Tag Archives: featured

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.

Arms Library time capsule flung toward future

ARMS LIBRARY DIRECTOR Laurie Wheeler shows off the goodies bound for the future — possibly as far as 100 years — in a community time capsule, which was promptly stowed within the library’s shiny new copper dome. Roof renovations, years in the making and achieved in 2015, were powered by volunteers.
ARMS LIBRARY DIRECTOR Laurie Wheeler shows off the goodies bound for the future — possibly as far as 100 years — in a community time capsule, which was promptly stowed within the library’s shiny new copper dome. Roof renovations, years in the making and achieved in 2015, were powered by volunteers.

SHELBURNE—Hannah-mugFriends and supporters of Arms Library put together a special box of memories called a time capsule and sent it to the future. It might be opened in 50, 75, or 100 years, making it to 2115.

According to Laurie Wheeler, the executive director of Arms Library and a member of its building committee, the box contains things that will help future generations figure out what today’s generation was all about. It was sealed up in the new roof of the library on Sept. 17 around 7:30 a.m. It will be seen next when the roof is opened up for repairs it might need many decades from now.

“A time capsule is a box or metal tube — a container you specially decide you’re going to put away for the future, and then they’ll see the items we put in there. It’s items that are important to this time right now,” Wheeler explained.

The roof replacement is part of a $670,000 “Put a Roof On It” project that took volunteers three years to complete. The roof that was replaced was built in 1914 with the rest of the library building. It is made of copper, slates, and very heavy, chalky limestone. You can touch pieces of it in the library. Pieces of the old roof copper will be turned into gifts you can buy.

Contents of the packed time capsule include children’s handprints in paint; books, newspapers, magazines, and artwork; letters; and a library card.

Fifth-grader Hanna Chase reports downtown news and features for The BSE Flow. We welcome your news tips at news@bseflow.com.

Plenty to love
in Arms Library’s time capsule

WITHIN A SNUG WOODEN BOX made by local resident Frederick M. Burrington, a trove of goodies gathered this summer waits to be discovered in what Arms Library Executive Director Laurie Wheeler calls “the tippy top” of the library’s rebuilt dome some 50, 75, or even 100 years hence. Those Shelburne Falls denizens of tomorrow will be surprised when they open the box to find:

  • A piece of MUSIC for Native American flute that Sarah Pirtle wrote just for the roof raising;
  • BOOKS: “Quickening,” Susie Patlove’s book of poetry; “In a Wild Place: A natural history of High Ledges” by Ellsworth Barnard, illustrated by Charles H. Joslin; “A Jewel in New England” by Philip Bilitz; and a copy of “The Little Yellow Trolley” from the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, signed by many of the museum’s guests;
  • PERIODICAL PIECES: Local newspaper articles on the Bridge of Flowers turning 85 and the restoration of the library roof; the first seven issues of The BSE Flow; two recent issues of Ginny Ray’s Shelburne Falls & West County Independent; a recent copy of the Greenfield Recorder; a Time magazine from April 20, 2015 (“Black Lives Matter”); and a New York Times front page article on the recent landmark Supreme Court decision upholding marriage equality; a Times opinion piece from Shannon O’Neill, archivist and reference librarian at the Atlantic City Free Public Library, on libraries in transition; and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 33, excerpting D. K. McCutchen’s “Jellyfish Dreaming”;
  • AN AUDIO RECORDING AND COLLECTION OF PHOTOS of Laurie Wheeler at the library, discussing libraries, time capsules, and local history, conducted by John Snyder;
  • ART AND EPHEMERA: “Come to the Dark Side,” paper cut art by Sun James; Mohawk graduation program, June 8, 2015; a bookmark by local artist Polly French; a paper bead necklace by Miss Read’s Beads; a Christmas card from Lisa Walker showing the Buckland side of the village and the Bridge of Flowers in the snow; a hand print from Alexis J., who is 3, and hand prints from Elizabeth, Joshua, and Elizabeth Cerone; a postcard of a dry brush watercolor by Frederick M. Burrington; a box and tiny brochure from Jane Beatrice Wegscheider’s The Art Garden; and many tiny items, donated at the last minute that Laurie Wheeler says she considers sacred;
  • BUSINESS HANDSHAKES: A Massachusetts Cultural District pin; brochures from the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association; local business cards; and a Shelburne Falls Co-op bumper sticker;
  • JUST FOR FUN: a “Minions” movie character and Doctor Who “The Day of the Doctor” DVD case; “Popular Items 2015” stickers;
  • LETTERS from Laurie Wheeler and the Shelburne Selectboard; and, of course,
  • An Arms Library CW/MARS LIBRARY CARD.

