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Easthampton High School’s smoking prevention club awarded state grant

Smoking prevention efforts at Easthampton High School got a boost this month with a $2,500 grant from the state Public Health Department’s Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program — one of 14 such awards made across the state.

The high school is part of The 84 Movement, a state-funded initiative that mobilizes young people to educate their peers and communities about the dangers of cigarettes and other tobacco products. The group gets its name from the 84 percent of Massachusetts teens who do not smoke.

In the six years the high school has had an 84 club, trainings and other activities have “helped keep us all on our toes and keep awareness heightened,” said Nancy Dunn, who teaches health and physical education at EHS.

The new grant will be used for student stipends, a community survey about the use and availability of tobacco products and educational events, including a planned freshman assembly on the dangers of smoking, Dunn said. Students are also planning a “PhotoVoice” project to document how cigarettes and other tobacco products are marketed to youth.

“The other mission of the grant is for us to collaborate with other schools, other student groups and the Board of Health,” Dunn said. Already, members of the high school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions club have been involved in anti-smoking education projects.

Dunn stressed the importance of letting teens know that most of their peers do not smoke. “A lot of kids have become advocates,” she said. “They even want to educate their parents and get them to stop smoking.”

Information about The 84 Movement is available online at www.The84.org.

Winter band concert

Searching for some holiday musical fare? White Brook Middle School is hosting a winter band concert tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the school on Park Street. Both middle school and high school band, jazz band and choral groups will perform. For details, call the school’s main office at 529-1530.

Renovations delayed

City school officials have learned that renovations at White Brook Middle School are not in the pipeline for a state School Building Authority grant this year, though the department can submit an application for the next round of funding beginning in January.

The school department had hoped to apply for a grant to cover replacement and modernization of White Brook’s roof, windows, walls, carpeting, tile and heating and air conditioning systems. There have been no major additions or renovations to the school since it was built in 1975, according to the district’s application.

A Dec. 3 letter from the state School Building Authority says White Brook was not selected to be part of the current round of grant applications.

Easthampton was among 121 school districts statewide that submitted 280 applications for school renovation and construction grants this year, according to the letter. Those accepted into the application pipeline were “school facilities that have the greatest and most urgent need based on an assessment of the entire cohort,” the letter said.

Welcome, grandparents

A longtime holiday tradition continues at White Brook with the annual Grandparent’s Day Luncheon scheduled for today in the school library. Now 20 years old, the event started out as a holiday meal for local seniors. About a decade ago, invitations were limited to grandparents of middle school students — partly as a way of controlling the number of participants, says Andrea McCallum, White Brook’s assistant principal. Even so, turnout is usually in the 200 range. The library is specially decorated for the occasion and in another school tradition, White Brook’s eighth-graders assist with serving the turkey meal.

Making adjustments

Maple School has a new adjustment counselor. Jara Malikin, whose previous experience includes stints as a clinical social worker at Baystate Child Partial Hospital Program and as a case manager for the state Department of Mental Health, began work at the school last month. A resident of Florence, Malikin said her main role is to support students and teachers at Maple School and provide help with problems that may interfere with learning. “Kids are dealing with all kinds of issues outside of school,” she noted. “I’m here to help and support them in whatever is going on.”

NHS members

Eighteen Easthampton High School juniors were recently inducted into the Howell K. Thayer chapter of the National Honor Society. The students, selected for their scholarship, leadership, service and character, were honored in a ceremony last month at White Brook Middle School. The honorees are: Nicholas Aubrey, Noah Boysen, Daniel Brandt, Nora Catalano, Taylor Dadmun, Austin Fleury, Tiereny George, Tyler Hunt, Tristan Koopman, Zachary Leone, Michael Palaschak, Thomas Palaschak, Joshua Picard, Willow Ross, Sarah Sienkiewicz, Jazmin Skrocki, Kristen Windoloski and Kevin Zdonek.

Barbara Solow can be reached at BSolow@gazettenet.com.

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