Massachusetts Poetry Festival

The First Annual Massachusetts Poetry Festival is a state-wide event that is scheduled for the weekend of October 10th – 12th. This unique program will not get the buzz in the paper that the first game of the AL championship will get. But it should.

This multi-faceted celebration is meant to pay tribute to the grand heritage of Massachusetts’ writers and their contribution to American literature. It is also meant to expose students and citizens to the living generation of writers who is currently voicing what it means to be living through these times.

The Festival was organized by the Cultural Organization of Lowell and will feature readings by Martín Espada, Marjorie Agosin, Robert Pinsky, and many others. A full schedule of events, including times and prices, is available.

For those who can’t make it to Lowell, the Festival organizers ask that you discover the Whittier House  right here in Haverhill. According to the Museum’s website, you should be able to visit any day that weekend from 11:00 a.m. – 4:30. Everyone is invited to self-guided tours of other sites throughout the state.

P.S. – I might take a half day on Friday, October 10th to read some of my own poetry at the open mic in the Lowell HS Auditorium at 1 pm. My wife is an English teacher there, and she assures me I can get on stage … we’ll see.

See you all Monday, and hope we have a great week.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Pandora means music

One of the best things (for me) that has come from writing this blog has been the number of fascinating sites that many of our great teachers here at HHS pass along to me. Sometimes the sites are appropriate for school use, sometimes, not so much … but they are always interesting.

One such recommendation (Pandora) comes from our TV production guru, Mr. Brandon. He is always a good bet for finding excellent websites that do interesting things with different kinds of media. Pandora requires that you register as a user (for free) and then asks you to create your own “radio station” by selecting songs or artists that you enjoy. Registration and station creation are really easy, so if you consider yourself a newbie or a technical clutz, fear not! So far, I’ve created five different stations with varying influences, and have not been disappointed by Pandora’s recommendations.

If you are like me, and enjoy listening to tunes while you work (with the tv on, the kids playing, your spouse calling), then give Pandora a try and see if it doesn’t find good songs for you. Unfortunately we can’t really use this site at school because it is essentially a “radio station” creator which plays music that fits your personal tastes, and (Special Note for Students) headphones are not allowed in school.

So try it at home. I have to go now, Marvin Gaye is crooning in the background.

Thank you for stopping by and I will see you all tomorrow.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Time to talk about BOOKS!

I want to remind teachers to please send me requests for books ASAP. I am preparing a book order and would love to have feedback about what you would like to see added to our collection. I can’t guarantee any purchases, but I promise serious consideration for all suggestions. ALSO, don’t forget that there is a TEACHERS ONLY BOOK SALE @ the Haverhill Public Library on Tuesday September 23, 2008 from 3 – 5 pm in the Library Auditorium.

Continuing with the book theme, I mentioned in the September 12th post that we have been adding books to our shelves. All of these titles (except the Opposing Views and Issues on Trial titles) have been donated over the past year by teachers and our friends at the Haverhill Public Library. Thank you to everyone who has seen fit to give their books a second home in our library. Any books that we do not add to our own collection, we recycle in many creative ways, including putting them up for “adoption” by the entry of the LMC. Here is a partial list of new titles to our shelves (some with links to reviews at the Barnes and Noble site):


Opposing Viewpoints

  • China with editor David Haugen
  • Racism with editor Mitchell Young
  • Ethics with editor Tina Grant
  • Cars in America with editor

Issues on Trial

  • Students Rights with editor Laura Egendorf
  • Freedom of the Press with Rob Edelman
  • Reproductive Rights with William Dudley



Hope there’s at least one title in there that piques your curiosity. Thank you for stopping by and I will see you all on Monday.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Call for submissions

The Haverhill High School Literary Magazine, thinker, is looking for submissions!

The editors of thinker are especially interested in student writing of all kinds … poetry, short stories and essays are all welcome. Teachers interested in supporting this call for student work, please announce this request for submissions in your classes. Art teachers, please be sure to label the artists’ names clearly on any art displayed in the school; the thinker staff photographs these works for inclusion in the lit mag.

