• 8th Grade Griffiths Team:  Week of October 18

    8th Grade Brown Team:  Week of October 25


    September 1, 2021

    Dear Parents /Guardians of Grade 8 Students,

    Preparations are well underway for the 8th grade trip to The Ecology School at River Bend, Saco, Maine. The events of the next few weeks will require hard work and cooperation from everyone, but past experience makes us confident that this will be a valuable and memorable learning experience.

    The Ecology School has a very informative website, which we encourage you to visit at www.the ecology school.org. It has information about their program, facilities, staffing, supervision, and a number of related topics.  This letter released by the ecology school has updated COVID mitigation protocols.  The students will be in dorms of 3-4 students per room.  Students will be assigned to small-size dining and study groups with consistent groupings as an additional mitigation factor.

    Following the virtual open house on September 15th, we will host an information session immediately after, where you can learn more about this unique learning experience and get any questions answered.

    Please review this packet carefully.  You will find links to 2 very important forms (i.e., health and registration). Forms and payment must be submitted and returned to us by Wednesday, September 22. All forms can also be completed online by clicking here.  The Group Hold ID to complete the forms is AMS8th1 for Week 1 (Griffiths Team) and AMS8th2 for Week 2 (Brown Team). 

    The total cost of this year’s trips is $450.00 per student. This includes tuition, room and board, and transportation. Payment is due by Wednesday, September 22. Please make all checks payable to Amherst Middle School and write your child’s name on the memo line. Students should hand their check and completed forms to their science teacher.

    • Mrs. Griffiths' team will leave for The Ecology School on Monday, October 18th, and return on Friday, October 22nd.
    • Ms. Brown’s team will leave for The Ecology School on Monday, October 25th, and return on Friday, October 29th.

    Please note that you will need to make special transportation arrangements on the Monday and Friday of The Ecology School week since we will be departing from and returning to the Amherst Walmart parking lot. Please arrive between 7:15 and 7:30 on Monday. Students will be allowed only two pieces of luggage, one of which must include either a sleeping bag or sheets and blankets. A copy of the packing list is included in this packet. The packing list may also be found on the AMS web site. Note that nothing special is required. Your cooperation is necessary and appreciated in making sure that students do not bring knives, gum, food, candy, electronic items (especially cell phones), lighters, matches, fireworks, or smoking materials. Please plan to check their luggage carefully.

    We are devoting a great deal of time, energy, and resources toward the successful planning and implementation of these trips. In deciding whether to attend, students should realize that the program is educational in nature and the expectation is that everyone will have fun as we learn. It is not a vacation week! Students must at all times be under adult supervision in designated areas. Any student who behaves in a manner that endangers the health or safety of themselves or others, or is detrimental to the smooth running of the program, will be required to be picked up by a parent/guardian.  We appreciate everyone’s cooperation in helping to ensure a positive and worthwhile experience for all.

    Please read the following letter from the Ecology School.  

    Though the great majority of students usually do attend these trips, a full program of 8th-grade studies will be provided for students who do not participate. If serious financial hardship is the only reason your child will not attend, or you need an extension of the payment deadline, please contact your science teacher as soon as possible.


    Mr. Geoff Griffiths    GGriffiths@sau39.org

    Ms. Alida Brown      Abrown@sau39.org 

    Grade 8 Science Teachers







                 June 7, 2021


     To Parents of Seventh Grade Students:


                As most of you know, last spring your children were planning to attend The Ecology School as part of their sixth grade science curriculum. Unfortunately, that trip which has taken place every year for over 40 years, had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. Covid-19 also forced the middle school to cancel all of its field trips for the 2020-2021 school year. 

    However, now that the pandemic appears to be receding and our world is slowly returning to normal, we are planning to allow the fall 8th grade trip to The Ecology School in Saco Maine!

    While the details are still being finalized, we are sending you this message so that you may do two things over the summer. First, have a discussion with your child in regards to their interest in participating in this trip. We are looking at going in October so they have many months to decide should they be nervous. If there are any concerns regarding Covid, The Ecology School is currently implementing the following precautions in order to keep all the children safe:

    • Monitoring and implementing federal and state health and safety guidelines for schools and camps
    • lower occupancy in rooms - 2 to a room instead of 4
    • brand new and top of the line HVAC systems in the dorms so that there is air turn over in each room - fresh air from outside 6x hour in every room
    • Pre-screening for COVID symptoms prior to arrival
    • Meals will look different - more spread out and modified family style
    • Maximizing outdoor time and small groups
    • Masking while indoors, except for eating and sleeping
    • Masking outdoors when social distancing is not possible

    Obviously, we are in a time of change due in large part to vaccinations. As conditions change, some of these mitigation measures may change. When the students return in the fall, an updated list of measures will be communicated out to you so that you may have the most up-to-date information. Secondly, we are working hard to keep the costs as low as possible. The cost for this trip will be $450. The pandemic has also been a financial burden on all of us. If this amount raises challenges for your family, PLEASE let us know! Dr Bernasconi has stated that any Amherst or Mont Vernon child who wishes to attend The Ecology School, will attend The Ecology School! We have scholarships, financial aid and payment plans available. Usually, we ask for a spring payment and a fall payment. We will not be collecting a spring payment due to the late nature of this notice in the school year. That means we will be collecting the full amount in September when we return to school. So we do ask that you consider this amount in your fall budgeting.

    We look forward to finalizing and sharing with you more specific details about this trip such as the exact dates and the most current mitigation measures. There is a great deal going on at this time of the year, but we felt that it was important to keep you informed and allow you time to plan ahead. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact either the AMS Principal, Dr Bethany Bernasconi (bbernasconi@sau39.org) or the AMS science coordinator, Grant Dustin (gdustin@sau39.org ).


    Grant Dustin and Dr. Bethany Bernasconi