Special and Typical Athletes Play for Nashoba Unified Sports

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE BOLTON COMMON

When Bolton resident Bob Moalli could not find a local sports program for his son, he decided to start one of his own.

Four years ago, Moalli’s son, who struggles with social issues, was taking well to a special sports program in Sudbury, and Moalli and his wife were happy to find an outlet for their son to socialize with other children. However, the Moallis wanted to find something closer.

“We wanted to be able to meet people in our community that were struggling with the same challenges,” said Moalli. “We set about asking questions as to whether or not there were people interested in building this.”

This led him to Joan Finger, a Bolton resident and chairperson of the Nashoba Regional School District Special Education PAC program, who was enthusiastic about the idea of starting a local sports program for special athletes. Calling it Nashoba Unified, they set up a basketball season at the Emerson building in Bolton. Rather than focus on athletics and competition, they centered it on partnering special needs kids with volunteers and in doing so, creating lasting social bonds.

It was a success, and Moalli and Finger added a fall soccer season a year later. For that, they enlisted the help of Jim Henry of Stow. Henry had been active in Stow’s soccer program and initially thought they were just looking for help getting started.

“I thought I was going to help facilitate fields and a few soccer balls. Showed up there the first day of practice and Bob’s like ‘OK, what are we doing.’ I started coaching from there,” Henry said.

Since then, Henry has become a vital and energetic part of both the weekly soccer sessions at the Stow Community Park and the basketball season, even getting his two sons, Jimmy, 13, and Keven, 11, involved and sharing their father’s enthusiasm.

“Now that they’ve formed relationships with the kids, they love it,” Henry said.

Sam Shepherd, a senior at the Bromfield School in Harvard, is another volunteer at Nashoba Unified. Though he is only two weeks into his first season with the program, he has had past experience coaching kids, experience that’s proving to be useful on the fields.

“Sometimes, you just take a different approach to get what you’re trying to teach across. I think it’s pretty fun,” Sam said.

For Mike and Melissa Clericuzio of Clinton, Nashoba Unified has been a joy for both them, their daughter Lacey, 11, who is deaf, and their son Cole, 10, who volunteers. After Clinton’s soccer team didn’t work for Lacey, the Celericuzios enrolled her in a program in Clinton, similar to Nashoba Unified. Unfortunately, the Clinton program began to sputter and when Cole heard about Nashoba Unified at school, they decided to try it.

“Within the very first day we felt very welcome by everybody — by the parents, by the kids, and the faculty of the Unified program,” said Mike Clericuzio.

Lacey is the only deaf child in the program, but that has only encouraged both the athletes and the volunteers to find ways to accommodate her.

“They really made her feel accepted by introducing her to everybody using sign language that my wife interpreted for her. And [they] even said, ‘This is Lacey’s signed name; this is how you say good job.’… And I was really excited to see the kids go directly up to Lacey and go out of their way to say hello and use the signs that they learned that day,” said Clericuzio.

Another thing the coaches did to get Lacey involved was to switch the way Red Light Green Light was played. Rather than just yell the color, the coaches now hold up appropriately colored flags.

“Learning a few signs to communicate, I think that’s neat for everybody. It’s a win win,” said Henry.

While all of this occurs on the field, another sort of program occurs on the sidelines. There, the parents of the special athletes get a chance to relax and to talk with other parents about the challenges and rewards of raising a child with special needs.

Moalli spoke of a father new to the program “[who] wanted to be participating with his boy. And I said look, I want you to see these people sitting on the sidelines. Those are all the parents. They’re sitting there and that’s where we want you. Not because we don’t want you doing something with your son, but because we think that’s where you need to be — on the sidelines, talking to parents. And I think he got it. His son was 5, and he’s just starting the journey. And we want him to know that that’s a support network that he can leverage.”

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Harvard Selectmen Oppose Vicksburg Square Development

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THE HARVARD POST

Harvard

Marie Sobalvarro, Board of Selectmen chairman, and Selectmen Tim Clark and Ronald Ricci, said they will vote against the Vicksburg Square proposal when it comes up for a vote at the March 28 Super Town Meeting. Peter Warren will vote for it. Selectman Bill Johnson did not attend the March 20 board meeting.

