CHATHAM ALUMNI CONNECTIONS Spring-Summer 2019 Newsletter
WHY WE STAY INVOLVED IN THE CHATHAM ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
The Chatham Alumni Association began several years ago with a desire to provide students with “the extras” that weren’t part of the normal school budget. Soon after, we were approached by people from the Chatham Education Foundation (CEF) to join forces with them to accomplish similar goals. After careful thought and some negotiations, it was agreed that our association would have a seat at the table to oversee how Foundation funds were allocated.
The Alumni Association remains an independent organization. Each year the association donates $500 to the CEF and participates in the decisions of how the available funds are allocated. Henry Binzer, the Alumni Association treasurer was named to the Foundation board and became its treasurer.
As you will learn by reading our newsletters, the Alumni Association does a great deal more to support and enrich activities at all levels of CCSD. Our governing board is a small group of dedicated alumni and we have about 275 Association members. We stay involved because we see the benefits to the students of the variety of things we sponsor or support. We could use more people to help us. If you love Chatham as much as we do…. get involved and come to our board meetings, enjoy our company and help us keep going.
CHATHAM ALUMNI ASSOCIATION SCHOOL SPIRIT AWARDS FOR 2019
The School Spirit Award signifies that selected students demonstrated personal qualities that made the school a great place for kids to be educated.
As a strong student and an athlete, Garner displays enthusiasm for learning and for Chatham High School every day. As a five-sport athlete (soccer, volleyball, baseball, football and tennis), Garner brings his can-do attitude to every competition. As an athlete, he is a reliable team member, a trait which is also obvious in the classroom. Garner seeks to contribute to the school in positive ways, including recently serving as a tour guide for incoming 9th graders. He plans to attend Quinnipiac University in the Fall to study Finance.
Brooke-lyn is known for her athleticism. She is a leader on the soccer and softball fields, as well as the basketball court. Her positive attitude is contagious to her teammates. Through her work ethic, she has earned a place of leadership among her peers. She plans to attend Columbia County Community College in the Fall to study education.
Beyond the classroom, Patrick is a member of the soccer, volleyball and baseball teams. As an athlete and a student, he has earned the respect of his peers through his sense of humor, respect, and kindness toward others. He plans to attend SUNY Cortland in the Fall to study education.
Jenna is a very active member of our school and community. She has taken a leading role working with her class through student government. She has a positive attitude and takes every opportunity to make our school a better place. Beyond the classroom, Jenna is a talented athlete, and demonstrates the same positive traits and leadership on the field that she does in the classroom and school. She plans to attend St. John Fisher College in the Fall to study nursing.
REUNIONS AND SUMMER GATHERINGS
CLASS OF 1969 50TH REUNION SCHEDULED FOR JULY 27TH
A group of 1969 Alumni met in early May to plan for their 50th high school reunion. They have arranged for a gathering at Jackson’s Old Chatham House on July 27th from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. The cost will be $45 per person with a cash bar. They have been gathering addresses and emails and are planning to send out invitations very soon.
Responses and payment should be sent to: Jim Dunavin at 119 Albany Turnpike, Old Chatham, NY 12136. Funds remaining at the end of the event will be donated to the Chatham Central Alumni Association, P.O. Box 208, Chatham, N.Y. 12037. (Henry Binzer, Treasurer).
The Reunion Committee includes: Elizabeth Gerrick Macfarlane, Jim Dunavin, Fred Cappozzo, Steve Legere, Van Calhoun, Linda Reynolds Laurange and Gail Behrens Day.
ANNUAL ALUMNI PARTY AUGUST 11TH
We are gathering again August 11th, Sunday noon to 5 p.m. at the POLISH AMERICAN CITIZENS CLUB, 110 Commerce Avenue, Albany. Rain or shine. We’ve had a great time for the last two years so let’s continue this opportunity. Text Bob Goo at 518-221-7635 or Jeanne Westover at 518-755-0751 to give us a head count.. Thanks Bob for organizing the event again.
