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Principal John Vosburgh updated the School Committee about his preparations on Wednesday.

Taconic Principal Plotting Use, Scheduling of New High School

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than 100 tradesmen have been on and off the site of the new Taconic High School getting the building ready.
And inside the current building across the driveway, Principal John Vosburgh has been doing the same. Vosburgh has been meeting with faculty, staff, and parents to devise a plan on how to layout and schedule operations in the new Valentine Road school.
"I hope we can get it right the first time and if we don't, we'll fix it," Vosburgh told the School Committee on Wednesday night.
The biggest struggle relates to the cafeteria. The capacity is only 300, which means the school will have to have three lunch periods instead of two. That creates a headache all of its own when scheduling class times.
"It is muddy at best to figure out a schedule that will work," Vosburgh said, and later adding, "it is doable. We are going to have a creative fourth and fifth period, which is our lunches."
Between the vocational options such as a week on and week off program, teachers shared with other schools, and students on rotation, working out a time for everyone is posing a challenge. Vosburgh is now working with the cafeteria staff to figure out the time needed between lunches and hopes to craft workable schedules soon.
"It is tricky to accommodate a large number of students with the number of various programs we offer," he said.
Vosburgh said there is an urgency to figuring it out because students will be registering for classes in a little over a month. That also means figuring out where all the classrooms will be located. 
The new building has two pods of classrooms off from the main hallway on each of the second and third floors. The classrooms surround common workspaces — a design the School Building Needs Committee had particularly fought to keep. And now Vosburgh needs to decide whether those classrooms are grouped by class or by subject matter.
If it is aligned by grade, Vosburgh said teachers of the same students can more easily collaborate and the teachers will be seeing the students in the hallway much more often. It also reduces the number of times the student needs to transition to other parts of the building and gives a little more consistency in parents dropping students off in the area where their classrooms are located.
But, there is a question of whether it is good for the children to be grouped with the same peers for most of the day. Vosburgh said it is important for the younger high school students to mingle with the older ones so they can see the more mature behavior of older students. The principal said he modeled 15 student schedules for ninth-graders and, with the exception of three or four classes, the students do move around the building often, which alleviates that concern somewhat. 
If the rooms are grouped by subject, that too allows for teachers to share materials more easily. But, the individual teacher will only interact with the student in the class because that student will be in other parts of the school for other classes.
In the current building, the teacher areas are grouped by subject but the classrooms aren't necessarily. He said the classrooms themselves are a bit mixed.
School Committee member William Cameron suggested considering doing a similar model with the new school. The teacher workrooms are in the middle of each grouping and Cameron suggested that grouping the faculty space by discipline.
"If the faculty is grouped by discipline, that would facilitate interactions of teachers teaching the same subject regardless of where the classrooms are," Cameron said.
The staff had also been active back in June in determining the furniture and equipment. And every Wednesday, Vosburgh says he holds an option meeting with staff members to discuss the new building's operations.
The new $120.8 million school will welcome its first class of students in the fall. Vosburgh is hoping to get everything planned out ahead of time to ease any worries staff might have heading into that school year.
"We want this to be an exciting opportunity, a positive move and not something the folks will be anxious about," Vosburgh said.
School Committee member Cynthia Taylor said it is already an exciting time. She said every Taconic staff member she's spoken to has raved about moving to the new school. Meanwhile, School Committee member Dennis Powell is glad that Vosburgh is including students in that planning process.

Tags: Taconic school project,   

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Cultural Pittsfield This Week: Dc. 6-12

Enjoy sixteen different art shows featuring work by more than two dozen accomplished regional artists in Pittsfield's bustling Upstreet Cultural District during the on First Friday Artswalk and all month long! In most venues, artists will be present from 5-8 p.m. A free guided tour begins at 5 p.m. at the Intermodal Center @ BRTA, 1 Columbus Ave.

The Office of Cultural Development will host its 5th annual Wreath Art Auction at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts during the First Friday festivities. Almost 50 hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind wreaths, kissing balls and table pieces will be available for purchase and auction following the lighting of the tree in Park Square. Enjoy music and refreshments at a preview reception starting at 5 p.m., followed by a live auction at 6:30 p.m. Grab-and-go options will be available. All funds raised at this event go to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. Admission at the door is $10, or purchase tickets in advance at the Lichtenstein Center or by emailing 

These events coincide with Downtown Pittsfield's 2nd annual Festive Frolic
, running on Friday from 5-8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Events include a North Pole Pub Crawl, snowman story time, ornament making, glow-in-the-dark Jingle Bell Rock, a craft fair, carolers, holiday lights, shopping opportunities and more!


