Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays To All!

May you have a marvelous, magical time with your families and friends during vacation.

Back to school on January 5, 2009!

Click here to see 2009 Crocker Farm events for your new calendars.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gazette story: Reorganization

Panel convened in Amherst to look at options for schools
By mcarey
Created 12/22/2008 - 05:22

AMHERST- A newly-formed committee will meet on Dec. 29 and Dec. 30 to discuss possible elementary school reorganization plans before the public and School Committee weigh in next month.
In the interest of trimming costs in face of a projected $1.2 million elementary schools budget shortfall, Interim Co-superintendent Helen Vivian has said she believes it is time to pursue one of several reorganization scenarios discussed in recent years.
The idea of pairing the four elementary schools and having children in lower grades attend one of the schools in each pair with children in the higher grades attending the other appeared to be the most viable plan, Vivian said earlier this month.
She suggested Fort River might be paired with Crocker Farm and Mark's Meadow with Wildwood. That move could save up to $400,000, because the number of classes could be reduced by four or five, Vivian said.
The committee will also consider three other options, including not reorganizing the schools, closing Mark's Meadow and creating three kindergarten-through-fourth grade schools and one intermediate school for fifth and sixth graders.
Committee members include Amherst School Committee Chairman Andrew Churchill and member Catherine Sanderson, the four elementary school principals, co-superintendents and parents and teachers from each of the schools.
"I can't think of anything that creates more concern for parents than change involving the structure and organization of the elementary schools. It's obviously something that is anxiety-provoking for children, teachers and parents," Sanderson, a parent of three elementary school children, said.
Vivian, in a prepared statement, said that the magnitude of the projected budget shortfall would mean that "small steps such as raising fees, cutting school buses, and other commonly suggested steps will not be sufficient" to close the gap.
If reorganizing the elementary schools does not prove possible or if it does not result in substantial savings, class sizes would likely be larger and cuts deeper, Vivian said.
Even if the pairing plan produced savings of $400,000 there would still be a "sobering" amount to cut, Vivian said.
Sanderson and Churchill as well as school principals, teachers, parents and former Supt. Jere Hochman served on a committee, last year, that weighed various reorganization options. An executive summary of its report can be seen at [1] .
The district also commissioned a study in 2007 by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) evaluating the current school configuration.
Data from both efforts will be used in the decision-making process.
Among the data Sanderson said would be important to weigh are comparative cost savings, how long children would be on buses and the socio-economic and ethnic distribution of the schools' populations under the reconfiguration plans.
Currently, the schools have very different profiles. About half of students at Crocker Farm qualify for free and reduced lunch, a much higher percentage than at the other schools, for example. Students are also voluntarily bussed outside their neighborhoods depending on their first language.
Spanish-speaking students are invited to attend Crocker Farm, while Khmer-speaking students may attend Fort River, Chinese-speaking students Wildwood and Korean speakers Mark's Meadow.
Mary Carey can be reached at [2].
Daily Hampshire Gazette © 2008 All rights reserved

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What a Great Show!

Thank you to Ms. Zsigmondi and all of the wonderful singers, dancers and musicians who put on a fantastic and uplifting show today. There's a whole lot of talent at Crocker Farm! Hope you got a chance to enjoy it too.

Snow Day Friday 12/19

Can you believe it?
See you on the sledding hill!
Back to school on Monday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thursday 12/18 All School Music

All School Musical Showcase - Dec. 18th 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: 1 Hour Delay this morning.

Have your kids at the bus stop 1 hour after their normal pick up time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can You Spare 20 Minutes To Help?

Looking for parent volunteers to assist in rinsing the milk cartons to be recycled on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The ideal time is during the last lunch period (12:45 ish) for about 20 minutes. Please contact Ricci Mastroianni at if you can help. Thank you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Studying School Reorganization

Last year a committee made up of educators and parents worked at examining possible reorganization options for the elementary schools. The Executive Summary of the report is on the school website here. If you would like to see the full 15 page report, email me and I'll send it to you.
Within a few weeks the Superintendent's will be holding further meetings to examine the feasibility of moving forward with some form of reorganization and if you would like to be a part of it or have any ideas, or questions and concerns, please email them directly

Three Cheers For Our Teachers

Amherst Education FOUNDATION (AEF) Development committee introduces:
Three Cheers For Our Teachers

Sure, there are a thousand reasons to thank a teacher this holiday season, but here are three to get you started:

If you make a gift in honor of a teacher (or up to three) by December 31, AEF will: 1) match all contributions from new donors, 2) notify teachers of your generosity in their honor, and 3) send you a receipt for your tax-deductible contribution to the Amherst Education Foundation, Inc.

