Latest News

Heights Observer named Ohio's best community newspaper

The Heights Observer was named “Ohio’s Best Community Newspaper” at an online ceremony Aug. 7 for the Press Club of Cleveland’s annual All-Ohio Excellence In Journalism program. The award doesn’t include daily newspapers, which are judged in a separate category.

Observer columnists Carla Rautenberg and Deborah Van Kleef earned first place for Public Service Coverage among non-daily newspapers for their monthly “Heights of Democracy” column. They won for their explanatory writing surrounding last year’s public debate and vote over the city manager v. strong mayor form of government.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 11:24 AM, 08.11.2020

Latest News Releases

Rep. Boyd to host Ohio Promise Virtual Town Hall August 6: Says digital event gives constituents opportunity to ask questions, learn important information on school reopening during 2020-21 school yea
- State Rep. Janine Boyd, August 3, 2020 Read More
Dustin Russell, Candidate for State Representative Ohio House of Representatives, District 9 , issues statement on Cupp
- , July 31, 2020 Read More
Cleveland Heights Teachers Press for Online Only Reopening of School
- Cleveland Heights Teachers Union, July 23, 2020 Read More
Free Legal Help Now Available when Housing is at Risk
- Non-Profit & Groups, July 20, 2020 Read More
- City of Cleveland Heights, June 25, 2020 Read More

View more news releases

CH-UH BOE places 4.8 mill levy on November ballot

In an Aug. 10 letter submitted to the Heights Observer, Ryan Routh, chair of the CH-UH City School District’s Lay Finance Committee, announced that the district’s board of education (BOE) “has placed a 4.8 mill levy on the November 2020 ballot.”

On Aug. 10 and 11, the district’s supervisor of communications, Cathan Cavanaugh, confirmed that the BOE “is moving forward with a November levy.” She declined to provide further information until a press release was approved. She anticipated that would be sometime on Tuesday, Aug. 11.

Once the Heights Observer has received additional information, this article will be updated.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:46 AM, 08.11.2020

"Save Our Stages" now

Ensemble Theatre's production of "Intimate Apparel" was its final full production prior to shutdown. [photo by] 

To the Editor:

Ensemble Theatre, Greater Cleveland's home for modern American classics, culturally relevant plays, and significant new works, has been producing great theater with local talent for 40 great years. But, our doors have been closed to the public since March 1, and may continue to be for some time.

Like other arts, event, and theater organizations, Ensemble has faced, and continues to face, tens of thousands of dollars in losses due to the pandemic. There must be some type of industry-specific relief! 

Please help us #SaveOurStages by contacting Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman at

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:39 AM, 08.11.2020

School levy would keep pace with inflation

The CH-UH school board has placed a 4.8 mill levy on the November 2020 ballot. Voting for the levy makes financial sense for our community.

CH-UH has placed a levy on the ballot simply to keep up with inflation. Due to Ohio law, even when the value of district homes rises, the amount of property tax collected is kept constant (estimated at around $72.25 million). With annual inflation of 2 percent, a levy is necessary to keep pace with inflation.

Another reason a levy is required is because our district has been uniquely harmed by how Ohio’s EdChoice voucher program is funded. Even though the state paid our district only $1,927 for each student, our district was required to send out $6,000 to private, charter and religious schools for each EdChoice voucher high school student—a loss of $4,073 per student.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:13 AM, 08.11.2020

CH City Council must demand access to police policy materials

At the July 20 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, there was a discussion between City Manager Tanisha Briley and Council Member Kahlil Seren that should worry any Cleveland Heights citizen who thinks that our elected officials need to be, at minimum, privy to all decisions about governmental policy in our city.

After Police Chief Annette Mecklenburg’s report to council, Seren referenced ongoing work with the firm Lexipol, for the purpose of crafting our police department’s policies. Seren asked whether, as the policymaking authority for the city, council would be able to see the materials that Lexipol is providing to our police department. He then made a request that council have access to those materials.

I thought this seemed perfectly reasonable. City council members are, after all (for the time being), our only directly elected and accountable government officials, and they are indeed ultimately responsible for overseeing policy for all city matters.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:06 AM, 08.10.2020

Appointments don’t reflect the voice of the people

To the Editor:

In last fall’s election, Cleveland Heights voters were clear that appointments don’t reflect the voice of the people. Residents rejected the most recent city council appointment by a large margin, with the challenger, Davida Russell, winning against the appointed council member, with more than 57 percent of the vote.

Just one year later, the council member rejected by the voters has somehow made it to city council’s top four applicants [for another open council seat], narrowed from a pool of 22. Hmmm, really? How did this happen?

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:36 AM, 08.10.2020

City council appointments hurt democracy

To the Editor:

Cleveland Heights residents overwhelmingly supported Issue 26 [on the November 2019 ballot] because it was a vote for change—a change that gave residents the ability to vote for mayor. We supported Issue 26 because we wanted more transparency, accountability, and say in who runs our city by democratically electing our representatives instead of relying on city council appointments. After 100 years without having an elected mayor accountable to residents, Issue 26 was a vote for change that residents wanted.

