Tag Archives: community

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.

Red Cross blood drive to help hundreds

Collection specialist Michelle Boucher puts people at ease while accepting their blood donations for the Red Cross at the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center Jan. 23. / Staff photo
Collection specialist Michelle Boucher puts people at ease while accepting their blood donations for the Red Cross at the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center Jan. 23. // Staff photos

Areia-logoSHELBURNE—With five beds arranged in a U, and collection specialists gathering blood from volunteers, the Community Center was busy helping save lives Jan. 23.

As staff from the Springfield Red Cross explained, they had 51 appointments for people to come in and give blood. The goal was 65, but walk-ins were expected to increase that number.

Red Cross truck
The Western Massachusetts Chapter serves a population of over 800,000 people in Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Founded in 1906 and now located at 150 Brookdale Dr. in Springfield, the Chapter houses all lines of Red Cross Services.

Each pint collected will serve about two people, the staff said.

Donor Marcus Fisher said he likes giving blood. he’s done it two or three times a year since he was 13.

Karen Shippee said her donation “is a good thing to do.”


By Areia Heilman with John Snyder. For more information, visit redcross.org/local/massachusetts.

‘Improve parking, street safety for sake of kids at BSE’

Kara logoDear Editor:

Watching the filming of an accident scene  for “The Judge” on Mechanic Street in Shelburne Falls was exciting, but a real accident there involving any of our children would devastate our community. The town of Shelburne would be on trial if such an accident happened.

Mechanic Street along the Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School property is a problem area posing danger to students, and the time to act is now:

There is no extra parking for families who live close to school. There is no safe winter street parking. There are no prominent road markings for school foot traffic.

Students living within a mile-and-a-half of school have no bussing provided by the Mohawk Trail Regional School District. Lack of bussing requires caregivers drive students to school. Were additional parking provided, the teacher and visitors’ parking lot would not become a parent parking lot.

As likely most of us have seen firsthand, and been part of, nearly all of the cars in this lot require the driver back out before exiting. This puts walking children in danger in the parking lot. This danger is aggravated when snow flies.

When snow piles up along Mechanic Street it is not being cleared from the curb. This problem forces drivers to park into the street or else find parking in the teachers’ parking lot.

How many of us have circled multiple times on these winter days in effort to find parking? The district forces children leaving the building and vehicles to walk into icy roads and parking lots — and out in front of cars, trucks, and busses.

Children attempting to reach parents or caregivers waiting in warm cars try to stop before reaching traffic but before sliding under cars. Parents must choose between children sliding under vehicles or walking out into the road.

Worse still, that’s a road not clearly marked as a school zone. The paint markings on the road meant to inform drivers of the school zone are faint at best. Yes, there is a crosswalk just south of the entrance to the school, but it’s barely noticeable, either by clearly defined paint or by a brightly lit sign.

The crosswalk at the post office intersection is newly painted. Why, then, is the crosswalk serving the school left with old, worn paint? The school signs at Mohawk are new and bright yellow. Why are BSE’s school signs aged and dull?

As a concerned parent, I urge the district and town to come together on this before winter. And before it’s too late.


YOUR TURN! The Flow invites brief letters to the editor of interest to our local readership, and prints a select few as a public service. Extra credit for kids who write. We reserve the right to edit or decline letters. Letters must have the author’s name and contact information so that we can verify authorship.

Kids Can: After-School food drive tops 70 pounds, helps feed the hungry

STANDING, L-R: Jackson Morey, James Nichols. SEATED L-R: Phinneas Tuttman and Morgan Raffa. The kids said helping is fun!
STANDING, L-R: Jackson Morey, James Nichols. SEATED L-R: Phinneas Tuttman and Morgan Raffa. The kids said helping is fun!

“We already know how to show compassion at school, so let’s spread the love and show compassion for our community too.”

That was the challenge Before- and After-school Director Raelene Lemoine, Doreen Nichols, and their crew set for themselves in working to collect 50 pounds of food for the Franklin Area Survival Center.

Non-perishable foods have been pouring in to the school and weighed daily. More than a week before reaching its Nov. 24 deadline, the team exceeded its goal. That’s compassion!

Left to right, Davin Ojala, Reuben Bassett, and Oscar Cassin. They helped make short work of an ambitious collection goal.
Left to right, Davin Ojala, Reuben Bassett, and Oscar Cassin. They helped make short work of an ambitious collection goal.

