Hilltown Voices: R.H. Conwell School gets its first official sign

  • Students teachers and staff gather in front of the sign for the R.H. Conwell Elementary School in Worthington on Wednesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/FRAN RYAN

For the Gazette
Published: 6/14/2019 10:53:58 PM
Modified: 6/14/2019 10:53:45 PM

WORTHINGTON — Students, teachers, staff and family members gathered on the lawn of R.H. Conwell Elementary School in Worthington on Wednesday afternoon to watch the unveiling of the school’s first official sign.

Since the school was re-opened as a public school five years ago, it has not had a sign. Thanks to funding from the Parent-Teacher Organization, a sparkling white sign with forest green lettering now announces the presence of the R.H. Conwell Elementary School and the Worthington School District.

Former Rep. Steve Kulik, of Worthington, attended the unveiling and said that the sign was like icing on a cake; an acknowledgment of the school taking its “proper place in the community.”

“The sign completes the package,” Kulik said. “It is a great testimony to what the community did to win back their school from oblivion.”

After the Gateway Regional School District closed the elementary school in June of 2010, it was re-opened as the private R. H. Conwell Education Center in September of that same year in an effort to keep a school in the town.

Unhappy with the closing of their public school, the town worked diligently for four years to pull out of the regional agreement with Gateway so they could re-establish their elementary school and create their own school district.

“It’s amazing what they have done here,” Kulik said. “The growth in the student population, the quality of the teachers and the educational programs. It’s just really special.”

From 41 students in 2014, to 86 students today, the school has widespread community support, and a very active PTO.

“This is the little school that could, and it just keeps going,” said parent Tina Cornell, of Chesterfield. “The school needed a way to identify itself and I think the sign is really appropriate for the school and it came out great.”

According to PTO member Jaime Ricci, the sign was made by Porcupine Signs in Easthampton and is made of cedar from the Pacific Northwest. A raised portion in the corner of the sign says, “Learning is cool.”

Ricci said the project cost $3,280.

Gretchen Morse-Dobosz, superintendent of the Worthington School District and principal of R.H. Conwell Elementary School approved of the sign.

“It was the PTO that spearheaded this plan, and I think the sign looks awesome,” Morse-Dobosz said.

Hilltown Bash & Cummington Picnic

CUMMINGTON — The third annual Hilltown Bash will be held on June 22 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Pettingill Park.

Organizer Kim Wachtel said that this year’s event is being combined with the Cummington town picnic, an event that hasn’t been held in over 40 years.

“The picnic used to happen every year and then it stopped sometime in the 1970s,” Wachtel said. “Now we are bringing that back and combining forces to bring everyone together, and have something for everybody.”

The event will include a chicken barbecue, as well as a potluck meal, live music, children’s activities, fire truck tours, historical displays and an all-ages town ball game.

The four bands to perform at the Bash include Radio Free Earth, David Bartley and Dave Christopolis, the Expandable Brass Band and the Supernatural Disasters.

Wachtel said that Sawyer Farm is providing the chicken for the barbecue, and the Old Creamery has made a special sheet cake for the Bash in the shape of Cummington.

Organizers encourage people to bring a labeled dish to share.

“We are also trying to limit trash and be a low-waste event, so we’re encouraging people to bring their own plates and dishes for the potluck,” Wachtel said.

There is no entrance fee but donations will be accepted. The event is funded by the Cummington, Plainfield, Chesterfield and Worthington Cultural Councils, with additional funding for the Hilltown Community Development Corporation.

Games at Meekins

WILLIAMSBURG — If you like to play games, you may want to check out what’s happening at Meekins Library on Saturday, June 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 pm.

Stop in play some of your favorite games like Scrabble, Chess, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Jenga, or perhaps find a new game you have never played.

This event is open to everyone ages 10 and up.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at Fryan.gazette@gmail.com

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