Monday, January 30, 2017

Assurance Letter Regarding Immigrant Families

The Amherst Regional School District will continue to enroll and serve every child living in the district who chooses to attend our schools, without regard to their immigration status. View the assurance letter from the ARPS interim superintendent regarding immigrant families.

Town Meeting School Vote on January 30

On Monday, January 30 at 7pm, the Amherst Town Meeting will vote on Article 1. Petition “Bond Authorization for Co-located Elementary School Project on Wildwood site"

“To see if the Town of Amherst will appropriate, transfer from available funds and/or borrow $66,369,000 to be expended under the direction of the School Building Committee to construct, originally equip and furnish two co-located elementary schools on the Wildwood site to educate all Amherst students in grades 2-6, including the cost of architectural design, project management and other incidental and related costs, as well as demolition of the existing building and other necessary site improvements, which school facility shall have an anticipated useful life as an educational facility for the instruction of school children of at least 50 years, and for which the Town may be eligible for a School construction grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (“MSBA”), and to meet this appropriation, the Treasurer, with the approval of the Select Board, is authorized to borrow said amount under and pursuant to Chapter 44, Section 7(1) of the Massachusetts General Laws or pursuant to any other enabling authority, and to issue bonds or notes of the Town therefor. The MSBA’s grant program is a non-entitlement, discretionary program based on need, as determined by the MSBA, and any project costs the Town incurs in excess of any grant approved by and received from the MSBA shall be the sole responsibility of the Town. Any grant that the Town of Amherst may receive from the MSBA for the Project shall not exceed the lessor of (1) 68.34 percent (%) of eligible, approved project costs, as determined by the MSBA, or (2) the total maximum grant amount determined by the MSBA."

Full text of Town Warrant:
Certified petitions and statements are available on the Town Meeting’s website:

The Town Meeting Coordinating Committee has established a new communication method that allows citizens to email Town Meeting members. Use the following format to contact all members from a specific precinct: (for Precinct 1) (for Precinct 2) (for Precinct 3) (for Precinct 4) 

and so on. Substitute the correct number for the precinct you wish to email. Any TM member from that precinct who has an email on file with the TMCC will receive the message. Phone numbers and mailing addresses for TM members are available from the League of Women Voters here:

Hillside Pizza Fundraiser for 5th Grade Field Trips

The 5th grade is once again selling delicious, convenient Hillside pizzas!

Orders are due by February 9. Simply fill out the form that went home in backpacks or order from a 5th grader. Payment and a contact phone number are needed when orders are placed.

Pizza pickup is in the Fort River lobby on February 16 after school until 5:30pm.

Thank you!

Silver Chord Bowl 2017 this Sunday, February 5 at 2 pm

The Silver Chord Bowl, the oldest and most respected collegiate a cappella showcase in the region, hosted in John M. Greene Hall on the Smith College campus, is happening soon. This year's event will begin with a performance by Northampton High School’s very own Northamptones, followed by performances by six groups from colleges and universities around the Northeast. This year we will see the Dartmouth Aires, the Boston University BosTones, Tufts sQ!, the UMass Dynamics, the UMass Doo Wop Shop and the Smith College Noteables. The Silver Chord Bowl 2017 will be hosted by Smith College President Kathleen McCartney and Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz.

When: Sunday, February 5th – 2:00 PM Showtime, Doors Open at 1:30 PM

Where: John M. Greene Hall - Smith College, 63 Elm Street Northampton, MA 01063
Tickets: for Premium Assigned & General Admission Tickets; State Street Fruit Store in Northampton, Cooper's Corner in Florence, AJ Hastings in Amherst, and Elmer's in Ashfield for General Admission Tickets.

Premium Assigned Seating - All Ages: $35, available online only
General Admission - All Ages: $15, available online and at one of our ticket outlets

Save the Date! AEF Celebrates Music in Our Schools on March 18

AEF is thrilled to announce its spring fundraiser: Music in our Schools!
Saturday, March 18, 2017
6 - 9 pm

Emceed by Performing Arts Department Chair John Bechtold and State Representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose, the evening will be filled with tributes, performances, and wonderful food and drink.

AEF will be giving a special award to ARMS Chorus Director Dave Ranen and lifetime achievement recognitions to all of our district’s music educators, past and present, who have taught for more than 20 years in the schools.

AEF has invited all music educators to be our guests at our event, and is pleased to announce that we will be joined by Fort River Music Teacher Anne White, Crocker Farm Music Teacher Eleanor Lincoln, Wildwood Music Teacher Jacob Brownell, ARHS Chorale teacher Todd Fruth, and retired Band Leader Sue Dunbar. The list is still growing!

