The U-32 and YES Abroad Connection
By Karen Liebermann
One student at at time, one year at a time, U-32 has been cultivating youth ambassadors in countries with significant Muslim populations. This is made possible by the Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad Program, an exchange program sponsored by the US Department of State. YES was started in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, as an effort to increase dialogue and mutual understanding between people of the US and people of countries with significant Muslim populations. Initially, it was a way for students from abroad to live and study in the US, but in 2007, it was expanded to include US students. Each year, 65 American students win this scholarship to study abroad in a country that has a significant Muslim population, and U-32 students have a great record of being selected for this fully funded school year exchange program. Students can spend their junior, senior or gap years immersed in another culture.
In 2013-14, Quinn McVeigh (class of 2015) travelled to Oman, making lasting connections with her host family. In 2014-15, Katie Ware spent her junior year in the Philippines and Rachael Phillips (class of 2015) spent her senior year in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Last year, Kanwara “Pui” Limakara from Thailand, came to U-32 on a YES exchange (the program that brings students from countries with significant Muslim populations here to the US).
On exchange currently, in Dakar, Senegal, is Cricket Liebermann. Cricket has been in Senegal since September 1st and will return in June of 2017. She’s in school at the Senegalese American Bilingual School in Dakar, and is getting involved in the community, playing softball on the school team and taking dance classes. Of this experience so far, Cricket says:
“Having the chance to study abroad in Senegal has made me grow in so many ways. Just over two months ago, I arrived in Dakar and everyday since then I have been learning, exploring, meeting new people, immersing myself in the culture. I can say for sure that exchange has changed the way I see and interpret so many things. It is truly a life changing experience.”
Cricket is blogging about her experience this year through vttodakar.wordpress.com and is happy to answer any questions about what it is like to apply, and to be on exchange through this program.
Think you might be the next U-32 ambassador or know of a young person who could be? Check out the YES Abroad website for application information. The deadline for applying for the 2017-18 year was December 1st, 2016, but it’s not too early to be dreaming and planning for 2018-19. This year’s students are abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, the Philippines, Senegal, and Thailand.
By Colin Trottier, Berlin 6th grader
Berlin Elementary School has reusables, so we don’t throw away paper plates and plastic utensils anymore.
Before November 2016, we threw away paper and plastic, when we had classroom parties and school celebrations. Teachers and parents wasted money by buying paper and plastic products. B.E.S. wasted money by paying for our garbage to be taken away to the landfill. Instead, we could have used reusables and washed our dishes. But Berlin Elementary did not have the money to buy reusables. So Ms. Dawkins wrote a School Zero Waste grant from Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD).
The School Zero Waste grant is for reducing waste, so they liked the idea of reusables. Now, each classroom has the following reusables: metal utensils, plastic bowls, plastic cups. The utensils are stored in a plastic-covered box. Now when we have parties, school celebrations, and daily healthy snack, we can use reusables, instead of paper plates, paper cups, and plastic spoons or forks.
Thanks to CVSWMD, Berlin Elementary School is a GREENER place.
January is National Mentor Month
By Wendy Freundlich
Every year in January, communities across the United States celebrate National Mentoring Month. Mentors are positive role models. They are community volunteers who help support youth. Mentors let our children know that an extra adult cares about them, listens to them and is there for them through the challenging years of late childhood through adolescence and beyond. By providing consistency, leadership and guidance, mentors help inspire young people to set high goals and work to follow their dreams.
Mentoring is a research-based, effective approach to helping youth overcome social, academic and economic challenges and is a common sense approach to resiliency-building skill development. Mentoring is also cost effective for communities. Keep Reading
In early November, Stage 32 presented The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, a tale of magical possibilities, the choice between revenge and forgiveness and the powerful healing of love.
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.
By Sarah Kinter
The U-32 Student Council has always seen service as part of its mission. Many community members may have heard of their program, SCOP, Senior Community Outreach Project, which matches seniors in their last week of school with community members in need of help. For one day, whether it be wood stacking, gardening, or painting to name a few, students branch out across our community to perform service. Their blood drives are also well-known and well-served. Less well-known perhaps are their days of food sorting at the Vermont Food Bank or shelving books at local libraries. They recently participated in running a Wellness Day at U-32, promoting wellness through nutrition, tobacco prevention, with partner Central Vermont New Directions, rock climbing, and blood pressure testing performed by Allison Gauthier’s Anatomy class. The Student Council wants to do even more by offering monthly service opportunities for middle and high school students to help community members in our 5 town district. November’s goal is food drives. If you would benefit from service from a group of students please email either Emma Curchin, co-President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kit Walker, co-Teacher Adviser, @ email@example.com. Or contact any one of their members, one of their four Presidents, Ellie Stroh, Lauren Morse, Emily Richards, or Emma Curchin, or either of their teacher advisors, Kit Walker or Deb Stevens.
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.
U-32 soccer players, coaches and family members form a circle with Harwood players at Harwood High School October 13th to honor the 5 students, 4 of whom were Harwood juniors, who were killed in a tragic accident. Photo credit: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
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