Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Get Out The Vote


The 2008 Massachusetts ballot features state, national, and presidential elections, as well as three ballot questions.

You can vote by absentee ballot if you:
  • Will be absent from your city or town on election day
  • Have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polling place
  • Cannot vote at the polls due to religious beliefs
The deadline for applying for an absentee ballot is noon the day before the election -- Monday, Nov. 3, 2008. You can fill out your absentee ballot at the clerk's office, request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you, or download an application below.

Absentee ballot applications:
Information for this guide was compiled from the Massachusetts secretary of state's office: Thanks also to Wildwood School for pulling it together.

Tuesday November 4... Bake Vote Bake Vote Bake...

School Lunch Price Increase

Reminder: The School Committee has approved an increase in price of school lunch and breakfast, effective Monday, Nov. 3. Students who qualify for free or reduced pricing will not see an increase.

School lunches will increase by a quarter, to $2.50 (reduced fee lunch $0.40).

School breakfast will be $0.50 for elementary (Reduced fee breakfast will be $0.30). It’ll be $1.00 for middle and high school.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Did You Know?

Q. What Crocker Farm luminary will be appearing at the AEF Trivia Bee on Thursday Night?

A. Mr. Morris!

That's right - Mr. Morris will be competing (along with Cathy Aldrich's husband, Greg, Ray Sharick and Nick Yaffe as a team) What a great family evening out. Only $3 admission per audience member. Baked goods and lots of fun for all ages. Come join us, the bigger the crowd the more fun! All proceeds benefit Amherst Education Foundation.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It Only Takes 2 Minutes...

At this time, only 16 Crocker Farm households have signed up for the Stop&Shop A+BonusBucks program. Last year we made it to 48 sign ups & this year we're aiming higher! This is such an easy fundraiser & we're making it so easy for you to sign up! And remember that even if you signed up your card last year YOU NEED TO SIGN UP AGAIN. It takes about 60 seconds: Just click HERE to start shopping for your school!! Remember that Crocker Farm's code is 05194.

Tell your friends, grandparents and neighbors too. Every penny counts... In fact, last year we earned about $470.00 that went directly into the school's Student Activity Account. This money pays for student field trips... important and valuable stuff in this time of budget cuts!

Election Day Bake Sale!!

November 4th is Election Day & it's bound to be a doozy of a turnout. The PGO will be hosting a BAKE SALE table at the Preschool entrance to earn money for the school.

We need LOTS of help! You can:
1. Bake something: Muffins, cookies, breads, cupcakes... are all welcome.

2. Work at the table: Sign up for an hour anytime between 7:00am and 8:00pm.

Contact Erika (256-1045 or for more info or to sign up.

Mark Your Calendars for Movie Night!!

On Friday November 14th at 7:00pm the PGO will host the first Crocker Farm Movie Night! Vote for your movie choice (no, make that your KID's movie choice) in the poll on the right side of this page.

Here's what's up: It's a family event, so bring your child & plan to keep an eye on them. Admission is free, but we are suggesting a donation of a non-perishable food item for the Survival Center. We'll have popcorn & drinks for sale. Kids are encouraged to come in their pj's. How great is that? Our goal is to have one Movie Night each month!

High School Blogical

Ahhh, High School. Many of you have kids there now & all of us will have kids there eventually… is the blog/website for the ARHS parent group. Check it out to see what’s up at school & around town.

Community Event: S. Amherst Blood Drive

Blood Drive on Tuesday, Oct. 28 from 1:00 - 7:00pm at the South Congregational Church. Walk in or make an appointment (and you won't have to wait) by contacting Jeanne at! It's easy, takes only an hour, and truly helps. There is always a need for blood donation.

Community Event: Amherst Halloween Fest

Amherst will celebrate All Hallows' Eve downtown with Halloween Fest 2008, which includes trick-or-treating, a costume parade, carnival and a haunted house Oct. 31.

The event is a downtown tradition. Trick-or-treating will take place from 4:15 - 5:30 pm. The parade begins at 5:45 pm at Sweetser Park goes up Main Street, to North Pleasant and Kellogg streets, ending in the parking lot plaza adjacent to the Bangs Center. Halloween Fest 2008 concludes with the Halloween carnival and haunted house, from 6:30 to 8:30, at the Bangs Community Center.

