The dawn of the new school year in Gloucester and Rockport means it’s also time for a major local literacy program to swing back into action as well.
The First R Foundation provides adult volunteers — including local business leaders, political figures and yes, editors, reporters and photographers from the Times —who read to kindergarten and first-grade pupils, then present the books to the kids for their classroom libraries. And the organization is launching its 10th year under the leadership of Patricia Earle.
In that vein, the First R organization will kick off the new school year with a 10th anniversary celebration at The Gloucester House restaurant next Thursday night and include the presentation of two awards — the Frances Ferrante Award, which will go to a person who has helped First R grow, and a special service award that will go to an honoree who has especially encouraged a love of books and reading in young people.
State Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and her mother, Frances, will present the Ferrante Award, while state Sen. Bruce Tarr, a longtime board member, supporter and occasional reader with the First R program, will present the service award.
The foundation, whose reading volunteers visit local school classes once a month, was launched in 2002, when the Gloucester Public Schools were forced to cut funding for elementary school librarians, Earle has said, and has provided its own boost for children’s reading every since.
American Eagle sails to victory
Gloucester’s own Schooner Adventure captured the spotlight by leading the Parade of Sail to cap last weekend’s 28th Gloucester Schooner Festival.
But the Maine-based schooner American Eagle ultimately took home the Esperanto Cup for winning the Mayor’s Race.
The American Eagle, based out of Rockland, Maine and skippered by Captain John Foss, sailed to an easy victory, besting runnerup second-place finisher Summerwind by more then 10 minutes.
The Adventurer — out of Norwalk, Conn., and not to be confused with the Schooner Adventure — bested the Perception and Gloucester’s Schooner Thomas E. Lannon to win the Ned Cameron Cup for medium schooners, while the Green Dragon took the Betty Ramsey Plate in the small schooner class.
The flag at the Veterans’ Center flew last week in honor of World War II veteran Robert Manning Barrett. Born April 22, 1924, he entered the U.S. Army on March 8, 1942.
The private served with 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, Medical Corps.
He was awarded (posthumously) the Silver Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.
Pvt. Barrett was killed in action “somewhere in France” on Sept. 3, 1944. He was 20 years old. According to the citation with the Silver Star award: “For gallantry in action that a friendly tank, under enemy observation, had been hit forward of the front lines. Pvt. Barrett advanced to its position under enemy small arms and artillery fire and evacuated and administered first aid to all of its members. Pvt. Barrett found out there was another soldier in the tank and braved enemy fire again to rescue and in so doing was himself mortally wounded. The courage and devotion displayed by Pvt. Barrett, under intense enemy fire were in keeping with the highest traditions of medical military service.”
He is buried at Plot H, Row 5, Grave 12 at Brittany American Cemetery in St. James, France.
The flag was requested to fly in his honor by the Office of Veterans’ Services.
Anyone wishing to fly a flag in honor of a deceased veteran can call the Office of Veterans’ Services at 978-281-9740.
Flag to commemorate 9/11
The flag at the Veterans’ Center will fly this week in honor of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.
“One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in America’s history.” — President George W. Bush
Let us never forget.