WEST NEWBURY — The School Committee accepted more than $15,500 in donations this week aimed at improving educational experience for students in the Pentucket Regional School District. The bulk of the funding came from the nonprofit Pentucket Education Foundation (PEF).
At a meeting on Tuesday PEF President Anna Marie Beech presented the school board with two donations totaling over $10,000. In collaboration with a group of Pentucket alumni led by Sandy Berkenbush, her brother, Scott Berkenbush, and his wife, Jeannie, the foundation contributed $5,050 toward a multi-curriculum project slated for later this spring at the high school.
The project, titled “Civil,” ties together ninth- and 10th-grade social studies, English and fine and performing arts classes in an investigation of both the Civil War and Civil Rights eras in America. Students and teachers will conduct research at the National Archives and the JFK Library in Boston, visit the Custom House in Newburyport, speak with local historical organizations and read Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
At the conclusion of their research, students will offer an artistic interpretation of the topic to the public. The donation was funded from the proceeds of Pentucket Rocks, an annual chicken and steak barbecue held at the Berkenbush home. To date, the alumni event has raised $14,000 in support of the high school.
Beech also presented a $5,000 grant PEF secured from Boston Center for the Blind for the purchase of iPads, accessories and professional development to be used by students with autism in classes at Sweetsir Elementary School in Merrimac. The equipment should help students communicate more effectively and improve literacy and other academic skills. “For some students, the iPad will provide their primary means of communication during the day,” Beech said.
The district received a $5,100 award from the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank’s Richard A. Eaton Charitable Foundation. The foundation, established last May to honor retired CEO Richie Eaton, aims to help offset user fee costs for athletes in grades K-12 in the Amesbury, Newburyport, Pentucket and Triton school districts.