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.
MOHAWK—Sophomore Ashley Walker is approaching her 10th year of volunteering at the weekly Friday night West County Community Meal at Trinity Church.
She tells her friends, “The good feeling I get after volunteering is indescribable. Oftentimes it’s a struggle for families or individuals to enjoy a healthy, home-cooked meal and good company. I’ve developed memorable relationships with each of the diners, and we treat one another just like family.”
For anyone new to the supper, she promises a warm welcome:
“We’re always looking for more volunteers and workers. Feel free to contact me about lending a helping hand.”
Ashley attended BSE from pre-K through 6th grade and says she loved it, particularly the community service aspect.
Asked her views on community service during a break in her lifeguard duties at the Buckland Rec one day this summer, she said participating in BSE’s recycling program, where students took the initiative to go room to room collecting recycling bins at the end of every day, made a lasting impression.
“I was inspired by so many people. I looked for ways to contribute to the community ever since, and the community meal is so big to me.”
She credits her elementary school teachers for leaving her with the drive to get involved.
“I loved BSE. Teachers still stay in contact with me. If they see me on the street or something they’ll have the biggest grin on their face.”
At the community meal, Ashely says, volunteers serve 40 to 60 people a week. She puts in four to five hours a shift. The meals themselves are prepared by different West County groups.
Ashley also gives her all playing field hockey but makes sure to fit the community meal into her schedule. It’s tough but I love it. I’ve written several articles [for school] on community service and the community meal,” she says.
Her life plans include joining the Air Force as a critical-care nurse, and she’s taking advanced coursework now to prepare.
Naturally, she’s also focused on doing good right here at home, hoping to inspire kids to get involved where they can:
“I don’t think many people realize how much the community needs your help — teenagers especially.”
Trinity Church is at 17 Severance St. For more information, call 625-2341.
MY FIRST TEACHING JOB was at Buckland-Shelburne Elementary. I had worked as a one-to-one aide there my first year out of college and was hired the following year to teach fourth grade. This was 20 years ago, and while I might not remember the names of all of the students in my first class I certainly remember faces and personalities.
The 1996-1997 school year was the year of the Caitlins. We had three in the class that year. We also had a class pet, a tiny green lizard, and wrote stories about what he might do at night after everyone went home.
That year we studied units about habitats and African-American history, and proudly displayed our projects when the newspaper came to take our picture.
My fourth-graders loved music — especially the B-52’s — and they loved football, playing marbles, and superheroes.
They also loved books. For our first class read-aloud I chose the novel “Skinnybones” by Barbara Park. There were days when I could barely get through reading time because a part would strike us as funny and we’d all dissolve into laughter.
That year my fourth-graders learned how to write book reports and how to choose books that they’d love to read.
After BSE I taught sixth grade in Turners Falls and earned a master’s degree in special education from UMass-Amherst. Today I’m a special-education teacher in Orange. I work with sixth-graders, and I’ve been here for 15 years.
I’ll always remember how lucky I was to learn together with this class. My hope for them has always been that they would become even more awesome, bigger versions of the awesome kids that they were in fourth grade.
The Flow loves hearing from area alumni! BSE, Mohawk, Arms Academy… Odds are you’ve got an interesting story to share with our young readers. Send your update to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUCKLAND—Mohawk senior Emma Guyette has just accepted an offer to attend Smith College, where she plans a double major in American Studies and Government or International Relations, with a potential minor in the Study of Women and Gender.
For this BSE alumna, the path forward starts well in the past, and it is a story always in need of discovery, retelling, and relearning.
Here is an excerpt from an interview she gave the Flow this August on her then-recently completed two-week summer residential session at Smith: Hidden Lives: Discovering Women’s History.
Flow: What was the allure for you in attending summer at Smith?
Emma: There were four options. I chose history. Discovering Women’s Lives. I want to be a history major and I love Smith College. I’m applying for early decision in November. I’m applying at Smith and at nine other New England colleges.
Flow: Why history?
Emma: I decided that I might want to be an archivist — they preserve historical and digital paperwork — or maybe go into politics or become a history teacher. I just love being part of something that can change the world. Archivists preserve the world, politicians shape the world, and people who write history textbooks give history personality and bring it to people.
Flow: Is there an aspect of history that speaks to you above others?
