Neighborly news about our schools

Congratulations to Berlin Elementary’s Jr. Iron Chef Teams!

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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!

Kate McCann wins Teaching Excellence Award

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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 McCann, center, is presented with the Teaching Excellence Award at the Vermont-NEA Awards Ceremony April 7.

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.

Local Author Inspires Reluctant Readers

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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.

Author Tod Olson describes his motivation to write nonfiction survival stories for children.

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.

Students listen from their “rafts.”

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.

U-32 Walkout

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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.

U-32 students recognized the 17 victims from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on March 21.

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.

School Start Time Being Examined

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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).

U-32 Students Offer a Day of Volunteer Service June 11

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Do you need help planting your garden? Painting your house? Moving firewood? Taking down storm windows?

The U-32 High School Student Council is planning a day of community outreach: a chance for seniors at U-32 to give back to the community that has helped support them so much over the years.

The Senior Community Outreach Project (SCOP) will take place on Monday, June 11th between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. We are seeking projects for small or large crews in the Middlesex, Worcester, East Montpelier, Berlin, and Calais communities. Let us know if you are in need of assistance, no job is too big or too small!

Preference will be given to senior citizens and people with disabilities.

To suggest a project or for more information, please email us at and ask to fill out a SCOP Project Request Form. We will no longer be accepting jobs past May 1st!

If you are unable to complete the online form, please leave a message with your information (email, phone, name, project, location) at our SCOP extension at U-32, (802) 229-0321 ext. 5991.

Winter Wellness

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At Doty School they’re doing the Winter Wellness Program a little differently this year. And, according to principal Matt Young, things are working fantastically! The school used some of the grant money that all schools get for winter wellness to build an outdoor ice skating rink and to add to their cross country ski and snowshoe equipment.

Now, instead of spending time riding a bus to the trails or the rink, all winter wellness time is spent skiing on snowmobile trails, snowshoeing, sledding and skating close to school. An extra benefit is that the students are able to do these activities more often – 8 times instead of only 5 – with less disruption of classroom time.

For the new rink, school staff worked with the Worcester selectboard to figure out a mutually accessible site and they decided on a site across the street from the school. There are plans to build a warming hut next to the rink. The rink is open to the public when the school isn’t using it.

All the students got a chance to do everything (skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and skating) and for the last two winter wellness sessions, they got to choose which activity they wanted to do. Even if the grant money goes away, the program will be sustained. What a great program that reflects community values!

Mark Chaplin – VT Cross Country Coach of the Year

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Kathy Topping, Orli Schwartz, Mark Chaplin, Eliza Merrylees, Anna Davis-Noe.

Longtime U-32 science teacher Mark Chaplin was recently named the Vermont High School Girls Cross County Coach of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). USTFCCA honored one boys coach and one girls coach from each state, selecting winners based on their team’s performance during the 2017 season. The performance criterion includes team score and placement at state championships, among other things. Mark will receive a trophy from the USTFCCCA recognizing his achievements and will be considered for the association’s National High School Cross Country Coach of the Year award.

Mark, who has taught science at U-32 for 45 years, has been coaching cross country since 1973, as well as track, and Nordic skiing. He also coached girls’ basketball for the first two decades of his work at U-32. During this time Mark’s teams have been in the top two in the state over sixty times. Read more about Mark’s success in the current issue of the U-32 newsletter.

Stage 32’s Lear wins Awards

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Congratulations to the cast, crew and directors of Stage 32’s production of LEAR, adapted and directed by U-32 Senior Noah Witke Mele, that was performed at the Vermont Regional Drama Festival on Saturday March 10.

~ Award for excellence in Acting: Arthur Anderson
– Award for excellence in Acting – Justin Murray
– Award for excellence in Acting: Karli Robertson
~ Award for excellence in student playwrighting and directing: Noah Witke Mele
~ Award for excellence in music composition and sound design: Zak Kline
~ Group award for Excellence in Visual Imagery

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