Posted in Colchester Middle School, General

Another Global Guest Visits CMS

Our January 19 CSD Spotlight feature discussed an impressive guest visit to CMS educator Julia Melloni’s class. Last week, these students had the opportunity to speak with another global guest—a high school exchange student from Afghanistan.

Masooma Rahaty, a student with the YES Abroad program who currently attends Mount Mansfield Union High School, spoke with the eighth-grade humanities class about her family’s traditions, Afghanistan’s educational system, its history and culture, and Islam.

Masooma Rahmaty

The YES Abroad program, which was established in 2002, is funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and it provides scholarships to high school students from other countries to spend up to one academic year in the United States. While here, the selected students live with host families, attend school, and acquire skills and experience with American society. Part of the selected students’ responsibility as participants in the program is to educate Americans about their cultures. (In 2007, YES Abroad established a similar program for US students wishing to study abroad in specific countries.)

The effect of these global guests is striking, particularly in the way many of our students now view their own educational opportunities and in the ways that they are learning to draw real-world connections between their experiences and those of others from around the world. Helping our students to see their educations as truly important and meaningful will have lasting implications upon their lives and upon our society as a whole.

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, Programs, Videos

CMS “Cougar Mews” Gets WCAX Airtime!

A news sense is really a sense of what is important, what is vital, what has color and life—what people are interested in. That’s journalism.
—Burton Rascoe, former literary editor of the New York Tribune

Student journalism is gaining momentum all across the country. At Colchester Middle School, what started as simply a way to encourage students to attentively listen to morning announcements is really taking off. A group of students have worked alongside Assistant Principal Dovid Yagoda to set up a mini-studio in which they film newscasts about the weather, CMS sports, and general school announcements. They then work with Unified Arts educator Bjorn Norstrom to edit the video, and the clips air weekly on the projectors in CMS classrooms. It’s an extracurricular initiative that is really gaining momentum—so much so that it has caught the attention of WCAX News.

The CMS group visited the WCAX studios on February 8, watching a live broadcast in action, posing questions to news anchor and executive producer Roger Garrity, and then taking a turn behind the news desk themselves.

Then, on February 16, a news team from WCAX visited Colchester Middle School to check out the students’ operation. Education reporter Keith McGilvery watched the students in action, gave them pointers, and conducted interviews.

You can watch the nearly three-minute WCAX news story about the Cougar Mews here!

This is life training in action—and not just from a potential career perspective involving writing, public speaking, and learning new technologies. The students are acquiring hands-on experience with becoming and remaining well informed about the issues and events surrounding them, and they are gaining respect for expediency, deadlines, analytical thinking, creativity, accountability, ethics, versatility, and so much more.

For a fun little (five-second) clip, click here!

Way to go!

And finally, we have some quick reminders about upcoming events. If you’d like to read them, click here!

Posted in Colchester Middle School, General, Malletts Bay School

CSD and YWP Showcase Aspiring Writers with Feburary 7 Vermont Writes Day Event

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.
—Robert Frost

We’ve shared quite a bit about the work we do with the Young Writers Project (YWP) here in Colchester School District—our five-part literacy primer and our announcement about the “Drive for Education” grant from Berlin City are just some examples.

Students in a number of schools in our district participated in the YWP’s Vermont Writes Day on February 7—which also happened to be the birthdays of Charles Dickens, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Sinclair Lewis.

The challenge was for students in schools across Vermont to write for seven minutes and post the content to a website—www.vermontwritesday.org—that was only open on that one day for the event. The YWP provided a number of prompts in case the writers were interested in using them, and writers could also write about anything they chose. Some of the content may be selected for publication in YWP’s weekly newspaper series.

Students from Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, and Malletts Bay School participated in this year’s event. To read a selection of CMS writers’ content, click here. To read a selection of MBS writers’ content, click here.

Enjoy!

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 Budgets, District Office, General

More Information About the FY 2013 School Budget!

The school budget vote is coming up soon!

Please plan to join us at Colchester High School for the school report and community dinner on Monday, March 5. The community dinner—lasagna, salad, bread, and a potluck dessert—begins at 6:00 and is open to the entire Colchester community. We will discuss the school report and budget and answer your questions beginning at 7:30. The vote is on Tuesday, March 6.