Emma: I really like U.S. history — how our country was formed — but then I also really love European history and history in general. It’s so fascinating.
Flow: What’s the passion?
Emma: I just love learning about everything that’s come before me and shaped my life. Especially learning about women’s history: all these women who came before me and gave me everything that I am lucky enough to have today. It’s really important to learn from the past to learn how the future will be shaped. It’s so interesting that it’s recorded: what people have done before you. It’s set in stone but you can still interpret it your own way.
Flow: How does understanding the past shape what we’re doing in the present or what we could be building toward in the future?
Emma: You look at the past so you don’t repeat it. I think that history is a very powerful way of learning from people’s mistakes or extreme failure so you don’t repeat it. It’s really interesting to look back and say, “Oh, nope, that didn’t work.” You know it didn’t work, so let’s reshape it and use it this way. Otherwise you’d just keep making the same mistakes over and over again. There’d be no progress.
Flow: Do you see history as a tool in some way to help shape the future? Particularly through a gender lens?
Emma: Women’s history isn’t taught a whole lot in high school. I know Mohawk is trying to get one [the curriculum] in place because it’s such an underrepresented part of history, and that’s what Smith wanted to teach us: all this great women’s history that gets ignored. Women’s voices are silenced a lot. It was taught a bit through a feminist approach but it wasn’t in-your-face feminism, which can scare some people. They don’t understand the movement enough to understand it.
Flow: OK, then what is feminism, in your view?
Emma: I think that feminism is equality between men and women, not one being higher-standing than the other — which isn’t everyone’s view.
Flow: Is that how it still is or have things changed?
Emma: I don’t think our history books focus [exclusively] on men in history but I would say, in my experience, teachers have been very good at including a variety: Yes, it was male-driven, but look at all these women who also participated.
At Smith we touched the letters, diaries, photographs and manifestos that chronicle personal and political revolutions over the past 150 years. We touched the lives of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, Alison Bechdel and Sojourner Truth. I was so excited!
Flow: Sometimes people think of history as something that’s over and done with and dead in a way, and dry, but I suspect you think of history as being very much alive and interesting.
Emma: I constantly make connections between different historical periods and today, much to my parents’ dismay. Like, I’ll tell them at the dinner table, “So! Do you want to learn about this historical figure?” And they’ll be like, “Probably not.”
I like to connect today to the 1920s. I think a lot that went on then is relevant today in regard to people and how they acted and completely changing from their parents’ generation. WWI was the catalyst for changing that in the 1920s and I think the Internet is what did it today. There are a lot of parallels. I mean, we don’t have flappers but there’s a pretty big divide between generations. Their parents never did anything. When you think of the 1920s you think flappers and Prohibition and crazy, wild parties. But when you think of the generation just before, the 1870s, post Civil War, it’s not like that: It’s very prim and proper … and then their kids came along. Their parents just didn’t know what to do with them. I feel it’s similar to now when everyone’s on their phones and everyone’s on Facebook and their parents are like, I don’t know what to do with these kids!
Flow: Women weren’t given the vote until they demanded it relatively recently and now they’re still not being paid fairly. Social issues are still resonating. Is that what you mean by connections from the past to the present?
Emma: You can definitely draw those lines. You can take slavery and follow it all the way to the present with how a big part of it was how African American people had extreme economic disadvantage even after slavery and have had to work so hard to overcome that and are still not even there yet. So it keeps going. And you can draw other lines. Women’s rights go way, way back. Women are still fighting for equality. In the Sixties it even branches off because women were very empowered then and it keeps going through today. Honestly, I think we’re very close to equality. I’ll maybe see it in my lifetime.
Flow: For young kids, what is cool about history?
Emma: They shouldn’t think of history as something that’s dead and in the past. It was kind of presented that way to me when I was younger, and I was always, “But that sounds like it’s so much fun to learn about.” Why present it like it’s written in stone and not try to think about getting more out of it? Just think of it as something you can use to benefit the future. And think of it as a living part of society.
My biggest thing is that people touched this 200-300 years ago and now I’m touching it, so it’s like a little bit of a connection to them through just touching the same paper.
THE TIMING worked out well on a clear day in late September. The fifth grade had planted garlic. Plans were set for braiding it for sale for next year’s class trip to Nature’s Classroom.
