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Colegrove Park teachers Megan Gorton and Lisa Marceau, students Zachary Mongeon and Ella Hohn, and Principal Amy Meehan pose with Mayor Thomas Bernard after explaining two STEM programs at the school.

Colegrove Teachers & Students Provide School Committee With Update

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Colegrove Park Elementary teachers and students showcased some new interdisciplinary programming at Tuesday's School Committee meeting.
The principals have been asked to present programming and initiatives to the committee, with Greylock taking the lead last month with its successful solution to reducing behavioral problems
Colegrove showcased its STEM Week and Spacial Temporal Math (ST Math) program.
"These two programs show the dedication and work our employees, not only in the fifth grade but teachers K through 6, truly stepping up to the plate, collaborating, and improving their proactive special support to students," Colegrove Principal Amy Meehan said. "They are really pulling students in."
Fifth-grade English and social studies teacher Megan Gorton explained that the grant-funded STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] program was composed of two parts. The first portion of the program was solving the "Mystery of Moon Lake" and students studied biotic and non-biotic components of the fictional lake.
"They had to use technology to design ways to improve the health of the ecosystem," she said.
She said they built dams through the perspective of a beaver and designed dams of their own adding eco-friendly components such as fish ladders.
Fifth-grade student Zachary Mongeon said there was a problem-solving component of the project.
"We put water in it to see if the water would not leak out and it worked," he said. "But a little bit of water got out ... we went back and fixed what was wrong."
Gorton said they also looked to solve a zebra mussel problem in the fictional lake
"We wanted to solve the problem of how to get the mussels out of the lake because they are taking over and destroying all of the good stuff there," she said. "So they put on their engineer hats and they designed all of these things with their group. They all worked totally independently."
Meehan said the project culminated in a trip to Hopkins Forest in Williamstown where students "explored" alongside Williams College students. 
Fifth-grade math and science teacher Lisa Marceau said they followed the life of a water molecule and turned over rocks and logs looking for living specimens. She added that after they studied the specimens, they put them back where they found them.
Meehan introduced the second program, ST Math, which is a districtwide program that asks students to solve visual computer puzzles.
"They have to find a unique pathway, but what it does not do is tell what to do," she said. "They have to figure out what to do as they play these games and that is a challenge ... and after they do it a couple of times, they learn the patterns and everything that goes with it." 
Mayor Tom Bernard let Zachary and fellow fifth-grader Ella Hohn walk the School Committee through the colorful puzzle. Meehan added that the puzzles allow students to work and problem solve together.
"The students can work in pairs and they can have that 'mathcourse' and discourse happening in their group. They do a lot of turn and talk," she said. "It just gets students to think about and plan out how they are going to solve these problems but sometimes they also have defend their thinking." 
Zachary said he enjoyed the puzzles and said when he hits a wall he takes the time to "rethink and restart the level and try to figure it out again."
The School Committee members tried to solve a puzzle on their own and admitted it was difficult.
"It only becomes obvious once you get to the last to next step," Bernard said.
Marceau said the students' success is mapped out and teachers can see results, progress, and problem areas on a computer. They can target students that may be struggling and give them one on one guidance.
Meehan said this is something that they celebrate.
"We celebrate them getting stuck, making mistakes, persevering, and working their way through it," she said. "We want to celebrate when they don't give up and they work hard to seek support."
In other business, the School Committee reorganized and Bernard will continue to serve as chairman as the city charter directs. Heather Boulger was voted in as vice chairman again and Karen Bond was elected to serve another term as secretary.
The committee then organized subcommittees: 
  • Bernard, Tara Jacobs and Bond will serve on the negotiations subcommittee for professional staff. Bernard, who will act as chair, said these negotiations will be opened up this year.
  • Boulger will serve as chairman on the negotiations subcommittee for non-professional staff and will be joined by Ian Bergeron and James Holmes.
  • Jacobs will serve as chairman on the Finance and facilities subcommittee with Bergeron and Boulger.
  • Bergeron will serve as chairman of the policy subcommittee along with Bond and the newly elected Robert Moulton Jr.
  • Moulton and Holmes will serve on the endowment committee. 

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Berkshire Food Project Recognizes Hours Put in by Volunteers

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Three generations of volunteers with Linda Palumbo, left, Cindy Bolte, Alicia Rondeau and Cassandra Shoestack.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Five days a week a troop volunteers helps the small staff of the Berkshire Food Project feed hundreds of people. 
On Monday night, the tables were turned. 
More than 30 volunteers and attending family members were served up a choice of beef wellington and potato, salmon and rice, or a vegetarian meal, along with appetizers, dessert and beverages.
"Just from 2018 to 2019, [we served] 10,000 more meals, right, a 28 percent increase in 2019. So the numbers on the stove, same amount of counterspace. The only thing that changed is the capacity of our volunteers. So thank you, guys," said Executive Director Kim McMann. 
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