More appointments to Cleveland Heights City Council would be a step in the wrong direction. Appointments undermine democracy and allow people to appoint their friends and allies, opening the door for potential corruption, bribery and favoritism.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 11:24 AM, 08.10.2020

UHPD releases photo of suspect in anti-Semitic graffiti case

The UHPD has released this photo of a suspect in South Green Road graffiti incidents.

Between July 21 and July 26, there were multiple incidents of graffiti being spray-painted on businesses on South Green Road in the early morning hours.

The graffiti included a swastika and several other offensive images that were painted on multiple buildings, including some owned and frequented by the University Heights' Jewish community. 

The University Heights Police Department is asking for the public’s help in identifying the male in the photo to the right of this article. He appears to be an approximately 5-foot-11-inch to 6-foot-1-inch Caucasian male in his early- to mid-20s.

Anyone who has information on the crime, or the identification of the suspect, is asked to  contact the University Heights detective bureau at 216-932-8799, or on the non-emergency line, 216-932-1800.

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Volume 13, Issue 9, Posted 10:12 AM, 07.31.2020

Heights Arts showcases images of activism

A photo by Bryan Clark, from downtown Cleveland. [Photo Credit: Bryan Clark]

Heights-area artists can always be relied upon to respond to current events, and the recent activism around Black Lives Matter and related social-justice issues has energized a number of artists to begin creating new work. Some of the most immediate responses have come in the form of digital photography shared by way of social media. 

Heights Arts staff were immediately struck by images that not only told powerful stories, but also could stand alone as visual art. Images have the power to pose questions and eloquently express things that can be hard to express in few words.

This idea has been explored previously at Heights Arts through two past exhibitions of photojournalism, where photographs that had initially been used editorially to support journalistic articles were gathered, framed, and presented at Heights Arts’ gallery. Heights Arts exhibition planners referred to these images as "stealth art"—works of art that sneak into one's consciousness under camouflage.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:00 AM, 07.31.2020

Another curve to flatten: the absentee ballot curve

Thanks to Covid-19, the term “flatten the curve” rests at the forefront of our minds. As we head toward the November election, where we undoubtedly will find ourselves casting votes in the midst of a pandemic, there’s another curve that we need to flatten: the absentee ballot curve.

I’m encouraging all Heights Observer readers not only to print out your absentee ballot request form, but also to print out a few extra copies for your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Start having conversations now about the November election.

In a video conference with Ohio’s Ready for November Task Force, Ned Foley, director of the election law program at The Ohio State University’s Mortiz College of Law, said:

“We cannot procrastinate with respect to voting this year.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:47 AM, 07.31.2020

School district should repay misspent funds

In October 2019, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District commissioned a survey of “500 likely March 2020 primary voters” in the district from R Strategy Group (RSG) and Lake Research Partners (LRP), costing taxpayers $34,675. An investigation by the Ohio Auditor of State found the survey work performed was in support of the levy campaign. The levy, Issue 26 on the March 2020 primary ballot, asked voters to approve an $8.9 million annual property tax levy increase.

In January 2020, Cleveland Heights resident Garry Kanter submitted a complaint to the State Auditor of Ohio alleging public tax dollars were being spent on a survey that violated Ohio Revised Code prohibiting local school districts from spending public money to influence elections. 

Kanter provided evidence from the survey itself, as well as e-mail correspondence between the district and its consultants, to support the allegation that the intent of the survey was to help the district position the levy for passage.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:46 AM, 07.31.2020

The consulting racket

Since the 1980s, municipal budgets across the country have been decimated by state and federal funding cuts. In 2015, Cleveland Heights voters passed their first income tax increase in more than 30 years. During that campaign, at a resident’s request, City Manager Tanisha Briley documented over 100 staff positions eliminated during the previous 15 to 20 years. Now, with tax revenue diminished due to Covid-19, the city faces further cuts and layoffs.

Reduced staffing is just one reason why a municipal executive—a city manager or mayor—may bring in outside contractors. Another justification is the need for specialized skills and knowledge not required for regular operations. Or, it can simply be an ideological predilection.

When should cities hire outside consultants? When do the results justify the expenditure? When are they a waste of tax dollars? And when does outsourcing amount to privatizing essential government functions?

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:41 AM, 07.31.2020

An almost immoveable feast

I had to go all the way to Italy to find out the truth.

I didn’t live in the Cleveland area from 1968 to 1973, so those were the five years I didn’t go to the Feast of the Assumption festivities in Little Italy in mid-August. I’ve attended that event every year since I was 15, except for those years.

I grew up not far from Little Italy, in the Coventry-Mayfield area, and I used to walk down there as a teenager. I wanted to be a tough guy, like the kids who lived there and hung out in front of the stores on the Mayfield Road part of it. I’m not Italian, though I can cook like one. But I wasn’t cooking very much as a teen, and I wanted the Murray Hill guys to think I was Italian.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:40 AM, 07.30.2020

Returning to school during the pandemic

The beginning of any school year is stressful, exciting, and full of unknowns. Teachers and staff look forward to seeing new faces and feeling the energy of a new year. As teachers, we’ll have new supplies and our classrooms will be ready for the new students. There is elation in returning to doing what we love. This is true for every teacher, regardless of the number of years they’ve been in the classroom. 

