Greenfield Center School Celebrates 25 Years

With Music, Events Throughout 2006

Greenfield/Athol/Orange Town Crier

January 20, 2006, p. 3

What do Mel Levine, Sarah Pirtle, and Wild Asparagus have in common? They are all part of the January events planned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Greenfield Center School.


Critical Thinking – Middles students (3rd & 4th graders) sculpt a ten pound block of ice that they were given by Rice Oil Company. As part of their science unit on the properties of ice, the class visited the Rice Oil Companies ice manufacturing plant. The students asked many questions during their tour that developed from experiments that they devised to discover the various factors influencing the melting and freezing points of ice. – photo by: Donna Elwell

For 25 years, Greenfield Center School (GCS) has provided area families with an educational alternative that has successfully combined academic, social, and emotional learning. Offering multi-age classes – kindergarten through eighth grade – with an 8/1 student/teacher ratio, Center School has graduated 327 eighth grade students.

In the same spirit of innovation, GCS has continued to develop new teaching methods emphasizing collaborative problem-solving, multiple intelligences, and diverse learning styles. The most current focus of the GCS staff is the work of Mel Levine, whose research on the human brain is instructive for teachers to understand the unique learning profile of every child. Dr. Laura Baker, Director of GCS, will be presenting Mel Levine’s work to the Center School parent community during the GCS Annual Meeting, January 19, at 6:30 p.m.Greenfield Center School has a long history as an educational innovator. GCS was founded in 1981 as a laboratory school of Northeast Foundation for Children (NEFC). Together, the staff of the school and NEFC developed a new approach to learning called the Responsive Classroom. NEFC web-site states: “Thousands of classroom teachers and hundreds of schools and school districts have used the Responsive Classroom approach. In urban, rural, and suburban settings nationwide, educators using these strategies report increases in student investment, responsibility, and learning, and decreases in problem behaviors.” The Responsive Classroom approach has been shared with all Greenfield Public Schools elementary teachers as part of GCS commitment to developing just communities.

Begun before the era of charter schools, GCS depends upon tuition paying families to fund the school. No monies come from the local towns, the state, or the federal government. GCS mission is to integrate challenging academics with ethical decision-making to develop the skills and convictions for creating just communities. The Board of Directors is dedicated to keeping GCS tuition affordable and offers an extremely generous financial aid program – current tuition is $8407. A third of the student body receives, on average, $3000 in aid.

Each year the school offers Admissions Open Houses in order for students and their families to explore the school and meet the teachers. GCS accepts applications on a rolling admissions basis, space permitting and encourages families who are interested in enrollment for September 2006 to apply by February 3, 2006. GCS has several openings in kindergarten, 1st, 4th, and 6th grades for next year and a few openings in other grades. For application information, contact the Director of Admissions at 413-773-1700 or

GCS cordially invites everyone to the next Admission Open House on January 28, 10- noon; 10 a.m. singer Sarah Pirtle in free, fun, and interactive sing-along; 10:30 AM activities in Classrooms. K-4. Children are encouraged to investigate activities. GCS teachers will be available to answer parents’ questions about academic curriculum, discipline, and social learning; 11:30 Birthday Cake and Pre-school Expo. Preschools will share information about their programs.

Sarah Pirtle has been performing for children and families for over thirty years and travels across the country bringing joyful music that builds community. She has received eight national awards for her children’s music and is the main founder of the Children’s Music Network. Pete Seeger has said, “If you want to hear some of the best songs out there today for children, listen to Sarah Pirtle.”

Wild Asparagus. A 25th anniversary celebration wouldn’t be complete without dancing, so GCS invites the public to a Family Contra Dance featuring Wild Asparagus. The proceeds will benefit GCS due to the efforts of band members, Ann Percival and David Cantieni who are Center School parents! Join the fun on January 22, 3-5:30 p.m. at the Guiding Star Grange. Tickets, $8/adults, $6/seniors & students, $4/kids 5-13 years, can be purchased at the door. “Dancing is Fun!” tee shirts, with original artwork by Ann Percival, will be on sale.

Wild Asparagus is a five-person band from Western Massachusetts. Drawing upon music from New England, the British Isles, and Canada, as well as classical sources, Wild Asparagus takes an original approach to the traditional dance music of our folk heritage. Using their unique blend of instruments, creativity, and skills, they offer a sensitive and powerful performance. Since 1984, Wild Asparagus has been highly successful in bringing their music to dances and concerts throughout the United States.

Weekend events: Saturday, January 21, 10:00 a.m., Admissions Open House; Sunday, January 22, 3 p.m., Family Contra Dance.

Upcoming Celebrations: March 8, 4 p.m., A Tea Party for prospective parents and GCS teachers; April 13, 6 p.m., The Center School Museum: An Exhibition of Student Work. May 13, morning ’til night, 25th Anniversary Community Celebration.

For more information about Greenfield Center School, call (413) 773-1700 or visit

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