Proceeds will support AEF's 2017 excellence grants, with a portion going directly to the ARPS music program.  Tickets can be purchased online at: or by clicking here.

The event will be held at:  Marriott Center, Campus Center, 11th floor, UMass-Amherst, 1 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA.

Volunteers Needed: Board of Directors of Amherst A Better Chance

Interested in volunteering with a program that for nearly 50 years has successfully supported young men of color from disadvantaged school districts who come to Amherst to live in a supportive home environment while attending Amherst Regional High School?  Please consider joining the Board of Directors of Amherst A Better Chance.  We can guarantee our volunteers the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of these young men.  They are scholars who demonstrate such promise while here in Amherst and who, as ABC and ARHS alumni, live lives of purpose.

Please contact Wendy Kohler, President of Amherst A Better Chance, for more information.  (Email:; Cell:  413-250-0091)

Special Free Family Screening of "Screenagers: Growing up in the Digital Age,” February 8

Mark your calendars for this free family event, sponsored by the ARMS PGO and the Principal’s office.  We will be hosting a screening of the film "Screenagers: Growing up int he Digital Age" on Wednesday, February 8, from 6:30-8:30 pm in the ARMS auditorium. 

Admission is free and open to all ARMS families.  We will also be selling raffle tickets for a chance to win a Screen-free Family Fun basket.  We strongly encourage you to attend with your children.  To learn more about the film and watch a trailer, please visit

UPDATE: ARHS Gym Renovation Project

from ARHS Administration:

We are excited to provide an update on the ARHS gymnasium renovation project.  The architectural firm Kuhn Riddle will have the design work for the project done by the end of January with construction anticipated to begin in March.  The construction phase of the project will be completed by August 15th in time for all of our Fall athletic programs and the 2017-18 school year.  The scope of the project will include the following:  
  1. Removal and replacement of the existing gym floor
  2. Removal of the wooden bleachers to be replaced with new ADA compliant composite bleachers
  3. Painting the ceiling and walls white with Hurricane logos (location TBD)
  4. Removal of the non-functioning mechanical doors to be replaced with drop down netting
  5. Reconfigure the volleyball court to allow for two practice nets

We appreciate everyone's patience with this project as it has put a strain on our physical education students and teachers as well as our athletic teams this year.  In the end we will have a fully renovated gymnasium that has not seen significant updates since its construction in 1959.  This is an exciting chapter in ARHS Athletics and we can’t wait to see our student athletes utilizing this space next year!

Survey Regarding Superintendent Search ends Monday, January 30 at noon

FROM: Eric Nakajima, Chair of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School CommitteeAnastasia Ordonez, Chair of the Union 26 School Committee
RE: Survey Regarding Superintendent Search

The Amherst, Pelham and Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools are in the process of seeking a permanent Superintendent of Schools to serve our communities.  A contractor, Ray and Associates, Inc., will support this process and conduct the national search.  Feedback from all stakeholder groups is essential to ensure we invite candidates who reflect the qualities and characteristics most valued by our communities.

Community members are invited to complete the online survey available here.  Results of the survey will be compiled by Ray and Associates, Inc. and shared with the Amherst-Pelham Regional and Union 26 School Committees.  The deadline for completing the survey is Monday, January 30, 2017 at 12:00 p.m..

DE: Eric Nakajima, Presidente del Comité Escolar Regional de Amherst-Pelham, Anastasia Ordóñez, Presidenta del Comité Escolar de la Unión 26
RE: Encuesta sobre la búsqueda del superintendente

Las Escuelas Regionales de Amherst, Pelham y Amherst-Pelham están en proceso de buscar un Superintendente de Escuelas Permanente para servir a nuestras comunidades. Un contratista, Ray and Associates, Inc., apoyará este proceso y llevar a cabo la búsqueda a nivel nacional. La retroalimentación de todos los grupos de interesados es esencial para asegurar que invitamos a candidatos que reflejen las cualidades y características más valoradas por nuestras comunidades.

Los miembros de la comunidad están invitados a completar la encuesta en línea disponible aquí. Los resultados de la encuesta serán compilados por Ray and Associates, Inc. y compartidos con los Comités Regionales de Amherst-Pelham y Unión 26. La fecha límite para completar la encuesta es el lunes, 30 de enero de 2017 medio dia.

Fort River Winter Orchestra and Band Concert on Tuesday, January 31, 6:30 pm

The Fort River Winter Orchestra and Band Concert will be held on Tuesday, January 31, from 6:30 - 8pm. This is the performance that was rescheduled (for a second time) from last week.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Fort River Winter Orchestra and Band Concert TONIGHT 1/24 at 6:30 pm

The Fort River Winter Orchestra and Band Concert will be held on Tuesday, January 24, from 6:30 - 8pm. This is the performance that was rescheduled from last week.