Now, have you wondered about the anticipation of a teacher waiting for the start of the school year in the middle of a global pandemic? Let's consider the following: Parents need to work; students need to resume their studies, and they need person-to-person interaction that facilitates learning. While I agree that these are all valid reasons to return to in-person classes, there are many reasons to approach the reopening of our schools with caution.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:40 AM, 07.31.2020

Local control shouldn't mean going it alone

The 2020–21 school year in the Cleveland Heights–University Heights district is expected to begin Sept. 2. The year will be unlike any other, with back-to-school excitement being tempered by health-related worries. We know children learn best when they are with their teachers in person, and families need teachers to take over instruction, but will the benefits outweigh the risks?

Covid-19 will dominate daily life for now, but Superintendent Liz Kirby hopes this will be the only year the virus factors into when children are in school, how they get there, what they do each day, and how much contact they have with others. She is determined to keep students on track. They cannot afford to lose more learning time, but how do you operate when so much is unknown?

Education is a shared responsibility of the state legislature and local school districts. Sadly, when it comes to planning for education in a pandemic, the legislature punted.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:43 AM, 07.31.2020

Why I marched with Safer Heights

On June 14, 2020, I marched in my first protest march. 

Like most of us, I was horrified to witness the slow, public execution of a man who, by all accounts, had done nothing to warrant his death sentence.

Nonetheless, at first, when people started protesting and calls for reform were being made, I did nothing. Not because I didn’t care. But because I knew nothing would change. This was just another remake of a tired old story.

But then I read an article (which I’ve since lost track of). The writer argued that this time might be different.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:48 AM, 07.31.2020

Cleveland Heights' Covid response

As communities continue adapting to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, several organizations in Cleveland Heights are providing resources to the city's residents. To increase their impact, the city of Cleveland Heights has granted CARES Act funding to the following organizations for Covid-19-related initiatives:

The Office on Aging is conducting free wellness checks for elderly and homebound Heights residents, and continues to connect them with essential services, such as meal programs and medical care.

CHN Housing Partners launched a rental assistance program on July 15 to help households pay or defer bills, as much of the workforce remains unemployed or furloughed as a direct result of the pandemic.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 9:38 AM, 07.31.2020

Heights artist explores order/disorder

Miracle at Savatthi, by Stephen Calhoun.

In a Spotlight exhibition on view through Aug. 23, Heights Arts features the artwork of Heights native son Stephen Calhoun, a photographer, designer, painter and musician.

Calhoun describes his approach to making visual art as a "musical process." His work employs found objects, algorithms and fractals to create images that have both organic and mathematical qualities. Every form of creativity [has] something to do with the vibrations of materials,” he said. Calhoun’s creative process seeks out elements that vibrate both dissonantly and harmonically, from which he conducts and improvises the generation of his own creative image. “These steps are found in different configurations in every art form,” said Calhoun.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:39 AM, 07.30.2020

Ewing describes an exemplary life in new book

How does one approach a book about a Catholic priest when one is neither Catholic nor particularly spiritual? For the many people struggling with the extraordinary times in which we are living—racism, protests, unemployment, a global pandemic and the restrictions that it imposes on our daily lives—there is a book that speaks to humans of all persuasions: Lead Me, Guide Me The Life and Example of Father Dan Begin by Kathy Ewing.

Father Dan Begin was Kathy Ewing's priest and friend. Ewing was Father Dan's congregant and friend. They met when Ewing joined St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Cleveland's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood. There, Ewing found a spiritual home that was unique in many ways, not the least of which was the racial integration she found, as well as a priest who exemplified the very best that can be found in religion.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:37 AM, 07.30.2020

Census updates in the Heights

Census outreach efforts are still underway in the Heights and across the country, with the final count deadline officially extended to Oct. 31, 2020.

The U.S. Census Bureau has temporarily suspended field efforts and door knocking in light of public health concerns, though they are scheduled to slowly resume. This extension means there are still jobs available for those interested in a temporary position as a census taker. Rates for census takers in Cuyahoga County are set at $20.50 to $22.50 per hour, and training will take plake from mid-July to early August. For more information on employment with the Census Bureau, visit

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 7:04 AM, 07.28.2020

Library seeks focus group participants

Heights Libraries Anti-Racism Task Force has engaged Compass Consulting Services, LLC, to conduct confidential, virtual focus groups as part of a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) audit. Due to Covid-19, the focus groups will be held via Zoom, not in person as had originally been planned.

The library’s goal is to gather information from current library customers, as well as those who don’t use the library.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:36 AM, 07.30.2020

Emergency food center remains open

As the pandemic rages through the world, confusion about virtually everything—including what businesses and services are open—has become the new normal. Some people who would benefit from visiting the Heights Emergency Food Center (HEFC) may not be aware that it is open for business. And visiting the center does not represent an undue risk, as stringent safety precautions are being enforced.

Located at 3663 Mayfield Road (at Disciples Christian Church), the center (216-381-0707) is currently open Mondays, 4–6 p.m.; Tuesdays, 9–11:30 a.m.; Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Fridays, 9–11:30 a.m. On the last two Thursdays of each month, it also is open 5:30–7:30 p.m.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:33 AM, 07.30.2020

Strongsville company renovates Lee Road storage business

The 1929 exterior of the building that houses Cleveland Heights storage.

The building at 2037 Lee Road has undergone renovations after being purchased in November 2019 by Petrick Property Group of Strongsville. Cleveland Heights Storage, a mini-storage facility, is the company’s first commercial property.

