists, Macbeth Gallery—she also commissioned “aquarium”-like frames from Macbeth, with a glass layer an inch away from the delicate pastel surface) and Paris Salon.

Commemorative posthumous shows were held in 1908 and 1909 at the Philadelphia Water Color Club (at Pennsylvania Academy), New York Water Color Club and Wadsworth Atheneum and Hartford Art Society in Hartford. Publications that praised her include the New York Times, the Hartford Courant, the Springfield Republican and various art magazines. In 1894, in an article in the Quarterly Illustrator, the novelist.

Elizabeth Williams Champney described Mary Williams as “an artist with rare poetic instinct and feeling” and “a woman of conscience as well as feeling, and of a fine scorn for all shams.” The Champney article added, “When asked what style she proposed to adopt, she replied: ‘If I cannot have a style of my own, I trust I may be spared an adopted one.'”

Family and friends kept her paintings inventory together, and most remain in a private New England collection. Institutions that have her work include the Smith College Museum of Art, Connecticut Landmarks and the Connecticut Historical Society–the latter both own Williams’ portraits of her friend and patron, the New Haven antiquarian George Dudley Seymour.

Williams’ diary, photos of her and thousands of pages of her correspondence are in a private New England collection. A few letters about and from her are in the Macbeth Gallery papers at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art and the George Dudley Seymour papers at Yale and at the Connecticut Historical Society.

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887-March 6, 1986)

American Modernism Painter

Education: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Students League of New York, University of Virginia, Teachers College, Columbia University

Awards: National Medal of Arts (1985), Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977) Edward MacDowell Medal (1972)

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was an American artist. She was known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. O’Keeffe has been recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”. One of the first female painters to achieve worldwide acclaim from critics and the general public, Georgia O’Keeffe was an American painter who created innovative impressionist images that challenged perceptions and evolved constantly throughout her career.

Rams Head 1935

In 1929, seeking solitude and an escape from a crowd that perhaps felt artistically and socially oppressive, O’Keeffe traveled to New Mexico and began an inspirational love affair with the visual scenery of the state. For 20 years she spent part of every year working in New Mexico, becoming increasingly interested in the forms of animal skulls and the southwest landscapes.

While her popularity continued to grow, O’Keeffe increasingly sought solace in New Mexico. Her painting Ram’s Head with Hollyhock encapsulates so much novelty while still maintaining with her classic aesthetic of magnifying and showing the beauty in small, natural details. While her interest in the southwest increased, so did the value of her paintings in the New York galleries.

Pineapple Bud, 1939

In 1935 – after a period of personal and professional stress during which she was absent from New Mexico and nearly abandoned her art – O’Keeffe returned to the

 

Southwest. She was rejuvenated by the dramatic landscaped of the high desert country, and it showed in her canvases from that summer’s sojourn. Ram’s Head with Hollyhock announced the new freedom and inspiration; the design continues the formal play and the interest in evocative combinations of subjects first tackled in the early 1930s, but now handled with unprecedented assuredness. The enigmatic juxtaposition of skeletal, flora, and landscape images – a virtual catalogue of the subjects that had earlier garnered her acclaim – provoked new interest in O’Keeffe’s work, especially after the fallow period that had immediately preceded their introduction in January 1936.

Happy New Year!

Say Goodbye to the Year of the Rat and Hello to the Year of the Ox

Chinese Lunar New Year begins February 12th

Sources: China Highlights by Fercility, India Today, USA Today

Lunar New Year – also known as the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival – lasts for 16 days, starting from Chinese New Year’s eve to the Lantern Festival. In 2021, the festival will begin on February 11th and go on till February 26th. ushering in the second animal on the Zodiac (the Ox) with the second new moon after the winter solstice. It will be a Metal Ox year. An Ox year occurs every 12 years. The Chinese New Year was renamed the Spring Festival after China adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1911.

Hong Kong-based Feng Shui master Thierry Chow told CNN that the ox is a hardworking zodiac sign that signifies movement. “So, hopefully, the world will be less static than last year and get moving again in the second half of the year,” she said. She added that the metal element of the year represents an emphasis on metal industries in 2021, from jewelry to “the needle of a syringe.”