This is a party for All Chatham Central School District class years. The $20.00 entry fee per person includes food, drink and music. We share the venue with great veterans but we have a separate picnic area for all of us to relax, visit and catch up.
THE CHATHAM EDUCATION FOUNDATION ENHANCES THE LIVES OF THE STUDENTS OF CCSD
A Sampling of the 2019 Chatham Education Foundation Projects
- Children’s Summer Garden
- Columbia County Master Class
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology Feeder Watch at CHS
- Robinson’s Wildlife Lecture
- Saving a Species Wolf Project
- Spanish IV & V Trip to Repertoirio Espanol Theatre in NYC
- Vivarium Part 2
- Peloris Art and Literary Magazine
- Fiction of Wharton & James
- Art in the Library; An afterschool Program
- Homespun Dance Residency
- Longhouse Phase II
- My Side of the Mountain
- AN AMERICAN REVOLUTION
- Artemis Robotics
- Author Visit: Gordon Korman
- Chatham After School Film Club
The Alumni Association donates $500 annually to the Foundation to support the varied enriching projects.
AND THE CALL WENT OUT…
And the call went out to every Columbia village and town…those loyal to King George !!! were raiding villages in New York, notable among them were the raids on Cherry Valley and German Flatts. Thus, on a rain-soaked morning in May 2019—harkening back 260 years to 1759, the local militia of Chatham supplemented by a few continentals mustered for drill on the playing field next to the local Middle School. Alas, the fields were sodden, with the rain continuing so, the commander Colonel Will Richard decided to muster and drill inside the building.
These were “green troops” they are in seventh grade and this was their first drill. Therefore, more seasoned veteran militia gave them instruction in why they were called to be prepared to defend their village, how the muskets (non-firing replicas) they were carrying worked and finally they were drilled in military formation, marching, charging and the like.
Meanwhile, at another venue—Mr. Richard’s classroom—a woman of the period, dressed in period clothing gave instruction to the recruits in the dress, customs and hardships faced by the folks of the 18th century. She spoke especially to the female recruits when she pointed out that really, she was the property of her husband. She would not inherit their farm should her husband die before her; she could not choose her career path and certainly could not serve in the army.
Then the weather began to clear so it was time to go outside on the drill field for instruction in the firing of the canon. Neighbors were probably startled to hear the loud boom of the cannon as it was fired twice. Then it was time to muster for mess. that means lunch for you civilians.
After the recruits enjoyed their lunchtime chow, it was time to fall in for parade to the Elementary School where the fifth grade awaited and where the principal Mrs. Reno stood ready to review the troops.
And so, they fell into line of march–double file—and stepped off with two student drummers and four flutists the thirteen stars the stripes flying at the head of the columns. Down the hill and up the hill to the MED keeping in step to the march-time music (somewhat in step) halting at the entrance to the school greeted by the fifth grade and Mrs. Reno. And so, to end the day.
As time goes by, they will remember. Not the details, but day the classroom was fun, filled with uniforms and tricorn hats and fake muskets and cannon shot and about the founding of their country.
(Henry Binzer was a witness to this year’s American Revolution)
Palmer Jerome Westover, 95, passed away on July 2, 2019.
Through the years Palmer had his own plumbing and heating business, worked for GLF, drove a school bus for CCSD, worked at Chatham Bowl maintaining the machines, and retired from Sonoco, formerly Crellin Plastics, in 1984.
For Palmer a stranger was just someone he hadn’t visited with yet. He always had a story to tell about plowing, haying, hitching horses, milking cows, tractor pulls, one-room school houses, automobiles he once owned starting with the 1930s, tales of Austerlitz and Spencertown, working in Hartford, CT during WW II, the 1939 World’s Fair, camping in the Adirondacks and Eastern Canada. There were also the many places he lived including Maine, Colorado, and Albuquerque where he shared his tales. A life well-lived. A life well-loved.
Our condolences to the Westover Family. He was an interesting person. Bet he was a lot of fun!