Constructed in 1928, the building originally served as Cleveland Heights' first post office. It housed retail businesses after the postal service vacated it in the 1960s. In 1984, Tim and Joan Evans purchased it, and converted it to use for storage.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:42 AM, 07.30.2020

Hart states council has duty to select new member

To the Editor:

I have received a letter from 14 respected citizens regarding council having a duty to appoint a seventh council member. I agree with them.

I know the mayor said publicly that he thought we did not have to appoint someone, and at least one other council person has posted on Facebook that we might not appoint someone, but, in my view, making this decision is our duty.

Because the city manager resigned at our last meeting, we had to deal with her replacement and the transition to another executive leader. So we did not meet on the appointment, which we had intended to do, but will debate it in an August meeting. I only agreed to vote for an August recess when council agreed to have an August meeting to debate the appointment.

That said—there are four great candidates for the seat and only six current council members.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 4:09 PM, 07.24.2020

CH City Manager takes new position in Maryland

Cleveland Heights City Manager Tanisha Briley. [Courtesy CH City Hall]

At the July 20 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, City Manager Tanisha Briley announced her resignation, effective Sept. 1. She will become the city manager for the city of Gaithersburg, Md., located outside of Washington, D.C.

Mary Trupo, the city's director of communications and public engagement, sent out a news release after the meeting. In a subsequent e-mail, and updated release, Trupo announced that the current vice city manager, Susanna Niermann O'Neil, will become the acting city manager after Briley's departure, stating that council members selected Niermann O'Neil "to lead the city through the next 16 months and the final transition to a strong mayor form of government."

The city's full announcement can be viewed on the city's website, at

Briley has been Cleveland Heights' city manager since August 2013.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 11:06 AM, 07.21.2020

Baseball team and community help house fire victims

Baseball team members Eli Weisblatt, Andy Heintz and Ethan Swain, and coach John Petre, maintain social distancing on the field. [photo by Dan Heintz]

On June 24, Cleveland Heights High School’s 18U summer baseball team was supposed to play an away game in Perry. But the Perry field was soaked from an overnight rainstorm, so the game was moved to Heights High’s home field.

Partway through the game, a loud bang surprised players and fans alike. As they looked around, they heard children screaming and saw them running away from a house on Washington Boulevard. With the sight and smell of smoke in the air, parents, players and fans from both teams rushed to help.

A recently renovated duplex had caught fire due to faulty wiring in the garage, leaving two families—12 people and a dog—without a home.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:39 PM, 07.20.2020

UH impanels advisory committee on policing policies

University Heights Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan and Council Member Saundra Berry have appointed the following residents to the city’s Citizen Advisory Committee on Policing Policies:

O’Dasha Blue, Patti Carlyle, Ronald Collier, Indira Gatlin, C.P. “Neil” Gould III, Adrian Hardin, Kate Holzheimer, Joanna Homann, Sheila Hubman, Joshua Hunt, Constance Jefferson, Tyler “Aliah” Lawson, Thekla Long, Paul Miller, Roger Osgood, Crystal Pickus, Sheri Sax, Mike Sears, Vincent Stokes, Priscilla Tate, and Sean Weiss.

Brennan, Berry, UH Police Department Chief Dustin Rogers, UHPD Lt. Mark McArtor, City Prosecutor Stephanie Scalise, and all UH City Council members will serve as ex officio members.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:39 PM, 07.20.2020

CH City Council needs to choose new member

To the Editor:

This is an open letter to Cleveland Heights City Council Members:

It's often said "politics is the art of compromise," but that sentiment appears lost on CH City Council members. On July 6, they decided NOT to decide which of four vetted candidates would fill the vacant seat created more than four months ago, when Melissa Yasinow resigned on March 3.  

CH City Charter mandates council to choose a new member when a member resigns. By April 6, council [had] received 22 applications for the open seat. On June 22, it interviewed four finalists via Zoom meetings. Three weeks later, council members met, ostensibly to vote on the vacant-seat replacement, but, instead of fulfilling their mandated responsibility, they were unable to make a decision.

This lack of leadership could not have come at a more critical time for Cleveland Heights residents.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:38 PM, 07.20.2020

Gardeners' market to open with Covid guidelines in place

Shoppers and sellers at the Noble market in 2019.

The second season of Noble Gardeners' Market launches Aug. 1. The market will operate at the corner of Noble and Roanoke roads from 10 a.m. to 12 noon, on Saturdays through Sept. 19. 

Gardeners who grow fruit, vegetables and flowers in their yards or community gardens are welcome to sell. Each seller should bring a table or ground cloth on which to display items, and must be able to make change for customers. Sellers must sign in but are not charged for space, and sellers who live and grow outside Cleveland Heights are welcome to participate. 

Some growers planted their gardens this spring to make sure they have something to sell at the market. One Richmond Heights man expanded his already-extensive backyard beds to grow a variety of tomatoes and peppers. A woman in Cleveland Heights planted her entire community garden plot in garlic, and expanded her home flower beds to make cut-flower bouquets to sell.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:34 PM, 07.20.2020

CH resident receives state award

Alexandria Ruden, of Cleveland Heights, is the 2020 recipient of the state's Robert Denton Special Achievement Award.

