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Sen i Judo Free: September - November

September 12, 2018

Brimfield – Sensei Israel Lopez and Sensei Aaron Cote are pleased to announce there will be Free Judo classes at Hitchcock Academy with the Seni Judo Club from September  through November 29th!  That is a $165 value.  Students may purchase a gi (the white garb usually worn) if they wish but it is not mandatory for this 3 month introduction. 

 Judo, the gentle way, is an Olympic sport,  intended to train the body and mind. It involves using holds and leverage to unbalance the opponent. Sensei Lopez feels it is important to offer this event for free to be able to spread the word about what Judo is, its discipline.

 When asked about Judo, Sensei Lopez replied, “ Students’ practice helps them to develop discipline, confidence, team-work, fitness, and fun. When asked why is it so important in Judo to lean Ukemi Waza first,  I like to quote Ken Miarecki Sensei. “Judoka that are afraid to fall, will never be able to achieve victory with a throw.”  That is my favorite quote because it translates into life.  “Those that are afraid to fail, seldom succeed.”

 When asked, Hitchcock’s Executive Director, Susan Gregory shared her thoughts.  “Our goal at Hitchcock is to help enrich lives for all ages through all kinds of programs.  Judo has a special niche, it is a place where students work together and develop a great skill which they can carry with them, with confidence, for a lifetime.”

 Judo classes are held all year round. Mondays & Thursdays 4:30-5:45 (6:00 on Thursdays) Ages 14- Adults meet Thursdays & on Sundays 11:30 (times may vary) for private lessons, adults and advanced instruction. For details and to register for free classes through November, contact Sensei Israel Lopez call 413 279-4330 or email sjudoclub@yahoo.com

Weekly Calendar Update:

Monday, September 17th       

FAMILY FOUNDATIONS 5: Playgroup: This free program for preschool aged children is sponsored by the Union 61 Family Foundation 5 Grant. Time: 9:00-11:00 AM Dates: Mondays when school is in session until May 2019. Pre-register your child by calling Karen Distefano at 508-867-2232 or emailing union61cfce@tantasqua.org.

WEIGHT WATCHERS: Traditional Weight Watchers meetings! Times: Weigh-in/Registrations: 5:30PM Meeting: 6:00 PM Leader: Angela Kramer. Visit www.weightwatchers.com to become a member or to learn more about Weight Watchers.

SEN-I JUDO CLUB: This course runs all year long and is well suited for all levels of practitioners including beginners! Call Sensei Israel Lopez 413 279-4330 for more information.

Tuesday, September 18th

ART GROUP: Participants enjoy time to socialize, draw and paint together informally without instruction. No pre-registration required. Bring your own supplies and enjoy! Free will Donations are welcome. Time: 9-11:30AM Contact Hitchcock at 413 245 9977 for more information.

Wednesday, September 19th

FAMILY FOUNDATIONS 5: Music & Movement: This free program for preschool aged children is sponsored by the Union 61 Family Foundation 5 Grant. Time: 9:00-10:00 AM Dates: Wednesdays when school is in session until May 2019. Pre-register your child by calling Karen Distefano at 508-867-2232 or emailing union61cfce@tantasqua.org.

Thursday, September 20th

FAMILY FOUNDATIONS 5: STEAM Group: This free program for preschool aged children is sponsored by the Union 61 Family Foundation 5 Grant. Time: 9:00-10:00 AM Dates: Thursdays when school is in session until May 2019. Pre-register your child by calling Karen Distefano at 508-867-2232 or emailing union61cfce@tantasqua.org.

SEN-I JUDO CLUB: This course runs all year long and is well suited for all levels of practitioners including beginners! Call Sensei Israel Lopez 413 279-4330 for more information.

AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE FOR BEGINNERS PART I: ASL is a visual language using hands, facial and body expressions. Learn about deaf culture and mostly come and have fun! Laughter guaranteed. (6 classes) Dates: 7:15-8:15 PM Thursdays, September 20 - October 25 Fee: $38 Instructor: May Marques, Rehabilitation Counselor for the Deaf, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission. Contact Hitchcock at 413 245 9977 or www.hitchcockacademy.org to register.

Friday, September 21st

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS: Traditional open AA meetings in a friendly setting. Come early to chat and share in refreshments. Time: 7:30 PM

Saturday, September 22nd  

TAI CHI with DAVID: Warm up with 30 minutes of Chi Kung, switching to simple form work and into some more advanced forms. Approachable for all levels. Preregistration required. If not enough students have registered by the Monday before the workshop, it will be cancelled. Time: 9-11 AM Fee: $23 Instructor: David Masera. Contact Hitchcock at 413 245 9977 or www.hitchcockacademy.org to register.

FARMERS’ MARKET: Shop local producers of fruits, vegetables, meat, ice cream, essential oils, candles, jams, flowers, baked goods and more at Hitchcock on Saturdays from April to October. No Farmers’ Market during the Brimfield Antiques Show in May, July, or September.

Sunday, September 23rd

SUNDAY TEA SOCIAL: Hitchcock Academy’s own Diana Caissie guides you through several tastings of tea and conversation. Topics include the history and folklore of tea, memories of your first cup of tea, and more! Wear your Sunday Best or whatever you feel comfortable in. Bring your favorite tea cup along! Time: 1:00-3:00 PM Fee: $5 Instructor: Diana Caissie. Contact Hitchcock at 413 245 9977 or www.hitchcockacademy.org to register.

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Brimfield -  International Make Music Day is Thursday, June 21 and Make Music Day Brimfield will be at Hitchcock Academy and alive with tunes, drumming, and humming from 6-8PM!  The evening of music is free thanks to our generous sponsors: SmokestackUSA.com, NoonanEnergy.com, TraffordPainting.com, Sullivan andCompany RealEstate.com, FireFightingEquipment.com and Hitchcock’s Alice Sawin Davis Fund.  International Make Music Day was created to celebrate music and the arrival of SUMMER!  If you were to visit www.makemusicday.org , you would find a lisiting of programs being held around the world.


Hitchcock Academy director, Sue Gregory says, “ I love music, I love our community, and when I first heard about International Make Music Day on an NPR story in 2016, I knew we had to join the world in celebration of the Summer Solstice! I have always taken a liking to watching the sky and noticing the changes of the moon, the stars, and the seasons. This event is one of two we have planned for 2018 that include the universe.  The second event is ‘Sip & Stars: Beer & Wine Tasting’ during the meteror showers on August 8th  with our sponsors Rapscallion Brewery and Brimfield Winery. I am looking forward to enjoying both events this year.”


In our small corner of the world in  Brimfield, MA you will have two hours of musical treats including Southbridge’s Bells and Beaus ringing in the evening. A teen duo, Watson & Co will perform followed by Linda Day and Jodi Stevens who are both music instructors at Hitchcock.  New England Weather, with Jared Fiske, Jessica Adams and Rob Adams are a local favorites with wonderful harmonies.  Amherst singer, song writer, Luke DeRoy will be joining us as well.   Tim Kane will be leading a drumming circle for all to join him and drums are provided, just bring some enthusiasm!   There will be a brief commemoration and a reveal of two Sawin family portrait photos from the late 1800’s donated from Alice Sawin Davis’ family. Mrs. Davis left funding for Hitchcock to support musical programs for years at Hitchcock.  We will culminate the evening with a hum along on kazoos (provided) so we can all make music together!  We will be taking request throughout the evening so come and join the fun!

Due to the winter storm, Hitchcock Academy will be closed on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018


Hitchcock Receives a Grant from the

Community Foundation of Western MA to install a new boiler at Hitchcock. The grant was funded by The Buxton Charitable Foundation Fund, Bank of America, Trustee - $4,100 and The Lochridge-Watkins Charitable Foundation administered by Bank of America, Trustee - $3,200. Noonan Energy installed the boiler on January 30th and we all rejoiced that we can get plenty of hot water from the tap and the heat in the basement now has programmable thermostats! Along with a much more efficiant boiler, these improvements should save on our oil bill and we are compliant with Board of Health water temperature regulations. Please join us in liking this post as a thank you to the

Genealogy & DNA

Hitchcock Free Academy was founded in 1855 by Samuel Austin Hitchcock. In 2018, Dave Robison is teaching Genealogy classes at Hitchcock and low and behold, they are related.  Dave knew he had the name Hitchcock in his family tree and when he traced it back, he discovered he was Mr. Hitchcock’s 4th cousin, 4x removed.  They shared 7th great grandparents, John Calvin Hitchcock born 1642 and Hannah Chapin born 1644. 

If you ask Dave how he got into Genealogy, he will tell you his story,

“In 1969, I received a letter from a cousin I never knew and would not meet for another 25 years.  It was a brief 4-generation outline of my paternal family beginning with a great grandfather who was born in 1849.  1849!?!?   I couldn’t get my teenage head wrapped around that concept!  1849…. The letter held my interest for a couple of days.  I asked my father if he knew anything about the information in the letter.  He knew his own immediate family: mother, father, grandmother and a couple of half-siblings, but that was the extent of what he knew or was willing to share.  The letter was folded and safely put away for almost 30 years.  “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!” was the typical response from him about his family and pretty much the same from my mother.  I knew her mother, my grandmother, as she lived next store to us in the old Victorian duplex in Springfield, MA along with my 2 maiden aunts.  “What you don’t know won’t hurt you!”


Dave is now the owner of Old Bones Genealogy of New England, he specializes in family research, teaches classes and is a consultant.


If you enjoy digging into your family history, you may be interested in joining  Dave Robison for his genealogy classes coming soon. 

His class on DNA research teaches you about the remarkable, constantly evolving science. But DNA doesn’t do the research for you! Keep in mind, not all testing companies are equal and they all do not perform the same test. Find out what DNA is all about, what it can do and how you can use it to your advantage.

The DNA class will be held 6:30-8:00, Wednesday Jan 31, Fee: $15 *Note Dave is generously donating his pay back to the Friends of Hitchcock to support the mission of providing educational, recreational and cultural programs to our community.                                                                                 

If you want to dive in deeper than DNA, try his class on genealogy research to learn how to discover multiple generations of your family: what documents to look for & where to find them; how to interpret what you’ve found...Become a family history detective! Create pedigree charts & learn the basics of expanding them into a variety of family history. You’ll be introduced to a wide variety of free & subscription based genealogy websites.

Pulling the People out of the Paperwork: Dates: 6:30-8:00 A) Wed Jan 31 Fee: $15 *Note Dave is donating his pay back to the Friends of Hitchcock B) Wednesdays & Thursdays Feb 7,8,14,15 Fee: $45 Instructor: Dave Robison, Professional Genealogist

 Mr. Hitchcock always longed for a high school education. Since he was too poor to afford one in 1812, he was determined to make it a reality for many when he returned to Brimfield in the 1850’s with the fortune he amassed, thus Hitchcock Free Academy was founded in 1955.

Mr. Hitchcock always longed for a high school education. Since he was too poor to afford one in 1812, he was determined to make it a reality for many when he returned to Brimfield in the 1850’s with the fortune he amassed, thus Hitchcock Free Academy was founded in 1955.

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Mr. Dave Robison stands beside a sketch of Mr. Hitchcock created by Hitchcock Trustee President, Christina Mealey.

New Year's Resolution: Back on Track Rescheduled to February 12

Each year, over 158 million Americans make a decision to participate in a time-honored event . . .the New Year’s Resolution; however; 92% will not reach their goal.

Why do the so many people give up?

It’s because those resolutions are anything but resolute. So, how do we make resolutions that are resolute? It’s a process that begins with self-reflection, followed by a strategic plan of action! Join resilience strategist Rita Schiano to uncover the habits that got you off your New Year’s Resolutions track so you, too, can be of the 8% who succeed.  (1 class)

Date: Monday, February 12

Time: 7-8:30pm

Fee: $20

Instructor: Rita Schiano,  Live a Flourishing Life

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 The Casters will perform August 1st on the Brimfield Common.

The Casters will perform August 1st on the Brimfield Common.

