Request from the new Farm to School grant coordinator

Greetings,    I’m Vicki Van Zee, the new Farm to School grant coordinator.  We are in need of a few interested volunteers to help us with the current planning stage of the grant.   Could you please put the following info in your next newsletter?   Thanks much and if you have any questions, please contact me

USDA Farm to School grant update

Next Steps for Farm to School 

The Farm to School work that the district began at the start of this school year is ready to move into the next phase.  Expanding on our essentialrelationships with local farmers, strong in-house food services program, and school garden programwe are working together towards our vision of “Building a stronger, healthier community through diversity, food access and equity, local farm and food system connections, and joyful learning.”

The program is seeking community volunteers to help create a comprehensive plan to attain its vision.  Volunteers are needed for the following teams:

1. Cafeteria Team– focusing on local procurement, reducing waste, increasing program revenue, maximizing operational efficiencies, and informal education leading to a sustainable business model.

2.  Curriculum Team– focusing on experiential classroom, garden and farm-based learning.

3.  Community Team– focusing on creating a stronger link among ARPS, the larger community and local food.   A few examples include:  Identifying regional producers that can supply more local and culturally appropriate foods for menus; recipe development; expanding the current catering offerings;  and community dinner menus reflective of the diversity of community.

These volunteers will be required to attend one meeting/month throughout the school year (approximately 2 hours/month) at the ARPS Central Offices.   Additionally, the program is looking for team members who have some expertise and skills/knowledge related to the content of the team they are interested in.

If you are interested in serving on one of the Farm to School teams, or if you would like to contribute to this work in other ways, please complete this form by January 18th, 2019.

Please email Vicki Van Zee,  USDA Grant Coordinator,, if you have questions.

Please vote in the Florence Bank grant program for the ARPS PGO

Each year, Florence Bank gives away $100,000 to community non-profits through its Community Choice grants program. Florence Bank customers vote for the non-profit of their choice & all non-profits getting at least 50 votes receive a grant.  The non-profits receiving the most votes get up to $5,000(!) through this program.

In 2017, the ARPS PGO received  almost 100 votes & $1,413. Yay!  The grant money went towards classroom support, special projects, field trips & more.

This year, the PGOs of the ARPS PGO (Crocker Farm, Wildwood, Amherst Middle School, & Amherst High School) are campaigning jointly again to maximize our votes.

** Each Florence Bank account holder is eligible to vote once for the community organization of their choice. **
** The ARPS PGO is urging people to vote (at least please consider voting for) for the “Amherst Regional Public Schools PGO”, the name of our joint non-profit. **

There are 2 easy ways that people can vote:
(1) Online – Visit to view the online voting site & can cast a vote online for the “Amherst Regional Public Schools PGO”.
(2) Paper Ballot. Ballot for printing attached. Ballots are also available at any Florence Bank location.  Ballots should be submitted at the bank or turned into your PGO.

Voting is open until December 31st.
Thank you for your support!

ARPS Warm Winter Coat and Clothing Share

Help everyone stay warm this winterThe Amherst schoolparent & guardian organizations (PGOs) are collecting winter coats & other warm outerwear for students (preK through 12th grade) & families.

We are seeking donations of clean, gently-used winter outerwear:

in ALL sizes (especially student sizes)

* coats snow pants snow boots hats

* jackets gloves/mittens *scarves * snowsuits


CROCKER FARM ELEMENTARY 280 West Street, 413-362-1600

Collection: Now until November 26th in the lobby & at the preschool entrance

Distribution: November 27th & 28th (school hours)November 29th (morning)

FORT RIVER ELEMENTARY 70 South East Street, 413-362-1200

Collection: Now until November 30th in the lobby

DistributionDecember 3rd, 4th, & 5th (school hours)

WILDWOOD ELEMENTARY 71 Strong Street, 413-362-1400

Collection: Now until December 17th in the lobby

Distribution: Now through December 20th (school hours)


AMHERST REGIONAL MIDDLE SCHOOL (ARMS)170 Chestnut Street, 413-362-1800

AMHERST REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL (ARHS) 21 Mattoon Street, 413-362-1700

Collection: Now through November 30th in the school lobbies

DistributionThrough the ARPS Family Center (170 Chestnut Street),

November 28th into December (on school daysas supplies last)

JONES LIBRARY 43 Amity Street
Collection: Now through November 28th in the Kids’ Room

MANY THANKS for your donations. THANK YOU too to the community partners who are helping with this effort, including the Jones Library, Evaluation Systems Group of Pearson, & the Amherst Education Foundation.

