Communications Update: Spotlight on Hiatus Beginning Today

While CSD’s communications program strategizes its transition to a curtailed version of itself, the Spotlight will have a summer-long hiatus effective today.


To date, the Spotlight has been read more than 100,000 times—in addition to its nearly 1,300 subscribers who automatically receive its articles—in 132 countries around the world from Australia to Zambia. Since its launch in the spring of 2011, it has published 828 articles covering a wide variety of topics (including hundreds of photographs and dozens of videos) in an effort to foster the open communication, transparency, accountability, and community spirit that are so important to students’ education. The Spotlight, to which we have repeatedly encouraged the community to subscribe, covers a wide variety of subjects in an effort to offer clear information—everything from college and career planning, the Common Core State Standards, and costs of school meals to academic performance, illness-prevention strategies, and how administrators determine whether to close school due to inclement weather—in regularly published updates. The Spotlight also shares information about important opportunities and initiatives in your schools, such as technology integration efforts and the safe use of technology, community wellness activities, student civic engagement programs, exciting grant-funded projects, partnerships with local and state officials, and much more.

While the Spotlight has been designed to serve as an important facet of CSD’s communications efforts, it is by no means our only avenue for connecting with the community with which we work. We strongly encourage the community to access information about the school district through our numerous outreach channels, which have been discussed many times in the past, including:

And did you know that many teachers and administrators also have websites, blogs, Twitter feeds, and more? Watch videos and slideshows of innovative learning in action and discover what takes place in twenty-first-century classrooms. Many students also write blogs as part of their academic experience into which they incorporate the electronic books, short films, and other work they create. Meet teachers, students, and community volunteers who offer a glimpse into life in your school community.

In addition, your schools host and encourage participation in numerous community events throughout the year, and the district also welcomes the public’s use of the facilities. All of this is in an effort to communicate with our community members and to establish lasting, meaningful partnerships.

If you have any additional ideas or suggestions for how CSD can further its communications efforts, please call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999.

Have a wonderful summer!

Great News! CHS Awarded Public Outreach Grant!

The Vermont Agency of Education has just announced that four Vermont high schools have been awarded a public outreach grant, and Colchester High School is among them!

The grants were awarded to “help build public understanding and support for the Act 77 Legislation of 2013 designed to provide students with multiple pathways to graduation.”

Along with CHS, Otter Valley Union High School (in Brandon), Twinfield Union School (in Plainfield), and Champlain Valley Union High School (in Hinesburg) were awarded the grants. According to the VT-AOE, “Teams will work together to build understanding of education redesign.”

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with these schools to ensure that communities across Vermont fully understand the implications of the legislation. In an era of unprecedented societal change, our best shot at creating a prosperous future for Vermont and our students is to remodel our educational delivery system to meet their needs,” said Deputy Secretary John Fischer. “We need to spread that message far and wide.”


Here is more from the VT-AOE’s press release:

Act 77 encourages all schools in Vermont to offer flexible pathways to high school graduation, which includes both traditional and non-traditional learning. For example, students are able to get credit for internships and other workplace-based experiences. Act 77 also supports dual enrollment in high school and college courses, as well as virtual (online and video) and blended learning experiences.

The Personalized Learning Plan requirements of Act 77 will help students achieve academic success, be prepared for post-secondary opportunities, and engage actively in civic life. Schools must ensure that they have designed a PLP process for implementation beginning in the fall of 2015. Schools will be expected to work with students to identify their goals, learning styles, and abilities and align this with the school’s academic expectations and student’s pathway toward graduation.

As part of the grant, the four schools will gather several times over the next academic year to learn a host of skills related to building public understanding of educational redesign and deep engagement. These include: strategic framing, an approach to communications that draws on how people make sense of public issues; dialogue for change strategies to help educators lead conversations in their communities about school redesign; and strategies for building youth-adult partnerships for engaging their peers in the change process.

Participants will also engage in a robust online platform and in authentic school-based projects that will advance the public conversation about student-centered learning in their communities. The experience will culminate in a statewide exhibition of learning.


For more information about the project, please contact the VT-AOE’s Debi Price at debora.price@state.vt.us or by phone at (802) 479-1172.

Congratulations, Colchester High School!

Get Your Town Weekly Report Here

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  • Do you intend to do any development or clearing within 250 feet of the lake? You’ll want to read this update!
  • Your police department has been really busy, responding to more than 900 calls in the last month. Want to know more?
  • Need a small-sized safety helmet? Want to know where to get one?

Want to know more about what’s been going on in your town government? Please click here to read all about it—access the Town of Colchester’s update for the week ending June 20, 2014.


When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Run, Cougars, Run!

Colchester Middle School athletes made a really impressive showing at the Chittenden County Middle School Track & Field Championship on June 9 at Essex High School.

Members of the CMS track and field team at the 2014 championship event on June 9

Members of the CMS track and field team at the 2014 championship event on June 9

“Both the boys and girls won the Chittenden County Middle School Track & Field Championship 2014!” said Jude Olson, a CMS track coach. “This is the first time for CMS! The team showed a lot of depth, talent, and beautiful sportsmanship.”

To view the full results of the event, please click here.

Congratulations, athletes!


When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Congratulations, CHS Class of 2014!

The horizon leans forward, offering you space to place new steps of change.
—Maya Angelou

Colchester High School graduated 160 seniors at the June 14 commencement exercises.

