Originally uploaded by rustedrobot.

This is an aerial shot of Maynard, Massachusetts, where I currently reside. This post is not meant to point out how much better the aerial photography is on than the other search engines, nor am I trying to get you to try it for yourself. I mean, why would I so obviously shill for the company I work for? Geez. I’m not that obnoxious.

Anyway, Maynard is a very small town geographically, but lately it seems like we’re making the news more than we should and not for the best of reasons. Let’s take a look at the exhibits:

a) I’m having a hard time believing this one, but apparantly a five year old girl was scolded at the elementary school in Maynard this week. Did she throw something at a teacher? Try to beat up another student? Incite a food fight? Steal something? Swear at her teacher? Nope. She hugged another student. That’s right. Hugged. I guess the adminstration somehow considers hugging the equivilent of roughhousing. The admins even made the young girl write a letter to her parents “explaining her behavior.” What could a five-year old possibly write? “Sorry mom, I hugged somebody?” Christ.

b) This story hit the newswire last fall, but is still reverberating around town. A longtime teacher in the Maynard school system was arrested for child molestation, at which point several more students from over the last 30 years stepped forward and also made similar claims against the man. It’s always the ones who “give the most” to the kids, isn’t it? In this case, this apparent waste of a human ran the school radio station (quite popular around here, which is cool), gave money and gifts to children in need, and seemed to be universally adored by both kids and parents in town. Incredibly sad. There’s always the chance that if one child makes the claim, you almost hope it’s a made-up story sprouting from a dust-up in class or something. No guilty verdict has come down yet, but plenty of victims are providing information and details about the man that no schoolkids should know. It doesn’t look good.

c) The entire school system itself is in danger of losing accreditation because of the physical condition of the high school. Ouch. I’ve never been there myself, but even back in the late ’80s when I was in high school, I always drove by it and felt like it was in rough shape.

Many of you are probably wondering why we even live here after all this. Well, I suppose I have faith. I’ve seen the recent influx of young couples with children who’ve moved here recently. Many are the same as us – they came from the city, seek realistic value in housing prices and will provide the foundation for change here.

I see a brand new library going up. I see the town struggling, but trying to do something about the physical state of the high school. I see my neighbors, both of whom spent their working lives in the Maynard school system and are approaching retirement. They are very good people whom I believe wholeheartedly when they tell me that a child molester is the raging exception to the norm at that school. The school is in no danger of cracking the top 10 list in terms of quality education (yet?) but it’s also not even close to being near the bottom, either, and the trends are heading up – a good sign. Not sure I’m sold on those rating lists, anyway. My gut keeps telling me that the education your child gets is influenced as much by the school system as it is your own parenting choices. You can’t just ship them off to school each morning and expect others to form them correctly. Doesn’t seem to work that way. I’ve seen it first hand.

I see a diverse community. A great downtown. Rising real estate values. Easy access to the city. A farmer’s market! Oh yeah, Erikson’s opens this weekend, too. Ice cream is always good for the community.