The Casters Perform at Brimfield’s Concerts on the Common

BRIMFIELD-Tuesday August 1st marks the final 2017 summer concert in a series of three free Concerts on the Common in Brimfield. The Casters, a Central Mass band, play a mix of covers and originals and musically can be described as a rock and roll band with roots rock and alt-country influencing their sound.

The Casters feature Jared Fiske and Sean McKinstry on guitar and vocals, Rob Adams on lead guitar and vocals, Ben Kowal on drums, Nick Smith on bass, and at this concert, special guest Jessica Adams will appear on backing vocals. With the exception of Jessica Adams, who is from Georgia, all members of the Casters are from Central Mass. Fiske, McKinstry and Smith are all alumni of Tantasqua Regional High School. The Casters have been a group for about three years. “I had been jonesing to put a rock act together, and I really just pulled in all the people who I knew and loved,” says Fiske. 

All members and ages of the community are invited to come out for the concert. The Concerts on the Common for 2017 have featured New England acts Radio Ranch and Gracie Day and the Knights performing for crowds that attended even despite torrential downpours. Locals headed out to this concert should know that the Casters look forward to putting on a great show for the community on Tuesday night. Fiske states, “We love that sense of community, and a free concert on a town common is such a beautiful American tradition. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

Fiske has played at the Concerts on the Common in the past and fondly recalls his first time being on stage at one. He was first learning the guitar when his father, Rob Adams, “pulled me up on stage for [a concert and] I remember looking out and seeing my girlfriend seeing me on stage and I was hooked.” Now Fiske’s drive to perform is based on a desire to play with friends and entertain audiences. “There are moments that are truly transcendent,” explains Fiske, “Those times when the music becomes more than the sum of its parts, and it goes out there and touches the audience and rounds its way back up to the stage. When you complete that circuit, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Fiske encourages all to attend the concert, “We love to play, and we can’t wait to play for you.” The concert begins at 6:30pm on Tuesday, August 1st. Be sure to bring a lawn chair or blanket for sitting but feel free to get up and dance. In the event of rain, the concert will be moved from the Brimfield Common to Hitchcock Academy. The Concerts on the Common are sponsored by funding from Country Bank for Savings, The Alice Sawin Davis Fund, and the Brimfield Cultural Council.  Contact Hitchcock Academy at 413-245-9977 or visit www.hitchcockacademy.org for additional information.


Buddies Dog Training at Hitchcock

BRIMFIELD-If you’ve been looking for a dog training class or want to build a better bond with your best friend, consider attending Buddies Dog Training at Hitchcock Academy with instructor Laurie Merritt. Merritt is a certified dog trainer with over 35 years of experience and is also a certified K9 NoseWork® instructor who wants to help you better understand the relationship between you and your dog.

Dogs and owners of any age or skill level are welcome to attend. However, the goal of the class is not to especially to avoid behaviors or teach tricks, “My underlying goal is to help people practice building a bond with their dog […] and when manners go with it, that is awesome.” The first session is attended by the owner only and the dog attends in subsequent classes.

The class works on developing the relationship between you and your dog as buddies who understand each other and work with each other. Merritt brings the philosophy that dogs are situational learners and don’t necessarily carry one skill from one physical location to another. She uses positive training with clickers and food treats as reinforcement for proper behavior. With positive training, “you’re always building a wonderful bond with your dog.” Merritt explains, “It’s a bit more of a cooperative relationship than ‘I’m in charge of you!’”

Buddies Dog Training starts Wednesday, July 26th at Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield. See www.hitchcockacademy.org for more information.

Training is just one aspect of the activities at Hitchcock Academy. 

The July 7th Friends and Family Friday event included how to train your dog to do a trick with Laurie Merritt and sponsored by Al Widlan’s Service Connection in Monson. 

AKC instructor, Laurie Merritt explained, “ When you teach a trick, employ a marker word the moment your dog does something right.  Be clear with your market word so they associate the word with your trick.” 

Babysitter training was also a great way to start the summer for 20 young babysitters-in-training.   attended the class to learn about child development milestones, poison dangers,  choking hazards and recue breathing as well as how to run your business. Layne Holcomb shared her insights about what she learned in the class, “ I think the most important thing I learned was to never leave the child unattended and I liked learning about the Heimlich maneuver.”   

Starting July 17th, Summer Fun will be in full swing for kids ages 3-12.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call 413 245-9977 for details on all of our summer offerings. 

Teach your Dog a Trick attendee Krystin Puckett said, “ Laurie is fantastic!  She makes it easy to learn to teach my dog Charlie, so she gets it.”

Twenty new Babysitter training graduates are eager to care for children with their new found knowledge about child safety. 

 Take a peek under a parachute to see what other fun is in store at Hitchcock this summer. 



Bringing Arts to the Community with Laura Cenedella

Brimfield-Laura Cenedella is an award winning local artist who specializes in plein air painting and bringing art to the community through classes at community centers, senior centers, and schools. Cenedella has also been using her art as a way to put some good into the world after a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) that has left her paralyzed at times.

Cenedella was born in Western Massachusetts and spent her early years on Cape Cod. In 3rd grade, she won the regional, state, and national levels of the Breakfast Bright Think Right art competition. She attended Holyoke High School where she majored in art. Cenedella did not jump into a career as an artist, though, and became a medical specialist for 7 years. After working in the medical field for some time, she started having health problems. She endured many surgeries and was paralyzed from the waist down for years. She recovered from the paralysis, but discovered the underlying cause of her health problems, MS. With the help of a therapist, she returned to art. “’Dig down, and find something you can do every day’ [so] I started painting,” says Cenedella. She did not let her health slow her devotion to art and continued to focus on bringing arts to the community through classes at schools, senior centers, and private lessons.

Cenedella has worked with many students of all ages and artistic and physical abilities. Cenedella says, “Art is so good for people.” She brings her service dog Crystal, a 5 year old standard poodle, who is an asset for her work with special needs students. Cenedella has won numerous awards for her work in the arts and in the community, but even with all of the awards and recognition, she stays humble. “Sometimes people care about your ribbons and your awards, but I care about the connection with the [students,]” says Cenedella.

This summer Cenedella will be holding two classes at Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield. Tips and Tricks to Drawing and Painting will focus on simple ways to draw and paint and cover such topics as color mixing and shape recognition. Learn to Paint like the Masters will show students several works by famous Master Painters and the student will then paint a “fake” in the class. Students will be in three age groups, 8-12, 13-17, and 18+. See www.hitchcockacademy.org for class times and more information. Cenedella also mentioned future plans to teach a class on how art is healthy. “I like to bring arts to the community,” she explained.

radKids® Comes to Hitchcock Academy

Brimfield – A new kind of self-defense class for kids ages 6-13 is coming to Hitchcock Academy this summer. 

Aaron Cote shared his thoughts about becoming an instructor of radKids® at Hitchcock Academy and the benefits of the program for kids.

“Becoming a radKids® instructor is an ideal addition to the children's safety initiative of any caring community. I found that radKids® teaches our youth how to recognize, avoid, resist and, if necessary, escape from violence or harm.  The program teaches critical thinking skills at a fight or flight level in a short period of time, versus a traditional martial arts schools. What do I hope for radKids®  for the future? I hope it provides a base so kids will  continue pursuing their knowledge and understanding of tools they can apply to break the cycle of violence or possible victimization in their own lives. 

Margo Chevers from the Domestic Violence Task Force: www.stopabusetoday.org supports this program wholeheartedly.  “We will provide tools and materials for Aaron to work with the kids. We will also provide the pizza to celebrate with kids on the last class. Watch for our postings on our web site, FB and through other means to help spread the word about stopping violence.” 

Register your child age 6-13 today. Dates: Mon, Tues & Thurs, July 17, 18, 20, 25 & 27 at 3:00- 4:45 at Hitchcock. Fee: $8Ages: 6-13 years

Visit  www.hitchcockacademy.org or call 413 245-9977 for details.

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Photo -  radKids® instructor Aaron Cote, gives students some guidance on how to remove yourself from a dangerous situation and get help. 


A new couple in town bring their unique takes on yoga and the art of movement to Hitchcock Academy. Karen Larsen and Andrew Bloch of Warren start teaching Circus Yoga, Irish Step Dancing, Martial Yoga, and Fencing on July 18th.  

Prior to moving to Warren, the couple ran Warrior’s Way, a Martial Arts and Yoga studio in Maynard, MA, but also rescued animals, including horses and alpacas. The couple needed more room for the animals, so a move to Warren was their solution. Once the couple settled in, they began to look for teaching opportunities in the area. Larsen met with Sue Gregory, Executive Director of Hitchcock Academy, and arranged to teach classes this summer. Bloch explained, “We were looking to fulfill that spot in us of teaching movement. It’s what we love to do.”

Larsen, the instructor for Circus yoga and Irish Step Dancing, has always had a passion for movement. Larsen has danced her whole life and studied yoga and dance at Williams College. She introduced Bloch to yoga and worked alongside him at Warrior’s Way.

Bloch has worked with Taekwondo for 25 years and fencing and yoga for 15 years. He studied at the University of Connecticut gaining degrees in philosophy and history.

Larsen’s Circus Yoga and Bloch’s Martial yoga grew from traditional yoga into forms more similar to their personalities, incorporating elements of martial arts and dance. Bloch hopes that the different styles can attract many people, even if they think it may not be for them. “Parents always show up with their kids telling them they have to try new things” says Bloch. “Adults need to try something new, learn something. Learning new things isn’t just for kids.”

The Irish Step Dancing taught by Larsen is an older style Irish step, done in soft shoes or bare feet, called Sean-nos. It was a form of dance that was used to tell stories around the campfire and is a non-competitive style perfect for children who love to dance.

Larsen and Bloch love to teach and enjoy learning how to teach each student in a way they can understand. Bloch says “I want students to gain a lifelong curiosity about yoga, to learn something about themselves, [to be] bit by the bug of ‘I can still learn stuff.’”

Larsen’s Circus Yoga (ages 6-13) and Irish Step Dancing (ages 7-13) classes start on Tuesday, July 18th, and Bloch’s Martial Yoga (all ages) and Fencing (ages 8-16) classes begin on Wednesday, July 19th. Contact Hitchcock at 413 245-9977 or www.hitchcockacademy.org to register.

Hitchcock Academy is your community center for budget-friendly summertime fun! Stop by in person to pick up a copy of our Summer 2017 Flyer to see our full course offerings and descriptions.  Make sure to register and pay for classes either online or in person.



International Make Music Day was created to celebrate the arrival of summer! This free event will bring together a variety of live music including Drumming Circle with Tim Kane, Dave and Eric Wallace, Watson & Co., the Southbridge Bells and Beaus, Jared Fiske, Christina Richard, Linda Day, Jodi Stevens, and more!  While you are celebrating the arrival of summer with music, be sure to stop by for Summer Registration Night to sign up for our Newsletter, register for summer programs, and enter into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Hitchcock programs. Date: Wednesday, June 21, 6-8PM


Concerts on the Common are a perfect way to enjoy a summer evening. Stop by the Brimfield Common for a free concert on one, two or all three Tuesday nights of our series of local concerts. The free concerts are sponsored, in part, by Country Bank for Savings, A.S. Davis Fund, and the Brimfield Cultural Council.

Dates: July 18th 6:30-8PM Radio Ranch Join us for an evening of toe-tapping country music with many interesting surprises and twists along the way!

July 25th 6:30-8PM Gracie Day and the Knights Everyone will enjoy Day’s sultry voice and clever lyrics-with influences such as James Taylor, Etta James, Sheryl Crow, Motown and Nashville.

August 1st 6:30-8PM The Casters A Central Mass alt-rock band inspired by Wilco, Dylan, and Ray LaMontagne.

