Sunday, March 27, 2016

Change a Light Change the World! Green Energy Fundraiser

Look for information this week in your child's backpack about this awesome fundraiser! In partnership with Eversource, Fort River will keep 100% of the money spent on residential energy efficient supplies (light bulbs, powered strips, etc.)

Students will attend an Assembly on Wednesday, March 30 to learn about easy ways that we can all help to protect our planet Earth. 

Forms and payment due by April 13. Order forms will be sent home with students after the assembly. Click the link for easy access to the order form:

Local Vocal Chord Bowl #8 is Saturday, April 2 at 7pm at ARHS

The Local Vocal Chord Bowl will be held this Saturday! This is an event you do not want to miss! The performances will truly amaze you - these a Capella groups are phenomenal!

Last year the event raised $6000! Three thousand dollars went to ARHS - to help the music department purchase a new upright piano!  The other $3000 went to Northampton High School for funding the purchase of electronic keyboards and headphones for a class.

The performance will feature nine acapella groups, including The Chorale and The Hurricane Singers from ARHS, two groups from UMass, and one group from Amherst College, as well as three adult groups.  It should be a great deal of FUN!!

Library Volunteers Urgently Needed!

Some of the library volunteers will be "graduating" in June and need to be replaced. Additional volunteers are also needed. Here is a repost of the request from library staff posted in Decemeber:

If you have any free time and are willing, the Fort River Library needs you. Usually we can train you in 30-40 minutes for the job(s) you choose. Book repairs can be done at home or here. Give us a call or stop by to see what it might feel like to work in the library. Try it. Your schedule to volunteer can be whenever you are free and flexible. -- Fran Ludington, Librarian, Joanne Shea, Paraeducator (Email: 

Kristin DeLuca, first grade parent, offers her thoughts on volunteering in the library:

"Giving just a few hours to the library each week is a rewarding experience and a fun way to get involved with your child's school environment. Any time that volunteers are able to help with book shelving or assist with projects frees up valuable time for the librarian to prep for student lessons. Ms. Ludington and Ms. Shea are great to work with and very flexible ... even if you only have a half hour one week, dropping in to help tidy up is very much appreciated! It doesn't take long to get trained, so I'd encourage anyone available to drop by and check it out." 

Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committees Approve MCAS Opt-Out Resolution

In a joint meeting on Tuesday, March 22, the Amherst and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committees passed the following resolution affirming students’ rights to opt-out of MCAS testing, and educators’ rights to discuss their opinions about testing without any form of retribution. The resolution is available on the ARPS website at and the text is below:

By law, students, in consultation with their families, have the right to opt out of state-wide standardized tests such as MCAS and PARCC. Consistent with prior practice, students along with their families, who choose to exercise a student’s right to opt out of these assessments—either by a statement or a note from parents or guardians—will not be subject to any form of negative consequences from the school district.

Opting out will not have negative implications for grades or class placement of any individual student. High School students should be aware that Massachusetts regulations dictate that a passing score on the tenth grade level MCAS is a graduation requirement. Educators who choose to discuss the right to opt-out with their students or with parents shall not be subject to any form of retribution by anyone in the Amherst or Amherst Regional public schools. 

We are pleased to reaffirm that free speech is a fundamental right of all members of our educational community.  

Amherst Town Elections on Tuesday

indexOn Tuesday, March 29, 2016, the Town of Amherst will hold their annual election.  This year, there is a contested school committee race (3 candidates for 2 open seats).

In addition, there is an important Yes/ No question about forming a Charter Commission to examine our form of government.  Simultaneously, there is vote on candidates to serve on the Charter Commission should the question pass.  There are 19 candidates vying for 9 seats.

The League of Women Voters has detailed election guides available online:

2016 Voting Guide - Town Meeting, School Committee and Select Board

Charter Commission Candidate Statements

March Principal Newsletter

In case you missed it, please read the March Principal Newsletter which is packed with information from our Principals and our Specialist educators about everything going on lately at Fort River. 

ARMS Grade 8 Chorus "Night on Broadway" Show on April 1


Friday, April 1, 2016

7:00 p.m.

Middle School Auditorium

This two act family friendly Broadway review includes 20 Broadway songs with Solos, Skits, Dancing, & of course the Middle School Grade 8 Chorus.  Tickets may be purchased at the MS Main Office or reserved by sending in the ticket order form in the newsletter with payment.  Adults $8.00, Students (Gr. K – 12) $5.00, Not in school yet – Free



7:00 pm

AUDITORIO de Intermedia 

Estos dos actos familiares de Broadway incluye 20 canciones de Broadway, con solos, Obras de teatro, baile, y por supuesto El Coro de Octavo Grado de la Escuela Intermedia Los boletos pueden ser comprados en la oficina principal de la Escuela Intermedia o reservados enviando el formulario de pedido de entradas en el boletín con el pago. Adultos $ 8.00, Estudiantes (Gr K -. 12) $ 5.00, todavía no está en la escuela

MAGE upcoming conference on April 30th and Scholarship for students in Grades 3-6 for enrichment activities

MA Association for Gifted Education (MAGE) Annual Conference
Saturday, April 30th,  9 am-3 pm
Springfield, MA
$30 Registration, includes lunch!