Among the complaints are concerns over a lack of public transportation, fears over how the school program would play out, and the findings of the Shirley and Ayer financial committees, which, according to Sobalvarro, had both shown the project to be unsustainable.

“It will cost approximately $338,000 to renovate a [affordable housing] unit, which will bring in less than $1,000 annually in tax credits. I don’t see that as being sustainable,” Sobalvarro said.
Warren said he was voting for the project as it would strengthen the economy in the area and create construction jobs.

“I think this will bring an economic boost to our area. I don’t think we should be thinking about Harvard, I think we should be thinking about the entire region,” he said.

Tim Kinch, vice-chairman of the Devens Committee, told selectmen that the results of the survey of 110 residents in Devens on the Vicksburg Square project had been indecisive. The vote was split, 55-55.

“If people are looking for a reason to reject or to affirm their positions based on the Devens residents, it’s not there,” said Kinch.

Annual Town Meeting

Selectmen approved the annual Town Meeting Warrant, which includes 45 articles that will be voted on by the town on April 28. These articles include allowing accessory housing to be converted into affordable units, and permitting seniors to do community service – whether in person or by proxy – at state minimum wage for 125 hours a year to help pay off their taxes. The town will also decide whether to fund the Town Hall renovation and the reconstruction of Littleton County Road.

Two articles that are likely to see changes before appearing at the Town Meeting are the Senior Citizens Property Tax Exemption Home Rule Petition and the Solar Photovoltaic Installation bylaw.

The senior property tax exemption is a plan which would cap qualifying resident’s property taxes at 10 percent of their total annual household income. Currently, the Finance Committee does not support the article. Ricci said he fears an item in the petition would restrict residents from participating in the program if their property is more valuable than the assessed value of a single family home in town plus 10 percent.

“I don’t think it’s fair that they’ve got a very expensive property and they’re poor … a person with low income that qualifies for this is worse off if they have expensive property,” said Ricci.

The solar photovoltaic installation bylaw is an attempt to clarify the state’s vague regulations regarding installing solar installations and is running into policy concerns over a number of issues, including defining commercial solar and residential solar.

Bragan and Warren announced that the town would not be receiving a Community Innovation Challenge grant for a municipal buildings facilities manager. Warren had hoped to receive a grant of $56,630 to hire a facilities manager. The article to hire a manager will still be kept on the warrant.

The loss of the grant funds means there will be no opportunity to hire a town planner for this year.

(8/23) DIE HARD (1988) DIR. JOHN MCTIERNAN @SOMERVILLE THEATRE

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR BOSTON HASSLE

Yipee ki yay, motherfucker.

A line that needs no introduction, surely, for it, like the bloodied bare feet, ze German bad guys, and Nakatomi Plaza’s 40 stories of terror, is just another well-greased cog in the singular action machine of DIE HARD. Considering it takes place on Christmas eve, it’s also a pretty good Christmas movie, I guess.

Directed by John McTiernan and released in 1988, the film pits Bruce Willis‘s lone-wolf-yet-John-Every-Man cop against a sinister German terror squad headed by the ever-enigmatic Alan Rickman. Rather than set the scene in the sprawling, gray “Europe” that the hundreds of movies featuring heavily accented terrorists seem to haunt, however, DIE HARD plays out in just one modern day (well, close enough) office building. While a lesser movie might have buckled under such close examination, the tight acting and claustrophobic cinematography means that the decrease in space only cranks up the heat.

If at this point you find yourself thinking, “well, you know, action films just aren’t for me,” and you have seen DIE HARD, OK, that’s fine. BUT if you’re thinking that and you HAVEN’T, well you best shut that mouth and get your ass over to the Somerville Theatre at midnight on 8/23 (technically 8/24), where it will be screening. Now hear me out, Ye high brow’d reader. I’m a dude who doesn’t like action movies. They’re dumb, they’re lazy, and they’re cheap in all the wrong ways. In fact, I can’t even remember the last action movie I saw. Oh wait, yes I can. It was DIE HARD. For the (probably) tenth time. Why? Because it’s smart, it’s not that lazy, and it is anything but cheap. It’s not just any action movie – it is THE action movie.

See for yourself this weekend.

DIEHARD (1988) DIR. JOHN MCTIERNAN

8/23 – 11:59PM
$10

Somerville Theatre
55 Davis Square
Somerville, MA 02144