Monday, December 29, 2014

Florence Bank Community Choice Grants - Final days to vote!

Florence Bank (FSB) currently has voting for the Customers Choice Community Grants ($100,000 in total; up to $5000 per organization) that they give out each year to area non-profits.  Voting is through Wednesday, Dec 31st

If you are an FSB customer, please consider voting for the Amherst Regional Public Public Schools PGO. (you have to type it in; it's not in the pre-populated list). 

To vote, visit:

If the ARPS PGO is one of the top vote getters & receives one of these grants, the money will be shared among the ARPS PGO schools. Thanks for your support!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Read-a-Thon Appreciation

Crocker Farm's Librarian, Ms. McQuaid, recently sent out certificates of appreciation to all of last summer's Read-a-Thon participants.  In total, 82 students participated in the Read-a-Thon, reading hundreds, if not thousands, of books combined over the summer.   

The Read-a-Thon raised $3,039 for new books for our library.   Thank you, Read-a-Thon participants, and many thanks to the family and friends who sponsored your summer reading.    Ms. McQuaid helped find sponsors for any students who needed them, and did a fantastic job coordinating the Read-a-Thon.   Thank you, Ms. McQuaid.

Happy reading to all! 

Amherst Survival Center's BOOST program for school vacations

 Kids School Vacation Boost

If your child/children (5-17 years old) receive free/reduced price school meals, your family may be interested in knowing more about the Amherst Survival Center BOOST program that gives families extra food in their monthly Food Pantry distribution in months that have a school vacation:

Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Road in North Amherst

Food Pantry Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Friday: 11am-3pm; Thursday: 11am – 7pm; December 20: 9:30am-11:30am;

ASC Food Pantry Towns: Amherst, Belchertown, Deerfield, Granby, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Deerfield, South Hadley, Sunderland, Whately, Ware

Tel: 413-549-3968

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December letter from the PGO

December 2014
Dear Crocker Farm Families,

As we, the Crocker Farm Parent and Guardian Organization (PGO), look back on the months since school started, we think about the wonderful events we have had so far this year. We feel thankful for the volunteers and families who have participated in them, and so thankful too to be part of such a great school community. 

** Our fall started with a back-to-school coffee for all Crocker Farm families, and a lovely PGO gathering hosted by parent Sue Bernier at her downtown store, B. Home. Thank you, Sue!

** In October, we held a Harvest Fest to celebrate Crocker Farm’s garden and the fall harvest. It was a beautiful, chilly day (though less chilly than last year!) and we had a good turnout. There were craft activities, musical performances and an open mic, and much delicious hearty fall food prepared by parents. The event couldn’t have happened without our parent bakers or Harvest fest coordinator, parent Heather Lord, and her student volunteers. We thank them all!

** In November, we hosted a school bookfair at the Hadley Barnes & Noble. It was a fundraiser, yes (& thanks to those who supported it!), but it was also an opportunity to see some great singing and improv performances. Many thanks to Mr. Zsigmondi, Miss Leticia, Becca Greene-Van Horn and the student performers for participating in this event. Their wonderful music and voices could be heard throughout the store.  

**Also in November, we conducted a winter coat/clothing share, which was coordinated with the other Amherst public schools and the ARPS Family Center, to serve as many families as possible.  At Crocker Farm, we received more than 90 coats, 20 pairs of snowpants, 30 pairs of boots, 40 hats, plus gloves/mittens, scarves, and warm sweaters and fleeces. A big thanks to everyone in the Crocker Farm community who donated used (or new – wow!!) items for the share, and thanks as well to the Amherst Lions Club and the Evaluation Systems group at Pearson who collected coats and clothing on the schools’ behalf. Most of the donated items went to Crocker Farm families; the rest were shared with the other schools and the ARPS Family Center for their families.

**At the beginning of December, the ARPS PGO, a non-profit organization including the PGOs for Crocker Farm (including the district-wide preschool), Wildwood, the Middle School, and High School participated in ValleyGives, a one-day online fundraising event organized by the Community Foundation of Western Mass to support area non-profits. We earned more than $600 for our elementary school, and $300 for the preschool. Thank you to everyone who donated! If you still would like to give and didn’t yet, you can visit the ARPS PGO Valley Gives site to make a donation ( (go under “See all projects” for school-specific pages).  All money raised by the PGOs from ValleyGives goes to help fund field trips and mini-grants for teachers and staff for classroom materials and special projects.
For ValleyGives, the PGOs created nice slideshows of our schools. You can view them on the ValleyGives link above or at the following links: Crocker Farm:; and preschool: Many thanks to parent/pre-K staff member Becky Demling and her family for their hard work on the slideshows, and to Becky for her great leadership of the ARPS PGO.
Speaking of leadership, Debbie Gilmore recently stepped down from the PGO Board due to other obligations. We miss her energy and enthusiasm already. If anyone is interested in serving on the Board or helping with upcoming PGO events, we would welcome your help, so please get in touch. The PGO relies on parent volunteers for all we do. There are many ways to volunteer and even helping for just an hour or two can make a big difference.