Sessions on the Academic, Social, & Emotional Needs of Gifted Children in the Classroom & at Home, & on implications of the new federal education funding act (Every Student Succeeds Act - ESSA) for gifted education 
Register at
Scholarship Program
Each year, MAGE offers the Nicholas Green Award scholarship to support a student in grades 3-6 with exemplary potential in one or more topic areas.  The scholarship (up to $500) can be used to defray the costs for an enrichment program (summer camp, online course, etc.).  More than one award may be given per year.  

Click here to download instructions and application forms for the 2016 Nicholas Green Award.  The deadline for applying is April 15th. 

This award was made possible through a generous donation from the Green family, which was administered by NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children). Nicholas was a bright seven-year old who was killed in a senseless shooting while on vacation in Italy. His parents wanted to keep his memory alive, and they donated money they had saved for his college expenses to fund this award.

For further information, please contact Carol Lach, MAGE Nicholas Green Awards Committee, 

Kestrel Trust Family Events

Frogs & Forests

Dive Into the Dynamic World of Vernal Pools 
Glimpse the changing life phases of frogs & other creatures. 

Spring is here and the frogs and salamanders are on the move to the vernal pools. This year, we've got two chances for you to enter this fascinating world of metamorphosis. At the first outing in Northampton on April 9, you'll likely see fairy shrimp, frog eggs, and other creatures up close! Or, come with us to vernal pools in Hadley  on  April 23 to learn about the next phase of amphibian life when we may see tadpoles and other creatures that rely on these special places.  

Frog eggs
                                                          vernal pool 
When:   Saturday, April 9 ORSaturday, April 23, 1 pm - 3 pm  

Where:  Northampton OR Hadley

Fee:    Free (donations accepted)

Please specify which date you want to attend. Meeting location details will be provided. Thank you!

Forestry Walk & Maple Sugar Morning
Learn how low-impact forestry benefits wildlife & people.    

View from Tob Hill

When:   Sunday, April 10, 10-11:30 am       

Where:  Westhampton    

Fee:      Free (donations accepted)


Forests provide so many benefits, from clean air to wildlife habitat to the wood we use every day. Join licensed forester Tom Jenkins for a guided tour of working forest lands in different stages of growth in Westhampton. Learn how harvesting trees can be done in a sustainable, low-impact way.

Massachusetts Soccer School at UMass - Summer, April Vacation programs

Massachusetts Soccer School

JULY 6-9
JULY 13-16



Adult Learn to Ice Skate Sessions with the Amherst Hockey League, start April 2nd

Saturdays 6:00-6:50 pm
April 2, 9, 16, 23, & 30
(April 30th, 7-7:50 pm)
$95 per participant
UMass Community Skating Rink Mullins Center

To register or for questions, please contact Dan Feldman, president of Amherst Hockey Association,

(not a school-sponsored event) 


Crocker Farm Early Childhood Visioning Group, District seeking Parents of 1-2 year olds to Participate

(click on poster to enlarge)

The district is seeking parents/ guardians of 1-2 year olds to participate in the visioning group for the future Crocker Farm. The group, which will consist of staff members & community members as well, will be meeting on April 7th, June 23th, & June 28th, from 8 am to 2:45 pm.  
Please contact Sasha Figueroa,, to signup to participate.

Early Dismissal on Wednesday, March 30

This Wednesday, March 30, is an early release day for ARPS elementary students. Students will be dismissed at 1:20 PM.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Family Survey Available - PLEASE COMPLETE!

Dear Families,

The Amherst-Pelham Schools have formed a partnership with UChicago in an effort to provide us with reliable, ongoing data for school improvement. The data will be generated from student, staff, and family survey results. We ask that you participate in the survey. Your participation in this survey is voluntary and you have the right not to participate. However, I hope that you will strongly consider sharing your voice, as the results from this survey will help drive improvement in Fort River.

The 5Essentials Survey provides a comprehensive picture of a school’s organizational culture in an individualized report measuring five “Essentials” critical for school success:

- Effective Leaders

- Collaborative Teachers

- Involved Families

- Supportive Environment

- Ambitious Instruction

The survey will be open between March 23rd and April 15th  and all of the surveys will be completed by the April vacation which will allow us to get the results before the end of the school year. 