MOVING UP DAY AT CMS
Exciting … and We Helped
The Alumni Association donated $600 for Moving Up Day at the Middle School. The gift was used to purchase $25.00 checks for 8th grade students that have demonstrated strength in academic, character, and leadership traits.
Each year the 8th grade team issues 24 of these awards that are presented to the students at the moving up ceremony. Principal, Mike Burns, expressed his appreciation to the alumni for their continued support.
Go to the District website and see all the pictures of new high school students enjoying themselves.
MEET ONE OF OUR NEWEST MEMBERS
Zoe Dyer, Class of 2018, is now a member of the Alumni Association. She will receive copies of our newsletters. She will also have the satisfaction of knowing she is giving back to the school that gave her an education. Are your friends members? It’s a great way to stay in touch.
THE CHATHAM VILLAGE HISTORICAL SOCIETY SESQUICENTENNIAL YEAR PLANS
The village historical society has been serving the community for over 25 continuous years.
In 2018, numerous community meetings were held to determine the interest in participation for the Village of Chatham 150th anniversary of incorporation. The Chatham Village Historical Society volunteers will be involved in several activities.
First, a sesquicentennial history book that looks to Chatham’s past while standing in the present was created and designed as a walking tour book by the historical society president and Gail Blass Wolczanski, author of the Arcadia Publication, Around the Village of Chatham, It is in full color and provides captions and stories relating to village history and is available at the Bank of Greene County, Video Visions, and the Chatham Book Store. This book is a must-have for anyone who grew up in Chatham.
Second, the historical society is organizing the community sesquicentennial celebration section of the July 27th parade. It is to follow the firemen’s county parade that culminates on the fairgrounds. All chartered historical societies and established organizations (eg. Rotary, American Legion, Boy or Girl Scouts, VFW, Columbia County Historical Society, the City of Hudson) are encouraged to join us and be creative with your entry.
A third activity is the opportunity to take a tour of the village with guides who will be using the sesquicentennial book as a reference. There will be a variety of tours with the longest walk around two hours in length. Civil War enthusiasts will want to follow the reenactor at the Chatham Rural Cemetery as he honors the Chatham Civil War veterans with their stories. Watch for time postings, as the Friday, July 26th date gets closer.
The Summerfest Saturday, July 20th, has grown in size and length of time for the 2019 celebratory year. Do not miss the opportunity that day to commemorate the date with a cancellation stamp that has been approved by the U.S. Postal Service and is officially provided by the village postmaster. On that day you can have a post card or envelope with the recently released Ellsworth Kelly stamps, cancelled with the special Sesquicentennial cancellation stamp!
The Chatham Village Historical Society is working to bring Cady Hall Opera House alive again with opera singer Nellie Rustick. Not only is the 19th century hall famous for its music and films but a number of entertaining activities that drew the community together. Nellie plans to vary her music to include popular songs from the 19th century as well as opera. It will be worth the Monday, July 21st visit to Cady Hall just knowing that nationally known artist, Ellsworth Kelly, once used the space as a studio.
Seventh graders, guided by their librarians and Chatham historian, Gail Wolczanski, produced village history projects that will be on display. Railroad artifacts from the historical society’s collection are also going to be viewable to the public.
And don’t forget to stop by the Pulver farmhouse Sunday, July 21, for a peak into our mini-museum that just cannot wait to expand into the farmhouse. And again, stop by our display at the fairgrounds after the parade on July 27th.
Chatham Village historical society trustees look forward to making our history an interesting and enjoyable learning experience that week of July 20 – 27, 2019, as always.
We Are Making A Difference
- The Alumni Scholarship Fund updated to $1,500 every September .for discretionary use
- The Annual Concert “Music on the Lawn” proceeds of $300 given to the music department
- 8th Grade Moving Up Day $600
- School Spirit Awards $400
- Alumni donation to the Chatham Foundation is $500 annually.
