Posted in General

Remember That CSD is on Facebook!

Just a friendly reminder for all of you Facebook fans out there that, as we announced in July, you can also follow us on our Facebook page.

While CSD Spotlight remains the primary source for information about Colchester School District, we created the Facebook page to provide yet another avenue for those interested in keeping current with the events and initiatives taking place in our schools.

The district also maintains a website containing a wealth of information, including information about policies, calendars, bus schedules, menus, budgets, the school board, and much more. And did you know that each of our schools has its own website?

Porters Point School’s website can be found here.

Union Memorial School’s website can be found here.

Malletts Bay School’s website can be found here.

Colchester Middle School’s website can be found here.

And Colchester High School’s website can be found here.

And many of our teachers have their own blogs, as well!

Have a very safe and happy New Year!

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester Middle School, Community, General

Community Efforts Abound

Remember Colchester Middle School’s Advocates for All? In the interest of aligning more closely with CHS Cares—a volunteer organization at Colchester High School allowing students to make a difference in our community—they’ve changed their name to Caring Cougars, and they’ve been hard at work making positive contributions.

The group’s overall philosophy is akin to the ancient concept of paying it forward, a movement that was more modernly heralded in the film Pay It Forward. It is essentially a concept whereby good deeds are repaid by passing them along to others who need them.

Under faculty advisor Patty Ward, the Caring Cougars—comprised of more than a dozen students in grades 6–8—are running a food drive to benefit the Colchester Community Food Shelf. They also ran a campaign to raise money for News Channel 5’s twelfth-annual Toys for Kids initiative. They raised funds by selling candy canes and beverages and by accepting monetary donations. They also offered students a $1 discount to a dance with the donation of a new, unwrapped toy, which itself brought in nearly thirty new toys! The Caring Cougars then shopped for Toys for Kids at the Learning Express in Essex Junction, which offered the Caring Cougars a discount for the campaign.

The group meets twice a week to brainstorm ideas for how to make a positive impact on our community. In October, they sold pink bracelets to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research, and in November, they helped CHS Cares with its annual Thanksgiving basket endeavor, which involves collecting and sorting food items to benefit Colchester families.

These are the students in your community—your children and your neighbors’ children. There is a lot of very powerful good happening all around us. Celebrate it, and help keep the momentum going. This is a dynamic community.

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester Middle School, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School

CSD Delegates Receive Funds at Berlin City “Drive for Education” Grant Ceremony

Delegates from Colchester Middle School and Malletts Bay School attended an award ceremony at Berlin City in Williston on December 21 to accept funds received through the recently awarded Drive for Education grant.

Transportation to and from the event was donated by Mountain Transit.

CMS will use its $3,500 award to increase its laptop inventory for use with the Young Writers Project as well as with mathematics, reading, science, and the technological skill building.

MBS will use its $3,500 to purchase books for a balanced reading instruction model.

Berlin City Automotive Group donated more than $100,000 to schools all across New England this year as part of its Drive for Education Foundation, $16,000 of which went to schools in Vermont—two of which were right here in our district. Many, many thanks to Berlin City for its generosity and support of our schools!

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General

The Flood Is Over But Hardly Forgotten … CMS Efforts Around Irene Continue

You know, it’s the kind of thing that just plain warms the soul.

Vermont. Our people. We are legendary for our willingness to extend a hand to our neighbors in need, for looking out for one another, for standing shoulder to shoulder with one another in times of crisis. The Vermont Attractions Association says, “Vermonters are known for their resilience and character.” The Huffington Post Canada said that Vermont is “long known for its small-town charm and friendly people.” And in reference to Tropical Storm Irene, US Senator Patrick Leahy’s website declares, “Vermonters are known for our sense of community and our flinty determination, and our state’s people have proven their fortitude tenfold in the aftermath of this disaster.”

And here in our own Vermont community, we are not only not the exception—we seem to lead the charge.

