AHS Softball Player Signs with Siena

by Sue LaRoche

Nastasha Powlowsky

Most young athletes dream about the day that they can play their sport at a Division 1 school.  Nastasha Powlowsky will realize that dream as she signed a letter of intent to attend Siena College, a small school of 2900 located in Loudonville New York, just outside of Albany.  

Nastasha, or “Nasty” as she was dubbed by one of her softball coaches, has been playing softball for 9 years.  She began with the Hudson Heat, has played for the Hudson Outkasts, Dracut Dirt Devils and for the past three years has played for the Polar Crush out of Worcester, Massachusetts.  Powlowsky is currently coached by Robyn King, a 4 year softball player for Boston University and Sara Jewett, a 4 year Hall of Famer for University of Maine Orono.  Dave Weaver, of Salem’s Play Ball, has also been instrumental in Powlowsky’s development as a catcher.

Powlowsky is sponsored by several local businesses including Etchstone Properties, DLB Paving, Hudson Animal Hospital, Dr. Todd Orthodontist and Kathy Taylor of ERA Massiello Real Estate and Cahill’s.  Playing with the Crush, Powlowsky has done her share of traveling including California, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma.  Her team went to the 18U Gold Nationals last year as she had an opportunity to play at Olympic Stadium.  

Nastasha signs letter of intent.

Captain of this year’s AHS softball team, Powlowsky looks forward to playing her final year for Alvirne.  Head Coach Denis Rioux credits “Powlowsky’s hard work during and beyond the season to better herself.”  Rioux continued, “Nastasha quickly established herself as one of the top catchers in the league and a consistent cleanup hitter.  I’m glad that she will be able to enjoy her senior season this spring with this decision behind her.” 

Proud parents Melissa and Mike, and younger sister Mikayla, who also plays softball, are “proud of Nastasha.  She has worked hard and we are pleased to see her get to do what she wants to do.”  Powlowsky hopes to study business and marketing while at Siena, and she would like to continue to play softball, perhaps at a semiprofessional level.

Powlowsky feels like “all of the hard work was definitely worth it.”  There were several schools that Powlowsky was exploring, including Boston College, University of Maine Orono, St. John’s and Towson State (Maryland).  The atmosphere and size of Siena were the most appealing to Powlowsky and, “The girls at the school were really nice,” said Powlowsky. 

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Fifth-Graders Visit Soup Kitchen

Library Street 5th graders show the placemats they made in donation to the Nashua Soup Kitchen.

Fifth-grade students at Hudson’s Library Street School completed their fourth annual field trip to the Nashua Soup Kitchen on Wednesday, November 14, to deliver handmade placemats and donations of canned food.  Each year, Mr. Crivac, Mrs. Ditolla and art teacher Mrs. Burnett, coordinate this trip to offer their students the opportunity to not only do something for others but to go and see where their donations end up.

Soup Kitchen manager Doug always takes the time to speak with the students.  As a nonprofit organization, Doug relies solely on donations.  The soup kitchen is open daily.  More than 100 families are served meals and still more stop by to get food. 

“You may not think about this kind of problem every day, but it exists,” said Doug.  Donations of baked goods and bagels arrived while students listened to Doug’s central message; education or learning a trade is the singlemost important tool you can have to ensure you can provide for yourself in the future.

Doug has been a regular fixture for the past 10 years.  “I love my job.  These people have taught me how to be a better person,” he said.  He recounted stories of patrons who may not have money to spare but will help shovel snow and give of themselves with time and energy.  Head cook, Tammy, revealed the favorite meals were shepherd’s pie and American chop suey.  Many students agreed.  Hannaford’s Supermarket donates fruits and vegetables that otherwise would be discarded.  Costco and area restaurants donate breads and leftovers. 

Most students didn’t have any idea what a soup kitchen was or its function in the community before the field trip.  Hopefully now they will have a greater appreciation for what they have.  “Go home and hug your parents for providing you with a good life,” suggested Doug.