You can log onto AEF's website or simply mail your donation to AEF
P.O. Box 2237. Amherst, MA 01004.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Amherstopoly Update

The committee working on the Amherstopoly board game has already made a number of connections to Amherst businesses and is in the process of reserving spaces! Now we are looking for help from our school communities!

1. Look through this list below. If you have a personal connection to any of the businesses listed here please get in touch with Becky Demling and she will give you the information you need to approach them about this wonderful and unique marketing opportunity!

2. If you know of a business that's not on this list let Becky know. We may have contacted them already, but we may need to add them to the list!

Thank you,
Becky (, 230-3306)

Alan Nathanson Sharpe, Atty at Law / Albano & Szumowski, P.C. / All About Learning / Amherst Chinese / Amherst Coffee / Amherst Family Practice / Amherst Insurance / Amherst Martial Arts / Amherst Wine and Spirits / Applewood Retirement Community / Arigato Sushi / Attorney Julia Rueschemeyer / Avicenna Skin Care Studio / Bank of Western MA / Blair Cutting and Smith Insurance / Charlies Pub / Chez Albert / China Dynasty / CISA Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture / Clays Clothing Store / Crazy Noodles / Egan, Flanagan and Cohen, P. C. / Elements Hot Tub and Spa / Felicity Hardee/ Bulkley, Richardson, and Gelinas, LLP / Florence Savings Bank / Fresh Side / Greenfield Coop / Greenfield Savings / Hair by Harlow / Henion Bakery / J. Austin Antiques / Jonathan A. Abbott, Esq. / Knowles Flower Shop / La Veracruzana Mexican Restaurant / Laughing Dog Bike Shop / Law Office of Lawrence J. Farber / Law Offices of Gary D. Gruber / Lone Wolf Restaurant / Loose Goose Café / Mary G. Klaes- Attorney & Mediator / Matthieu J. Massengill, P.C. / Moan & Dove / Monkey Bar & Grill / Northampton Savings / Panda East Chinese Restaurant / Paradise of India / Pasta e Basta / Pearson Evaluation Systems / Peoples Bank / Pioneer Valley Driving School / Princeton Review Testing / Rafters / Robert E. Young, Attorney at Law / Shaolin Kung Fu of Amherst / Silverscape Designs / Souper Bowl / Stamell Stringed Instruments / Stanley Kaplan Testing / T.D. BankNorth / Teagno Construction / Teryaki House / Thai Corner / The Amherst Grocery Store / The Hangar / The Pub Restaurant / The Spoke / The Sub / Valley Medical Group / Yoga Center Amherst / Ziomek & Ziomek, Attorneys at Law / UMASS Five College Credit Union

Friday, December 12, 2008

School Closed Today!

No School Today: Friday Dec. 12. Sleep in, drive safely; see you on Monday.

See the Menu on the right side of this blog for links to media outlets with "School Closings and Delays Info".

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tonight's PGO Meeting Cancelled!

Oh the weather outside is frightful... so we have cancelled tonight's PGO Meeting.

If you are one of those fantastic people who baked for the Bus Driver Appreciation Bags then please consider putting your cookies in the freezer & we'll find a date next week to assemble the bags (and if you dropped something off at the school then we'll freeze them for you).

The scheduled guests from the AEF will be visiting us in January.

Thank you for baking and understanding! Any questions, email Erika (

Monday, December 8, 2008

PGO Meeting on Thursday

PGO Meeting on Thurs., December 11th @ 6:30 in the Community Room
AEF Focus Group on Thurs., December 11th @ 7:15 in the Community Room

Join us for the December PGO meeting on Thursday evening. We will be filling treat bags for our bus and van drivers as a way to say thank you for their work. We’ll also be discussing the Wednesday Clubs and our line up of events and activities for the spring.