Beer Tasting and Star Gazing Set your eyes to the sky to view the summer spectacular meteor shower, constellations, and planets at this fundraising event brought to you by Rapscallion Brewery, Hyland Orchard, and Astronomers Geoff & Kim McLean from the Thames Amateur Astronomical Society. Enjoy Rapscallion’s beer tasting with 3 tastings and a pint, or homemade root beer, juice & soft drinks for teetotalers and those under 21. Snacks and chips will also be provided. The Perseid meteor shower will be active and amateur astronomers will bring a telescope to view a myriad of deep space objects and point out planets and constellations.

Date: Wednesday, August 16th 8-10PM, overcast date Thursday, August 17th

Place: Hyland Orchards located at 195 Arnold Road, Sturbridge, MA

Fee: $15 in advance/$20 at the door, $5 under 21

What to Bring: Red flashlights to protect your night vision. Red cellophane will be available. Blanket or chair to fully enjoy the magic of the night sky.

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Did you plant your garden yet? If the answer is no, don’t worry, Saturday June 10th will be the perfect way to get started in your garden! At 10:30, Jessica Groleau will present the first in a series of Garden Lectures! After class, our friends from the Farmers’ Market will be selling plenty of garden plants.


Join horticulturalist Jessica Groleau for the first of three talks in a Garden Lecture Series. She’ll be covering the basics of veggie gardening from soil prep, fertilizing, pest control, planting time, crop rotation to companion planting to maximize your gardening success.  Jessica will also discuss the benefits, construction and care for raised vegetable gardens. Register online or in person for Garden Prep for Veggie Garden Success presented on Saturday, June 10th from 10:30-11:30AM. Fee: $10.


At our Farmer’s Market you can visit AP Lavender Essentials to get some natural bug repellant then visit Breezy Gardens Farm, Flourish Farm, Aloha Enterprises, and Dragon Fly Farm to purchase starter plants, perfect for your plot!  Stop in to Unique Soaps to find the perfect soap, scrubs and creams to clean up after gardening.

For Immediate Press Release:

Hitchcock Academy is your community center for budget-friendly family fun this summer! Stop by in person to pick up a copy of our Summer 2017 Flyer or visit us on line to see our full course offerings and descriptions.  Make sure to register and pay for classes either online or in person, and as always, students under the age of 18 need a completed consent form.

Babysitting Training is designed for students 11-15 years old and will provide instruction in child development, fire safety, emergency procedures, coping with difficult situations, choking and Heimlich maneuver, and vital information for running a babysitting business. Students, please bring a lunch. Instructor: Lisa Meunier Fee: $42 Date: Friday, June 23, 10AM-3PM

International Make Music Day was created to celebrate the arrival of summer! This free event will bring together a variety of live music including Drumming Circle with Tim Kane, Dave and Eric Wallace, Watson & Co., the Southbridge Bells and Beaus, Jared Fiske, Christina Richard, Linda Day, Jodi Stevens, and more!  While you are celebrating the arrival of summer with music, be sure to stop by for Summer Registration Night to sign up for our Newsletter, register for summer programs, and enter into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Hitchcock programs. Date: Wednesday, June 21, 6-8PM

Summer Fun is three separate weeks of fun classes for kids ages 3-12. Classes are 50 minutes of fun, kid-focused activities. 3-4 year olds will have Story Time (A), Games (B), and Art & Crafts (C). 5-6 year olds and 7-12 year olds will be guided through age appropriate levels of Games (D) (I), Tennis (E) (G), and Design & Create (F) (H) classes. Check out our Summer Flyer for a chart that outlines the programs, ages, and times of each program to find the program appropriate for your child! To request supervision for your child between classes, be sure to check yes on the registration form. Fee: $16/week/program Date and Times: Week 1: July 17-21, Week 2: July 24-28, Week 3: July 31-August 4, (A) (D) (G) programs run from 9-9:50AM, (B) (E) (H) 10-10:50AM, and (C) (F) (I) 11-11:50AM.

Walk-In Movie Night is an outdoor, family-friendly movie being shown on July 21 in conjunction with the Brimfield Public Library. The movie title will be announced at a later date on our website and social media. Be sure to bring a chair or blanket and the kids! Snacks will be available for sale with proceeds benefitting Hitchcock Academy.  Fee: $3 per person $10 maximum per household. Date: Friday July 21 at sunset, rain date Saturday July 22

Hitchcock has a host of family friendly and affordable programs coming this summer from Summer Fun classes to Family Movie Night, to Friends and Family Friday where you can teach your dog a new trick, try judo or create a BBQ themed cupcakes and more!


Linda Wright, a former Trustee at Hitchcock, volunteers every year for Summer Fun and brings her grandson Robbie.  She says, “Robbie likes interacting with other kids and he is looking forward to attending again this year.  Last year he made big progress in tennis and he is very excited to return this year.”


June 21st is International Make Music Day to welcome summer and to share music with the community.  Stop in between 6-8 PM and participate in drumming and enjoy a 8 musical presentation for free!  It is fun to just think about being a part of an international celebration of the season.


Mark your calendars for Concerts on the Brimfield Common July 18, 25 & August 1, 6:30-8:00. 


New classes this summer include circus yoga for kids; music lessons in: piano, clarinet, saxophone, guitar, bass guitar; private tutoring; art classes for ages 8- adult; clean eating talk; declutter your life; fencing; gardening tips and an array of tried and true classes.


Visit us at www.hitchcockacdemy.org or call 413 245-9977


Caption: Summer Fun is affordable and just around the corner with Games, Arts & Crafts, Design & Create, Tennis and Story-time for kids ages 3-12.  Parachute is always a favorite with the kids! But that is not all Hitchcock Academy is bursting with new programs this summer. 

Hitchcock Academy is always looking to see what’s new,  what’s tried and true, what fits the needs of our community. 

 New Hitchcock art instructor, Laura Cenedella, with her assistance dog, Crystal, enjoy Plein air painting time at a farm.

New Hitchcock art instructor, Laura Cenedella, with her assistance dog, Crystal, enjoy Plein air painting time at a farm.


We have been listening to our community when they ask if we have art classes.  New classes this summer will feature Laura Cenedella where she will offer classes for ages 8-12, 13-17 and 18+.  Try some tips and tricks for Drawing & Painting or choose to learn to paint like a Master. 


Laura believes art helps people by, “…continuing to learn and grow as it is important as one who has not yet arrived and still reaching for artistic success.” 


For such a little town, Hitchcock has big city qualities!  Music lessons will be filling the air with A# increase in offerings including private lessons in piano, guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, saxophone and a continuation of violin and viola lessons. Our instructors are stellar, beginning with our new piano instructor, Christina Richard, who has performed at Carnegie Hall.  Jodi Stevens will teach guitar and woodwind and holds a degree from Berklee College of Music.  Lastly, Linda Day performed violin the Austin Symphony Orchestra for 22 years. 


For students who want to grow and focus on studies this summer need to look no further than Hitchcock Academy.  Cheryl Cameron, a 20 year veteran teacher with a masters in Special Education for Prek-9 is here to help!  45 minute session will be scheduled between July 10 – August 21 at a mutually acceptable time. 


When asked why she enjoys tutoring, Cheryl replied, “ I truly enjoy seeing kids feel successful!” 


We have too many new classes to describe in detail here but they including: Friends & Family Fridays, Cake Decorating, Decluttering to Lower your Stress, Nutrition & Digestion, Memoir Writing, Gardening Tips for Success, Clean Eating, Fencing, Martial Yoga, Specific Chiropractic Care, Reiki…


Tried and true classes will include our famous Summer Fun classes in arts & crafts, games, story time, design & create and tennis; Babysitter Training, Yoga, K9 Nosework®, Beginner’s Dog Training, and don’t forget our Summer Concerts on the Brimfield Common July 18, 25 & August 1 6:30.


Judo is just one of the classes held her all year long.  When Sensei Lopez was asked why Judo is important his reply was, “Discipline, Self Confidence, Teamwork, Fitness and Fun.” 


Funis a key measure of success at www.hitchcockacademy.org .  Contact us to join in some fun this summer.  413 245-9977



Brimfield - The second of a 1st Friday on the month Friends and Family Fridays at Hitchcock Academy was great fun for folks who said they knew very little about ducks and painting but the paintings were great.  Two young students have submitted their paintings to the State of MA for a review by the judges and both have hopes of placing in their age groups.  Any artwork chosen will travel around the state in exhibits as a part the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife annual Duck Stamp Drawing Contest for K-12. Those who did not submit their art, still had a wonderful

  It was a great night for Ducks at Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield on February 3rd.  Like ducks to water, Friends and Families came together to use watercolors to paint a pallet of fun.

Hailee Rojas says, "I really liked painting the ducks and I learned about a lot of different ducks. The one I painted, I never knew about was a bufflehead." 
Hailee's male and female buffleheads have been entered into the student stamp competition for the state.


Christine reflecting on the evening with her daughter said, "I thought it was very relaxing. It was great mommy / daughter time. My daughter loves this stuff and it gave us a reason to get out together. "


Thank you to Country Bank for Savings, Stop & Shop and Athens Pizza for sponsoring our second Friends and Family Friday (F&FF) on February 3.
The next F&FF will be a drumming circle with Tim Kane March 3rd It is open to all folks of all ages.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org for more information and to register or call 413 245-9977


 Glee Marchand puts down her own knitting during a knitting circle at Hitchcock to help a fellow knitter with her project.

Glee Marchand puts down her own knitting during a knitting circle at Hitchcock to help a fellow knitter with her project.


Knitting with Glee!

 Glee Marchand is passionate about knitting and her longtime hobby has turned into a need to share the joy of knitting with others.  After completing numerous courses she is organized, ready and excited to share her “Glee” in knitting with curious, newbies eager to learn the basics of knit, purl, yarn over, bind off…  If you want to lean to knit and when you hear those phrased you think, “huh?”  this class is for you! Glee will provide all the materials to create a scarf with you. 


One unique aspect of Glee’s interest is her desire to teach all the ins and outs of the hobby.  She said, “ it can be so overwhelming when shopping for materials for knitting.  Knowing about the different properties of wool vs cotton or other fibers, how gauges impact your finished piece, which needles will work for you to get the right gauge?  What is dye lot or how does ply make a difference in the material you choose?” 


To get answers to these and other questions, Glee will be organizing a field trip to meet with her students at Web’s Yarn store in Northampton.  Glee happily states “Together, we can take the mystery out of the shopping process and Webs has an amazing selection of materials.”


Glee’s knitting classes will begin at Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield on January 24th.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call 413 245-997

 January 6th Friends and family Fridays began with Story Starter Games.

January 6th Friends and family Fridays began with Story Starter Games.

While searching for programs that may be of interest to community members of all ages, Hitchcock Academy hit upon a winner with the first of the series of our Friends and Family Fridays scheduled to happen the first Friday of every month in 2017!  On January 6th, Story Starters was led by Erin Wallace from Greene Room Productions and was sponsored by McCurdy Group.


Sixteen participants began the evening with some Pizza, beverages and ice cream donated by Cumberland Farms.  With full bellies, the attendees began some stories with a round robin event where Erin Wallace asked folks to pick a card and read it to the group.  Each card was the beginning of a story and each member of the four subgroups had to add a little bit of detail, conflict or resolution to the story.  Props were imaginatively integrated into each story  and then the unique creative tales were shared with the whole group.  Stories included imaginative elements like using a mirror to reflect the lights to create a shooting star in one story, another turned some hoops and people into a grandfather clock, a third found some girls on an adventure with Mother nature in a swamp and the fourth hosted a birthday party! 


On February 3rd, after a pizza dinner, participant can join us for our Duck Stamp Drawing class, thanks to our Sponsor Country Bank for Savings.  Every year the Mass Division of Fisheries and Wildlife holds a Duck Stamp Contest.


Pam Landry, the Wildlife Education Specialist who organizes the contests states, “As the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) coordinator, my goal is to reach out to K-12 students at public, private or home schools, scouts, libraries, and community after school programs across the Commonwealth and encourage them to learn about wetlands & waterfowl conservation and to express that knowledge, artistically, by submitting an entry to the Junior Duck Stamp “Conservation through the Arts” program (www.fws.gov/juniorduck). By participating in this program students become acquainted with one of the most successful wildlife & wetland habitat restoration programs in the history of the nation…Duck Stamps!”


