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Egremont Elementary School students brought "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to the stage.
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School committee members were invited to the event.
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Hunter said during the performance that this event could not have been done without the support of the district and school administration and staff.
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Egremont Elementary School Pre-K Students Perform 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar'

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Hunter has been teaching the Reader's Theater curriculum to her students since she was a first-grade teacher.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Egremont Elementary School students in Elaine Hunter's prekindergarten inclusive classroom made their stage debut on Tuesday with a performance of Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." 
 
The district administration, school committee members, and students' families gathered around the cafeteria's stage to watch as students performed the transformation of a very hungry caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. 
 
Hunter has been teaching the Reader's Theater curriculum to her students since she was a first-grade teacher at Egremont Elementary School in 2017, and when Hunter decided to teach in the pre-k inclusive classroom this year, she brought this style of curriculum with her. 
 
Hunter said her class is made up of both "typical" and special needs students. However, the difference between teaching these students is similar. 
 
She said teaching in an inclusive classroom is about showing up and being mindful of everyone's individual and unique strengths and weaknesses. This requires writing instructional goals for each one of the students, she said 
 
"I think, what I love the most about our Reader's Theater is you will be unable to tell who is a typical student and who has special needs because they all show up on stage," Hunter said. 
 
Some students were nonverbal before Hunter's class, but during the performance, they raised their voices proudly.
 
"There are so many incredible reasons why this [event] is so important. It helps build fluency with repeated readings of text in a safe way to involve reluctant readers and speakers, allows children the luxury of lingering over a story, acting it out many times to understand all its nuances, and allows children to demonstrate comprehension," Hunter said. 
 
All of these are essential components for success in reading, she said. 
 
"In pre-k, it has allowed the children opportunities to collaborate, practice active listening skills, encourage academic curiosity, and give them the confidence to stand before an audience," Hunter said. "In alignment with our district-mandated curriculum, it provides a meaningful way for us as educators to bring to life all the skills and concepts we teach throughout the year." 
 
When Hunter taught the Reader's Theater curriculum to her first graders, she used works by American illustrator and writer Jan Brett. 
 
This year, she wanted to find an author that would resonate with prekindergarten students and felt American author and designer Eric Carle was a good fit.
 
Assistant Superintendent Marisa Mendonsa said the event gives the students a sense of pride and allows their families to see them perform.
 
"I think it's a confidence booster and really helps them see themselves as kindergarten students next year," Mendonsa said. 
 
Hunter invited school committee members to the performance so that they could see what teachers do and the importance and impact of their work, especially considering the recent cuts to the school budget. 
 
School committee members were impressed with the program. Vice Chairman Daniel Elias said the "impact of the event is profound" knowing that many of the students who were nonverbal or now performing on stage in front of a good-sized crowd.   
 
Chairman William Cameron agreed.
 
"This event clearly instilled a great deal of confidence in these kid that they can stand up and be heard for who they are. I mean it was very impressive," Cameron said. 
 
Hunter said she wanted to show the school committee what teachers do and some of the collaborative projects they implement to better their students' education. She said this is something she wants the committee to consider when they make decisions about cutting positions.
 
Hunter said during the performance that this event could not have been done without the support of the district and school administration and staff. 
 
"I am grateful that I work in a place where my crazy ideas are valued and cherished and where my administrators are present," Hunter said. 
 
Superintendent Joseph Curtis said the performance and video reminded everyone of the true purpose of the district–that "we're here to support our students, to educate them, to involve their families."
 
"I think, particularly during complex times, like we are currently in relation to budget and all that we face as an educational institution today reminds us that we're here to support our students, to educate them, to involve their families, as they were all here today to see their children. It just reminds us of our true mission, vision, and core values," he added. 
 
School Committee member Sarah Hathaway said Pittsfield Public Schools Administration Center staff have worked "diligently and endlessly to choose the right curriculum."
 
She added that the district has play-based curriculum in its preschools and data shows that the children who go through the Pittsfield Pre-K program are much better prepared for kindergarten than children who have not gone through the play-based curriculum.
 
"So, we are very excited that we will be expanding our Pre-K program next year and over the next few years, and the governor has been very supportive with funding to help us offer more children with this experience," she said. 
 

Tags: prekindergarten,   

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Piretti Walkoff Hit Lifts Hot Dog Ranch to PIttsfield Little League Title

By Leland BarnesiBerkshires.com Sports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Matthew Piretti drove in the winning run in the bottom of the sixth as Hot Dog Ranch rallied from behind for the walkoff win in the championship game of the Pittsfield Little League on Friday.
 
Sawyer Layne struck out eight hitters in three innings on the mound and hit a game-tying homer to lead off the sixth as Hot Dog Ranch took a 4-3 win over East Side Cafe to decide the first title of the newly unified Pittsfield LL.
 
East Side Cafe took a lead early at Clapp Park when Hector Reyes drove in a pair of runs with a shot to center field to make it 2-0.
 
Hot Dog Ranch threatened in the bottom of the frame with a walk and a double, but East Side's Mike Ressler (eight strikeouts) ended the threat with back-to-back Ks.
 
In the second, Layne took away two hits from East Side Cafe with back-to-back fielding plays, and his offense rewarded him right away.
 
Troy Choquette drove in a pair of runs to tie the game after three.
 
In the fourth, Choquette moved to the mound with the bases loaded and got out of the jam to keep it a 2-2 game.
 
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