Then stay on for a short discussion with the AEF. "As part of its strategic planning process, The Amherst Education Foundation (AEF) is seeking input from as many parents as possible about its future direction and focus. Your input is critical as AEF plans for ways to enhance its support for Amherst schools. Please join us for a half hour focus group during which we will ask for your thoughts on critical school needs and how AEF can best help."

The AEF raised and donated significant funds to our school over the last couple of years. Please take the time to come and support this group in their efforts to improve the quality of our schools.

Childcare will be provided for both events.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Attention All Bus / Van Riders!

If your children ride the bus then PLEASE SEND IN 1 OR 2 DOZEN HOMEMADE COOKIES on Thursday Dec. 11th (or bring them to the PGO Meeting at 6:30). The PGO will be filling goodie bags to show our appreciation for the wonderful BUS AND VAN DRIVERS that transport our wee ones so carefully each day. Have your kids drop off the treats in the Main Office & we'll pick them up. Questions? Please call Erika 256-1045 or

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Crocker Farm PGO is spearheading an effort with Fort River, Marks Meadow and Wildwood Schools to create an Amherstopoly Board Game! If you are a business owner or if you know of a business that would like to sponsor a property on the board let us know!! Contact Becky Demling ( for more info. We hope to have the game ready for sale in March 09 - just in time for Amherst's 250th Birthday! More info at

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Good News

Stop&Shop reports that 61 households have signed up to support Crocker Farm in it's A+ BonusBucks program. So far we've earned a whopping $304.77! If you're still holding out for some reason click here to sign up. CF's id# is 05194.

Help Wanted!

There are a number of volunteer opportunities coming up at Crocker Farm. Take a look to see where you fit in!

MLK Celebration:
The Assembly Committee and the students put on an incredible Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration every year. They are looking for adults to help with the breakfast and setting up the assembly on Thursday January 15. Contact Kathleen Stinson if you can help out!

Our music teacher Ms. Zsigmondi is also looking for someone to film the event for ACTV. If you’re handy around the video camera please let her know! The school has equipment or you could use your own. is her email.

Scholastic Book Fair:
In May we’ll have our annual Book Fair which earns over $1000 in books for our teachers. It’s headed up by a team of volunteers & this year we are looking for 2 new co-coordinators to “job shadow” Stacy & Doreen (whos kids are graduating this year). The Book Fair is a quick, but intense event. Learning the ropes this year will make things much smoother for next year. Note that this event will not happen without new leadership. Contact Erika if you’re interested (

Wednesday Clubs:
The PGO is working with Mr. Morris to start an after-school clubs program. We need grown ups to share their skills! Do you knit? Love to jump rope? Like to draw? Enjoy baking? Play chess? Have fun with math games? or know someone who does? The clubs will run from 1:20 – 3:00 for 7 Wednesdays starting in February. We are hoping to have small stipends available for anyone who runs a club. Please get in touch with Mr. Morris, Becky ( or Erika if you have an idea to share (

Monday, December 1, 2008

Shopping Reminders

Do a little holiday shopping with our Gift Card Fundraiser! If you like to give gift cards as presents or want to do your own shopping with them, just click HERE & start shopping!! Remember that it doesn't cost you anything extra, but when you buy your cards through the fundraiser the stores give a little bit back to the school. There are zillions of stores from gas to groceries, clothing to books... Check it out!

Don’t miss the annual Merry Maple Celebration of Lights!

Friday Dec. 5: Merry Maple Celebration of Lights!

4:00pm: A children's parade will start from Kendrick Park and march to Town Hall. Children are invited to wear festive costumes (but they’re not required).

4:30pm: The ARMS Chorus will perform at Town Hall where a large tree will be lit with colored lights.

5:30pm: The UMass Minuteman Marching Band will herald the arrival of Santa Claus on an Amherst fire truck.

Refreshments (including hot cider, donuts, hot chocolate and coffee) are available for a fee. And the Roberts family will offer horse-drawn rides downtown for a fee.

6:00pm: Children of all ages can meet with Santa at the Amherst History Museum on Amity St. for hot chocolate. Admission is free.

All evening: Family Outreach of Amherst is holding its annual toy drive, which serves more than 500 needy children. New and unwrapped toys, clothing, sporting equipment, books and games for infants through teens. Families that could use help providing toys for their children can sign up at Family Outreach by calling 549-5999.