While this month starts a new era for the Amity Regional School system, it also marks a revised format for the Amity Backpack. Starting this month the Backpack will offer an additional section devoted to the ninth grade, as they continue their freshman year at the Senior High School. Our format will continue to begin with the news applicable to the middle school campuses and then we will cover the news for the ninth grade.

With the ninth grade now following the high school schedule it's inevitable that more Amity Sr. High School news will be included. However, our readers can be assured that the focus of this column will remain on grades 7, 8 and 9. Those families wishing to stay current with the news from the senior high can access the Amity Regional website at www.amityregion5.org, as well as, The Trident, the Amity High School student newspaper.

First we will cover the news that applies to both of the middle school campuses in Orange and Bethany, as well as grade 9. School will be closed on Monday, Feb. ,21 for the observance of Presidents Day. The Winter recess will run from Tuesday, Feb., 22 through Friday, Feb. 25. Classes will resume on Monday, Feb. 28. Report cards are being issued on Jan. 31 for Orange and Bethany campuses, and on Jan. 28 for the Senior High. At press time the Backpack was unsure whether the grade 9 report cards would be issued on Jan. 28 or 31.

Middle School parent-teacher conferences will be held on Feb. 8 and Feb. 17. Grade 9 parent-teacher conferences will be held on Feb. 15. Appointments for Grade 9 parent conferences can be made through the Grade 9 offices at the modular complex after report cards are received. Parents can call 397-4187 or 397-4188.

Now we will list the news for the middle school in Orange. The PTSO will meet on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. in the modular classrooms. News will be available concerning a future 'open-house" tour of the new modular classroom complex. Amity Spartan sportswear is still available in limited styles, sizes and quantity. For more information, contact Mary Cornell at 795-3157. Net proceeds from the sale of the sportswear benefits the PTSO. The PTSO also welcomes new Co-Presidents Donna Wesolowski and Rachael Schettenhelm. Former PTSO President Karen Arnold has relinquished her duties due to the transfer of her grade 9 daughter to the high school.

There are still spaces available for the Washington, D.C. trip. Registration forms for the Washington, D.C. trip will be mailed to homes with student report cards. Call Karen Adams at 799-8862 or Patty Alves at 882-8996 for information. The trip will be chaperoned by Grade 8 Social Studies teachers, Mr. DaPonte and Mrs. Marganski.

The grade 8 and grade 9 students who are working on the yearbook will continue to do so at their respective schools, and will hold future joint meetings to finish the project. Order forms for the purchase of the yearbook will be sent home. The order form deadline is anticipated to be prior to the Winter Recess. The cost of the yearbook is $13 per copy. Order forms and payment should be returned to home room teachers or Ms. Jacobs.

Mr. Robert Slie, Principal of the Orange campus has advised the Backpack that a new lunch plan will become effective following the Winter Recess. Sandwiches, salads, pizza and snacks will be offered in lieu of the normal hot lunch program, as students will be required to eat their lunches in the modular classroom complex.

Now we turn our attention to the news for the Bethany campus. The PTO meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 9 a.m.. Check for the location due to the move to the modular classrooms. The Woodbridge Youth Services evening program will be held on Feb. 4. Please check with the school for the time and location of this event.

Because of the blizzard this past weekend, the move (for grades 7 and 8) into the portables has been delayed until Jan. 31.

Parents and students are reminded that the junior high in Bethany continues to collect box tops from General Mills products. Each box top is valued at 10 cents. If 1,000 box tops are collected, the school receives $100. For more information, go to www.boxtops4education.com.

Our new section now covers the news applicable to the Grade 9 students and families. First, the Backpack congratulates the Amity Senior High students who volunteered their time as members of the Link Crew to make the transition of the Grade 9 students to the high school rum smoothly. The services of the Link Crew Program was made possible by donations from the PTSO at the Orange campus, the PTO at the Bethany campus, the PTSA at the Senior High, as well as an allocation of funds from the Amity Regional Board of Education. The following local businesses also donated food and beverages to insure the success of the Link Program: Amity Wine and Spirits(soft drinks and water), Bella Nepal Restaurant, Dayton Street Pizza and Pasta Fair. We hope that members of the Amity community will continue to patronize these fine businesses who are loyal Amity supporters.

The Grade 9 Council raised $1,090 for the Sri Lanka Disaster Relief Fund under the direction of student Manusheka Yappa and faculty advisor Becca Jacobs. Congratulations to all students who participated. The Grade 9 Council will continue to meet with Ms. Jacobs at the high school and will in the near future merge with the Grade 9 council from Bethany. Grade 9 Freshman will also have representation on the High School Student Council. There are two openings for class representatives. Interested students should contact Ms. Jacobs.

The Amity Choral Music Department will hold solo and ensemble auditions on Feb. 3 from 2:20 p.m. to 4 p.m.. Auditions are open to Grade 9 students. The Solo and Ensemble Concert will take place on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.. The snow date is Feb. 15. Be on the lookout for further information regarding these activities. Grade 9 students have been given a listing of all clubs available to them at the senior high school. Dates for club sign-ups will be announced in the next several weeks.

Parents are given advance notice that on March 16, at 7 p.m. a community forum will be held on the topic of "Parents, the Anti-Drug." The focus of this forum is to provide information to the community on substance abuse and what parents and community members can do to keep our children safe. For information, contact Cathy Austin or Gary Lindgren at 397-4846.

The first week of the Grade 9 transition to the high school and the transition of our Grade 7 and 8 students in Orange to the modular classrooms has now been accomplished. The move of the Bethany campus grade 7 and grade 8 students should now be progressing, as well.

To date, the glitches have been minor and we hope it continues this way. The Grade 9 students are starting their full class schedules with many of them having new teachers and classmates. The Backpack wishes them well and hopes that they continue to show the same maturity, strength and fortitude that was apparent in their first week at the high school. Now, if the traffic problems at the high school can be worked out, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. See you next month.