Northampton Public Schools Superintendent Blog

Highlights for December 2012 School Committee Meeting

Posted on: December 17, 2012

By: Justin S.

By: Justin S.

Bridge Street School

Music classes:

In the month of November students have explored Native American Music by playing hoop drums, rattles and tom toms to various songs and games.  Fourth graders also played a Native American pentatonic song on the recorders.

In the month of December some of our activities will include playing Jingle Bells on the recorders, movement to selections from the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, a few winter/ snow songs with xylophone accompaniment, and rhythm bands to accompany the March of the Toy Soldiers.

Art Classes:

Fifth grade is learning about drawing using the Laws of perspective.  They are drawing a road, and their names using perspective to create a 3 dimensional space on their papers.  They will also make an origami box to help demonstrate how a flat piece of paper can become a 3-dimensional object.

Fourth grade finished painting the plows!  They are beautiful and the DPW will be posting more pictures of them on their web site.  They are also creating intricate Henna patterns similar to the Middle Eastern art of Mehndi.

Third grade is learning about the African American artist Faith Ringgold, who paints images on handmade quilts creating her own story.  I read TarBeach to them, her first children’s book, and they drew a self portrait of them flying over their favorite place.  After they finished coloring they are framing them with cut and collaged fabric.

Second grade has been working on their city scapes after they learned how Northampton is a city and the differences between a town and a city.  They are using oil pastels and water colored paints.

First grade drew their version of Blue Dog, created by the French New Orleans artist Geprge Rodrique.  They are painting their dog a variety of colors, as Blue dog comes in all colors of the rainbow.

Kindergarten class is paper machet-ing masks, after they learned how masks are made by peoples from all over the world.  They will paint them and embellish them with feathers, pipe cleaners and beads.

RK Finn Ryan Road School

The young artists at RK Finn Ryan Road School, led by Leslie Macutkiewicz, have been busy recently creating in three mediums.  Native American and Mexican art have inspired children in all grades to explore with clay, particularly making clay animals in 2nd grade and tiles and coil pots in 4th grade.  Kindergarten and 2nd grade students have created wood sculptures – allowing them to explore and manipulate 3-D shapes and space.  Artists in 1st and 3rd grade have learned to work with oil pastels and watercolors as they make pieces inspired by Kandinsky and Van Gogh.  Finally, 5th graders have painted a lively mural on one of our city snowplows.  Watch for it as soon as the snow flies!

The RKFRR School musicians, under the direction of Kim O’Connell, have begun studying music from around the world.  Kindergarten and 1st grade students are singing and dancing to music from Ireland, while older students are learning songs and instrumental works from India, Mexico and Ghana.  Ewe drumming continues to engage 3rd graders in hand drumming and 4th and 5th graders with more complex stick drumming.  These works will be performed along with a whole school version of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from the Broadway show “Mary Poppins.”

Jackson Street School

The December holidays always provide us at Jackson St. with opportunities to discover what we have in common and where we have differences – in celebrating holidays and family traditions.  Ms. Brenda Lilly, our art teacher, has cultural and historical traditions through a variety of art projects.  The work is on display in our hallways and it includes drawing of hands that are painted in the Indian custom with henna (done by 4th graders), cave art paintings (done by kindergarteners) and doors of many colors, shapes and designs (by 2nd graders).

Ms. O’Connell has bee teaching/rehearsing the students as well as the staff/faculty ukulele band in anticipation of our Winter Solstice assembly on Dec. 19.  We gather each year, in theses dark days, to celebrate the return of the light and to light candles, one for each of the many holidays celebrated by our families at this time of year.

Leeds School

Well, the snow plow has left the building, as they say!  Actually, it was picked up by the Northampton D.P.W. to be taken back to the city garages to have a coat of sealer put on it.  The  snow plow painting was an idea that the DPW had asked us to do after seeing it done in Wisconsin.  The double wing plow was painted by the three 5th grade classes at Leeds School.  Mrs. Nieman’s, Mrs. Subocz’s, and Mrs. Maggio’s fifth grade classes along with two students from Clarke School went outside during Art class and designed, drew, and painted the design on the plow.  There were many interesting and thoughtful ideas for the plow.  We tried to put all the ideas for the designs together to form three different options from which the students voted on.  As some students painted the plow, others waited their turn by drawing outside or working on weaving projects.  It was a great experience for all and we are so thankful that the weather cooperated while we worked on it!  We are looking forward to seeing the plow drive by our school and neighborhood as soon as we get some snow!


The Department of Public Works and the K-8 Art Department have partnered up over the past couple months to theme and paint 5 snow plows that are presently getting sealed and will be used all over Northampton once snow falls!  Students from grades 6, 7, and 8 at JFK worked with Mrs. Mallory and Mr. Levine after school to draw and paint student generated images.  Keep your eyes open for the “Make Way for JFK” plow that incorporates the Husky Mascot, snowy valleys, snowmen, penguins, and kids playing outside, surrounded by big white teeth.

Seventh grade general music classes are beginning a unit learning and playing a song in the style of the Indonesian gamelan.  They will eventually play multiple parts in ensembles of nine students at a time.

On Saturday, November 3rd, members of the JFK “a cappella” singing group, the “J. F. Keys,” sang for the Annual Salute to Veterans Breakfast, put on by the Veterans Council of Northampton.  The event was held at the Elks Lodge 997 in Florence and was the first time that the J. F. Keys had been invited to perform outside of a school setting.

Eleven JFK students auditioned and were selected to the Western Mass Junior District Band, Orchestra and Male Chorus!

NHS Choral Director, Beau Flahive, and JFK Choral Director, Steve Hinks are combining their programs! Both the JFK 7th and 8th Grade Chorus and the NHS Chorus are working on an arrangement of the Beatles classic, “Hello, Goodbye.”  The groups will perform together during an assembly at JFK and at the NHS Chorus and Band Winter Concert.

Visiting Artist and former JFK student, Max Leftko- Everett, visited and created glass faces with 7th grade students.  Max will join us three more times so that every seventh grader has the chance to make a personal glass face.


We are launching our Toys for Tots campaign on December 10th which will benefit 34 local children.  We are holding our annual school-wide Poetry Slam on Thursday, the 13th which the students and staff are eagerly awaiting.  Our Improv Troupe held a benefit for the Northampton Survival Center in our new Blackbox Theater.

The Northamptones and NHS Chorus had a full month of events planned including a school concert at Bridge Street School, the annual tree-lighting at Pulaski Park, a choral festival at Helen Hills Chapel, and the First Night Celebration at the Academy of Music at at 7 p.m.

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