In the LMC, we have been helping students research poetry, and some students have been writing elegies. Some students have been writing essays for college, while others have been putting together their arguments for raising or lowering the drinking age … … these are exactly the kinds of works that thinker needs to be a quality publication. All voices are welcome, and all forms of writing are considered.

In the past, some teachers have offered students extra credit or some other incentive for contributing a submission. In order for this to work, students must include their names, teacher’s name, and class. Only one submission per student should be given class credit to avoid problems.


is published twice a year; a winter issue in December and a spring issue in May. Last year, the editors of thinker also created a blog at, where anyone can view some of the student talent at HHS.

Submissions can be e-mailed to or handed in to Mr. T in the library.

Thank you for stopping by and see you all tomorrow.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

September reminders

Sometimes it’s hard to write a post because there are so many things to talk about that aren’t necessarily related, except that they all happened in the LMC. We had another busy week, but the full five days did not prove fatal. In fact, I thought that things went rather well and I’d like to share some of this week’s highlights, along with some comments and reminders.

  • Students started signing up for library study, and most have been using the time productively. I have seen many students working on homework, research and other assignments and would like to see that continue as it contributes to the academic atmosphere that is necessary for success. REMINDER: Students, please remember to sign up for library study before homeroom or after school. Teachers, please remember not to give students passes out of studies or directed studies to the library.
  • Ms. Hart’s and Mr. Coyne’s freshman English classes visited this week for their LMC orientations and like last week’s visitors, they were respectful and quiet … (I hope questions will come later this year). REMINDER: Any teachers of freshman English classes, please be sure to schedule your classes for their LMC orientation before the end of this month.
  • I hope I was able to convince Ms. Quinney’s senior students that they need to appreciate the difference between the Deep Web and the surface web when it comes to academic research. I tell every student that they need a public library card, even if they never check out a book. This is because the electronic resources available through the public library’s website are access points into what’s available in the Deep Web. REMINDER: The first three links in the left hand column of this blog are considered Deep Web resources and require a public library card number to access.
  • REMINDER: Get a public library card … did I already say that?
  • Mr. Cosgrove’s class once again blew wind into my sails. Their visits and comments to my previous post were the impetus for writing this entry. I haven’t written in five days, but not because I haven’t wanted to. I just didn’t have the energy. But reading the comments from THE STUDENTS drove me to say something new. I hope that they all strive to do great things this year, and the next, and the next.
  • REMINDER:Teachers please check the calendar at the circulation desk to schedule visits to the LMC. The dates fill up quickly and most of September is already booked. Be sure to plan ahead if your classes need books, computers or other library resources.

There were a bunch of other things that happened this week; good, bad, neutral. I showed a student how to solve an algebra problem involving fractions, though it took me two tries. I helped a couple of students find books about the Mayans, while others asked me about the Large Hadron Collider; all convinced that the end days were upon us. I recorded and passed along copies of CNN’s broadcasts, “McCain Revealed” and “Obama Revealed” to teachers that are working to prepare the next round of citizens. I also skimmed and cataloged a bunch of books I’ll tell you about later (next post, maybe?). I got a great parking spot and had a tasty homemade lunch every day this week, so that was a big plus. But I couldn’t help every one who asked me for help, so that was like double plus ungood. On Thursday, I streamed and projected live video, via the internet, of the many ceremonies being held around the country and especially in NYC, D.C. and Shanksville. Only a couple of people sat to watch more than a few moments, and even fewer seemed to care about what was going on. REMINDER: How quickly we forget.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend.

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Cosgrove: Part III: Accomplishments

I don’t have to turn to to understand the “deep” meaning of the word accomplishment. Its root “accomplish”, comes from the Latin complir, which also gave rise to the Spanish word cumplir – to carry out, to perform, to fulfill. Accomplishments are about more than the mundane, however.

