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Williamstown Elementary Names Citizenship Award Winners
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:35PM / Saturday, January 12, 2019
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Principal Joelle Brookner reports on the winners of Williamstown Elementary's annual Citizenship Award. 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Four Williamstown Elementary School sixth-graders are being recognized for their kindness, enthusiasm and helpfulness.
 
Principal Joelle Brookner on Thursday announced the winners of the school's annual Renzi Citizenship Award, named in honor of former teacher, principal and superintendent Helen Renzi.
 
"She had a huge heart," Brookner told the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee, telling the panel that Renzi was a Williamstown principal when Brookner attended the town's schools.
 
"This is the one award that we have at our school, and we're really happy it is in honor of students who are being kind, good human beings."
 
This year's honorees, Solana Lash-St. John, Knowl Stroud, Erik Powell-Bechtell and Liam Noyes, will be honored at an all-school assembly in March, Brookner said.
 
"We talk about what it means to be a good citizen, and it's so cool to have the little children look up to our sixth-graders and hope that someday they'll be sitting there trying to live up to those values," she said.
 
The Renzi Award is given each year to up to four members of the preK-6 school's sixth-grade class. They are chosen by a panel that includes fifth- and sixth-grade teachers, administrators and specialists at the school.
 
"It's always a challenging time because so many students could get this award," Brookner said. "Even though four people are getting this award this year, we're super proud of all our sixth-graders and appreciative of the kindness they show every day."
 
As part of the honor, each student helps the school librarian select books to add to the school library's Helen Renzi Book Collection.
 
Thursday's first monthly meeting of the School Committee was an opportunity for all three of the district's principals to share good news from her building.
 

Lanesborough Principal Martha Wiley, top, talks about the Shakespeare & Company residency at the schoo; Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald explained the new coding co-curricular for students.
At Lanesborough Elementary, the school will welcome artists from Lenox's Shakespeare & Company for a multi-week collaboration starting next Wednesday, Principal Martha Wiley reported.
 
Students will be exposed to all elements of a theater production, including set design, costuming and performance with the workshop culminating in a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" on May 1, Wiley said.
 
Mount Greylock Superintendent Kimberley Grady noted that the Lanesborough artist residency means that all three of the district's schools now have a similar partnership with Shakespeare & Company.
 
Mount Greylock, one of several county high schools participating in Lenox company's long-running Fall Festival of Shakespeare, added a very different co-curricular activity this year with the creation of the Coding Club, Principal Mary MacDonald reported.
 
Coding dovetails with the middle-high school's established Robotics Club, she said. Robotics allows the rising seventh-graders from Lanesborough and Williamstown to build on the skills and enthusiasm for science and engineering that they develop with the elementary schools' successful Lego Robotics teams.

MacDonald said Mount Greylock benefits from funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, General Dynamics and Williams College's Olmsted Grant program to support the co-curriculars, which also benefit from the efforts of Williams College student volunteers.

On the curriculum side, MacDonald talked about two related courses Mount Greylock has added that align with its school improvement plan: Exploring Computer Science and AP Computer Science Principles.
 
"[Exploring Computer Science] is a course designed to explore conceptual ideas," MacDonald said. "Students work to understand why computer science is in important in different areas: business, the social sciences, everyday life.
 
"The second course is in its first year, AP Computer Science principles. For that, we have adopted the CS50 AP curriculum from Harvard University."
 
"By year's end, students will have a richer understanding of the key principles of the discipline of computer science," a course description reads in part. "They will be able to speak intelligently about how computers work and how they enable us to become better problem-solvers and will hopefully be able to communicate that knowledge to others."
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