Cleveland Heights resident Alexandria Ruden, a senior attorney at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (Legal Aid), is the 2020 recipient of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office’s Robert Denton Special Achievement Award. The award honors an individual “selflessly dedicated to increasing victim’s rights.”

Ruden has personally helped more than 5,000 survivors of domestic violence in her 40 years of practicing law. She began her legal career at the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland in 1980. In 1984, she joined Legal Aid, where she began its domestic violence practice. At Legal Aid, Ruden helps survivors of domestic violence obtain and improve their safety through representation in Civil Protection Orders (CPO), divorces, and child custody cases.

Ruden’s career achievements have influenced laws, policies, procedures and entire systems, impacting countless lives. She envisioned, helped design, and implemented the Domestic Violence Department at Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:33 PM, 07.20.2020

Taylor named Oxford principal

Jacquelyn Taylor is the new principal at Oxford Elementary School.

Jacquelyn Taylor, CH-UH City School District STEM specialist, is the new principal at Oxford Elementary School.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jacquelyn into this school leadership position,” said CH-UH Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby. “Jacquelyn is an accomplished and dedicated instructional leader who is highly respected by her peers across the district.”

Taylor has spent the past eight months in an administrative support role at Oxford. She served as the STEM program specialist for Boulevard and Gearity elementary schools for five years prior to that.

“I am beyond excited for the opportunity,” said Taylor. “This is where I started my career 20 years ago; it feels like home to me. I'm honored to work with such a talented group of teachers, and I look forward to collaborating with the staff to make a difference for all students and families at Oxford.”

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:34 PM, 07.20.2020

Coventry P.E.A.C.E. tenants again face uncertain future

ARTFUL Executive Director Shannon Morris installed this message on the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park fence.

March 29 marked the second anniversary of Heights Libraries taking control of the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. property, which comprises the beloved playground, adjacent greenspace and the former Coventry School building. At the time, the future for the building’s tenants—arts and community-service nonprofits—looked bright. Today, however, they face eviction. Again.

Amid recent negotiations for a long-term lease, Heights Libraries issued a July 9 press release that casts the tenants as disorganized, and raised the possibility of tearing the building down in order to . . . well, that’s not clear. The situation is eerily reminiscent of the handling of the property in 2017.

A full history is available at the Coventry PEACE Campus website.

After Heights Libraries purchased the property in 2018 for $1 from the CH-UH school district, the 501(c)3 nonprofit Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Inc. board, then a playground association, transferred its nonprofit status to the newly formed Coventry PEACE Campus (CPC) group.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:32 PM, 07.14.2020

Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education regular meeting highlights 7-7-2020

JULY 7, 2020


  • Public comments
  • Recognition
  • Five-year forecast
  • Lay Finance Committee report
  • Board comments on budget
  • School reopening


Present were President Jodi Sourini, Vice President James Posch, Treasurer Pro Tem Beverly Wright, Dan Heintz (who left early), and Malia Lewis. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting lasted about two and a half hours.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 7:47 AM, 07.28.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 7-6-2020

JULY 6, 2020


  • Public comments
  • Racism as a public health crisis
  • Council member recusal
  • Nonconsensual dissemination of private images
  • Ohio CROWN bill
  • 5G wireless
  • Consent agenda
  • Council member comments
  • City manager report
  • Chief of police report


Council members present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Also present were City Manager Tanisha BrileyClerk of Council Amy Himmelein, and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting began at 8:09 p.m. and adjourned at 10 p.m.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 7:42 AM, 07.28.2020

Neighborhood association to host Cain Park chalk art festival July 18

When the city of Cleveland Heights canceled the 2020 in-person Cain Park Arts Festival, the Cain Park Neighborhood Association (CPNA) saw an opening. With the goal of recreating some of the artistry and energy the festival provides each summer, the group decided to host a chalk arts festival at the park. 

The festival will take place on Saturday, July 18, starting at 10 a.m. 

CPNA will provide chalk, or participants can bring their own. Each participant will be allocated a six-foot space to decorate.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:20 PM, 07.14.2020

CH City Council tables vacant council seat vote at July 6 meeting

Approximately one hour into its July 6 virtual Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Cleveland Heights City Council entered into executive session toas stated on its posted agenda"consider the appointment of a public official." Council has been one member short of its seven slated positions since Melissa Yasinow's resignation on March 2.

owever, no mention was made of that discussion after executive session, nor at the subsequent city council meeting. In an e-mail, Mayor Michael Stein confirmed that no decision had been made, stating that the matter "needs more discussion."

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 2:19 PM, 07.07.2020

Hundreds march for a safer Heights

Participants marched through the Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Arch at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park.

On Sunday, June 14, another peaceful and powerful rally brought hundreds of Heights residents together in unity with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Organized by Safer Heights, a grassroots activist group, the event began with speakers at Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park who then led leagues of chanting and sign-carrying participants through Coventry Village, down Mayfield Road to Superior Road. The march paused outside of Christ Our Redeemer AME Church, where participants took a knee for a moment of silence. Then several speakers shared stories about their experiences as black members of the Cleveland Heights community, and called for systemic changes in policing.

The march then continued down Superior Road, looping back to Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park, where organizers addressed the large and enthusiastic crowd, thanking community partners and volunteers who helped make the day a success. 