Upcoming events/activities for the PGO include:
--- Chess club. (For 1st-6th graders). Sessions will be starting up in mid-January; registration forms should be returned by Tuesday, Dec 23rd. Parent volunteers welcome; chess expertise not required.
---  Amherst Lions Club Ski & Skate Sale, at Crocker Farm, scheduled for Jan 9th and 10th.This is a fundraiser for the Lions Club and their grants to our schools, and a fundraiser for the Crocker Farm PGO as well. Volunteers are needed to help setup, cleanup, and during the sale. People will also be able to donate or consign their ski and skate items for the sale.  More details to come. 
--- Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on January 15th. The PGO usually helps with this event. Details coming soon.
---  PGO Coffee with the Principal and special guest Superintendent Maria Geryk, Jan 29th, 8:45 am; all parents and small children welcome.

Wishing everyone happy holidays and a restful vacation break.
Best regards,

Your Crocker Farm PGO Board (2014-2015)
Tracy Zafian & Alicia Lopez

Florence Bank Community Choice Grants - Vote for your favorite non-profit through Dec 31st

Florence Bank (FSB) currently has voting for the Customers Choice Community Grants ($100,000 in total; up to $5000 per organization) that they give out each year to area non-profits.  Voting is through Dec 31st. 

If you are an FSB customer, please consider voting for the Amherst Regional Public Public Schools PGO. (you have to type it in; it's not in the pre-populated list). 

If the ARPS PGO is one of the top vote getters & receives one of these grants, the money will be shared among the ARPS PGO schools. Thanks for your support!

Afterschool Chess Club - Deadline to Signup is Tues, 12/23

The chess club will run afterschool on Fridays January-March, and is open to students in grades 1-6.

The signup form is available in the Crocker Farm office (PGO mailbox) or can be downloaded here

If you have any questions, please contact the PGO,

December Crocker Chronicles

The full Crocker Chronicles can be downloaded here: (link)

December 2014

December is a busy time at Crocker Farm! Here’s a snapshot of some of the happenings during this month:
*** Thanks to Ms. Zsigmondi who put on a fabulous performance with our 4th and 5th grade singers this week!
*** Our 6th grade Chorus performance is Tuesday, December 16th at 6:30pm in our cafeteria.
*** Our Reading Intervention Team put on a Title I sponsored Family Celebration for students who receive reading intervention on Thursday, December 11th. Students were able to share what they’ve been working on with their families.
***Many of our classrooms are having year end celebrations highlighting special projects and honoring each other.
***Our 3rd grade teachers collaborated to create an experience for all their students connected to their study of the Wampanoag? The teachers created a “long house” in each classroom and divided the students into clans. Students were able to experience some of Wampanoag life.
***Many thanks to our 6th grade students who offer a multitude of community service throughout our building – from mentoring younger children to working in the library and lunch room to organizing our Lost and Found. Our oldest students are giving back to our community in a positive way.

This month, all Amherst Elementary Schools will present their School Improvement Plans to the School Committee. This plan was developed in collaboration with our School Governance Council, Administrators and SILT (School Instructional Leadership Team). We are proposing the following mission:
We, at Crocker Farm Elementary School believe in promoting high achievement for all of our students. We recognize that each child is an individual; that all children are creative; that all children have the potential to succeed through support, dedication and hard work. For this to occur, we, at Crocker Farm School, commit to examining our
practices focusing on the following three goals:
--- Goal 1: We will ensure a positive classroom and school wide climate for every student.
--- Goal 2: We will align curriculum with standards and evidence based practices.
--- Goal 3: We will provide engaging and inclusive instruction in every classroom.

After the School Committee has approved our plan, we would like to share more about the strategies, resources needed, persons responsible and timelines for all of this work. In January, every family will receive a copy of the School Improvement Plan. Many thanks to all the groups of people including parents and teachers who helped create this plan.
Just a reminder, that the last day of school before Winter Break is Tuesday, December 23rd – a full day of school. We will look forward to seeing your children on Monday, January 5th.