Congratulations and best wishes, graduates!


When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Have Some News With Your Morning Coffee

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  • There are some changes coming up regarding recycling and solid waste. Want to know more?
  • Want to know more about the farmers’ market, the upcoming book sale, library summer programming, and more?
  • Curious about what your Parks and Recreation Department is up to?

Please click here to read all about it—access the Town of Colchester’s update for the week ending June 13, 2014.


When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

CHS is a Trendsetter for Other High Schools!

As we mentioned in an earlier Spotlight article, several Colchester High School representatives presented at the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) conference in October of 2013. Since then, many other schools have visited CHS or contacted CHS administrators for more information about its AT program, which emphasizes academics, assistance, and advising time. The AT program has a more consistent schedule and focuses much more intently upon advancement of learning, assistance with skills, and meaningful engagement in advising.

CHS Principal Amy Minor recently announced that Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, will be implementing a similar program based on CHS’s work. The Portsmouth school’s administrators were so impressed with the amazing and thorough handbook that CHS created that they are using it as a template for creating their own!

CHS’s leadership and programming is gaining national attention! On July 30, Principal Amy Minor accepted the prestigious 2013/2014 Vermont Principal of the Year award from the Vermont Principals’ Association. And CHS once again ranks among the top 5 percent of the nation’s high schools according to US News and World Report, giving CHS its silver medal designation. And as we announced in May, The Washington Post has declared Colchester High School as among America’s most challenging high schools!

For more information, please contact CHS at (802) 264-5700.

When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

CCTA Service in Colchester to Kick Off on June 16 (Contains Video Clip)

As we’ve discussed in the past, Colchester will very soon be served by CCTA service. It is part of a three-year pilot service arranged by the Town of Colchester.


To watch a recent Fox 44 news story about it, please click here.


For a poster that includes schedule information, please click here.


For more information, please contact CCTA, or call Director of Economic Development Kathi Walker O’Reilly at (802) 264-5508.

When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

Reading Buddies!

Do you know a young person in grades 1–3 who would like some reading practice during the summer?

Or do you perhaps know a student in grade 6 or higher who has a spare half hour per week this summer to help a younger student keep his or her reading skills sharp?

The Reading Buddies program at the Burnham Memorial Library starts on June 20!

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The program is designed to provide “buddies” to young readers who have completed kindergarten through third grade and offer them the opportunity to practice their reading during the summer. Students who read over the summer months are typically better prepared for school in the fall, and reading aloud helps children improve their language skills, gain confidence, and practice good communication.

The mentoring older students who are entering grade 6 and up experience helping a younger child, hone valuable work skills, and are able to give back to the community as volunteers (a beneficial addition to future job and college prospects). Buddies and mentors get to know each other, form friendships, and have a rewarding, educational, and fun time together.

If a fourth grader or fifth grader would like to participate but would rather read with a friend his or her own age, he or she could consider being a part of a pair or trio of mid-level readers called RB Friends. They can sign up together or be matched; they meet weekly and attend the celebration just like other participants.

Participants can register at the library’s website (http://colchestervt.gov/Library/) by Tuesday, June 17. Reading buddies participants/parents contact each other and set a time and place to meet; we recommend meeting at the library. Buddies should read to mentors, but mentors can also take a turn reading to buddies.


Would you like to see a flyer about the program? Please click here!


Dates to remember:

  • Tuesday, June 17—All buddies and mentors must register at the library website (http://colchestervt.gov/Library/) by June 17.
  • Thursday, June 19—Mandatory training for all mentors at at 7:00 p.m. at Burnham Memorial Library.
  • Friday, June 20—The Reading Buddies program officially starts. Buddies and mentors can pick up their match information.
  • Thursday, August 21—End-of-program pizza party with certificates and prizes!

If you have any questions, please contact Gizelle Guyette at gguyette@colchestervt.gov, or call 264-5666.

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When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

The Making of the Maker Club

New England Federal Credit Union (NEFCU) recently awarded Colchester High School with a $500 grant to support a new technology-focused club.

CHS's Bob Hall, junior Josh Wallis, and Principal Amy Minor with the $500 grant from NEFCU to support the Maker Club

CHS’s Bob Hall, junior Josh Wallis, and Principal Amy Minor with the $500 grant from NEFCU to support the Maker Club

CHS junior Josh Wallis and guidance counselor Bob Hall approached NEFCU about funding to support the launching of a Maker Club at the school in an effort to encourage students’ interest in technology.

What is the maker movement?

Those interested in the maker movement engage in such engineering-related pursuits as robotics and electronics as well as other creative pursuits in which inventing and prototyping are encouraged. At it essence, the maker movement is about learning practical skills and applying them in creative ways. It focuses upon informal, shared learning that encourages fun.

Why is this new program important?

Increasing technology in our schools is a priority affirmed by the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017. At CHS’s Hour of Code event in December (please click here to read more about it and to watch a video featuring our students), students spent one hour in math and science classes writing their own simple computer programs, the impact of which was an increased desire to learn more about coding and to have more access to computer technology. Consequently, CHS saw an immediate upsurge in student interest in taking more computer science classes. The Maker Club aims to further support student interest in technology by utilizing a variety of open-source platforms to create their own projects—from simple computers to advanced electronics projects like micro drones.

For more information, please call CHS at (802) 264-5700.

When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community! Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Spotlight.

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