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Falmouth woman overcomes challenges to reach her dreams of running a bake shop

Susan Notes:

Ohanian Comment: This is good news with a strong touch of anger and bitterness for the MCAS tyrants who ruined Tracy's opportunity to attend a college culinary program. Enter Tracey's name into a search on this site and you'll get plenty of background info. Go here and see a picture of Tracey in her shop.

by Henry Rome

EAST FALMOUTH - Five years ago, Tracey Newhart was at the center of the
controversy over whether diplomas ought to be given to students who fail the
state's MCAS exam.

Newhart, who has Down syndrome, was not allowed to graduate with her 2003
Falmouth High School classmates because she failed the high-stakes test,
which meant she couldn't attend the college of her choice. But she never let
go of her culinary dreams.

Yesterday, Newhart - now 25 -

began a triumphant new chapter in her life, as she swung open the doors to
her own business, Tracey's Kitchen.

Standing in front of a group of about 30 friends, family members and
visitors, Newhart clutched a short script and began to read. She got most of
the way through before the magnitude of the moment caught up to her.

"I would like to thank my parents," Newhart said yesterday morning,
stammering over the words and wiping tears from her eyes. They are always
there for me and helped me put my store together."

After cutting the inaugural ribbon, her first customers began filing inside
her baked goods business in Tataket Square, which sells

everything from homemade carrot cake to corn muffins and candy bars.

Newhart, who has been cooking since she was 5, makes her sweet treats at
home and at the Shoreway Acres Inn in Falmouth, which lets her use their
kitchen in the afternoon.

She went to Falmouth High and, although she was accepted conditionally into
Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, where she hoped to study
culinary arts, Newhart did not initially pass the MCAS, which the state
requires for graduation.

After four tries, Newhart passed the exam, but her window of opportunity to
attend Johnson & Wales was no longer available. The Rhode Island school is
considered one of the top culinary institutions in the region.

Undeterred, she began delivering baked goods to her neighbors four years
ago, sparking the idea for Tracey's Kitchen.

Those who visited yesterday were young and old, longtime customers and
interested visitors. "I'd rather come here than some place else," said Pam
Polachi, who summers in Falmouth. "It's really inspiring."

That was the word of the day yesterday: inspiring. It was especially so for
John Furnari of East Falmouth, whose 2-year-old daughter Olivia also has
Down syndrome.

"It let's us know of what (Olivia) can achieve - that there are no
ceilings," Furnari said. "Tracey has been a powerful inspiration to our

But not only is Newhart's story heartwarming, her food is great, Furnari

"The bottom line is the food is excellent. The proof is in the pudding," he

Newhart makes eight types of candy bars, and even dog treats, but her
specialty is pies - from cheese to peach. And for do-it-yourselfers, she
also sells an Apple Pie Kit.

Donning a cotton candy-colored dress, Newhart spent part of the morning
ringing up purchases at the register and schmoozing with customers, a
plastic cup full of party punch in hand.

Perhaps the most exciting part for her was the arrival of her friends from
Community Connections Inc., a group that provides opportunities for people
with disabilities.

When she saw the white van pull into the parking lot, the new shopkeeper
jumped and screamed, and she ran outside to greet her friends with hugs.


Tracey's Kitchen is open every day except Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

* Located at 31 Tataket Square in East Falmouth
* Call 508-540-0176

— Henry Rome
Cade Cod Times



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