Mr. Finn's Cabaret at Barrington Stage Company presents local singer-songwriters Billy Keane and Matt Cusson, who will join forces to kick off the season right, with holiday songs and lots of fun. 7 p.m. $20-$25. 
FRI North Pole Pub Crawl in Downtown Pittsfield FRI Blue Light Trio at Rainbow FRI Yule Jam at Hancock Shaker Village | FRI Grahm Sturz at Hotel on North | FRI JB's Acoustic Gravel at PortSmitt's | FRI Patient Zero Records Show at Crossroads | FRI Legacy at The A | SAT Dust Bowl Faeries at The Whitney | SAT Holidays Around the World Dinner at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Mike McMann at Proprietor's Lodge | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | MON Cabaret Workshop Performance at Berkshire Music School | MON Jazz Night at Mission | TUE Vinyl Soul Night at Thistle & Mirth | WED Gruppo Mondo at Rainbow | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Marc Black's History of the '50s & '60s at Berkshire Athenaeum | THU The Picky B's at Mission


SAT Visit with Santa at The Beacon Cinema
Visit with Santa at the Beacon Cinema as part of the Downtown Pittsfield Festive Frolic! This is a family event where children can have their photo taken with Santa by a professional photographer! In exchange, please donate a brand-new, unwrapped item to the Berkshire Community Action Council's Warm Clothing Program. See website for list of needed itemsIf you are unable to bring an item, a donation of $5 will be accepted by BCAC volunteers. 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
FRI WeeMuse Adventures at Berkshire Athenaeum FRI Screening of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at Berkshire Museum FRI-THU Parenting Classes & Play Groups at 18 Degrees SAT Festive Frolic Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT WeeMuse Art Lab at Berkshire Museum SAT FREE Kids' Crafts at Peace Train Tees SAT Chow Time at Berkshire Museum | SAT Make Holiday Ornaments at Berkshire Paint & Sip SAT We Can Be Heroes at Berkshire Museum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage SUN Discovery Tank Program at Berkshire Museum SUN Billy Budd in the Breadbox Audio Book Launch at Arrowhead | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's MON Tiny Tots Story Time at Berkshire Athenaeum MON Dungeons & Dragons at Berkshire Athenaeum TUE WeeMuse Littlest Learners at Berkshire Museum TUE Graphic Novel Book Club at Berkshire Athenaeum WED WeeMuse Parent/Child STEM at Berkshire Museum THU Preschool Play & Learn at Berkshire Athenaeum THU Lego Club at Berkshire Athenaeum


SUN Restorative Yoga w/CBD Salve at BYDF
Join Amanda Marsh for a Restorative Yoga with CBD class at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness. You will be guided into a deeply relaxing restorative yoga flow, blending supported yoga postures, breathing techniques, and cannabis-infused salve to encourage letting go fully into each yoga posture. 5:30-7 p.m. $25 for the class and $65 for the class and salve. 
FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Running Center | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Family YMCA | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Yoga Dance & Fitness FRI-THU Various Classes at Radiance Yoga | FRI-THU Various Classes at Berkshire Salsa FRI-THU Various Classes at Pilates Fit SUN Restorative Yoga w/Massage at Radiance Yoga | MON Common Yoga at Zion Lutheran Church | MON Let's Keep It Moving at Knesset Israel


SAT+ A Christmas Carol at The Colonial Theatre
Revel in the joy and redemptive power of A Christmas Carol, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an infamous miser who is shown the error of his ways and reformed by four spirits. Journey back to Victorian England and experience the classic story filled with holiday carols and the wonderment of the season. $29/$39. A sensory-friendly performance will be held held on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:30 p.m.
FRI-SUN Gingerbread House Contest at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT Holiday Craft Fair, Cookie Walk & Tag Sale at Zion Lutheran Church | SAT Lyme Alliance Meeting at Berkshire Athenaeum SAT-SUN Brunch with Santa at Hancock Shaker Village | SAT-SUN Cop on Top 10th Anniversary at Walmart SAT-SUN Albany Berkshire Ballet's The Nutcracker at Barrington Stage | SUN Brunch w/Genna & Jess at Dottie's | SUN Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Dottie's | SUN Jazz Brunch at Hotel on North | SUN Berkshire Concert Choir at Berkshire Museum | SUN Hilltown Choral Society Holiday Concert at Zion Lutheran Church | SUN FREE Eagles Band Holiday Concert at First United Methodist | SUN Service of Lessons & Carols at Hancock Shaker Village | THU Open Swim at Gladys Allen Brigham Center | THU Holiday Lights at Arrowhead | THU Holiday Market at Dottie's


TUE Paint "Holiday Pittsfield Park" at Paint & Sip
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