Though the occasion is meant to be spent with family and friends, the coronavirus pandemic means that celebrations around the world – from the United States to Britain to China – will look different this year for the 1.5 billion people who observe the occasion. At bus and train stations in China, there is no sign of the annual Lunar New Year rush. The government has called on the public to avoid travel because of new coronavirus outbreaks. The South China Morning Post reported that Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year night parade will be replaced by an online shopping event. Despite that, the government says people will make 1.7 billion trips during the holiday, but that is down 40% from 2019.

Vickie Lee, author of the children’s book “Ruby’s Chinese New Year,” told USA TODAY that Lunar New Year is “the most important and the most popular holiday for Chinese people and in the Chinese culture. It’s a very joyful holiday (when) you’re supposed to go home, see your family,” she said. “In China, they celebrate it for two full weeks, and people actually travel home and from far, far away.”

Zhaojin Zeng, a professor of East Asian history at the University of Pittsburgh, compared the occasion to Thanksgiving in America, emphasizing the importance of time spent with family.

Like so many holidays in other cultures, it is centered around food. So there’s several days of preparation where you’re making … symbolic dishes like a whole fish, a whole fish symbolizes prosperity.” Dumplings (symbolizing wealth) will be present, along with noodles (representing longevity). “

The Lunar New Year is a chance to start fresh, see loved ones and share in the hope of good things to come. People clean their houses; decorate their doors using red posters with poetic verses, red lanterns, etc. to welcome the Spring Festival. People get together with their families at this time of the year to celebrate the festival. During the Spring Festival Eve, there are fireworks and firecrackers in order to bring good luck. Many people wear new clothes and share Chinese New Year greetings with their loved ones.

The Spring Festival is a national holiday in China. During the period from the Spring Festival Eve to the seventh day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar, government offices, schools, universities, and many companies stay closed. However, some important institutions like banks stay open with employees working on shifts.

Chinese New Year celebrations like beating drums and striking gongs, as well as dragon and lion dances, are organized during the Spring Festival festivities.

Festive Facts: New Year’s History

Source: History.Com Staff

What does “Auld Lang Syne” mean, and why do we sing the song at midnight on New Year’s Eve?

“Auld Lang Syne,” the title of a Scottish folk song that many English speakers sing at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, roughly translates to “days gone by.” The poet Robert Burns is credited with transcribing, adapting and partially rewriting it in the late 18th century. Its lyrics, which rhetorically ask whether “auld acquaintance” should “be forgot,” have been interpreted as a call to remember friends and experiences from the past.

Though sung on New Year’s Eve since the mid-19th century, it became firmly cemented as a holiday standard when Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians played it during a radio broadcast from New York’s Roosevelt Hotel at midnight on December 31, 1929. The band went on to perform the hit every year until 1976, and loudspeakers continue to blast their rendition after the annual ball drop in Times Square.

Who were the first to make resolutions for the new year?

People have been pledging to change their ways in the new year—whether by getting in shape, quitting a bad habit or learning a skill—for an estimated 4,000 years now. The tradition is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. (They would reportedly vow to pay off debts and return borrowed farm equipment.)

The age-old custom of breaking one’s newly formed resolutions within several months—a fate that befalls the majority of would-be reformers, according to statistics—probably originated shortly thereafter.

When was the first New Year’s Eve ball dropped in New York’s Times Square?

An estimated 1 billion people around the world watch each year as a brightly lit ball descends down a pole atop the One Times Square building at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The world-famous celebration dates back to 1904, when the New York Times newspaper relocated to what was then known as Longacre Square and convinced the city to rename the neighborhood in its honor. At the end of the year, the publication’s owner threw a raucous party with an elaborate fireworks display.

When the city banned fireworks in 1907, an electrician devised a wood-and-iron ball that weighed 700 pounds, was illuminated with 100 light bulbs and was dropped from a flagpole at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Lowered almost every year since then, the iconic orb has undergone several upgrades over the decades and now weighs in at nearly 12,000 pounds. In more recent years, various towns and cities across America have developed their own versions of the Times Square ritual, organizing public drops of items ranging from pickles (Dillsburg, Pennsylvania) to possums (Tallapoosa, Georgia) at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Who made January 1 the first of the year?

Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the first day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The first day of the Chinese New Year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice. In ancient Rome, the original calendar consisted of 10 months and 304 days, with each new year beginning at the vernal equinox; according to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the eighth century B.C.

Over the centuries, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun, and in 46 B.C. Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers and mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today. As part of his reform, Caesar established January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future.

In medieval Europe, Christian leaders replaced January 1 as the first of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) and March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation). Pope Gregory XIII reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582.

What are some traditional New Year’s foods?

At New Year’s Eve parties and celebrations around the world, revelers enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes—symbolizing their hopes for the months ahead—right before midnight. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success; examples include lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States.

Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures, pork appears on the New Year’s Eve table in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal and other countries. Ring- shaped cakes and pastries, a sign that the year has come full circle, round out the feast in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and elsewhere. In Sweden and Norway, meanwhile, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve; it is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.

What do Paul Revere, J. Edgar Hoover, Lorenzo de Medici, Betsy Ross and Pope Alexander VI have in common?

All of these historical figures came into the world on January 1. According to tradition, babies born on the first of the year grow up to enjoy the luckiest of lives, bringing joy and good fortune to those around them. (You can be the judge of whether these particular individuals lend support to the legend.)

The use of a baby as a personification of the new year has been traced to ancient Greece, where an infant in a basket was paraded around to mark the annual rebirth of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. Sometimes accompanied by Father Time, “Baby New Year” has appeared in banners, cartoons, posters and cards for several hundred years.

 

Honoring Kwanzaa

“We will never know ourselves if we do not know our history.” Maulana Karenga

“It takes a village to raise a child.” African Proverb

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb

“It’s not what you call me, but what I answer to.” African Proverb

“I do my best because I’m counting on you counting on me.” Maya Angelou

“If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.” Maya Angelou

“Develop enough courage so that you can stand up for yourself and then stand up for somebody else.” Maya Angelou

“If you have a purpose in which you can believe, there’s no end to the amount of things you can accomplish.” Marian Anderson

“Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will.” Nelson Mandela

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace and Many Blessings for Kwanza

Peace and Many Blessings as The Stratford Crier celebrates Kwanzaa with our readers which begins on Saturday December 26th.

Kwanzaa is a holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 based upon the the African tradition of celebrating the harvesting of the first fruits. Kwanzaa is a time of reflecting, reassessing, recommitting and rejoicing–and giving special reverence for the creator and creation and commemorating the past.

Five common sets of values are central to the activities of the week: ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration. The seven principles (nguzo saba) of Kwanzaa utilize Kiswahili words: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani). Each of the seven candles signify the principles. Like the Jewish Hannakah, candles are used to represent concepts of the holiday.

The symbols of Kwanzaa includes crops (mzao) which represents the historical roots of African-Americans in agriculture and also the reward for collective labor. The mat (mkeka) lays the foundation for self- actualization. The candle holder (kinara) reminds believers in the ancestral origins in one of 55 African countries. Corn/maize (muhindi) signifies children and the hope associated in the younger generation. Gifts (Zawadi) represent commitments of the parents for the children. The unity cup (Kkimbe cha Umoja) is used to pour libations to the ancestors. Finally, the seven candles (mishumaa saba) remind participants of the severl pinciples and the colors in flags of African liberation movements — 3 red, 1 black, and 3 green.

Gifts are exchanged. On 31 December participants celebrate with a banquet of food often cuisine from various African countries. Participants greet one another with “Habari gani” which is Kiswahili for “how are you/ how’s the news with you?”

