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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Families, Food, and Fun at MCLA

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pi Upsilon Omega sorority member Julia Klocko, AmeriCorps volunteer Katie MacLean, and sorority members Katie Imperato and Katie Hobbs served food to hungry guests.
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North Adams – No matter how you slice it, an April 20 Family Spaghetti Supper and Game Night at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Church Street Center boiled down to a dice-rattling good time.

About 40 college students and community members found the fun in board games including junior Scrabble, Boggle, Chinese checkers and Go Fish and the flavor in sauce-smothered spaghetti, zesty garlic bread, and leafy salad.

“I like this,” said 11-year-old Ashley Rancourt. “It’s something different to do during school vacation, and I think it was nice of the college to do this.”

The Wednesday night event came at the mid-point of an MCLA College and Community Involvement Week. On April 18, MCLA cheerleaders sponsored a “cheer camp” for children aged 5-12 and on April 19, college students who traveled to the Navajo Nation during a March spring break shared their experiences during a public presentation. On April 23, college students and community volunteers are expected to team up for the 14th annual Community and College Clean-up, which delivers a morning “spring cleaning” to city neighborhoods and the MCLA campus. The day’s agenda includes an afternoon of storytelling, reading, skits and crafts at the Church Street Center with a focus on African animals and myths. There is no charge for any of the events.

The week’s goal is to bring the college and city communities together as one positive force, said Katie MacLean, an AmeriCorps Vista volunteer working at the MCLA Center for Service and Citizenship.

“The thing our office tries to do is partner with the community,” she said. “One way to do that was to plan the family night during April vacation. Vacation can be stressful for families, and this gives people a break from cooking and a chance to get together, socialize, and have some fun.”

Jasmine Radlowski, a 12-year-old city resident, said that she was having fun. “I like being out with my family and playing the games,” she said.

Jasmine has attended previous family nights at the Silvio O.Conte Middle School, and enjoyed the events, said her aunt Donna Senecal. “Jasmine got a flier about this at school and she asked if I would go with her,” Senecal said.

Senecal agreed to attend and brought her niece Paige Vittorio, 7, and granddaughters Ariana Arnold, 6, and six-week-old Hannah Decker along with Jasmine.

Conte school teacher Melanie Rancourt attended with her sons James and David Rancourt, aged 10 and 5, stepson Christopher Rancourt, 10, and stepdaughter Brittany Rancourt, 12. Her sister-in-law Barbie Rancourt brought daughters Ashley,11, and Amanda, 6, to the event. There was a sense of “holiday;” as the older Rancourt children gathered to play Chinese Checkers, Melanie Rancourt said “There! This can be the cousins’ table.”

Pi Upsilon Omega sorority members dished up plates of pasta and poured cups of juice. “This is a philanthropy for [the sorority],” said Julia Klocko, whose hometown is Millis, Mass.. “It’s so good to be interacting with people from town.”

“We love seeing all the kids,” said Katie Imperato, who hails from Red Bank, N.J.. “This is good family stuff.” Katie Hobbs of Provincetown, Mass. said she enjoyed meeting the families but found another highlight as well: “I got to make garlic bread.”

Those interested in the community clean-up should meet at 8:30 a.m. April 23 at Hoosac Hall on the MCLA campus. Gloves and garbage bags will be provided, and transportation to assigned clean-up sites will be provided. Additional information may be acquired by calling Katie MacLean at 413-662-5138 or Rod Bunt at the Mayor’s Office of Tourism and Culture at 413-664-6180. Rain will cancel the event, according to information provided by Bunt.
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