With the first semester of the school year behind us, Amity Junior High in Bethany reflects back on the last five months as a time that has been filled with a mixture of emotions and experiences for the staff, students and families alike.

The events of Sept. 11, saddened us all. The staff and students came together and found constructive ways to be supportive of each other and the victims. The budget issue brought about a mixture of emotions and reactions as well, but was also able to be a learning experience for the students. -On Dec. 4, Student Council Adviser, Mari Beth Mahon, addressed questions students had at a student requested forum sponsored by the Student Council.

With all of this going on, the students, their families and the staff were still able to move forward and participate in many positive learning experiences. The start of the school year found the ninth grade math classes using space in the cafeteria as they patiently waited for their new quarters. By December, two new portable classrooms were installed, wired, and ready to go.

The public was invited to witness firsthand the many technological opportunities the students have by touring the resource center and technology center as a part of the "Celebrate Amity" school tour which took place during American Education Week. Toby Zabinski, head of the media center and Carolyn Stanley, head of the technology center, gave an overview of the many opportunities and resource materials available to students and Bethany and Woodbridge residents alike. Button- and sticker-making machines, a compact-disk burner, color Xerox machines for making transparencies, e-books and digital cameras are just some of the available items.

American Education Week was capped off by the Awards Assembly in which close to 200 students were recognized for academic excellence. Lynn Jeffress, principal of Bethany Jr. High, Karen Wojciecowski, head of guidance, Dr. Edward Goldstone, principal of Amity Regional Sr. High School and Colette Urbano, president of the Student Council, all addressed the audience. Credit was given to the involvement of parents which was witnessed by the large number of parents at the assembly. In addition, students were encouraged to get involved and stay involved in their educational experience, both academically and in an extracurricular manner. Students were recognized for making good choices and hard choices that helped them to go the extra distance, to get the better grade.

The first semester saw both the Peer Advocate and Peer Mediator programs get under way. The Peer Advocate program is designed to enable students to be better friends to their peers. They are trained in listening and communication skills as well as cultural sensitivity, substance abuse, stress and suicide. The goal of the program is that when "teens listen to teens," they will not only feel supported but be given accurate information. The Peer Mediation program is made up of 20 students trained in all aspects of the mediation process as a way of helping their peers resolve conflict. Peer Mediation offers a win/win process for the students who experience conflicts with a peer.

December offered the music department an opportunity to showcase the talent and hard work of the students who participate in band and choir. On Dec. 11, the instrumental concert took place. Dec. 13 saw the choral concert take place. Both were enjoyed by all who attended.

The Parent Teacher Organization has been actively involved in these first five months. Appropriations have been made to purchase new music stands that will be enjoyed by all students for years to come. Diversity day and field day for seventh- and eighth-graders are additional programs that the PTO appropriated money for. Schoolwide directories, fundraisers, and providing baked goods for school functions are other ways in which the PTO has been actively supporting the school. The meetings take place the first Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. at the junior high, with the exception of the March meeting which will be at 7 p.m. Meetings are always well-attended and quite informative.

With a busy first half of the year behind us, everyone is looking forward to a busy and productive second half as well.

Ms Arbo wrote this article on behalf of the Amity Junior High PTO, Bethany