Stage 32 presented Cry Baby the Musical April 7-9 at U-32.
Theater has a big role in our elementary schools. Kids love to prepare for and participate in dramatic productions both large and small. Here is a snippet of what’s going on these days.
This is the second year that first and second graders at Calais Elementary have been one of seven Vermont schools invited to collaborate with the ECHO Leahy Center and the Very Merry Theatre Company as part of the Waterways Stage Production. This project based learning experience combines science with drama in a hands-on, student led format. School groups pick an organism to study, and create a play to teach others about their species. This year the theme is threatened /endangered aquatic organisms and students are studying the Eastern Pearlshell Mussel which is the only threatened species in the Calais area. Sarah Adelaide, from the Very Merry Theatre Company is helping students develop, write and practice the play, while ECHO biologist, Nina Ridhibhinyo, teaches them about the greater Lake Champlain Watershed. Calais parent, VT Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Mike Wichrowski first introduced the Calais kids to the Eastern Pearlshell Mussel. Keep Reading
How do we know what they know now?
What would it be like to drive around in a car from 1920? It probably wouldn’t work very well. And it wouldn’t make much sense. Interestingly, we are currently using an educational system very similar to what was used over 100 years ago.
We have been very rooted in our traditional educational system which doesn’t necessarily serve the modern learner. Therefore we are trying to build a new system of education in Vermont that among other things can answer the question: “How do we teach students to be ready for jobs that might not even exist yet?”
For over a century, students have received a high school diploma based on the accumulation of credits earned for passing courses. This system has not necessarily ensured that students are actually ready for college or the job market. And many graduates leave high school unprepared to succeed. But, educators in Vermont think there is a better way.
That is: Proficiency Based Graduation Requirements (PRGR) that are based on Student Learning Outcomes (SLO, see graphic page 1). Beginning with the graduating class of 2020 (today’s ninth graders), students will graduate, not based on credits received for passing courses, but based on proficiency.
U-32 principal Steven Dellinger-Pate says, “We really want our kids to be prepared to assume their role in society. To be a contributor to our community, graduates need more than just knowledge, they need transferable skills, or soft skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.”
We lost a very special man last month with the passing of Bill Haines. Bill was a powerful force for good who touched hundreds of people in our community.
Bill was a true activist, constantly organizing student involvement in the community, state and nation. Bill taught at Montpelier High School for 32 years! Among other things, he worked on and created a handbook on student rights, a card catalogue of community resources, environmental initiatives, and various camping and canoeing activities.
In retirement Bill continued to inspire students through debate club, Project Citizen, We the People, student river cleanups … If there was a worthwhile community project, you can be sure Bill worked on it.
His leadership was grounded in his deep concern for his country, state, community and most of all, his students. Bill served on the Worcester select board for 12 years, was town moderator, served on the Doty school board, and served on the boards of several non-profits including Washington Central Friends of Education and Friends of the Winooski River. He also served on the Community Connections Steering Committee.
Bill met and married Leslie while both taught in Montpelier. They married in 1972 and built a house and moved in 1973 to Worcester where they raised two children, Liza and Cory, gardened, and enjoyed cutting wood. In his last years, he enjoyed his eight grandchildren, traveling with Leslie, the dog, Pickles, baking almond biscotti, reading, discussing politics and education, and canoeing with friends. Keep Reading
Where does one go for the latest news about U-32 Middle and High School? To the student-produced Chronicle, of course. It’s the news organization that’s been covering U-32 since 1971.
The school has had a student paper since the beginning. In the early days the paper was called everything from “Name This Paper,” and “National Lame Prune,” to “The Shadow,” and “The U-32 Ooops!” “The Chronicle” started in 1984, with teacher advisors Joanne Greenberg and Steve Barrows.
But the latest change is that the Chronicle has now become an online publication. A yearly magazine, Zoo Chronicles, for pieces with a longer shelf life, is also produced in printed form. Advisor Ben Heintz says, “I’m really proud of the magazine from last year and there are still copies for sale in the front office and the library.”
There are a lot of reasons for going digital, for any media outlet. The Chronicle benefits as stories can be published when they’re finished, instead of in a big batch all at once, and can be any length. Also, they have access to a much broader audience and the online format offers the ability to include photos, audio, video, and use interactive features. Another advantage – student editors have the opportunity to learn skills in digital media production that are more transferrable than print layout.
Advisor Ben Heintz says that students mostly come up with their own stories, or he proposes ideas in class. “For most kids this is the hardest part. They’re not asked to think this way in school very often,” Heintz continues. He says that it’s often hard for students to see that the issues and stories in our small community are actually compelling, “so a lot of good stories are invisible, or don’t come on the radar.” He works to expose the students to models of strong local reporting, and in fact, they just had a visit from VT Digger reporter Elizabeth Hewitt!
The Chronicle is working to grow their audience. Their biggest source of readers comes from Facebook. Therefore they are working to increase the number of Facebook followers into the thousands.
New Directions Prevention Specialist Ginny Burley plays “Substance Jeopardy” with U-32 students at a World Food, Health & Wellness Event at the school October 21st. During that time High School students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of events from test tasting stations to yoga, ropes course, Turn Off Texting demonstrations, and more. At the New Directions station, students tested their knowledge about alcohol, opiates, cannabis and tobacco. While the students proved quite knowledgeable, a few gaps stood out: students underestimated the extent to which cannabis can be addictive; and they overestimated how many Vermont students had ever used marijuana. They guessed 90-100%, but the answer is 37%.
U-32 senior Lauren Morse makes applesauce from local apples from Burtt’s Orchard during U-32’s wellness day October 21st.
Cultural Arts & Educational Exchange
During the week of October 11-14 students and staff from Berlin Elementary School participated in a Nicaragua Meets Vermont Cultural Arts and Education Exchange. Throughout the week 7 Nicaraguan staff from Planting Hope worked with Berlin Elementary staff to provide rich cultural experiences during Allied Arts classes. In Art, students painted with coffee to create unique expressions of Vermont and Nicaraguan life. In Music, students engaged in traditional songs, movement, drumming and music. In PE, students learned customary dances of Nicaragua. In Guidance, students learned Spanish vocabulary.
On Friday evening community members were treated to a culminating event where students and staff presented their learning from the week. There were colorful costumes, songs, dances, whole group movement, an art show, coffee and a fruit dessert. The PTNA sponsored the week-long event. Berlin teacher Cindy Gauthier said “We are so grateful for the Planting Hope staff who provided an experience that has left our community wiser about life in Nicaragua.” Gauthier traveled to Nicaragua