Category Archives: Opinion

Politics matters to all of us. It shapes our lives

GET OUT THE VOTE: Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally in fall 2015. Students and others in the community should get involved in the issues, write fifth-grader Diana Yaseen.
GET OUT THE VOTE: Presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a campaign rally in fall 2015. Students and others in the community should get involved in the issues, writes fifth-grader Diana Yaseen.

MY FAMILY ANDDIANA-MUG I went to a rally for Bernie Sanders, who is running for president. He is a state senator from Vermont. It was loud — it was in a big auditorium, the MassMutual Center in Springfield, that seats about 8,000 people. My mom later said 6,000 came.

Bernie Sanders is older than I expected. I thought he was going to be a young man. He had a massive amount of energy but after a while I got bored and felt like falling asleep.

I saw a lot of signs being passed around. Some people made their own signs. There were bumper stickers and pins.

My mom, my sister, three strangers who became our friends, and I held up letters that spelled out “Bernie.”

I don’t think he saw us — his back was facing us.

A lot of people were cheering. One section cheered, “Feel the Bern!” Many of his supporters started this cheer by going, “Feel the—” and the crowd cheered back, “Bern!”

He said he wants to be president because he thinks he can help the community by making four-year colleges and universities tuition-free.

He said if the police do something wrong [police brutality] they should be sent to jail, not just let off the hook.

He also said he is in favor of gun control because guns are dangerous and are used to kill people.

I agree with him. But if you don’t that’s OK. The important thing is to start getting involved in the issues. You can help in your community in lots of ways, even without voting for president. But the best way to help others is to stand up for what you believe in and care about politics.

Right now the president is Barack Obama, a Democrat, who has served almost two four-year terms, and that’s the maximum. The next presidential election is Nov. 8, 2016.

I think people should care about politics because it’s going to build our future.

Fifth-grader Diana Yaseen is a Flow staffer. These are her personal views. We welcome reader letters reflecting a wide range of respectful opinions at letters@bseflow.com.

Quick Chat: Rachel Silverman moves on to Mohawk

RACHEL SILVERMAN assists Flow staffer Ainsley Bogel on a feature then in the works for our coverage of the spring Art Show. Ms. Silverman left the elementary schools this fall for Mohawk. Our art shows will continue under new BSE art teacher Rebecca Cummings.
RACHEL SILVERMAN assists Flow staffer Ainsley Bogel on a feature then in the works for our coverage of the spring Art Show. Ms. Silverman left the elementary schools this fall for Mohawk. Our art shows will continue under new BSE art teacher Rebecca Cummings.

Rachel Silverman logo

Dear BSE families,

JUST AFTER SCHOOL ended back in June I was offered a full-time position as art teacher at Mohawk, and I accepted.

While I am excited about the change and the challenges ahead, I am certainly feeling the bittersweetness of it as I say goodbye to BSE.
For five years I have been lucky enough to work in a fabulous school community with an awesome group of creative young people in a beautiful art studio. We have made lots of spectacular art happen and I have enjoyed every art show immensely as I see the pride of the faces of students and parents alike.

I have grown as an educator here and learned so much from my colleagues and students. Leaving is not easy. Hopefully it’ll only be a matter of time before I get to teach my BSE gang again at Mohawk. Until then, I thank you all for your support of the arts — and of me over the years. I will always be grateful for that.

— Fondly, Rachel Silverman


Asked a bit later
how she was settling in at Mohawk,
Mrs. Silverman told the Flow…

I’m trying a lot of new things and learning a ton about gearing art education toward middle- and high-school students. I miss my elementary school kids a lot, but I’m enjoying the new challenge of creating a rich and meaningful art program at the older level.

I realize that my experiences at BSE and Heath have taught me so much about what is important and developmentally sound in art education and I am really just building on that and taking my practice beyond the sixth-grade year into what comes next.

I’m also piloting a new course next semester and looking forward to launching more in the future.

I feel excited and grateful to be in this community. The kids aren’t as small but they are still pretty sweet, up for trying new things and exploring different ways art can be a part of our lives.


Hence the Quick Chat…

Our staffers wondered what some of their fellow students might have to say on the occasion of Mrs. Silverman taking her new job. We enjoyed taking these photos, and getting the quotes into and out of our reporters’ notebooks…

 

Amar Abbatiello: ‘Singing and dancing is always good for any kid…’

Amar Abbatiello is the Cat in the Hat and Laura Purington is Gertrude McFuzz in Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s “Seussical the Musical.”

MOHAWK—Junior Amar Abbatiello is one hard-working cat. Coming off his amazing performance as the Scarecrow in Mohawk’s 2014 “Wizard of Oz,” he was a natural under the hat in this month’s “Seussical,” which sold out its three consecutive-days’ performances.
He also maintains very good grades, competes in track and field, and works at South Face Farm Sugarhouse in Ashfield.

Performing wasn’t always on his mind. He wasn’t an artsy kid, he said. When he was in elementary school, at Sanderson Academy, he was a tinkerer.

