* It’s a sad commentary when the President of these United States cannot offer a pep talk and words of encouragement to our nation’s school children to open the school year without causing a brouhaha stirred by partisan politicians. When people like Senator Steve Russell (Oklahoma) can mouth the audacious (word of the week, as in reckless) words that suggest our elected leader is promoting a “cult of personality” and further insults the President’s message by saying, “this is something you’d expect to see in North Korea or in Sadam Hussein’s Iraq,” it disturbs (frightens) me that they are public service representatives in our government.

* Politicians need to research the root word and adjective attached to their government position — politic, meaning judicious or marked by prudence — and speak and act accordingly.

* Admittedly, this writer was disturbed not to see a more vocal response from educational leaders supporting the broadcast and also to hear of school school-wide decisions to not show the speech for other than logistical reasons (lack of technical capability).

* It’s ironic to me that with a lot less furor than that surrounding the President’s “stay in school,” “never give up” message, schools have provided forums to repentant and apologetic criminals, drug users and scandalous public officials in the hope of having kids not follow their example.

* Senator Russell would benefit from a junket to North Korea/Iraq to study the schools if he thinks similarities exist — at his expense, of course.

* On another note, is the decision by the prestigious 144-year-old Cushing Academy in Ashburnham a precursor to the elimination of “a library” in our schools? The administration of the school is “embracing a digital future” by replacing a $20,000 book center with a $500,000 “learning center” comprised of digital readers, laptop carrels, flat panel TV’s, etc.

* Those in education (and other fields) can cite numerous examples of the “waves of the future” that were simply fads in disguise. Hopefully, these renovations are not an overeager futurism move. Surely with periodicals and news reporting, the Internet is replacing the paper page. But it isn’t simply nostalgia creeping in to suggest that “the book” is a creative, valuable, substantial and enriching document for both personal pleasure and learning — a complement to modern day technology, not “an outdated resource, like scrolls before books” as has been suggested.

* As my children will tell you, this writer finds it much easier to open and close a book and would be in trouble dozing when reading and dropping my computer on the floor.

* In any case, we bet books are here to stay!

* Obviously, the health of your children has to be center stage as schools open to a potential H1N1 flu epidemic this fall. Parents must pay attention to the guidelines being promulgated to prevent the spread of this virus. It is suggested that the new, more powerful strain could cause as many as 90,000 deaths nationwide.

* The 5-24 year-old age group was hardest hit this last spring with 14 years the median age.

* Acton is one of the towns statewide to announce an aggressive inoculation plan during the school day at every grade level. Other towns are planning Saturday shot clinics. The vaccine, we understand, will be available in October. Find out the plans in your school/community.

* Sadly (very sadly), the regionalization efforts of Shirley, Ayer and Lunenburg won’t go forward this fall as planned due to the loss of planned state financial transition money. The plan and agreement that was reached would have been approved and a true model for the Commonwealth. The loss of funding can be criticized, but truly the regionalization project was high on the Governor’s priority list and the financial cut is an indication of how dire the money situation is in our state. The problems the three towns face with future schooling don’t disappear. A Plan B will have to surface soon!