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The school held a watermelon social on Thursday afternoon that included tours.
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Williamstown Elementary Welcomes New Faces for School Year

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As the School Committee held its second meeting in the month of August, Williamstown Elementary School's principal reminded the committee members they're not the only ones devoting time to the school in the "off season."

"People think that summer comes and teachers go on vacation, and it's just not true," Brookner said. "I've seen everybody. Some days, I want to say, 'What are you doing here? Go home.'

"But the classrooms are already looking beautiful. People are really excited about new ideas. It's a yearlong commitment from our teachers."

The WES faculty and staff officially reported for duties on Thursday, Sept. 1, a day that ended in the school's annual watermelon social. After an off day on Friday to create a four-day holiday weekend, the pupils in Grades 1 through 6 arrive on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Those pupils will find several new faces in the classrooms and hallways of the K-6 school.

Brookner reported to the School Committee on Monday that most of the new hires are in place for the 2016-17 academic year. Aside from a math support position created just two weeks ago, the school has no vacancies, she said.

The newcomers will abound everywhere from the art room to the nurse's office to the custodian department.

Emily Beaulieu takes over in the art department after introducing youngsters to the visual arts in South County. Kathy Hynes is the new nurse, coming to North County from the Pittsfield school system.

In the school's Side-By-Side special education program, Erin Holland arrives with certification in regular and special education at various grade levels, Brookner said.

One staff member, Erin Jennings, changes roles at the school, moving from a special education paraprofessional to a special education teacher for Grades K through 2. And another, Rieko Hatakeyama, comes to Williamstown as a part-time speech-language pathologist with extensive experience in New York City and Pittsburgh.

The school's custodial team this summer saw the departure of the retiring head custodian Tom D'Avella. This fall it welcomes Jim O'Brien, currently North Adams' code enforcement officer.

"He knows all the [building] codes," Brookner said of O'Brien. "And he has extensive experience in [computer-aided design] and construction. He starts Sept. 19, and Tom D'Avella has graciously agreed to delay his retirement until then."

To help ease the transitions of all the new personnel, the school joined with its Tri-District partners earlier this summer for a day of initiation, Superintendent Doug Dias told the School Committee.

"It was a little bit of training, a little bit of getting to know you. We spent the morning at Mount Greylock and then broke off to the individual buildings," Dias said, referring to WES and Lanesborough Elementary School. "The feedback I got from staff members … was universally positive. They thought it was a welcoming school here and a welcoming school system — although, technically, we're three different systems."

In addition to the staff changes, the school welcomes about 15 new pupils this fall, Brookner said.

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Williamstown Gathers Community Input on Street Lights

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

Stephanie Boyd helps lead Wednesday's session.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — About two dozen residents Wednesday turned out for a forum to discuss plans to replace the town's street lighting with more energy efficient LED fixtures.
The consensus that emerged from the listening session was pretty clear: Those in attendance want to see a lighting plan that utilizes warmer temperature fixtures and reduces spillover lighting.
"More lighting is not better," Charles Fulco of the International Dark Sky Association said, speaking for many in the room. "Less lighting used properly is better."
The town is at a crossroads when it comes to how public roads are illuminated.
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