All are welcome to this showcase of student work by students in Community Based Learning, Branching Out, The Pilot, and Branching Out Middle School. During the night all of our community mentors who have helped our students during their flexible pathways studies will be honored. In addition, we will have great food and a few speakers!
The Black Lives Matter movement was established four years ago to bring attention to the violence being inflicted on black communities. It has evolved into a movement that is focused on changing our world so black people can be successful economically, socially and politically.
A group of students approached the Board earlier in March with the request to fly the flag. They spoke passionately and eloquently about their experiences at U-32 and the hurtful comments they have had to face because of the color of their skin. They acknowledged that racism is not the biggest problem at U-32 but it remains a hidden problem and stems from ignorance. The Board agreed with the students that many people don’t realize the harm they are causing students.
The Board members and the students discussed the symbolism and importance of flying the flag. The hope is that for U-32, flying this flag is the catalyst for more in-depth conversations and trainings for all students and staff to increase awareness of race issues at U-32 and beyond. The administration recognizes these issues are uncomfortable to discuss but can no longer be ignored. Steps are being taken to incorporate more of this learning into the students’ and teachers’ school experience.
As Latisha Montgomery, a junior at U-32, so clearly stated to the Board, “It is not about someone’s life mattering more than anyone else’s life, it is about how my life matters the same as yours.”
The Board would like to thank Latisha and the students of BLAAMM (Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and many more) for raising this important topic. The Board hopes that the entire community will join in honoring and celebrating diversity.
On March 21, 2018, the middle chorus performed at Berlin Elementary School, East Montpelier and Calais. On May 14, 2018, intermediate band and middle school orchestra will be performing at Calais, Doty and Rumney.
High School Spring Concert is on May 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm.
Middle School Spring Concert is on May 23, 2018 at 7:00 pm.
Congratulations to U-32’s State Winners of the Vermont Letters about Literature Competition!
Katie Phillips won first place in the state competition with her letter to Katherine Patterson.
Charlotte Bodin won second place in the state competition with her letter to George R. R. Martin.
Avery Ehret won third place in the state competition with her letter to Michael Buckley.
These excellent writers will be honored at a ceremony at the Vermont Statehouse on May 25th. Katie’s letter has been entered into the Library of Congress’ national competition. Those results will be reported in the coming months!
Isabel Moustakas’s (6th grade) letter won third place in the state competition and Tiahna Hallock’s letter won first place in the state competition! Both girls have been invited to attend a ceremony in their honor at the Statehouse. Tiahna’s letter has been entered as Vermont’s pick into the national contest. Good luck Katie and Tiahna!
On Saturday March 17, 2018 Berlin Elementary School had two teams of students compete in the 11th annual Vermont Jr. Iron Chef. The first team, Italian Bobcats, created Spaghetti Squash Lasagna. The second team, PAWsitive Pizza, presented a “Rainbow” Vegetable Pizza to the judges. Both teams put forth an amazing effort, and the Italian Bobcats took home the Crowd Pleaser Award for best tasting dish.
On Thursday, April 12th the Italian Bobcats and their coaches went to the Statehouse where they were recognized.
The students were very excited for this opportunity and were the youngest team present at this wonderful event. While there the team served their dish to a room full of Representatives and were presented with a proclamation which will proudly hang in the Berlin Elementary cafeteria to hopefully inspire more students to become Jr. Iron Chefs in upcoming years!
U-32 teacher Kate McCann was presented with the Angelo J. Dorta Teaching Excellence Award at the Vermont NEA Awards Ceremony at the Stoweflake Resort on April 7. As the 2018 Vermont-NEA Angelo J Dorta Teaching Excellence winner, Kate has been recommended by Vermont-NEA for the national NEA Teaching Excellence Award.
Kate was recently named an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow for K-12 educators in the fields of STEM. She also is the recipient of the AOE Vermont Teacher of the Year award in 2017, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching 2015, and National Board Certification Adolescence and Young Adulthood Mathematics.
East Montpelier Elementary School Book Club
East Montpelier fourth, fifth and sixth graders have been enjoying book club this year. Students have been meeting regularly in the evening since school started. Hosted by library teacher Arlyn Bruccoli and fifth and sixth grade teachers, Ellen Shedd, and Claire Gallagher, students have read books that are nominees for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award. About a dozen plus kids come each week to do activities connected to the books, talk about the books, and have a snack.
On March 20th, Lost in the Pacific, 1942 author Tod Olson (who lives in Middlesex) came to the book club and shared what inspired him to write his nonfiction “Lost” survival story series. When he was their age, he read the book Alive about a rugby team from Uruguay whose plane crashed in the Andes Mountains. He was so enthralled he read the whole book in two days! Ever since then, he’s wanted to write stories that kids find riveting.