For more information or to donate, contact the Franklin Area Survival Center, 94 Fourth St., Turners Falls, at franklinareasurvivalcenter.org or 413-863-9549.

PTO relies on volunteers to make the magic happen

Eighties-Dance-PTO
Eighties rockers, left to right: Kylie Lowell, Aeria Heilman, Avery DuPree, Joy Bohonowicz, Mirra Girard, and, in front, Madeline Lily. The PTO-organized dance was amazing fun for the community, and a benefit for The BSE Flow.

Kara logoWHETHER YOU’RE NEW to Buckland-Shelburne Elementary School or are an old hand, one thing you’ll notice is that the community is blessed with a wealth of talented people who make things happen. Well, we have the people. We need more of them to get involved, to help run the events everyone agrees are so much fun, and so good for the kids, and such a strong reason why many of us moved here or never wanted to leave.

That’s according to this year’s PTO president, Karen Hicks. Here is an excerpt from a conversation we had earlier this fall about the PTO and what more parents and teachers can do to strengthen this remarkable community.

LONGTIME BSE volunteer Tammy Shippee holding young Esme at the PTO’s Holiday Gift Show Nov. 15 in the school cafeteria. Crafts and gifts were made by vendors and BSE students.
LONGTIME BSE volunteer Tammy Shippee holding young Esme at the PTO’s Holiday Gift Show Nov. 15 in the school cafeteria. Crafts and gifts were made by vendors and BSE students.

KARA: How would you describe how the PTO works?

KAREN: This organization is composed of parents and teachers and staff working to support and enrich student life at BSE. Every parent, teacher, and staff member at BSE is automatically a part of the PTO.

KARA: How did you come to be president?

KAREN: I came into this position last year  when during a shifting of officer roles. I was excited to get involved with the PTO and take on the responsibility.

KARA: How are PTO members elected or how do PTO members volunteer?

KAREN: PTO members are elected yearly. We meet monthly to discuss and plan activities such as fundraisers and family activities that support and enrich the students and school community.

Anyone can help. Coming to meetings is a great way to learn about what’s being planned and how to help. The PTO welcomes everyone to participate in whatever way they can. We love having people attend meetings and share ideas but even if you can’t come to a meeting, we always appreciate help with activities such as organizing fundraisers, offering to bake for special events, helping serve MCAS breakfast in the spring, staffing dances and family events, etc. The PTO recognizes everyone is busy and we appreciate  any time and energy you can donate to help our school community.

KARA: What are your favorite past PTO events or fundraisers?

KAREN: The Original Art fundraiser is always great. The students work with Ms. Silverman, our art teacher, to create a special piece of art that will be used with this fundraiser. We’ve been doing this fundraiser for years. It’s a great way to share your child’s art with family and friends. We do this fundraiser around the holidays, and these make great gifts.

My favorite activity was the spring “Back to the 80s” dance. This was a great family activity, with kids and parents out on the dance floor.
After the success of the 80s dance, I’d love to have a 70s disco dance.

Think of the possibilities! I think families really enjoy these types of activities, where they can share in the fun with their children. It brings out the kid in all of us.

KARA: How are teachers involved?

KAREN: We are fortunate to have Principal Joanne Giguere and one or two staff members in attendance at most meetings. The PTO greatly appreciates the wonderful staff at BSE. We recognize the importance of maintaining a strong partnership between parents and staff to help best support our students.

We strive to maintain close communication with staff to support staff and students. In addition to the $150 the PTO provides for each teacher during the year for field trips and classroom supplies, the PTO is responsive to staff requests throughout the year.

KARA: What if somebody wants to volunteer but feels they don’t have enough time to do everything they want?

KAREN: We would love to see the room filled with parents and staff at all our meetings but we realize this is not feasible for everyone. There’s always a need for people to help, from baking to organizing a fundraiser.

Meetings are always posted on the PTO bulletin board at the school entrance and we send out a notice in the Thursday folder as well as on our Facebook page.

[Our thanks to Kylie Lowell, Aeria Heilman, Avery DuPree, Joy Bohonowicz, Mirra Girard, and Madeline Lily.]


Kara Bohonowicz is a BSE parent and an adviser at The BSE Flow.