Wishing you a restful and enjoyable break with family and friends.
Derek Shea, Principal Sharri Conklin, Assistant Principal

Crónicas de la escuela de Crocker Farm - Diciembre

boletín informativo entero aquí (aqui)

Diciembre 2014

El mes de diciembre es ocupadísimo aquí en la escuela Crocker Farm. Aquí les mandamos a Ustedes los detalles del calendario del invierno:

*** Les mandamos las gracias a Ms. Zsigmondi. Ella se encargó de montar un espectáculo de música realizado por nuestro coro de grados 4 y 5 el miércoles 10 de diciembre.
*** El coro del sexto grado nos darán un concierto mañana, día martes, 16 de diciembre en la cafetería a las seis y media de la tarde
*** El grupo de maestras de intervención para la lectura y título uno, ofrecieron una cena y noche de comunidad el jueves, 11 de diciembre. Los alumnos compartieron sus deberes con las familias.
*** Algunos de nuestras clases tienen celebraciones para enfocar en los proyectos del semestre.
*** Los maestros de tercer grado colaboraron para crear una experiencia única en sus clases. Transformaron el espacio de las tres aulas en un “long house” de la tribu Wampanoag. Los alumnos se separaron en grupos indignos del clan e intentaron
tener una experiencia de la vida cotidiana de los indignos.
*** Les mandamos las gracias a los alumnos del sexto grado. Sus servicios hacia la comunidad ayudan a todos nosotros. Guían a los alumnos más jóvenes, ayudan a organizar la biblioteca, y dirijan el esfuerzo de reciclaje en la hora de almuerzo.

Estamos orgullosos de sus esfuerzos y somos afortunados que los chicos nos ayudan a desarrollar una comunidad positiva.

Este mes, las escuelas elementarías de Amherst presentaran su plan de mejorar la escuela ha comité de las escuelas de Amherst. Este plan se formuló en colaboración con el grupo de aviso para la dirección de la escuela Crocker Farm, los administradores, y SILT (El grupo que se enfoca en la instrucción y guía la visión para el futuro de Crocker Farm / School Instructional Leadership Team). Proponemos la siguiente misión:
Nosotros, aquí en la escuela elemental de Crocker Farm deseamos que todos los alumnos lleguen a un nivel alto de sus metas y que logren a esas metas individuales. Reconocemos que cada niño es un individual; todos los niños son creativos; todos los niños tienen la capacidad de lograr éxitos con el apoyo, dedicación y sus esfuerzos mayores. Para que todo esto ocurra, nosotros, aquí en Crocker Farm, nos dedicamos a examinar nuestras prácticas diarias y nos enfocamos en las siguientes metas:
--- Meta #1: Nos aseguramos de que cada clase sea una clase positiva y que el medioambiente en nuestra escuela sea positiva para todos los alumnos.
--- Meta #2: Alinear las prácticas diarias con el currículo y las prácticas que se basen en la evidencia.
--- Meta #3: Ofrecemos instrucción inclusiva y atractiva en cada clase.

Después de que el comité de las escuelas de Amherst aprueba nuestro plan, les compartiremos más sobre las estrategias, recursos y los individuales responsables para que las metas se realicen en nuestra escuela. Durante el mes de enero, cada familia recibirá una copia del plan completo de como mejoraremos nuestra escuela. Les damos las gracias a todos los grupos quienes se enfocaron en desarrollar este plan completo – especialmente los padres y los maestros.

Les recordamos de que el ultimo día de escuela antes de las vacaciones de diciembre es el día martes, 23 de diciembre – un día completo de escuela (8:50am – 3:10pm). Nos quedamos pendientes de ver a sus hijos de vuelta en la escuela el lunes, 5 de enero. Les deseamos unas vacaciones llenas de descanso y memorias lindas con familiares y amigos.

Todo lo mejor,
Derek Shea, Principal
Sharri Conklin, Asistente al Principal

LSSE Winter Rec Basketball & Skiing Programs

Please contact LSSE for more info. 

(click to enlarge)

Minutes from the December all-PGO Meeting with District Staff

ARPS PGO Meeting,  12/16/2014
Facilitator: Marta Guevara                                                              
Recorder: Kimberly Stender

Participants: Lynn Hayes ARHS;  Victoria Cliché  ARMS; Laura Wear ARMS; Tracy Zafian CF; Liz Larson  FR; Becky Schneider FR     
Sean Mangano; ARPS Finance Director; Leah Carver, ARPS Asst Finance Director 

1.      Intros/Review of Agenda & Norms: Kim welcomed everyone and reviewed the agenda.

2.      Dialogues/Discussions

A. Victoria thanked Becky Demling for moving the 501(c)3 process along successfully and for her Valley Gives efforts. Leah Carver and Sean Mangano answered questions from PGO members relating to field trip grants, Stop & Shop funds, school photo monies, principals account lines, Amherst Cultural Council grants, classroom school supply requests from teachers, food requests for non-district school events, PGO purchases for school equipment, etc.   Leah explained the intricacies of the grant process involving ACC and field trips. Marta will remind Dr. Rhonda Cohen (Director of Teaching & Learning) to confer with principals regarding curriculum-based field trips. Marta and Kim offered to review grant requests for school supplies on behalf of PGOs, principals and admin. Sean explained the appropriated budget and a potential financial schedule impacting PGO yearly planning. Sean will work with principals to align building practices and remind teachers not to ask PGOs for supplies, etc. Sean advised the PGOs meet together to discuss and align financial practices for consistency. Sean and Leah are available to answer questions or clarify financial issues via email. They can be reached at or Sean reminded PGOs that the Business Office can help somewhat but cannot devote a great deal of time to assisting non-profits due to state mandates.  Sean and Leah will attend the March 23 meeting. Victoria asked if ARPS could fund a grant writer. 

