Category Archives: BSE

Sixth-graders land remembrance award at Keene State

First-place win for reflections to Holocaust novel in art, poetry

LEFT, Jane Yolen’s ‘The Devil’s Arithmetic’ (1988) is annual reading at BSE. Half of Jacqui Goodman’s class turned their reading of the novel into an artistic statement, “Remember,” that won this year’s Charles A. Hildebrandt Holocaust and Genocide Studies Award at Keene State College. At right is Dr. Henry Knight, Keene State’s Holocaust and genocide studies director.
LEFT, Jane Yolen’s ‘The Devil’s Arithmetic’ (1988) is annual reading at BSE. Half of Jacqui Goodman’s class turned their reading of the novel into an artistic statement, “Remember,” that won this year’s Charles A. Hildebrandt Holocaust and Genocide Studies Award at Keene State College. At right is Dr. Henry Knight, Keene State’s Holocaust and genocide studies director.

SHELBURNE—Sixth-grade students at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School have just won the 2014 Charles A. Hildebrandt Holocaust and Genocide Studies Award for Middle School Students, held annually at Keene State College.

Seventeen students participating in teacher Jacqui Goodman’s spring unit on the Holocaust and genocide had submitted a class project, “Remember,” which consisted of their reflections of a class reading of area author Jane Yolen’s historical fiction novel “The Devil’s Arithmetic.”

The award honors Charles Hildebrandt, Keene State College’s professor emeritus in sociology, and founder, in 1983, of its Holocaust Resource Center. The award is given in recognition of excellence in Holo-caust or genocide studies.

An award ceremony was scheduled Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m. The center invited winners and their guests to a reception at 5 p.m.

Presentations are given by the award-winning participants, and monetary and book awards are granted. BSE’s cash award is $100, which will be mailed to the school.

Entries, judged by committee, were evaluated on their depth of vision, insight, creativity, originality, and technical ability. BSE entered in the category for grades 5-8.

Reached in Seattle, where she was visiting one of her daughters on April break, Ms. Goodman told The BSE Flow, “What I’ve known about BSE sixth graders is that they’re creative thinkers who love learning about places beyond Shelburne Falls and human experiences beyond their own.”

She said her students, having read “The Devil’s Arithmetic,” “seemed deeply affected by the story and then wanted to do something about what they’d learned.

“I’m thrilled that they moved beyond a school assignment (reading the book) to wanting to share something with the larger community (recognizing Holocaust Remembrance Day was completely student-generated). Their activism bodes well for our future,” she said.

She described the project as a large display, backed by burlap, of students’ “reflections” in art and poetry to pages of Yolen’s award-winning novel.

The class also planned to hand out brochures they’ve made to passersby in Shelburne Falls on the occasion of the Holocaust Day of Remembrance, on Monday, April 28, the day students returned from their spring vacation.

Students also have prepared a 12-foot banner reading, “Remember” that Ms. Goodman was working on displaying downtown. She said she hoped to find a business owner who will donate wall space.

As described by its publisher, Puffin Modern Classics, “The Devil’s Arithmetic” follows Hannah, a Jewish girl living in New Rochelle, N.Y.:

“During a Passover Seder, Hannah is transported back in time to 1942 Poland, during World War II, where she is sent to a death camp thought to be Auschwitz and learns the importance of knowing about the past,” promotional copy reads.

The Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover, which commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

Passover began this year on the evening of April 14, and ended the evening of April 22.

“The Devil’s Arithmetic” was nominated for the Nebula Award for best novella in 1988 and won the National Jewish Book Award for children’s literature in 1989.

Art flowed from art

Days before learning her class had won the award, Ms. Goodman told The BSE Flow that her predecessor, Larry Wells, routinely assigned “The Devil’s Arithmetic” for sixth-grade reading and discussion on the strength of its clarity and accessibility for the age group. “When he retired and I moved into his place I thought I’d give it a shot, and it’s been incredible,” she said.

As for the resulting project that landed her students the Hildebrandt Award, Ms. Goodman said she’d discovered the “reflections” technique in an exhibit at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. She said she thought her students might try their hand at it.

The class project was shepherded to Keene State College by Maggid David Arfa, father of one of Ms. Goodman’s students, and a storyteller and environmental educator. Mr. Arfa’s storytelling performance, “The Jar of Tears: A Memorial for the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto,” won the 2009 Hildebrandt Award in honor of its artistic excellence, depth of vision, and technical mastery.

Far-Flung Family

Far-flung-famly

A fifth-grader re-discovers Chile, sunsets,
and his mom’s hometown

Kara logoSHELBURNE—He saw aunts and uncles and 37 cousins, and his grandparents. He slept in one house after another after another. He knew how to ward off the town’s stray dogs. He photographed gorgeous Pacific sunsets. He ate octopus.

I listened, amazed. This wasn’t the typical back-from-vacation carpool story.

Jeffrey Buck, a BSE fifth-grader, had been gone for two weeks to Chile, where his mom, Elizabeth, is from — at a town called Tomé. This was Jeffrey’s third trip there but the first he’s old enough to remember. He had just returned to the village and was fitting back into daily life, happy to play with my son Will.

