Category Archives: BSE

‘Breakfast,’ with compound words underlined, by Rikku

"Birch Collage" by Reuben Bassett
“Birch Collage” by Reuben Bassett

AS THE SUNSHINE comes into my bedroom and wakes me up, I push off my bedspread and go barefoot into the living room to find my grandfather and grandmother reading the newspaper and waking up.

When they see me, one of them offers to make my breakfast. I want pancakes with strawberries.

Afterward, we all have places we need to go.


Rikku is a BSE fifth-grader. Reuben completed this collage in sixth grade; he is now at Mohawk. We welcome student work that reveals something of who we are as a community. These pieces are perfect.

LEC: ‘School Improvement Plan stronger with you’

LEC seeks family, community voices;
Shelburne seat still open

Dear Flow readers,

Our LEC (Local Education Council) is an advisory board to the principal. Members consist of parents of current students, teachers, and members of the towns of Buckland and Shelburne.

This year’s members are  parents Jennifer Martin, Elizabeth Garofalo, Rachel Silverman, and Amanda Kingsley; school staffers Sandra Carter, Kate Dwyer, and Lillian Black; and community member and Buckland resident Mary Brooks.

A seat is open for a Shelburne resident as well.

Flow staffer Myah Grant, then in 4th grade, is determined to report on the Dec. 17, 2014, LEC meeting.
Flow staffer Myah Grant, then in 4th grade, is determined to report on the Dec. 17, 2014, LEC meeting.

The LEC creates the Family-School Connection portion of the School Improvement Plan. Some schoolwide initiatives that have come from the LEC include the school garden, after-school enrichment programs, and the back-to-school Community Night.

[The SIP also covers Effective Instruction, Student Assessment, and Tiered Instruction and Adequate Learning Time. — Ed.]

The LEC aims to respond to the needs of Buckland-Shelburne families to help strengthen the relationship between home and school that is so important for our students.

There is always time in our agenda for community comment, and we welcome input from any member of the Buckland-Shelburne community. We just ask that you contact Principal Joanne Giguere first so that you can be put on the agenda.

The LEC meets at the school library at 4 p.m. on the second Monday of each month and follows the open-meeting laws. Sometimes decision-making happens over the course of several meetings, as we carefully consider concerns brought to our attention.

We hope to hear from you.

— Jennifer Martin, on behalf of the LEC


For more information on the LEC, contact Jen Martin at 625-3054 or jem1024@gmail.com. For copies of the district’s educational improvement plan, including BSE’s School Improvement Plan for 2015-2016 and its Action Plan, visit mohawkschools.org and click the tab for Buckland-Shelburne.

What’s on your mind? The Flow welcomes a diverse range of family friendly views on pertinent topics.

‘Audrey’s Angels’ seeks teams for May 22 cystic fibrosis walk

SHELBURNE—Winter will end and spring will bloom, and with it will arrive the 17th Annual Shelburne Falls Great Strides walkathon, which is raising funds toward a cure for the debilitating disease cystic fibrosis.

Walk day, which leaves from BSE, is a fun, family-oriented event with a healthy 2.5-kilometer walk, children’s activities, food, and festivities that participants look forward to year after year.

Participants can form walk teams at their workplace, through their clubs and organizations, and with friends and family.

The event is Sunday, May 22. Check in is at 1 p.m., and the walk starts at 2 at BSE. The route will traverse the Bridge of Flowers.

According to Great Strides’ Massachusetts/Rhode Island chapter, the event is part of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s largest national fundraising event. Locally, the walk is  in honor of BSE alumna Audrey Clark.

Clark notes on Great Strides’ “Audrey’s Angels” page that she is fighting for her life against CF, which affects 70,000 people worldwide, including 30,000 Americans. CF is an inherited disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

“Cystic fibrosis has caused me to need two double lung transplants, the first of which when I was 12. I am 21 now. I have rejected them both and need to wear oxygen to breathe. Only due to the money raised toward research could this have happened and given me this much extra life. Please donate so others don’t need to endure the hardships that I have,” she says.

Clark adds that she plans to walk the route. You can raise funds as a walker or “virtual walker” by visiting Great Strides.

Clark’s mother, Sandra Gaffey, is the bookkeeper at Mohawk. Each year, she says, more than 125,000 people participate in hundreds of walks across the country to raise funds for cystic fibrosis research and drug development.


For more information, call Sandra Gaffey  at 413-625-0227 or call the CF Foundation at 800-966-0444.

It’s fun and important to contribute in the kitchen

Bennett-mugWASHING DISHES for about 200 people is more exciting than washing dishes for two or three! You get to use lots of equipment, including a spraying hose and a big dishwasher — you just insert your load and hear a hiss and the machine takes it in and goes to work.

I’ve done this job twice. I look forward to doing it again, even thoughI have to give up a recess to do it. Here’s how it works:

First the two kids go down to the cafeteria at 11:15 a.m. and wash their hands. Next they volunteer to ether put away or dry the dishes.

Once that is decided, they wait for people to clear their lunches and Cafeteria Manager Sonya Hamdan or Roxanne Shearer will put the dishes in a huge washing machine to wash the dishes.

If they put in silverware, the kid putting dishes away gives them back and puts them in once more. When silverware is washed twice, the “put awayer” puts them on a table and the dryer probably dries them. That process goes on and on until every class, from pre-K to 6, is dismissed by 12:30 p.m.

The dishwasher is quite loud when the dishes go in.

You have to wear gloves and you cannot touch any part of your face during your job.

According to Mrs. Hamdan the work is also very important:

“We love having them here, especially as there are only two of us. The kids do a great job.”