Any winter clothing that is not given out at the schools will be donated to the Amherst Survival Center.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Crocker Farm PGO: Tracy Zafian,

Fort River PGO: Rebecca Kennedy,

Wildwood PGO: Julie HawkOwl,

ARMS PGO: Rie Traub,

ARHS PGO: Becky Demling,

ARPS Family Center: Mildred Martínez 413-362-1871

Baystate Textiles Recycling Program at all ARPS Schools

Now you can drop your clothing and other textiles in any condition into collection bins located at each school. Convenient and easy! The collections are weighed weekly and each school’s PGO will receive a check based on the bulk weight. Help the Wildwood PGO earn FREE CASH while also helping our planet Earth by up-cycling your textiles. Thanks!


View Flyer

ARPS PGO will hold its Fall Public Meeting – 10/24/2018

The ARPS PGO will hold its Fall Public Meeting on October 24th from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. at The Works.  Following is the Agenda:
Individual School Updates
Election of President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Officer

Taxes and State Filings (including new rep payee)

Group Fundraisers

  • UMACC (United Way)

  • Giving Tuesday

  • Florence Bank

  • Amazon Smile

Other Business not anticipated by the chair


Press Release from Fort River School Building Committee Sept. 5 2018

Over the summer, the Fort River School Building Committee has continued to make progress with its feasibility study.

The  results of the indoor air quality study performed by ATC Group Services of West Springfield showed that the levels of asbestos, bacteria, mold, and radon are within acceptable levels and similar to or below background/outside concentrations.

The designers,TSKP Studio, have been attending the committee’s meeting and a working subgroup has joined in meetings with the Amherst School District to understand programming needs of the school in order to produce a range of options for a school building to serve PreK-6 students attending the Fort River Elementary School.

Community meetings will be scheduled over the upcoming months and public input sought as plans develop.  A timeline for the committee and designer’s work, along with other documents, can be found at . If you would like to be notified about upcoming meetings and receive press releases directly to your in-box, you can join our list serve by signing up through our web page.

The next meeting of the Fort River School Building Committee will take place on October 10th from 6:00- 8:00pm in the Amherst Police Department Community Room.  The public is welcome to attend and can also contact the committee at

Introducing the Amherst Boys & Girls Club

The Amherst Boys & Girls Club is dedicated to making a difference in your life by giving you access to great programs, activities, and social experiences in a fun and structured environment. Our Club is open to all young adults, ages 9-18, looking for a place where they can meet up with other kids to relax, play games, and even get some extra help with school. But the most important thing you’ll do at the Amherst Boys & Girls Club is learn about yourself and the kind of person you’re capable of being.

Our club accepts grades 1-12 and there is a membership application form and financial assistance form for each member to complete. There is a one-time annual fee of $50. We offer a range of payments plans, as well as scholarships. This is outlined in the financial assistance form linked below.

Our club is open during the school year 2:30pm – 5:30pm. On half days and days when school is closed we open around midday. We also run programs during school vacations, and usually open from 1:00pm to 5:30pm.



Link to Membership registration form

Link to Financial Assistance form


Audition for ALSCT Production of Peter Pan

Once again, Amherst Leisure Services Community Theater (ALSCT) is creating a fabulous, large-scale musical, with lavish sets and costumes, a full live orchestra, and enthusiastic audiences fill the 600-seat UMass Bowker Auditorium for nine performances in January. This year, we’ll be presenting PETER PAN, the beloved Broadway musical that has transfixed audiences for over one hundred years. We’re excited to present a version that is both true to the story and also speaks to contemporary audiences in the Pioneer Valley. Actors, singers, and dancers ages 7-107 are encouraged to audition!

 AUDITIONS: Friday, Sept. 14th, Saturday, Sept. 15th, Sunday, Sept. 16th

Callbacks Monday, September 17th


AEF Stars in our Schools – Perfect Teacher/Staff Gift!

starsin our schoolsRecognize teachers and staff at the end of the year with a gift in their honor!

Now is the time to let teachers and staff members know how much your appreciate their hard work, expertise, care, and dedication.

You can strengthen our schools with a tax-deductible gift to Amherst Education Foundation (AEF) in a teacher’s or staff member’s name. AEF will deliver a personalized recognition card to your honoree/s.

Please make your gift online or send your gift by mail by June 15 to guarantee delivery to honorees before their last day of the school year. As always, thank you for supporting public education and AEF, and thank you recognizing the Stars in Our Schools!

