Aiden Kozik, one of the students in the program, addresses dignitaries and educators at the armory.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Aiden Kozik knows what he needs to do to succeed: Be prepared, be respectful, cooperate in the classroom and finish what he starts.
That was the message he gave, along with Director Jodi Drury, to Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and dozens of officials and educators who turned out for the official opening of the North Berkshire Academy on Thursday morning.
"I like this school because my friends are here, because it lets kids take pride in school and learn to be a responsible person by working hard each and every day," said Aiden, from the speech he wrote.
Polito congratulated Aiden and the coalition that put the academy together using a state grant through the governor's office.
"It takes leadership in a community to identify a problem or a challenge, to come together as leaders ... to decide how you want to resolve that problem and then us, as state leaders, to work with you and invest in you, because we believe in you," she said, adding "your mission is about the fact that every, every student has the ability to learn. That every student has the opportunity to succeed. It's pure and it's good and it's absolutely right on."
Just three months old, the collaborative special education program is already successful — if Aiden is any proof.
Once a "worst-case scenario," said his mother, Kelly Kozik, he was doing well at another program but now he's really blossoming at North Berkshire with an A-average.
"He's come a really long way," she said. "He struggled through the years with the problems that most kids with disorders and learning disabilities have. ... He loves school, he misses school when he's on vacation."
The academy wants to continue to build that confidence in its students, said Drury. "We want to help more kids and we want to help more schools do better work with these kids."
The academy opened in the North Adams Armory on Jan. 2 along with the North Adams Public Schools' E3 Academy, an alternative high school program. It began as a conversation over a cup of coffee, said Superintendent Barbara Malkas, and came to fruition through the efforts of the city, the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District and Northern Berkshire School Union, the Berkshire Educational Task Force, Northampton's Collaborative for Educational Services, and a state grant of $148,000 to make it all happen.
And it did. In less than eight months.
"It speaks to the collaboration in Berkshire County," Malkas said. "One of the reasons I love to be working here is not only do we collaborate when we know we need to, but we get the job done. We get the job done because we have great support."
Local superintendents knew there was a need for servicing students who have been placed in programs outside of their districts. They often required specialized education programs that could not be provided within the classroom. It was both a desire to serve this population locally — and to see cost-savings — that drove the collaboration.
The academy services children with attention-deficit disorder, learning and behavioral disorders, and autism who also need greater levels of academic, social and emotional support. It is operated under the auspices of the Collaborative for Educational Services, which works with school districts in Hampshire and Franklin counties.
"I think this is a phenomenal example of collaboration that we have," William Diehl, executive director of CES, said. "You had superintendents coming together ... and an efficiency grant that said you had one year to make this turnkey ready and we took that very seriously. ...
"I'm really proud we did that."
The program currently has four students with the possibility of two more joining. Thomas A. Simon, the North Adams Public Schools' director of student support services, said the placements show confidence in the program because relocating children can mean they can lose their spots in their current program.
"Strong education is critical to stabilize communities for the next generation because our collective success can be measured when your students can graduate from your schools here and be able to find a job, to be able to live in the communities where they were born and raised and begin their lives, and start their familes here," said Polito.
Drury said the former National Guard home now has a new purpose. The building has undergone a complete renovation since the city took it over more than a dozen years ago.
"This building is a new armory now, it reminds us when we work together we can create amazing new programs and support for our students and families that need it most," she said. "Self-respect, self-reliance and self-understanding, so our students can appropriately advocate for their own ways of learning, thinking and knowing."
Aiden counted down as Polito, Drury, Mayor Thomas Bernard, former Mayor Richard Alcombright, state Rep. John Barrett III, and A.J. Enchill and Matthew Russett, representing state Sen. Adam Hinds and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, respectively, cut the ceremonial ribbon.
"We're new. We're small but we're mighty," Drury said.
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North Adams Mayor's Fitness Challenge June 2023
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Mayor's Fitness Challenge (MFC) is back for the month of June, calling on the community to make a conscientious effort at healthier habits by participating in this community-wide fitness challenge.
This will be the 7th Annual MFC for North Adams.
Community members of all ages are encouraged to register and participate either as individuals or as part of a team, to wrack up points for the chance to earn prizes at the conclusion of the challenge. Participants will be working to build and track points by eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water, and participating in physical activity. There are also daily challenges for points.