B.     The Warm Winter Clothing Drive was very successful with many families receiving appropriately-sized jackets, boots, etc at each school. There is always a great need for snow pants, boots and gloves. The PSA should be taped earlier and an earlier start date (mid-October 2015) should be considered. School guidance counselors should be more proactive and the ARPS Family Center could be more aligned and help with distribution.

C.     Athletic Equipment Swap was discussed with a target date of March 2015 (between winter and spring seasons). Ideas were initiated and it was decide that a planning group meet in early January. Kim sent 2 dates (Jan 6 & Jan 8) and is awaiting replies before confirming the planning meeting. Rich Ferro and PE teachers support this event which could be scheduled at ARMS.

NEXT ALL PGO MEETING: March 23, 2015  1pm-2pm    Supt’s Conference Room

Valley Gives Wrap Up

Many, many THANKS to everyone that supported the ARPS PGO and its member schools (including Crocker Farm) on Valley Gives Day! 

The ARPS PGO did great for our first Valley Gives.  The ARPS PGO schools together had 180 donors & raised close to $8,400 including ValleyGives bonus money. The Crocker Farm PGO earned more than $600 for the elementary school & $300 for the preschool.   The money we earned will go to help subsidize field trips to make them available to all students, and to fund mini-grants to teachers for classroom materials and special projects.

If you donated on Valley Gives, the organizers of Valley Gives (the Community Foundation of Western Mass) ask that you 
take a few minutes to give some feedback on ValleyGives & get a chance at winning $500 for your favorite charity!

Please share your experience via the ValleyGives donor survey at 
Donors completing the survey will be entered into a random drawing to win an additional prize of $500 for their favorite nonprofit.  

If you meant to give on Valley Gives Day and didn't get to it, you can still make a donation at this link.  

Also, for ValleyGives, the PGOs created nice online slideshows of our schools.   If you haven't seen them yet, you can view them at the ValleyGives ARPS PGO linkoo or directly at the following you tube links:
Crocker Farm: ::
District preschool at Crocker Farm: st

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Final Coffee...

...of the calendar year! Come to Crocker Farm tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 9 for your eggnog-in-coffee, freshly-baked-pumpkin-bread, chatting-with-other-CF-parents fix.

Questions about your child's social-emotional development? We've got the guidance counselor and school adjustment counselor there tomorrow for that!

Questions about school-related concerns, puzzles, or accolades? We've got Mr. Shea there tomorrow for that!

Questions about what the best song is on the Downton Abbey Christmas Album? We've got Ms. Conklin there for that!

Hope to see you there!

(And any little pre-school elves who live at your house are always welcome, too.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Week at Crocker Farm & ARPS

This Week @ Crocker Farm:
Tuesday (12/16): 6th grade chorus concert, 9:30 am, & 6:30 pm
Wed (12/17): School Governance Council meeting, 7:30 am
Thurs (12/18): PGO Coffee with the principal & our special guest Tara Luce & Toby Bobbitt, 9 am, community room (link)
Friday (12/19): Deadline for donating to our holiday food drive. Drop off in the school lobby.  (more info here)

This Week @ ARPS:
Tues (12/16):  Amherst School Committee meeting, 6 pm, ARHS Library.  Agenda posted here:  (agenda link)
    Agenda includes presentation of the district and school improvement plans, & a presentation on MCAS scores
Wed (12/17):  SEPAC Workshop, 6:30 pm.  More info here:  (workshop info)

PGO Food collection for the school break - through this Friday

Crocker Farm Parents & Guardians Organization Food Drive

Can you donate a can of food or two?
How about a box of cereal?

The Crocker Farm PGO is sponsoring a week‐long pre‐vacation food drive to help Crocker Farm families in need of food assistance during the December school break.

Food Collection boxes will be in the lobby of Crocker Farm
through Friday, December 19th.

If you would like to donate money instead of food, please make
checks payable to the “Crocker Farm PGO”, subject line “Food
Drive”. All donations will be spent on food for families in need.

If your family could use some assistance during the holiday break, please reach out to Toby Bobbitt ( or Tara Luce (, phone number: 362‐1600.

Suggested donation items: Meals in a can (stew, chili, soup), tuna and other canned meat, low sugar cereals, canned fruit packed in juice, canned vegetables (low salt), beans, rice, pasta.

El grupo de padres y guardianes de la escuela Crocker Farm colección de comidas

El grupo de padres y guardianes de la escuela Crocker Farm
colección de comidas

¿Puedes donar una lata o dos de comida?
¿Tal vez una caja de cereales?