While national disasters are in the forefront in the media, just a few miles away are families in need of the basics.  “They feel that if they have three things: friends, food and a roof over their head, they are okay,” concluded Doug.  “We are here to help.”  His gratitude showed on his face as he accepted the students’ placemats with the message, “We Care!”  He also thanked those who stopped by with donations and listened when others spoke. This perhaps is one of the most educational field trips for the students.

“It was our hope as teachers to instill a sense of community and compassion along with a desire to invest in their educational futures,” agreed Mr. Crivac, Mrs. Ditolla and Mrs. Burnett.  Call 889-7770 or visit the soup kitchen’s Website http://www.nsks.org/ to find out how to help. 

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Childfind Prepares Kids for First Grade

by Doug Robinson

Raising children has become very difficult as parents find themselves balancing time among work, play and their primary responsibility of raising children.  Television, radio and the print media continuously host how-to programs, self-help programs and how to be a better “whatever.”  Parents constantly assess their parenting skills as they watch their little Johnny begin to walk, talk and interact with other children.   The process of parenting learning skills for children has become as competitive as the soccer parent, football parent or baseball parent who shouts “words of encouragement” from the stands while watching the games. 

“Over three dozen pre-school facilities feed our first grades in Litchfield” said Dr. Rhonda Gregg, director of special services, “and we want every child to have a positive experience when they enter the first grade.  We have a program called Childfind and this program helps identify those children who may have opportunities with their motor skills, concepts, language, social development and behavioral skills.  Each year we invite parents to sign their child up for one of our two Childfind Clinics where we provide a questionnaire for parents to fill out as well as our have our staff presents to access children who parents feel may need some special attention.”

Members of Childfind include Katie McGarry, speech/language pathologist; Samantha DePloey, preschool teacher/special educator; Tina Cady, kindergarten teacher/special educator; Carrie Conway, occupational therapist; Sandra Superior, preschool teacher/special educator; and Gregg.  

The questionnaire includes areas on: motor skills, investigation of the child’s ability to catch, jump, hop, skip, build with blocks, use thumbs and fingers, cutting, copying and writing his or her name.  The concepts area of the questionnaire investigates awareness of body parts, colors, rapid coloring, counting, positions (under, beside, behind), the concepts of longest, most, empty, as well as shapes.  Language investigates awareness of personal data such as name, age, birthday and articulation of such words as cup, plane, clock, pencil, letters and sound of the alphabet, problem solving and rhyming.

The questionnaire also includes the child’s personal and medical history, self-help development skills, social development skills as well as questions involving behavior.  “Sticks to one activity (listens to a story, does coloring) for at least 15 minutes at a time, plays with toys without breaking them, smiles, giggles, or  laughs in response to something funny” list only a few of the 35 questions.  Tasks such as “drinks from a straw, button large buttons, blows and wipes nose without being asked and puts shoes on correct feet” also are asked.

Each section of the survey has a weight and a score is generated for each child. Childfind educators are positioned to work with parents to further the child’s education.  “Childfind provides preventive services for those children who are about to enter the first grade” commented Kate McGarry.  “We have school programs and home programs in which the parents are encouraged to work with their children to help them improve.  We have followed up materials and programs with which we use to follow up on the child’s improvement.” 

Conway said, “If we find a child during the screening process that is holding the pencil incorrectly, or is holding the scissors upside down, we are able to work with that child one on one to improve their skills.  It is amazing how many children we have tested who hold the scissors upside down.  All the crayons we use have been cut down to pinching size so that the kids are required to hold the writing tool correctly.”

Childfind educators work with tools such as those provided by Handwriting Without Tears in efforts to help children make handwriting more legible and fluent.  “The curriculum uses multi-sensory techniques and consistent habits for letter formation to teach handwriting to all students — pre-K through cursive. In addition, HWT provides parents and teachers techniques and activities to help improve a child’s self-confidence, pencil grip, body awareness, posture and so much more” states the programs syllabus.  “Handwriting Without Tears® uses fun, entertaining and educationally sound principles.

“We want to have parents call us,” Gregg said.  “While we have two clinics a year, spring and fall, we want parents to come to us with their concerns.  We are here to help parents and we do not want parents to be afraid to ask us for help.  By working together, each child’s will experience in the first grade will be more rewarding and more successful.”

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