Water Testing Update for Fort River

from ARPS Central Office:

January 20, 2017 

Dear Fort River Community: 

As we notified you in October and December, retesting at Fort River had not resolved many of the issues related to the water. Since that time, district maintenance staff members have completed the additional repairs of replacing the shut-off valve with a certified, lead free replacement part. The challenge of this repair process was that water had to be shut off in the school in order to do the work based on the antiquated systems in the building. Given the disruption this would cause to students and staff, the repairs were completed on the weekends and the December holidays. 

We have retested these water outlets since the additional repair, and I am pleased to report that 71 of the 78 outlets tested below the action level on first draw, and all 78 of the outlets were below the level after the flush test. Fort River is now down to 7 water outlets that need additional work in the entire building: two in Room CR-1, one in the Health Room, one in the Vault/break room, and one each in rooms Room H-2, Room E-1, and Room K-2. The retesting results can be found here. 

We will continue using our flushing protocol for these outlets until additional repairs are made by our district maintenance staff. When additional repairs are completed on the remaining water outlets in the school and we receive retesting data, we will share information with the community. Thank you for your patience as our maintenance staff works through the remaining repairs. 

Dr. Michael Morris 
Interim Superintendent

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Superintendent Search Consultant Outreach Meetings POSTPONED

from ARPS Central office:

Due to a winter storm forecast for Monday that may impact travel, Dr. Michael Rush, Superintendent Search Consultant, has moved the dates of next week’s focus groups to Wednesday, January 25 and Thursday, January 26.  He and the district want to ensure that as many stakeholders as possible have an opportunity to share their thoughts about what qualities, skills, and experience the School Committees should consider as they seek a permanent Superintendent of Schools.   

Although the date and some meeting locations are changed, the meeting times for each constituency group are unchanged. Parents and guardians are now scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25th in the Amherst Regional Middle School Library. The full schedule of meetings is attached.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Debido a una tormenta de invierno pronosticada para el lunes que puede afectar en los viajes, el Dr. Michael Rush, Consultor de Búsqueda del Superintendente, ha movido las fechas de los grupos de enfoque de la próxima semana para el miércoles, 25 de enero y jueves, 26 de enero. Tanto el como el distrito desean asegurar que el mayor número de participantes posible tengan la oportunidad de compartir sus pensamientos acerca de las cualidades, habilidades y experiencia que los Comités Escolares deben considerar cuando buscan un Superintendente de Escuelas permanente. 

A pesar de que la fecha y algunos lugares de reunión cambiaran, los horarios de reunión para cada grupo de electores no se han modificado.  Se adjunta el calendario completo de reuniones. Los padres y encargados están programados para las 6:30 p.m. el miércoles, 25 de enero en la Biblioteca de la Escuela Intermedia Regional de Amherst.

Nos disculpamos por cualquier inconveniente.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Amherst Baseball Registration

Amherst Baseball online registration is open. Here is some information:

How do I register?

Online registration for the 2017 season begins on January 15 at If you wish to register in person, we will have a table at Winterfest on February 11 and we will make registration available during indoor Spring Training on March 11 at the Amherst College cage. You can also request a registration form by sending an email to

Do you offer financial aid?

Yes! Scholarships are available to qualified families. Please email if you wish to be considered for a need-based scholarship.

Who can register?

We have Spring leagues for children who are 5 years old up through and including the age of 16.  We have Summer leagues for ages 14 through 19, and Fall leagues for ages 9-13. All leagues are co-ed. You are eligible to play if you live or go to school in Amherst, Hadley, Pelham, Shutesbury or Leverett, and for Babe Ruth, Belchertown. You can also play with waiver from the district president. Email for more information on waivers.

Do you offer any clinics?

Amherst College hosts its annual Winter Instructional Clinic on January 16 and 18, 2017 for ages 9-16. Players will participate in small groups and will be given individual attention and instruction by college coaches and players. You can register at . We also offer coaching clinics.

When does the season start?

Our season starts with Indoor Spring Training will be held on Saturday March 11 and Sunday March 19 at the Amherst College cage. Please save the dates and we will provide more information on the website regarding the exact times for each age group. We practice for much of April outside, and games generally begin around May 1.

When does the season end?

The season ends around the same time that school ends in mid-June. Post-season tournaments for 9-10 and 11-12 year olds run from mid-June to mid- to late-July.

Do you have equipment available for purchase?

Families are invited to bring any unwanted baseball equipment to Spring Training on March 11. We will sort and offer this equipment on a first come-first serve basis at the March 19 Spring Training.

