Monday, November 30, 2015

Barnes & Noble Book Fair This Saturday, December 5th in Hadley -VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

Our Barnes & Noble Book Fair to benefit Fort River is THIS SATURDAY, December 5th! Since it is the holiday shopping season as well as Educator Appreciation Day, we have a fabulous opportunity to raise some much needed money for our school and teachers.  The key is getting the customers at the store to mention Fort River at check out. There is NO COST to shoppers; B&N simply credits Fort River every time our school is mentioned at checkout.

Our volunteers have been hard at work lining up some great student and alumni performances and demonstrations, and coordinating a gift wrap table.  In addition we will have a welcome table with a raffle for educators, a tree decorating “craft,” and cheesecake tastings. So many opportunities to generate excitement about our wonderful Fort River School!

Volunteers are needed to really make this day successful for Fort River teachers and students.  Please use the link below to sign up for this festive holiday FUNdraiser.  There are 1 or 2 hours shifts, or you can add a time slot that fits your schedule.  

Thanks so much!

Schedule of Events:
10 am - 4 pm Enter your Favorite Teacher in our Hourly Raffle
10 am The Duffy Academy of Irish Dance
11 am Fort River's own Ms. Keizer reads How the Grinch Stole Christmas
11:30 Holiday Crafts and Songs
12 pm Fort River Orchestra Ensemble
1 pm Performance by members of Fort River Band
2 pm Fort River Robotics Club demonstration

Gift Wrap station and Cheesecake tasting also available!

Winter Craft at the Jones Library on December 5th from 10:30 - 11:30 am

Celebrate the season with a winter craft activity at the Jones Library! Ages 6 - 10 invited and ages 4 - 6 welcome with a caregiver. No registration required - just show up and create! 

After School Book Group for 1st and 2nd Grade! December 10th from 4 - 5pm at the Jones

Calling all first and second graders! Wonderful book group opportunity at the Jones Library! 

Monday, November 23, 2015



Start getting those holiday book shopping lists ready!  

On Saturday, December 5th, Fort River will be hosting a book fair at Barnes & Noble Hadley.  On that day, our school will get a percentage (10-15%) of every purchase made by customers who mention Fort River School at checkout.  

Volunteers are needed to make the day a success. In addition to welcoming customers to the store and making sure they know to mention Fort River, we will be hosting the gift wrapping table.  This is a free service but we are welcome to accept donations to our school as well as hand out flyers for customers to use to designate Fort River.  Please contact our coordinators or click the link below to volunteer at this festive holiday FUNdraiser! 

Welcome Table - contact Liz Larson for more details 

Gift Wrap Table - contact MaryBeth Meade for more details 

Or sign up here:

This is also a special Educator Holiday Shopping Event – use your Barnes & Noble Educator Discount Card to save 25% on all your purchases while you’re supporting Fort River!


10:00 Welcome table with raffles
11:00 Special Storytime and Activities! How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Can't make it to the Fair? Visit BN.COM/bookfairs to support us online from 12/5/15 to 12/10/15 by entering Bookfair ID# 11609500 at checkout.

PGO Gift Card Fundraiser - Order Now! Earn Free Money for Fort River! Deadline December 1!

Help the Fort River PGO earn money for school programs by doing nothing!

(Well, almost nothing.) The PGO is selling gift cards that you can use for your normal weekly purchases at Stop and Shop or Target, for example. This is money that you would already be spending, but if you use our gift cards, you will be earning money for Fort River as we buy the gift cards at a discount (from 3-16% depending on the retailer – listed in the table below.)

Use the cards for:
  • ·      Purchases that you already make on a regular basis like groceries or gas.
  • ·      Holiday shopping.
  • ·      To give as gifts to teachers, mail carriers and bus drivers.

Again, this is money you already have budgeted, but if you use our gift cards, you are helping the PGO fund school programs for your students.

Please make checks payable to: Fort River PGO. Use this form to order as many full face value gift cards as you wish, attach your check and return to your child’s teacher or to the PGO mailbox in the office.