“I liked building things with wood. I did that at home; I didn’t do much in school,” he said.

Even music seems to have been thrust upon him: “In seventh grade band I took saxophone because my brother had, and my mom was like, “I’m not wasting money on this saxophone; you’re going to learn saxophone.’ ” So he did.

Next came chorus. “I got into eighth grade and they were like, ‘You can take chorus or you can take gym.’ I was like, ‘Sign me up, I’ll sing my heart out!’ And now I’m the Cat in the Hat.”

Asked a couple of hours before his March 7 performance what it’s like working with so many kids from all over the school district, Amar immediately said he enjoys it.

“It’s a very good learning experience for both groups. All the elementary school kids get to see how all us slightly more mature kids kind of act about theatre. They can kind of get an experience of theatre and see that singing and dancing — that’s always good for any kid, whether he wants to go into dancing or not.”

He added: “I think it’s just a healthy experience for kids of wider age groups to communicate with each other, because it creates more understanding between both of them and leaves less of a gap between social groups. So you can communicate as a whole better later on.”


RELATED: All-School ‘Seussical’ a District Who’s Who.

Stay Open to What Fourth Grade and Life May Bring

Bennett-mugWHEN I STARTED fourth grade this year I wasn’t expecting it to be this fun. I was nervous to see my friends after the break, but I was also relaxed.

My teacher, Ms. Hyer, is AWESOME, and we learn a lot of new things like long division and advanced multiplication and fractions. Recently we did this activity called Scrambled Multiplication Tables. It was a box and only some of the boxes were filled in with numbers, but not all of them, and you had to figure out which numbers go where in the multiplication table.

We have Read-Aloud every day. We’re reading “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, which we reviewed recently. I love it. It’s about a kid who has a somewhat deformed face, and there is one kid, named Julian, who makes fun of him. It’s a very interesting book.

Also in fourth grade, I joined this AMAZING newspaper staff. For this issue and the previous one, I am the editor in chief. I help lead meetings and I’ve settled a couple of disputes. It’s fun. I love working on stories, writing funny things, and seeing our people being productive.

In the February  issue, when we reported about the school budget, I wrote an editorial saying I thought our school computers should have “Minecraft” on them, and after the paper came out we looked again and found out someone put “Minecraft” on the computers. Maybe they did it because of the editorial.

I think people who aren’t in fourth grade yet should look forward to it. I am already looking forward to fifth grade.

Why should kids take the MCAS?

Do not disturb...
Do not disturb…

THE OPINION of this newspaper is mixed on taking the MCAS, which we are taking now.

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests us on English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. It counts what we learn and compares how students, schools, and districts perform statewide.

We in the newsroom discussed our opinions about MCAS. Here are a few quotes:

• “MCAS doesn’t really matter. Different people learn different ways. You can’t have one test for everyone and expect them to sit down and do it.”

• “MCAS is meant to see how well the teachers are teaching us. They shouldn’t be pressuring us to do it well. They shouldn’t be forcing us with the practices.”

• “It’s good and bad because the state is giving the teachers stuff to teach that’s going to be on the MCAS that we have to learn. It’s stressful having math every day.”

• “I’ll tell you, it’s really stressful! But what’s on the MCAS the teachers have already been teaching us, so we’d know it pretty well. It’s kind of a waste of time to learn it all over again.”

• “I think that MCAS, if it’s a test that’s supposed to count how well the teachers are teaching us, then I don’t think they should be pressuring the kids. Maybe they can just can get a copy of some kid’s report card to prove they were taught properly.”

Sarah Jetzon, director of Curriculum and Assessments for grades 7-12, says a B in a class here might not translate to a B in another school, district, or state.

‘BSE has been working really hard on improvements…’

Sarah Jetzon, director of Curriculum and Assessments for grades 7-12, says a B in a class here might not translate to a B in another school, district, or state.

Asked for comment, Sarah Jetzon, director of Curriculum and Assessments for grades 7-12, told us schools are ranked at levels from 1 to 5 on how well they perform at MCAS, and that schools with lower-level scores get extra help from the state.

She said BSE is at level 1, the top of the scale, up from level 3 just a couple of years ago.

“That’s because of improvements they’ve made. They’ve been working really hard to do that,” she said.

She said the idea nationwide is to have an accountability measure for schools to make sure children are getting the education they’re entitled to in ELA, math, and science.

Jennifer L. Lagoy, director of Curriculum and Assessment, PK-6, thanked all the people who worked on this year’s ELA MCAS.
She thanked the students first:

“As I have visited schools this year I have noticed all of you working hard to prepare for the MCAS. I saw many of you learning strategies for taking the ELA MCAS and practicing them with your teachers and classmates.”

She thanked the teachers next for their hard work. She also thanked the principals, proctors, and volunteers:

“There were many people who gathered to serve our students breakfast and snacks on their test day. The work that you do is essential and appreciated greatly,” she said.


This piece emerged from a Flow workshop unit on editorial writing. The opinions belong to Flow staff; adviser John Snyder supplied additional reporting.