Marcia Beal, will be leading the group on February 3rd at Hitchcock.  As a veteran teacher for this program, Marcia has had lots of success with her students placing in the top 100 and having drawings touring around the state.  Marcia will present a treasure trove of photo with various ducks and will lead the group in simple ways to discover how to draw ducks in their habitats.  Adults and Kids alike are welcome to draw but only student work will be submitted to the state for judging.  Beginners are most welcome.  Wear some old clothes for painting and come join the fun!


Preregistration is required as there islimited space.  Registration is $6 per person with a household limit of $30.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call 413 245-9977 to register or for details.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal)  Get ready to cheer on Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games with our JUDO preview with Sensei Israel Lopez and student Alec Hastings from the Sen-I-Judo Club. Sorry, the link is no longer available)

Watch students perform:

  • Sasea-tsurikomi-ashi(propping lift-pull ankle)

  • Seoi-nage(shoulder throw)

  • Tomoe-nage (circular throw), to a Ude-hishigi-juji-gatame(cross armlock).

  • Osoto-gari(larger outside reap)

  • Tai-otoshi(body drop)

2016 Summer Fun 

For Immediate Press Release: 

Still looking for a fun and inexpensive way for your kids to get out of the house for a while? Look no further. Hitchcock Free Academy is offering 3 Weeks of Summer Fun for your child ages 3-12. Sign the kids up for a week long adventure doing Arts & Crafts, Games, Tennis, Design & Create and Story Time for the younger ones. Summer Fun weeks start July 18th and run for 3 weeks. Times are 9-11:50, great for all kids who need a short time away to grow on their own. 

Sue Gregory, Director of Hitchcock is delighted to announce the staff for 2016. “I am thrilled to have Mrs. K returning this year to summer fun with her imaginative flair when it comes to Design & Create projects. Her imagination sparks ideas as projects begin and the kid’s creativity takes over. Her story times goes way beyond simple tales.  Chris Nauman will guide the 3-7 year old kids through craft projects, water play and thematic fun each week. I am pleased to announce that Katie Radebaugh will be leading the way to tennis and game adventures for the 5-12 year old students. Fun and laughter are key with Katie!” Sue continues, “I always look forward to Summer Fun as it adds lots of energy to my summer”.


Signing up is easy! Fill out the Youth Consent Form located on Hitchcock’s website: www.hitchcockacademy.org   Mail in or bring by that form with payment.


Brimfield, MA – The “Little Book” Makes Its Way Back Home

The Little Autograph Book which made its way back home to Hitchcock Free Academy was generously donated to Hitchcock by Laurie Farland and her family in honor of her grandson Alex Farland who received a 2015 college scholarship award from Hitchcock to pursue his studies at Bridgewater State University.  We wish Alex the best in his studies. 

A 142-year-old autograph book with a story to tell has made its way across the years and the United States, coming back home to Hitchcock Free Academy (HFA) in Brimfield, MA.

The original owner of the book, Brimfield’s Charles G. Morgan, attended “Hitchcock Free High School” (HFHS) in Brimfield, at a time when states had free elementary schools, but public high schools were not mandated.  Private academies for secondary students existed, but many teenagers, such as Samuel Austin Hitchcock, were denied access to formal education because they could not afford it.  This disparity in opportunity inspired Mr. Hitchcock and other town leaders to found a free high school for area youths.    

There is currently no available evidence that Charles Morgan graduated from HFHS, but records in the Academy show that he was born in 1858, resided in Brimfield, and was active in the school’s theatrical productions, including “Pepita, or the Gypsy Girl of Andalusia” in 1875 and “Fanchon the Cricket” in 1876.

Now back to “the little book”…


In this brown cloth-bound piece of history with gold edging and “Autographs” stamped in gold on its cover, there are 29 signatures dating from 1873 – 1874.  Autograph books were popular among the middle class in the 19th century; signatures collected in the books were mementos of time and place, often at graduation, but were eventually replaced in popularity by yearbooks.

The penmanship in the book, carefully written with fountain pen (although Charles’s alone, interestingly, appears to be in pencil), is strikingly precise and beautiful – a true art form that also served a practical purpose: graceful communication. 

The first autograph is that of Ephraim W. Norwood, a revered principal of the school from 1869 – 1879, who had this to say for Charles:

“I hope that the earnest, faithful boy will become a noble man.  One who shall be strong in the strength of his own manhood, whose life work shall be rich in good results, whom God and man shall delight to honor.   Teacher and friend, E. W. Norwood”

Dr. E. W. Norwood

Principal of Hitchcock Free High School 1869 – 1879

“Active in Academy affairs, revered and beloved for half a century.”

From A History of Hitchcock Free Academy by Alice Sawin Davis

The book is a tangible record of many well-known family names in the area for generations – even today’s:  Hitchcock (Fred A.), Davis, Tarbell, Sherman, Webber, Allen, and Brown, among others.

Indeed, one signature, dated November 1873, is that of George Sherman, from Brimfield, whose message was “May friendship reign!”  Mr. Sherman graduated from HFHS in 1874, and later from Amherst College, later to become principal of Black River School in Ludlow, Vt.  One of his students for 3 years eventually became the 30th President of the United States: Calvin Coolidge.  Mr. Sherman had this to say about his former pupil, who had a reputation for being fun-loving and playing fair: “Calvin Coolidge was the most extraordinarily ordinary boy I ever knew.”

And Brimfield’s Anna Tarbell, who signed the book on March 8, 1873, was a prominent local, becoming a teacher at Hitchcock, a town historian, writer, and librarian at Brimfield’s Public Library.  Interestingly, Ms. Tarbell held an “ice cream social” at her home to raise funds for the library at a time when ice cream was an extremely rare treat.

Then, toward the middle of the book, a mystery – a page with Japanese lettering, and also a signature, “Sadanori Youchi, Kagoshima Japan, January 30th, 1874”.   One might wonder whether there was an international student at HFHS at that time, or whether Charles could’ve been acquainted with this person in some other way.  One of life’s as yet unanswered questions….

Somehow the book survived the years, making its way to Iowa, where the late George Klingler, a “collector of all things” as described by his wife Judy, owned the book for some time.  It was sold to a shop in Iowa, where Joan Witter, a native Iowan, was antiquing.  Joan rummaged through a box with pottery, utensils, some bric-a-brac, and also a little cloth-bound autograph book.  She said, “I looked through the book’s first few pages and saw ‘Brimfield, Mass.’  That’s when the book said, ‘Buy me!’”

Joan said she followed her instinct and did buy the book, since she had been to the Brimfield Flea Market a few times with her long-time friend, Laurie Farland, of Fiskdale, MA.

“When I held that little book, it talked to me, as if it was saying, ‘Send me home,’” Joan said. 

She added, “I thought, wouldn’t it be interesting if some of this man’s family, or descendants of the other people who autographed the book – generations later – still lived in the area?  They would be so excited to see their ancestor’s signature.”

Joan then mailed the book to Laurie in Fiskdale, who then sent it to Hitchcock Free Academy’s Executive Director Sue Gregory.  Laurie said, “I just love the book; it truly reveals the kindness that they showed to one another and gives us a little glimpse into their lives.” 

This small piece of Hitchcock’s history has indeed come full circle and found its way back home, thanks to the thoughtfulness of those who appreciate connections between people and family –  even though they may be separated by time and place. 

Although Hitchcock Free High School was transformed into a non-profit community center – Hitchcock Free Academy – upon the opening of Tantasqua High School in 1955, this small book is a reminder of the powerful legacy of Samuel Hitchcock, a legacy that continues to this day to benefit those who want to learn something new or enrich their life in some way. 

HFA Executive Director Susan Gregory said, “The little book that made its way home is just one of many stories of how people’s lives have been connected through Hitchcock over 160 years.  Community connections are the core of our existence.” 

She added, “We have friends near and far, current patrons and those who have connections to Hitchcock over generations.  So many folks have supported our mission with their very generous donations during our 2015 Friends’ Fund raising campaign.  Please join them -- together we can keep the connections strong.”

Indeed, Hitchcock has now been serving the community for 160 years.  It’s an institution with not only a vivid history, but a vibrant contemporary mission to “enrich the lives of area residents of all ages by providing educational, recreational and cultural programming for residents from the towns of Brimfield, Holland, Wales, Sturbridge and the surrounding communities.”

Donations may be made on line at  www.hitchcockacademy.org ; checks may be mailed to Hitchcock Academy, P.O. Box 155, Brimfield, MA 01010.


Changing of the Guards

 Sharon Palmer and Luann Kenyon relinquish their posts as Assistant Directors.

Sharon Palmer and Luann Kenyon relinquish their posts as Assistant Directors.

Welcome to new Assistant Directors Katie Radebaugh and Amy Adams.

Tuesday December 22nd marked the end of an era and the dawning of a new day here at Hitchcock Free Academy (HFA) in Brimfield.  Assistant directors Luann Kenyon and Sharon Palmer both said their final goodbyes as both ladies have decided to pursue different adventures in their lives.

Luann, who has been with HFA for 15 years, said that she will miss her co-workers (who feel more like family) the most. She has most enjoyed getting to know the teachers and families that frequent HFA. Hitchcock Free Academy, to Luann, has been a big part of her life, and you could tell by the support her family gave to her on Tuesday night. Her son, in his Marine Corp. dress uniform, flanked his mother’s side all night to give her the strength that she needed on this emotional night.

Sharon has worked for Hitchcock Free Academy for 10 years. She has been the go-to girl when it comes to marketing and website design. Sharon is leaving the HFA to develop her own business, All Can Do Yoga. She will now be offering classes at Hitchcock Free Academy (check out the new classes on HFA website), and elsewhere in the area. Sharon has thoroughly enjoyed her time with Hitchcock Free Academy and has made life-long friendships with co-workers, trustees and participants of the programs.

Tuesday evening also brought a “Changing of the Guards” feel to the event. The new ladies on the block, Amy Adams and Katie Radebaugh, had the pleasure of meeting former trustees and many teachers from HFA’s classes. Sue Gregory, HFA’s Director, had this to say about the evening, “Change is sad and exciting at the same time. As we “change the guards” at Hitchcock with two new assistant directors, I give thanks to the years of service Luann Kenyon and Sharon Palmer have dedicated to our mission to serve the community. Welcome to Amy Adams and Katie Radebaugh as they step into the assistant director positions with new backgrounds, fresh energy and terrific enthusiasm.”

A special guest of the night was Senator Ann Gobi. Senator Gobi presented to both Luann and Sharon, a Citation from the State of Massachusetts recognizing the pair’s dedication to Hitchcock Free Academy.


Brimfield, MA –  $3,000 Matching Grant from Hitchcock Free Academy Trustees Helps Art to Thrive

Have you developed a new passion at Hitchcock Free Academy? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to paint, so you were drawn to join Beth Parys’s watercolor classes on Wednesday mornings, where everyone explores their unique style of painting.  Beth has taught over 30 classes in one year with 395 attendees, and she will also be volunteering during our Giving Tuesday event on December 1st, teaching a free mini class from 3 – 5pm, in which you can make your own bookmark or decoration. 

Donations on Giving Tuesday help to keep space available for all of our art classes and will be matched by a generous $3,000 matching grant from HFA trustees.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org for details on how to donate on Giving Tuesday and for a list of special events on December 1st.  

In the above photo, Emma from Brimfield enjoys painting her own creation with Beth Parys during last year’s Valley Gives event.  This year’s event, “Giving Tuesday” takes place on December 1 and local artist Beth Parys will be in attendance to help visitors create their own bookmark or ornament.  There will be a variety of activities for all ages throughout the day.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call (413) 245-9977 for more information.

Brimfield, MA –  Girl Scout Troop 11803 Lends a Hand to Hitchcock Free Academy

Girl Scout Troop 11803 has given back to the community by helping address the Friends of Hitchcock Free Academy (HFA) bulk mailing this past week.  Now the girls are volunteering to teach crafts during HFA’s December 1st “Giving Tuesday” fundraising event.   Free activities for all ages are taking place throughout the day, but the Girl Scouts will be “crafting” from 4 – 5:30pm. 

