January 2018 Note from Executive Director
The Hidden Gem of Providence
Happy New Year from the CHSAA! As you may be aware, Classical received a National Blue Ribbon Award from the US Department of Education. On Monday, December 18, 2017, there was a ceremony at the school that was attended by both local and state officials, including Congressman Cicillini.
State Treasurer Seth Magaziner noted in his remarks during the ceremony that you would never know Classical is the #1 school in the state based on its current condition. The RI Department of Education Director of Innovation, Stephen Osborn, asked me why Classical is not well known.
Much has happened on both the state and local level over the past year with regard to our decaying school buildings in Rhode Island. Dr. Curtis Odom ‘90, CHSAA Board President, met with Mayor Elorza on October 4, 2017, to learn more about his plans for the Providence school buildings and Classical in particular. As a way to stay connected to the plans as they are formed, I have been attending town hall style meetings to get information on behalf of the Alumni Association regarding the school improvement initiative.
Mayor Elorza launched the “All In” Summit which met four times in 2017. The meetings were intended to have the community participate in creating the classroom of the future. It was a good attempt at community engagement. The challenge is to figure out how the community can visualize forward-thinking learning spaces when its current schools are crumbling around them.
The state also held meetings in various towns to discuss funding and research. The Governor’s office is working with officials in Massachusetts since they have an investment program and improvement model that Rhode Island can draw from. Even though the state seems committed to improving all school buildings and is working on funding, it is up to each locality to approve a bond and a plan for its own schools.
Overall, it is a complicated issue, as I am sure you can imagine. As we learned from attending these meetings, there will be no actual improvement projects launched before September 2019, if they stay on schedule. The question now remains; how do we keep Classical in the forefront of improvement decisions?
Classical turns 175 this year. We are hoping to leverage the anniversary as a means to shine a light on the great accomplishments of Classical as well as its needs. We made contact with most of the officials at the Blue Ribbon ceremony and are in the process of setting up meetings to discuss how we keep Classical relevant through our 175th Anniversary celebration of the school this year.
We have a meeting on January 12 with Providence Superintendent of Schools, Chris Maher, whose son is a freshman at Classical. Mr. Maher is a strong supporter of Classical and has expressed interest in joining forces to make the 175th Anniversary of the school a high profile event. We also have a meeting with Stephen Osborn, RI Department of Education Director of Innovation, planned for January 19th to discuss ways in which we can create more visibility and awareness for the hidden gem in Providence known as Classical High School.
We are planning a meeting with one of Seth Magaziner’s staffers, Charon Rose, who is a Classical alumnae. Finally, a tour of the school for someone from the Mayor’s office is also on the list of things to do to raise the level of visibility for Classical.
The Alumni Association can be a powerful force for change on behalf of the school. The Classical Family is strong and can create influence outside of city bureaucracy. As an organization, we will make our voices heard so that Classical Remains Strong and in the center of decisions based on its need as well as its legacy and history.
We will be reporting our findings in our LinkedIn group. This letter will be posted there awaiting your comments and suggestions. Get involved in the conversation. If you are not already a member of the private group, simply send a request. If you are an alum, please include Classical High School in your LinkedIn profile.