Gift card orders are due by TUESDAY DECEMBER 1st. Since gift cards are essentially cash, we will not be sending them home in backpacks. Parents must pick them up in person in the Fort River lobby either on WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 9th from 8:30-9:15am or THURSDAY DECEMBER 10th from 3-6pm. If you cannot make either date, please email Stacey Beganny to make other arrangements. (

Click here to access the order form.

Giving Tuesday - Please Remember Fort River!

On December 1st, "Giving Tuesday" follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday! It is an opportunity for reflection and a chance to support the many successful and thriving non-profit organizations that make the Valley such a wonderful place to live.

The Fort River PGO has kicked off the 2015 - 2016 Annual Fund. The youngest students in each household were sent home with Appeal letters in their backpacks at the end of last week.

Please consider financial support of the PGO during this giving season. The work that the PGO does to support teachers and students at Fort River is dependent upon generous donations now and throughout the year. Annual appeal gifts directly support teaching and learning in Fort River classrooms. All donations are tax-deductibile.

Checks made out to "Fort River PGO" can be returned to the Main Office or mailed in the return envelope that was provided with the Appeal request. Thank you so much for supporting Fort River Elementary School!

Amherst Elementary School Building Project - Upcoming Community Forum on December 8

The next public forum on the Amherst Elementary School Building Project will be held on December 8, 2015, in the Amherst Regional Middle School Library. Identical presentations will be made at 3:30 pm and 7 pm and Spanish interpretation is available for both sessions. Bus transportation and child care will again be provided for the evening session.

Visit the Facebook page to stay up to date on this project.  

Whole Children Holiday Dance Party on December 4th

a message from Whole Children in Hadley ...

Whole Children in Hadley provides enrichment and recreation classes for children of all abilities, including those with special needs. 

We value your presence in the Pioneer Valley community and believe that your families would be interested in our upcoming annual Holiday Dance!

This year we are celebrating the holidays on Friday, December 4th, from 6:30pm-8:30pm with a free social gathering for all ages and abilities at 41 Russell St. in Hadley. It is an exciting night to dress up in some fancy duds and dance and play the night away. Not only will we be spinning some tunes on the dance floor, we will have a room supervised by Minecraft and Pokemon masters for people who prefer to celebrate a bit quieter with their favorite video game characters. Our creative movement room featuring everyone’s favorite rock wall and ball pit will be available for younger party goers and their parents. Everyone is invited to bring nut free snacks to share. 

Please help us spread the word! Visit our Facebook event page or click here for a printable flyer.

"Conversations with Jimmy" - a synopsis

On Monday, November 16, Amherst Together, Amherst Regional Public Schools, and the Amherst Human Rights Commission, in collaboration with UMass W .E.B. Du Bois Afro-American Studies Department, Five Colleges,Inc., and Jones Library, presented Conversations with Jimmy, a nationwide outreach initiative from the James Baldwin Project.

Click here to read more in the Superintendent's weekly newsletter.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Join us for… Fort River Night at the AMHERST PUB Tuesday, December 8

Join us for…
Fort River Night at the AMHERST PUB

Tuesday, December 8

15 East Pleasant Street in Downtown Amherst

Take a night off from cooking, bring family and friends, and enjoy dinner at The Pub with our Fort River community! Tell your server you are a Fort River Family and The Pub will donate 15% of your bill to our PGO!

The Power of Water/The Power of Words - December 8th at the Jones Library

from the Connecticut River Watershed Council …

Do you care about your rivers? The Connecticut River Watershed Council and Art for Water is creating a “river of words” to draw attention to five major hydro-operations from Turners Falls, MA to above Hanover, NH. This public participation, community art project will tell a thousand stories to improve the ecological health and recreational opportunities of the Connecticut River.  Come add your voice at the presentation given at the Jones Library, 43 Amity Street, Amherst on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 PM in the Woodbury Room.

“We are working together to bring a public opinion art installation to the State and Federal government,” says Andrew Fisk, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Watershed Council. The government is in the process of making decisions about how these dams will operate over the next 30-40 years. “You have a unique opportunity to influence how 200 miles of the Connecticut River and its tributaries from Montague, MA to north of Hanover, NH will be managed, restored and improved”— for all who live here.