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:40 AM, 06.16.2020

TOH breaks ground in June 24 ceremony

From left: Mayor Jason Stein, Council Member Melody Joy Hart, Economic Development Director Tim Boland, City Manager Tanisha Briley, Council Member Davida Russell, Council Member Mike Ungar, school district Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren. [Courtesy Mary Trupo]

The city of Cleveland Heights and development partner Flaherty & Collins held a ceremonial groundbreaking event on June 24 for the newly underway Ascent at the Top of the Hill (TOH), a mixed-use development.

Cleveland Heights City Council members, city officials, the developer, and representatives from the Cedar Fairmount Special Improvement District and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district participated in the event.

The four-acre project site is located on Cedar Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard, just up the hill from University Circle.

Construction is expected to be completed within an 18- to 24-month single-phase construction cycle. The general contractor on the project is Cleveland Construction.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 7:54 AM, 06.30.2020

University Heights enacts anti-discrimination law

For the second year in a row, the rainbow flag flew outside University Heights for the entire month of June.

For members of University Heights City Council and Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan, enacting an anti-discrimination law pertaining to sexual orientation wasn’t just important. It was personal.

At the June 1 council meeting, Council Member John Rach said he hopes to see other cities follow the lead of University Heights. “I hope this resonates across the country,” Rach said, “so that I, too, one day can work anywhere in the country and not feel the pressure of one day losing my job because of who I am.

“I can tell you as a gay man, in most places across the country, I can be fired for who I am, and that will not be the case in University Heights with this ordinance.”

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 7:52 AM, 06.30.2020

Nighttown announces July 1 re-opening

Nighttown will be open for lunch, brunch and dinner starting July 1.

Brendan Ring plans to re-open Nighttown on July 1 at 3 p.m.

Five days before Gov. DeWine's March 15 order that closed all Ohio restaurants that evening, Ring, Nighttown’s owner, made the decision to shut down. He closed for the health of his employees, friends and patrons. There was no takeout. There were no deliveries. The music stopped.

As of July 2, Nighttown will be open again on Thursday, Friday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., for lunch and dinner. On Saturday and Sunday, Nighttown will open at 10 a.m., with brunch served until 3 p.m., and dinner served 3–9 p.m.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 11:54 AM, 06.30.2020

Food pantry serves 300 families weekly

Abundance Food Pantry volunteers unloading boxes of food from the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. [photo: Kermit Lind]

Every Tuesday morning for the last seven years, dedicated volunteers from Forest Hill Presbyterian Church and the surrounding neighborhood have gathered at the church to unload trucks and vans full of donations for Abundance Food Pantry. For six hours, these hardworking volunteers pack about 60 pounds of food per family into bags and boxes, which currently are distributed to about 300 households each week.

In 2019, these donations provided enough groceries for 420,000 meals. By working with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Abundance Food Pantry has been able to reduce its cost to 4 cents per meal, and offer many healthy choices, with more than 35 percent being fresh produce.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:28 AM, 07.03.2020

CH council appointee decision tabled until July

After the June 22 Cleveland Heights City Council meeting, Mayor Jason Stein stated that council had not yet selected anyone to fill the council vacancy.

Noting that each of the four finalists, Craig Cobb, Anthony Cuda, Robert Koonce, and Anthony Mattox Jr., had a good interview with the six current council members, Stein said, “We will take time to reflect and continue the discussion at the July 6th meeting.”

The sole agenda item on the June 22 Cleveland Heights Council Committee of the Whole meeting, which took place in executive session, was “[t]o consider the appointment of a public official.”

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 12:45 PM, 06.24.2020

Lee Road gym hosts 'I Can't Breathe' tribute-fundraiser

Jewell Johnson runs in the "I Can't Breathe" workout. [photo credit: Gabe Schaffer]

On Saturday, June 13, CrossFit I/O on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights hosted a fundraiser and tribute workout dedicated to George Floyd and his family. More than 75 all-ages athletes participated in the socially distanced event, held in the gym’s parking lot. 

The more than $1,700 raised will be matched by a corporate sponsor and distributed equally to these nonprofits dedicated to racial equity: Audre Lorde Project Inc., Black Lives Matter Foundation Fund, Race Forward, and the National Urban League. 

Angelo Rogers, a first-responder in Norfolk, Va., created the “I Can’t Breathe” workout “as a positive way to channel the pain and emotions so many of us are feeling as we witness the continued injustice so many of us still face today.” 

The workout went viral when an online platform, WODwell, added it to its list of memorial workouts. Michael and Jodi Melistrup, owners of Crossfit I/O, acted quickly to turn Rogers’ idea into a Heights community event.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 3:03 PM, 06.22.2020

Black and white summer

In summer 1966, I painted every ceiling in this Overlook Road apartment building.

See that apartment building? It’s on the north side of Overlook Road, about halfway between Kenilworth Road, to the east, and where Overlook meets up with Edgehill Road and goes down the hill to Little Italy/University Circle, to the west.

It’s big for a Cleveland Heights apartment building. It’s all one building, but it has three separate entrances, with a total of 37 apartments.

