Neighborly news about our schools

Book Buddies

in celebrations/educational excellence/Mentoring by

U-32 seventh graders presented the books they made for district elementary first and second graders at the annual Book Buddy event at U-32 on May 25. One of the most cherished events of the year!

Farm to School at Berlin Elementary

in Environmental learning/wellness by

The Farm to School group honored Cindy Gauthier in the garden on June 7 by planting two grapevines and hanging a plaque on the newly built trellis (by Dave Wilcox). She was acknowledged for years of initiating amazing place-based learning opportunities for Berlin students, related to health and wellness (e.g., garden, orchard, kitchen cart, Junior Iron Chef, gleaning, etc.)

Harvesting Worm Casting
The Compost Club harvested the worm castings from EVERYclassroom’s vermi-composters. The castings are a rich fertilizer that FREE and made by the kids and the worms! Each classroom uses the castings when they plant their raised bed in the school garden. We will reap the benefits during the fall harvest!

Thank you for your generous seedling donations for classroom garden planting:

  • Four Springs Farm, So Royalton – Jinny Hardy Cleland (Eli & Simon’s grandma)
  • Dog River Farm, Berlin – George Gross (Ainsley & Hunter’s dad)
  • Cate Farm, Plainfield – Richard Wizwall

U-32 Celebrates Community Mentors

in celebrations/educational excellence/Mentoring by

On the evening of May 9th, U-32’s atrium was filled with students, parents and community members. All were gathered to showcase and celebrate the work done by U-32 students and the help of mentors in our annual Mentor Appreciation Night.

U-32 offers five programs in which students have the chance to link up with mentors in the community: Branching Out, Community Based Learning (CBL), The Pilot program, Branching Out Middle School, and the Alt Path to Graduation. All told, we have as many as 130 students each year learning from community members and area businesses.

The five programs at U-32 give students a chance to study a topic not available in school — like Japanese, Buddhism, antique gunsmithing, building an electric guitar, or studying philosophy. Other times, students may want to get a glimpse of a career of interest — accounting, marketing, surgery, psychology, teaching, sound engineering or law enforcement. Exactly how mentors and students spend their hours together varies widely. One thing is consistent: mentors gift their time, expertise and interest. Students get a chance to meet community members, shadow or intern at area businesses, or get to know a familiar neighbor or family member in a new way. Lessons students learn often include how to reach out and communicate outside of school; how to connect with new adults; how to follow a thread of interest; how to be critical thinkers and feelers; how to be lifelong learners.

The student/mentor connection is the heart of these programs at U-32. Sophomore Finn Olson spent the year exploring questions of how people develop their moral/ethical values. On mentor night, Finn spoke about his connection with his mentor, East Montpelier resident Paul Erlbaum. “Paul taught me how to tackle big questions. He taught me how to research, and most importantly, he taught me that with a little peppermint tea, anything is possible…Paul has been a truly important adult in my life this year.” Paul responds “What an opportunity! Ruminating on questions people have pondered for centuries with a smart, determined, engaging 15-year-old — not an opportunity to be missed! Working with Finn and witnessing his critical thinking skills grow is a consistent joy.”

Mentor Ann Stanton, a mentor for several students studying psychology, shares the enthusiasm. “Everything about the mentor experience has been so positive. Just walking in the U-32 door, I feel boosted up by the energy contained in that building. My student mentees were serious about and invested in their topics. They worked hard, were eager to discuss and open to suggestions, and courageous in their explorations. In short, they were ideal students.”

Thank you to all the community members and businesses who have helped make our programs possible – we could not exist without their expertise and generosity. TREMENDOUS THANKS. If you are interested in mentoring a student, please feel free to contact Karen Liebermann, or Mentor Coordinator Kim McKellar,

U-32 English Teacher Alden Bird Awarded Rowland Fellowship

in educational excellence by

The Rowland Foundation, based in South Londonderry, Vermont, offers grants to Vermont secondary school educators “who are visionary, willing to lead, motivated and committed to affecting change in an area of concern within their respective schools.” Currently in its tenth year, the Foundation has named educators from six Vermont high schools as Rowland Fellows.

Washington Central Supervisory Union and U-32 Middle/High School are proud to announce that U-32 English teacher Alden Bird has been awarded a 2018 Rowland Fellowship by The Rowland Foundation.

Bird’s fellowship comes with a $75,000 grant for U-32, part of which will allow him release time from daily teaching to continue implementing the U-32 English department’s one-on-one student conferencing initiative. Begun as a pilot program two years ago, English teachers at U-32 now spend part of their days conferencing individually with students.

Bird plans to spend this next year conducting research, interviewing students, teachers, and U-32 graduates, and studying high schools and colleges around the country that employ individual conferencing. He will also continue his work as English A.P. Coordinator, and will return to teach two classes during the second semester.

Calais All School Wellness Walk

in Uncategorized/wellness by

Students Plant Orchard at Berlin Elementary

in STEM/wellness by

In May 11 third and fourth graders worked with students from Central Vermont Career Center to plant 14 more trees the BES Orchard. This project was funded by Central Vermont Rotary. Many thanks to Dave Wilcox, Carol Earle and Amanda Garland for all their efforts making this such a successful learning opportunity for students our young students and the high student leaders.

World Peace Game Comes to East Montpelier

in Environmental learning by

Washington Central Supervisory Union will be hosting a World Peace Game master class this summer. The World Peace Game (WPG) is a simulation. Students work together to solve multiple crises that the world is facing. Students play the game under the facilitation of master teacher and creator, John Hunter. The game is exciting, challenging, and a ton of fun!

The World Peace Game Foundation is dedicated to teaching children the work of peace. Guided by the life work of educator John Hunter, the Foundation uses the World Peace Game to foster the concept of peace not as a utopian dream but as an attainable goal to strive for, and to stimulate the creative development of educational tools. It supports development of collaboration and communication skills for resolving and transforming conflicts, and the development of the skills of compromise, all while accommodating different perspectives and interests.

The World Peace Game master class will take place during the week of July 23—27 at East Montpelier Elementary School. During a World Peace game master class, students spend the morning playing the World Peace Game while teachers observe the students and Mr. Hunter. Then, in the afternoon, teachers learn more about how to facilitate the game itself.

WCSU needs to recruit 25—35 students to play the game. Students will have completed fifth, sixth grade or seventh grade and need to fully commit to attending the game on July 23—27 from 8:15 a.m.—12:00 p.m. Families will be responsible for transportation to and from East Montpelier Elementary School.

Now is the time to begin the registration process. To sign up, please complete this brief form as the first step. Space is limited to 35 students and slots will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

To learn more about the game, visit, watch an 8-minute movie trailer about the film World Peace Game and Other Fourth Grade Achievements, or watch John Hunter’s TED Talk about the World Peace Game. Also, please feel free to contact Jen Miller-Arsenault, WCSU Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment at 229-0553 if you have any questions.

Mentor Appreciation Night

in celebrations/Mentoring by

May 9 at U-32, 5:30-7 p.m.

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!

Board Votes to Fly Black Lives Matter Flag at U-32

in Student Activism by

On April 4, exactly 50 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated, the U-32 School Board unanimously voted to fly the Black Lives Matter flag at U-32.

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.

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