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Education notebook

Math and Science Academy
to become innovation school?

GREENFIELD — The Math and Science Academy may become the Greenfield School Department’s third innovation school in the next few months, as members of the innovation school subcommittee plan to present a proposal to the full School Committee in February.

Superintendent Susan Hollins said that it was always the intention to make the three-year-old Math and Science Academy an innovation school — a public school that uses a creative academy strategy to help students succeed.

But now, two full years of data can back up administrators’ assertions on how the school can help the district’s students. In addition to emphasizing good study habits, teachers aim to have seventh-graders graduate from the program with ninth-grade-level math and two years of physics and integrated biology and chemistry under their belts.

For a school to achieve innovation status, its faculty members must first vote to approve an innovation plan. The plan would then be presented to the School Committee, which must hold a public hearing about the proposal before voting on it.

Innovation schools can access designated grant money from the state. Greenfield already has two: the Massachusetts Virtual Academy and the Discovery School at Four Corners.

Elementary student council gives to animal shelters, Hurricane Sandy aid

GREENFIELD — A new student council at the Discovery School at Four Corners collected 200 items for local animal shelters and raised over $1,000 for Hurricane Sandy victims over the last month.

The two fundraisers were part of a desire to help the community during the holiday season, said Marianne Harcourt, a teacher and student council adviser.

The student council, made up of second- and third-graders, helped promote an animal shelter item collection drive for three weeks, said Harcourt.

The items — which included cat and dog food, toys, blankets, beds, leashes, grooming tools, paper towels, trash bags and cleaning supplies — were donated to the Dakin Humane Society of Pioneer Valley and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Regional Dog Control and Adoption Center in Turners Falls.

Then, during five recess days, 35 students participated in a “walk-athon,” raising $1,052 for Hurricane Sandy victims. Students got sponsors and pledges for each half-mile they walked, said Harcourt.

The money was sent to the Western Massachusetts Red Cross, she said.

Four Rivers completes coffee fundraiser

GREENFIELD — The Four Rivers Charter Public School has wrapped up its fair trade international coffee sales project — raising $112 in a business venture that connected local students with a Dominican Republic coffee farm and an Orange coffee roaster.

Ninth-graders learned firsthand about fair trade business practices, said Spanish teacher Rebecca Arnold, by paying a fair price for the coffee and disclosing on the package label where it came from and how it was made.

Arnold said the school had originally purchased 40 pounds of coffee beans from Spirit Mountain Coffee — a plantation in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, that sells coffee to raise money for Doulos Discovery Expeditionary Learning School.

That coffee was roasted by Dean’s Beans — a production company in Orange that is a major proponent of fair trade business — into 32 one-pound bags of coffee.

But demand for the coffee was so high, Arnold said, that Four Rivers purchased 12 additional pounds of coffee beans.

“I think we will try the project again in the future, though I want to get kids more involved with the money aspect of coffee sales,” she said. “I want kids to experience what I experienced in crunching the numbers and working with Dean’s Beans representatives to make the coffee sales a reality.”

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