PEABODY — Mayor Ted Bettencourt is not the first in his family to be mayor.
He explained the situation when he addressed Peabody High School kids participating in Student Government Day at City Hall last Thursday. Each of the Leather City scholars was allowed to follow a real government counterpart through part of the day, becoming, for example, a “shadow councilor” or “shadow police chief” or “shadow mayor.”
The real mayor recalled his own experience as a senior at Peabody High when he “shadowed” one of the city department heads.
“But my wife is constantly reminding me,” he said, “that when she was a senior at Peabody High School, she was the mayor.”
His wife, Andrea Licata, spent the day in the company of then-Mayor Peter Torigian. Bettencourt went on to admit that his first lady wasn’t as impressed as she might have been when he won the seat. After all, she’d gotten to the corner office first.
Outgoing high school Principal Ed Sapienza addressed the gathering, declaring, “Always be proud to be a Tanner.”
Among the onlookers was Peabody’s new state representative, Leah Cole, introduced by the mayor.
Some city officials grumbled good-naturedly when they saw that the Fire Department had gone the extra mile, decking out the shadow chief, Dalton DeLima, and shadow fire inspector, Carolyn Fitzgerald, in full gear, including oxygen tanks.
Bettencourt left early, telling the crowd he was due to take his own youngsters to a father/daughter dance.
“I have three beautiful dates waiting for me,” he said.
Culture comes to city
The Peabody Cultural Council has dished out $10,583 in grants to individuals and groups contributing to music, the visual arts, the performing arts and even literature in the Tanner City. These contributions vary from money for the Threshold Singers, who serenade the severely ill in hospices, hospitals, nursing homes and private houses, to a grant for Gregory Maichack to teach a class in “Georgia O’Keefe: How to Paint Pastel Flowers” at the West Branch Library. Other grants include money for “Hands-on History of the American Revolutionary War,” which uses re-enactors and real artifacts to educate fifth-graders, and to The Marble Collection Inc., which publishes a high school magazine of the arts.
To win a grant from the council, you have to apply before Oct. 15 each year — and yes, some of us have always wanted enough money to stay at home, paintbrush in hand, waiting for inspiration to strike. But the competition is heavy.
If interested, check the council website at www.mass-culture.org/Peabody, which advises, “It is the goal of the PCC to mobilize resources and to ensure that cultural opportunities are available and accessible to all segments of Peabody’s population in order to improve their quality of life.”
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
First, enroll at Bishop Fenwick High School, where music students joined kids from across the country earlier this month to compete in the World Strides Heritage Elite Performance Series. It was the school’s second visit to the Festival at Carnegie Hall, which is part of the series, in four years.
It wasn’t only practice that got them there. They also passed a special audition.
In addition, the school choir and the jazz band went on to a music competition at Riverside Church in New York, where they won a gold medal. Pianist Janine Antonellis of Stoneham was awarded the Maestro Award, given for an outstanding instrumental or vocal solo.
Down to business
Evidence that schools really do prepare kids for life comes from Peabody High School, where students won first place in product development at the 2013 Massachusetts School Bank Association’s Annual Conference. Their product was a children’s book, “Now That Makes Cents,” which is aimed at teaching younger kids how money works.
The winners, including Mike Milhem, Melissa McMahon, Angela Fersobe, Erin Klemczuk, Brianny Espaillat and Jay Erwin, have been learning about the glories of things like compound interest firsthand. They are “teller interns” for Metro Credit Union at the high school.