During the summer of 1966, when I was between 11th and 12th grades, I spent some time in every one of those apartments. It wasn’t because I was that popular; it was because I had the job of painting every one of their ceilings.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:39 AM, 07.03.2020

Cleveland Heights City Council regular meeting highlights 6-15-2020

JUNE 15, 2020


  • Public comments
  • City manager’s report
  • Police report
  • 5G wireless and other legislation
  • CDBG
  • Council member comments


Council members present were Mayor Jason Stein, Vice Mayor Kahlil Seren, Mary Dunbar, Melody Joy Hart, Davida Russell and Michael Ungar. Also present were City Manager Tanisha Briley, Clerk of Council Amy Himmelein and Law Director William Hanna. The meeting lasted a little over one hour.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 8:33 AM, 07.13.2020

Cleveland Heights – University Heights Public Library Board of Trustees meeting highlights 6-15-2020

JUNE 15, 2020


  • Public comments 
  • Non-salary budget cuts
  • Janitorial contract
  • Installation of safety equipment
  • Reduction in force
  • Automated materials handling system
  • Lobby services at all libraries
  • Antiracist statement from the board
  • Black Lives Matter (BLM) mural


Present were President James Roosa, Patti Carlyle, Gabe Crenshaw, Max Gerboc, Annette Iwamoto and Vikas Turakhia. Vice President Dana Fluellen was absent.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 8:40 AM, 07.13.2020

New zine features pandemic art

In April, it became clear that the annual Pekar Park Comics and Art Festival, a summer tradition in Coventry Village, would have to be canceled or rescheduled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. While disappointing, the cancelation gave Adult Services Librarian John Piche and Adult Services Associate Kate Atherton an idea.

“We thought it would be really interesting to see how the shutdown would be interpreted by our artist friends and colleagues,” said Piche, who draws a comic strip, “Magnesium Sisters.” “Let’s see how our local artists are handling this pandemic, and ask them to tell their quarantine stories in comics form.”

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:38 AM, 07.03.2020

Heights Arts hosts virtual opening and by-appointment gallery visits

For GP, 2005, by Matthew Kolodziej.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Heights Arts came up with an evolutionary idea: artists who had previously been included in Heights Arts exhibitions would show one work from the period during which they first exhibited, and one from the present, thus showing how their work has evolved over time. The resulting exhibition, Evolution, runs July 10 through Aug. 23 at its 2175 Lee Road gallery.

A “virtualopening” reception using Zoom is scheduled for Friday, July 10, at 7 p.m., featuring exhibition images and artist comments. Sign up to get the link for the opening by e-mailing In-person exhibition visits will be by appointment only, beginning July 11, with a limited number of visitors per time slot.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:37 AM, 07.03.2020

Russell launches 'You Talk, I Listen' series

Cleveland Heights City Council Member Davida Russell

On June 6, Cleveland Heights City Council Member Davida Russell hosted the first in a series of Town Hall listening sessions with residents of the Noble and Taylor roads community. A group of 10 Zoom participants comprised residents, business owners, and members of the faith community. More than 100 others listened on Facebook Live. Two more meetings are planned, for late June and July.

The objective of the first Town Hall was to identify concerns and issues that impact the health and growth of this area of the city, and to create a process to develop solutions.

“I live in this community and I have my own thoughts about what it needs,” Russell said, “but I feel it is important to hear what others think about what would enable the neighborhood [to] grow and prosper.”

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 3:01 PM, 06.22.2020

Library foundation seeks literacy award nominees

2019 Honor Roll Literacy Award winners (from left) Charniece Holmes and Amy Rosenbluth.

The Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries (FFHL) is currently seeking nominations for its 2020 Fund for the Future of Heights Libraries Honor Roll. Winners will be chosen by the FFHL board, and celebrated at a virtual event this fall.

The honor is a lifetime achievement award, recognizing those who have made a sustained, outstanding contribution to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights community by promoting literacy or by educating through literacy.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:34 AM, 07.03.2020

Teacher honors English-language learners

Ola Esmail and Kathleen Scully.

[Photo by CHUH staff]

Ola Esmail learned a new English word recently: bittersweet, referring to leaving high school and a beloved teacher.

“I felt so happy when Ms. Scully came to visit me at my house,” said the 2020 Heights High graduate who came to the United States as a refugee from Yemen. “But I also feel sad because I might not see her again.”

Kathleen Scully feels the same way. The Heights High teacher of English Language (EL) was so impressed by the accomplishments of her four graduating seniors that she drove from Summit County to personally visit their homes, deliver gifts, and express her pride in their accomplishments.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:31 AM, 07.03.2020

Friends start work to preserve and restore Bradford path

Some Bradford path volunteers (from left): John Barber, Emma Shook, Eran Shiloh, Donald Vicarel, Deb Franke, Gary Franke.

The Bradford Cinder Path is buzzing with activity. Strollers and dog walkers, joggers and families all share the path. It’s the perfect place to learn to ride a bicycle. During a normal school year, it’s a great shortcut to get to school. 

A group of neighbors, Friends of the Bradford Cinder Path, have come together, united in the desire to prepare the path for its second century. [See the related June 2020 Heights Observer article, “A look back and ahead at the Bradford cinder path,” by Marian Morton and Peggy Spaeth.]

