×

Editorial: Monday mix on KEVS Foundation; Constitution; Tigers’ Den bistro

  • Students in the South Hadley High School carpentry program, including, from right, sophomore Frankie Albano and junior Garrett Giustina, serve themselves food prepared by students in the culinary program during a reception in the school library on March 20.  The reception was followed by the grand opening for the Tigers’ Den bistro.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO


Sunday, March 25, 2018

More than 100 Northampton High School students this month learned about sudden cardiac arrest  — an exercise that could be life-saving.

The students had heart screenings and practiced cardiopulmonary resuscitation as part of a program sponsored by KEVS Foundation, based in Southampton.

The nonprofit was created by the family of Kevin Major, who grew up in Westfield and died at 19 in July 2011 as the result of sudden cardiac arrest while boating on Congamond Lake in Southwick. It was later determined that he suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle that makes it difficult to pump blood.

After her son’s death, Susan Canning joined with three other families who also had lost a relative to sudden cardiac arrest. They convinced the Legislature to pass a bill requiring all schools to install automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools by July 2018. The devices analyze heart rhythms and can deliver an electric shock to reverse the effects of cardiac arrest.

KEVS Foundation has donated some 90 AEDs to schools in western Massachusetts, and sponsored a dozen screenings at local high schools like the one in Northampton on March 16. Canning, who helped organize that event, said, “A lot of people have the philosophy that their kid is healthy, so they don’t need to worry about their heart. Kevin was a stellar athlete. We had no idea there was a ticking time bomb inside him.”

Kim Duval’s son, a Northampton lacrosse player, took part in the screening. She was grateful for the foundation’s support, because her insurance does not cover the electrocardiogram test that was given.

The tests and training provided during the screening typically would cost about $3,000, according to the foundation. They are free for students, with donations requested based on financial ability.

Sophomore Olivia Lombardi, who plays lacrosse, field hockey and track and field, was among the 125 Northampton students who registered. “It’s always in the back of your mind when you hear these stories of kids who just died and no one knows why,” she said. “It’s great that our school is able to do this screening and give us more education.”

We admire Canning’s commitment to help spare other families the tragic loss she suffered.

* * *

Congratulations to the Easthampton High School students who won the “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” competition in Boston on Jan. 27, sponsored by the Center for Civic Education.

The 21-student team will compete in the national final in Washington, D.C., from April 27 to May 1. “We’re excited to represent Easthampton and the state,” said Kelley Brown, a history and government teacher who has organized a team for the past eight years at Easthampton High. 

The team prepares by studying classic cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, as well as contemporary ones like Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That is pending before the Supreme Court to determine if a business can deny services — in this case baking a cake for the wedding reception of a same-sex couple — based on religious beliefs.

The competition involves preparing statements for questions known in advance, as well as responding to unrehearsed questions testing the students’ knowledge of constitutional principles.

Travel  expenses will cost $35,000 and the students are organizing fundraisers, including a “Battle of the Bands” at 7 p.m. March 31 at the high school. Donations also may be made online at
www.gofundme.com/ehswethepeople2018.

* * *

South Hadley High School has boosted its vocational training by opening a popular lunchtime bistro.

The student-run Tigers’ Den is part of an expanded culinary arts program that includes a kitchen with industry-standard equipment. Lunches, which typically cost about $6, are served in a converted history classroom.

Eighteen culinary arts students work four hours a day with instructor Ezra Bleau to prepare the meals and run the bistro.

South Hadley High alumnus Andy Yee, whose family owns several restaurants in western Massachusetts, is an adviser for the bistro and spoke at  an opening reception last week. Yee said he will provide internships and co-op positions at his restaurants for students in the program. Now that’s an appetizing offer.