Our efforts here within Colchester School District and throughout the entire Colchester community around the remnants of that historic storm have been reported before: CMS Assistant Principal Gillard shaving her head to raise funds, every single school in our district putting their heads together to champion the cause and make a difference, students taking it upon themselves to strategize ways to help their fellow Vermonters … yet again, we thank you for all that you are and all that you do. This is indeed a community full of people who care about one another and care about the greater good.

The remnants of that ferocious, devastating storm slammed into our state on August 28, and yet here it is—December—and Colchester has not forgotten her fellow Vermonters.

On December 8, 2011 a fifty-three-foot Land Air Express tractor-trailer truck arrived at Colchester Middle School to fulfill its final pledge to help Vermont victims of Irene. In an incredible contribution to the cause,  Land Air Express donated the truck, the fuel, the driver, and the time for this initiative! In the very definition of a community effort, members of numerous area organizations, including the Colchester Lions Club, the Colchester Police Department, the Colchester Middle School Boys A Basketball Team, and the Colchester High School football team, as well as Assistant Principal Gillard and team coaches, congregated in their collaborative effort to load and shrink wrap pallets of supplies and materials donated by this great community. The supplies arrived at their intended destinations on December 12.

This monumental effort could not have happened without the incredible support of the Colchester School District, CSD Business Manager George Trieb, the entire maintenance staff at CMS and around the district, parents, students, the CMS Boys A and B Basketball teams, Coach Ryan O’Hara, Coach Tom Perry, and Ms. Gillard’s TA group.

Thank you to everyone who gave of themselves in order to bring this effort to fruition.

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Union Memorial School

How Do You Define “Community”?

For the second year in a row, the Salvation Army of Greater Burlington’s holiday toy sort effort received a lot of help—about thirty hours’ worth of hard work—from the Infinity House at Colchester Middle School.

Eight students and four staff members worked to brighten the holidays in our community by sorting, filling, and organizing bags with age-appropriate gifts—such as books, stuffed animals, hats and mittens, and stocking stuffers—for area children in what is likely to become an annual tradition for Infinity House. Last year, the group also prepared and served a meal to some of the area’s homeless in addition to the toy sort; the students have appreciated the opportunity to participate behind the scenes in these meaningful efforts.

The entire Infinity House, which currently consists of nine students, has eagerly committed to an ambitious community service initiative of two hundred hours of collective volunteerism. In a nod to its mission statement, one of Infinity House’s expectations is that the students will choose community-based volunteer service and learning experience activities that align with their curriculum and/or personal goals. To help facilitate that, program professionals are working to match opportunities with interests the students expressed in a survey conducted earlier this year. Infinity House students have partnerships with a number of school-wide and area organizations through which they can complete volunteer service, including the Colchester Community Food Shelf, the Champlain Valley Agency on Aging, the Town of Colchester’s Parks and Recreation department, and Lucy’s House, as well as others.

The truly astounding thing about Colchester and its citizens is that this sort of community spirit is not limited to the holiday season. We talk a lot about the many ways in which our school communities and our greater community support one another, and that is really important because community spirit has a snowballing effect; when our community members see our students making substantial efforts, they are more likely to support our students … and when our students feel supported, they are more likely to give back. The entire community benefits when everyone commits to making ongoing positive contributions.

Depending upon your source material, the term community can technically be defined in a number of different ways. One such definition, offered by Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, is “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” But in the end, for many people, the term community simply boils down to a feeling—a feeling of camaraderie, of shared vision, of similar desires for the present and hopes for the future.

So whether fifth graders walk against juvenile diabetes, a second grader runs for the Special Olympics, students at different schools raise money for charity in a wide variety of ways…whether everyone rolls up their sleeves to help out during disaster, volunteers revitalize a garden, or law enforcement works with our schools … and so many, many more examples, the point is that we can do amazing things when we help one other. We’re all in this together.

