- Written by Gillian Smith
- Published: 07 January 2015
Residents at Duxbury’s annual Town Meeting, which begins on Saturday, March 14, will take action on at least 42 items of business that include the operating budget for the town and schools, new town bylaws and zoning laws, and various other matters such as eleven Community Preservation Act proposals.
- Written by Gillian Smith
- Published: 17 December 2014
Drivers traveling up Route 53 for the next several weeks may experience some delays or detours as construction has begun on the roundabout project.
When completed, the roundabout will be at the corner of Winter Street and Kingstown Way. There is currently a flashing yellow light at the intersection, which has been the site of many accidents over the years. From 2005 to 2008, there were 12 accidents at that intersection and from 2009 to 2012 there were 16 accidents.
Drivers are encouraged to seek alternate routes for the next two to three weeks during this phase of construction.
In October, Town Manager René Read told selectmen the project will cost approximately $1.2 million and should be completed by March 2016. The roundabout is designed to slow down traffic as it approaches the intersection.
- Written by Susanna Sheehan
- Published: 17 December 2014
Seventeen Duxbury residents have been appointed to the new Duxbury Friends of Plymouth 400th Committee.
On Monday, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to appoint the following people to this committee: David Madigan of the board of selectmen, Robert Vose of the Duxbury Historical Commission, James Hartford of the Local Historic District Commission, Erin McGough of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, Pam Campbell Smith of the Historic Online Archives Committee, Matthew Vigneau of the Alden Kindred of America, Terry Reiber of the Duxbury Business Association, Rev. Catherine Cullen of the Duxbury Interfaith Council, Lamont Healy of the board of library trustees, Robert Hayes of the board of cemetery trustees, and Sue Schortmann of the Historic O’Neil Farm, Inc. Selectmen also appointed the first six citizens who showed an interest in serving. They are Helen Fowler, Carolyn Ravenscroft, Sandy Sweetser, Kate Taube Brewer, Beth Thompson and Christopher Donato.
They also voted unanimously to include two ex officio members on the committee: C. Anne Murray and Nancy R. O’Connor, who are assistants to the selectmen and the town manager.
Lamont Healy will serve as temporary chairman and call the first meeting.
The term on this committee is for seven years from 2014 through 2021. Plymouth’s 400th anniversary celebration starts in 2019 and runs through 2020. The committee term also includes an extra year for wrap up.
The new Duxbury Friends of Plymouth 400th committee will serve as liaisons to the Plymouth 400 Committee, which is expecting 2 to 3 million tourists to come through the area between November 2019-2020 for the town’s 400th birthday. Duxbury’s committee will serve as advisors to the board of selectmen and as the contact for local event planners, residents and visitors.
As many of Duxbury’s historical sites related to the Pilgrims have been included the Plymouth’s on new tourist map, the committee will be charged with determining how to manage large crowds, increased traffic and parking, and all other related issues.
- Written by Gillian Smith
- Published: 17 December 2014
The construction of the new high school has made an impact far beyond the Duxbury town lines.
Duxbury High School was presented with a letter of thanks last week from Mike and Penny Herlihy, courtesy of the Biymana School of Sciences in Rwanda. The letter thanked the school for its donation of re-purposed microscopes from the old high school. Science department subject supervisor Cheryl Lewis and social studies teacher Sue Sullivan worked with the Herlihys to re-purpose the microscopes and establish a connection with the Biymana School.
The Herlihy’s have spent the last 10 years working with the Biymana School, working to provide resources and money to help build labs and provide scholarships for Rwandan students. The school was founded in 1952 and opened its doors to women in 1983. It was the first secondary school to provide a path for women into professional and leadership positions in the sciences. The students compete for admission through the Rwandan national examination system, which is open to all students. Through the rigorous programs at the school, students are able to earn scholarships to universities both in Rwanda and the United States.
The Herlihy’s work with the Byimana School began after Mike Herlihy took an early retirement after working for State Street and IBM, and received an opportunity to travel to Rwanda to help build a school. While in Rwanda, he met the directors of the Byimana School and decided he wanted to become involved with helping the school develop.