Click here to complete online gift form
Print PDF for mailing here
Here’s what educators say about Stars in Our Schools:

“Receiving a star is one of the most meaningful gifts to get. I love receiving these because I feel truly appreciated as a teacher, and I know that the donation people make is going back to a great organization that really supports our schools.” – ARMS Co-Assistant Principal and ELL Teacher Alicia Lopez

“I was really moved when I received some Stars in Our Schools cards in my mailbox indicating that the parents of some of my students had donated to AEF in my honor. AEF does very important work to support teachers and programs at ARMS, so a monetary gift is like thanking a teacher twice!” – ARMS Science Teacher Jennifer Welborn

“I have had the good fortune to be honored by parents and members of the Amherst community through their ‘Stars in our Schools’ donations to AEF. When making their donations, parents and relatives have commented specifically that they see their children singing with joy and self-confidence and that they have an appreciation for music of different world cultures. It is deeply satisfying to know that what we do in the schools gets carried out into the community.” – Fort River Elementary School Music Teacher Anne Louise White (retired 6/2017)

Request from the ARMS PGO

Calling all incoming Middle School parents to be a part of the Middle School PGO.

We are going to have a transition meeting one evening during the first week of June, so that the current PGO can download all of our knowledge to the future PGO, and so we can try to fill some of the leadership roles for next year.  Even if you are not interested in taking a leadership role, we need lots of general PGO members to help with various events and activities. Please consider coming to hear about the PGO. There will be refreshments!!

If you are interested and willing to join us, please fill out this Doodle with your availability, so we can schedule the meeting as soon as possible:

4th Annual SEPAC Stars in Our Schools Call for Nominations

Do you know of someone (student, parent, staff, community member, etc.) who you would like to recognize for their dedication, creativity, patience, and determination in helping students who receive special education to experience success?

The Amherst-Pelham Regional Schools SEPAC encourages you to nominate such excellence in our learning community so that we may all publicly thank these individuals for the important way they influence our students.  Honorees will be celebrated at an awards ceremony: Cookies, Cupcakes, and Kudos on June 15th (more details are forthcoming).

Please email the completed Nomination Form (attached here in English and Spanish) and Nomination Statement to: SEPAC@ARPS.ORG

or mail to: ARPS, Student Services Office, 170 Chestnut Street, Amherst, MA 01002

All nomination information must be received by May 18, 2018

Fort River School Building Committee Seeking Architectural Design Team

For More Information, Contact:

Jonathan Salvon, Fort River School Building Committee, Chair

On May 2, the Fort River School Building Committee released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Fort River Elementary School Feasibility Study. The Building Committee will receive applications from architectural design teams interested in working with the Committee to provide the Amherst community with options for a Pre-K through 6thgrade school on the Fort River site and the estimated costs of those preliminary design options. The Building Committee’s work will conclude with the delivery of these options to the Amherst School Committee.

The awarded design team will analyze the Fort River site and school building and propose options for at least three feasible designs. The committee will ask the design team to give the community options that span a range of building costs, operating and maintenance costs, and environmental impacts of both initial construction and continuing operations of the building. The committee and design team will also consider how potential design solutions will affect the operations of the school during the construction of such a project. Renovation, addition, partial or complete demolition, and new construction will all be explored.

The successful design team will work with the building committee in a collaborative, iterative design process over an anticipated 6 months. During this process, the Amherst community will be invited to participate in public forums at three milestones to learn about the design processes and offer feedback.

An indoor air quality assessment of the existing building was recently conducted by ATC Group Services from West Springfield, MA.  Results are expected to be available in June.

Community engagement with the Building Committee’s work will include public access to the committee’s website (, that provides access to meeting agendas, minutes, and documents; a binder located in the circulation section of the Jones Library; an e-mail address to receive public comment (​); an e-mail list serve; public forums; and scheduled press releases. We welcome feedback on all of these strategies.

Please support the Wildwood PGO

Please support us on Tuesday May 1 for #VALLEY GIVES & BROWN ENVELOPE FUNDRAISER 

Your generous, tax-deductible gift to the Wildwood Parent Guardian Organization will help support equity and enrichment at Wildwood. The funds we raise provide curriculum-enhancing opportunities for our children and support dedicated staff.

MAKE CHECKS PAYABLE TO: WILDWOOD PGO (return in brown envelope)

Last year, we ensured every child went on every field trip, we funded the Library, Art, Movie Night, and much more.

Your contribution of:

$5 Funds a child’s field trip
$15 provides extra supplies for a classroom $25 provides books for the library
$50 Art supplies for the art room
$100 towards a visiting artist
$200 For a teacher Mini grant



Thank you to all who voted for us in the Florence Bank Community Choice Grant!!