El grupo de padres y guardianes de la escuela Crocker Farm
hace una colección de comidas en latas y cajas para familias de
la escuela quienes necesitan ayuda durante las vacaciones de

La cajas de colección se pueden encontrar a la entrada de la
escuela Crocker Farm hasta el viernes, 19 de diciembre de

Si usted prefiere donar dinero, por favor de hacer los cheques a “Crocker
Farm PGO”. Todas las donaciones se gasta en alimentos para las familias en necesidad.

Si su familia necesita asistencia durante las vacaciones de invierno por favor comunicase con Toby Bobbitt ( o Tara Luce
(, número de teléfono 362‐1600.

SEPAC Workshop, Dec 17th

SEPAC Workshop, Wed, 12/17, 6:30 pm

Understanding Services & Benefits for Children & Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Open to all in the community!
Location: ARMS, Professional Development Room
Time: 6:30pm- 8:00pm

This presentation is an opportunity to learn from the Department of Public Health and Regional Consultation Program Director about State and Local Resources & Benefits available to support children and youth with special health care needs. Come share your experiences and learn about how others have accessed other care.

8:00pm-8:30pm: General Meeting
1. Introductions
2. Approve Minutes
3. Update from School Committee meeting
4. Update on SEPAC Workshops
5. Elections for open positions
6. Other

8:30pm to 9:00pm: Parent Support Group

If you have any questions, please contact Nancy Stewart at

Monday, December 15, 2014

This! Thursday! Eggnog!

Would you enjoy a splash of eggnog in your hot morning coffee?
Could you use some gluten-free fresh baked scones?
Have some questions for Mr. Shea, 
guidance counselor Tara Luce, 
or adjustment counselor Toby Bobbitt?

Did we mention there'd be eggnog??

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ValleyGives - today!

It's still early, but right now (as of 8 am) the ARPS PGOs are in the running for one of the special Valley Gives prizes, in the 'small non-profits' category, given to the organizations with the most individual donors (unique donors based on email address). We have 61 unique donors so far. If we can keep up this momentum and finish in the top 3 in terms of unique donors among 'small non-profits', we could win an extra $3,000-$5,000 for our PGOs. Wow!  

Plus, there is also a $25 match for the first 1,920 donations by new donors to ValleyGives. Every donation ($10+) counts! Donations to the Crocker Farm PGO and other ARPS PGOs/preschool go to those schools/programs, and also count towards the ARPS PGO totals for ValleyGives prizes.

Thank you for your support!  

Crocker Farm PGO's ValleyGives website:

District Preschool/Early Education Center at Crocker

ARPS PGO ValleyGives website:

Agendas for School Equity Task Force & SEPAC Meetings

School Equity Task Force Meeting
Tonight, Wed, Dec 10th, 6 pm, ARHS Library
Meeting is open to all in the community! 

Meeting Agenda:
6:00-6:10 - Welcome/Introductions
6:10-6:20 – Update & discussion of next steps on budget priorities
6:20-7:15 – Discussion of current/planned equity-focused PD at ARPS  (Maria Geryk, Pat Romney, Monica Hall, Carol Ross)
7:15-7:50 – Subcommittee Updates
7:50-8:00 – Next steps

Special Education Parents Advisory Council (SEPAC) Meeting
Fri, Dec 11th,  9 am, ARMS, Professional Development Room

Meeting is open to all in the community!

Executive Board Meeting Agenda:
1.  Introductions
2.  Follow-up from email regarding school assemblies
3.  Issue/complaint protocol
4.  MTEL survey (more general education support from students on IEPS)
5.  Co-teaching rollout SEPAC support
6.  SE Budget
7.  Other

Monday, December 8, 2014

This Week & Upcoming @ Crocker Farm & ARPS

Crocker Farm:
Mon, 12/8:  a.m. deadline for Dean's Beans orders
Tues, 12/9, 2 pm: 4th & 5th grade chorus concert
Wed, 12/10, 6:30 pm:  4th & 5th grade chorus concert
Wed, 12/10, early dismissal, 1:20 pm
Thurs, 12/11, 6 pm: event for reading intervention students & their families
Tues, 12/16, 9:30 am & 6:30 pm: 6th grade chorus concert 
Thurs, 12/18, PGO coffee with special guests Tara Luce & Toby Bobbitt
Tues, 12/23, last day of school until 2015

Tues, 12/9, 6 pm, Amherst Reg. School Committee Meeting (link to agenda here)
Wed, 12/10, 6 pm, School Equity Task Force Meeting, ARHS Library
Tues, 12/16, Amherst School Committee Meeting

ValleyGives This Wed - Details

ValleyGives Day:  December 10th

ValleyGives Web Sites:
Crocker Farm PGO:   (Enjoy the Crocker Farm pictures and video at this link!)


