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W elcome back students, and summer vacationers! Here’s a pop quiz about some of what happened between the time that school let out in June and this week, when it begins again for New Haven Public Schools and several area universities.

1. In the 1970s, 1180 Chapel Street was the site of the notorious punk club Ron’s Place. Then it was two different Vietnamese restaurants and a shortlived Mexican Cantina. What is it now?

2. Cutler’s Records Shop announced in May that it would be “retiring.” What was the store’s last day of operation?

3. What planned Music on the Green concert was postponed due to the rain and was rescheduled for this Friday inside the Shubert?

4. How did Book Trader’s A Tale of Two Turkeys sandwich fare in the national TV competition “Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America”?

5. How’d the state’s primary elections for the U.S. Senate turn out?

6. What has BOOST! been up to lately?

Time’s up, pencils down! The answers:

1. New Haven Meatball House.

2. Cutler’s spun its last disk on June 30.

3. Shontelle. Tickets are available on the evening of the show, on a first come, first served basis. It’s a rare chance for school-year residents to get an autumnal taste of New Haven’s summer magic. Doors open at 7 p.m.

4. It was one of three sandwiches representing all of New England in the penultimate August 8 episode coming in 2nd to the Zesty Lemon Lobster Roll at The Galley in Naples, Maine.

5. Following decisive victories in their respective party primaries on August 14, Chris Murphy (Democrat) and Linda McMahon (Republican) will compete for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Joseph Lieberman.

As for the sixth question, BOOST!—a collaboration among United Way of Greater New Haven, the City of New Haven and New Haven Public Schools encouraging results-driven school administration and seeking to more actively involve parents in their kids’ educations—gathered dozens of volunteers last week at Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School (pictured above) for a “Kindergarten Canvass” of the city. The workers included school administrators, United Way execs, several staffers from New Haven Promise (the program which waives tuition fees at many Connecticut colleges and universities for motivated students), city employees, teachers, parents and community leaders. The throng fanned out around town to knock on the doors of families with kindergarten-bound children.

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Knocking on strangers’ doors never goes perfectly smoothly, but it’s a whole lot easier when the person you’re visiting is an enthusiastic youngster. BOOST! volunteers brought free books for the kids and stayed to answer questions from the parents: What if we can’t afford the school uniform yet? How reliable are the school buses? How important is homework?

While the BOOST!ers boosted the system and the parents took advantage of the FAQ sheets and brochures, the kids bounced around delightedly. School! We’re going to school! Nothing their older siblings said could dissuade them from the belief that school was going to be just great. BOOST! was there to give a final assurance.

Those beaming little boys and girls are the latest class in a long tradition of New Haven schoolchildren and college students for whom the city has only the highest hopes and aspirations. Just take a gander at New Haven’s educational legacy:

Big bandleader Artie Shaw attended Dwight Elementary School on Edgewood Avenue. Karen Carpenter attended Nathan Hale Elementary. Light Heavyweight champion boxer “Bad” Chad Dawson went to Hillhouse High, as did actor Ernest Borgnine (whose face looked as if he’d been hit by a light heavyweight champion boxer). College Football Hall of Famer Albie Booth went to Hillhouse, then stayed in town to play for Yale in the late 1920s and early ’30s. Booth and Dawson, as well as Yale grads such as Meryl Streep and Paul Giamatti are among the celebrities at the center of a new city-pride campaign, one more thing you might have missed if you’ve been away for the past couple of months. Celebs who were raised and/or educated in New Haven have been honored with billboard-sized biographical posters hung around the city’s Chapel West district declaring them “New Haven Notables.”

It’s hard to know who the next generation of New Haven Notables will be, or what skills might even be decreed “Notable” in this fast-moving 21st century. But judging from the happy faces on those expectant kids visited by BOOST!, they’re off to a promising start.

Written by Christopher Arnott.

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Christopher Arnott has written about arts and culture in Connecticut for over 25 years. His journalism has won local, regional and national awards, and he has been honored with an Arts Award from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. He posts daily at his own sites and New Haven Theater Jerk (

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