This week, the ARPS PGO was awarded a Community Choice Grant of $1413.00 from Florence Bank.  The money will be used to support PGO initiatives within our member schools. Thank you to all who voted for us.

Congrats to the almost 60 nonprofits in our community who also received grants through this annual program. Since the  Community Choice Grants program started 16 years ago, Florence Bank has given away more than $1 million to community non-profits.
The Amherst Regional Public Schools Parent Guardian Organization (ARPS PGO) is a Registered 501(c)(3) Massachusetts Charity encompassing the individual PGOs of the Amherst Regional High and Middle Schools, Crocker Farm and Wildwood Elementary.

School Safety and Advocacy

Dear ARPS Parents and Guardians:

In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, school safety and advocacy have been on all of our minds.  Many of you are aware of a national advocacy effort planned for March 14.  Please visit these links for a letter outlining our school safety efforts and our plans for student advocacy.

Mike Morris, Superintendent

Letter in English

Estimados padres y tutores de ARPS:

A raíz de la tragedia en Parkland, Florida, la seguridad de las escuelas y la abogacía han estado en nuestras mentes. Muchos de ustedes están al tanto de un esfuerzo de abogacía nacional planificado para el 14 de marzo. Visite estos enlaces para obtener una carta que describe nuestros esfuerzos de seguridad en nuestras escuelas y nuestros planes para la abogacía de los estudiantes.

Mike Morris, Superintendente

Letter in Spanish

Basic Rights in Special Education Workshop

Basic Rights in Special Education.  Monday March 12, 2018 @ 5:00 PM, ARHS Library.  Please mark your calendars and join us for this informative workshop for parents and professionals.

RSVP to or call (413) 687-4255.

Derechos básicos en educación especial. Lunes 12 de marzo de 2018 @ 5:00 PM, Biblioteca de ARHS. Por favor marque sus calendarios y únase a nosotros para este taller informativo para padres y profesionales.

RSVP a o llame al (413) 687-4255.

Basic Rights in Special Education Workshop – English

Basic Rights in Special Education Workshop – Spanish

AEF Celebrates Champions for our Schools on March 17

Join Amherst Education Foundation for an evening of celebration, fun, and food as we honor the 9 principals from the Amherst Regional and Union 28 schools along with our community champion Florence Bank.
Our principal honorees are: Mark Jackson, Patty Bode, Diane Chamberlain, Derek Shea, Lisa Desjarlais, David Slovin, Margot Lacey, Jackie Mendonsa, and Nick Yaffe.
The celebration will take place on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in the UMass Student Union Ballroom. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. with a cash bar followed by dinner and entertainment, including music and trivia. Tickets are $50 each or reserve an entire table in a prime location for you and 9 friends for an additional $10 per person.
Proceeds support annual AEF-funded grants provided to educators in our public schools.

Meet the Candidates for School Committee, Mar 6, 2018

Meet the Candidates for School Committee!
at the next Wildwood PGO Meeting,
Tuesday Mar 6, 2018  6:00pm-7:15pm

  • 6pm Candidates for Amherst School Committee, Kerry Spitzer, Ben Herrington, and Allison McDonald will each give a brief speech and then answer your questions in preparation for the town-wide election on March 27th.
  • 7-7:15pm  PGO Updates and Meet & Greet

Audition opportunity for kids–ALSCT brings KING ARTHUR to Amherst!

ALSCT and Missoula Children’s Theater brings two professional actor/directors to Amherst to stage an original, fill-scale musical production with local cast members in grades K-12 in ONLY ONE WEEK

Auditions Monday March 5th, 4:15PM at the ARMS cafeteria

Performances March 10th, 1:30PM and 4:00PM a the ARMS auditorium. Tickets $5/$8

View Flyer

Celebrate Black History Month


The public is invited to a celebration of Black History Month on Sat., Feb. 10, 2018, from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Amherst Town Common, on the steps of Town Hall

At the event, sponsored by the Amherst Area NAACP and the Town of Amherst Human Rights Commission, community members will join to sing the Black National Anthem. All are invited to sing, and to bring noisemakers to make a joyful noise. Community leaders will give brief remarks.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black National Anthem, was written in 1900 by brothers James Weldon Johnson (lyrics) and John Rosamond Johnson (music). It was first performed as a poem by African American children at a segregated school in Florida.

Autism: Parent Training Series

Mark your calendars and reserve your spot today.