Amherst Education Foundation:

On ValleyGives Day (Dec 10th), when a donor comes to the Valley Gives website and makes a gift to his or her favorite nonprofits between 12 AM and 11:59 PM on December 10th, that gift will be added up along with all the thousands of other gifts being made to nonprofits in western Massachusetts throughout the day. At the end of 24 hours, the nonprofits that have the most unique donors will be rewarded with special grants from a prize pool which consists of up to $225,000 in awards.

Throughout the day, donors will be randomly chosen and their gift will be amplified with a Golden Ticket, adding $500.  Power hours are from 10 am-11 am, noon-1 pm, 4-5 pm, and 6-7 pm.  There is also a special power hour from 9-10 pm (for a $1,000 Golden Ticket).

Amherst Survival Center - BOOST program for school vacation weeks

Kids School Vacation Boost

If your child/children (5-17 years old) receive free/reduced price school meals, your family may be interested in knowing more about the Amherst Survival Center BOOST program that gives families extra food in months that have a school vacation:

Amherst Survival Center, 138 Sunderland Road in North Amherst

Food Pantry Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Friday: 11am-3pm; Thursday: 11am – 7pm; December 20: 9:30am-11:30am;

ASC Food Pantry Towns: Amherst, Belchertown, Deerfield, Granby, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Deerfield, South Hadley, Sunderland, Whately, Ware

Tel: 413-549-3968

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Dec 10th

From the Amherst Human Rights Commission

You are invited to join in the annual public reading of the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 6:00 pm
Amherst Town Common in front of Town Hall

Each year on the anniversary of its adoption by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948 our Amherst Human Rights Commissioners invite community members to join us in making a public statement about our belief in "Human Rights for Every Person Everywhere".  We take a few minutes each December 10th to read the 30 articles included in this Declaration which begins: 

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
We look forward to reading with you on December 10th!
Amherst Human Rights Commission meets every 3rd Thursday, Bangs Community Center, room 101.

Programa para las vacaciones escolares del Amherst Survival Center

Si su(s) niño(s) reciben beneficios de comida en la escuela, usted quería saber sobre un nuevo Programa para las vacaciones escolares del Amherst Survival Center que le da alimentos adicionales a familias con niños en edad escolar (de 5 a 17 años) en Diciembre.

Incremento Para Las Vacaciones Escolares para Niños

Regístrese en nuestra
Despensa Comunitaria de Alimentos:
Amherst Survival Center

138 Sunderland Road en North Amherst

Horas de la Despensa Comunitaria de Alimentos
Lunes, Martes, Viernes 11am-3pm
Jueves 11am-7pm
20 de Diciembre: 9:30am-11:30am

Elegible si reside en las siguientes localidades: Amherst, Belchertown, Deerfield,
Granby, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, South Deerfield, South Hadley,
Sunderland, Whately o Ware.

Tel: 413-549-3968
Twitter: @AmherstSurvival

Norma Jean Anderson Civil Rights & Academic Achievement Award - Nominations


NOMINATIONS for the Norma Jean Anderson Civil Rights and Academic Achievement Award

The Norma Jean Anderson Civil Rights and Academic Achievement Award applauds the contributions of a current teacher, administrator or staff member in the Amherst and/or Amherst-Pelham Regional school districts who promotes the ideals of a just and respectful community built on compassionate relationships. We recognize many teachers, administrators and staff share these goals, and we look forward to acknowledging their contributions.

Past recipients include:
Roger Wallace (Fort River Elementary); Jasmine Robinson (Crocker Farm Elementary)
Momodou Saar and Mary Custard (ARHS); Shari Abbot (ARHS)
Rachel Coblyn (APRS Administration)

Who is Eligible for Award
Nominee must be a current employee of the Amherst and/or Amherst-Pelham School District as a teacher, administrator or staff person. We welcome nominations from any member of the community, especially students, parents and school employees.

1. Provide a statement of at least 1 page explaining why this candidate should be selected. The focus should be removing systematic privilege based on race and class in our schools.

2. Email the statement to Pat Ononibaku (

3. In lieu of a written statement, you can call and share your reasons for nominating the candidate to Pat Ononibaku at 413-627-0043.

 All nominations need to be received by JANUARY 7, 2015.

The final selection of the recipient of the award will be made by the RaDAR Committee. The award will be presented at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast in January 2015.

About RaDAR
The RaDAR (Race and Discipline, Action, Rights) Committee grew out of the ARHS Parents Center’s Study Circle Project on Race and Class in the Amherst Schools. In Spring, 2005, RaDAR was formed to address concerns raised by ALANA (African, African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American) parents regarding issues of discipline, social justice and equity at ARHS.

RaDAR believes through the collaborative effort of students, teachers, parents, staff, and administrators, students in Amherst can achieve the highest education attainment when there is no systematic privilege based on race. We believe a school free of racism, prejudice and discrimination promotes safety, personal growth and academic achievement . We envision learning communities that promote the ideals of a just and respectful community built on compassionate relationships.