Observing the students’ engagement as he presented, it’s clear that he’s certainly accomplished that with the book Lost in the Pacific, 1942. Students asked question after question of Olson who made the story come to life for the nine, ten, and eleven-year-olds.
To go along with the harrowing true story of how eight men in three tiny inflatable rafts, lost in shark-infested Pacific Ocean without food or water near enemy-held territory survived three weeks before being rescued, the teachers planned an activity where the students created life rafts out of large sheets of paper. They imagined what it would be like to be in shark-infested waters.
Lost in the Pacific, 1942 is the first in a series of adventure stories Olson has written. There’s also Lost in Outer Space, about the Apollo 13 moon mission, and the third book is Lost in the Amazon, about a teenager who falls from a plane and has to survive on her own in the rainforest. A fourth book is in the works and Olson promised to send the students a picture for them to try and figure out what the book is about.
To view a WCAX piece about how Olson is inspiring reluctant readers to read – that highlights an East Montpelier boy – click here.
By Ginger Knight, 10th grade-U-32
U-32’s Seeking Social Justice Club was formed at the beginning of this school year. The club is led by two teachers, Meg Allison and Amy Koenigbauer, with student members from grades 7-12.
“Our goal is to raise awareness throughout the school community about issues that are important and matter to us,” said Sylvan Williams, a member of the Social Justice Club. Some of the issues the club has brought up are racism and sexism within our school. Some examples include how to respond to someone using the word “gay” in a derogatory way and how to deal with swastikas drawn on the school walls. Our club has talked to school administration and had important conversations on how to move forward.
Unlike several schools across the country that held their school walkout March 14, U-32 and Montpelier High School postponed their walkout until Wednesday, March 21st because of a snowstorm. With the support of Principal, Steven Dellinger-Pate, as well as Superintendent Bill Kimball, we were able to focus on creating an inclusive school climate. However, because of safety reasons, the walkout was closed to public participation.
At 10 am on the 21st of March students silently left their classes and walked outside to the front of the school. Noah Witke-Mile (senior), Bruno John (sophomore), Sylvan Williams (sophomore), and myself, Ginger Knight (sophomore) spoke in front of an audience of almost 300 students and faculty. Noah opened with a moment of silence to recognize the 17 victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Students and teachers held posters in solidarity. Sylvan read a moving poem called, “Mama, Enough.” Bruno made a speech about the sickness of the NRA, while I read the names of each and every victim shot at MSD. The Times Argus was present and interviewed the speakers after the 17 minutes were over.
There were several teachers who walked out. Nick Holquist, a Middle School English teacher said, “I participated because I was inspired by students organizing it on their own. It is amazing how students got together and made it happen.” For the rest of the day, students attended classes and some talked with their peers about the walkout. Many students talked about the signs that were held including one that said, “I ♡ the NRA”.
“I feel as though the student that held up the “I ♡ the NRA” was standing up for what they believe in. This walkout was meant to be for the 17 students that passed away, and it turned into a walkout for people who were not supporters of guns,” said an anonymous student who didn’t join the walkout.
The following week, our Principal, Steven Dellinger-Pate, held a forum for students who didn’t have a chance to speak in the walkout to have their voices heard. About 10-12 students showed up to have a respectful conversation with the principal. The majority of those who attended believed the walkout had a good outcome, but they expressed a need for more dialogue with their peers around current and controversial issues. Our principal stated he would be offering more opportunities for students to engage in civil dialogue respectfully.
To our surprise, Noah Witke-Mile was interviewed by a Toronto based news channel about our school walkout. This goes to show how far reaching this student-based movement is.
No matter what side of the gun issue you’re on, we all agree we do not want to be the next victims of a school shooting. As a school community, I believe it is very important to engage with others and listen to what other people have to say. The Seeking Social Justice Club will continue to speak up and create positive change.
Editor’s note: For more on the walkout, see the U-32 Chronicle article.
A WCSU School Start Time Subcommittee has formed to explore the possibility of changing the start time of schools in Washington Central, primarily motivated by research showing that later start times are particularly good for teenagers.
There’s no specific proposal on the table yet, but several possibilities are being considered including:
- Swap high school and elementary start times,
- Move both high school and elementary starts later, or
- Start both high school and elementary at the same time.
This TED talk by a sleep researcher, a ten minute long video, talks about the benefits of later start times and recommends at least 8:30 am for high school.
There is far less research on how younger children are affected by school start times, but if you want a deeper dive into that for teenagers a number of articles and papers are linked here.
According to one participant, even without details of a specific proposal, the mood of those attending the two community meetings held so far has been supportive of a change.
It looks like an online survey should be out in May to try to get a broader sense of how people feel about this issue.
The next meeting is April 23rd at 5:30 at U-32 (room 128-131).