This and That

Interesting Tidbits from Various Sources

The voting numbers are in from the 2020 Presidential Election.
Connecticut’s turn-out rate: 66.6%
2016: 58.2%
2020: 71.1%
Fairfield County turn-out rate:
2016: 44.5%
2020: 50.1%
Several states in the upper Midwest had remarkable turnout numbers. In Minnesota, its turnout rate was greater than 75 percent — tops in the nation — while Maine (76.3%), New Hampshire (75.5%), Colorado and Wisconsin were close behind, with turnout ranging from 72 percent to 74 percent.
Source: statista.com

On a more seasonal note:

“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.” —Edna Ferber

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” – Bob Hope

“May you never be too grown up to search the skies on Christmas Eve.”

“Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.” – Charles M. Schulz

“I don’t think Christmas is necessarily about things. It’s about being good to one another.” — Carrie Fisher

“Peace on earth will come to stay, When we live Christmas every day.” – Helen Steiner Rice

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.” – Margaret Thatcher

“Christmas is a time when everybody wants his past forgotten and his present remembered.” – Phyllis Diller

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day / Their old familiar carols play / And wild and sweet, the words repeat / Of peace on earth, good-will to men.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” – Harry Potter

“A lovely thing about Christmas is that it’s compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together.” – Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home

“Just remember, the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” — The Polar Express

“I don’t want Christmas season to end, because it’s the only time I can legitimately indulge in on particular addiction: glitter.” – Eloisa James, Paris in Love

“At Christmas, all roads lead home.” – Marjorie Holmes

Source: Town & Country

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha.

Submitted by: Orna Rawls:

Thanksgiving Survey

This year, Thanksgiving celebrations may look different than in the past. With the current Coronavirus situation, public health officials are encouraging caution. While this may be challenging, there are many things to be thankful for and many traditions will hopefully continue.

We have created a survey to learn how Thanksgivings in our community may be different this year.

Click HERE to see the results

 

If you haven’t responded yet, we still want to hear from you. Tell us about your thanksgiving experience:

Mold the Future for Stratford Education: Stratford Education Fund

by Tom Dillon

What skills will be required for Stratford’s students in the years to come?  What will make them successful in their careers?  What knowledge do they need to make the greatest impact on their lives and the lives of others? The answers to those questions are the focus of a community led initiative being implemented by The Stratford Education Fund.

Bob David, a community member and one of three facilitators for the Barr Foundation, is looking for community volunteers throughout our community to participate in a structured workshop for the next several months.  Three groups composed of educators, parents and local business people that will collaborate to create an outline for programs and priorities required for students to become successful in life and the workplace.

The Barr Foundation’s mission is to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts. Based in Boston, they are guided by core values defined by their founders. “These values are fundamental to who we are and what we believe constitutes effective philanthropy.”

Volunteers are needed to kick the program off starting in December and will be meeting through March. The groups will share ideas and develop specific programs that will be presented to the Barr Foundation and the Stratford Board of Education by the Summer of 2021.

A few dozen communities have been selected across New England.  The Barr Foundation is not only providing the funds to conduct the initial community collaboration, but a handful of communities will be awarded a grant each year for four years in a row to implement the programs that they created.

Diversity Matters

Over 50 languages are spoken in Stratford homes and our community is made up of an incredible diversity of people.   Bob is urging every Stratford resident with an interest in the success of our youth to consider getting involved with the project to ensure that it represents our community in the broadest possible sense.  Based on current conditions with the pandemic, meetings are currently expected to be virtual and will meet numerous times per month.  There is even a small stipend available for participants.

The Stratford Education Fund is an outgrowth of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce’s oldest running program the Business and Education Support Team (BEST).  The BEST program has run for more than 30 years as a public private partnership between Stratford’s business community and the public schools.  The BEST program continues to provide “mini-grants” between 50 and 500 dollars which are put directly into teachers’ hands for small programs that go straight to Stratford’s classrooms. Every year awards are presented to teachers and students for being the “BEST” of Stratford.

The Stratford Education Fund was created to create more opportunities by going through the full process of registering as a IRS recognized 501(c)3 charitable foundation.  That long process was completed with extensive support of many community businesses, including the Milford Bank.

This is your opportunity to get involved and share your experience and perspective on the future of our students and community!  Anyone interested should reach out to Bob David at bobbydavid999@gmail.com.