Wholly Cross about College Square

I really liked Gabe‘s comment about the City Council discussion of what my sister would call “those damn college kids.”

I grew up in Worcester, and I have more than one family member living in more than one house on College Hill.  I didn’t attend college in Worcester, but I did attend a school in a neighborhood that superficially resembles the one Holy Cross is in.

There were, however, some big differences between the two neighborhoods.  There are no coffee houses one block away from campus at Holy Cross.  At my college, I didn’t have to walk across the entry to a highway, under a dark, sketchy highway overpass, in order to get to a half-filled plaza where the biggest attraction is a Wendy’s.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t even think Rotmans is still running Cafe Fantastique.

Where I went to school, there were at least two coffeehouses within a few blocks, not to mention a decent square with restaurants and a candlepin bowling alley and a CD store and banks and a real supermarket and a subway station.  In short, there were a lot of great options that didn’t involve alcohol and didn’t require a car.

There will always be students who make drunken fools of themselves.  There are plenty of non-students who make drunken fools of themselves, too.

If you drove by College Square and the Culpepper’s Plaza and knew nothing about Worcester, you probably would not think that there was a college of almost 3,000 (!!!) students in that area.  And if I were a student at Holy Cross who knew nothing of the city beyond my immediate environs, I would think the city was a complete dump that couldn’t even support a Starbucks near my campus.  It’s not like I could just catch a ride with my friends to go downtown…because THAT’s a dump, too.

I’m getting a little tired of the “we’re a city of neighborhoods” line being used, and people not remembering that businesses are also an essential part of many neighborhoods.  Culpepper’s, Wendy’s, a convenience store, and an insurance agency do not a happening college town make.  Look at the Holy Cross website on Worcester and try to see if you can find any attraction that’s actually in that neighborhood.

Yes, the city and the college need to work together.  But I’m not convinced that the problem is wholly the college’s to fix.

DIY Preschool: The Background

(This is the first in a series of posts about Worcester-area educational activities for preschool-aged children.)

My husband (a stay-at-home parent) and I (a work-out-of-the-home parent) discussed quite a few options when our elder son turned three, and again when he turned four.  We knew that we couldn’t afford a really fancy, expensive preschool for our son, and that some of our other options (Worcester Public Schools preschool, for example) didn’t allow us a lot of flexibility.  We knew that we didn’t want to have him attend preschool five days a week, and we knew we wanted his childhood to include as much play and free time as possible, and we knew we had a limited budget.

So, that brought us to find a way to find stimulating activities for preschoolers in the Worcester area, outside of a traditional preschool.  We had a lot more options than I initially thought we would have, so I’ll write a post a day for the next week or so about what worked and didn’t work for us, in case there are others who are interested.

A caveat: I don’t consider us to be homeschoolers, and we’re not planning on homeschooling our kids.  I think sometimes discussions like this can turn into something like this: the parent who’s not doing the hard work of raising or educating the kids brags while simultaneously announcing that, well, he’s not saying his kids are geniuses or anything. 

My husband and I have the option for one of us to be at home with our kids, and we are fully aware of how blessed we are to have that option.  New converts of all stripes — educational, religious, and otherwise — run the risk of alienating others with their newfound passion for the truth.  Well, I’m not a convert to anything, I don’t believe there’s one right way for all families or all children, but I do think that parents might be able to take some ideas from what worked for us.

Music Performances for Children

Last Wednesday, I took my elder son (age five) and his cousin (age six and a half) to the Brown Bag Concert at Mechanics Hall.  I saw a decent number of parents with young (under six) children there and it got me to thinking about music performances that children can attend in the Greater Worcester area.

Both JOMP and Pakachoag offer recitals and music programs that children are welcome to attend.

The Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra is offering a Holiday Pops Concert at Mechanics Hall on December 12.

Children under 12 are free at performances of the Worcester Chamber Music Society.

For those who like a little more dance with music, there are a few different Nutcracker performances in the area: Ballet Arts Worcester at the Hanover, Dance Prism at Mechanics Hall, and — for those in the North County — Paula Meola.

There are two performances outside of Worcester that I am especially looking forward to attending with my elder son.

The first is the Barber of Seville family performances presented by the Boston Lyric Opera in February and March.  (It was especially fortuitous that I found a kids’ book telling the story at the WPL Book Sale  a couple of weeks ago; I’ll probably dig out Sing Me A Story as well.)

And the second is the Symphony Pro Musica performance that incudes The Composer is Dead, also in March.