“I got very intrigued by the country,” Mike Herlihy said. “I brought Penny back later in the year and we decided to focus on Rwanda and the school and now it’s been 10 years.”
The Herlihy’s became very good friends with the former headmaster, Brother Malisaba Straton, and together they established a sponsorship program for the students. The Herlihy’s sponsored two students, a boy and a girl. The girl received a degree in animal husbandry and is now married with a child and has just opened her own shop.
“With a lot of help from people here in Duxbury, we’ve had probably 60 or 70 donors, half of them from here, to help the students,” he said. “They’ve all put kids through high school.”
Mike Herlihy said the Biymana School has received a lot of help from Sue Sullivan and Cheryl Lewis at Duxbury High School, as well as Superintendent Ben Tantillo, who orchestrated four days in the Duxbury schools for the Herlihy’s and Brother Straton to examine how technology is used in the schools.
“We went from pre-K to high school so when it became time to improve the school we were big supporters,” he said.
The Herlihy’s typically spend two to six weeks, depending on the project, in Rwanda each year. After the sponsorship project was established, they worked on establishing an English club to help improve the students’ language skills, and helped send seven Rwandan students to Williams College to work towards an economics master’s program. In addition, Penny Herlihy has taught English and TOEFL classes — which are exams for non-English speakers to receive approval to study in Britain or the United States.
Last year, graduates of the Byimana School had five presidential scholars among them. Presidential scholars receive an opportunity to study in the US.
This past October, eight Byimana students won national honors in science and information technology. In August, at the fourth annual Entrepreneurship Leaders Academy, 100 Rwandan high school juniors learned how to develop their own business plans. They were taught by a team of US volunteers led by Wheaton College’s new president, Dennis Hanno. The students are from 14 schools across Rwanda.
Looking ahead to the next 10 years, the Herlihys plan to continue supporting the Byimana students who need financial support to attend the school.
The students in need tend to be the students with large, often single parent farming families.
The Herlihy’s are now focusing on turning their attention to helping teachers improve their results in the classroom with simple technology tools and content.
Most classrooms have about 50 students, one teacher and one textbook. The teachers write the information from the textbook onto the blackboard and the students then copy the material into their copybooks. There are no handouts, as the cost of printing is too expensive.
Herlihy said that with a limited amount of technology, the classrooms could be dramatically transformed, which is what they hope to work on in the future.
The Byimana School has become an integral part of the Herlihy’s lives. Herlihy said the school has created a room just for him and Penny, which is always open to them. In 2008, they even got married again at the school. They plan to continue working with the school to help it develop as much as possible.
“It has become a very meaningful part of our lives,” he said.
- Written by Karen Wong
- Published: 17 December 2014
“You can’t be kidnapped by hell and not be harmed."
Holocaust survivor Isaac Jack Trompetter spoke to group of Duxbury High School Holocaust Studies students who visited the Facing History and Ourselves Center in Brookline last Thursday.
Trompetter was born in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in 1942. At that time, Jews were not permitted to hold prominent positions, were required to wear yellow stars on their clothes and could only purchase food after others had completed their shopping. Trompetter’s father risked his life venturing out to the hospital after the 8 p.m. curfew to see his first-born child. Today, the former curly haired child, stands over 6 feet tall, is bald with gray moustache, smooth skin and a breezy yet somewhat guarded demeanor.
Life for Jews in Amsterdam got even worse in the months following Trompetter’s birth. “Jews were beaten up just for fun and lived in a state of terror,” Tompetter said.
Jews were then forced to go into hiding with families that Trompetter described as “having found the voice of God in their hearts to take in Jews on the run.” He was obviously moved when he described the ordinary people who took great risks to help themselves and others.
