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School zone: More student goodwill on display in Amherst

Three years after Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake, the country is still struggling to recover. The students in one fourth-grade class at Fort River Elementary School are doing their part to help Haitian schools rebuild.

“A big part of children in fourth grade is being able to feel like they can have a role in the world beyond just their own community,” said John Keins, who teaches the class.

Over 18 percent of schools in Haiti were damaged or destroyed by the 2010 earthquake, according to the United Nations special adviser on the Haitian recovery. Students at Fort River are fundraising in order to donate directly to a school in need.

So far, the students have collected more than $300, over half way toward their goal of $500. They have put collection tins throughout the school and are seeking donations from students, parents and staff. Keins said that they are asking for donations of any size, and the donations they receive range from buckets full of pennies to 20 dollar bills.

Students have generated interest in the fundraiser by performing skits at the school assemblies and reporting their progress.

Each year, when Keins’ students are discussing citizenship and civic engagement, they select a charity and raise money, he said.

In past years, his classes have collected for charities ranging from hospitals to orphanages, Keins said. The common theme is that the donations help other children. This year, his class overwhelmingly voted to fund raise for Haitian relief.

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MUSIC: Anna Perkins, a junior at ARHS, has been playing violin since she was just 6 years old. For the judges of the Windham Orchestra concerto competition, her dedication and talent stood out. As the winner of the competition, Perkins will play two performances with the Brattleboro, Vt.-based orchestra.

“It’s really exciting,” Perkins said. “I get to play with a lot of great musicians.”

The Windham Orchestra is made up of close to 50 amateur and professional musicians. Founded more than 40 years ago, the orchestra has held the concerto competition, which is open to high school music students from nine counties in Vermont, New Hampshire and western Massachusetts, for 27 years.

Perkins, who is a member of the ARPS Symphonic Orchestra and the Springfield Youth Orchestra, said she learned about the competition from her teacher at the Springfield Youth Orchestra.

In addition to performing two concerts with the orchestra, Perkins received a $200 in scholarship. Perkins will perform with the orchestra at a private show March 21 and at a public show Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Latchis Theater in Brattleboro.

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