As a parent and a teacher, I routinely fulfill or perform tasks that at are important and worthwhile … but those things aren’t accomplishments. Being a good librarian, a caring father and a helpful person are my responsibilities, my obligations to others. One is actually a job I get paid to do.

I believe that accomplishments come from somewhere else. Almost everyone can swim; but this summer, Michael Phelps took swimming to new limits. Usain Bolt did the same thing on land with his running. Imagine, that something as simple as running or swimming can still produce great accomplishments.

On a more serious note, no matter who becomes President in November, Barak Obama and Sarah Palin are set to accomplish something that will change the world for all of us and forever. It seems to me, that in order for something to count as an accomplishment it must involve work and it must come from a desire to do a great and difficult thing. The need can be personal, like wanting to beat your own best time or set a record or get a certain grade in an event. Or you may want to change something about the world around you.

Either way, there is work to get done in order to accomplish anything. To get 5 things accomplished in one school year, I have to be realistic about what I can really get done. So, here is my list:

  1. Paint a mural – C’mon, who doesn’t want to paint something on a wall for everyone to see? Some of my favorite works of art have been on walls. In my office, I’ve got pictures of the Lascaux Cave Paintings – the original wall painters! What is the Sistine Chapel really, but a wall painting — on the ceiling? Two of my favorite muralists are Diego Rivera and Aaron Douglas, artists who infused their art with social messages. One muralist, BLU, posts much of his artwork online and he takes the medium to a whole new plane. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to paint a mural for a while now. Last year, Ms. Blim and her students painted this one. (I’ll insert a pic later).
  2. More student submissions to the LIT MAG – The LIT MAG is the student arts & literature magazine for Haverhill High School. We ask students to submit their poems, short stories, artwork and photographs for publication, and despite the obvious abundance of talent and creativity at our HS, we never get enough submissions. If you write or know someone who does, tell them to see me in the LMC
  3. Wired “Media Lab” in the LMC – This year we’re going to have some twenty new computers in the library that will count as a separate lab. If this works out, it will actually be the completion of something that started as a vision several years ago. Sometimes accomplishments take longer than a year to fulfill.
  4. More feedback on the LMC blog – Thanks to Mr. Cosgrove’s assignment, I’ve already gotten more comments in one week, than I had in the previous eight months combined! (Thanks) If I wanted to take the easy way out, I could check this one off as an accomplishment; but I believe that it’s just the beginning of what will become a long running, multi-faceted digital conversation.
  5. Publish an article in a magazine – I’ve gotten poetry published in small literary magazines and I’ve had short articles in community newspapers, but I’ve yet to get an article published in more “legitimate/ mainstream” magazines. Part of the problem is that I’ve never submitted anything. You can’t fail, if you don’t try … so I guess I’ve been avoiding trying. This year, if I don’t get something published, I hope to collect at least twenty rejection letters to prove that I have tried. I will hang them in my library office, like certificates for good effort.

So there is my final list for this assignment. I expect to receive full credit from Mr. Cosgrove, and hope that I’m not penalized if I didn’t follow the “directions” or if this was handed in late. I didn’t get the handout.

Before I sign off, I want to share this quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, the elder — not the son. It reads, Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.

Accomplishing something meaningful should be what our days together at school are all about. Thank you for stopping by and see you all tomorrow!

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Thanks, to everyone and …

… I can’t believe that was only four days! But before I give thanks, 3 announcements:

1. Starting Monday, September 8, 2008, we will begin signing up students for library study. We will:

  • sign up the first 20 students for each period (only before homeroom and after school).
  • take attendance at the beginning of each period.
  • deliver the sheets to the study classes.

Students may not get a pass from study or substitute teachers to go to the library. Please call (xt. 1143) if you have any questions.

2. Students have been picking up their English portfolios all week long and everyone has been efficient and respectful of the classes in the LMC. Teachers, if your English class has not yet picked up their portfolios, please be sure to schedule a visit this week.

3. All teachers should check the calendar kept at the circulation desk to book visits for freshman orientation, and/or to have classes select books or work on the computers. The dates fill up quickly, so earlier is better than later.

