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if the parents described in the article “diy Charter School” (2/23) dedicated as much effort to improving their local schools as they have to creating new schools from scratch, not only their own children but the whole school system would greatly benefit.

This kind of parental involvement is key to improving the public schools, yet all too often the in-boundary public school option is automatically dismissed after only the most superficial examination. For example, the article describes H.D. Cooke Elementary as “not doing well,” but my daughter, Lillian, is a student in the three-year-old class at Cooke, and I couldn’t be more delighted with the experience she has had this year.

Low test scores and delayed building renovations were cited in the article as reasons Cooke would be considered an unappealing option. While these are serious concerns, they don’t even begin to capture the positive things that are happening at the school. Cooke has an International Baccalaureate curriculum and bilingual instruction modeled after the Oyster School, where Cooke principal Rosalyn Rice once administered. The fact that Ms. Rice is a dynamic and nurturing administrator is reflected in the enthusiasm and care exhibited by the teachers and staff at Cooke. My daughter loves her teacher, Cynthia Robinson, and I am continuously astounded by the progress Lillian has made while in her class. Friendly children, a positive, nurturing environment, dedicated staff, and rigorous yet creative instruction—Cooke has what parents are looking for, but the school needs the advocacy and involvement of the parents of the community to help it surmount the challenges it does face. I would like to encourage parents who care deeply about their children’s education to look harder at their local public schools, give them the support they deserve, and help them become the schools they want for their children.

Michele Casto
Adams Morgan

Memory Tripping on Elvis

i was on that wilson line boat that night in March 1956 and saw Elvis do his show (“Elvis on the Potomac, 2/16). I recounted my story to friends for years, but no one would believe me. I even told them I’d seen him promote the gig on the Jimmy Dean Show on Channel 7.

I had trouble believing myself, actually. (It was 51 years ago!) After all, I would have been 14, a freshman at John Carroll High, and obviously without a driver’s license or car. I’m absolutely sure I was with friends, and probably with my girlfriend at the time, Joyce Cissel, a dark-haired, comely lass whose pop was a Safeway manager at a building that still stands (like me) in Hyattsville. But I stray. Did my Dad, or somebody’s Dad, drive me and my friends to the dock? Don’t remember.

I also know that after the show, some girl I knew handed me her Kodak, and I took a snapshot of her and Elvis. I swear that happened on my mother’s grave. I’ve tried to remember who that girl was, but the women I’ve contacted say ’twarn’t them.

I had occasion to phone-interview guitarist Scotty Moore in 2004 about another matter. When I mentioned it, he said why sure he remembered that night—the boat never left the dock; it was packed so full, the fire marshal came.

Backstory: Joyce and I had seen Elvis’ electric performance on the Tommy Dorsey TV show that January—at her Mom’s apartment in Langley Park on New Hampshire Avenue near the Sligo Park spillout.

So I was hooked early. I forgot to remember to forget.

Bill Holland

Terra Firmer

“welcome to the clayborhood” (district Line, 2/16) is an entertaining example of how the brave new world of “point-and-click” ersatz knowledge the (mis)information age has ushered in, amply embodied in the Yellow Book’s cover illustration, tries to replace real knowledge that even your reporter had trouble digging up the old-fashioned way.

Terra Cotta was the name for the neighborhood a century ago before the neighborhood was built up. Hurry, if you can, to see the last vestige of it, visible from the Red Line and inscribed on one of the recently abandoned Thomas Sommerville Corporation buildings near the Fort Totten Metro Station, which are soon to yield to infill development. As the 1895 timetable shows, it was two minutes by train from University Heights (meaning Catholic University in what was just beginning to develop into the Brookland neighborhood); the two minutes Metro now takes [you] from Brookland-CUA to Fort Totten.

A decade or so later, a serious collision took place at Terra Cotta, which led to the abolition of wooden railroad cars whose heritage continues even in today’s comparatively stringent American railcar construction standards.

A decade or so after that, the Michigan Park Citizens Association was founded just north of Brookland. Its jurisdiction reached all the way to Takoma in what was then mainly farm and forest. In 1953, Michigan Park yielded its territory north of Hamilton Street to the Lamond Heights Citizens Association, which had formed in the new neighborhood of post, WWII houses (in 1988 Michigan Park retreated its border to Buchanan Street, about where the Michigan Park’s pre-WWII housing stock ends and North Michigan Park’s post-WWII housing stock begins).

Terra Cotta, as the article points out, is a term no longer recognized. Now that those neighborhoods have developed, they refer to themselves as North Michigan Park and Lamond Riggs east of the tracks and Fort Totten west of the tracks (see the Office of Planning’s division of the city by neighborhood: planning.dc.gov/planning/cwp/view,a,1282,q,569467.asp).

Dino Drudi
President, Michigan Park Citizens Association

Do It for the Children

tim carman (“pain in the glass,” 2/9) comes close but ultimately stops short of what all good investigative journalism and materialist critique needs to do: follow the money. We all know the endless whining and complaining about the evil liquor control empire in Montgomery Country that comes from the mouths of the well-heeled elite who live and dine there. They would have you believe that their overpriced or unavailable specialty wines are all pain and no gain.

But as Carman reports, “In the last five and a half years alone, the DLC has transferred more than $100 million to the general fund.” Sadly Carman does not take the next logical step, namely into the county budget, to show all his MoCo readers where those funds are being spent—schools, infrastructure, the arts?— and help them realize how the sacrifice of an occasional speciality wine by a few can yield great gains for the many.

Tom Orange
U Street