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Pittsfield School Committee Mourns Faculty Losses

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The School Committee meets Wednesday night at Pittsfield High School.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield School Committee remembered Taconic High School teacher Kevin Harrington on Wednesday night. 
Before opening up its meeting Wednesday, the committee members held their typical moment of silence but made a special mention of Harrington who passed just last week.
"We want to remember the very sudden and tragic loss of Kevin Harrington a special education teacher at Taconic," Chairwoman Katherine Yon said. "He was just that: a special man, a special teacher, a special mentor, and a special friend to many."
Harrington collapsed in a classroom at Taconic last week after a medical incident. He was, a special education teacher, was a former Taconic student and was heavily involved in the athletic program. 
The school district brought in more than 20 professional counselors to serve students and staff in the days afterward.
"Let us send our thoughts and prayers to his family and to the entire Taconic community who are trying to deal with the great loss of a beloved staff member," Yon said. 
Superintendent Jason McCandless added it was a difficult week in Pittsfield and that this is the third time in his tenure a teacher had died while at work.
McCandless said Harrington is missed by the entire student body and even by those who have long graduated.
"He was just there for every kid ... I was struck by the number of kids I know for a fact did not have Kevin for a teacher but who felt like Kevin was there go-to guy," he said. "They felt he was there every day for them he was nondiscriminant of who he advocated for, who he was kind to, and who he stood as a mentor to."
He said it devastated the staff as well and thanked the PHS employees who, even though Pittsfield High was closed because of a water line break, gave up a day off to support colleagues at Taconic. 
McCandless also thanked Harrington's family for "sharing" him with the Pittsfield Public Schools family and said his legacy will be remembered. 
"He was a truly remarkable man whose legacy and shadow will continue really for decades with the amount of lives he touched," he said. "A tragic time but we are just happy to have gotten the opportunity to get to know Kevin."
The committee also took a moment to remember George Thomas Farley Jr. a former teacher, principal, and the father of state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier. He died on Saturday.
"He was a highly respected member of the corps of principals in the district when I first started working here," School Committee member William Cameron said. "I think he was the sort of person anyone would want teaching their children ... he was a gentleman, a scholar, and dedicated to education."
Yon said Farley was a classroom teacher throughout the district through the 1950s. In 1959, he became the principal of the former Briggs School and went on to serve as principal in other district schools.
He was critical in developing the first library at the elementary level in the district and was the first to implement computers in the classroom.
After the moment of silence, Yon congratulated all School Committee members who decided to run for re-election. 
"We have had an election and I would say thank you to all who ran for re-election and were elected once again," she said. 
Incumbents William Cameron, Daniel Elias, Dennis Powell, and current Chairwoman Katherine Yon all were re-elected.
She said she was excited to welcome new members Alison McGee and Mark Brazeau, whom Cameron said he was impressed by.
"I think they will be outstanding additions to the committee," he said.
Brazeau and McGee will join the committee in the new year.
Yon and Elias did make a point to thank former member Tom Perrea for running.
"He was a very good member and an honest and good man," Elias said. "I want to thank him for running it is hard to put yourself out there in full view."

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PCTV Documentary Finds Pittsfield Parade Dates Back to 1801

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Television's recently released documentary "Fighting For Independence:  The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" has traced the first Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade back to at least 1801.  

An article in the Pittsfield Sun from July 7, 1801, says that "at 12:00 o’ clock at noon a Procession was formed consisting of the Militia of the town."

Previously the Pittsfield Parade Committee acknowledged that the parade dated back to 1824.

"This was a fascinating discovery, as we researched to put this documentary together," said Bob Heck, PCTV’s coordinator of advancement and community production and executive producer of the program.  "Not only were we able to trace the parade back further than ever before, but to see how the parade has impacted Pittsfield, and how the community always seems to come together to make sure the parade happens is remarkable."

The Pittsfield Fourth of July parade experienced bumps in the road even back in the early 1800s - most notably, when Captain Joseph Merrick, a Federalist, excluded Democrats from the yearly post-parade gathering at his tavern in 1808.

The parade ran concurrently from at least 1801 until 1820. In 1821, Pittsfield’s spiritual leader Dr. Rev. Heman Humphrey, canceled the festivities so the day could be dedicated to God before resuming in 1822 after residents decided they wanted their parade.

"Fighting for Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" premiered July 4 at 9:30 am on PCTV Access Pittsfield Channel 1301 and PCTV Select.  The program is available on-demand on PCTV Select, available on Roku and Apple TV, or online.

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