The Amity Teen Center Adds to the Hynes 2012 Soundtrack

Politics, music, and local events come together in a reflection on twenty five years of the Amity Teen Center.


For a while now, I've been wanting to write about the soundtrack for my campaign for State Representative. At different times, there have been different songs that have been going through my mind as I campaign, and today, the Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration of the Amity Teen Center added to that celebration. Really I should write two separate blog posts, but I've been finding less time to write during my campaign, so I'll combine the two.

One song that I often get stuck in my head as I campaign is The Indigo Girls, "Closer to Fine"

I'm trying to tell you something about my life Maybe give me insight between black and white The best thing you've ever done for me Is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all

Yeah, I go door to door. I make phone calls. I greet people at fairs. I'm constantly trying to tell people something about my life. I'm constantly listening to people talk about the issues, and trying to find the nuance, the insight between the black and white that dominates so much of political discourse these days, and one of the best things I've found is to not take life, or the political campaign too seriously; it's only life after all.

Sometimes, I end up sending notes to people; email, postcards, something scrawled on a flyer, anything that I can use to reach another voter.

Sometimes, on these notes, I leave my phone number. "If you want to find out more about my campaign, please call me at (203) 298 0814." When I write something like this, the words of this year's earworm, "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen, comes to mind:

Hey, I just met you, And this is crazy, But here's my number, So call me, maybe?

So call me, maybe? Or even better, Vote for me, Maybe?

Today, I stopped at the Amity Teen Center for its Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration. I saw a lot of friends there, mostly parents, but some kids I knew as well. I must admit, I hadn't been to the Amity Teen Center before. Perhaps some of it is because of my experiences as a kid when I got dropped off at places like that after my parents separated and my mother had to find some place for me as she went back to work.

Yet the Amity Teen Center had a very different feel, something that appealed to my inner teenager, as well as to my thoughts about education. I've often talked about how teaching to the test is serving our students, as well as teachers, parents and towns poorly. When our students go out into the workforce, their ability to fill in the correct ovals on standardized test forms isn't going to be what leads to their success. No, there ability to speak publicly, relate well with their co-workers and be creative is going to be much more important.

My daughter was part of the Multi Age Group, or MAG, at Beecher Road School. This program taught twenty first century skills of creativity and cooperation which are already serving her well. As I looked at the art work on the walls and listened to teens from the Amity Teen Center, it seemed like those skills are being reinforced there.

I spoke with one Amity grad who was in the MAG program at Beecher Road School, and then later spent much of her free time at the Amity Teen Center. Unlike so many recent college graduates, this young woman has found a good job in a rough economy, working in New York City for a creative agency, and I suspect much of her success is the result of programs like MAG and the Amity Teen Center.

But I was talking about the soundtrack of my campaign, so let me get back to that. As I was leaving the Amity Teen Center, the first act started on the stage. A young man, guitar in hand, approached the mic. He hit a few chords on the guitar and launched into "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", by Green Day.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right. I hope you had the time of your life.

Yes, life is unpredictable. If you asked me, a year ago, if I ever thought I would be running for State Representative, I'd probably have looked at you as if you were crazy, but in the end it's right. I am running for State Representative. I'm having the time of my life. I hope my campaign is having a positive effect on the people I meet; helping them become more connected to their community and their government. Hopefully, I'll end up in Hartford, where I can continue to have a positive effect on the people from Woodbridge, Orange and Derby.

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