It’s a community effort. Shelburne Falls Farm and Garden had donated that garlic, and retired teacher Karen Eldred worked with a preschool teacher to cut sunflower heads — her students were about to line them up by size.
Timing is the key for success at the school gardens, where Eldred and a passel of school and community volunteers tend to herbs, vegetables, and flowers. There’s a bounty of education here as well as food for the table. Eldred spent a little time with the Flow recently to explain what the school’s eight gardens really grow…
Flow: We always see kids out here. It looks lovely.
Karen: Thank you, it is lovely. Jacqui Goodman’s [sixth-grade] class just came out and we cut up the sunflower stalks and added them to the compost bins; another preschool teacher came out and we decided what to do with the scarlet runner beans that we planted last year on big poles that a storm knocked over. We opened some up and they were just beautiful. And then we went through what she could do with them, whether it was eat them or save them for next year for crafts.
Flow: Do you plan activities class by class, or…
Karen: It works perfect! The timing was really good today. A couple of clases were expecting me, and others I ran into and it just worked. Ms. Funk and I talked about kale — her class is going to harvest kale over the next two weeks and the kitchen is going to make kale chips.
Flow: How is all this organized? Is this all volunteer effort?
Karen: All these beds are put in by the Garden Committee. We still need parents’ support. I’m here as a liaison, working with families and school and the gardens and the teachers.
I’ll do a little work with the kids in the classroom on what’s going to happen — this is instruction time — and with others it’s just random.
The preschool kids happened to just come out and they had their wagon with them. It was just coincidental. And then we took 15 to 20 minutes and did some instruction with them and cut some sunflowers.
Now I’m doing cleanup, which is hard to teach kids to do. This is fall cleanup and I’m just waiting for Becky’s [Becky Ecklund’s fifth-grade] class.
Flow: You said you’re looking for more help. What can community members do to help?
Karen: We’re looking for people to get involved. There are always things that can be donated. Right now we’re looking for bales of hay to mulch the garlic with. But we need a parent representative, which is what Emily Crehan was doing, and had been doing for a year. That would involve making flyers and organizing a date for a work crew. We need someone who can help with fundraising and grant writing – that’s a critical need right now.
We also need supplies and stipends. Red Gate Farm sends people down here and they get a stipend, I get a stipend, and we want to add Emily’s position as a stipend. It’s not a salary; it’s not anywhere near the hours that we work but it recognizes that this can’t be a purely voluntary thing if it’s going to work.
Flow: What are you hoping kids take from all this?
Karen: I want children to understand where their food comes from because children really don’t. I want children to get outside. They don’t get outside anywhere near as much as they should. There’s science involved; there’s math involved. Being able to make connections to the curriculum. Really connecting back to what used to be part of their lives and really isn’t anymore. Children really don’t know where their food comes from; children really aren’t getting outside and getting dirty. They don’t realize what compost is.
Flow: I’m surprised to hear that. I’d think, living around here, more kids would have a sense of the earth.
Karen: There’s a certain amount but it’s not like it used to be, where it was part of life. Now it’s if a family chooses to garden and it’s kind of a hobby. And with some families, yeah, they do still grow their own potatoes and can their own food but there’s a lot who don’t. Everybody used to have a kitchen garden and that’s not true anymore.
Flow: Why is it important for kids, for families, to have this sense?
Karen: Well, it’s educational. It’s lifelong. It’s a lifelong connection to living. If you don’t grow your food, to at least realize when you walk into that supermarket where that potato came from, what the parts of a plant are, that the carrot is actually the root, that you’re actually eating the root… When you’re eating corn you’re eating seeds.
Flow: That’s a great vocabulary to have at your disposal too, to know how you’re supporting yourself with the planted life.
Karen: There’s this whole cycle that continues. We can either help it continue or we can asphalt it over. [Laughs]
Flow: So anyone can help in the gardens here? It doesn’t have to be a school parent or a teacher?
Karen: I’d love some community members. A master gardener would be really cool. I’m self-taught. My grandparents gardened, my mom gardened, I garden. In another lifetime I canned my own food. I worked with adolescents in residential care when I worked as a special-ed teacher and we used to have gardens and chickens and exhibit at the fair. [Those were] hard-core city kids who did really bad things and they’re finding a different part of themselves. Gardens are for everybody. These gardens are for everybody.
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