- Financial support for the Weekend Back Pack Program $360
- Summer Theatre Program $200
- Village of Chatham $200
- Newsletters Mailed to Our Members: Priceless
Is It Time to Join or Pay Your dues?
Dues for 2019-2020 due in July but are accepted any time during the year. Your additional contributions are also welcome at any time and enable your alumni association to provide even more assistance to the students in the Chatham schools.
Please fill out the form below and send it with your check:
YES, I WANT TO JOIN OR RENEW MY MEMBERSHIP IN THE CHATHAM CENTRAL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION AND I ENCLOSE MY ANNUAL $10.00 DUES.
Maiden Name _________________ Yr. of Graduation _____
Telephone: (Home) or (Cell) _____________‑_____________
Email Address: _____________________________________
Dues: ____________ Contribution: ____________
Please mail this form to: Chatham Central Alumni Association,
P.O. Box 208, Chatham, NY 12037.
CHATHAM ALUMNI CONNECTIONS Fall-Winter 2018-2019 Newsletter
Chatham Education Foundation
For Special School Programs
The Alumni Association plays an active role in the allocation of money to support the special projects funded by the CEF. The association donates $500 annually to the fund. Interest earned during the year becomes available to be awarded for special projects that would not be included in the school budget but were considered of educational value. We are represented on the Board of Directors by Henry Binzer, treasurer.
Each year the projects cover a wide range of creative ideas that provide experiences that would not otherwise be provided. For 2018 – 2019, a total of 17 projects were funded in amounts that ranged from $200 to $2,500.
Some of the projects funded for this school year included:
- An American Revolution
- Art in the Library – An After School Program
- Artemis Robotics
- Author Visit – Gordon Koman, creator of numerous series such as The Mastermind Series and The Swindle Series
- Children’s Summer Garden
- Saving a Species – Wolf Project
- My Side of the Mountain
- Homespun Dance Residency
- Longhouse Phase II
REUNIONS ARE LOTS OF FUN!
WHO WILL PLAN YOUR NEXT BIG EVENT?
IT’S TIME TO GET STARTED FOR 1999, 1994 1979, AND 1969.
PLANNING A REUNION CAN BE REALLY BIG
OR JUST FUN AND SIMPLE AND INEXPENSIVE
Check out how the Class of 1978 did a pot luck, no fuss event and had a great time in Spencertown.
The Class of 1972 met in 2017 at the Polish American Citizens Club for $20 each and tagged along with the Vietnam Era Veterans and had so much fun they did it again in 2018.
On the other side of easy no-frills reunion was the event planned by the Class of 1952 for their 60th reunion in 2012! My Class! We planned months in advance to contact every one of our original 65 classmates we could find. Thanks greatly to Betty Nutting Powell, keeper of info about our classmates. We then had everyone complete an information sheet updating interesting facts about their lives. We combined their responses with information we had from 2010 and our yearbook including the photos. The result was “a yearbook” with information about all of our class given to all who attended and mailed to those who could not join us.
Yes it was a lot of work but well worth the effort. We are all in our mid-eighties now. Our revised yearbook in a real treasure! Some of our classmates are no longer living but their lives are still fond memories to us through the efforts of our 60th reunion.
NOTE: This special edition is still resident in my computer! If you or a family member or friend would like a copy I can email it to you or if that is a hardship for you, I can make a paper copy and mail it to you.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
Patricia McKern Binzer
100 White Pine Drive, Apt. 124,
Albany, NY 12203.
CHATHAM ALUMNI TEE SHIRTS FOR SALE
Modeled by Hank Binzer (’52 )
Order yours now from Jeanne Westover
$25 – includes postage
Contact Jeanne Westover
Alumni Association President
IMPACT OF THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
A few years ago the Association was asked if it could provide some funding to supplement funds for a field trip. Another request came in for some assistance for a child in need. Each request was for a nominal amount of money but made a big difference in the life of a child. After some discussion with the administration regarding how we could be most helpful, the Association decided to create an on-going scholarship fund that could be used by the faculty for special purposes to anonymously help students. Each September the fund is brought up to $1,500 with money raised through dues and additional donations to the Association. So far this year, we have been able to provide a saxophone rental for a very talented student.
