Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thank you for another amazing year at Fort River School

Fellow parents and guardians - We have made it through another school year - FINALLY.  As I look through the yearbook with my child, I am reminded once again of the wonderful resources our Fort River community has in our staff, our children and our parents and guardians.  I would like to thank my fellow PGO officers for their work over this past year - Becky Schneider, Jessica Sproehnle, Jenn Green and Dawn Lepere - and I look forward to working together again next year.

Many thanks to:
·         Beatriz Garcia, who, for the past 2 years, has provided translation into Spanish for the PGO; 
·          Sue Borden & Suzanne Schilling for coordinating this year’s 6th grade activities and graduation;
·          Joy Ratzlaff-Sullivan for yet another beautiful yearbook, provided free to each student, thanks in big part to –
·         Pam Rietkerk & Rebecca Kennedy for a successful Annual Fund;
·         Catherine McGraw for a wonderful potluck to celebrate and thank our bus and van drivers;
·         Jacquelyn Kang for the Summer Read-a-Thon;
·         Tammy Rahhal Schulkind and Tim Farnham for organizing a super fun field day;
·         Kathleen Traphagen for coordinating our Cultural Enrichment Program;
·         Suzanne Schilling for a much deserved Staff Appreciation party;
·         Traci Hess, John Wells and Nat Larson for their weekly dedication to teaching our kids that “Savings Makes Cents;”
·         Ken Leblond for web wizardry;
·         Lisa Masteralexis for her continuing BoxTops coordination;
·         And especially to all who came out to help with various events, committees, projects - thank you, thank you, thank you.

Finally, thank you many times over to the administrative and custodial staff at the school.  Without their continuing (and always willing) support, the PGO could not function.  Karen, Suzanne, Lisa, John, James, Danny and Eric - you are my heroes!

Liz Larson, PGO President

Project Backpack & Safe Seats for Kids 2014

The Amherst, Pelham and Regional Public Schools in collaboration with community partners: Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, Amherst Club, Amherst College, Amherst Education Foundation, Amherst League of Women Voters, Amherst Lions Club, Amherst Media, Amherst Police Department, Amherst Rotary Club, Art Alive Amherst, Comcast Internet Essentials, DeMaio Orthodontics, Family Outreach of Amherst, Hampshire College, Interfaith Opportunities Network (ION), Jones Library, Know Your Neighbor Coalition, Lexalytics, Inc., Safe Seats of Western Massachusetts/Baystate Children’s Hospital, Soundscape Imaging LLC., State Representative Ellen Story, United Way of Hampshire County and University of Massachusetts Police Department, Youth Action Coalition are proud to announce Project Backpack & Safe Seats for Kids 2014.  

Project Backpack supports income-eligible students in Grades PreK-12 to acquire necessary and grade-appropriate school supplies and is designed around the social justice commitment of the Amherst-Pelham and Regional Public Schools. Project Backpack aspires toward equity of access, inclusion, respect and community-building. New backpacks and school supplies will be accepted from June 1-August 1 and can be dropped off at the locations listed below.  Back packs and supplies will be distributed on August 11-12. The ARPS Family Center staff will oversee the distribution process.

In addition, Safe Seats for Kids is supported by the Amherst Police Department, University of Massachusetts Police Department and Safe Seats of Western Massachusetts/Baystate Children’s Hospital. Officers will distribute and install new infant and toddler car seats on August 11-12. 

“Our goal is to help ease the financial burden the start of the school year can mean for many families,” states Superintendent Maria Geryk.  Project Backpack is a great success due in part to the generosity of individuals and community partners. In 2013, over 400 backpacks with supplies were distributed. I am deeply grateful for the community’s support of this initiative.”

School Supplies List

Pre-K- 5th Grade: new backpacks, spiral  notebooks, erasers, 2-pocket folders, glue sticks, markers, crayons, pencils, pens (blue/black/red), colored pencils, pencil sharpeners, pencil cases, bookmarks, rulers

6th -12th Grade: new backpacks, assignment pads, notebooks, loose leaf paper, 2-pocket folders, 3-ring binders, 3-ring pencil cases, highlighters, post-it notes, index cards, calculators (basic, scientific, or graphing), flash drives, pens (blue/black/red), pencils, combination locks for lockers

Drop Off Locations

ARPS Family Center     170 Chestnut St.                         DeMaio Orthodontics        23 Pray St.

Jones Library                 43 Amity St.                               Art Alive Amherst    35 S. Pleasant St.

The mission of the Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools is to provide all students with a high quality education that enables them to be contributing members of a multiethnic, multicultural, pluralistic society. We seek to create an environment that achieves equity for all students and ensures that each student is a successful learner, is fully respected, and learns to respect others.

Moosic for Kids!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Annual Staff and Teacher Appreciation Celebration - Thanks for your support!

Thanks to our great community of families for your continued support in honor of the staff and teachers at Fort River!  Every staff member received a special envelope at school the morning of the celebration filled with a note of gratitude from the PGO and the beautiful appreciation notes collected from children in all grades.  Over 60 staff enjoyed a wonderful after-school gathering at the Amherst Brewing Company. Thanks to the support of Fort River families, we more than covered the costs of the celebration and gifts, and staff were so grateful at the outpouring of generosity of our community. It really shows how much our families care about the staff and teachers of Fort River!  Leftover funds will go back to the staff towards upcoming events this spring and early fall.

Thank you everyone for your support!  Special thanks to Suzanne Severin and the front office team, and parents Sue Borden, Sarah Cartel, Jennifer Green, Amy Hampson, Liz Larson, Dawn Lepere, Becky Michaels, Suzanne Schilling, Jessica Sproehnle, and our student helpers for making the day a success.

