, Salem, MA

May 2, 2014

Heard Around Town: Changing of the guard at Salem charter school


---- — SALEM — There is life after Rachel Hunt.

Salem Academy Charter School, the grade 6-12 independent public school in Shetland Park, announced this week that Stephanie Callahan has been named head of school and principal of the lower school.

Callahan will replace Hunt, the school’s founder, who will resign in June after 10 years as head of school. And, yes, she’s that Rachel Hunt — the new addition to the Salem School Committee.

Callahan’s appointment does not come as a surprise. She has been at Salem Academy since 2007 and became head of the lower school three years later.

Sean Gass, an administrator at the International Studies Academy in San Francisco, an urban school of 450 students, has been named principal of the upper school (grades 9-12). He is a graduate of Cambridge Rindge & Latin School and Hamilton College in New York, with graduate degrees from UCLA Berkeley.

Hunt announced her plans to step down last November.

Giving Tree

When Ken Rothwell won The Giving Tree Award last year, he was in the hospital being treated for leukemia.

Rothwell, 48, the owner of Ken’s Kickin’ Chicken, was honored to receive the award, which is presented annually to both an adult and a Salem High student who, like the tree in the children’s story, give selflessly to help others.

After winning the award, Rothwell offered to take over financial sponsorship of the student award, which comes with an annual $1,000 grant.

Rothwell made that offer, in large part, because of his close ties to Brendan Walsh, the retired school administrator and current School Committee member who is the driving force behind The Giving Tree.

“I’m just a regular kid from The Point,” said Rothwell, who is still battling cancer. “I come from nothing and worked for everything I have.”

Walsh, he said, was his teacher at Salem High, a teacher who pushed him to make something of himself and someone he has turned to for advice over the years.

“He’s been a great inspiration in my life,” said Rothwell. “He was always there for me, so if he believes this much in The Giving Tree Award, I figured I’d step up to the plate and be a sponsor.”

And, thus, a torch was passed.

He’s baaack...

Mike Fitzgerald, who retired as general manager of Salem Harbor Station in 2010, is back running the plant in its final days.

Fitzgerald was asked to return following the unexpected death this winter of station director Mick Beaudette.

The plant closes May 31. If you haven’t got a calendar in front of you, that’s 29 days and counting.

What’s in a name?

If you’re a school, it’s good to have a name.

The Salem Community Charter School, which opened three years ago for high school dropouts, has a name — but it’s a confusing name.

For three years, they’ve been getting phone calls at their Museum Place Mall location from people looking for the Salem Community Child Care Center or Salem Academy Charter School.

That mixup is understandable.

But they’ve also been getting calls from people looking for the Horace Mann School. Salem Community Charter School, it turns out, is a state “Horace Mann” charter school.

To end the madness, the school established a naming committee more than a year ago. Unfortunately, they came up with something like “Vista Points,” which sounded more like a condo complex on Revere Beach than a public school.

So they’re back at the drawing board. There is a new committee with a mandate to find a new name.

When they get one, you’ll be the first to know.

Tucker time

Big kickoff Sunday at the Hawthorne Hotel for police Chief Paul Tucker’s campaign for state representative.

Of course, the real kickoff took place Tuesday, when no strong challengers filed nomination papers by the state deadline, giving Tucker virtually clear sailing.

Wonder what scared everybody off? Could it be the gun?

Mattress time

When the mob used to “go to the mattresses,” it meant the start of a clan war.

When Salem High Band Director Cynthia Napierkowski goes to the mattresses, it means she’s raising funds for new band uniforms.

In an unusual fundraiser, Napierkowski and the band kids will be taking mattress orders next Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Salem High. The school auditorium will be set up like a mattress showroom, she said.

If they break the one-day record of 127 mattresses sold, Napierkowski said the fundraising sponsor will give them an additional $5,000.

So as you lie in bed at night and feel that lump in your back, think about the band kids from Salem High.


Good concert tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Tabernacle Church on Washington Street.

The North Shore Pipe Band is raising the roof for a good cause — HAWC.

If you like kilts and bagpipes, this is the place to be.

Tireless Ted

Retired Judge Thaddeus Buczko of Salem was the keynote speaker today at the annual Tadeusz Kosciuszko Conference at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Kosciuszko, of course, is a Polish war hero who fought on our side in the American Revolution.

Buczko, of course, is living proof that 88 — his age — is only a number.

Tom Dalton can be reached at