In the past year, 12 scout troops and leaders have held 90 meetings with 587 participants at Hitchcock.  Donations on Giving Tuesday help to keep space available for scouts to meet and will be matched up to $3,000 thanks to a generous matching grant from Hitchcock’s trustees. 

Other activities throughout “Giving Tuesday” include Yoga for children,  make-your-own evergreen arrangement, watercolor bookmark-making, presenters, Yoga for all, “Stone Soup” for lunch, a performance by Holly the Elf, a visit with Santa, and more. 

Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org for details on how to donate on Giving Tuesday and for a full list of events taking place throughout the day.  Anyone who has participated in a program at Hitchcock is encouraged to post a special memory on our Facebook page.  

A Grant from Constellation will create a stellar Giving Tuesday at Hitchcock! 

 Families of all ages will be able to make their own Holiday evergreen decoration with Linda Fuchs.

Families of all ages will be able to make their own Holiday evergreen decoration with Linda Fuchs.

Brimfield – Hitchcock Academy is proud and pleased to announce Constellation, an Exelon Company, Community Champions Grant.  This award will support free programs all day long to the public on Tuesday, Decmber 1st between 9:00 AM – 7:30 PM. 


You probably have heard of Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, but Giving Tuesday is December 1st and has become an international day of online giving to support non profits.  Hitchcock’s mission to provide educational, recreational and cultural programs to the surrounding communites will be realized through the various programs made possible by the generous Constellation Grant.   The day’s programs include:


9:00-9:45 Yoga for Kids with Cathy Keefe

9:00- 11:00 Art Group paint with us!

10:00-11:00 Preschool Stone Soup with Ms. Patti, Ms. Jenn & Ms. Deb

1:15-2:00 Cedarbrook Art “Show”

3:00-5:00 Watercolor Bookmark Beth Parys       

1:00 –7:30 Games for All Ages

3:30, 5:00 & 6:30 Minstrels: Watson & Co.

4:00-5:30 Crafts with Scouts        

3:00-5:00 4-H Wax Crafts

4:30-6:30 Roving Magician Jordan Richmond

4:30-7:30 Cones & Evergreen Linda Fuchs

4:30 – 5:00 Face Painting & Balloons w/Holly

5:00-6:00 Martial Arts join us for a demo

5:00-6:30 Visit with Santa

6:00 – 6:30 Holly the Elf performance

6:00-7:00 Brown Baggers: Enjoy a cup of “Stone Soup”, coffee & tea FREE thanks to the Shirley Frye Memorial Fund. Presenters 6:00 Gayle Suzanne will tell Inspirational Tales of Giving.  Attendees receives a gift.        

6:30 Local Author Jen Barlow - A Foot in Both worlds: A journey of transformation and growth.

6:45-7:30 Yoga for All Sharon Palmer

 We ask that you take a moment to visit www.hitchcockacademy.org and make an online donation  December 1st, Giving Tuesday, to support the creation of new community stories and memories at Hitchcock all year long.  

‘Tis the Season for Trying Something New with Fall Vegetables, Fruits, and Sweeteners

Stand aside, lettuce salads and cold fruits!  Now is the time to get creative with warm, comforting root vegetables and fall fruits – available at Hitchcock Free Academy’s Farmers’ Market every Saturday, 9am – 2pm, through its closing date on November 21. 

Think out of the recipe box – no boring rules to follow!  You can soar without a recipe.  Have fun with taste, texture, color, and varieties.  Experiment with what is available seasonally at the market, and try combinations of things you’ve never seen before.  Have you tried purple potatoes?  Yellow carrots? Have a taste test to see how the flavors differ from “regular” ones.   

Fall produce is extremely versatile – no longer sentenced to be served with a main course of meat, veg can be the colorful star of the show with small sides of pasta, bread, and/ or lean meats.  Add cheese, nuts, tofu, or the super-grain “quinoa” to boost the protein for veg dishes.  Add chopped apples or pears for a tasty pop of sweetness or a tart twist.  

Move over beef stew!  Prepare vegetable stews and add small amounts of fish, poultry, beef, or tofu for hearty, one-pot meals; garnish with sour cream or shredded cheese.  Serve with cornbread or whole wheat pita. 

Sautéed / roasted root vegetables – choose whichever veg you like best, or maybe one you haven’t tried before; you might even try using all different colored veg – eat the rainbow for good health!  Coat in a vinaigrette, roast at high temperature, usually 375 or 400 (hint: add softer veggies after more dense ones have been cooking a while) and stir every 10 minutes or so until done. 

Casseroles are the busy cook’s best friend, especially in the fall.  Really, there’s no limit to what you can create here.   Simmer dense vegetables such as potatoes or squash for a bit in broth or water, then add a sauce of your choice and whatever else you like – leafy greens, fish, pasta, rice, cheese…. Top with more cheese or bread crumbs, bake and – voila! Your own hearty one-dish delish!    

Add some nutrients, fiber, and color to your baked goods by using cooked squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin…) to snazz up muffins, scones, breads or cakes.   A new twist on pie?  Try sweet potato pie.  Fall fruits such as apples and pears can make the best muffins, pies, and crisps.   

And, since there has been so much news about the detrimental effects of processed sugar, try sweetening instead with maple syrup or honey – both available at Hitchcock’s Farmers’ Market.   You may need to tweak your recipe (if you're even using one) a bit since you'll be adding more liquid.


 Farmers’ Market Bounty – a casserole made with fresh fingerling potatoes, onion and garlic simmered with a bit of broth; then beans, kielbasa (or sautéed turkey burger or tofu) a bit of goat cheese melted in, whatever spices appeal (salt, pepper, chili pepper), tomato sauce/salsa blend, topped with some grated cheese and Jim DiMaio’s tomatillo tomatoes (tangy little green ones) as a garnish, baked about 35 minutes.  Add whatever you like to make your own creation with what you can find seasonally at Hitchcock’s Farmers’ Market – open 9am – 2pm every Saturday through November 21.  For more information, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org .




Hitchcock Free Academy: Celebrating… Connecting… Creating … Community

 Hitchcock Free Academy is celebrating its 160th Anniversary the week of September 14 – 19, 2015, serving an ongoing, dynamic role in the community since 1855, first as the area high school, and now as a non-profit community center.  Generations have come to Hitchcock to learn something new, share something interesting, and expand one’s horizons -- and continue to do so, as HFA has evolved over 160 years.

 Celebrating Our Past

 Did you know these fun facts about Hitchcock Free Academy (HFA)?

 1) HFA Trustee James Adams, Jr., (along with then-trustee Shirley Frye and several other members of the community) designed and built a float with an almost-exact replica of the Academy for Brimfield’s Quatrimillenial Anniversary celebrations in 1981. 

 It was Brimfield’s 250th birthday (for those of us who haven't seen the word “quatrimillenial” before!) and the HFA float won first prize over some stiff competition from the church choir and others, as voted by a panel of judges that included Massachusetts Governor Edward J. King.

It was an apt acknowledgment of the Academy’s importance to local communities since being founded by Samuel Austin Hitchcock in 1855. 

Atop the float was young Bob Lee sporting a tennis racket, an HFA "headmaster" and “graduate”, a scholar’s desk from the Academy’s original furnishings, and Janet Belber strewing flowers to the crowd.

Mr. Adams drove the float, which was his flatbed truck covered completely in evergreens and signage.  His advice to anyone wishing to do something similar for future anniversary celebrations: “Make sure you have a little more ventilation in your truck!”

In the above left photo, James Adams Jr. drives the flatbed truck that was the base for the Hitchcock float in Brimfield’s 250th Anniversary Celebrations in 1981.  His field of vision?  The small, black window on the bottom right of the Academy replica (the only “inaccuracy” present in the model).  Fortunately, then-trustee Donna Lee was willing to walk in front of the float to guide the path.

Thank you to Mr. and Mrs. James Adams, Jr. for the use of the above photos.

One of HFA’s alums taught school to a student who would later become 30th President of the United States.

 As noted in the June 1924 “HFA Cryer” – one of the Academy’s newsletters – “George Sherman … a Brimfield boy who graduated from our school in 1874 and later from Amherst College, was principal of Black River School in Ludlow, VT, where Calvin Coolidge was his pupil for three years.” At a 1923 reunion, “Mr. Sherman was asked to tell something of this pupil.  In his discerning interpretation of the character of this all-around, genuine, well-balanced straightforward boy who was not lacking in fun and always ‘played fair’ his teacher said, ‘Calvin Coolidge was the most extraordinarily ordinary boy I ever knew.’”

 An apt quote from President Coolidge:   “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.”

HFA is in possession of a letter signed by Helen Keller. 

Ms. Keller sent a type-written and personally-signed thank you letter, dated August 16, 1943, to former Hitchcock Trustee Franklin F. Plimpton of Sturbridge in acknowledgment of his gift to her organization which supported the blind.

She wrote, “Your helpful response to my appeal for the blind of America moved me as only confirmations of my faith in the unfailing goodness of the human heart can.  I thank you not only for your gift and kind note but also for the encouragement you have given….”


Connecting in the Present

HFA brings people together – sometimes people who are already friends, and often-times strangers who become friends – through its wide array of programs and events, offered year-round, to area residents of all ages. 

From special events such as the 160th Anniversary Celebrations, the Brimfield Antique Auto Show and “Beer Tasting and Star Gazing” to ongoing programs (HFA’s Farmers’ Market) painting, sign language, Yoga, Tai Chi seminars, Zumba, genealogy, dog training, cooking, and more) and seasonal programs such as Concerts on the Common and Summer Fun, there is something for everyone – sometimes much more than one would expect to find in a non-profit community center located within a small town. 

Creating Opportunities for the Future

The future is wide open to all; you might be surprised to discover how you can explore yours at HFA.

The programs at Hitchcock are available to all, for educational, cultural, and recreational enrichment of area residents.  Many take classes just for fun, to learn something new, to do something good for themselves, or to expand their employment skills. 

During our 160th Anniversary Celebrations week, register for a fall class between Sept. 14 at 9 AM – Sept. 19 at 2 PM and receive a free raffle ticket for a $160 Hitchcock Gift certificate.  Register on Monday Sept. 14 and receive 2 tickets.  The raffle winner will be chosen at 2:00 on the 19th.  Special events are scheduled on Monday, September 14 and Saturday, September 19.  Please visit our “Events” page for detailed information.

For more information regarding Hitchcock Free Academy and the programs available to you, please visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call (413) 245-9977.  


August 5, 2015

Sturbridge – A Stellar Event in Support of Hitchcock Free Academy 

On Wednesday, August 12, a “stellar” event will take place at Hyland Orchard in Sturbridge: “Beer Tasting and Sky Gazing” – a fundraising event for Hitchcock Free Academy (HFA) in Brimfield. 

Sue Gregory, Executive Director of Hitchcock, will start off the evening with a Native American tale of how the stars got in the sky, a short story that tickles the imagination while looking at the stars and imagining infinity.   

Her interest in stars began as a child laying on the warm rocks on the Connecticut shore during cool clear summer evenings and watching the Perseid meteor showers with family and friends.  

“And, I’ve always enjoyed telling a tale, performing and reading aloud,” she said.   

The Perseid meteor shower will be at its peak between August 9 and 13, during the new moon, making a starry spectacle for observers.  Telescopes are not needed to view the Perseids, but amateur astronomers will bring a telescope to view Saturn, Uranus, Neptune or a myriad of deep sky objects. 

Guiding the astronomy viewing will be astronomer Geoff McLean from the Thames Amateur Astronomical Society

An engaging and knowledgeable speaker, Geoff McLean has many varied interests and loves sharing his expertise with his community. Geoff’s interest in astronomy dates back to when he was given a Tasco telescope by his parents at the age of eight. An advanced course in astronomy in college further fueled his fascination, and he regularly brings his knowledge and passion into a variety of forums, including this special event for HFA on August 12. 