Fisk and Christine Destrempes, founder and Director of Art for Water, will speak and then engage you in this interactive art project at the Jones Library on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 PM.  “We are building an inspiring and influential exhibit that is made up of your stories and aspirations for our rivers. It’s called The Power of Water/The Power of Words because our voices do have power to influence positive change.” Come add your voice!

To learn more about The Power of Water/The Power of Words presentation, please call 413-772-2020, ext. 206.

School Photos ... Monday, November 23 is Make-up and Re-take Day

Students should have received their photo packages. Make-up and re-take day for school photos is Monday, November 23. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Jones Library offers Maker Space on Saturdays

A unique collaboration between Jones Library and ARPS! Call 413-259-3091 or email to register. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Youth Hockey Programs - Registration Ongoing

It’s not too late to sign up for the Amherst Hockey Association's popular Learn to Skate and Learn to Play programs, the all-girls Learn to Play team, and the all-girls house team. Practices begin Nov. 19 (girls’ house team) or Nov. 21 (LTS, LTP, all-girls LTP), and late registrations will still be accepted provided there is space.
Learn to Skate practices are Saturdays at 1-2:20, from Nov. 21 - March 12. No skating experience necessary - we’ll divide skaters into groups from our “bucket brigade” on up to more experienced skaters. Coaches lead skaters in fun drills, games, obstacle courses, and more to get all kids skating with confidence. The cost is $120; additional $48 USA Hockey registration required for children 6 and up (free USA Hockey registration for children under 6). 
Learn to Play practices are Saturdays at 2:30-3:50, from Nov. 21 - March 12. Beginning in December, there will be additional cross-ice games on Sundays. Children rapidly become better skaters as they forget to think about their feet and focus on the puck. Practices are full of fun with a variety of games such as freeze tag and soccer on ice, obstacle courses, small-net hockey games, “beat your best time” races, and more. The cost is $325; additional $48 USA Hockey registration required for children 6 and up (free USA Hockey registration for children under 6). 
The all-girls Learn to Play team is for girls age 4-8. The girls’ team will be part of co-ed practices (see details, above) and will play their games against co-ed teams. Girls also have the option of being on a co-ed team, if they prefer. 
Our All-Girls House Team is for girls age 9-15. The Girls' House Team will be on the ice two evenings per week starting Nov. 19 through mid-March. The focus is on FUN first with low-stakes scrimmaging, obstacle courses, and skill building. There are additional, optional on- and off-ice events with the Girls’ Division. Cost: $325 plus the $48 USA Hockey registration. 

For more information, email Dan Feldman at or go to to register. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

PGO Coffee with the Principal: Special Guests Ms. Castronovo and Mr. Kline to Discuss Co-Teaching - Monday, November 16 at 9am

Please join your friends TOMORROW, Monday, November 16 at 9 am for coffee, donuts, and informative conversation! 

The topic is Co-Teaching at Fort River and special guests Linda Castronovo and Brian Kline will share their perspectives from the classroom.

Monthly coffees will take place on or about the 15th of each month. The dates can be found on the PGO calendar which is on the right side of the blog home page. Some coffees will take place in the evening. There will usually be a presentation for families and specifics will be available on the blog, FB, and Twitter.

Please share with your friends and neighbors! Your infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are always welcome! Families with future Amherst Elementary school children are also welcome to attend. We hope to see you there!



Start getting those holiday book shopping lists ready!  On Saturday, December 5th, Fort River will be hosting a book fair at Barnes & Noble Hadley.  On that day, our school will get a percentage (10-15%) of every purchase made by customers who mention Fort River School at checkout.  Look for more details on the day’s performances, story time and activities in the coming weeks.

Volunteers are needed to make the day a success. In addition to welcoming customers to the store and making sure they know to mention Fort River, we will be hosting the gift wrapping table.  This is a free service but we are welcome to accept donations to our school as well as hand out flyers for customers to use to designate Fort River.  Please contact our coordinators or click the link below to volunteer at this festive holiday FUNdraiser! 