Social Skills: How to Optimize your Child’s Play-dates, January 10, 2018.  6:00 – 7:30 PM @ Amherst Regional Middle School, PD Center

A conversation on what expectations to consider regarding play-dates as well as practical information on how to set them up and what skills to work on.  Will include time to work together to share experiences and plan future play-dates.

Intended for families of students with ASD who are using some type of language (verbal, or augmentative) to get their needs met.

Presented by: Jennifer McIntire, PhD, BCBA and Melanie Collins, BCBA

Childcare available for in-district families with rsvp no later than 1/4/18.

RSVP to BloomenthalW@arps.og or (413)362-1834.

You don’t need an account to Vote for Amherst Regional Public Schools in Florence Bank Customers’ Choice Community Grants

Florence Bank gives away $100,000 each year to community non-profits through its Community Choice grants program. Florence Bank customers vote for the non-profit of their choice & all non-profits getting at least 50 votes receive a grant.

There are 2 easy ways that people can vote:
(1) Online – Visit to view the online voting site & can cast a vote online for the “Amherst Regional Public Schools PGO”.
(2) Paper Ballot. Templates attached. Ballots are also available at Florence Bank location.

Voting is open until December 31st.

Last year (2016), the ARPS PGO received got 52 votes & $947.  Some non-profits get up to $5,000 through the program. The $947 received by the ARPS PGO went for classroom support, special projects, & more.

This year, the PGOs of the ARPS PGO (CF, WW, ARMS, & ARHS) are campaigning jointly again to maximize our votes.

Each Florence Bank account holder is eligible to vote once for the community organization of their choice.
The ARPS PGO is urging people to vote (at least consider voting for) for the “Amherst Regional Public Schools PGO”, the name of our joint non-profit.

View Flyer for more details.

Information Related to School Delays or Cancellations

  • Delays or cancellations are posted first on the ARPS School Closing Information line at 362-1898 (with a goal of posting by 5:30 a.m.).
  • Notification is made next to the local television stations.
  • Delays are typically two-hours, although a one-hour delay can be called.  With delays, students are expected to report the appropriate number of hours later than the regular school day and should plan to be at bus stops based on those times, as well.


  • Las demoras o cancelaciones se publican primero en nuestra línea de cierre en 362-1898 (con el objetivo de publicar antes de las 5:30 a.m.).
  • La notificación se publica luego a las estaciones de televisión locales.
  • Los retrasos suelen ser de (2) dos horas, aunque podría haber retrasos de solo (1) una hora. Con las demoras, se espera que el personal se reporte de acuerdo el número de horas de retraso a su jornada de trabajo regular. Por ende, si existiera un retraso de una hora, se reportará a su jornada de trabajo una hora más tarde, y no habrá cambios en su hora de salida.

Warm Winter Coat and Clothing Share Amherst Public Schools

To help everyone stay warm this winter, the Amherst school parent & guardian organizations (PGOs) are collecting winter coats & other outerwear for students (preK through 12th grade) & families.

We are seeking donations of clean, gently-used winter outerwear:
in ALL sizes (especially student sizes)
* coats * snow pants * snow boots * hats
* jackets * gloves/mittens *scarves * snowsuits

AMHERST REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL (ARHS) 21 Mattoon Street413-362-1700
Collection: Now through December 1st in the lobby
Distribution: Through the ARPS Family Center, November 20th into December

CROCKER FARM ELEMENTARY 280 West Street413-362-1600
Collection: Now until November 13th, in the lobby & at the preschool entrance
Distribution: November 14thNovember 15thNovember 16th

FORT RIVER ELEMENTARY 70 South East Street413-362-1200
Collection: Now until November 16th, in the lobby
Distribution: November 17th through November 29th(school days only)

WILDWOOD ELEMENTARY 71 Strong Street, 413-362-1400
Collection: Now until November 17th in the lobby
Distribution: November 20th through December 15th(school days only)

AMHERST REGIONAL MIDDLE SCHOOL (ARMS) 170 Chestnut Street413-362-1800
Collection: November 6th through December 1st in the lobby & near the auditorium
Distribution: Through the ARPS Family Center, November 20th into December (as supplies last)

MANY THANKS for your donations. Thank you too to the businesses and community partners who are helping with this effort.

Any winter clothing that is not given out at the schools will be donated to the Amherst Survival Center.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Crocker Farm PGO: Tracy Zafian,
Fort River PGO: Sarah Cohen,
Wildwood PGO: Julie HawkOwl,
ARMS PGO: Amy Sweeting,
ARHS PGO: Becky Demling,
ARPS Family Center: Mildred Martinez, 413-362-1871