The volunteers plan to partner with the city and its neighbors to preserve the path’s mature trees and replace invasive plants with carefully selected native trees and shrubs. They intend to retain the path’s shady beauty, and create a long-term plan for the maintenance of this much-loved path.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:25 AM, 07.03.2020

2020 CH GardenWalk will be virtual tour

GardenWalk Cleveland Heights, a free, self-guided tour of private and public gardens in the city, began in 2019. This year, due to the coronavirus, the tour will be conducted virtually.

Throughout the summer and fall, gardeners in Cleveland Heights are invited to upload videos (five minutes or less) or photographs of their gardens, both flower and vegetable, to the Cleveland Heights Garden Walk Facebook page (

Gardeners are invited to share pictures of works in progress, small areas of special creativity within a larger space, unique plants, water features—anything that will show off what they have done, and bring joy to others.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 1:25 PM, 07.01.2020

Library’s summer reading program moves online

Due to service restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Heights Libraries has moved its 2020 summer reading program, Spark Your Creativity, online.

“We know how important summer reading is to our community, especially the school-age kids, so after we closed our buildings in March, we began looking for alternatives to our in-person program,” said Youth Services Manager Sam Lapides. “Luckily we found an online program called Beanstack that is easy to use, is fun, and allows kids to track their reading time and participate in prize raffles, just like they’ve always been able to in the past.”

Prizes include LEGO sets, headphones, and gift cards to local businesses.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 3:02 PM, 06.22.2020

How we move forward together is in our hands

Four hundred and one years ago, the first Africans arrived to this continent. Brought here in chains.

As children we are taught the mythology that the Pilgrims, Puritan, English and other colonists came to America for freedom. But that is far from the whole story. The freedom of the colonists was made possible by the labor of the enslaved.

This nation was founded claiming certain self-evident truths, that we are all created equal, and endowed by our creator with unalienable rights: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Lofty words written by a man who owned 609 slaves over the course of his life. The paradox of this equality was that it was not for everyone.

That has changed over time, but not enough.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 1:47 PM, 07.01.2020

CH demonstrates inequitable attention to housing problems

In San Francisco or New York, a $480,000 teardown replaced by a more up-to-date home in a gentrifying area would not be unusual. That barely buys a run-down bungalow in those markets. But in Cleveland Heights, many residents were dismayed when the meticulously well-maintained 6-bedroom, 5-bath, 4,743-square-foot century home at 2224 Devonshire Drive in the Ambler Heights Historic District, which sold at that price, was demolished less than a year later. 

The city’s Architectural Board of Review has approved plans for a large contemporary house to replace it. Residents are still scratching their heads at how Cleveland Heights could have crowed about finally passing a landmark ordinance last year, then approved the demolition of a unique, historic structure.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 1:43 PM, 07.01.2020

Communion of Saints teacher keeps students engaged

Teacher Adam Cottos with student Gavin Foss.

Ending the school year with three months of virtual learning is not what any teacher intended. At Communion of Saints Catholic School in Cleveland Heights, Adam Cottos went above and beyond for his fifth-grade students.

Though he was not able to teach his class in person, he managed to keep all of his 28 students engaged in daily remote learning, through Facebook presentations and hosting weekly Kahoot game nights for the fifth-grade families. He even drove to each of the students’ homes and hand delivered a personalized end-of-the-school-year gift.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 10:32 AM, 07.03.2020

Teachers union changes leadership

Cleveland Heights Teachers Union's spring election of officers resulted in Karen Rego, first vice president for the past four years, and I changing places. Rego was elected president, and I will serve as first vice president beginning July 1. Rego will be the fourth president of our local since 1970. Glenn Altschuld, who died earlier this school year, served from 1970 to 1990; Tom Schmida served from 1990 to 2012. I was president for the last eight years. 

Rego has been teaching in our district for 18 years. She has limitless energy and has forged close relationships with our members. Most of her career was as a kindergarten teacher at Oxford, though she taught many other grades as well. Rego began her CH-UH career at Wiley, and is now at Monticello. She served as building steward at Oxford for many years. She is dependable, hard-working, and leads by example.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 1:41 PM, 07.01.2020

CH Senior Center News

Senior center staff have been working hard to continue to provide services while the building is closed. Social work outreach and nutrition support remain a focus, but programming is also an important component of the center’s offerings. Employees are working to develop online content, knowing that low-tech programming is important.

One such effort is the formation of Stronger Together, an aptly named journaling group. Starting in May, members received a personalized journal, pen and topic. Participants meet, via a Webex call, on Thursdays at 12:30 p.m., to share experiences and anything written during the week. The talk is lively, and the social connection is appreciated.

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 7:59 AM, 06.30.2020

Hard times for schools are here

For whatever reason, I weep at parades. Predictably, my tears began to flow as a police-led parade of public school teachers turned right off of Taylor Road onto Euclid Heights Boulevard, where I was cheering, at an acceptable distance, with seven Monticello Middle School students who missed their school and missed their teachers.

It was the last day of an eerie, remote, and separate two months of learning and teaching from home. The end of a school year is a moment to celebrate hard work, progress, relationships, trust, freedom, and the future. This year was different, more subdued, with an overlay of worry and uncertainty. But we did it nonetheless—from the safe distance of automobiles decked out with balloons, signs, pink flamingos, and the Heights tiger. 

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Volume 13, Issue 7, Posted 1:38 PM, 07.01.2020