Donations will be accepted at the door. For a list of participating businesses, visit the Chamber on Amity Street or LSSE at the Bangs Center. For information, call 259-3065.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

CHANGE for CHANGE Challenge

Congratulations Students! The kids won the "Change for Change" fundraiser, beating out the teachers again this year! And because of generous gifts from Costco and Big Y, Ms. Zsigmondi was able to award every student at Crocker Farm with a healthy snack.

Select Board Candidate Forum Rebroadcasts

If you missed Thursday night's Select Board Candidate Forum or would like to watch it again it will be rebroadcast at the following times on ACTV:

10/24 at 7:00 PM
10/25 at 10:00 AM
10/26 at 10:00 AM

Friday, October 17, 2008

Next Week at Crocker Farm

Early dismissal at 1:20 on:
Tuesday Oct. 21
Wednesday Oct. 22
Thursday Oct. 23

Please return your Lend a Hand envelope or make a donation through the Amherst Education Foundation as soon as you can. The PGO will turn your money into grants for classrooms by the end of Novmeber.

Look for Original Works Fundraiser info coming home next week.

Other Calendar Notes:

Nov. 4th: Election Day Bake Sale!!

Nov. 14th: The PGO will be hosting the first FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT. Admission is free, but donation of a non-perishable food item for the Survival Center is recommended. More info to come!

Picture Retake Day has been scheduled for Nov. 18th.

Amherst Education Foundation Planning for a Strong Future

As many parents are aware, the budget crisis facing our school district in the coming years is dire. Last weekend, several board members of the non-profit Amherst Education Foundation (AEF), and Glenda Cresto, the new principal of the Middle School (ARMS), met to discuss critical issues facing ARMS and the district as a whole. Now in its 15th year, AEF's mission is to enhance academic excellence for all students in the public schools of Amherst, Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury. Over the last two years, AEF has contributed over $85,000 to the schools, and plans are underway to dramatically increase this amount to meet the needs of the district’s students in the increasingly limited budget environment.

AEF is entering its next phase of strategic planning in order to establish a reliable source of long-term funding for the Amherst Regional Public Schools. AEF’s development and strategic planning committees are working to create an even more powerful funding mechanism that provides significant support for teachers and students on a consistent basis.

Last spring several members of AEF met with former School Superintendent Jere Hochman to begin this planning process. His suggestions included funding for professional development for teachers. The meeting with Glenda Cresto was the second in a series of meetings to gather information on the district’s most pressing needs. Ms. Cresto’s suggestions included funding long-term programs with 3- to 5-year commitments. One such initiative is a teacher mentoring program which would improve the teacher turnover rate.

In the coming months, AEF will meet with (or survey) principals, teachers, parents, the local business community, town management, and others. Dr. Hochman and Ms. Cresto’s ideas, combined with those that will be gathered this fall, will create a new roadmap for AEF for funding public schools in the district.

Visit AEF’s website: to make tax-deductible general or targeted donations to local schools.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Community Event: ABC Fall Foliage Walk Saturday

ABC Fall Foliage Walk, October 18th. This year the 40th Annual ABC Walk will feature a free concert with Charles Neville, a barbecue, a community art project, and other activities on the Town Common. At the ABC House on North Prospect Street we board eight young men of color who come from inner city neighborhoods in the northeast, while they attend ARHS. Over a hundred young men have graduated through the program. ABC has come to stand for educational equity, academic excellence, and community service. In recent years the walk has attracted 300-400 participants who walked along 12 miles of wonderful trails in Amherst, Leverett and Shutesbury. This year, to celebrate our 40th, the walk will be much shorter (5k) along a paved route that families can enjoy. It will begin at 10:00 am on the Common. The concert with the Charles Neville Quartet will begin around 12:30. Charles, one of the Neville Brothers, is a renowned jazz saxophonist, and his local band plays jazz standards, and New Orleans-flavored blues and funk. The event will be catered by The Pub. This is a chance to celebrate the diversity of our community while enjoying a walk under the canopy of diverse colors, and to enjoy good music and food with our neighbors. Register for the walk online at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Community Event: Meet the Candidates for Select Board

On Thursday Oct. 16th the Chamber of Commerce is hosting a "Meet the Candidates Night". The 4 candidates for the open Select Board seat will be at the Middle School from 6:00 - 7:30 pm. The forum's purpose is to help educate the community about candidate positions affecting the well-being of the Amherst area. Calvin Brewer, Aaron Hayden, David Keenan and Vladimir Morales have all agreed to participate. As a nonpartisan body, the Chamber will not officially endorse any of the candidates. After a question/answer period, you'll have the chance to meet and talk with the candidates and other community leaders about the kind of progress you want to see.

