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School Zone: Number of elementary students still falling

Enrollment in the Amherst elementary schools continues to decline, even with the admission this year of 29 students who don’t live in town.

There are 1,139 students this year, compared to 1,161 last year, when enrollment was still restricted to Amherst residents. Enrollment has declined every year since 2004-05, when there were 1,430 elementary students.

In this first year of involvement with the school choice program, Belchertown is the top-sending town, with seven children in the Amherst elementary schools. Next are Montague and Holyoke with four each.

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YOUNG GARDENERS: Apple trees are being planted at the elementary schools this week as the first phase of a campaign for greater student education on local food and the installation of permaculture gardens. Children will be able to participate in the planting of the trees and decorating the site with circles of painted rocks. Here is the schedule: Thursday, Wildwood, 11:30 to 12:30 p.m.; Friday, Fort River, 11:30 to 12:30 p.m.; Friday, Crocker Farm, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., as part of the school’s Family Harvest Festival.

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NEW YORK-BOUND: More than 100 students and 20 faculty and staff participated Oct. 13 in a soccer festival to benefit Latinos Unidos, a club at Amherst Regional High School. The event raised $1,600, which will be used to help students take a field trip to New York City in the spring.

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RIDES HOME: Students in the afterschool programs at the three elementary schools are now able to ride a bus home on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Each site has openings; visit lsse.org for more information.

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PERFORMANCE RAPPED: Marla Jamate, the parent of a third-grader at Crocker Farm School, came to the Amherst School Committee meeting Oct. 16 to decry the school’s “lackluster performance” on the MCAS tests last spring. The district should act quickly to find a permanent replacement for Principal Michael Morris, who left this year to take an administrative position, she said. Derek Shea and Anne Marie Foley are the interim co-principals.

“It’s critical that a permanent principal with superlative academic skills be put in place soon,” Jamate said.

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ELECTION LESSON: The League of Women Voters of Amherst has distributed 350 copies of a 16-page illustrated booklet called “Let’s Learn about Electing the President” at the elementary schools. They are available to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.

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AND: There will be program for parents on the new elementary math curriculum at Fort River School Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. ...Next Tuesday, elementary students will be dismissed early, at 1:20 p.m., to allow for parent conferences.

Send items for School Zone to: ngrabbe@gazettenet.com.

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