Category Archives: Shelburne Falls

Wait, We Have a School Newspaper?

FLOW STAFFERS review their story budget in the newsroom in April. Third-grader Harper Brown, center, says our ideas are “amazing,” and is eager to introduce them at his school when he hits fourth grade.
FLOW STAFFERS review their story budget in the newsroom in April. Third-grader Harper Brown, center, says our ideas are “amazing,” and is eager to introduce them at his school when he hits fourth grade.
Flow 2
TOP ROW, left to right: Joy Bohonowicz, Arwen King, Ashley Wrisley. Bottom row, left to right: Anthony Snyder and Octavia Crawford.

THIS APRIL some of the most talented kids I’ve ever met signed up to learn a little bit of what it means to work at a newspaper and have fun doing it.

As their after-school spring enrichment adviser I wanted to see how far we’d get in six hours (one hour a week for six Mondays) by interviewing each other, asking follow-up questions, and talking about how and why news is covered in our larger community.

In our art room-turned newsroom we talked about times we’d appeared in a newspaper — whether in quotes or photos — and how that felt. We interviewed friends and family, came back with copy (with direct quotes, all attributed), and had fun talking about it.
We pored over the papers serving our region, discussing the elements of story, page, and section. We noted ads and comics. We began to think of ways to serve the reader.

budget
After talking about newspapers, interviewing each other and family members, and practicing asking follow-up questions, we worked up a list of story ideas. Here we see the outline for issue No. 1 coming together, including our first big feature: a profile of Cassidy, a teacher’s dog..

Everyone showed heartening enthusiasm.

When we could grab someone out in the hallway for a photo or an interview we did that too, and came back with a great profile of a school dog, a lively Q&A with patient school staffers, and a chat with our librarian.

We voted on a name for this paper — three contenders were proposed, and “The BSE Flow” won — and I thought we’d have fun opening a Word newsletter template and typing our stories in.

The kids looked at me like I didn’t understand.

“No. We want a newspaper,” they said. They pulled a broadsheet, with all the cool stuff in it, out from the pile of papers before us. “This.”

We'd spent weeks looking at how newspapers worked. Our students weren't going to settle for a anything less.
We’d spent weeks looking at how any why these newspapers worked. Our students weren’t going to settle for anything less than a paper of their own.

“Uh… OK,” I said. “Let me see how we would print something that large. I’ll get back to you. Hold that thought.”

And I checked with the Daily Hampshire Gazette, which owns just such a press, and they promptly offered to donate 250 copies of a four-page Flow, two pages in color. And then I reported to my bosses — all in grades three, four, and six — and they got to work.

Cassidy page
From story idea to research to interview to photographs to writing to editing to layout, this piece was a huge and exciting success! And doesn’t Cassidy look sweet!

They organized a list of story ideas and decided who would work on what. They wanted to explore, for readers, what it’s like to learn here, create here, contribute here.

We interviewed and photographed and asked ourselves what we can provide our audience...
We interviewed and photographed and asked ourselves what we can provide our audience…

They took the project seriously and laughed often, which in my opinion is the perfect balance of life skills.

The kids found stories everywhere...
The kids found stories everywhere…

We had planned to cover everything — all the other enrichment programs, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the eclipse, news from every class, and big events scheduled for May and June.

We worked on stories together; they voted on photos to use out of a dozen or so per subject we’d met.

I roamed the halls on their behalf, taking pictures, interviewing teachers, and … that was a problem. We’d run out of time. I wanted this to be their paper, not mine, so to finish now, without them, to get photos they wouldn’t get to see or vote on, to get quotes they wouldn’t get to consider for follow-up, would defeat the purpose.

I wanted them to lay the thing out, write headlines and captions, and proof pages. I’d help, of course.

Our first issue, with breaking news!
Our first issue, four pages, with breaking news! We printed 250 copies and gave them out in school. Families, teachers, and students said they wanted to see the project continue…

Then I learned Jacqui Goodman’s class won that prestigious award, our new lead story. Thrilling for them and for the whole school. This was news! A BSE Flow exclusive! We have such potential. (This also “bumped” other material we had planned for you. It happens.)

So the project ended, and work remains, and we can certainly do this again and build on our experience and add staff, as the kids asked me whether we might, way back on Day One.

I hope you enjoy reading this newspaper with your family. The one at home and the one we share as BSE.

Here’s to the conversation.

ELLEN ELLER of Sawyer News says folks love getting the Flow. Our distribution manager, Brooke, grade 5, gets our papers to their proper destination, and the students see how their work gets from the story pitch to readers' hands.
ELLEN ELLER of Sawyer News says folks love getting the Flow. Our distribution manager, Brooke, grade 5, gets our papers to their proper destination, and the students see how their work gets from the story pitch to readers’ hands.

— Words and pictures by John Snyder, publisher and adviser

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.

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.