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McCann School Committee Applauds Students for Tornado Relief Drive
By Brian Rhodes, iBerkshires Staff
04:19AM / Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Members of the McCann School Committee congratulated students on Thursday for their work collecting donations for technical school students in Mayfield, Ky. 


Led by students Cecilia Marszalek and Jakob Wood, students collected gifts and donations late last month to help students struggling in the aftermath of a destructive tornado. McCann Principal Justin Kratz said a total of 239 boxes were donated for the cause, weighing in at about 5,000 pounds. 


"I knew something would happen," he said. "But I had no idea how much was going to happen." 


Kratz said SkillsUSA and Business Professionals of America students from the school were more than willing to help out in whatever way they could. 


"I said, 'All right, I know you guys got a lot going on, so I'm going to throw another thing at you. How many of you are interested in doing this,'" he said. "They volunteered times before school during lunches after school, and they were all about it. They said, 'Yep. We'll definitely help out. We're more than happy to do this.'" 


Northern Berkshire Vocational School District Superintendent James Brosnan said this kind of giving, especially around the holidays, is crucial for the people of Mayfield, many of whom lost everything. 


"It was just an incredible outpouring," he said. "I think all of the images of it say that we always help our fellow citizens, and we always help somebody in need. And I think it's a really good lesson for all of us as adults, but it was a terrific lesson for the students." 


In addition to bedding, linens and other necessities, one item Brosnan said was a particularly common donation was hand-powered can openers. He said this item is something requested following natural disasters where there is often no electricity. 


"People were bringing them in by the dozens," he said. 


Kratz called this donation item especially telling, from his perspective, as it showed that the students were actively empathizing and thinking about what people in that situation would need. 


"For our kids to take what they see on TV and hear on the news and process it down to the level of, 'Oh, yeah, they do need a can opener. Oh, wait a minute, formula because there are babies down there,'" he said. "Our kids are great kids, but when you're 15 your world kind of revolves around you and that's natural. That's completely normal, but for them to say, 'Oh, man, there's a baby down there that's gonna need diapers.' For them to see that was really, I think, good for them." 


Committee Chair Gary Rivers said this donation drive was a perfect example of the student's following the school's mission, which is posted in every classroom. 


"I believe if you read through that, you're going to see somewhere in there that it says that 'we strive to develop socially responsible students.' And I think we're living our mission," he said. "We're living our vision. When we put something like that together, it just shows you how much thought went into that and what we were actually trying to do as a school. This is a perfect example of how that played out." 


Also at the meeting, the board approved a $73,495 bid for a robotic welding machine. This machine is being paid for, according to Brosnan, by a capital skills grant that the school received explicitly for purchasing such equipment.

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