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  • Stephen D'Agostino

Meet the New Chair of the Reading Elementary PTO

If you recall, back in October and November, leading up to the Reading PTO’s pie sale and chili cook-off, I wrote in two columns that the organization was seeking a new leader. I also wrote a lot about the events the PTO has holding back then. Why? Because the Reading PTO is essential to the town. In its dual role, it helps fund school activities by running events throughout the year. These events, in turn, help fund the town’s sense of community.

Barbara Lord saw the value of the PTO from the beginning of her interaction with the school and the town. As you may recall, I belatedly welcomed Barb and Dom Lord to Reading back in December. They moved here in July, and their twins Autumn and Oliver started as kindergarteners the following September. They also just turned six last week, so happy birthday, kids!

Within two weeks of the first day of school, Barb says, “we knew almost every parent. We felt very welcome.” Both Barb and Dom have been involved with the group of concerned citizens in Reading who are working to ensure fair treatment from the Windsor Central Unified District regarding our elementary school’s future.

But that’s not all Barb is doing to maintain and strengthen our school. She was aware, even before I mentioned it in my columns that the PTO was seeking a new leader. “If they couldn’t find a chair,” Barb says, “the PTO may have been stopped. With all the changes happening that would be another misfortune for the school.” Barb jumped in and offered her help. She is now co-chairing with Darci Blanchard and learning the ropes so that she can eventually run the organization. Some of the first ropes Barb will be learning come in the form of spaghetti. Mama Mia’s Bistro, happening on February 10 at the school, is just weeks away.

As part of her onboarding, she has decided to simply listen. She wants to learn what PTO events in town people enjoy, what could be changed, and what activities can be added to the mix. “I want to be a new voice,” Barb says, “but I want to work together with parents and teachers.”

Barb loves that the PTO fosters a sense of community in Reading. She believes our elementary school is the hub of our town. She knows the funds the PTO raises will help ensure that students in the school can continue to get swim lessons and that every student who wants to go to Ski Runners can. She knows, though, that the PTO is not just about the kids. “People of all ages,” she says, “feel the sense of community that comes from the school.” As a resident who has no children at Reading Elementary, I wholeheartedly agree. And I can’t wait for the spaghetti supper!

There are a lot of other things going on in February about which I can alert you. At 7pm on February 9, the second show in the Winter Concert Series takes place at Town Hall, so mark your calendars. This one will feature singer/songwriter Dave Richardson. I’ll be speaking with Dave over the next couple of days, and I will introduce him through this column next week. I’ll also provide more details about the show.

On February 16, there’s another community event happening in Reading. It’s the Reading Historical Society’s annual meeting, brinner, and a talk called the “Many Meanings of Maple,” presented by Champlain College professor Michael Lange. The discussion is co-sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council. The RHS annual meeting starts at 4:30pm, the brinner at 5pm, and the talk at 6pm.

I know you’re asking, what’s brinner? It’s a portmanteau and closely related to its more well-known cousin brunch. It’s breakfast and dinner, and the notion ties in perfectly with the theme of the talk. The RHS will be serving pancakes with maple syrup, of course, and also quiche, sausage, bacon, muffins, fruits, and many other breakfast items. Some items will have maple and some will not. Everyone is welcome to the meeting, the brinner and the talk. You don’t have to be a member of the historical society to enjoy a tasty and informative night.

The entire evening is free. It is true that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as a free brinner! All you need to do is contact Calista Brennan to let her know you plan to attend. You can reach her at 802-484-0276 or e-mail at I'm looking forward this event too. I am not looking forward to stepping on the scale when February is over.

Happy birthday to Kate Allen (January 25), and Eric Hathorn (January 30). And a happy belated birthday to our librarian Tony Pikramenos (January 19), who just happened to call me while I was putting the finishing touches on my column.

That’s the news from Reading! See you next week!

This column originally appeared in The Vermont Standard on January 24, 2019.

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