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Easthampton High School senior Kelly Avard wins sportsmanship essay contest


Kelly Avard was browsing on the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association website a few months ago when she saw an announcement about the organization’s annual sportsmanship essay contest.

“I decided it would be a good experience to try,” said Avard, an Easthampton High School senior and member of the varsity girls basketball and volleyball teams.

Avard did better than try: She won second place in the Literary Category for her 500-word essay titled “How do the Values of Educational Athletics Build Your Future?” In addition to a $200 scholarship award, she was honored at the MIAA’s annual Sportsmanship Summit last month. Her essay will also be published in an MIAA anthology.

Avard’s winning essay focuses on how student athletes act as role models. “As a student athlete you have the responsibility to present yourself, as well as your team, coaches, school and town in a positive and dignified way,” she wrote.

That role goes beyond school, Avard noted. “Volunteerism and community service are key components to educational athletics and influence one to help others without expecting something in return,” she wrote. (The full text of her essay is available on EHS’s website.)

Avard’s been involved in sports since she started playing softball at age 5. In addition to basketball and volleyball at EHS, she will be on the school’s baseball team this spring.

She’s also worked on her writing in high school. “I’ve taken a couple of AP classes, which helped with that,” Avard said. She hopes to study criminal justice in college, with an eye on a possible career in law enforcement.

Some 250 students in grades 9-12 participated in the 12th annual statewide sportsmanship essay contest, according to the MIAA. Students submitted essays of up to 500 words or multimedia presentations of up to three minutes.

Civics project tonight

Easthampton High School and the Williston Northampton School are teaming up on a special civics project. Tonight from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center, the schools will combine forces in a series of mock Congressional hearings as practice for their participation in the statewide “We the People” competition.

Students will respond to a set of questions with timed answers. A panel of judges made up of parents, teachers and school officials will score their responses and ask follow-up questions. The event — rescheduled from last month — is free and open to the public.

The 2013 statewide We the People competition will take place in January at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Last year, led by AP history teacher Kelley Brown, EHS’s team won first place and the right to represent Massachusetts in the national We the People competition in Washington, D.C. Williston is a former state We the People champion.

For details on tonight’s event, call 529-3207.

Students join concert

Three Easthampton High School students will be performing with the Western District Chorus and Jazz Band in January. Senior Connor Gibbs (chorus), junior Brandon Paige and freshman Leo Fish (both jazz trombone), were chosen from a regional audition that drew more than 800 school musicians. The three also scored high enough to earn spots at a second audition for a statewide jazz and choral performance in Boston’s Symphony Hall next year.

“It’s a real honor,” said Patrick Lennon, former music director at EHS who is now directing band and chorus at White Brook Middle School. “In their audition they had to show proficiency in their instrument and also sight-reading skills.”

Lennon credited his successor at EHS, John Waynelovich, with keeping the bar high for student musicians.

The Western District concert is scheduled for Jan. 12 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

School music fans should also mark their calendars for White Brook’s winter concert, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 at the middle school.

Snowtime bazaar

The elementary school PTO is hosting its 6th annual Holiday Snowtime Bazaar on Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the Pepin School auditorium. The event offers schoolchildren a chance to do some affordable holiday shopping with their parents. Items for sale include crafts and bake sale items to benefit the PTO. For more information, call 529-1545.

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