Community Event: Amherst Trivia Bee

To sponsor a team or play on a team contact Linda Rotti at Jones, Town and Country, 549-3700. Proceeds to benefit the Amherst Education Foundation, Inc.

Currently there are 20 plus teams registered, we need 10 more teams to fill the stage. Teams, which are comprised of area business or 4 individuals form a group. For instance 4 elementary school principles who are out to prove they are "Smarter Than a 5th Grader". The entry fee is 125.00 per team. The committee will also pair up a 4-player teams with a sponsor if the team does not have one.

We get our sponsors from area businesses, who support the Amherst Education Foundation's mission and see it as an opportunity to participate in a community wide event!

We have a team of trivia bee question makers who are hidden away in a sealed room grinding out secret questions in all different categories (Ha, ha). This year we are adding a special flash round of Amherst area trivia in preparation to Amherst's 250-year celebration next year!

What a great family evening out. Only $3 admission per audience member. Baked goods and lots of fun for all ages. Come join us, the bigger the crowd the more fun! All proceeds benefit Amherst Education Foundation.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Next Week at Crocker Farm

Monday October 13th is Columbus Day & there's NO SCHOOL! Have a nice long weekend, the weather should be wonderful!

Tuesday Oct. 14th, 7:00pm: School Committee Meeting. High School Library.

Thursday Oct. 16: Kindergarten Open House

Other Calendar Notes:
Please return your Lend a Hand envelope or make a donation through the Amherst Education Foundation as soon as you can. The PGO will turn your money into grants for classrooms by the end of Novmeber.

Remember that there will be 1:20 dismissals on Oct. 21, 22 & 23 so that teachers can have conferences.

Picture Retake Day has been scheduled for Nov. 18th.

What To Do This Weekend

Historic Deerfield celebrates a classic New England children's book, the Ox Cart Man, by Donald Hall this weekend with readings, crafts & activities Oct. 11 & 12 from noon - 4:00pm. Why not stop by the Jones Library & get free passes before you go?

Kid-friendly hike on Sunday with the Appalachian Mountain Club family program. We'll meet at Atkins Farm parking lot in the early afternoon and drive to the trail head on Bay Road. It will be a short hike up to Rattlesnake Knob, a spot with great views. The pace will be easy for children. You don't need to be an AMC member and participation is free. Rain will cancel. Call Nancy Weld at (413) 256-8728 or contact by e-mail at

Looking for an Apple Orchard? Check out All About Apples for info about where to pick!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The PGO is meeting this Wednesday October 8th (note the change of date) from 6:30 - 7:30pm.

Irv Rhodes from the Budget Choices/Community Voices Committee will join us to discuss the Town's budget situation and what the choices are as we head into next year's budget cycle.

We will also be talking about some exciting new ideas (including Wednesday Clubs, Movie Nights & the possibility of holding a craft fair) so please be sure to join us!

Childcare is provided for free in the Cafeteria.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Community Event: Kid Friendly Hike

Kid-friendly hike on Sunday with the Appalachian Mountain Club family program. We'll meet at Atkins Farm parking lot in the early afternoon and drive to the trail head on Bay Road. It will be a short hike up to Rattlesnake Knob, a spot with great views. The pace will be easy for children. You don't need to be an AMC member and participation is free. Rain will cancel. Call Nancy Weld at (413) 256-8728 or contact by e-mail at

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tonight! MCAS Info Session

Meet Principal Morris tonight at 5:00pm at the school for an information session devoted to describing what the latest MCAS results mean for Crocker Farm.

Hunger Banquet 10/16/08 6pm

HUNGER BANQUET October 16, 2008 6 - 7:30 PM
Suggested Minimum Donation: $5.00 Proceeds will go to Oxfam and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Organized by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst
Please join us at the UUSA Meetinghouse for an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet, a learning experience for all ages. The dinner is designed to raise awareness of global hunger issues and to raise funds to support Oxfam's poverty-fighting work. The Meetinghouse is located at 121 North Pleasant Street, Amherst. For more information on Oxfam and Hunger Banquets
How it works: Guests draw tickets at random that assign them each to a high-, middle-, or low-income tier and receive a corresponding meal. The 15 percent in the high-income tier are served a sumptuous meal. The 35 percent in the middle-income section eat a simple meal of rice and beans. The 50 percent in the low-income tier help themselves to small portions of rice and water. (High-, middle-, and low-income statistics used in the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event are based on the World Bank Development Indicators
2007.) Guests can also assume characterizations that describe the situation of a specific person at the income level to which they've been assigned.
Finally, all guests are invited to share their thoughts after the meal.
After an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet event, few participants leave with full stomachs, but all possess a greater understanding of the problems of hunger and poverty and will hopefully be motivated to do something about them.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thank You Munson Library

The PGO wishes to thank Sue Hugus from the Munson Library who attended our Curriculum Night. She raved about our hospitality, and boasted that we had the most at school Library card sign ups in the Elementary District.

