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Easthampton School Notes: Kevin Burke named assistant principal, student Zach Lewis attends national leadership conference and more

Easthampton High School senior Zachary Lewis has been working on School Committee Chairwoman Nancy Sykes' mayoral campaign this fall. Lewis, who hopes to major in political science, participated in the Rotary Club's World Affairs Seminar this past summer.
photo courtesy of Nancy Sykes

Easthampton High School senior Zachary Lewis has been working on School Committee Chairwoman Nancy Sykes' mayoral campaign this fall. Lewis, who hopes to major in political science, participated in the Rotary Club's World Affairs Seminar this past summer. photo courtesy of Nancy Sykes Purchase photo reprints »

Kevin Burke, who has been serving as acting assistant principal of Easthampton High School since February, has been hired permanently for the post.

Burke has been with the district since 2008, when he was hired as a math teacher. He replaces Anne Beauregard, who resigned as EHS assistant principal last month after being convicted of drunken driving in West Springfield in January.

Meanwhile, Ashley Barstow began work Monday as director of Technology for the city schools. A resident of Leyden, Barstow has been technology coordinator for Franklin County Technical School in Turners Falls since 2001. He replaces John Schott, who retired Sept. 30 after 17 years as head of technology for the Easthampton schools.

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Future pol

Easthampton High School senior Zachary Lewis has long been interested in politics, and over the summer he attended the 2013 World Affairs Seminar, an annual project supported by the Rotary Club that brings students from around the world together with government, media and business leaders. He was one of 12 students from Massachusetts to participate in the gathering at Carroll University in Wisconsin.

“Quite the honor,” said Christine Soverow, head of the EHS Guidance Department, who noted it’s been “oodles of years since an EHS student was chosen” to attend the seminar.

Lewis, 17, said the seminar was a chance to debate urgent issues and meet peers from other countries. “The best part was the people,” he said. “I’ve built friendships with people from around the world.”

The topic this year was gay rights and gender equality. While opinions varied, Lewis believes “students are much more open about this than their parents, a lot more accepting.”

In 2011, Lewis was a member of the EHS state championship We the People civics team, which went to the nationals in Washington, D.C. Last year, he coached the high school team, which made it as far as the regionals.

For the past few months, Lewis has been working on School Board Chairwoman Nancy Sykes’ mayoral campaign, helping with doorknocking, the campaign website and debate preparation. Sykes, who met Lewis while coaching the We the People team, is one of four candidates vying to replace longtime Mayor Michael A. Tautznik, who is not seeking re-election Nov. 5. The other candidates are Karen L. Cadieux, David G. Ewing and Herbert M. Glazier.

In addition to working on the campaign, Lewis is taking an Advanced Placement government class and playing varsity soccer this fall — although he was recently sidelined by an injury. He is also applying to colleges where he plans to major in political science.

As for why he’s drawn to that subject, “I love talking to people and helping people,” Lewis said. “I want to do something where I have influence.”

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School offices expand hours

Lobbying by city school leaders has led to the resumption of Friday business hours for the School Department at 50 Payson Avenue. School headquarters is now open on Fridays for the first time since 2009, when the city decided to shut down the Municipal Building one day a week to save money.

Superintendent Nancy Follansbee said she told Mayor Michael A. Tautznik that the Friday closing was “negatively impacting our ability to get work done,” since other area school offices are open on that day and individual Easthampton schools are also open.

Because other municipal offices are still closed on Fridays, the public will have access to the School Department on that day by appointment only for now, Follansbee said.

Tautznik has suggested the city consider reopening the Municipal Building on Fridays because city electric bills have dropped thanks to the new solar array at the Oliver Street landfill.

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Halloween doings

The Easthampton High School Key club is sponsoring a Halloween Fun Fair for children Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the high school’s Cafe Commons.

Youngsters are invited to come in costume and take part in activities and craft projects, including tote-bag designs and creative cookie mixes. A costume contest will be judged by Key Club members at 4:30 p.m. Proceeds from game and activity tickets will benefit Key Club community service projects.

For information, contact EHS English teacher Joan Bonsignore, 529-1585, ext. 2503.

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