Thanks for joining us.

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in General, Programs, Wellness

Announcing the January 30-Day Wellness Challenge!

Colchester School District’s award-winning wellness program proudly announces its comprehensive 30-Day Wellness Challenge, which will kick off in January 2012.

If you haven’t checked out the new Colchester Wellness website, it really is worth a look. In addition to teaching Family and Consumer Science at Colchester Middle School, district wellness coordinator Connie Gavin—through a part-time position funded by the Vermont Education Health Initiative (VEHI)—promotes and supports the Colchester School District Wellness Policy, which reflects the district’s focus upon healthy outcomes for all of our students and staff. Her newly revitalized website offers valuable health and wellness-related information, including everything from the US Department of Agriculture’s revised dietary guidelines to smoking cessation resources to information about area parks and trails and much more.

And now Connie and each of the school’s wellness leaders are launching the 30-Day Wellness Challenge, and everyone is encouraged to participate! It is a great community-building activity with endless opportunities to share resources, model healthy behaviors, discuss challenges, problem solve together, and celebrate successes. The 30-Day Wellness Challenge has been designed to highlight all areas of health and wellness, including the physical, spiritual, mental, social, and emotional aspects. Participants will also set health and wellness goals, tracking their health and wellness progress.

Each school has designed activities for the challenge; for more information, please click here.

Additionally, there are also a host of offerings available to CSD staff as part of the wellness initiative, including the Vtrim weight management program, a free workshop about end-of-life care, a free workshop about ergonomics, a free pass to the YMCA, and more. Please click here to see the “30-Day Wellness Challenge for Staff” tab for more information about them.

The Colchester Wellness website offers sample wellness goals for the challenge, and it also provides helpful information about setting goals that are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Some examples include eating a more colorful array of foods, stretching daily, switching to whole grains, drinking more water, and so on. There are a lot of tips and suggestions on the 30-Day Wellness Challenge tab under Sample Wellness Goals.

The benefits of committing to a healthy lifestyle are seemingly endless. Spread the word and take the challenge for a healthier you … and a healthier community!

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General

Lively Community Spirit With Lebkuchenhäuser!

Colchester High School hosted its eagerly anticipated, time-honored gingerbread house tradition on December 15 & 16.

A team entry into the gingerbread house fundraising contest

For the last six years, this energetic and festive annual event, created in an effort to connect CHS with the broader community, combines gleeful cooperation with community spirit. Each of the forty teacher advisory (TA) groups in grades 9–11 collaborates on a gingerbread house created from kits donated by the student government. Seniors may also participate by forming their own teams and recruiting faculty advisors.

Though gingerbread is spicy in its own right, CHS does add a bit more spice by creating a contest for the event, and Principal Amy Minor provides a celebratory treat to the members of the winning TAs. Celebrity judges—this year, UVM Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Becker and UVM Women’s Basketball Coach Lori Gear McBride, as well as a radio personality from 95 Triple X—select winning entries in “traditional” and “open” categories. In the traditional category, the entire structure must be made of edible materials, and in the open category, up to 25 percent of the materials used in the construction and decoration can be inedible. The gingerbread houses, which are completed over the course of two TA periods totaling eighty-five minutes, are displayed in CHS’s library, where they remain through the holiday concert. There, students and members of the community can view the projects and vote for their favorites by donating cash to each entry’s collection jar. The gingerbread house raising the most money is declared the People’s Choice winner, and all funds raised this year as part of the event—$155.04!—will support the Colchester Community Food Shelf.

Another group entry

After the more than fifty gingerbread houses were publicly displayed, some of the faculty members and students spread positive energy and cheer throughout our greater community by delivering them to the Vermont Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care, the Ronald McDonald House of Burlington, and a number of senior living facilities in our area.

