Around Amherst: Fort River Elementary gets grant to fight bigotry

Staff Writer
Thursday, July 19, 2018

AMHERST — A national anti-bias education organization has provided Fort River Elementary School with a $5,000 grant that will help create safe and welcoming classrooms and show children how to fight bigotry.

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently made the award to the school to implement the Civic Literacy and Organizing Unit, during which sixth graders will write letters about issues they care about to decision-makers at various levels of government.

Superintendent Michael Morris said in a statement that students will benefit from the opportunity to take a particular issue and enhance their advocacy for it.

“We are grateful that the outstanding social justice units already taught at Fort River can be expanded through this generous grant from an organization as respected as the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Morris said.

The grant is part of what is known as the Teaching Tolerance program, which focuses on marginalized students, promoting an affirming school climate and educating students to thrive in a diverse democracy.

In the existing curriculum at Fort River, students form small groups based on the issues they are interested in and develop a proposal that will help solve a societal problem. They then pitch their ideas to officials, which have included U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, members of the Select Board and school leaders.

The grant funds will allow the scope of this unit to be enlarged so students’ work goes beyond traditional writing and advocacy.

Celebrating an anniversary

Simple Gifts Farm will mark the first anniversary of its farm store at 1089 North Pleasant St. with its monthly Front Porch Jam on Friday.

The jams happen every third Friday of a month. Jeremy Barker-Plotkin of Simple Gifts said anyone with an instrument and love for music is welcome to perform.

“It’s a nice opportunity to hang out and see the farm and see some of your fellow residents,” Barker-Plotkin said.

Pulled pork sandwiches and grilled vegetables will be available for purchase, while slices of free birthday cake will be handed out.

The event runs from 5 to 8 p.m. The store, which features organic produce and other products from local farms, as well as vegetables, eggs and meat, will also be open.

Award winner

A former executive director of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce recently earned the 2018 International Book Award in the health and alternative medicine category.

Diane Mandle, who led the Chamber in the early 1990s as Dian Mandle, received the honor for her book “Ancient Sounds for a New Age: An Introduction to Himalayan Sacred Sound Instruments.”

During her four-year tenure at the Chamber, Mandle initiated the Amherst Book & Plow Festival to honor local authors and the land. In 2000, she moved to Encinitas, California, where she has become a recording artist with Sounds True and a Tibetan bowl practitioner.

Winery gets license

Home Fruit Wine, a farm winery in Orange, will be allowed to sell its products and pour samples at the Amherst Farmers Market through its Nov. 17 closing.

The Select Board recently gave the OK for Lori Perkins, Home Fruit Wine’s owner and manager, to set up at the long-running market. Board members advised her to use caution in making sure all buyers are at least 21 years old.


A ribbon-cutting for Fort Hill Collision Services, 213 College St., will be held at the business July 25 from noon to 2 p.m.

The event will celebrate Jarek Przybyla becoming the new owner of the business.

Electrify Amherst!

Artists interested in painting one of three electrical boxes in downtown Amherst have until the end of July to submit their interest.

“Electrify Amherst! The Electrical Box Makeover Project” is being coordinated by the Amherst Public Art Commission as a way to bring public art to the Amherst Center Cultural District.

“We want Electrify Amherst! to showcase some of the many talented artists in our community and celebrate our town,” Amherst Public Art Commission member Amy Crawley said in a statement.

Three selected artists will receive a stipend of $350 each.

Artists interested in submitting a proposal should go to http://www.amherstma.gov/electrifyamherst or send an email to ElectrifyAmherst@amyacrawley.com.


MONDAY: Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Bylaw Review Committee, 9:30 a.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.