If you need access to a computer, the Fort River computer lab will be open M-F from8:00- 8:45am and 3:30- 4:30. Please stop by my office and I can help you. Your participation is important! 

Click on this link to take the survey:


Bobbie Finocchio, Principal 


Estimadas Familias,

Las Escuelas de Amherst-Pelham han formado una asociación con Impacto de la Universidad de Chicago que nos proporciona datos fiables y constantes para el mejoramiento escolar. Los datos se generan a partir de los resultados de las encuestas de los estudiantes, del personal y de las familias. Les pedimos que participen en la encuesta. Su participación en esta encuesta es voluntaria y usted tiene el derecho de no participar. Sin embargo, espero que usted considere seriamente la posibilidad de compartir su voz, ya que los resultados de este estudio ayudarán a impulsar mejoras en Fort River.

La Encuesta “5Essentials” proporciona una visión global de la cultura organizacional de la escuela en un informe individualizado que mide cinco "Esenciales" críticos para el éxito escolar:

  • Líderes eficaces
  • Profesores colaborativos
  • Familias involucradas
  • Entorno favorable
  • Instrucción ambiciosa

La encuesta estará abierta desde marzo 23 hasta el 15 de abril y todas las encuestas serán completadas en las vacaciones de abril, que nos permitirá obtener los resultados antes del final del año escolar.

Si necesita tener acceso a una computadora, el laboratorio de computadoras de Fort River estará abierto lunes a viernes de 8: 00- 8:45 am y de 3: 30- 04:30 pm. Favor de pasar por mi oficina y yo le puedo ayudar. Su participación es importante!

Haga clic en este enlace para participar en la encuesta:


Bobbie Finocchio, Principal 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Trivia Night at the Jones Library on April 7

The Jones Library invites area trivia buffs to at our monthly Trivia Night, hosted by Mark “Harpo” Power, on the first Thursday of the month, from 6:30 pm until 8:30 pm.  The next Trivia Night will be held on Thursday, April 7, 2016 in the Woodbury Room.  All trivia aficionados are invited to join in the fun and support the Jones Library!

Bring friends and family as a team, or form teams on the spot, with a maximum of five per team. There will be two rounds of 15 questions each, and there will be prizes for the top teams.  Doors open at 6 pm, and the event starts promptly at 6:30 pm.  There is a suggested donation of $5-$10 per person to participate.  All proceeds benefit the Jones Library.  Refreshments will be served.

Open to the public.  For more information, please contact Janet Ryan at 413/259-3223.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hitchcock Center Spring Programs for Children and Families

Josia DeChiara, Hitchcock educator

Ages 8-11, Grades 3-5
Alternating Thursdays: March 24April 7, 28, May 12, 26, June 9
Members: $162/Non-members: $190

Get to know nature, and make friends at the same time! This afterschool program is designed to bring girls together in a supportive environment that fosters creativity, nature skills and inquiry. Each afternoon will consist of hands-on projects and free outdoor exploration at the Larch Hill Conservation Area. Through playing games, exploring nearby habitats, and connecting with nature, we will develop our confidence, build friendships and have a lot of fun learning! Families provide their own transportation to the Hitchcock Center. Learn more...

with Dan Ziomek, Local Birder and WRSI's Bird Songs Radio Program

For young people ages 8-13
Saturdays, April 9, 16, 23, 30 and May 7, 14
Individual/Youth: Members $60/Non-members $75
Parent/Child: Members $100/Non-members $120

Spring migration is the most exciting time of year to get out and see birds! Each week new species return from the south wearing their spring colors. Each week we will explore a different local site and meeting locations will vary. Be the next generation of birders! Space is limited, registration required. 

Jeff Mazur and Hannah French, Hitchcock educators

Ages 6-8
Tuesdays, 10:00am-2:00pm
9 classes - March 22, 29, April 12, 26, May 10, 17, 24, 31, June 7
*No class April 5, 20 or May 3
Members: $375/Non-members: $404

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It's a nature superhero! In Homeschool I this spring we will learn about superheroes of survival in nature. We'll explore super senses, and learn how sight, hearing, and smell are used to capture prey and avoid detection. We'll discover special powers including poisons, prickles, and pollination. Learn more...
Patrick O'Roark, Hitchcock educator

Ages 9-12
Tuesdays, 10:00am-2:00pm
9 classes - March 22, 29, April 12, 26, May 10, 17, 24, 31, June 7
*No class April 5, 20 or May 3
Members: $375/Non-members: $404

Have you ever wondered why animals act the way they do, or what they are thinking? Why do coyotes howl at night? Is the cardinal pecking my window because it's angry? Do the two crayfish you caught like each other? During this spring's Homeschool II class we'll be exploring these and many other questions about the inner lives of the animals around us. We'll practice scientific observation and experimentation, with both the animals that live with us here at the Hitchcock Center and the wildlife that shares our neighborhood. Learn more...
Nature Summer Camp

A few openings are still available for camp sessions this summer for the Young Naturalists, ages 6-7.