For more information about RaDAR, contact Jackie Wolf (549-2958) .

Bricks4Kidz Free Events December

Bricks4Kidz Amherst Area Newsletter

There are two free events coming up in December:
  1. Amherst Area Bricks 4 Kidz will be participating in the Macaroni Kid annual Free Holiday Fun Day in Chicopee on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 10:00am until 4:00pm. You can read more about it here:
  2. Bricks 4 Kidz will have a free holiday class on Thursday, Dec. 18 4:00-5:00pm at Second Chances in South Amherst. Come build models related to Christmas and Hanukkah with LEGO® Bricks! Make a one-of-a-kind decoration with our motorized spin art machine. Take home a mini-model. Space is limited so register todayon our Website: 
(not a school or PGO-sponsored event)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

November Crocker Chronicles

The November Crocker Chronicles is available online:

November 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians,
We are sending you best wishes for a holiday season full of great times with friends and family members. Hopefully you will find some time to relax and reflect upon the beauty of our Pioneer Valley and the many blessings that we share each day. We thank you for your communications and your gifts of support. As we look towards to 2015, we anticipate celebrating discoveries and accomplishments with your child(ren) each day. We draw your attention to the following happenings around Crocker Farm:

** Kindergarten students have practiced being scientists outdoors and will now use their outdoor discoveries to inform their writing workshop

** 1st graders have been thinking about the weather and the tools that scientists use to measure temperature and wind. They continue to enjoy reading and writing about their Superkids friends (reading program just for K-2).

** 2nd graders want to learn how to Flamenco dance! They are planning a community service project to help throughout the building
– more news to come on that front.

** 3rd graders have been studying Massachusetts.  We are learning about its geography and history. Have been learning about how historians examine stories of the past and try to decide what has happened. We will be working on recreating what life was like in this area four hundred years ago. We are studying how people lived including eating, dressing, chores/tasks and jobs, houses and entertainment

** 4th graders just finished their realistic fiction project. Please ask them about “The Big Dinner” project that included ratios pertaining to their delicious feast.

** 5th grader classes completed their study of ancient Native American civilizations by designing posters highlighting the Incas and their many innovations.

** In 6th grade students have been wrapping up a close study of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by analyzing the Hero's Journey archetype in different stories, and writing their own Hero's Journey.

Best wishes to all,
Derek Shea, Principal
Sharri Conklin, Assistant Principal

Big Brothers Big Sisters Northampton Winter Craft Fair - Dec 6th & 7th

34th Annual!
December 6 @ 9:30 am - December 7 @ 4:30 pm

CHD’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County presents the 34th annual Northampton Winter Craft Fair – the perfect place to enjoy a fun-filled day while doing your holiday shopping. The fair takes place at Northampton High School on the first weekend of December every year (This year – December 6th and 7th). The two-day fair features one-of-a-kind handmade crafts from 90 juried artisans, delicious food from Nancy Jane’s Catering, a fabulous silent auction on Saturday and plenty of free parking. The fair also features a wonderful children’s book sale with thousands of gently-used, pre-loved children’s books at bargain prices, organized by children’s book author/illustrator Diane deGroat.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Winter Craft fair features nearly 100 vendors – great food, handmade children’s toys, unique crafts, spectacular photographs, knick-knacks for your home, and the list goes on! Something for everyone – don’t miss it!

See more at:

(not a school or PGO-sponsored event)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Merry Maple Celebration this Friday, Dec 5th

Friday December 5, 2014 

3-4 p.m. Open House at the Amherst Fire Station
4:30 p.m. Hayrides begin in Spring Street Parking lot
4;30 p.m. Amherst Regional Middle School Chorus performs
4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Craft Room with face painting and kids crafts in Town Room in Town Hall;
5:30 p.m. UMass Minuteman Marching Band arrives with Santa
6:30 p.m. Visit with Santa at the Amherst History Museum

Bring new and unwrapped toys, clothing, sports equipment, books and games for infants through teens to the Common for the Amherst Survival Center Annual Toy Drive!


Latinos Beyond Reel, Coming Together Film Series, Dec 4th

Dear Community Members,

       We invite you to join us for the next film in the Coming Together film series: Latinos Beyond Reel – “A hard-hitting documentary about how Latinos are marginalized and vilified in the U.S. media – with grave consequences.” 
​Latinos/Latinas are the largest and fastest-growing group of people of the global majority in Amherst, and in the U.S.   This showing is free and open to the public – at The Jones Library, 7PM on Thursday, December 4th.  The discussion following the video will be facilitated by Mari Castañeda (who is in the video) and Wilma Ortiz.

