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Baker Cheers, Challenges BArT Charter Students
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:52PM / Tuesday, December 22, 2015
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ADAMS, Mass. — Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday congratulated the students of Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School on their accomplishments and challenged them to keep building for their futures.   "If we work it right, if we work hard and work smart and make good decisions, you wake up when you're 59 years old and think you're the luckiest man alive," Baker told an all-school assembly. "But those habits, those skills, those foundations are what you're building now.   "You guys are building a great foundation, the kind of foundation where students get to go to the great places like that list I just saw."   Baker was in

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Reid School, Yogurt Shop Partnership Donates Blankets to BCF
By Krista Mangiardi, Special to iBerkshires
03:17AM / Monday, December 21, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — This winter, many local children will have some extra warmth thanks to a local partnership that brought in more than 200 blanket and stuffed animal donations for Berkshire Center for Family and Children.

The Reid Middle School Student Council and Ayelada Yogurt of East Street worked together to support BCF's participation in the national program Project Night Night.

Thursday afternoon, those involved in the effort gathered at the yogurt shop to present the items to BCF representatives and celebrate with some frozen treats.

"It's a great way to start the holiday season," said Erin Sullivan, director of external affairs for BCF. "It's

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Skaters, Bikers Raise Opposition to Limiting Pittsfield Park Hours
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
10:45PM / Tuesday, December 15, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Ethan Lillie earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Southern California.    And he is a skateboarder.   Now living back home, the Pittsfield native heads down to the skate park on his days off; it's his preferred form of exercise. But now there is an effort afoot to limit his and others access to the city's only skate park.   "I work here as an engineer professionally and the less there is for me to do that fall into my interests, the less likely I will stay in the community," Lillie told the Parks Commission on Tuesday.   He was just one of nearly a dozen residents speaking in

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Pittsfield's Conte Community School Wins Grant From Author James Patterson
Staff Reports,
11:54AM / Tuesday, December 15, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Author James Patterson chose Conte Community School as a recipient of his annual holiday gift program.   The author chose the school to receive a $6,000 grant to purchase new books. In Conte's application, school officials promised to "spend every penny on brand new, sparkling books."    The school was just one of 340 libraries and 87 independent bookstore employees to receive money. Patterson gave away some $2 million, according to the Associated Press.    In a statement, Patterson said, "Here's to communities supporting their bookstores and libraries. Here's to a country that makes reading a priority. Here's

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PHS Leaders Call For Locking Skate Park After Stabbing
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:32AM / Thursday, December 10, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — School officials want to close the skate park during school hours after a stabbing there on Friday.   The School Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to ask the Parks Commission to put up a gate and a lock. Superintendent Jason McCandless offered to have custodial staff be responsible for locking and unlocking the gate. The move follows a stabbing on Friday involving two Pittsfield High School students that led to a "shelter in place" at the high school for approximately 35 minutes.    That stabbing, however, is just the tipping point for a location that is problematic, according to PHS Principal Matthew Bishop.   "I feel the

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MCLA Offers New Option for Transfer Students From New York State
01:14PM / Monday, December 07, 2015
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has a new opportunity for New York state residents who wish to transfer to the campus.

The New York Transfer Program provides guaranteed admission, as well as a reduced cost of attendance for students looking to enroll at MCLA.  

“We’re excited to streamline the transfer process for New York students,” said Gina Puc, director of admission at MCLA. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for those with an associate’s degree to seamlessly transfer to MCLA and enjoy our New York Tuition Reduction Program rate while they earn their bachelor’s degree. It’s a great

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BCC Unveils New Logo to Go With Resurgence Of School Sports
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:32PM / Wednesday, December 02, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A peregrine falcon swoops in at some 200 mph, clenches its claws and pulverizes its prey.   That's the intimidating mascot Berkshire Community College alum Craig Cusson chose for the basketball team in the 1960s when the college formed its first sports program. The school's founding President Thomas O'Connell picked blue and green as the school's colors.    For years the school had a sports program with a multitude of offerings but, in 2001, the soccer team was the last team left to play the final sports game for the school. After a 12-year hiatus, sports have returned to the college and coupled with the revitalization of the program,

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Reid Middle School Class Throws Thanksgiving Feast
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
06:09AM / Thursday, November 26, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Gratitude.   Ethan Packard stood in front of his middle school class Tuesday and spoke about gratitude, reminding the 34 other students and honored guests to remember the things they are grateful for this week. And then he welcomed everybody to feast on a Thanksgiving meal his class helped make.   The meal was Reid Middle School's self-contained special education class's 10th annual celebration. The students helped make applesauce, butter, and cranberry sauce to complement the meal cooked by school staff. They made name cards and decorations. And each student wrote a letter inviting an adult to the feast.    "We tried to have the

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Guest Column: Why Is Berkshire County Education Task Force Important?
By John Hockridge, Guest Column
08:16AM / Friday, November 20, 2015
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With a nod to Bob Dylan, "the times they are a changing."

The Berkshire County Education Task Force hopes to address changes in the educational landscape of our region by articulating a clear direction for our shared future that is intentional and focused on quality, sustainable preK-12 education.

The task force is trying to proactively address these changes affecting Berkshire public school districts:

● A general decline in student enrollment that is expected to continue;

● Rising operational costs (ie. benefits, special education, technology);

● Declining/flat revenues leading to additional financial burden to towns and

municipalities; and

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Pittsfield Superintendent Wants School Officials to Review 'Unfiltered' Budgets
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
11:43AM / Saturday, November 14, 2015
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee may take a look at the first draft school budgets next year.

Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless asked the committee on Thursday night if it would consider a daylong budget hearing during a January workday to review all the principals' budgets.

"I'm taking a page from the mayor's budget book," he said, referring to the marathon meetings when the department budgets have been presented to the City Council.

"The budget request you get from the principals is filtered through Central Office," he said. "I think there might be tremendous value in taking a day ... where the principals came in and

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