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Conway children raise money for ‘Monte’

  • Kindergartners march around the Conway Grammar School Tuesday to raise money for Monte’s March. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo

  • A student pauses while marching around the Conway Grammar School Tuesday to raise money for Monte's March, Nov. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Students march around the Conway Grammar School Tuesday to raise money for Monte's March, Nov. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Students march around the Conway Grammar School Tuesday to raise money for Monte's March, Nov. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Students march around the Conway Grammar School Tuesday to raise money for Monte's March, Nov. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—

  • Students get ready to march around the Conway Grammar School Tuesday to raise money for Monte's March, Nov. 21, 2017. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo—



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

CONWAY — “Here we are at our 2nd annual Monte’s March,” said Grammar School Principal Kristen Gordon, before entering the gymnasium where about 150 excited students sat cross legged on the floor, holding signs and preparing to march around the building.

They were inspired by 93.9 “The River” radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte’s annual 43-mile hunger walk benefiting the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Belmonte left from Springfield Monday and completed his trek Tuesday evening at Magpie Woodfired Pizzeria in Greenfield.

“Conway Grammar School had a goal to raise $1,000 dollars. Do you think we reached that goal?” asked 5th grade teacher Maggie West. The students shouted a resounding “yes.”

In total, Conway students raised more than $2,000 and almost 200 pounds of food, Gordon said. While fundraising, a representative from the regional food bank spoke with them about hunger in the region to launch the project.

On Tuesday, their fundraising efforts culminated in an all-school march around the Fournier Road building holding hand-made signs and singing “we will, we will, help you,” a Queen spinoff that 6th grader Isaiah Goleman came up with.

“A lot of people aren’t able to get food that’s needed. And during the holidays it’s even harder to get the food because prices go way up,” said 6th grader Patrice Moriarty, after completing the march. Standing beside her, 11 year-old Leah Gump noted “I think if you create good habits at a young age they’ll carry through for the rest of your life.”

West, who later joined Belmonte’s march in Sunderland, said her students “really got into the idea that a little bit of money goes a long ways.” Others from the school who marched include language speech pathologist Joe Cyr-Mutty; nurse Meg Burch; instructional assistant Sarah Tuttle; and teacher Sue O’Reilly-McRae.

More than a one-time fundraiser, the students learned empathy, and the importance of community during Thanksgiving season.

“We try to do a lot of community service projects with the kids,” said kindergarten teacher Jeremy Brunaccioni. “It’s important for them to learn there’s something bigger out there, and to help others out.”

Brunaccioni held a “flash cash” drive in his classroom, encouraging students to bring in loose change.

“We counted it, sorted it, learned about coins, and raised over $200 just in change,” Brunaccioni said. In addition to the march, Brunaccioni’s students made Thanksgiving cards that will be given, along with meals, to people in New York City who can’t get out of the house for a holiday celebration.

Reach Andy Castillo at: acastillo@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 263