Snow Sports Essay Contest

RECESS | Things to do this week: Enter an essay contest, explore the 'Four Freedoms,' learn to ski


Meet ...

Sign up soon: The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and The Family Place are offering "Guiding Good Choices," an evidence-based program for parents of children ages 9 to 14 years old designed to improve healthy family communication and reduce youth substance use. The program will be offered from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in January, beginning Jan. 23, at the Mary Spitzer Center, 116 Ashland St., North Adams. Food and child care are provided. To register or for more information, call 413-663-7588 or email

Think ...

Friday is the deadline to submit an entry for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Essay Contest. Submissions may be in essay or poetry form, but should not exceed one page. Writers should relate their entry to the following prompt: What can I do personally and how can we work together to build a world where all feel included?

On a separate piece of paper, write out the entrant's name, email address, street address, telephone number, school and grade. Do not attach it to the essay with staples, but mail them in together to: 2017 Berkshire Eagle MLK Jr. Day Contest, 75 South Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.

The top three essay writers will be given the opportunity to read their essay at one of the following MLK Jr. Day events in Berkshire County on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m.: Cantilena Chamber Choir MLK Tribute Concert at Trinity Church, 88 Walker St., in Lenox; or the "Delivering the Dream" celebration at Second Congregational Church, 50 Onota St., Pittsfield.

For questions or more information, contact Gary Lavariere at 413-496-6310.

See ...

The Norman Rockwell Museum will present "75th Anniversary Talk: Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms," at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at the museum, 9 Glendale Road (Route 183), in Stockbridge.

Inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt's iconic 1941 speech about freedoms of speech and worship, and freedoms from want and fear, the museum's Chief Curator Stephanie Plunkett and Curator of Education Tom Daly will explore the transformation of those Four Freedoms from abstract words into concrete images in Rockwell's paintings. Refreshments will be served. This even is included in museum admission. Info: 413-298-4100 or

Play ...

A new, free "South County STEM for Little Scientists" program starts this month at the Lenox Community Center, 65 Walker St., in Lenox. Sessions are held from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Fridays, Jan. 5, 12, 19 and 26. The sessions inspired by fun ways of exploring science, technology, engineering and mathematics will be led by Berkshire Museum staff and are designed for children ages 2 to 8 years old. Reservations are recommended and can be done by calling 413-464-5095. Learn more at

Grow ...

The Trustees of Reservations is offering a "Learn to Ski Program" at Notchview Reservation, Route 9 in Windsor. Individual and group lessons are offered on Saturdays and Sundays through March 31, as weather permits. The cost for three group lessons is $65 per youth, $80 per adult; one day packages are $30 per youth or $45 per adult. These packages include equipment rentals, instruction and a day pass. For more information or to register, call 413-684-0148 or email


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Student honored in essay contest

CHERISE MADIGAN - MANCHESTER JOURNAL Language arts teacher Katherine Monahan, eighth-grade student Tobianna Aldrich and social studies teacher Chris Scudder at Manchester Elementary and Middle School.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE VT BAR ASSOCIATIONTobianna Aldrich, from left, Vermont Bar Association President Dan Maguire, VBA Past President Michael Kennedy, VBA Diversity Section representative Jessica Brown and VBA Executive Director Teri Corsones.


By Cherise Madigan, Manchester Journal

MANCHESTER — Eighth-grader Tobianna Aldrich had a dream, a dream that recently came to life when she was recognized at the Vermont Statehouse as the first-runner-up in a statewide essay contest.

The contest, coordinated by the Vermont Bar Association in conjunction with its Diversity Section and Young Lawyers Division, urged middle school students to grapple with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.

Students were required to create a poster and write a short essay on what the speech meant to them, with three finalists selected from throughout Vermont. Aldrich, a student at Manchester Elementary-Middle School (MEMS), was excited to hear that she had been selected — though not at first.

"I was nervous because my teacher called me at my house," Aldrich said, noting that it had been a snow day. "I thought that I was in trouble."

The contest had first been presented to students by social studies teacher Chris Scudder and language arts teacher Katherine Monahan. Though multiple students began entries, they said, Aldrich was the only one to follow through.

"Tobianna really took the initiative, and wanted to push herself to do an extra assignment," Monahan said, noting that the pair revised the essay approximately six times. "She came up with a beautiful essay that she should be really proud of."

"It's a chance to express themselves in different avenues, and incorporate art as well as their writing skills," Scudder added.

Aldrich says that she's long enjoyed writing and history, and reveled in the opportunity to combine the two in her own fashion.

"I found it intriguing because I've always enjoyed his speech; I thought it would be a good challenge," she said. "I focused on the symbolism in his speech and how it related to today's world. I used the example of how more equality makes America better; how if we all come together it will make us stronger."

Inspired by King's simile "justice rolls like water," Aldrich continued the thought in her essay, stating: "One raindrop comes, then more and more until there's so much rain that it breaks through like a dam, and water floods through the streets. If one person is brave enough to stand up to inequality more people will follow until there is justice for all."

"I think that was a beautiful metaphor for working together," Monahan added. "Especially right now in this country."

To bring that symbolism to life in her poster, Aldrich illustrated an umbrella with raindrops falling upon it, bearing keywords from King's speech including "justice," "equality," and "brotherhood." That poster, along with Aldrich's essay and those of fellow finalists, will be on display at Vermont's Supreme Court building throughout the month of January.

Last week the finalists ventured to Montpelier to be honored by Governor Phil Scott, who spoke on the importance of Dr. King's message today. Following the ceremony students attended a Statehouse tour, and were invited to the Vermont Supreme Court to be greeted by Chief Justice Paul Reiber.

"Going to Montpelier was a great opportunity for students who wanted to get an inside look at the statehouse and a full tour, as well as meeting the governor," said Scudder, who accompanied Aldrich for the ceremony. "The school is so proud of Tobianna for being recognized."

"She's truly a model student, and an asset to the MEMS community," Monahan added. "Students like Tobianna make teaching fun."

Reach Cherise Madigan at, or by phone at 802-490-6471.


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