Welcome Table - contact Liz Larson for more details 

Gift Wrap Table - contact MaryBeth Meade for more details 

Or sign up here:

Stop & Shop A+ Rewards Program - PLEASE REGISTER!

Our local Stop & Shop will partner with you to earn FREE MONEY for FORT RIVER! A+ Rewards are offered on numerous items, many of which you are likely already purchasing on your weekly grocery runs.

FORT RIVER HAS ALREADY EARNED $140.00 IN FREE MONEY DURING THIS CALENDAR SCHOOL YEAR! This is so fabulous! There is room to improve though, as evidenced by ARHS which has earned a whopping $3617.41 so far! WOW!

If you have not already done so, please take a moment to REGISTER (or re-register) your card by clicking here. It couldn’t be easier! Enter the first three letters of your last name and your 13-digit Stop & Shop card number and click the “Look Up” button. On the next page where it says “school 1” enter Fort River’s ID #05218, click “Register”. Please make sure to take the last step by clicking “confirm my information.” THANK YOU!

ARPS Equity Task Force Update

The School Equity Task Force was created by unanimous vote of the Amherst Regional School Committee in the Spring of 2014. Our charge is to help ARHS provide all students an innovative and academically exceptional education in an environment that embraces racial, cultural, and socio-economic diversity and where the educational workforce of our schools proportionately reflects, as closely as reasonably possible, the diversity of the school district as a whole. This educational experience and environment must include facilities and other human and capital resources that are equitable to support the district’s mission of Excellence in Teaching and Learning for All. The SETF is studying and making recommendations for short- and long-range actions concerning but not limited to the following: developing a school climate founded upon mutual respect; addressing discipline issues, especially racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities; and other equity issues related to achieving the Amherst Regional High School’s core values and beliefs of “high achievement, best practices, and social justice.”
To achieve this we have launched three working groups: Culture, Community & School Climate; Discipline Disparity & Development; and Excellence & Equity SETF is a multi-racial group of School Committee members, school leaders, community members, parents and family members of ARPS students.
Participation in the Task Force is open to everyone in the community. Our meetings are open to the public and are posted on the calendar at Our work is ongoing.
For more information on the SETF, http://file:///C:/Users/Mare/Downloads/SETF%20Brochure%20for%20Taste%205.pdf

ARHS Performing Arts Department Upcoming Events

from ARHS PGO:

Did you know that the Performing Arts Department has an online calendar that features performances and events showcasing or supporting everything from dance, to art, theater, Band and Orchestra?  Click here to view it.
Bomba Fall Concert- November 6th at 7:30 PM
Dance Theater Ensemble- November 13-14 at 7:30 PM
Jazz Workshop Concert- December 1 from 7:30 PM – 9 PM

UUSA Stone Soup Bazaar & Cafe on December 5 from 9am - 3pm

Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst121 N. Pleasant Street, Amherst

The Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst (UUSA) is pleased to be hosting the Stone Soup Bazaar & Cafe in our lovely remodeled Meetinghouse located at 121 N. Pleasant St., Amherst. Come gift shopping at our arts and crafts fair featuring potters, fabric artists, wood workers, jewelers, painters, quilters, card makers, tie dyers, soap and lotion makers and more. Some specialize in gifts for pets, others in clothing for children and babies. Parents, grandparents and people of all ages are sure to find that special something for the people on their list. Enter a raffle to win a UUSA handmade quilt or gift basket. Wake up with coffee/tea and muffins from 9-11am. Have lunch of homemade soups and bread from 11-2pm. Have fun in the Kid’s Zone. Make a day of it! For more information go to or contact

