This past Saturday, March 22, 2014 my elementary school suffered a 4 alarm fire in the central Jersey community I grew up in.

The day after the fire, James Monroe Elementary School
photo by Caryl Felicetta
I haven’t been back to the old neighborhood in years, but the news of this blaze set social media on fire and the pictures posted, links to news reports and comments from many of my childhood friends offered real time reporting and brought back a flood of shared memories.
What strikes me about the tragedy of this fire and the response of those of us who grew up walking to and from school- and often home for lunch as well, is how fortunate we are to have had this sense of community. 
By the time I got to high school I was restless for life beyond suburbia and wanted adventures in new and varied places.  And “my story” seemed to be I grew up in Edison, NJ and couldn’t wait to get out of there.  That may be true as from NJ I went to New York, California, Hawaii and then as life would have it- came full circle back to Edison in the mid 90’s- only to want to get out of there again.
But as I think about the fire and read the responses by my fellow classmates and neighbors I am reminded that we were given strong roots so that we could fly. 
Roots & Wings
embossed collograph with graphite, acrylic, collage
44″ x 30″

Some of us returned, some of us did not, but I believe that we each have a strong sense of who we are because of our time together at James Monroe. 

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