Geoff started the Eastern Connecticut Girl Scout Astronomy club with his daughter after she was selected as a representative from her state to spend a week at the Goddard Space Center in Maryland. He has led the club since its founding 6 years ago, and he also authored the Galactic Explorer Patch for the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, doing his part to attempt to bring more scientific pursuits and outdoor skills to the Girl Scouts organization. 

Geoff also serves as an astronomy counselor for the Boy Scouts.  He has his own consulting business, offering diverse services to clients including web and software development, and civil war navy reenactment consulting. In his spare time he serves on the boards of several local organizations and is the treasurer for the Navy and Marine Living History Association.  

Rapscallion Brewery

The Rapscallion Brewery at Hyland Orchard in Sturbridge has something for everyone, with live music on the weekends, a petting farm for kids, picnic areas, and, of course, a selection of beers brewed on the premises. 

Rapscallion established operations in Sturbridge in 2013, and quickly became a valued part of the community and a good neighbor.  The business has relationships with local restaurants, enabling customers to enjoy their beer with delicious food from local eateries, and hosting fundraisers for local organizations such as Hitchcock Free Academy. 

“We try to focus as much as we can on staying local and supporting our communities; we have a brew pub in Acton and the brewery in Sturbridge,” said co-owner Cedric Daniel. “It's all full circle and a community is more rich and sustainable if local businesses and organizations work together. We are a Massachusetts-only distributed brand and draft-only packaged beer; so literally 100% of our daily business and partnerships are local - in state.” 

The location of the brewery / tap room in Sturbridge has become a destination, whether for touring the brewery, picnicking on the grounds, listening to music under the pavilion or filling up a stein and relaxing with friends in the tap room. The beautiful hills overlooking the orchard have even become a popular wedding spot.  The folks at Rapscallion try to provide a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere in which to enjoy good food and great beer. 

“Beer Tasting and Star Gazing” will take place on Wednesday, August 12, 8 – 10pm, at Hyland Orchards, 195 Arnold Rd., Sturbridge, MA.  The overcast date is Thursday, August 13.  In case of overcast skies on Aug. 13, an astronomy slide show about the solar system will be held in the pavilion at Hyland.  

This event is suggested for ages 5 – adult.  Root beer and Polar beverages will be served to those under age 21; pretzels and chips are included.  Only red flashlights will be allowed to provide the best night vision in the orchard; red cellophane will be provided.  Bring bug spray and a blanket to enjoy the magical night sky.   

Purchase tickets in advance at www.beertastingmeteorshower.bpt.me/ .  Adult tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door; $5 for those under 21.  

Hitchcock Free Academy is a non-profit community center providing educational, recreational, and cultural programs to area residents.  For more information, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call (413) 245-9977. 


June 3, 2015

Brimfield –

What a terrific job Eagle Scout candidate Dom Zollo did coordinating and completing the Recreation Room painting at Hitchcock Free Academy. After repairing some walls, painting the room floor to ceiling, the room now has a warm and welcoming feel as you can see from the before and after photos.  Dom was assisted by fellow Brimfield Scouts: Chris Ballou,  Allen Wang, Liam Paulhus, Dan Mitchell, Esau Bernstein, Tyler Hellyar, Jakob Shea, Anthony Wood, Alex Wood and Ted Wood.  Adult supervision and expert advice was provided by Ted Wood, Robert G. Zollo and Robert F. Zollo.  We welcome the public to come to Hitchcock and visit their handiwork.  We are thrilled and proud of the work done by Dom and his crew!

 Before: It obviously has been years since the recreation room has seen a new coat of paint!

Before: It obviously has been years since the recreation room has seen a new coat of paint!

 After: The transition to the room is stunning!

After: The transition to the room is stunning!

 Floor team on a roll: Dan Mitchell and Liam Paulhus prove how well team work can succeed.

Floor team on a roll: Dan Mitchell and Liam Paulhus prove how well team work can succeed.

 Hitting the wall: Jakob Shea and Tyler Hellyar tackle the walls with enthusiasm and care.

Hitting the wall: Jakob Shea and Tyler Hellyar tackle the walls with enthusiasm and care.

 Hitchcock Director Susan Gregory thanks Dom Zollo for choosing a project at Hitchcock to complete for his Eagle Scout project.

Hitchcock Director Susan Gregory thanks Dom Zollo for choosing a project at Hitchcock to complete for his Eagle Scout project.

May 30, 2015

Trustees and Staff of Hitchcock Free Academy would like to thank Realtors Stephanie Bayliss and Karen Wallace for the supporting the 5th Annual Town-Wide Tag Sale in Brimfield on May 30th.  The weather was terrific, we had 70 stops participating in the Tag Sale, sold 183 maps and buyers and sellers both expressed excitement about the day!  A stellar day for Brimfield and Hitchcock Academy.   Thank you!

Coming Soon: 5th Annual Brimfield Town-Wide Tag Sale

 As the clock strikes 8:00 on the morning of May 30, maps for Brimfield’s Town-Wide Tag Sale will officially be available for $2 each – until 2pm that day, at Hitchcock Free Academy’s parking lot. 

 One of Brimfield’s few truly town-wide events, the Town-Wide Tag Sale is a fundraising event organized by realtors Stephanie Bayliss and Karen Wallace, who started the event in 2011 to benefit Hitchcock Free Academy (HFA), a non-profit community center located in the center of Brimfield. 

Last year, 49 homes were listed on the map, with a number of residents listing again this year because of past years’ success.  Residents list their homes on the map for $10 each; listing and map proceeds support HFA’s mission to provide educational, recreational, and cultural programs for area residents.

There is a variety of advantages for those Brimfield residents who list their tag sale on the Town-Wide map, perhaps the most significant being that all the advertising is done well in advance of the sale. 

 Lester Dutka has listed his sale on Tower Hill Rd. for the last two years, and said, “The advance advertising is one of the things I like best about participating in the event.” 

Indeed, plenty of advertising is done for all the sellers online and in print; there is no need for sellers to staple signs to poles and trees throughout the area. Postcards have been mailed to homes and placed in local businesses and notices have gone out to papers; the event is posted online on Hitchcock’s website and Facebook page, on local access TV, and on local chambers of commerce: Central Mass Chamber and Quaboag Hills Chamber.   The event has its own website as well, www.brimfieldtownwidetagsale.com .  

Nancy Giorgio-Kupiek on Dunhamtown Road, who has participated in the sale in previous years, said that what she likes about the sale is that “Our home is very well-hidden, so this gives us the chance to have a tag sale and people can find us!”  She said that the last time she had the sale, approximately 50 – 60 customers came by.

Besides being a great way to clear the house of no-longer needed items, Giorgio-Kupiek said that the Town-Wide Tag Sale “Is a great community event; it’s lots of fun seeing so many Brimfield neighbors and meeting new people.” 

Some neighborhoods, such as the one on Governor Fairbanks road, participate every year, perhaps drawing even more customers since several homes clustered together will have sales. 

Governor Fairbanks Rd. resident Bobbi Palmer said, “We all have a blast – it’s a great neighborhood event.  Now some people know we do the sale together and look for it.”  She also said, “We try to be creative; one year the kids made cupcakes and had a lemonade stand.  It’s just a lot of fun and sometimes we even buy from each other!” 

Any Brimfield resident is welcome to list their sale on the map; go to our "Events" page for full details and to download a registration form.  Registrations must be received by Friday, May 22 in order to be listed on the map.  Those with questions may call (413) 245-9977 or email sue@hitchcockacademy.org .  


March 10, 2015

Brimfield, MA – Local Author Suzanne Strempek-Shea leads a “Kick Start Your Writing” workshop at Hitchcock Free Academy on Saturday, March 14.   

Suzanne is not only the author of numerous published books, most recently This Is Paradise, but is also a gifted writing teacher.  She is a faculty member at the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast MFA program in creative writing and Director of the creative writing program at Bay Path University in Longmeadow.   

This Saturday, March 14, from 1 – 4, she will lead a “Kick Start Your Writing” workshop, open to all ages 14 and up.   Suzanne took some time out of her busy schedule to respond to some inquiries about writing and her upcoming workshop: 

Q:  It seems that many people have the perception that one is either “a writer” or not  (and if they consider themselves to be a “not” – then there’s no point to writing).  What’s your take on this?  

A:  I think everyone is able to write. Certainly, some can do it better than others, but we can all tell a story - real or invented - and put it on paper. My mother says you don’t know what you can do until you try, and I agree with her. Why not try something and see what you can do - whether you consider yourself something or not?

Q:  Why do you like writing?

A:  I can choose a story to tell - mine, others’, that of a person or place I’ve made up - and get lost in creating it. I do visual art, too, and find it’s that same “zone” you fall into when engrossed in a drawing or sculpting something. On a larger scale, since being published, I can choose topics that I’d love others to know about. So beyond the enjoyment I get from writing something, I might share a stranger’s story, or that of a fictional world, with others near and far.

Q:  Why does working in a group energize someone to work/write?

 A:  I think we find that we find strength in a room full of people who are trying to do the same thing. There’s inspiration, encouragement, and there’s also that amazing fact that we all have many of the same worries about our abilities, or the effectiveness of what we’re writing, or who are we even to be writing this story? Writers normally sit in a solitary place, whether it’s the writing room or a corner of a Starbuck’s - I think it’s great to get out and connect with others and learn by looking at others’ work and hearing what they have to say about our own.

Q:  What are you hoping that participants will experience in the workshop and take away from it?  

A:  The abovementioned sharing, connection and encouragement, but if I had to name one thing it’s that idea to try it - you don’t know where it will take you.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to convey to someone thinking about coming to the workshop?

A:  Whether they’ve never written, or have gotten away from the practice, or just want to get energized to work on something new, this day should be helpful. And, I’ll be bringing cookies.

For full information on Suzanne’s upcoming workshop, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call (413) 245-9977.



January 21, 2015

Brimfield, MA – Sturbridge’s Rapscallion Brewery Partners with Hitchcock Free Academy to Present “Beer Brewing Basics”

 Shaun Radzuik, Head Brewer at Rapscallion Brewery in Sturbridge, will be offering a 3-part program at Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield starting on February 4.  Radzuik said, “I’m excited to have this class for the first time at Hitchcock.  The first class will be the education part with the basic understanding on what is need to produce a beer. The second part will be a hands-on home brewing experience in which we will produce a beer and ferment it off site, then drink it at Rapscallion brewery, interacting with local beer enthusiasts.”

 Although the class is for ages 21 and over only, no beer will be consumed at Hitchcock, due to its charter stating that no alcohol may be on the Academy’s premises. 

 Radzuik will discuss the intricacies of malt, yeast, hops and PH levels for water used in the brewing process, as well as appropriate glassware for serving beer. 

 Radzuik started home brewing and volunteering at Paper City Brewery in Holyoke, then became a shift brewer at Olde Saratoga Brewing company in New York. He “decided to take my experience to Rapscallion Brewing Company in Fiskdale, and have been the head brewer there for the past 2 years,” he said.

 For more information on this and other programs at Hitchcock, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org. For more information on Rapscallion, visit www.drinkrapscallion.com.


  Rapscallion Brewery’s Head Brewer Shaun Radzuik will present a new 3-part program at Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield entitled “Beer Brewing Basics” starting February 4. For more information, visit    www.hitchcockacademy.org   .

Rapscallion Brewery’s Head Brewer Shaun Radzuik will present a new 3-part program at Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield entitled “Beer Brewing Basics” starting February 4. For more information, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org.




In the News

January 21, 2015

Brimfield - 

Hitchcock Academy's Home School group, Cedarbrook Leaning Connection, began their winter term with an outdoor nature study from Audubon followed by a lesson from Nicole Portwood on the creative construction of balloon creations.  The phrase "Poppy New Year!"  was heard in unison every time a balloon burst mid construction.

