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Maverick Pytko, David Plouff, Nina Naugle and Charli Phillips lead the Pledge of Allegiance at Hoosac Elementary's Memorial Day ceremony Friday.
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Hoosac Valley Pupils Celebrate Memorial Day With Readings, Music

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Superintendent Aaron Dean, left, and guest speaker and new School Committee member Fred Lora. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Third-graders at Hoosac Valley Elementary School offered a patriotic salute ahead of Memorial Day. 
"They have been tasked with reflecting on Memorial Day and what it means to them with learning songs and poems to share with you," said Principal Erin Beaulac in welcoming visitors. "We're incredibly proud of all of their hard work."
The celebration at Hoosac Elementary was coordinated by teacher Marie McCarron, who led a similar event at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams for years.
Members of American Legion Post 160 formed the color guard and parents and guests including state Sen. Paul Mark and state Rep. John Barrett III listened to musical performances and readings. 
Maverick Pytko, David Plouff, Nina Naugle and Charli Phillips led the Pledge of Allegiance and Rosalie Lazzari, Olive Mastra and Bella D'Elia read a poem. Ethan Thompson read a history of Memorial Day, student essays were written and read by Christopher Kane, Remington Door, Annika Marko and Payton Hnatonko; and Colton Benoit, Connor Bak and Justin Mayotte and Rosalie introduced the speakers. 
Lexi Larabee, 11, sang the "Star-Spangled Banner" without accompaniment and the entire third grade sang "This Land Is Your Land" and a rap version of the Pledge of Allegiance. 
"They have put so many hours of work into this show," said music teacher Abbie Smith. "Because for all them this is new. Standing on stage in front of people is new to them. Sharing their words on a microphone is a new skill."
Mark shared some observations from the nation's first general, commander in chief and president — George Washington. 
"He said, and I'm paraphrasing, the way that young men and women perceive that we have treated veterans, we have treated those who have served our nation is going to directly tie to their willingness and ability to serve their country," he said. "So it's important that we take the time on Memorial Day, on Independence Day, on Veterans Day, to ensure that we respect, tribute and show our appreciation for people that were willing to serve their country ...
"For willing to give everything they had, leave behind their families and their friends and their community, so that they could fully serve and allow all of us to have the amazing things that we take for granted sometimes."
Barrett remembered his friend Peter W. Foote III, the only North Adams native who lost his life in Vietnam for whom the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink is named.
"He never had the opportunity to have children. He never had a chance to enjoy the great freedoms that you have today. And the ability to go to school, wherever you want to go," he said. "And those freedoms are so important as you've learned about."
He urged the children to think about the words in the pledge and national anthem and remember that people they never knew sacrificed for them. 
"It's not often that the community comes together in this fashion. And Memorial Day presents a lot of important lessons for our curriculum and our school and really is a way for our community to come together to remember that freedom isn't free," said Superintendent Aaron Dean. "So I just want to say thank you to the veterans for for serving our country and helping us maintain that freedom."
Pupils Bentley Martin and Chase Lambert read essays that said the day "is a time to remember and honor the brave men and women who have served our country in the military. Honestly, you think about all the soldiers who fought to keep us safe and free. It's like a big thank you" and that "it makes me happy because my grandpa she made it home. It makes me sad because others didn't make it home."
The third-graders also got a little quiz on Friday from guest speaker Fred Lora: What's the meaning of the tall pointy thing on top of Mount Greylock?
"To honor the soldiers that fought for our freedom," responded one youngster. 
And the names on stone in front of Town Hall: "Those are soldiers," said another. 
That's right, said Lora. Then he asked a third question: Do you know anyone who has served? 
Dozens of hands went up. So Lora, a Hoosac Valley High graduate and retired Army lieutenant colonel, told them he had an assignment for them this weekend.
Memorial Day was special for him remembering comrades who did not come back from Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "We appreciate the respect, the love and the support."
But to do more, he said, talk to someone they know who was or is in the military. Find out what branch of the armed forces they were in and where they were stationed.
"I think that's important. I think veterans will definitely appreciate that and they will love to have that conversation with you ... you're recognizing them for their service," said Lora.  

Tags: little hoosac,   Memorial Day,   

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Cheshire Goes for Prop 2 1/2 Override to Fund School District

By Daniel MatziBerkshires correspondent

Recently retired Town Clerk Christine Emerson was recognized for her 30 years of service.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town will have to vote on a Proposition 2 1/2 override to raise taxes in order to fund its portion of the budget for the Hoosac Valley Regional School District.
That outcome was reached at town meeting on Monday only after nearly an hour of discussion among more than 100 voters, the Selectmen, Finance Committee and school officials. 
The first eight of 30 articles the annual town meeting warrant passed relatively quickly and unanimously at the start of the three-hour meeting. But with Article 9, the assessment to the regional school district, the meeting became more of an information session and sounding board for many in the town.
The town's assessment for the $23 million regional budget is $3,098,996, an additional $150,534 over this year's $2,948,462. Adams town meeting approved its assessment of $6,345,380 last week. 
The motion for an override was put forth by Selectmen Chair Shawn McGrath as an alternative to using free cash and stabilization funds to pay for the budget.
If the Proposition 2 1/2 override is rejected, the school district's budget would have to be amended and approved by the town.
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