Letters to the Editor, Nov. 10

Help Save Monarch Butterflies


I am writing to bring attention to the plight of the monarch butterfly, and if you enjoy them, how you can help.

Monarch butterfly caterpillars can only eat milkweed and with the the loss of so many wild fields, the use of genetically engineered crop seed that has "Round-Up" in it, the common use of herbicides by farmers and homeowners, the beautiful monarch need our help to stay fed.

The experts say that one caterpillar will need five fully-grown butterfly weed plants to reach maturity or 20 large leaves of common milkweed. If you have a bit of space to grow some milkweed I have seeds of three varieties: common milkweed, marsh milkweed, and butterfly weed.

This is a good time to plant or you can plant them in pots in the spring. Contact me at 774-563-0775 or

suzannaaan@yahoo.com and I will mail seeds to you or meet you. There is no charge.

Suzanna Nickerson



 More Memories Of Malabar


Thanks to John Whelan and others for bringing back wonderful memories of summers spent at Malabar – a rite of passage that, sadly, has passed by. But his correspondents failed to describe two high points of every camper’s experience – the Trial o Grit and induction in to a secret Native American tribe.

In the former we were awoken close to midnight on a moonless night, loaded in to a truck wondering what in the world was happening, and taken to the cemetery north of the airport. There we were dropped off, one by one, and instructed to walk the perimeter while counselors hid behind head stones and made ghoulish noises, adding to the spookiness of the event.

And then there were the nights when a few campers in each cabin were tapped on the shoulder and told to follow their counselors down to the dock. There we were blindfolded, rowed across Oyster River to a campfire on the other side, and warned to keep the subsequent proceedings strictly secret. An “S” for Samoset or “M” for Massasoit was carefully etched with mercurochrome on our foreheads after which we returned to our bunks. Come the next morning our cabin mates pleaded to know the secret but most (I think) proudly kept their pledge and the air of mystery surrounding the event.

Gunny not only was a little kid himself with a vivid imagination, but as was noted by others, a skilled naturalist. I recall a camping trip on Monomoy when Gunny dug a small hole in the sand, put four shingles around the edges to keep it from collapsing and, shortly, what should appear but sweet, fresh water – an apparent miracle in the eyes of a 10 year old.

Jake Brown



Questions Fish Pier Upgrades

I am not a coastal engineer, but I have watched for several years the changes at the entrance to  the harbor in front of the Chatham Light.  As the entrance grows narrower, and may eventually close, I ask, why are we planning to put large sums of money into a fish pier that may soon be unusable?

Steve Keenan

 Better Explanation Needed


The explanation by Principal Burkhead in last week’s Chronicle regarding Monomoy’s graduation rate was an attempt to clarify a complex subject. Ultimately, however, I found his explanation confusing and impossible to verify. His explanation includes an assortment of data/number changes, including a) the class (or cohort) from 104 students to “when you only have 100 kids in a cohort;” b) then changing the Massachusetts Department of Education number of 23 percent failing to graduate to 22 percent; c) then an opinion on whether or not counting drop-outs should be part of the “failing to graduate” number; and finally d) we are told that data on students who graduated in the fall wasn’t counted. Bottom line: Good luck understanding and verifying how Mr. Burkhead refined his number for 2015 graduation rate to 87.4 percent. 

Secondly, and more importantly, Principal Burkhead made a statement early in his explanation that I feel is very insensitive to special needs students, their parents, family, and friends. In his defense of the (admittedly) low graduation rate he states, “The large number of students with intensive special needs definitely impacted Monomoy’s class of 2015 four year graduation rate.” So, quite possibly, if I am one of the 10 special needs students, and I read this statement or overhear others who repeat this conclusion, I could feel that I am to blame for this bad score. I am sure Principal Burkhead did not intend this as blame. On the other hand, did he fully consider how this statement might be interpreted by those students or their families? Special education students are just that - “special.” They should not be grouped in with conclusions about negative impacts.

Winnie Gundersen

Harwich Port