Friday, October 3, 2008

School Pictures - Monday!

Picture Day is MONDAY OCTOBER 6 so don't forget to send your little movie star in looking ready for stardom!

Community Event: Language Lessons

The Toy Box is offering bilingual story and song times each week until November 2nd. On Fridays at 4pm it's French story time, Saturdays at 10:30a it's Spanish story time, and Sundays at 11:30 it's in American Sign Language. Generally it's geared towards 6 year olds and under but absolutely all are welcome and there have been kids up to 10 years old there.

Community Event: Elmer and the Elder Tree Play

The Piti Theater Company performs the fable Elmer and the Elder Tree Saturday Oct. 4 at 11:00am on the South Amherst Common. Followed by workshops for ages 5 -14 in mural-making and storytelling.

Memorial Fund

A fund has been established at Florence Savings Bank for those who wish to contribute to the family of Abraham Espinoza who was fatally injured on Tuesday. Checks should be made payable to Abraham Espinoza Memorial Fund. Contributions can be dropped off at any Florence Savings Bank branch, the Marks Meadow Principal's office or mailed to: Abraham Espinoza-Zavala, Jr. Memorial Fund
c/o Shannon Borrell
164 Montague Rd.
Amherst, MA 01002.
Obituary and memorial register book at .

Community Event: Communicating With Compassion

Do you want to stay connected heart to heart in difficult conversations with children, students, your partner, colleagues, clients/customers and even with people who hold different political views? Join us for a workshop on Communicating With Compassion, Foundations of Nonviolent CommunicationSM (NVC)

A language and consciousness of compassion that can improve your relationships skills to support dialogue in the face of judgment, criticism, and anger practice in honest expression and empathic listening effective ways to bring more joy, ease, and connection into your life support for parenting and teaching from your heart a nonviolent approach to social change

October 4 in Amherst. 9:30 am-4:30 pm

To register, or for more information, please go to the website or call Jerry Koch-Gonzalez, CNVC Certified Trainer at 413-549-1747.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

K Open House Postponed

Due to events that have occurred this week the school is canceling the Kindergarten Curriculum Night that had been scheduled for tonight. The information for rescheduling will be forthcoming. If you have questions please contact the office at 362-1600.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Read-a-thon Pledges Due!

ATTENTION SUMMER READ-A-THON PARTICIPANTS! Just a reminder—your Read-a-thon envelope with the pledges you’ve collected from your sponsors was due Wednesday, October 1. If you haven’t brought it in yet, please do so as soon as possible so you will be able to collect your thank you prize. Remember, the money you raise will go to teachers to use in their classrooms. And the grade with the most participants will win a special trophy to display at school!

This Halloween, Join the Reverse Trick-or-Treat!

Trick-or-treaters can give chocolate BACK to adults this Halloween...Fair Trade chocolate, attached to a card with thanks and information on how Fair Trade certified chocolate presents a solution to problems faced by cocoa-growing communities, such as poverty, child labor and environmental degradation. The kits are free to participating individuals, schools, congregations, and youth groups, who pay only postage. This new tradition is a wonderful way for trick-or-treaters to give back to their communities...and the world...bringing important meaning to the holiday.
Deadline to order kits for individuals: Monday, October 13
Reverse Trick-or-Treating is organized by the human rights and environmental organization Global Exchange. To order kits or for more information, please visit Also visit this website to find excellent educational resources for families and teachers on the subject of fair trade cocoa.
Please contact the Amherst Fair Trade Partnership at if you participate so you can be added to their count!

Community Event: Budget Choices Committee

The Budget Choices / Community Voices committee is studying the town's economic situation. They are polling the citizens in the town as to what choices we would like to make regarding our budget shortfalls. Spend money on schools? Roads? Raise taxes?

They are having a bunch of meetings to discuss all this (including the Oct. 8th Crocker Farm PGO meeting), but if you can't attend, here is a *VERY EASY* way to get your 2 cents in....Take this online survey, it takes about 2 minutes.

Go to the Budget Choices Committee website.