Friends of Easthampton High School Football launches effort for new playing field at White Brook Middle School
Members of the Easthampton Friends of Football Association have launched an effort to create a new football field at White Brook Middle School on Park Road.
The group secured permission from the School Committee earlier this month to begin surveying and taking soil samples from a 5-acre site at White Brook located just west of the association’s existing home field.
That field, which is used for junior varsity practices and varsity games by Easthampton High School’s football team, has poor drainage, according to high school administrators.
Thomas Hogan, vice president of Doucet & Associates civil engineering firm in Northampton and a member of the Easthampton Friends, said the football association plans to do site work and raise funds for a new playing field they hope would be available for the 2014-2015 school year.
“Easthampton High School’s football program is fairly new and growing and very successful,” said Hogan, who also coaches youth football. “We have talked over the years about how to improve the site at White Brook.”
Hogan, whose company specializes in ball field design, said the White Brook project could cost in the neighborhood of $350,000, although the actual price tag will depend on the result of soil surveys and other factors. The association would raise funds to cover the costs of constructing the field.
EHS Principal Vito Perrone, who coaches suburban league football, called the proposal “fantastic.”
“As a father of football players, a coach and a principal, I want to see this happen,” he added.
Perrone and EHS Athletic Director Jeffrey Sealander are members of the Friends of Football’s ad hoc committee for the playing field project. The association welcomes donations and other help with the effort. Hogan said those interested can contact the group via its website, www.easthamptonyouthfootball.org.
School leaders are holding work sessions this month to begin hammering out a budget for next year. They face the challenge of filling a gap now estimated at $700,000, according to Superintendent Nancy Follansbee.
That figure is lower than some previous estimates, due to newly identified savings on utilities and some previously unspent grant money, Follansbee said. Still, the prospect of balancing the budget “is going to be very, very difficult,” she added.
The school department must submit a budget for 2013-14 to City Council by 5 p.m. on March 1, Follansbee said.
At its first meeting of 2013, the School Committee recognized the contributions of outgoing board Chairman Peter Gunn with a gift in his name to the Easthampton High School library. Gunn has headed the seven-member school board that also includes Mayor Michael A. Tautznik for the past three years. Committee member Nancy Sykes was unanimously elected last month as the new board chair.
Easthampton High School fielded a team earlier this month on the “As Schools Match Wits” quiz show broadcast by WGBY Public Television. Four EHS students went up against a team from Windsor High School on an episode that aired Jan. 5.
“We didn’t win but they did really well,” said George Sampson, an adjustment counselor at EHS who has been coaching the high school’s quiz team since 2003.
Sampson noted that in past years, “you could lose your match but still end up in the finals” of the TV quiz show. “Now, the way they do the show, they pick just the top eight scores,” he said.
EHS team members meet every Friday after school to practice. “I have some trivia books and some online stuff and I get old tests and quizzes from teachers,“ Sampson said. “It’s a great group of kids and I enjoy our practices a lot. I remember watching this show when I was in high school.”
This year’s team members are EHS senior Samantha Brand, juniors Brandon Paige and Will Torrey, and sophomore Ryan Rodriguez. Team alternate Chloe Crabb, a freshman, filled in for Torrey on the Jan. 5 show.
The EHS quiz team will be competing at a nonbroadcast event Saturday at Holyoke Catholic High School in Chicopee, going up against teams from seven other schools in the region, Sampson said.
White Brook fundraiser
The Students and Teachers Engaged with Parents group at White Brook Middle School is organizing a “Dine in Easthampton” fundraiser for Feb. 19 to help raise money for books, school supplies and “to fill in the blanks where there is need,” said group member Dawn Young.
Participating restaurants have agreed to donate a portion of their sales from Feb. 19 to the effort. Young said the Apollo Grill and Papa George Pizza were the first establishments to sign on. Others include Riff’s Joint, Village Pizza and Glory of India, she said.
STEP is encouraging school families to dine out that day to help raise funds (participating restaurants will post signs in their windows).
For more information, email STEP members Young at Dawnyoung30@hotmail.com; Sharon Malouin at Gatorboxer@charter.net; or Michelle Raskevitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.