There's no better place to discover the wonders of the outdoors! At Hitchcock Nature Summer Camp, children enjoy, play and learn in the natural world. Each day is designed with outdoor adventures, along with cooperative games, art projects, singing, and science experiments. Learn more...

Nature Discovery Preschool: All About Birds

Colleen Kelley, Hitchcock Center Educator

Ages 3-5 (adult required to attend with child)
Fridays, March 25April 1, 8, 15, 29, May 6, 13, 20, 27, June 3 (No class 4/22)
Morning session: 9:30am-11:30 am (wait list only)
Afternoon session: 1:00pm-3:00pm
Members: $205/Non-members: $225

We will head in to spring in full flight! Children and their adult companions will explore the world of birds through movement, songs, crafts and live animal observations. An adult is required to attend with each child. Learn more...
Explore a Vernal Pool

Ted Watt, Hitchcock Center Naturalist
Saturday, April 9, 9:30 am - noon
Members $15 Non-members $18

Vernal pools with their temporary spring accumulations of rain and runoff water provide unique homes for a variety of amazing creatures. How do they survive both in the water and when the pool dries up? We'll find out by observing and wondering about these creatures. Appropriate for adults and young people ages 8 and up accompanied by their adult. Please call to register. Space is limited and registration required. Learn more...
Spring Vacation Camp

Ages 6-10, Grades K-4
Monday through FridayApril 18-22
Members: $60 per day/Non-members: $70 per day

Spend your days off from school learning and playing outside at the Hitchcock Center! We'll explore topics in spring ecology while playing games, making crafts and spending time with our live animals. Sign up for as many days as you wish. Learn more...

About Us
The Hitchcock Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that works to inspire people to learn about our natural world through innovative, hands-on environmental education programs. We help people to explore the interconnections between the health of humans and ecosystems, reinforcing our innate bonds with our environment, and looking to nature as a model and measure to improve our quality of life.

FINAL DAY to order Coffee Cakes!

Monday, March 21st is the last day to get your coffeecake orders in to the office!  Click here to print the order form

Support Fort River and support the Glazed Doughnut Shop, a sweet local business!

Glazed coffee cake cakes are moist and delicious with just a drizzle of white frosting on top and a swirl of cinnamon and chocolate on the inside. Yum!! 

Perfect for sharing with your family or gifting to your friends. 

All coffee cakes are $12. Regular and gluten free available. 

Turn in your order forms to the Fort River office by Monday, March 21. Please include payment with your order form; checks can be made out to "Fort River PGO"

Cakes can be picked in the Fort River lobby on 
Thursday, March 24th after school until 5 PM or 
Friday, March 25 after school until 6 PM 

Visit the shop on Pleasant Street or at

Amherst Splash Spring 2016 registration IS OPEN!

acsplashSplash is a one–day event at Amherst College, where middle and high school students learn anything from Masks of the World to How People Make Money to Harry Potter: A Chamber of Secrets to Instant Chinese to Beat–boxing, all taught by college students!

When: Saturday April 9th 2016, 9am–3pm at Converse Hall, Amherst College, Amherst, MA 01002

A $10 fee includes course supplies and lunch. Scholarships are available.

Here’s the registration link to get you started:  Register

Quick link to courses offered this semester:  Class Catalog

Please invite all your friends and pass the information along to anyone interested! Additionally, we are now on Facebook ( so give us a like and get a chance to see updates and what happens behind the scenes with us :)

Registration is set to close April 6th so sign up soon! Give us an email if you have any questions.

ARPS School Calendar for 2016-2017 School Year



The School Committee has voted to accept next School year’s calendar. The Full calendar available at this link:  2016-2017 Calendar
The First day of school for the 2016-2017 School Year is Wednesday, August 31st  for students in grades 1-12.

ARHS Ice Hockey Win Sectional Title, State Runners-Up

Reposted from ARHS PGO:

Congratulations to the ARHS Boys Ice Hockey Team and Coach Mike Rousseau! The Hurricanes won the Western Massachusetts Division 3A Tournament championship for the first time in 20 years with a 3-2 overtime win over Chicopee Comp at the Olympia Ice Center on March 10.

The Hurricanes played Nashoba in the State Championship last Thursday at the Mass Mutual Center and lost 5-1. Fort River alum Nathan Masteralexis scored for Amherst in the final seconds of the match. Congratulations to the entire team and their families on a great season!
To read more about their Western Mass Title:
photo credit: Daily Hampshite Gazette