Hoping to see you there,
Russ Vernon-Jones
Sovann-Malis Loeung
Mari Castañeda
     Co-facilitators of the Coming Together project

Too often discussions of race and racism are limited to issues between African Americans and white people.  We feel strongly that our discussions about race in the Amherst area must include many groups, including Latinos and Latinas.  Most of us have quite a bit to learn here.  This is an excellent opportunity to take a next step as a community – both in learning and in coming together.  A trailer for the film is available at
Please visit our website at and explore the information, videos, and perspectives there.

Barbara Love’s talk in Amherst on October 20th is now available online at
 Upcoming Dates:
  • Thursday, Jan. 8 – video of a powerful speech by Michelle Alexander,  the author of “The New Jim Crow
  • Thursday, Feb 5 – video; “Vincent Who?” a powerful film about Vincent Chin and the Asian American civil rights movement
  • Tuesday, March 3 – feature film:  “Smoke Signals” a film debunking stereotypes about native people, followed by discussion with some local native people.
  • We are also planning an evening with a multi-racial panel of local people sharing their experiences and perspectives and leading a general conversation with the community.

Coming Together: Understanding Racism, Working for Justice, Building Connections
- a community-wide, multiracial project for the Amherst, MA area

Playground Snow Rules Reminder

shared with students yesterday:

* Students should dress for cold weather every school day.  We will go outside most days.
* Students are expected to wear coats outside every recess until spring.
* Students who have boots and snow pants will be allowed to play in the snow.  Otherwise, they will play on the blacktop only.
* Students should remember not to throw snow or ice on the playground for any reason.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday & ValleyGives

Today is ‪#‎GivingTuesday‬! The Razoo Foundation has provided an additional $10,000 in prizes available to organizations participating in ValleyGives.  Today is a great day to schedule ValleyGives donations to the ARPS PGO, the Crocker PGO, the district's pre-school program housed at Crocker Farm, the Amherst Education Foundation, and/or other community organizations of your choice.  See the ValleyGives web site for the full list.  All donations scheduled today still count towards December 10th totals.

The Amherst Regional Public Schools Parent Guardian Organization (ARPS PGO) is a 501c3 partnership encompassing the individual PGOs of the Amherst Regional High and Middle Schools, Crocker Farm, Wildwood, and the district's Preschool program. This is our first year participating in ValleyGives and we want to make it a big one!

The PGOs support the "extras" that the school budgets do not cover. Our fundraising provides funds for enrichment activities, field trips, and community events, as well as additional materials and supplies for teachers and specialists through mini-grant programs. All funds raised through Valley Gives will be used to support these efforts. Money donated to the ARPS PGO will be shared equally among each school/ program. School-specific donations will stay with the selected school.

To donate to the ARPS PGO, please visit:…/Amherst-Regional-Public-Scho…

To donate to a specific school, visit:…/Amherst-Reg…/related_projects and select the school you wish to support.  Here's the direct link for Crocker Farm:

On Giving Tuesday and Valley Gives Day, for donations made using a paypal account, Paypal will match 1% of each donation.

All donations scheduled today still count towards December 10th totals! Please consider supporting us today!  Every donation, no matter how small, helps make a difference.  Thank you! 

School Lunch Menu for Dec

Menu can also be downloaded here:  Dec_Lunch_Menu

(click to enlarge) 

Monday, December 1, 2014

ValleyGives -- Supporting our Schools

Valley Gives is an online day of giving for hundreds of nonprofits throughout the Pioneer Valley, 
organized by the Community Foundation of Western MA.

Among this year's ValleyGives participants are the Amherst Education Foundation and the ARPS PGO. 

 Amherst Education Foundation:
AEF cares about excellence in education and has provided support for our schools for 20 years. Last year’s Valley Gives Day, AEF earned over $11,000.  Now those donations are at work in the form of grants to our schools.  Help AEF continue to make an impact, and help keep our schools strong!

AEF Valley Gives Page:

The Amherst Regional Public Schools Parent Guardian Organization (ARPS PGO) encompassing the individual PGOs of the Amherst Regional High and Middle Schools, Crocker Farm, Wildwood, and the district's Preschool Program.  The PGOs support the "extras" that the school budgets do not cover.  Our fundraising provides funds for enrichment activities, field trips, and community events, as well as additional materials and supplies for teachers and specialists through school mini-grant programs.   All funds raised through Valley Gives will be used to support these efforts.

ARPS PGO Valley Gives Page:

Donations can go either to the ARPS PGO generally or to individual schools.  To donate to the Crocker Farm PGO directly, please visit   You can give to the other schools directly here, and select the school you wish to support.   Donations to the ARPS PGO will be shared among the schools. Donations to the individual schools or the Preschool Program will stay with that school/program.

To Give: 

On Wednesday, December 10th, go to one of the links above, and click "Donate" to make a donation.  
You can also schedule a donation in advance (starting on December 1st).    

Thank You For Your Generosity in Supporting Our Students and Our Schools