Going into hiding was a risky undertaking for both the Jews and those who housed them, for if the Nazis discovered them, death was almost certain. Many families split up in order to improve the chance that at least some members would survive and such was the case with Jack Trompetter. His parents made the wrenching decision to send their three-month-old baby with a relative north of Amsterdam while they moved in with Jan and Cora VanDomburg, a brother and sister who lived in a town south of Amsterdam. To increase the chance of survival, family members often didn’t tell one another where they were going. Love, being more powerful than prudence at times, prompted Trompetter’s mother to send Cora to find baby Jack and make sure he was okay. Cora found him in a place that she felt was not safe, an orphanage adjacent to a Nazi barracks. Cora was fortunate to find an older couple willing to care for the tiny infant. Trompetter’s mother knitted a cap and scarf for him that would serve as a means to identify him in the weeks, months or as it turned out, years that followed before the war was over.
While in hiding, Trompetter’s mother taught Cora how to sew and the two became busy darning worn clothes. The women traded this valuable service for food. While such commerce was strictly forbidden in occupied Holland, the black market allowed many to survive.
At the same time, the DeGroots in the village of Heinote cared for Jack Trompetter on their farm. Trompetter said he has two memories from his time with the DeGroots. He remembers one time being rushed into a closet with his Hobby Horse when visitors came to call. Trompetter also recalls the sounds of distant explosions, perhaps by the British near the end of the war. Being so young, Trompetter hasn’t retained emotions associated with the time, but even to this day, the scent of a farm gives him comfort, something he attributes to living on the DeGroots farm for nearly three years.
Shortly after the liberation on May 8, 1945, Trompetter was reunited with his parents and some other family members. At first the DeGroots didn’t want to give the toddler back to his biological parents and indeed, it was difficult for Trompetter to separate from the only parents he had known. Jack slowly adjusted to his new life, but the early childhood trauma came back to haunt him causing him to have a breakdown not long after the war. It was the DeGroots wish to have young Jack baptised to “protect him in case the Nazis were to regain power,” said Trompetter, but his parents were not comfortable with the idea of having two sets of parents for Jack and chose to cut ties with the DeGroots.
The years following the end of WWII were tough in Holland. Anti-Semitism was worse than it had been before the war. Trompetter remarked that, “When people saw a Jew, they would say, ‘What, the Germans missed you?’” In Holland before the war, there were 140,000 Jews. After the war, there were 20,000. Only 5,000 Jewish children survived, said Trompetter.
After working and saving money, in 1949, Trompetter’s family moved to New Jersey and then to New York, where he grew up in the 1950s. Trompetter’s family raised him and his cousin Andy, who Jack thought was his brother for many years, in a house filled with love. The boys were raised with strong values of work, kindness, respect, and more kindness.
“My parents were heroic to raise me with love despite the fact they knew swine,” Trompetter said.
Trompetter had seen bitterness take over some survivors but his parents chose love. Sadly, that love was not enough to keep the horrors of the past
from clouding his cousin Andy’s life. Andy’s parents (Jack’s aunt and uncle) were killed during the Holocaust and Andy, too, died as a young man in this 30s in part because of the deep scars the war left on him.
In the mid 1980s, Trompetter went back to Holland to see what he could find from his past. It was an uneasy trip for his mother. Trompetter said she felt such strong guilt about giving him up when he was a baby. Trompetter consoled her by saying he knew she did it out of love. His mother would take comfort for a time, only to slip back into feeling terrible guilt. While his parents were uneasy about seeking out the DeGroots, they did accompany their son to Heinote in search of the family farm. Modern highways and progress had erased what was left of that rural area. Even a visit to the local registry provided no information on what became of the couple that lovingly cared for Jack during his first three years of life. So many questions will remain unanswered for Trompetter.
Cora and Jan VanDomburg relocated to New York and were like an aunt and uncle to Trompetter. The two families remained close until the senior Trompetters’ and VanDomburgs’ deaths.
Since childhood, art was an escape for Trompetter, who is an artist by trade. Judaism became an important part of his life through the years, and Trompetter believes that retelling his story is his responsibility to his family and the countless others who cannot.
The high school students were moved by Trompetter’s matter of fact story telling and were glad to bear witness. When a student asked how often Trompetter thinks about the war, he responded, several times a week. He also said, “with trauma, it is always there, but if you are lucky, it doesn’t destroy you.”