Diamonds in the Rough
by Cate Murway
If you’re looking for small-town charm that blends respect of heritage with modern sophistication, you’ll find much to love about historic Bristol on the Delaware. “Welcome Friend” is not just a meaningless sign here.
Bristol is a diamond. Some may say it’s a diamond in the rough; some may say it is perfection just the way it is. Whatever you surmise, all you have to do is turn toward the light and you’ll see facets you didn’t see before.
Small towns are idyllic, cohesive, friendly, and unhurried and the ones with true heart, like Bristol Borough, work diligently with the youth who portend the future of the unified, proud community.
For some, after school programming is uncharted territory but after school programs do make a difference—they contribute to increased student performance and provide a safe haven.
The 21st Century Learning Center Program provides academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, sustainable after school programs that best serve the children and youth in a cost-effective manner. This includes tutoring, recreation and a constructive environment where the Borough children are given educational help, self-esteem building opportunities and positive role models.
The Learning Center Programs helps the students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math. The students are offered a broad array of enhancement activities that can complement their regular academic programs: youth theater arts programming, creative arts workshops, life and career skills, and club-type offerings including photography, chess tournaments, and fishing.
Literacy and other educational services are offered to the families of the participating children.
This environment for the youth of Bristol Borough is supportive, safe, educational and fun. The homework support and academic enrichment activities increase the students’ skill levels and prepares them for their future.
An immediate goal is that the students participating in the program will show improvements on measures such as school attendance, classroom performance, and decreased disciplinary actions or other adverse behaviors.
This assistance also enables each child to better face the challenges in life and emerge victorious in adverse situations, preparing them to be free thinking individuals capable of making independent decisions.
Executive Director of the Grundy Foundation, Eugene J. “Gene” Williams and the members of the steering committee strive to raise awareness of the after-school opportunities available at St. James the Greater Episcopal Church on Walnut Street to Borough residents in grades 6 – 12. A $1.4 million 21st Century Learning Center Grant has been secured through 2013. The goal is also to generate funds for the grant-funded programs for grades 4 – 6 (approximately $55K annually) that will end in June.
Former reading specialist teacher and Title 1 federal program coordinator, volunteer Mary Gesualdi hopes to secure additional funding to continue the extremely successful homework zone program.
Scholastics and sports can go hand in hand.
Some of the Borough history, culture and pride were celebrated in the Parish House last Saturday. A spaghetti dinner with an excellent exhibit called the “History of Baseball in Bristol” was scheduled in the St. James parish hall from 2 to 8 p.m.
The display included memorabilia covering a century of memories from 1890 through 1990. Numerous significant highlights were treasured items from Hall of Fame inductee, Pete Cimino; Jose and Eddie Rosado, and the impressive collection of Bristol’s Own “Mantle”, Jeffrey Paul Manto, including his World Series rings.
Jeff and his wife, Denise Louise were pleased with the turnout.
Bristol’s ballpark soil, the “game-used dirt”, is a piece of history and has felt the sports shoes and spikes for generations. For nearly a century, the Grundy Commons clock and before that, always the last ray of sunlight from the sky let the future star ballplayers know when it was time to leave the Landreth Seed and Leedom Fields to go home.
Mary Jane Mannherz, the Director of the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library and Donna McCloskey, the Grundy Museum Director, organized the exhibit and recruited the town’s people for research.
A donation at the door of $8 for adults and $4 for children under 12 covered the dinner and the exhibit.
Despite any current economic dreariness, the people of this community proved they are always willing to reach out and help their neighbors.
Elementary school students Morgan Warner, Natale Walker,
and Katelyn Pick helped serve the pasta dinner and
“made sure the customers were alright”.
Most exciting for Katelyn are the “Theatre and the free lessons.
I learned to act as a person, show emotion and memorize words.”
Morgan feels the respect.
“Once you follow the rules in here, you follow the rules outside.”
"I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too." Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Eighth grader, Jeremiah Haywood was selling desserts. He participates in the programs.
“It’s a lot of fun. They give us a lot of activities to do.”
This table for the entrepreneurial in spirit was run with help from the Philadelphia Bible college students.
Dave Wintz and Richard Hughes represented the Borough fire police and provided security services for the day.
Donna and Don McCloskey’s granddaughters, Emma and Sara Warrington “helped pass out stuff” and their niece, Adrianna Moore helped serve the meals also for community service for her confirmation project.
Noreen and Thomas Riley came to support their son, Patrick, owner of Transformations, a faction of the sports side of the Community Learning Center.
Plus, Noreen was happy to not have to cook!
Amy McIlvaine, Special to the Pilot, aptly publicizes Borough events and she is a member of the steering committee. She came to support the 21st Century Learning Center Program and, of course, for the spaghetti that Joseph Ciambrello was cooking all day.
Joe cooks at all the Church functions while Rector's Warden, Horace P. Schmidt, Jr., assures that everything runs smoothly.
Field hockey and lacrosse athlete Gabrielle Manto and her lacrosse athlete cousin, Tyler Mangle served the pasta and distributed the sauce.
Mile runner athlete Veronica Wheeler came after her track meet to volunteer also.
Per Sharon Barker, “the kids are so happy to see the community support”.
Sharon Barker, the interim executive Director at United Way of Bucks County, helped secure the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.
“The Bristol Borough residents get everything for free. The programs run after school until 7:00 pm”.
The activities are all encompassing as they support kids more than just with academic help. There are Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and a young men’s group run by a “Prof” from Philadelphia. The students received Eagles tickets and met Ronald Vincent Jaworski, a former American football quarterback and currently an NFL analyst on ESPN. A bus trip, donated by Ron Jaworski transported them to view the Emmy-winning “Good Morning America”.
Math plays into sports and selections include yoga, tennis and golf. The Community Learning Center team works with the schools to verify grades.
Teacher Denise Manto nods, “We see a difference in the students attending”.
The SAT's are coming, is your student ready? The Sylvan Learning Center’s trained and certified college test prep tutors help college-bound students tackle the SAT.
All free for borough residents only. They even brought in a fantastic zoo-to-you program, a travelling zoo!
Past director of the Community Partnership, family therapist Dorothy Thomas is pleased to see the program is such a success.
Marissa Christie, the United Way project director for Bristol Borough’s 21st Century Learning Center, does yoga at Personal Training Transformations, L.L.C. She enthusiastically voiced that there is “tremendous growth in a positive direction and the children are more confident.”
Clearly, there’s no place like home.
Historic Bristol on the Delaware is always Home Plate.
Come to Bristol for a day, a decade or lifetime. We have a lot to offer.
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