My child is playing for his school team. Can he also play Amherst Baseball?

Yes! We work closely with the schools to ensure that kids can play both school and town baseball by avoiding conflicts with practices and games.

5th Annual Fort River Chili Night for a Chilly Night THIS Thursday January 19

The competition is getting all fired up! Are you ready for the epic chili battle THIS THURSDAY? 🏆🔥🏆🔥🏆

Check out the fancy hardware that you could be bringing home from the 5th Annual Fort River Chili Night for a Chilly Night!
Lots of food is needed! Please sign up to bring chili, cornbread, setup, cleanup etc. at

Homework Survey - Please Complete by Noon TODAY

This is a reminder that the Homework Survey will close on Tuesday, January 17th at noon. You can visit the survey here. Please complete this short 5 minute survey and provide the district with your feedback on your experience with not having homework assigned during the winter break. 

Esto es un recordatorio de que la Encuesta de Tareas se cerrará el martes, 17 de enero al mediodía. Puede visitar la encuesta aquí. Complete esta breve encuesta de 5 minutos y proporcione al distrito su opinión sobre su experiencia al no tener tarea asignada durante las vacaciones de invierno.

Fort River Winter Orchestra and Band Concert TODAY January 17

Your child needs their instrument today!

The Fort River Winter Orchestra and Band Concert will be held on Tuesday, January 17, from 6:30 - 8pm. There will be an afternoon performance at 2pm. Please help our Instrumental Music Professional Staff by encouraging your students to practice!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Save the Date! 7th Annual Daffodil Fun Run on April 30th!

On your mark, get set…

Save the date for April 30, 2017!

It’s the 7th Annual Daffodil Run to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County and there is big news... in addition to the 5k walk/run there will be a 10k run!

Register before April 1, 2017 for early bird rates and to be guaranteed an event t-shirt. Celebrate spring and enjoy pre-race warm up activities for all ages, music by DJ Matt Peterson, bounce house, games, barbecue by The Pub and more! All levels of participation are welcome. 

Register today on

ARPS Wellness Committee Seeks New Members

The Wellness Committee is seeking new members.  The committee will next meet in February.  The committee focuses on nutrition/food and physical activity.

The committee ensures that all schools are in compliance with federal and state requirements, and with the requirements set forth by this policy. The Committee shall be comprised of the Director of Student Services, a School Nurse, a Principal, and at least three community members or parent/guardians. The Committee shall meet at least twice during the school year. The Wellness Committee will review the Districts’ wellness guidelines every two years and make recommendations for any changes to the Superintendent.

A mid-year Wellness report addressing each element of the Wellness Policy shall be submitted to the Superintendent and the School Committee by January of each year.

For further information, contact Dr. Faye Brady at 362-1834.

Get Ready for Winterfest 2017!

The Annual Amherst Winterfest will be held on Feb. 11, 2017. The festival will be held at Cherry Hill Golf Course, 323 Montague Road.

The festival begins at 1 p.m. and ends after the 6 p.m. fireworks.

There’s the annual cardboard classic sled race with prizes for best design, as well as the "Best in Snow" dog show.

The Valley’s Got Talent Auditions

The First Annual Valley’s Got Talent competition will be held on Sunday, March 26th, from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Bangs Community Center. This is an amateur talent competition for all ages!

1st Prize $1000, 2nd Prize $500, 3rd Prize $250!

Auditions will be held on February 6th in the Bangs Community Center from 6:30 pm-8:00 pm.

Letter to ARHS Parents/Guardians on Ballot Question #4

This letter from Amherst Regional High School Principal Mark Jackson was sent to ARHS families and is reposted here because much of the content is relevant to the entire district. 

In the November election, Massachusetts voters approved ballot question #4: the ‘Legalization, Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana.’ As a result, school districts all over the state are working to clarify the law for their communities.

While the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has described the new law as ‘a complex web of different rules…’, my goal here is to sidestep most of the fine print and focus only on the implications of the law for the high school and its students.

In December, I met with a representative of the Amherst Police Department to take advice on how to best summarize the law. They have reviewed and approved the summary below.
Here are the core provisions:
  1. It is illegal for anyone to possess or consume marijuana on the grounds of or within a public or private school where children attend classes in preschool programs, kindergarten programs or secondary schools.
  2. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to possess marijuana or attempt to procure unless they hold a valid medical marijuana card.

The new law does not change the consequences for marijuana in school. Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 37 H still applies.

Beyond the law, there is our larger interest in the healthy development of our students. Marijuana use, in my judgment and those of experts in the field, doesn’t much contribute to this.

As always, our guidance department is available to talk with parents/guardians and families if there are concerns.

Thank you.
Mark Jackson, Principal