ALUMNI ASSOCIATION DOES NOT USE FACEBOOK
We have been made aware that some commercial companies are trying to make it look like our alumni association uses Facebook. NOT SO. We use the school district website and our mailed newsletter to keep our members informed. Some individuals have posted some photos, etc. and mentioned the alumni. That’s fine, but we do not post anything on behalf of the Alumni Association.
Performed as this year’s school production
“Shakespeare & Company’s Fall Festival has been a tradition in the Berkshires Ten Schools mounting full productions of Shakespeare. The festival includes schools across Berkshire county, Springfield and Columbia County. Each year the festival celebrates the commitment and collaboration of over 500 students, their parents and teachers, the school liaisons and custodians, the businesses and funders that join together to make this outrageous adventure possible….”
The audience, comprised of students, parents, relatives of all ages and even alumni who graduated 60+ years ago, were invited to appreciate the many achievements that have happened behind the scenes including production crews, stage managers, researchers and so many others who worked tirelessly to provide this opportunity for the Chatham students. The list of supporters and helpers was long and showed the enormous amount of teamwork it took to bring about this professional production. The Full Company List included 44 students. What an accomplishment!
Unlike many theatrical production programs, everyone who participated was listed in alphabetical order in the program; there were no stars; all participants were equally important. At the end, the bows were taken as a group; applause was given to everyone. Each student felt proud about his or her contribution. What an achievement! We gave the standing ovation to everyone, adults and students, who took part.
Side note: A capital district high school said they put on Romeo and Juliet last year and it was a disaster. They found it too hard. The students had difficulty with the language and the production. I think Chatham should invite some of the neighboring non-participating schools to come to see how well our kids handle this difficult material so well!
CHATHAM HIGH SCHOOL CLASS OF 1978 HELD 40TH REUNION
Gennifer Rommel Westover and Jeff Westover reported on the Class of 1978 40th reunion at the Spencertown Firehouse held on Sunday September 2, 2018. They offered special thanks to the Spencertown Fire Department commenting it was a perfect venue.
Luke Nelson later posted, “It was a blast.”
Thanks to the amazing organizers: Lynne Verenazi Michaels, Lori Wadsworth Wood, Cindy Skinner Crellin, Donna Whiteman Starron, Sue Kittle Madsen, Sue Silvernale, and help from Joan Krohn, Mark Frederick, Dan Crellin, Matt Verenazi, Alan Silvernail and others. (Apologies for any omissions.)
The committee provided the flowers, beverages and food. Attendees brought assorted appetizers. So there was plenty of good food.
Classmates made their way in from far flung locations: California and Missouri, just to mention a couple. We got to see people we haven’t seen in 40 years. It’s amazing how none of us had aged in the least. Right! Many classmates were unable to attend due to prior commitments or family obligations. We’d like them to know they were missed.
The good news, if you are on FaceBook, check out the group. “CHS Class of 1978: 40 Year Reunion.” Lori Wood posted a lot of good pictures and you will get to read the comments and see all the smiles for yourselves.
Hope to see everyone next time around.
– Gennifer Rommel Westover and Jeff Westover
THE SPRING 2018 EDITION OF THE CHATHAM ALUMNI CONNECTIONS (Edited for the online edition)
WHAT HAS THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION ACCOMPLISHED THIS YEAR?
As you read through the short articles that follow, you can be proud that you are a member of the Chatham Alumni Association.
For such a small group, we really accomplish a great deal. We have about 275 dues-paying alumni. Think what we could do if there were more. You can send your fellow alumni to the district website to find a membership form. Tell them that the benefits include the satisfaction that comes from knowing they helped improve the lives of the Chatham students.