— Sidebar and photos by John Snyder

What would you stash in a time capsule to help future generations understand our life and times? We’d like to share your answer with our readers — those today and those in the future. Please write letters@bseflow.com.

It’s fun and important to contribute in the kitchen

Bennett-mugWASHING DISHES for about 200 people is more exciting than washing dishes for two or three! You get to use lots of equipment, including a spraying hose and a big dishwasher — you just insert your load and hear a hiss and the machine takes it in and goes to work.

I’ve done this job twice. I look forward to doing it again, even thoughI have to give up a recess to do it. Here’s how it works:

First the two kids go down to the cafeteria at 11:15 a.m. and wash their hands. Next they volunteer to ether put away or dry the dishes.

Once that is decided, they wait for people to clear their lunches and Cafeteria Manager Sonya Hamdan or Roxanne Shearer will put the dishes in a huge washing machine to wash the dishes.

If they put in silverware, the kid putting dishes away gives them back and puts them in once more. When silverware is washed twice, the “put awayer” puts them on a table and the dryer probably dries them. That process goes on and on until every class, from pre-K to 6, is dismissed by 12:30 p.m.

The dishwasher is quite loud when the dishes go in.

You have to wear gloves and you cannot touch any part of your face during your job.

According to Mrs. Hamdan the work is also very important:

“We love having them here, especially as there are only two of us. The kids do a great job.”

Sometimes, she added, “helpers come back years later, even after they graduate, and say they remember this as a fun time, and that they miss it. That can bring a tear to my eye,” she told the Flow.

After everything, on my way back to class, I tend to feel proud and my fingers feel wet and pruny.

— Bennett Snyder

Students help our community in ways large and small. Let us hear how your student helps or might like to. And check out Diana Yaseen’s related story on the school breakfast and lunch program.

Living, loving history with Emma Guyette

MOHAWK SENIOR Emma Guyette was one of 25 accepted into Smith’s summer women’s history program. “The girls I stayed with bonded immediately because we had so much in common,” she says.
MOHAWK SENIOR Emma Guyette was one of 25 accepted into Smith’s summer women’s history program. “The girls I stayed with bonded immediately because we had so much in common,” she says.

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.

Keeping kids fueled for a long day of learning

FOUR CHICKEN NUGGETS, fresh fruit, peas and carrots, rice, and milk.
FOUR CHICKEN NUGGETS, fresh fruit, peas and carrots, rice, and milk.


BSE KITCHEN MANAGER Sonya Hamdan on meeting the need...
BSE KITCHEN MANAGER Sonya Hamdan on meeting the need…

WE WONDERED what goes into the school meals program at BSE. One day recently after the lunch rush Flow reporter Diana Yaseen and adviser John Snyder sat down with Cafeteria Manager Sonya Hamdan to find out.

Diana: Where does the cafeteria food come from?

Sonya: Some comes from the government. Every month we receive a list and can DIANA-MUGchoose from what’s on that list. There might be some hamburger or chicken, frozen vegetables, canned fruits, lots of things like that, and I’ll order from there. Also I order through a company called Thurston for breads and anything else we need, all the vegetables… The milk and the yogurt come from All-Star Dairy.

Diana: How do you decorate?