Blog Translator Needed

El PGO esta necesitando algun padre que hable espanol para ayudar con las Traducciones . Si Usted esta interesado en ayudar al PGO con Traducciones en espanol ; Por favor comuniquese con Liz

Retirement Celebration for Sue Dunbar!

Sue Dunbar, our beloved elementary band teacher, will be retiring this June after 38 years of service to the students and families of the Amherst public schools.

Please join us at a celebration to show our appreciation for Sue and to send her off in style.
The event will be held on Monday, June 23 at 7 pm in the gym at Fort River School. A few parents and staff members will say a few words, Sue will perform a couple of pieces, and then we will all go to the cafeteria for an hors d’ouvres and dessert potluck.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Mary Kiely at Please let Mary know if you will be bringing food. Alternatively you can fill out the form below and send to your child’s school office. (Please bring your potluck items to cafeteria before the 7 pm presentation.)
Click here for more information:

Sue Dunbar Instrument Scholarship Fund

Friday, June 6, 2014

Staff & Teacher Appreciation Celebration

The annual Staff & Teacher Appreciation Celebration will take place at Amherst Brewing Company on June 12th

Please express your thanks to our amazing staff by making a contribution in their honor.

The PGO needs your help to keep this special tradition going.  Please complete the linked form and send your contribution to the office by  Friday, June 6 (TODAY!).  Thank you!

Every teacher will receive a personalized thank you note from the PGO the day of the celebration.

If your child and family would like a little note to be included with their thank you gift, please send to the PGO mailbox by June 6.

You do not need to participate in the fundraiser to send in a note for any teacher or staff member.


La Celebracion Anual de Apreciacion a los Maestros y Personal tendrá lugar en Amherst Brewing Company el 12 de junio.

Por favor, expresa tu agradecimiento a nuestro increible personal haciendo una contribución en su honor.

El PGO necesita tu ayuda para que esta tradicion siga.  Envíe su contribución de cualquier cantidad a la caja PGO el 6 de junio¡Gracias!

Cada maestro recibirá una nota personalizada de agradecimiento por parte del PGO el día de la celebracion.

Si su hijo y su familia les gustaría que una pequeña nota se incluyera con su regalo de agradecimiento, por favor coloquela en el buzón PGO el 6 de junio.

Usted no tiene que participar en la recaudación de fondos para enviar una nota para cualquier profesor o miembro del personal.

6th Grade Class Gift

Attention 6th grade families - Just a friendly reminder to send in your class gift donations.  Given that it is a gift from the whole class - we would like to have as many people as possible participate.  Any donation is appreciated.  It's easy to forget things this time of year as the pace of the end of the year is tremendous.  Please don't let this reminder get buried under the pile on the counter!  Send it in by early next week so we can determine what exactly we will be able to afford to buy. If you have any questions please contact Jacquelyn Reilly Kang:

Field Day Information

Field Day is next week! (Tuesday, June 10)!  We still need more volunteers to make this fun day a huge success for our kids.

We still need volunteers to:

1)  Be a parent group leader: You will be in charge of a group of kids and take them from event to event.  You will have teachers to help you keep the kids in order and on task.  You can root on your group as they participate throughout the morning.

2)  Run an event station:  You will be in charge of running one of our events.  We will give you all the details and instructions you need so that it will be a breeze for you

3) Set up:  come early and help set up!

To sign up, go to:
We really need your help to make field day a fun day for the entire school!

Bus and Van Driver Appreciation Breakfast

Date: Wednesday, June 18th, 8:30 - 9:30 am


Help us thank our wonderful bus and van drivers who transport our kids to and from school and field trips throughout the year.  Please sign up to bring in a breakfast food (for example fruit, a hot dish, bake goods or juice) to make this event a success. Please drop off your dish in the cafeteria at Fort River between 8:00 and 8:30 on Wednesday morning. To sign up click on the following link: 


We are also asking for a few volunteers to assist with receiving food or clean up after the event.  If you have any questions or able to help out during the event, please contact Catherine McGraw at

Multi-Arts Summer Offerings

Summer is HERE!  
Interested in planting the seed of creativity and self-confidence in your child?   Multi-Arts' summer program is here for you!  This  fun program  will awaken and develop your child’s creative powers and  stimulate, provoke, and engage your child’s imagination.
There is still time to sign up your 4-13 year old(s) for our summer workshops, or you can choose our one day or half day options. Please visit us at to learn more about Multi-Arts and our 2014 summer offerings, or call 413-584-7951.   
Check our NEW program for children 2 & 3 years old with their caregivers.
“Multi-Arts is a tremendously unique place.”  -- Parent
Catalina Arrubla

Public Invited to Participate in Survey on Potential Bike Share Program

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) in conjunction with the Bike Share Advisory Committee (of which the Town of Amherst is a member) has released a survey to gain feedback from the community about a potential regional bike sharing program, a new and innovative approach to urban mobility.  A bicycle sharing system is a service in which bicycle rentals are made available for shared use to individuals on a very short term basis. The main purpose is transportation: bike share allows people to depart from point "A" and arrive at point "B" free from the worries of ownership. 'Hubway’ in Boston and ‘Citi Bike’ in New York City are two examples of this form of shared bike use.

The goal is to have a completed plan and its feasibility with recommendations for possible implementation by the end of 2014. All members of the public are invited and encouraged to take this brief survey.

The Regional Bike Share survey can be found in English and Spanish at:

- For Spanish:

This survey will close at the end of June, so please take a few moments to complete and forward it on to committee members and/or those on distribution lists.

Thank you – Stephanie
Stephanie Ciccarello
Sustainability Coordinator
4 Boltwood Avenue
Check out our ‘Sustaining Amherst’ website!