To keep things running, we have about nine hardy souls who attend the meetings a few times a year and provide ideas to promote the association for the good of the student body. They show up when needed to help with our public events.
We would sure like more folks to join us. There’s no “heavy lifting”, just add camaraderie and support to the already loyal team.
Email Joan Sherman Simard, Association Secretary, if you think you want to be part of the leadership group. We even have beautiful tee shirts for sale to add to the team spirit. (email@example.com)
Class of 1972 to meet again on August 12th, 2018
12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
at the Polish American Citizens Club (PACC)
ALL ARE WELCOME!
Last year’s reunion was so much fun that folks have decided to meet again on August 12, 2018 to continue the friendships renewed in 2017. This event is sponsored by the Vietnam Era Veterans (China Beach Event).
The entry fee is $20.00 per person and benefits veterans. The fee includes food, drink and music. We share the venue with these great veterans but have a separate area for all of us to visit and catch up.
We had a fabulous time last August. Pass this invitation on to people we haven’t seen in years. Everyone is welcome so brings friends from other classes to join us.
Text Bob Goo (518-221-7635) or Jeanne Westover (518-755-0751) with your intentions to allow us to get an estimated head count. We must thank Bob for organizing this for us again.
I hope to see everyone there and those that couldn’t come last year. Everyone is welcome
Four Graduating Seniors selected for School Spirit Awards by the Chatham Alumni Association
For several years the Chatham Alumni Association has honored four seniors with a School Spirit Award. The award signifies that the students selected demonstrated the human qualities that make our school a great place for kids to be educated. Our thanks to the high school guidance department for assisting in the selection and description of this year’s honorees. Each of the students was presented with a letter of congratulations, a framed certificate and a check for One Hundred Dollars.
Haleigh McKay can be seen at a variety of school events. She is a three season athlete, participating as a valuable member of the volleyball, basketball and softball teams, as well as the cheerleading squad. She is also a kind and warm person who is happy to cheer others on. I have noticed that she takes younger students under her wing, and supports them in the school and athletic environment.
Kayla Ruff has grown into a tremendously generous leader in our school. She has been actively involved in student government, and was instrumental in bringing new microwaves, coffee makers, and a mini-fridge to the student cafeteria, for the purpose of collecting unwanted food that others are welcome to take. Recently, she was a key coordinator for our high school faculty appreciation day. She helped to provide faculty with breakfast and lunch, and offered her thanks on behalf of the student body.
Tom Cozzolino has what it takes to succeed. He is independent, goal-oriented, and a great communicator. He knows what needs to be done, and is willing and able to take the necessary steps to complete a task. He is the kind of person CHS strives to send out into the world, and he will undoubtedly represent Chatham well.
Aidan Jackson is a friendly face to everyone. He demonstrates Panther Pride every day, through the respect and warmth he displays toward others. Aidan was selected for this award based on his good character, strong work ethic and participation in extracurricular activities. This year, he impressively rose to the top of our most challenging class, Advanced Placement Calculus, where he has consistently worked hard to master difficult material.
Impact of the Alumni Association Scholarship Fund
A few years ago the Association was asked if it could provide some funding to supplement funds for a field trip. Another request came in for some assistance for a child in need. Each request was for a nominal amount of money but made a big difference in the life of a child. After some discussion with the administration regarding how we could be most helpful, the Association decided to create an on-going scholarship fund that could be used by the faculty for special purposes to anonymously help students. Each September the fund is brought up to $1,500 with money raised through dues and additional donations to the Association.
A letter of gratitude from Lucas Christensen, Administrator of Educational Services for the district.
“I am writing to express our sincere thanks and gratitude for you extremely generous support of our students. This year we were able to help 37 individual students through the use of your financial gifts. You helped us provide a variety of field trips, educational opportunities, and rites of passage to youngsters who would not otherwise have been able to participate due to financial constraints. These trips, proms, awards, and experiences help to make up a well-rounded and experience-rich school year for all of our Chatham kids. I know that I speak for the entire administrative team when I say that we would not do this without you. Thank you so much.