Jeffrey was excited about his trip. He showed us lots of pictures and told a story of romance and adventure: his parents’.

His father, Phil, is an adventurer, Jeffrey said with just a trace of a Spanish accent. He explained his parents met when Phil traveled to Santiago, the capital of Chile, “to seek adventure,” and he sure found one: He and Eli met within an hour of his landing — his first-ever

South American trip — and the two traveled the world.
In 1994 they got married.

Eli joined Phil in the States, leaving her birth family behind to start her American family. Mark was born first; he’s now an athlete who’s just graduated Mohawk Trail Regional High School. Jeffrey came next.

While Eli raised her sons she worked for Community Action’s WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program. She taught Spanish at Mohawk High School for four years, and now teaches at the Academy at Charlemont.

"The adventure that drew Phil to Chile 20 times so far started as a seed in his heart. He was a boy when he read a book by Thor Heyerdahl called “Kon-Tiki” (1947) that told of Heyerdahl’s long sea voyage on a balsa raft..."
“The adventure that drew Phil to Chile 20 times so far started as a seed in his heart. He was a boy when he read a book by Thor Heyerdahl called “Kon-Tiki” (1947) that told of Heyerdahl’s long sea voyage on a balsa raft…”

The adventure that drew Phil to Chile 20 times so far started as a seed in his heart. He was a boy when he read a book by Thor Heyerdahl called “Kon-Tiki” (1947) that told of Heyerdahl’s long sea voyage on a balsa raft.

According to Jeffrey, it was then his dad decided to help validate Heyerdahl’s theory — that ancient peoples could have taken 8,000-mile sea voyages on rafts, creating contacts between separate cultures — by building an ancient-style reed raft when he grew up. So, in 2000 he built a 64-foot replica and sailed from Arica, Chile, to Easter Island.

ChileThe journey of his boyhood dreams came to fruition in the company of a group of men and two ducks. (Sadly, one of the ducks jumped ship.) They’d brought the “animal friends,” as Jeffrey described them, because Heyerdahl and his crew had brought a parrot on their voyage.

The story Jeffrey told about his father following Heyerdahl seem larger than life and bring to mind Alex Rover from “Nim’s Island.” But the telling is accurate. Heyerdahl wrote up his accounts and documented them on film, winning an Academy Award in 1951.

Phil followed Heyerdahl into print, too: Journalist Nick Thorpe overheard Phil and his crew planning their voyage, joined them on the trip, and wrote “Eight Men and a Duck: An Improbable Voyage by Reed Boat to Easter Island” (2001).

Jeffrey continued telling the story of his mother’s family and country with passion — and that slight accent that mirrors his mother’s full, beautiful one.

The family visited Eli’s family in Chile this summer because they wanted to see Jeffrey’s grandfather, who is ill.

The sights, sounds and smells of Chile came to life with Jeffrey’s rich description. “I felt so much like I belonged there. I felt like I actually lived there,” he said.

His aunt Priscilla took him and Eli around to visit. And there was much good food. The country sounded practically famous for its food. Jeffrey particularly enjoyed the ribs.

And all the stores had candy. So much candy. “Boxes everywhere,” he said in wonder.

And there were more stories: Jeffrey and his cousin Bastian enjoyed parkour, rock-wall climbing, and the circus. There were sea lions, too: perhaps the highlight of the vacation, he said.

The only time he pronounces Chile as “chili” is when he explains that most people in Chile “don’t even like to eat chili.” Otherwise he uses the proper Spanish vowels: “chee-lay.”

Now our playdate carpool chit-chat has taken on a new flair. My son Will is determined to learn Spanish, and he and Jeffrey compete to see who knows more words. Jeffrey wins these games.

Jeffrey, with his home here, said he looks forward to a life of travel and adventure: His parents, brave and curious, inspire him. How can you not be swept along into a story like that?


Kara Bohonowicz is a Flow adviser.

Cassidy Connects

THE SCHOOL is going to the dogs! Well, one friendly dog. Here, Ms. Funk fields questions after school from reporters on her dad’s rescued, three-legged friend — which is of ancient stock, according to DNA tests.
THE SCHOOL is going to the dogs! Well, one friendly dog. Here, Ms. Funk fields questions after school from reporters on her dad’s rescued, three-legged friend — which is of ancient stock, according to DNA tests.
ACTION, adventure, and a heck of a smile. Above is Hopalong Cassidy, the fictional cowboy created more than a century ago — and is the namesake of Ms. Funk’s dad’s pup.
ACTION, adventure, and a heck of a smile. Above is Hopalong Cassidy, the fictional cowboy created more than a century ago — and is the namesake of Ms. Funk’s dad’s pup.

HE SLIPS AND SLIDES and is fuzzy, and is a welcome sight in school.
Almost everyone knows Cassidy, Ms. Funk’s dog. And they probably have noticed that this dog, which is mostly black with a little white and has brown eyes, is missing the front leg on his left side.

