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John Adams, Dean Covert, Casey Gerwaski, Dalton Lampro, Casey McKeever, Courtney McKeever, Dyllan McLear, Jordan McNeice, Jacob McNicol, Brad Pandell and Danielle Milesi, hand the envelope to Joe McGovern.

BArT Seniors Donate to Northern Berkshire United Way

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Danielle Milesi and Northern Berkshire United Way director Joseph McGovern with check that looked small but was pretty big.

ADAMS, Mass. — A group of Berkshire Arts & Techology Charter Public School seniors earned a feather for their caps this week.

A red feather to be precise.

The students in history teacher Deborah Calderara's senior seminar conceived, organized and managed two school dances that brought in exactly $1,863.50 cents. Half will go to the BArT community and half was donated to Northern Berkshire United Way on Thursday morning.

NBUW Executive Director Joseph McGovern said the $931.75 gift would make the group a member of United Way's Red Feather Society, a designation for donors giving $500 or more.

"You will be listed as a Red Feather Society in our publications," he said, to round of applause from students and educators at the school.

McGovern said Northern Berkshire United Way has reached about 79 percent of its annual campaign drive and is running a little bit ahead of last year toward its $550,000. The umbrella organization for 23 local charities has been struggling to reach its campaign goals over the last few years because of the economic downturn.

"I'm optimistic that this will be the first year since then that we'll make our goal," he said. "I feel we're going to get closer."

NBUW depends on individual and corporate contributions to aid agencies that provide a gamut of services to Northern Berkshire residents of all ages and situations.

It's not unusual for a company or school or group to call with a donations, McGovern. "This happens in North County all the time.

"The people in Northern Berkshire do the best they can to help each other."

The community service learning project at BArT was designed to promote skills such as organization, time management, teamwork and leadership, while offering the teens a chance to give to the community. But once the money was raised, there was the big question of where it should go.

"We decided to donate it to United Way because it was going to be to difficult to pick one charity," said Danielle Milesi, one of the 11 students running the dances. "This way it goes to more of them."

"It's great to see students getting involved in their community," said NBUW campaign co-Chairman Osmin Alvarez, publisher of "The Northern Berkshire United Way touches so many people in a positive way and to see the BArT students understanding that and volunteering to play a role in helping us to raise funds says a lot about the character of these students and our community."

Milesi and a couple classmates thought of putting on a dance last year. (There are other students in the class working on a different project.) The fall dance was deemed a success and more seniors joined the effort to put on a two-part middle and high school Snowball.

That's where most of the money came from. The students accepted donations, a can drive that generated $75 and put up $325 of their own money to get decorations, food, snacks, dishes and all the accoutrements for a formal event.

Dyllan McLear had a sure fire way for boosting attendance: "I told them if they came I would wear a dress." And he did.

Brad Pandell's photo booth proved a huge success in raising money, while other students were posted as ticket takers, snack vendors and other spots. "We all had assigned roles," said Jacob McNicol. "The snack table was cool because we got to eat what leftover."

The students said they worked hard — and cleaned up every bit of glitter — and felt they had really sharpened their time management and leadership skills, and learned to work as a group.

"I think it was a great lesson not only what they did for the community but what they could do collaboratively," said Calderara.

The donation joins others still coming in for the Northern Berkshire United Way, which has added a Paypal option to its website to make it easier to contribute. McGovern said the feedback has been positive on the online donating.

The final tally for the drive will be announced at the annual breakfast in May. McGovern reminded readers that "we will end up taking donations right up to the breakfast."

Tags: BArT,   donations,   NBUW,   

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Mt. Greylock Regional School to Present 'Anything Goes'

The show will be staged Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m. at the school.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional School students in grades seven through 12 will perform the musical comedy "Anything Goes' on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27, 28 and 29, at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium at 1781 Cold Spring Road.

"Anything Goes" takes place in the mid-1930s onboard the luxury liner SS American between New York Harbor and London, England. Billy Crocker (ninth-grader Sam Tucker-Smith), a young assistant to Wall Street tycoon Elisha J. Whitney (10th-grader Jonah Hane), a passenger on the ship, decides to stow away in hopes of wooing his long-lost love and wealthy debutante, Hope Harcourt (12-grader Ashtyn Faas), who is also on board. However, much to Billy’s chagrin, Hope’s mother, Evangeline Harcourt (11th-grader Victoria Melkonyan), is delighted that Hope is engaged to be married to a stuffy Englishman who is also onboard, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh (11th-grader Finn Ellingwood), upon arrival in England.

The passengers and crew are also fascinated with celebrity passenger Reno Sweeney (12th-grader Marleigh Briggs), an evangelist-turned-nightclub singer traveling with her cadre of “angelic” showgirls, who will be providing music and dance entertainment during the crossing. The ship has no sooner set sail than Reno runs into Billy, an old friend, and he persuades her to help him break up Hope’s engagement. 

To add to the intrigue and hilarity of the voyage, "Moonface" Martin (10th-grader Krishan Rai), a gangster known as "Public Enemy 13" and his moll Bonnie (11th-grader Ruth Weaver) are disguised as a reverend and a missionary, respectively. Billy eventually learns the identity of this misfit bunch, and they too join in the scheme to break up Hope and Lord Evelyn. By the time the ship docks in London, Reno has made a successful run for Sir Evelyn, Billy wins Hope’s hand, Mrs. Harcourt finds love and money with Mr. Whitney, and Moonface is identified as the most harmless public enemy in U.S. history.

The show has music and lyrics by the incomparable (former Williamstown resident) Cole Porter and book by Guy Bolton, PG Wodehouse, Howard Lindsey and Russell Crouse. The score includes such 20th century American musical classics as "De-Lovely," "You’re the Top," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Take Me Back to Manhattan" and, of course, "Anything Goes."

The show is directed by faculty member Jeffrey Welch, returning for his 21st season on Mt. Greylock's stage. Vocal direction is by Jean Kirsch and Ann Marie Rodriguez is the choreographer. The pit orchestra comprises both students in grades seven through 12 as well as local community musicians and is directed by faculty member Lyndon Moors.

Tickets are available at the door.

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