Discuss Norwalk, a gathering of citizens for a civil, non-political conversations about key city issues, launched Wednesday with the topic being public education.
The first hour was devoted exclusively to the new high school and a spirited dialogue ensued. Detailed questions primarily devoted to budgeting, process, and the pilot program were asked and Sen. Bob Duff reiterated much of what he has noted thus far on the project. No major hard news was unveiled at this stage since there’s still much up in the air as the process unfolds, but no one objected to the basic premise of a new high school outright.
Though there were contrasting opinions in the meeting, and while some people still have legitimate questions and hesitations, everyone spoke respectfully and was clearly supportive of the desire for progress in our city’s education. BOE Chairwoman Sarah Lemieux briefly called in and Rep. Lucy Dathan offered support to the conversation.
The last hour was devoted to learning more about the different education pathways offered in our city, particularly the digital media one that West Rocks Middle School Principal Adam Reynolds help start at NHS. Mr. Reynolds, who was present at the meeting, also spoke in detail about the new pilot feeder program at WRMS and expressed excitement about the upcoming live launch of a student run news program on YouTube. Everyone seemed excited learning more about this and recognized it as a unique program at that age level.
Finally, the meeting closed with some personal stories about Norwalk generally, particularly those with long local family history. We all agreed on the great potential of the city, and spoke about embracing its dynamic, multicultural offerings.
Personally, I feel that the meeting showed both its challenges (potential to get bogged down in singular topics and lines of questioning) and its promise (personal stories and creative idea sharing). We will tweak as we go, but I have hope that a revolving door of topics will help shake up the conversation and attendees and lead to further potential for positive collaboration that crosses political and other societal lines.