January 16, 2015

Brimfield –

Hitchcock Academy welcomes back Western Mass Martial Arts on Wednesday and Friday afternoons 3:45-4:45.   

Matt Castonguay began training as an 8 year old.  He has been training for 15 years, took a 4 year hiatus to serve in the Navy and has now been teaching Judo for 10 years to both children and adults.  He has a second degree black belt which is Nidan in Judo/Jujutsu.  Matt began Judo as a way to pass time and it has become a life style.

Matt shared “ It is a great activity and study and I joined an awesome community of Martial Artists.”

Carrick Manning began studying Judo/Jujutsu three years ago.  He progressed through nine belts in just three years.  He studies and teaches children and adults 5 days a week.  Currently his oldest student is 65 and the youngest is 4 years old. 


For more information visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call 413 245-9977.

Photo Caption:  Shobukan Judo/Jujutsu instructors L-R Carrick Manning, Matt Castonguay begin classes at Hitchcock in January.

front door cropped 010.jpg

Brimfield -  Hitchcock  opens the door to opportunities for area residents of all ages.

During Hitchcock Academy’s annual Friends’ campaign Industrial Transfer & Storage Inc. and an anonymous donor have joined forces and invite you to join in support of Hitchcock Free Academy  through a matching gift.  If we successfully raise up to $1,000 between Dec. 16th - Dec. 31st , these donors will graciously match your donation up to $1,000.  Checks should be made out to Hitchcock Free Academy P.O. Box 155, Brimfield, MA 01010.  Just include a note with your donation stating this is for the matching gift.  If you prefer, you may make a donation through our website at www.hitchcockacademy.org. Call 413 245-9977 for details.

MGM Resorts International & Rolling Hills Realty Trust Gift

Thank you to MGM Resorts International and Rolling Hills Realty Trust for an amazing donation of $250,000 to Hitchcock Free Academy in 2012. The gift will support educational, recreational, and cultural programs for area residents for a long time to come.

These funds have been invested to care for our facility.  You can see the funds at work with our new parking lot in 2013 and the new roof in the fall of 2014.  

For Immediate Release

December 8, 2014

Contact: Sue Gregory



Local Author to Host Brown Bag On Civil Rights as Part of Valley Gives Day Festivities


Brimfield, MA – Easthampton, Massachusetts author and story teller, Bob Reiser will be giving a talk on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s at 12:30 on December 10th at the Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield. The talk, entitled Everybody Says Freedom, is one of many free activities planned at the Hitchcock as part of their participation in the Valley Gives Day fundraiser.

 "Some years back, a wrong turn, a hand drawn sign and the sound of a hundred voices laughing pulled me into the heart of America's Civil Rights Movement - A wild and boisterous place where music, laughter and the extraordinary courage of young people, old people, teachers, preachers, and everyday working people transformed our nation and ended segregation," said Bob Reiser. Sometimes it seems like the clock keeps trying to go backward. But, like these stories show - the clock never goes back for long!" 

Bob is the author of six books for adults and children, and has worked with Pete Seeger and jazz drummer, Panama Francis. His works for children include PJ, published by Houghton Mifflin and David Got his Drum, published by Marshall Cavendish Books. His adult books include Carry it On and Everybody Says Freedom, written with Pete Seeger.

 The Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield has put together a day of free activities beginning at 9 a.m. with Preschool Movement, and ending with Try-It-Out Improv with Erin Greene from 8 to 9 p.m., and lots of activities for all ages in between, as a way to say thank you to the community and to encourage donations to the organization during Valley Gives Day. Valley Gives Day, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on December 10th, is a 24-hour giving day where 463 local nonprofits will collaborate to raise money and compete for prizes. Donations can be made at www.valleygivesday.org. Learn more about Bob Reiser at www.bobtales.com and learn more about all the activities at the Hitchcock Academy at www.hitchcockacademy.org.



For Immediate Release

December 8, 2014


Hitchcock Academy Offers Free Programming for Valley Gives Day Fundraiser


Brimfield, MA – This December 10th is Valley Gives Day, a 24-hour giving day when nonprofits from every corner of Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin Counties all fundraise through a central online donation portal and compete for prizes. The Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield is one of the only nonprofits out of 463 organizations participating that serves Sturbridge, Brimfield, Wales, and surrounding communities.  


The Hitchcock Academy has planned a fun-filled day packed with FREE activities for ALL ages scheduled from 9am – 9pm.  Preschoolers will groove to music with Mrs. Coro and enjoy movement with Ms. Jenn and “Preschool Stone Soup” for lunch.  There will be Try-it-Out Hatha Yoga with Pam, Tai Chi with David, Wind-Down Yoga with Sharon, a Brown Baggers lunch program about the 1960’s civil rights movement, Henna with Sangita, and a watercolor bookmark station with Beth Parys.  There will be Simple Crafts for Kids, and Holly the Elf and Santa have promised to visit.  Linda Fuchs will help kids create glitter cones and evergreen centerpieces, and Dave Robison of Old Bones Genealogy will reveal how he is related to Samuel Austin Hitchcock.  Make a seasonal paper ornament with local artist Loretta Medeiros and watch a demo of painting on glass.  Hitchcock’s Executive Director for 25 years, Sue Gregory, will share “25 Tales from 25 Years” and there will be games all day for all ages. 


All online donations on that day could help Hitchcock win a prize through Valley Gives while supporting their mission: enriching lives of area residents by providing cultural, educational, and recreational programs. Valley Gives Day, hosted by the Community Foundation of Western Mass, is described on its website as a “24-hour celebration of generosity…. During Valley Gives Day, western Massachusetts nonprofits collaborate with the goal of getting thousands of Valley residents to support their favorite nonprofits. By participating, donors will help charities become eligible for special prizes totaling as much as $225,000.”


Donations can be made on December 10th or scheduled ahead of time at www.valleygivesday.org. For more information, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org.



For Immediate Release

December 8, 2014

Local Author to Host Brown Bag On Civil Rights as Part of Valley Gives Day Festivities


Brimfield, MA – Easthampton, Massachusetts author and story teller, Bob Reiser will be giving a talk on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s at 12:30 on December 10th at the Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield. The talk, entitled Everybody Says Freedom, is one of many free activities planned at the Hitchcock as part of their participation in the Valley Gives Day fundraiser.


Bob is the author of six books for adults and children, and has worked with Pete Seeger and jazz drummer, Panama Francis. His works for children include PJ, published by Houghton Mifflin and David Got his Drum, published by Marshall Cavendish Books. His adult books include Carry it On and Everybody Says Freedom, written with Pete Seeger.


The Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield has put together a day of free activities beginning at 9 a.m. with Preschool Movement, and ending with Try-It-Out Improv with Erin Greene from 8 to 9 p.m., and lots of activities for all ages in between, as a way to say thank you to the community and to encourage donations to the organization during Valley Gives Day. Valley Gives Day, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on December 10th, is a 24-hour giving day where 463 local nonprofits will collaborate to raise money and compete for prizes. Donations can be made at www.valleygivesday.org. Learn more about Bob Reiser at www.bobtales.com and learn more about all the activities at the Hitchcock Academy at www.hitchcockacademy.org.



Meet Erin Greene Wallace – Performer, Director, Producer, Costume and Set Designer, Theater Teacher, and now … Zumba Instructor at Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield.

This fall, Erin Greene Wallace, founder and Executive Artistic Director of Greene Room Productions in Monson is offering Improvisation classes for adults, “Dabble in Drama” for children, and now daytime Zumba classes at Hitchcock Free Academy. 


With a Bachelor’s degree in Theater and a concentration in costume design, Erin founded “Greene Room Productions Theatre Production and Educational Outreach Inc.” -- a non-profit organization seeking to enrich the lives of people of all ages, she says, by producing culturally diverse quality entertainment and hands-on opportunities in theater performance and production.   She has extensive experience leading her theater production company, staging a variety of works around the state, and working as Producer and Artistic Director for the Monson Summer Theater. 


“I’m really excited about teaching these classes at Hitchcock this fall,” she says, and adds, “I love a new challenge and am looking forward to working with some new people as well as those who are returning to Improv and ‘Dabble in Drama’ this October.”


Steve Magnante, one of Erin’s Improvisation students, Guest Judge at the Brimfield Antique Auto Show, and expert commentator for the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction Company, says, “I often take Erin Greene's Improvisation workshops at Hitchcock and would recommend her improvisation classes to anyone. They're fun, nobody tells you you're ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and everybody grows from the experience. I do a lot of live television work and the Hitchcock Free Academy Improvisation classes are really helpful to me to keep nervousness at bay when the cameras roll.”


For the first time, Erin is offering Zumba classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, 9 – 10am at Hitchcock. Zumba is a popular dance-exercise class with peppy rhythms.  Sue Gregory, Executive Director of Hitchcock Free Academy, says, “Erin Greene Wallace has all the ‘moves’ and makes every day fun with her contagious smile.  Join her for Zumba to start your day on the right foot.” 


What comment does Erin have about teaching Zumba this fall?  “I’m ready to rock!” she says.    


For more information about Hitchcock Free Academy and programs available there, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org and for information about Greene Room Productions, visit www.greeneroomproductions.com .

New and Returning Smiles at Hitchcock’s Summer Fun Program

Hitchcock Free Academy (HFA) welcomes Elise Hanks-Witaszek of Brimfield to this year’s Summer Fun staff as Tennis Instructor.  Elise, a Junior at Tantasqua, has been playing tennis since 4thgrade and has been on Tantasqua’s Varsity team since 9th grade.


  Elise Hanks-Witaszek

Elise Hanks-Witaszek

Elise has volunteered for Hitchcock in previous Summer Fun programs, and is looking forward to teaching this summer and working with “Summer Funners” ages 5 – 12 in her classes. 

“I enjoy working with kids, and my biggest goal for them is just to have a lot of fun,” she says. 

Elise will be teaching tennis to two age groups this summer: children ages 5 -7 and ages 8 – 12.  She adds, “I would love to see some of them continue with tennis, either for fun or to eventually join a team in high school. It really is a great sport and something you can play for the rest of your life. My sister, who is graduated, also played on the Tantasqua Varsity Tennis team and we play almost every night over the summer.”

HFA also welcomes returning Instructor Nancy-Giorgio Kupiek, fondly known as “Mrs. K” to children in the Summer Fun program.  She will again be teaching the “StoryTime” class for preschoolers, and "Design & Create" classes for children ages 5 to 12, in which participants have a different age-appropriate craft or food-creating experience each day.

Giorgio-Kupiek has worked with children for more than 30 years and holds a master's degree in elementary education.  At the Warren Public Library, she is running the statewide summer reading program entitled "Fizz! Boom! Read!"  She says, "I'm doing some really cool and fun science projects that I will be bringing to Summer Fun too.  I also have some exciting and yummie new recipes for 'Cooking Friday'."

  Mrs. K, disguised as a turkey, has lots of creative ideas that she'll bring to Hitchcock's Summer Fun program again this year.

Mrs. K, disguised as a turkey, has lots of creative ideas that she'll bring to Hitchcock's Summer Fun program again this year.

I also do the storytime at the library," she adds, "and I have some fun ideas to bring the stories to life with dress-up and role-playing"


Mrs. K’s enthusiasm for being part of the Summer Fun program is hard to miss: “When everyone else is anticipating spring in the winter, I'm anticipating Summer Fun!  I look forward to these 3 weeks every year and am soooo excited for 2014,” she says. 


HFA’s Executive Director, Susan Gregory, notes that for quite a few area residents, Summer Fun is a long-time tradition.  “Many kids return year after year; some volunteer as assistants when they have “aged out” of Summer Fun, and some, like Elise, even return as staff members,” she says. 


“Summer Fun is just that: FUN!  One participant whom I saw recently gave me a hug and said, ‘Hitchcock is my favorite part of the summer!  When does Summer Fun start?’  Creating smiles and happy childhood memories is what makes Summer Fun so great,” Gregory adds. 