Gingerbread houses (lebkuchenhäuser) are a German tradition stemming from the nineteenth-century Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hänsel and Grethel in which a young boy and girl discover a cottage in the woods built of gingerbread. Gingerbread house events—be they competitions or simply jovial team-building affairs—have been enjoying steadily increasing popularity all over the country.

Photo credit: Andrew Kelsall

This jubilant competition has become a much-loved tradition at Colchester High School, made all the more powerful by the many ways in which it encourages positive interaction in our community and supports wonderful causes.

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester Middle School, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School

CMS and MBS Win Grants from Berlin City

Colchester Middle School and Malletts Bay School have each been awarded a $3,500 grant from Berlin City Automotive Group’s Drive for Education Foundation grant!

Representatives from Colchester School District, including student delegates from both schools, will attend the award ceremony at Williston’s Berlin City on December 21.

Colchester Middle School will use the funds to increase its laptop inventory, which will benefit the entire student population by increasing the number of students who may access computers for not only the Young Writers Project but also for mathematics, reading, science, and the technological skill building that is so essential to our students’ future success. It will also allow CMS educators to further adapt their teaching environments, making their instruction more accessible and their curriculum more diverse.

The Vermont Technology Grade Expectations outline major focus areas in education, and among them are digital citizenship and technology operations and concepts. Similarly, Colchester School District has identified the implementation of technology into its curriculum as a high priority and is proactively promoting and supporting that agenda through various initiatives. The award from Berlin City Automotive Group will further support this endeavor.

Malletts Bay School will leverage the award funds it has received from the foundation to enhance its literacy program by implementing a balanced reading instruction model. A key component of this reading model is guided reading, which, as we discussed in Part III of our literacy primer, involves encouraging students to independently read books that they have selected themselves using various strategies for reading and comprehension. MBS will use its grant funds to provide students with a greater variety of texts across a wide range of reading levels for use with guided reading—specifically, Scholastic Books Text Types, a series designed to spark student interest and help make real-world connections.

The overall goal of MBS’s project is to diminish the achievement gap between the varying demographics in its student population.

Many, many thanks to Berlin City Automotive Group for their generous grants providing additional opportunities to our students! And special thanks to Dedrick Casab for his support.

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester High School, General, Programs

Andros Adventure!

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
—Miriam Beard

Every two years, a group of enterprising and inspired Colchester High School students journey to the Bahamas for a unique academic opportunity called Andros Adventure.

Originally designed in 1982 by former CHS teacher Elizabeth Carvellas, approximately a dozen students participate in each Andros Adventure, which is open to juniors and seniors.

Andros Island is the largest island in the Bahamas, encompassing approximately 2,300 square miles—greater than the area of the other seven hundred Bahamian islands combined. It is also a sparely populated island, largely undeveloped with only about 8,000 residents. Part of Andros Island’s educational appeal is that it is home to a diverse collection of marine, animal, and plant life and is also home to the third-largest barrier reef on the planet. There are underwater caves, vast expanses of beaches and tidal pools, forests, a mile-deep abyss … a myriad of enticing natural wonders to attract nature lovers from all over the world.

Andros Adventure was originally designed as a multidisciplinary, half-credit course that integrated such subjects as marine biology, photography, botany, and other areas of interest. And while the format of the program has changed somewhat over the years, this is largely still the case in the sense that the participating students can focus their study on an applicable subject matter of their choosing, be it astronomy, music, folk art, bush medicine, terrestrial ecology, blue holes, or anything else that is directly attributable to Andros Island in some manner.

While they are on the island, students spend time at Forfar Field Station, and they often have the opportunity to interview and interact with the native islanders. The trip also includes activities like ecology walks, labs, bush walks, snorkeling in the reefs, and visiting the Androsia Batik Factory.