Students can see him following Ms. Funk when she has recess duty.

He doesn’t come to school every day, but when he does he likes getting lots of pets.

But we learned a few things about Cassidy you might not know yet.
First, he is a 7-year-old mutt, and a mutt means “a dog of unknown ancestry.” That means he’s not a pure breed of dog.

But even though he’s not a pure breed, he is special.

“I found out through DNA tests that he is an ancient dog. His ancestry goes back very far. He’s from the first type of domesticated dog,” explained Ms. Funk when our school newspaper team asked her to share Cassidy’s story.

Second, Cassidy belongs to Ms. Funk’s dad, who is a veterinarian. Years ago an animal control officer found Cassidy, who was hurt and had no other owner, and brought him to Ms. Funk’s dad for care. He had to amputate the dog’s leg to save his life.

Photo: Joy Bohonowicz
Cassidy photo: Joy Bohonowicz

Cassidy comes to school periodically and sleeps over at Ms. Funk’s house — she calls it a sleepover — and is there now because her dad is on vacation.

Third, Cassidy is named for Hopalong Cassidy, whom we looked up and found out is a fictional cowboy/western hero. [Created in 1904 by the author Clarence E. Mulford, who wrote a series of popular short stories and many novels based on the character.]

The BSE Flow wondered what life is like for Cassidy, as he only has three legs. So our reporters asked Ms. Funk several follow-up questions to learn more.

First, she said, Cassidy “smiles” whenever he comes to school. As our reporters spent time with him, that seemed very true. Cassidy looked happy to have people pet him and talk about him. He kept wagging his tail and coming over to people. He invites pets and gentle scratches.

He also has a big right front paw — and what Ms. Funk described as a “skid plate” on his chest/belly from where he slides on the floor. She said he slides around when he runs, especially on the polished school floor.

Joy wondered whether Cassidy gets tired from all that sliding. Ms. Funk said that he does.

“Cassidy has to work very hard to get around with a missing leg, and usually tumbles around when he runs. It’s hard for him to get around on the tile, so he might be a little tired at the end of the day,” she said.

To help him, Ms. Funk sometimes gives him a boost onto a wheeled chair and drives him around. Students often stop to say hi to the pup.

Then Arwen recalled that when she was in Ms. Funk’s class, and Cassidy would visit, “Every time we started doing something he squeaked his toy or did something funny. Everybody loves having Cassidy around.”

Finally, perhaps the most interesting thing to note about Cassidy, according to Ms. Funk, is that he loves being in school. “He’s getting a great education,” she said.

Just Do It

Gagnon logoSHELBURNE—As the school year kicked off here in the hilltowns, many fall sports began, including football, field hockey, cross-country, golf, and girls’ volleyball.

Are you a sports fan? Do you enjoy playing, or following, any of these sports? If so you might know we’ve been in the midst of an exciting season of sports in the Mohawk District.

And if not, there’s still plenty you can do to stay in shape and have a lot of fun. You’re in a great place to do that.

I love sports. I’ve played baseball since kindergarten, and was in Cal Ripken baseball in elementary school. Baseball is the sport I focus the most on, but I go farther in golf than I do in any other sport. My plan is to go to college, and I’m playing golf here at Mohawk again (in middle school), and then I’ll play it in high school and see how far I can take it.

I have to be really good if I want to go pro. It’s the same with any sport, but for me it’s golf. I’ve been told I’m only going to get better. If I wanted to try to do that, and if I play more, there’s a chance I could go pro.

Golf also helps pass the time if I have nothing to do. My dad and my uncle both taught me to play. My dad taught me in fourth grade and I’ve been playing it ever since. As a game it’s frustrating but also relaxing.

Now that I’m in eighth grade I’m playing matches. I feel the eighth-graders are going to be good. I watched some of the kids play last year; it was their first year and I was able to watch them get better as the year went on. Three or four of us ended up practicing with varsity last year.

Here’s my advice for everyone: do something. Get involved. I totally think kids need to get outside and not just end up sitting on a couch. Be active and stuff; it’s good for you.

I’ve made a lot of friends playing sports, especially playing teams from other districts. You meet a lot of kids you wouldn’t get to know otherwise. I like seeing them around.  Definitely by high school you’re playing so many other teams you get to meet a lot of different kids.

I loved gym class with Mrs. J.  [Mrs. Johansmeyer]. When you get to Mohawk, take gym, because even though we did a lot of cool stuff at BSE, when I got to Mohawk it was all-new. You get to take on new games and activities.

With exercise like that, your physical health is better. You don’t feel down. You feel good, and by being active I feel a little better than when I wasn’t as active. Taking gym as seriously as I’ve been taking it for the past six years, it’s helped.

And I play video games, but not as much as I used to. When I was at BSE I had a lot more time. What with homework and sports, now that’s kind of a weekend thing.

So I’m looking forward to writing this column and sharing what’s happening in the sports world in our area. If you would like your sport, league, or team highlighted, please reach out to me.

Thanks and have fun.


To reach Brian with a sports tip or question, write sports@bseflow.com.