Hitchcock's Summer Fun program runs from July 14 - August 1, 9am - 11:50am, Monday - Friday.  Classes for preschoolers are StoryTime, Games, and Arts & Crafts; children ages 5 - 12 may choose Games, Tennis, and Design & Create.  Chilren may sign up for one, two, or three classes.  For information, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call (413) 245-9977. 

Huge Town-Wide Tag Sale in Brimfield this Saturday, May 31.

There are 49 stops – a record – on this year’s Town-Wide Tag Sale benefitting Hitchcock Free Academy.  You’ll find everything from antiques to children’s items to tools and much more on this year’s map, available for $2 on Saturday, 8am – 2pm, at Hitchcock’s Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market, at the corner of Brookfield Road and North Main Street.


“Our map will have the best places to go for what you are looking for, and maybe some unexpected treasures as well,” says Sue Gregory, Hitchcock’s Executive Director.  “With the perfect weather forecasted and the record number of stops, this year’s Town-Wide Tag Sale, the 4th Annual, will be a lot of fun for everyone,” she adds.


The map will include where all 49 stops are located, and a brief summary of what will be for sale at each one, so treasure hunters can pinpoint where they want to visit first.


All proceeds from map sales and tag sale registrations benefit Hitchcock, a non-profit community center providing cultural, educational, and recreational programs for all ages.


For more information, visit www.brimfieldtownwidetagsale.com or www.hitchcockacademy.org or call (413) 245-9977

Hitchcock Free Academy is having an Antique Appraisal Fundraiser on Sunday, April 6, 10am – 2pm.  Wayne Tuiskula of Central Mass Auctions, pictured here appraising a painting at an event in Worcester, will appraise your items for $5 each or three for $10.  All proceeds benefit HFA.  Visitwww.hitchcockacademy.org for more information.

Brimfield, MA – Antique Appraisal Fundraiser at Hitchcock Free Academy.


You never know… That painting you picked up at a tag sale might be worth more (a lot more?) than you paid for it.  Your chance to find out for sure is on Sunday, April 6, from 10am – 2pm at Hitchcock Free Academy.


Professional auctioneer/appraiser Wayne Tuiskula of Central Mass Auctions will be available to look at your item (or items), tell you its current market value, and perhaps expand on what you may already know about it.   


Tuiskula, who has been a collectibles appraiser for the PBS “Antiques Roadshow” television program, has been in the antique world since he was a youngster and began collecting coins, stamps, and military patches.  As an adult, he sold antiques part-time as a hobby, then began running estate sales, setting up at the Brimfield antique shows and antique co-ops, and had an online business.  He has been an auctioneer for 12 years, and participates in about four fundraising appraisal events a year.


What he enjoys most about fundraising events such as the one at Hitchcock, he says, besides getting out of the office and meeting new people, is that “you never know what you’ll see next.  Someone might show you a modern vase worth around $10 and the next person in line has a baseball signed by Babe Ruth that is worth thousands.”


One incident that stands out in his mind occurred at an event at the Worcester Senior Center.  “Someone brought in 2 letters written by Teddy Roosevelt.  Roosevelt was a student at Harvard University when he wrote the letters to his classmate, Charles Washburn.  Teddy wrote about spending his summer rowing in Oyster Bay, NY and about a planned trip to Maine.  There were many references to Harvard and other collegiate sports teams.  The letters were consigned to us by the person at the appraisal event and brought over $4,000 when we sold them at auction,” Tuiskula says. 


Market values do fluctuate with demand for particular items, Tuiskula says.  “Over the years, sterling silver flatware, gold estate jewelry, gold and silver coins, and many types of collectibles have risen in value.”


He says he’s looking forward to Hitchcock’s fundraising event because “it’s always nice to help an organization with their fundraising and meet the people involved with the group.  I also have fond memories of Brimfield from my early years in the antique business when I used to sell at the shows.” 


Appraisals at Hitchcock’s event are $5 for one item; $10 for three.  All proceeds benefit Hitchcock Free Academy, a non-profit community center providing educational, recreational, and cultural programs to residents of Brimfield, Holland, Sturbridge, Wales, and the surrounding communities.  For very large items, please bring several photographs instead. 


“Old Bones” genealogical researcher Dave Robison, shown here presenting in Ludlow a few months ago, is offering introductory classes entitled “Genealogy and Family Research” at Hitchcock Free Academy on Tuesdays, 6:30 – 8pm, starting March 4.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org for full details. 


Brimfield, MA --

Family research – filling out our family tree – is one of those things that many of us would love to do one day, but just don’t know where to start.  Of course there’s information on the internet, but what sites are reliable? Which ones are worth paying to use?  How does one access public records online?  Which relative to start researching?  What to ask?

Fortunately, there are experts like Dave Robison of Old Bones Genealogy and Family History Research of New England, who is teaching classes about getting started on genealogical research at Hitchcock Free Academy in Brimfield, starting March 4. 

After a long-time career in the automotive industry, he has “fully migrated” to genealogy, he says in his blog posting, “About Dave” at www.oldbonessearch.com . 

He continues, “I’ve now branched out into a field that couldn’t be farther from the profession I’ve been in from my youth.  I’ve begun writing this genealogy blog, I continue as a research associate at the Museum of Springfield History, I belong to a number of professional genealogical associations (New England Historic Genealogical Society, Massachusetts Genealogical Council, the Association of Professional Genealogists among others) and I’ve given a variety of genealogy presentations and classes to a variety of groups and clubs in this area as well as a course entitled ‘Introduction to Genealogy and Family Research’.”

Robison’s blog site has a variety of postings with tips on how to conduct research, lists of helpful websites, ideas regarding how to go about interviewing (even listing potential questions), and other sources that may be useful and interesting to family fact hunters. 

“If there’s anyone on the planet who is more enthusiastic than me regarding family research, I haven’t met them,” he says.

For more information about Robison’s work, visit www.oldbones.co [sic].  For more information about Hitchcock Free Academy, visit www.hitchcockacademy.org or call (413)245-9977.


“Buddies” in Training at Hitchcock Free Academy.  

Five month-old “Jax”, pictured above, is enrolled in Hitchcock’s “Buddies Dog Training Basics” class along with his people, Mike Phipps and Georgina Polverari of Monson.  Jax is a “Whippet” – a breed described by the American Kennel Club as “an English Greyhound in miniature” that is capable of speeds up to 35 m.p.h.  Although Jax is good-natured and friendly, Phipps says he and Polverari are hoping to improve Jax’s behavior a bit, and to “control his jumping and chewing” habits.  To find out more about what’s happening at Hitchcock, visitwww.hitchcockacademy.org .


Brimfield, MA – Hitchcock Free Academy Parking Lot Gets a Makeover

 With re-grading and new paving, Hitchcock Free Academy’s parking lot is benefitting from a much-needed makeover, thanks to a generous donation from MGM Resorts International and Rolling Hills Realty Trust. 

“I’m so pleased that we were able to use money from the MGM donation to pave our parking lot; it will be put to good use for many years to come as folks participate in HFA programs,” said Susan Gregory, Executive Director at Hitchcock Free Academy.

At the corner of Brookfield Road and North Main Street in Brimfield, the parking lot is the former site of The Brimfield Hotel.  According to information on the Brimfield Public Library website, “There were three hotels in Brimfield from 1808 to 1941 (except for 1890 - 1898) - all situated on the same lot, what is now the Hitchcock Academy parking lot.  It's difficult to imagine that a hotel of its size could fit on that lot!"

The third hotel, pictured here during “Old Home Day” on September 4, 1911, was destroyed by fire in 1941; the print is from a glass plate negative owned by HFA. 

The site was later purchased by Hitchcock Academy High School Alumni and donated to the Academy.  


Brimfield, MA –Hitchcock Free Academy: Closer than You Might Think

Something new, interesting, and fun may be closer than it seems.  Interested in Yoga, Tai Chi, fitness classes, stress reduction, cooking, belly dance, painting, knitting, guitar / voice lessons, dog training, or other varied programs to light up your life?  Fall classes and events will be starting in September, and are accessible to residents of all the area towns. 

For example, did you know that from HFA’s location at 2 Brookfield Road in Brimfield, the center of Monson is only 7.1 miles and 15 minutes away?  Here are the distances and travel times to other communities:

            Wales Post Office  - 4.5 miles / 8 minutes

            Holland Library – 5.9 miles / 11 minutes

            Sturbridge Town Common – 7.1 miles / 13 minutes

            Southbridge Center – 10.7 miles / 18 minutes

            Palmer Public Library – 8.3 miles / 13 minutes

            Warren – 6.8 miles / 11 minutes

            Brookfield – 9.6 miles / 16 minutes

            North Brookfield – 13.6 miles / 24 minutes

            West Brookfield – 10.3 miles / 17 minutes

Sign up for a class with a friend or two, and make a short drive seem even shorter while you economize.  Our website is updated regularly as new programs are added, and our flyers will be available outside our front door and in local libraries toward the end of August. 

HFA is a non-profit community center offering educational, recreational, and cultural programs to area residents of all ages.  Programs are reasonably-priced and there are a number of free events throughout the year.  Hitchcock is also a popular meeting place for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, AA, and other community groups.  Room rentals are also available for $50 per hour.

For more information on Hitchcock Free Academy and our programs, please visit our website,www.hitchcockacademy.org, or call (413) 245-9977.  There’s always something happening for everyone at Hitchcock!


Brimfield -  The 5th Annual Brimfield Antique Auto Show will be held on October 5th 10-3 with a rain date of October 12.  We are so fortunate to have Steve Magnante joining us again this year at our show.  Steve just took some time out of his day at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Reno to email us at Hitchcock Free Academy.

 L-R Lester Brinkley, Steve Magnante.

L-R Lester Brinkley, Steve Magnante.

The Steve Magnante trophy for 2012 was awarded to Les and Lee Brinkley for their 1971 Pontiac T37

Steve wrote:

"I grew up in West Brookfield, MA - in a household that viewed cars as machines to go from Point A to Point B. But somehow I got bit by the car bug. As a 10 year old - in 1974 - I discovered Matchbox cars, a box of vintage Hot Rod magazines and plastic model car kits. I was hooked for life.

Today - as I write this - I'm in Reno doing the Barrett-Jackson auction for Speed TV (soon to become Fox Sports 1). I do feel very lucky to be able to earn a living doing what I love. Next week, I am off to Detroit where I'll be working for Dodge as a video reporter at the Woodward Dream Cruise. That event is amazing because - being held in the heart of the Motor City, every third or fourth car is owned by the guy who either designed or built it. I'm talking about retired development engineers and assembly line workers. I'm amazed when a restored GTO pulls up and the driver gets out and tells how he was part of the team that tested the Ram Air hood duct system before the car was approved for production. Only in Detroit!

But I also enjoy attending local car events like the Hitchcock Free Academy show. Every car has a story and I have fun hearing of the many adventures folks have taking an old car from junk to perfection. I'll be at the upcoming show in October. I'm not sure which of my cars I'll bring yet.      I have to replace the valve springs in my Nova, but I hope it'll be ready in time".

For more details about the upcoming show visit http://www.hitchcockacademy.org/content/antique-auto-show

or call Hitchcock Free Academy at 413 245-9977.


Cooking with Table 3 Restaurant Chef Enrico Giovanello at Hitchcock Free Academy. 

If you’ve dined at Cedar Street Grille, Avellino, or The Duck in Sturbridge, you’ve enjoyed delicious food from the Table 3 Restaurant Group!  Here’s your chance to create home-made pasta and sauces with Table 3’s own Chef Rico, who will share some of his preparation tips.  You won’t want to miss this delicious opportunity to learn from a pro on Wednesday, August 7, 6:30 – 8:30pm.  The fee is $42 for Brimfield, Holland, Sturbridge, and Wales residents; all others please add $5.  Visit www.hitchcockacademy.org for details.  For more information on Table 3, visit www.table3restaurantgroup.com

Come delizioso!  Prepare delicious home-made pasta and sauces with Table 3 Restaurant Group Chef Rico at Hitchcock Free Academy on Wednesday, August 7, 6:30 – 8:30pm.  

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