Berkshire Arts & Tech Students Show Off Talent

By Robert MangiameleiBerkshires Intern
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Art teacher Rachel Branham choreographed this year's showcase.

ADAMS, Mass. — BArT students put on dazzling performances and in various fields of the arts for their semi-annual Art Showcase recently.

Through art, paintings, photos, choir, drama and creative writing, the students at Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School, displayed talents that reflect the college-preparatory public school. Parents and teachers alike came out on Nov. 17 to enjoy their youngsters' artistic skills.

One aspect that was different from previous Art Showcases was the addition of dramatic and musical performances along with the topping of some slam poetry.

"This allows people to see the time and effort these students put it to their art," Assistant Principal Christopher Hayden said about the event. "They get to share their pieces and time with parents, who don't always see the hard work that goes into our showcase, and this provides the perfect opportunity to bond with the community."

With a student body of 280 and a student-teacher ratio of 10:1, it wasn't hard to catch someone's piece or performance.

BArT's goal is to raise each student's aspiration by delivering an innovative, supportive educational program.

Visual arts teachers and department leader Rachel Branham had the opportunity to choreograph this semester's showcase.

"The showcase is holding its own as an integral component in BArT's community events calendar," she said. "I'm looking forward to our next showcase in March already!"

For the first hour, parents, students and teachers browsed the 8th-grade Gallery Exhibitions, which featured abstract watercolor triptychs and still life drawings. The opposite side of the gallery featured high school drawings, AP-2D art and digital photos that expressed ideas and captured moments. Regardless of the age, many works sparked interests from the viewers as they planted their feet and gazed at their favorites.

At 7, the high school choir performed six songs for the crowd. With all the choir members bellowing out their tunes, it was easy to notice the hard work put into each song. Two classics, Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" and Nikolas and Valerie Ashford's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," were obvious favorites from the crowd's reactions. Their performance of "Ritmo" required choir members to clap sporadically throughout the song, which spiced up the performance overall. Their rhythmic pattern, sharp tunes and high key notes perfectly led the way for the school's thespians.

Some monologues were next with the tone and mood set by each performer. With outlandish acts, cunning lines and word-for-word emphasis, no one was left unsatisfied. Many actors made the crowd laugh but all performers got huge applauses at the ends of their monologues.

The final conclusion brought the crowd into the free-spirited world and mind of slam poets. It was evident that a lot of time and emotion was put into each poem that was read. Freshman Caraghan Hadfield and junior Chip Kirchner were two popular poets while math and creative writing teacher Curtis Asch was the emcee for the event. It was the perfect finale to a night of art.

"I think this year's showcase was a huge success," said Branham. "I think that the students are beginning to understand the value of arts education, and I am proud to be a part of it."

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Letter: Problematic Proposed Lenox Short-Term Rental Bylaw

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Under the proposed short-term rental Lenox bylaw, "up to two bedrooms in a dwelling unit may be rented year-round by right provided that the owner or tenant is occupying the dwelling unit at the time of the rental."

Presumably, bedrooms may not be rented at all if the owner or tenant is not occupying the dwelling unit.

In other words, literally, the very same use is allowed by one type of owner (an owner occupying the dwelling unit), but not another type of owner (one who does not occupy the dwelling unit where bedrooms are being rented). Because there is identical use and intensity and the only thing that differs is the type of owner or renter; it is hard to view this as mere regulation of use and not ownership.

The other provision suffers from the same problem. Suppose there is a duplex or land with two houses on it (perhaps an old robber-baron estate) but with separate owners for each dwelling unit. Under the rule regarding "dwelling units being rented in their entirety," "an entire dwelling unit maybe rented up to 75 days per calendar year by right," and "an entire dwelling unit may be rented for an additional 35 days (up to 110 days) per calendar year by Special Permit."

But then suppose there is unity of ownership and one person owns the entire duplex or both houses. In that case, "the above totals apply to the entire parcel" and "the day limits defined above shall be apportioned among those dwelling units."

A town can regulate the number of days a short-term rental may be utilized under the newly passed statute: but this additional restriction based on who owns the premises is a regulation of ownership and not use.

The same is instinct through other parts as well. Of course, Lenox residents or their guest can park in the street. But if you are renting a short-term rental, "All overnight parking must be within the property's driveway or garage." If you own or rent property, so long as you get the right permits, you may entertain on your property. But if you are a short-term renter, "events that include tents or amplified music or which would customarily require a license or permit are not allowed."

Since 1905, when Home Rules was put into the [Massachusetts] Constitution, towns could pass their own bylaws, so long as there was no regulation of a civil relationship unless it was an incident to a legitimate municipal power. This meant, among other things, zoning laws had to regulate use and not ownership. It is now a fundamental principle of Massachusetts zoning that it deals basically with the use, without regard to the ownership of the property involved, or who may be the operator of the use. This bylaw appears to violate this fundamental tenet.

By way of example of the you-may-regulate-use-but-not-ownership rule, it has been held that a city did not have authority under the Massachusetts Constitution to pass an ordinance that affected the civil relationship between tenants and their landlord, who wished to convert their rental units to condominiums. In another case, a municipal ordinance which restricted a landlord's ability to terminate a lease and remove his property from the rental market in order to sell it was invalid.

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