Ben Franklin, courtesy of a costumed actor from the Historical Perspectives for Children company, will visit with Donaghue School fifth-graders on Friday, Jan. 30 at 9:30 a.m. Franklin will talk about his role in writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as well as his inventions along the way, such as the Franklin stove, the lightning rod, swim fins and bifocals.

A printer by trade, Franklin was so successful he "retired" at age 42 and then became a revolutionary at age 70, a position for which he is most well known.

This educational program, which is sponsored by the Merrimac PTO, coincides with the students' classroom studies.

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The popular after-school explorations programs offered at the Sweetsir and Donaghue schools begin the week of Jan. 26. The classes run for one hour after school dismissal and most classes run for six weeks.

Students at the Sweetsir School in kindergarten through second grade will be enjoying such classes as soccer, winter crafts, line dancing, Spanish and adventures with American Girl. For the third- through sixth-graders at the Donaghue School, there will be afternoons of digital photography, ceramics, clowning around, Legotopia and cheerleading.

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Wednesday, Jan. 28 will be a 90-minute early release day at the elementary schools. Donaghue students will be released at 1:20 p.m. and Sweetsir students will be dismissed at 1:30 p.m. That day there will be no school for regular morning kindergarteners as afternoon kindergarteners will attend for the day.

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The schools are well on their way to reaching their goal of Box Tops collections for the year, which is $2,000. The latest check received was for more than $800 for Box Tops collected from March to October 2008. Each Box Top collected is redeemed for 10 cents. The last collection for this year is at the end of February.

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Last week's PTO fundraiser at the Amesbury Flatbread Pizza Company restaurant saw a great turnout and raised nearly $500. The money will be used by the Merrimac PTO to fund programs for the benefit of the children of the Sweetsir and Donaghue schools.

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Michelle Pelletier Marshall reports on the Rowley and Merrimac elementary schools. She can be reached at marshallsinmass@comcast.net.

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