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Northampton School Committee member Michael Flynn publishes childrens book

  • Jared Fowler and Emma Henderson, both eighth graders  at JFK Middle School, recently performed "If I Never Saw Another Butterfly," about children interned in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt. The production was directed by JFK English teacher Rod Hart. Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy.<br/>Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy

    Jared Fowler and Emma Henderson, both eighth graders at JFK Middle School, recently performed "If I Never Saw Another Butterfly," about children interned in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt. The production was directed by JFK English teacher Rod Hart. Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy.
    Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy Purchase photo reprints »

  • Patrick Quinlan (center), shown here with some of his eighth grade classmates at JFK Middle School in a performance of "If I Never Saw Another Butterfly," about children interned in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt. The production was directed by JFK English teacher Rod Hart. Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy.<br/>Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy

    Patrick Quinlan (center), shown here with some of his eighth grade classmates at JFK Middle School in a performance of "If I Never Saw Another Butterfly," about children interned in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt. The production was directed by JFK English teacher Rod Hart. Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy.
    Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jared Fowler and Emma Henderson, both eighth graders  at JFK Middle School, recently performed "If I Never Saw Another Butterfly," about children interned in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt. The production was directed by JFK English teacher Rod Hart. Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy.<br/>Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy
  • Patrick Quinlan (center), shown here with some of his eighth grade classmates at JFK Middle School in a performance of "If I Never Saw Another Butterfly," about children interned in the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstadt. The production was directed by JFK English teacher Rod Hart. Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy.<br/>Photo courtesy of Ellen Kennedy

— While writing his first children’s book, Northampton School Committee member Michael Flynn relied on a group of critical readers: his former students at the William E. Norris Elementary School in Southampton and his own four children.

“I would read them drafts,” said Flynn, whose book “The Wacky World of Figley Finch: The Endless Caverns” was just published by Mutasia Entertainment, a new educational entertainment company.

The kids “were amazed when the drafts came back with red ink all over them,” he added, with a smile.

Mutasia produces games, books, websites, music and other educational products for children aged 13 and under. Flynn’s book, which can be ordered through the company’s website (www.mutasia.com), is part of a new character education series about some unusual animals that live on an island named Mutasia.

The main character, Figley Finch, is a “mutasion” who is part possum, part cow and part bird, Flynn said. The theme of the Endless Caverns story, the first in the Figley series, is self-confidence.

Flynn is a member of Florida-based Mutasia’s educational advisory board, comprised of fellow Teachers of the Year from around the country. A former math teacher who is now director of Mathematics Leadership Programs at Mount Holyoke College, Flynn was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 2008.

Mutasia is working on a cartoon series about Figley Finch and hopes to offer the books online via Amazon.com and other distributors in the near future, said Flynn, who is already at work on another book in the series.

What’s the main thing he’s learned about being a children’s book author?

“Be prepared to get some honest feedback,” Flynn said. “You have to develop a thick skin and learn to negotiate. But the book just got better because of that.”

•••

Two named to late-start panel

Two new members have been named to a committee exploring ways to implement a later start time at Northampton High School. The appointment of NHS teachers Randy Gordon and Janet Hicks brings the panel’s membership to 10.

Lucy Hartry, a former School Committee member who is chairing the study group, said transportation, athletics and after-school activities have been identified as key obstacles to changing the high school’s 7:30 a.m. start time.

“These are the ones that have risen to the top and require the most attention,” said Harty, who served on the school board for 11 years until December of 2009.

She noted that many of those issues have been discussed in the five years the school community has been debating a later school bell at NHS. “But our charge is implementation,” Hartry added. “That means looking at what we could do to remove the obstacles.”

The School Committee has asked the group to submit a report and at least one later start time proposal by April 1. Hartry said her committee is aiming to present a plan at the School Committee’s April 11 meeting.

Other start time panel members are: School Committee members Blue DuVal and Howard Moore; community member Bess Detmold; NHS students Ezekiel Baskin and Johanna Renard; business owner Steve Herrell; and parent Harvey Hill.

•••

PTO fundraiser in works

Plans are underway for the Leeds School’s 10th annual Luau fundraiser set for March 9 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Garden House at Look Park. The event, a fundraiser for the school PTO, will feature a silent auction, live ukulele music, hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and a raffle. The auction will include items made by Leeds students and special outings hosted by teachers and staff.

Families can help by donating items or services to the auction, such as gift certificates, tickets, or handmade goods. All donations are tax deductible and can be delivered to the school’s main office on Florence Street. Organizers are also seeking event underwriters at contribution levels from $50 to $500.

Tickets to the event cost $8 and are available online at: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/320518.

For details or to donate, call or email Tara Sherman, 584-6646, tarasherman@ymail.com, or Sheryl Civjan, 586-7841, scivjan@comcast.net.

•••

Annual antique show set

An antique sale to benefit after school programs at JFK Middle School will be held March 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school on Bridge Road. The event also features a bake sale, lunch and raffle. Donations and baked goods are welcome. For details, call Peggy Clapp at 586-1242.

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