Featured artisans:
*Tina Acker & Abby O’Connor/Kaimuntarz - children’s bibs, towels, aprons, change purses/
*Kathleen Ahamed-Broadhurst/Almost Edible Soap - body products: soaps, scrubs, oils, bath soaks/
*Deborah Bazer - raised relief tiles, small sculpture, flower pots, dinnerware, tea lights and spoon rests/ 
*Joshua Berins - jewelry: precious metal clay, wire wrapped stones, dichroic glass
*Nancy Chamberlin/Cozy Home Critters - fleece pet beds
*Sara Coblyn/Sweet Root Gardens - bath bombs, lip balms, lotion, scrubs and sewing kits for parents and children/
*Nina Compagnon, Rebecca Fricke, Flo Rosenstock, Deborah Slavitt, Margaret Stancer/Fiber Artists of Western Mass - scarves, ornaments, hats, jackets, cards
*David Dann - jewelry: earrings, necklaces, pins, with sea glass, wampum and shells
*Tiffany DeAngelo - crystal trees and ornaments, wire bookmarks
*Elizabeth Fieldsteel - unique functional pottery/
*Melvyn Flynn - wooden bowls, vases, cutting boards, clocks/
*Bevlynn Gallant - silver jewelry with beads, dichroic glass, precious metal clay
*Phyllis Jeswald - vintage button earrings, necklaces, pins and magnets
*Jodi Levine - tie-dye clothing for the whole family/
*Emma Mack - jewelry: glass bead, folded wire, glass pendants
*Valerie Miller - tapestry and quilted bags/
*Jane Murray/Two Friend’s Silk - hand-dyed silk scarves, wraps and shawls 
*Tracy Vernon - paintings, mixed media, cards, and women’s/children jewelry
Come gift shopping. Enter a raffle to win a UUSA handmade quilt or gift basket. Wake up with coffee/tea and muffins from 9-11am. Have lunch of homemade soups and bread from 11-2pm. Have fun in the Kids Zone. Make a day of it!

PGO Winter Coat & Clothing Share Continues this Week at Wildwood

Did you miss the distribution days last week fro the Winter Clothing Share? Did you forget to send in your donations? It's not too late! Donations are still accepted and items can be selected THIS MONDAY, TUESDAY, and WEDNESDAY from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm AT WILDWOOD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

Thanks to all of the generous donors!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Coming Together Project Film Event on Saturday, November 21 at 2:30pm at the Jones Library

The Story We Tell is an eye-opening tale of how deep social inequalities came to be rationalized as natural – deflecting attention from the social practices and public policies that benefited whites at the expense of others.  This is the next event in a film and discussion series which began in the Fall of 2014 and continues to look at issues of race. 

A facilitated discussion will occur after the screening. We will look at how this story continues to affect us and our society today.  (This is Episode #2 in Race: The Power of an Illusion from PBS, California Newsreel.) 
Free and open to the public.  For more information, please contact Janet Ryan at 413/259-3223. This film series is co-sponsored by the Jones Library and The Coming Together Project.  

More information about The Coming Together Project can be found at

IEP Workshop For Parents and Educators on December 7 at 5:30pm


IEP Clinic: A Workshop for Parents and Educators will be held on Monday, December 7, 2015 at Amherst Regional High School, Room 13 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm.

Every child with a disability who receives special education services must have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This workshop takes parents and educators step-by-step through IEP development, including how to articulate a vision, using evaluations to write measurable goals, and measuring their child’s progress.

The last hour and a half will consist of a round table discussion with volunteer Educational Advocates. Feel free to bring your child’s IEP.
Contact: Nancy Stewart 413-687-4255 or with any questions.

Sponsored by: Pelham, Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), Pelham, Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools and the Federation for Children with Special Needs.

40th Merry Maple Celebration on December 4 from 4:00 PM - 6:30 PM TownHall

Hot Cider and doughnuts will be available for purchase.

3:00 - 4:00 FIRE STATION! Calling all kids! See a real fire engine up close or a modern police vehicle. It’s exciting to see for yourself what they are really like!

4:00 - 6:00 HAYRIDES! By Muddy Brook Farm (pick up at the Town Common)

4:00 - 5:30 CRAFT ROOM! Face painting and kid’s crafts (at the Town Room; Town Hall)

4:30 AMHERST REGIONAL MIDDLE SCHOOL CHORUS (on the front steps of the Town Hall)


5:30 MINUTEMAN MARCHING BAND! At the Town Common with SANTA! Sing~a~longs and loads of fun for everyone.

6:00 VISIT WITH SANTA! March down to the Amherst Historical Museum at the Strong House next to the Jones Library, to have your picture taken with Santa and enjoy cookies.