Andros Adventure, while certainly an out-of-classroom experience, is nevertheless a considerable and serious academic undertaking. Students interested in participating must attend informational meetings and must write an essay for consideration. Students receive a half credit for their participation. Upon their return from Andros Island, students deliver individual presentations to the community detailing their cumulative learning, including pre-trip learning, on-island experiences, and post-trip understanding. Many include photographs they took while on the island and artifacts they collected in addition to the PowerPoint presentations that are often created. Participants generally spend seven days on the island, with another day on either end for travel. And in the months leading up to the trip, participants attend regular preparatory meetings and must also prepare and conduct advanced research for their intended projects while on the island.

Students interested in the opportunity are highly encouraged to apply for consideration. The planning for the next Andros Adventure is expected to begin in January 2012. It really is a fabulous and unique opportunity for those interested in expanding their experiences and welcoming what is often a highly positive personal transformation. Andros Adventure is a way to gain powerful insight about environments—often instilling a love for travel and an appreciation for and understanding of other groups and cultures. For more information, please contact teachers Heather Baron, Chris Lang, and/or Rachel Howes.

And many thanks to teachers Chris Lang and Rachel Howes for these featured photographs!

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”

Posted in Colchester High School, General, Student Spotlight

CHS Celebrates Students at National Honor Society Induction Ceremony

Action is character.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald

Colchester High School hosted an induction ceremony honoring students’ acceptance into the National Honor Society on December 13.

The National Honor Society (NHS)—which has chapters in all fifty states as well as in many US territories and in Canada—recognizes high school students in grades 10–12 who have exhibited outstanding accomplishments in scholarship, leadership, service, and character.

There is a stringent selection process for this prestigious affiliation. In addition to the scholastic eligibility requirement—students must meet the required cumulative GPA requirement—candidates must detail their achievements in service and leadership for consideration. Input about the candidates from faculty members can also be submitted to the local NHS chapter’s faculty council for consideration, and in some cases, the chapter’s faculty council may even interview candidates. After deliberation, candidates with the faculty council’s majority vote are invited for induction.

While inducted members enjoy a number of benefits as a result of their affiliation with the National Honor Society—including access to a number of scholarship programs—they also assume a number of obligations as a condition of their membership. In addition to maintaining the standards by which they were selected (failure to do so can result in discipline and/or dismissal), membership includes such responsibilities as conducting service projects for their school or community as well as individual service projects, and members attend regular meetings with the NHS’s local chapter.

The students honored Humanities educator Sean MacArdle by asking him to speak at the event. This year’s Colchester High School National Honor Society inductees are:

Jessie Allen
Sarah Amour
Erin Balas
Vanessa Barton
Deanna Bessy
Marie Bouffard
Sydney Brown
Alexandra Brownell
Austin Bushey
Zebulon Carney
Kathryn Carver
Megan Chambers
Alicia Chapman
Stefano Coccetti
Hunter Colvin
Sydney Crady
Julia Crane
Meghan Critchlow
Leah Dell
Denir Djozic
Emily Eakin
Kayla Eustace
Chiara Evans
Ashley Francis
Nate Frieberg
Jacqueline Gauthier
Jenna Griffith
Jordan Isham
Eleanor Johnson
Andrew LaPlant
Lindsay LeBlanc
Andrew Lopes
Aaron Mallabar
Ally McAuslan
Kathleen McMahon
Lindsay McNall
John McNeil
Dylan Meekins
Susan Mendl
Laura Miller
Kyla Mooney
Jacob Morton-Black
Mariah Noth
Hanna Orselet
Alexis Osler
Joseph Pakulski
Jackie Park
Sarah Pike
Nicole Quintal
Karl Raacke
Kate Reilly
Jacqueline Sorter
Lucie Stein
Collin Turner
Kasey Verba
Alyse Winchester
Grace Yasewicz
Lauren Zwonik
 

Congratulations to all of the inductees, and best wishes!

Keep current with CSD’s news and other education-related information by subscribing to CSD Spotlight. Enter an e-mail address into the field under E-mail Subscriptions in the upper right-hand side of this screen and click “Sign me up!”