Sometimes, she added, “helpers come back years later, even after they graduate, and say they remember this as a fun time, and that they miss it. That can bring a tear to my eye,” she told the Flow.

After everything, on my way back to class, I tend to feel proud and my fingers feel wet and pruny.

— Bennett Snyder


Students help our community in ways large and small. Let us hear how your student helps or might like to. And check out Diana Yaseen’s related story on the school breakfast and lunch program.

Eyes on the prize for health and fitness

MARY JOHANSMEYER is approaching 20 years teaching gym in the district. She says she believes the gym is a great place to instill teamwork, stamina, and self-confidence for a happier, healthier life. She looks for new ways to tie other classroom instruction in with fitness.
MARY JOHANSMEYER is approaching 20 years teaching gym in the district. She says she believes the gym is a great place to instill teamwork, stamina, and self-confidence for a happier, healthier life. She looks for new ways to tie other classroom instruction in with fitness.

SNOW HAS YET to fall in our neck of the woods but the great outdoors are lovely all around, and we can certainly take a walk or enjoy a hike. Sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country and downhill skiing aren’t far off. According to BSE physical education teacher Mary Johansmeyer, kids will rise to the challenge of physical fitness and healthy lifestyle choices if given the chance — and clever encouragement.

Flow: We were just speaking with Cafeteria Manager Sonya Hamdan about healthy eating and student success…

Mary: It’s essential. I’m on the Wellness Committee, which is setting our nutritional policy for the district. The state came up with this requirement for a committee to oversee nutrition, physical education, and a healthy lifestyle. I’m on it along with Sue Mitchell, the nurse liaison for the district; Denise Dunbar, the nurse from Sanderson; the other elementary P.E. teacher and high school P.E. teacher; and we’re trying to get the health teacher on board.

The goal is to make sure our kids lead healthy lifestyles. We’re looking at health as much as we can, including what the kids eat in school, like at parties. We try to dictate what is allowed for parties. It used to be all what I call junk: good[-tasting] junk, but is it healthy?
We’ll meet monthly and present our recomendations to the School Committee. This isn’t new: We’re just revisiting it.

Flow: What are the kids working on now?

Mary: The young kids work on movement concepts: spatial awareness and basic skills just so I can hook them in to kind of get them excited about moving.

The older kids, I always start out with teamwork so they can get used to working with one another. I just introduced a game called Hover Ball. The kids saw it on TV. I don’t watch a lot of TV. It’s half of a soccer ball and you kick it and it just sort of glides across the floor. It was great for the older kids because I always start soccer later in the fall: the grass is always soaking wet in the mornings and I hate bringing them out in it where their feet are soaking, so I’m always stuck with, How do I teach soccer without being outdoors? This is awesome because we learned our basic skills, and then once we got into game-playing we were able to play in the gym. We have goals. They were ready.

Flow: What’s your goal for P.E. this year overall?

Mary: My goal is just to keep them motivated and excited to move and just want to keep exercising and moving and having fun. We’re always trying to come up with new, fun ideas.

Flow: Many kids say they want more recess. Principal Joanne Giguere points out there are only so many hours available for that, given the requirements on instruction time. What’s your view?

Mary: I feel that recess, or just running and moving, is so important. That’s how kids learn: by doing. If they’re just sitting at the desk all day, yeah, I can teach you by talking, but if you do it, if you learn through moving, you’re going to remember it much longer.

In here a lot of the time I’ll try to incorporate what they’re doing in the classroom, like math facts. The sixth graders are working on it and getting better at their multiplication. They work in pairs: One person is the jumper and someone else holds the math fact cards. They might get “seven times seven” and have to jump on the answer, and do as many as they can in 30 seconds. You’ve got to know those numbers, and you’re jumping and it just plants that in your brain. Whatever the classroom is doing I try to pick up on something and make it physical.

Flow: How long have you been teaching here?

Mary: About 18 years. I didn’t start until Kelly, my youngest out of four, started first grade. I came back to teach. My degree was phys. ed. When I first got married I taught up in New Hampshire a little bit and then when we started having kids we moved back here. I didn’t want to be a working mom. I didn’t want to be away from the kids so I did daycare and I took in a lot of teachers’ kids, and our vacations were the same, and my husband was a teacher, so it worked for us around vacations.

Flow: As parents, what are we up against in terms of keeping kids active: screen time?

Mary: Definitely. Kids need to be moving. I just did the pre-fitness test for fifth grade, and just looking at the fitness components I talked to the kids about — abdominal strength, muscular strength, upper body strength, endurance, and flexibility — we talk about why each of those pieces are important to be healthy.

In many cases we’re finding where we need improvement, where we see a health risk. Now I’m going to go over their results with them and send these results home. It shows them, “I need to be outside; I need to be more active.” How many curl-ups can you do in a minute? How many 90-degree push-ups? How flexible is your reach? How fast can you do 2,000 steps? These are our standards. It gives us a measurement we can improve on.

Flow: Do you teach the kids how to perform an effective push-up?

Mary: I teach them that from Day One: how to do the exercise safely and effectively. We’ll do different things, not just pushups. Pushups are hard. It’s motor planning. There’s a lot to think about, so I always think of additional things to do to work on upper-body strength.

Flow: Is there anything else you think parents should know?

Mary: I only have the kids an hour a week. Their success depends on what they do when I’m not around, though I’m always happy to help. Kids need to be doing more at home. I am seeing that.


Teachers, parents, students, community members: You can write for us too! Tell us something new about who we are and where we live. We’ll help!