CLASSROOMS: News & Notes from area schools

  • Robin Snow, a Northampton resident and engineer at an Amherst company, is taking classes at Springfield Technical Community College to enhance her skills. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Pioneer Valley Performing Arts students recently held a show called “Urinetown” at the school. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • The South Hadley Cats cheer squad has been selected to participate in a clinic hosted by New England Patriot cheerleaders in May. The Cats were selected because they raised $1,600 through the annual Cheer for Dana-Farber fundraising program. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • The Hatfield Lions Club recently donated $626 to Hatfield Public Schools. From left are Lions club member Thomas Wickles, Smith Academy physical education teacher Brendan Abad, Superintendent John Robert, Food Services Director Amy Hutchins and Lions member Raymond Giroux. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Published: 2/22/2019 11:22:47 PM
PVPA’s ‘Urinetown’ explored good, evil through humor

South Hadley — The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, whose musicals from recent years include “A Chorus Line” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” recently presented the show “Urinetown” at the school’s state-of-the-art theater space in South Hadley.

PVPA’s theater department leader, Jorge J. Rodríguez, and the school’s theater teacher Jon Streker co-directed the play. The show’s choreographer was senior dancer Anaia Cayode.

If you have a teenager, or were yourself a teenager, you may know or remember just how much teens enjoy irreverence and absurdity. This coupled with their passion for all things revolutionary should give you a clue as to why the musical “Urinetown” is a popular choice for high school theater departments.

Premiering at the New York International Fringe Festival, “Urinetown” was an instant hit that quickly moved to off-Broadway and then to Broadway in 2001.

Easthampton High, Hamp. Regional perform at jazz festival

BOSTON — Easthampton High School and Hampshire Regional High School were two of more than 275 featured bands and vocal ensembles at the 51st annual Berklee’s High School Jazz Festival at Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Jan. 26.

The festival is the largest of its kind in the United States. Some 4,000 students from 16 states and Puerto Rico competed for $175,000 in scholarships to Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive, a summer musical performance program.

The full day of activities included clinics, jam sessions, concerts, tours of Berklee, and more. Guest clinicians include Jeff Coffin, multi-Grammy Award winning saxophonist for the Dave Mathews Band; trumpeter Keyon Harrold, whose latest album The Mugician is inspired by the shooting of Michael Brown in his hometown of Ferguson, MO; and the Almas Antiguas Quintet presented by Marco Pignataro, managing director of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute.

South Hadley cheerleaders to attend Pats cheer clinic this spring

SOUTH HADLEY — The South Hadley Cats cheerleading team qualified to attend a special cheer clinic run by the Patriots Cheerleaders on Saturday, May 11. The Cats raised $1,600 to support patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the annual Cheer for Dana-Farber fundraising program.

The cheerleaders will be joined by cheer teams from several other schools in the state. Since its launch in 2013, Cheer for Dana-Farber has raised nearly $350,000 to support patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Hatfield Lions donate to schools

HATFIELD — The Hatfield Lions Club recently donated $626 to the Hatfield Public Schools to help the school district promote goals outlined in its health and wellness policy.

Superintendent John Robert said funds will be used to “promote the ‘Three C’s’ of the ‘My Plate Nutrition Program’ bringing nutrition education into the cafeteria, the curriculum, and the community.”

In addition, $200 will be used to purchase cardiac monitors for students at Smith Academy. These monitors will be used in physical education and health classes at Smith Academy to encourage students to set personal targets to improve each student’s individual overall physical fitness and an awareness of the importance of exercise.

Dollars for Scholars gets new board member

NORTHAMPTON — Northampton Dollars for Scholars has appointed David Belanger to its board of directors.

Belanger is the director of student financial services at Smith College, a position he has held for a decade. Before that, he was the associate director at Smith. He has also held financial aid positions at Dartmouth College and Plymouth State University.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and a Master of Business administration degree from Plymouth State University. Belanger has been active with local financial aid activities such as financial aid nights and counseling students and families on the financial aid process.

Since its start in 1974, Northampton Dollars for Scholars has awarded more than $1.4 million in scholarships to Northampton High School and Smith Vocational High School graduates to aid them in furthering their education.

Dollars for Scholars’ volunteer board of directors also includes Kathy Adamcik, Tom Bassett, Richard Cooper, Sheila Fleming, Frank Heston, Lisa Lyons Jasinski, Erin Joyce, Maureen Mahar, Dan Olshansky, James Shinnick, Leslie Skantz-Hodgson, Rebecca Thomas and Margo Welch.

Northampton resident boosts engineering skills at STCC

Robin Song had graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University and was working as a design engineer in Amherst when she decided to expand her knowledge of manufacturing processes by going back to school.

Song, a Northampton resident, designs Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) instruments at SAXSLAB in Amherst.

Approximately 90 percent of the parts she designs are machined parts. She realized that a better understanding of machining processes and tools would help her design parts that were easier and thus cheaper to manufacture.

Song searched for programs in western Massachusetts that teach computer numeric control machining and decided that Springfield Technical Community College was the best match.

Song, who grew up in Brookline, graduated from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2016. She moved to Northampton after accepting her first job out of college at SAXSLAB in Amherst.

“I had some background from an introductory machine shop class and wanted a class that would teach beyond the basics,” she said. “I thought STCC’s class provided the most challenge and variety.”

Since then, Song has taken or is scheduled to take other classes, including manufacturing processes and a mechanical engineering technology program.

With over 90 programs, STCC President John B. Cook said the college is offering professional development opportunities for people working in a variety of fields.

“Robin is a sterling example of what professionalism looks like in a time of technology and change,” Cook said. “It says a lot when a talented engineer pursues additional hands-on education in manufacturing design and equipment operations with us. STCC has the labs and equipment, and we have the talented faculty, to ensure we remain responsive to industry.”

Hampshire, MCLA among top colleges in state for gender equality

A report from the Eos Foundation examining gender equality in Massachusetts colleges and universities has identified Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and Hampshire College as top four-year public institutions among only a small handful of schools to achieve gender equality.

The report, titled “Women’s Power Gap in Higher Education,” examines the percentage of women enrolled at all Massachusetts public and private schools alongside the percentage of female college presidents, senior leadership and boards of trustees. Of 93 schools, only 18 (19 percent of the total) were ranked as “satisfactory” — and only five of those schools were identified as reaching gender parity.

Most of the schools ranked “satisfactory” are women’s colleges, former women’s colleges, or “special focus schools that educate students for professions that are dominated by women,” according to the report.

MCLA and Hampshire shares the top ranking with Berkshire Community College, Roxbury Community College and Cambridge College.

The Eos Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in children’s futures. You can read the full report at

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