Registration will be held on Thursday, June 1, and Friday June 2, 2023. nbCC will be tabling in front of the office, located at 61 Main Street, North Adams, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
on June 1, registering participants and handing out tracking packets and t-shirts. On June 2, members of the nbCC team will begin the day at 7:30 a.m. at the kick-off of the Eagle Street Coffee Date series, signing participants up while they enjoy free coffee and baked goods hosted by Mayor Macksey and the City of North Adams.
The Coalition team will also be registering participants during June's First Friday festivities which will include the Mayor's Fitness Challenge Kick-off. The theme of June's First Friday is "Proud of Progress" and will include the painting of a new street mural, exhibition openings, live music and business specials.
The MFC kick-off event will include registration, free games, demonstrations from various local MFC partners, information tables, and activities located either on Main Street or Eagle Street. Some examples of activities include a gong bath at the Terra Nova Church space on Main Street, a bike rodeo on Eagle Street, and free smoothies hosted by the First Baptist Church youth group. Mayor Macksey will be out and about and plans to demonstrate some sparring with Gail Grandchamp. Registration for MFC will be available from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Just look for the nbCC tables and MFC shirts! T-shirts are in limited supply and will be first come, first served.
Weekly events in this year's challenge include outdoor yoga classes, lawn games at Windsor Lake, the downtown bike around, and weekly hikes in places like the Cascades, Tannery Falls, Sunset Rock Trail, and Natural Bridge State Park. Additionally, several local fitness studios will be offering deals of membership, free classes, and other incentives to participate.
The challenge runs throughout the month of June. The final day to track points will be Monday, June 26, and all participants must turn in their tracking packets by 6:00 p.m. that afternoon. There will be a Wrap Party at Windsor Lake, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. where the individual and team winners will be announced and receive their prizes. There will be live music from the band Pandemic Relief, lawn games and everyone is encouraged to bring a picnic dinner. Snacks will also be available for purchase from the BFAIR concession stand.
This event has been organized by the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, the North Adams Mayor's Fitness Challenge Planning Team, and the City of North Adams. The full calendar of MFC Events can be found below, online at nbccoalition.org calendar page, or on the back of the MFC points tracker that every participant receives. For daily updates or weather announcements, participants can follow the nbCC facebook or instagram accounts.
2023 MFC Schedule
Week 1 | June 1-3 |Registration & Kick-off
6/1 | 8:30a.m. - 6p.m. | nbCC Office, 61 Main Street, North Adams - Register teams/individuals & pick up your MFC packets and t-shirts
6/2 | 7:30 - 9:00a.m. | Eagle St. - Register during the Eagle Street Coffee Date kick-off sponsored by Mayor Macksey and the City.
5:00-8:00 p.m. | Eagle St. - Register during First Friday and enjoy MFC kick-off events and activities!
6/3 | 9a.m.-1p.m. | Shop at the North Adams Farmers Market.
9:30-11a.m. | Help the River St. Community Gardening Group
11:30a.m. | Walk w/ Mayor Macksey at Natural Bridge (Transportation available)
2:00p.m. | ROOTs Teen Center/nbCC Bike Collective Build a Bike Workshop | 206 Ashland St.
Week 2 | June 4 - 10th
6/4 - 10:00a.m. | Basketball games | Noel Field Courts, 310 State St.
7:15p.m. | Relaxation Yoga | North Adams Yoga, 26 Holden St.
6/5 - 3:30-5:30p.m. | Bike Collective Workshop hours | 206 Ashland St.
5:30p.m. | Downtown Bike Around | 206 Ashland St.
6/6 - 12:00-1:00p.m. | BHS: Top 10 Most Powerful Lifestyle Interventions | UNO Center, 157 River St.
5:00p.m. | Tick Talk w/ CHP | UNO Center, 157 River St.
6/7 - 5:30p.m. | Evening at Windsor Lake: Intro to Disk Golf, live music, pack a picnic | Windsor Lake, Kemp Ave & Bradley St.
Gianna Pesce scored five goals and assisted on two more Wednesday to lead the Mount Greylock girls lacrosse team to a 19-2 win over Pope Francis in the title game of the Western Massachusetts Class B tournament. click for more