With that said …

It was a great week and I want to give thanks. While I can’t list everyone who made this week so awesome, I would like to especially highlight the following:

  • Mr. Cosgrove’s scribes, who have been giving me feedback all week long, and whose visits and comments on the blog have really motivated me to continue working hard(er) on this site
  •  Ms. Laws’ first year HHS students (welcome) who visited the LMC this week, and while I appreciated their respectful silence during my orientation presentations, I hope they will approach me later this year (or next year, or by senior year) if they need help with anything academic.
  • Ms. Medvetz’s researchers who are working on the only thing (besides this blog) I “try” to write, poetry. Hopefully we picked enough of a variety so that you will find some poems you learn to love … or at least some lines that you can carry around.
  • Ms. Barberio’s academics who collected their first round of books for outside reading and among the titles, were some the LMC staff’s favorites. We’d love to have readers write comments about books; maybe we’ll add a “tab” on the LMC site devoted to student Book Reviews.
  • All the teachers and students with classes in the LMC who have a shared home. C’mon, really … naming you all would be a list of its own.
  • And of course, Mrs. (I don’t have permission to print her name yet) for everything she does. Like we could get any of these things done without her. Please treat her well so that she doesn’t take off to Paris. (Seriously).

Next week is going to be a full five days I am told. I don’t believe that yet, but I’m sure that we’ll be ready if it’s true. Thank you for stopping by and have a great weekend!

© 2008 henry toromoreno

Cosgrove: Part II: Wonder

I’m posting the second part of this assignment because Mr. Cosgrove gave me an INCOMPLETE, and I just don’t roll that way. I told you that I did the work, thus I won’t let it go to waste. I include links to every name I mention, so you can explore for yourself and learn more. Without further delay then, 5 things that make me “wonder”.

But first, I looked up the definition at and found out that it means, “to think or speculate curiously; to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel; the emotion excited by what is strange and surprising; a feeling of surprised or puzzled interest

  1. Consciousness – The nature of consciousness, and how we “make sense”, is no small deal. Great thinkers such as Descartes, Spinoza, Freud, Jung and other mental giants have tackled the question. Today, scholars like Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, and others still struggle to make sense of what consciousness means, and how it arises from the stuff we’re made of.
  2. Time – Like consciousness, everyone experiences time, and yet it is an elusive and mind boggling element of reality. Time, Einstein explained, is relative, meaning it can be altered by its surroundings – large objects, like planets actually bend space and time. But in our everyday lives, time seems more like a constant that marches incessantly forward.
  3. Other people’s stories – I love reading, not just fiction, but everything. Histories, biographies, stories in the newspaper and online … I love talking with and listening to other people explain something about themselves or recall a childhood memory that they carry around like a treasure. Other people bring me wonder because in their stories, in their language, what they say and how they say it – I hear the way they know the world.
  4. Nature & our exploration of its secrets – Nothing is more full of surprises than the world around us. Every time we think we’re done discovering, something new comes around to blow our minds. When I was about 10, scientists discovered geothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean – off the coast of my father’s native country no less! That same year, both Voyager crafts blasted into space to begin their exploration of the solar system. This past summer, 100,000 gorillas were “discovered” in the Congo. We haven’t landed humans on any other object in the universe since I was two, but we have rovers on Mars and have crashed into a comet and crash-landed on Saturn’s satellite, Titan.
  5. The story of humans – As a species, we have thrived and are the only mammal found on every continent. But times weren’t always so good. Some recent research suggests that at one point there may have only been 2,000 humans left in the world. Since then, we’ve rebounded and gone on to accomplish some awesome (and awful) things. So where are we heading next?

Even still … I know I have to post my list of things I want to accomplish to finish this assignment. But I did the work, and will prove it later. Thank you for stopping by and I will see you all tomorrow.

P.S. Notice, that I only used Wikipedia for the “definition” of each of my topics. For the other links, I tried really hard to find other “respectable” online sources. We’ll talk about it.

© henry toromoreno