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Historic Day

Friday June 26th was a historic day for the United States and for the Bissell family. Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. An easy call for most, but fun to watch the Republican presidential nominees trying to figure out how to best respond to this ruling. It is not about equality, it’s about votes for them. Enough politics.

Today also marks the last official day of school for the Bissell boys. Because all 3 boys have special needs, in Massachusetts they receive their services and therapies through the public school system until their 22nd birthday. On their 22nd birthday, they move from the school system into adult services; a huge and emotional transition.

We’ve spent several months visiting and researching adult programs for people with developmental disabilities. All three boys have very different needs, so no single program will work for all. We’ve finally made the best decisions we can for all three boys. They will take the month of July off and start this new chapter of their lives on August 3rd.

The hardest part of this transition is saying goodbye to all of the wonderful people in the Grafton Public School system. Hard partly because there are way too many people to thank! The boys have been in the school system for 19 years! Anyone with a child with special needs knows how many people are involved in caring for their children while in school; everyone from the teachers, to the classroom aides, to the therapists. But this is only part of the picture. The over-used saying “it takes a village” is definitely true for special needs kids. It’s not just the direct care workers that are needed to help a child with special needs be successful at school, it’s also the administration from the superintendent to the school committee to the office staff, van drivers and school nurses, custodians and cafeteria workers and even the regular education students who make inclusion work. Multiply all of this by 3 and you begin to see why it would be impossible to thank each individual who made the boys’ school years successful.

The boys have also spent all of these years with many of the same students. The students as well as their parents have become a close-knit community and dear friends. These parents are also working through this difficult transition and trying to find the best placement for their adult children. Sadly most of the young adults will be scattered among the many adult programs around Central Massachusetts. We will miss that comradery, but hope to keep in touch with as many of these amazing parents and kids as possible.

Anyone who is reading this and had anything to do with Eric, Aaron or Anthony’s school years, THANK YOU!

Here are a few photos from the twins’ last day of school:

Bon Voyage party for the twins.
Bon Voyage party for the twins.
Aaron receiving his diploma
Aaron receiving his diploma from Special Education Administrator Mr. Lundwall
Eric receiving his certificate
Eric receiving his certificate from Special Education Administrator Mr. Lundwall
School to Work students and staff
School-to-Work program students and staff

Bissell Home Page 20th Anniversary

Bissell Home Page in 1995 - See live demo here
Bissell Home Page in 1995 – See live demo here

Hard to believe that the Bissells have had a homepage on the web for 20 years! Rich and I both love technology. When we got married in 1992, he had a Compac computer and I had an Apple IIc. But it wasn’t until 1993 that we first went online with a second-hand Radio Shack computer and a 2400 baud modem.

We first connected to the Internet using Prodigy Internet Service, which was basically just email and Newsgroups. We’ve always loved to stay on the cutting edge of technology, so it wasn’t long before we upgraded to speedy 14.4Kpbs and 28.9Kbps modems.

Around 1994-95 we moved to a Packard Bell computer and AOL with a 56K modem. Now we were really hooked. This was around the time when the World Wide Web really took off. I started networking with parents of kids with special needs via AOL’s user groups. One of my new Internet friends had her own website and I thought that was pretty cool. So, I started to build my own site.

Back in the mid-1990’s there was no easy way to build a website. There was no software and sites like GeoCities were virtually unknown. In fact, most people didn’t even know what a homepage was. I built our first website using raw HTML code and a plain text editor and hosted it on AOLs server.

At that time, the web was very slow and space and even internet time was expensive. AOL charged by the minute and graphics had to be very small in order to load at a reasonable speed.

Here is what our first website looked like in 1995: Bissell Home Page. This was state of the art at the time and the animated mailbox was super cool! Animated graphics (GIFs) were about the only thing that moved on the web at that time.

Our site has continued to evolve. Over the years I’ve used website building software including FrontPage, Dreamweaver and Expression Web. At this time I’m using WordPress content management software. I’ve also moved from many different Internet service providers and hosting companies.

Part of the fun of the Internet and technology in general is that it’s always changing and there are always new things to learn.