The Flywheel

Next Meeting: Friday, January 21

River Monsters:
the Big Ones That Didn't Get Away

Monster fish

Intrepid Richmond Rotarian Alan Blavins shares pictures and stories from his ‘adventure fishing trips’ to the far corners of the Earth.


Meeting of January 14, 2011

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Stoney led us in the invocation today.  “Peace and Freedom in the Universe” he said.  Herb Cole asked us what happened January 14th, 1788.  Nobody knew.  “The Treaty of Paris was signed, recognizing America,” the former teacher informed the masses. 

Rotarians with Guests

  • Joe Kelman was the guest of his brother Henry Kelman.
  • Tom Waller brought Ben Stienberg to lunch today. Ben was visiting from the southeast.


  • There are several memorials for Ted Smith planned.  One is Thursday, Jan 20th at 11. (Refer to you email correspondence for up-to-date announcements.)
  • The Crab Feed is coming 2/5/11. Please use the button in the left column to purchase your ticket.. The Crab feed will be held in Salesian cafeteria like last year.  Hank says that if you want Budweiser, Coors, or Pabst Blue Ribbon you need to bring you own – only quality beers will be served at the Richmond Rotary Crab Feed.  
  • On February 4th we will substitute our regular venue for a lunch and tour at the Chevron Refinery.  Use the link in the left column, under Upcoming Programs. You must bring a government issued ID – any government, even Iran, will satisfy this requirement.  Stay tuned for more information on where to meet.
  • On February 11th we will be the hosts of the El Cerrito Rotary at “Playland Not at the Beach”.

Happy and Sad Dollars & Recognitions:

  • Josh Genser was happy about the outcome of the Orange Bowl – I guess those red uniforms won again – boring!
  • Michael Gill recognized the passing of a famous songwriter that I never heard of, but what do I know!
  • Herb was happy that Don Hardison was at the club today after a brief illness.
  • Don Hardison celebrated his 66th club anniversary today – some of the members are not even 66 years old – which gives you an idea of how long this really is.  He said that Ted Smith used to pick on him.
  • When Beaver was a reporter for the Times, Ted Smith used to always complain that he was an idiot – Beav said the complaints made him a better man.
  • Ted used to call Earl “Spook” according to Earl.
  • Stoney told a joke in memory of Werner about a “burd”

Norm's Nonsense

Quotes from flight attendants...

After a hard landing a flight attendant announced: "We ask you to please remain seated as Capt. Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments"

"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive."

PROGRAM of January 11

Students in an auto shop

High School Reform

Professor David Stern, U.C. Berkeley, and our own Mike Aaronian, from the West Contra Costa School District, described the status of high school education in America today, and efforts of school districts, nationally as well as here in Richmond, to combat longstanding problems.

Here is the report card for Americas Schools today:

  • 25% of American students do not complete high school and this statistic has been constant for decades.
  • Although test scores in other countries have increased over time, test scores in American schools have not increased since the 70’s.
  • Although students often go back to school and get a GED, employment opportunities and earnings for those with GEDs lag behind those with high school diplomas.

Efforts to combat these problems fall into three categories:

  • Increase the rigor of school curriculum
  • Test students in order to gauge educational progress ( A method that has little effect: “You can’t increase the size of a cow by weighing it.”)
  • Create small groups within larger schools

reating more small learning groups has shown to be effective.  This is one feature of career academies, and the Linked Learning model, which Mike described. That model emphasizes:

  • Rigor
  • Relevance
  • Relationships

Relevance matters to students. It’s critical that they see the connection between the courses they take in high school, and their ability to get employment upon graduation, or to qualify for entry into a 2- or 4-year college. Career academies and the Linked Learning model are valuable because they increase students’ motivation, while keeping their options open—whether it means choosing vocations that don’t require college, or professions that do.

The other critical component of these approaches is learning outside of the classrooms. Mentors in the community may help students with summer internships, job-shadowing or field trips to their work places.

These features of career academies and Linked Learning hold promise in reducing high school drop-out rates.

- Rotating Editor, Mark Howe