Sonya: I bought the decorations myself. The Christmas ones, some of them, Mrs. Shearer brings in from her home. All the Thanksgiving decorations are mine that I bring in from home. We lower those three strings and I can hang things from the ceiling. I think it makes it more festive to have something over everyone. And then I cut out with my Cricket machine different things to put on the bulletin boards. If I see something on sale that fits the theme I buy it.

Diana: How much food do you serve every day?

Sonya: Today was chicken nuggets and peas and carrots. We served 128 kids and so many adults. That’s why lunch counts are so important, so we know for sure. I have an idea, but right now we have a lot of kids who are out sick. So we need to have an accurate count. On a day like today when we have a per-piece item, like chicken nuggets or hot dogs, I need to know how many kids are eating so I can do that much — and I always cook a little extra. Kids come in late, or don’t sign up for whatever reason, and we have enough. Every chicken nugget is counted when we put it on the tray.

For the Thanksgiving meal we served 247 [diners].

Diana: And everyone else brings in their own lunch?

Sonya: There are 260-something kids in the school, so the others bring in their own lunch. Buckland-Shelburne has been a school where a lot of the kids bring their own lunch, consistently, for whatever reason. A third of the kids, anyway. There are some with food allergies, so we eliminated our peanut butter. Now we have SunButter [soy-and-sunflower-based]. That way we don’t have to worry about anyone. And a fair amount of gluten allergies. And there are some kids who just like what their mom or dad packs.

Chicken nuggets is one of the most popular lunches, along with breadsticks, pizza, and French toast sticks…

Diana: Fruit is popular.

Sonya: Every month different things come in that the kids like: frozen strawberries, some cheeses, canned and frozen fruit. This list is for the entire district. I write a wishlist for what I would like of those, as the list is for all the schools in the district. If there are only three of something a school isn’t going to get what it wants. But they’re usually pretty good about making options available.

Diana: How about breakfast? How many people?

Sonya: It seems to be 28 to 30 people. We’d like more. But what happens is that when kids come in they like to play on the playground with their friends. They don’t come in and have breakfast, even though it’s free for everyone who has free lunch, or 30 cents for reduced price, and $1. Thirty-six is the highest we’ve had.

Diana: Is there a lot of measuring?

Sonya: There is. Everything has to be measured. For example, when I’m making up the menu, I write down what I would like to do [serve], and then go back though and put in the vegetable component, the fruit component, the grains, the meats, because it has to meet requirements — a half cup (this is for lunch) daily, and a weekly requirement. Each kid for lunch must be offered certain minimum and maximum amounts.

The difference is that, starting this year, [2015] the kids have to go out with ½ cup of fruit — even if they don’t want it or they don’t eat it. They have to go out.

Vegetables: ¾ cup offered every day. Usually that’s ½ cup of one kind and ¼ cup of a fresh. But it has to be 3 ¾ cup per week.

Meat: At least 1 oz. day. We always serve 2; it can be a little more. But it cannot be more than 10 oz. per week.

Grains: 1 oz. That’s why, today, with chicken nuggets, I had to put a piece of bread on. Because the breading on the chicken nuggets did not count up to 1 oz.

And so forth. If you don’t follow these guidelines, when the state inspects you, you will lose all of your commodities that you order from the government; you will lose all of your reimbursements from the government, which is based per meal.

[Referring to guidelines] Here, this is a minimum of 1 oz. Who would give a kid only 1 oz. of meat or meat alternate?

John: Do you see kids having more energy and focus after breakfast and lunch? Do you see that as part as what you do in terms of being in a school setting?

Sonya: I think you’re right. More so, I think we give lunch to some kids who don’t have any lunch at all: No breakfast, no lunch. There are actually kids in this school who would not otherwise have a breakfast or lunch, and sometimes when they go home don’t have a supper either. So that is a sad fact.

Some kids in years prior have come up to me after the Thanksgiving meal and thanked me because they don’t have a Thanksgiving meal at home, never see decorations at home. It’s not the norm but it’s more common than you might think.