Moving Up Day at the Middle School
The Alumni Association donates $600 each year for Moving Up Day at the Middle School. Mike Burns, Principal, expressed his appreciation to the alumni for their continued support. This year the gift was used to purchase $25.00 checks for 8th grade students that have demonstrated strength in academic, character, and leadership traits. Each year the 8th grade team issues 24 of these awards that are presented to the students at the moving up ceremony.
A thank you from one of the recipients:
“I was fortunate to be selected for the 8th grade Girls Faculty Award. Thank you for donating the money for my award.
At CMS I am an NCBI member, key communicator, and NJHS member. I also take accelerated classes and have been on the high honor roll 6th grade through 8th grade, I will continue to work hard at CHS.
Thank you again!
Anna Carroll, Class of 2022
Village of Chatham will be celebrating 150 years in 2019 – We plan to join the celebration
Chatham Alumni Connections will be putting together a special edition next spring to join the Chatham School District in the celebration of the history of the Village of Chatham.
- We are looking for some interesting stories about some of our families who have many generations of Chatham graduates. Are there some teachers out there who would like to share their stories from a different era.
- Are there athletes who starred on some of the teams that excelled back in the day who would like to retell some of their exciting moments.
- How about choir members or band members who want to share some memorable concerts. (Remember the concerts we used to have on Thanksgiving with alumni?)
- Don’t forget to reminisce about all the preparations for Arbor Day or Proms that were decorated and held in the gym.
- What were some of the great after school activities or hangouts?
- We can arrange for interviews and amateur photos to help you develop your good ideas. Help us make this special issue really special!
Send your ideas to Patricia Binzer (Class of ’52), Chatham Alumni Connections newsletter editor. firstname.lastname@example.org
The BackPack Program Feeds Hungry Kids
The Alumni Association heard about the BackPack Program this spring and decided to contribute $300 to this program for Chatham families for the 2018-2019 school year.
The BackPack Program, sponsored by the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other resources are not available, especially on the weekends. The program provides backpacks filled with food that the child-friendly shelf-stable, and easily consumed. Bags are packed each week by school staff and discreetly distributed to participating children every Friday afternoon. The cost to sponsor a child for a full school year is estimated at $167.00.
The BackPack Program started in 2007 with one partner school. Since then, the program has expanded to 25 schools throughout 8 counties, serving over 525 children each week. Each bag includes: 2 breakfast items, 3 entrees, a loaf of bread, 2 shelf-stable milks, 2 juice boxes, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, 2 snacks (cookies, popcorn, pudding, etc.)
The MED Elementary School and the Middle School participated in the BackPack Program in 2017-2018 school year in collaboration with the Regional Food Bank of NENY. The program is now in its third year in Chatham. In 2016-17 30 backpacks to 27 families at MED and 14 families at the middle school were sent home each week. In 2017-2018 at MED they sent 30 backs to 25 families (1 family got 3 backpacks for 6 children; 3 families got 2 backpacks. In 2017-2018 the middle school had an increase from 10 to 18 bags going home each week.
The food was provided by the Regional Food Bank in conjunction with the Ghent Food Pantry. (Ghent helps defray the cost of the program.) The program starts in early October and runs through the second week in June. The food arrived on Thursday morning. Staff stayed after school to pack the backpacks and added any supplemental food that staff brought in (fresh fruit and vegetables, milk cards, etc.) The food was sent home at the end of the day on Friday and the backpacks were returned early in the next week by the students.
Kevin Botsford (teacher) is currently in charge of the BackPack Program for MED. Originally the program was initiated by Michael Stead (teacher). Diane Hammon (administrative assistant) and Jackie Hoffman (School Counselor) will be coordinating it in the middle school. Students are recommended by staff, the school nurse, or at a parent request.
A letter goes home to all recommended students letting parents know about the program and, that unless we hear from them, their child will be enrolled. Students enrolled in the backpack program are kept confidential, just staff members know.