There is a great deal of information about Fiscal Year 2013 available on Colchester School District’s website. Please click here to see the school report (as seen on LCATV), and click here to view the FY’13 budget/taxes documentation. FY’13 budget expenditures can be viewed here, and FY’13 revenues can be viewed here.

Please contact us with any questions!

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 Accountability, Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Union Memorial School

Highlights of CSD’s Fall 2011 NECAP Assessments

As we mentioned in our feature about Colchester High School’s Fall 2011 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) results, the Vermont Department of Education (VT DOE) recently publicized all math, writing, and reading scores for schools in our state, and all of our schools did well.

As we discussed in our October 13 CSD Spotlight feature, NECAPs measure student achievement based upon the following four-point scale:

4 = Proficient with Distinction
3 = Proficient
2 = Partially Proficient
1 = Substantially Below Proficient

Essentially, scoring “1” or “2” represents failure, while scoring “3” or “4” represents a passing score.

This grid represents the total number of students in each school that demonstrated proficiency and proficiency with distinction on the Fall 2011 NECAP assessments for math, reading, and writing, where applicable.

To be clear, Porters Point School and Union Memorial School do not administer the NECAP assessments since the assessments are not designed for K–2 students. Instead, the results from the NECAPs taken by third-grade students at Malletts Bay School, which assess second-grade learning expectations, are analyzed according to the schools from which the students came. PPS and UMS help to prepare their students for the NECAP assessments in a variety of ways beyond their classroom instruction, including administering practice test questions to the students and allowing them to engage in activities that use answer sheets similar to those used for NECAPs.

As a reminder, to view all of the state assessment data, you can visit the VT DOE website, or you can download an Excel spreadsheet of the 2011 data here.

Please feel free to contact any of our schools if you have any questions!

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, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Programs, Union Memorial School

Reminders About Upcoming Events

As a friendly reminder, there will be a parent information night at Colchester Middle School on Thursday, February 16 at 6:00 p.m. in the CMS library.

February 14’s CSD Spotlight feature highlighted upcoming musical performances by Malletts Bay School and Union Memorial School.

Registration Night for this year’s Girls on Track program for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade girls is Wednesday, February 22 at 6:30 in the CMS lobby. The program will begin during the last week of March and will run for ten weeks, culminating in a 5K event at the Champlain Valley Exposition on June 9. The program cost is $70, and scholarships are available. For more information, please e-mail CMS guidance counselor Kara Pawlusiak.

Thursday, February 23 is Registration Night for Girls on the Run; registration will take place between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. in the Malletts Bay School cafeteria. Similar to the aforementioned Girls on Track program, Girls on the Run is a ten-week, curriculum-based program for girls of all fitness and ability levels in grades 3–5. It, too, will culminate in a 5K event at the Champlain Valley Exposition on June 9. Team practices will begin the week of March 26; each of the three teams will practice twice a week at different times—some will meet immediately after school, and at least one will meet later in the afternoon. The program fee is $70, and scholarships are available. Space is limited per team, and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis! For more information, click here.

Parent Teacher Conferences will take place at Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Malletts Bay School, Union Memorial School, and Porters Point School on March 6. Parents are encouraged to contact their appropriate school(s) to schedule a conference.

Remember that each of our schools publicizes upcoming events in a calendar and/or regular newsletter; please be sure to check them regularly to stay informed! Colchester School District also posts a district-wide calendar of events, so be sure to check there often, too!

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, Union Memorial School

Upcoming Musical Performances! MBS’s Winter Concerts … and Join the UMS Champs for “Go Fish!” on February 21 & February 22 at CHS

All music is beautiful.
—Billy Strayhorn

We have upcoming concerts and a musical to share with you!

At Malletts Bay School, three different winter concerts are coming soon—all in the MBS Gym! Visit MBS’s “Music in Motion” website, which also links to Miss Clark’s music blog and band blog.

The Third Grade Music Concert will be held on Wednesday, February 15 at 6:00 p.m., and the Fourth Grade Recorder Concert will immediately follow at 7:00 p.m. The Fifth Grade Band & Chorus Concert will be held on Thursday, February 16 at 6:30 p.m.

There is already huge public interest in stage musicals. —Sir Timothy Rice

And students at Union Memorial School have been busily preparing for their annual musical performance! Please join us on Tuesday, February 21 and Wednesday, February 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Colchester High School theater for the mini-musical Go Fish! by John Jacobson and John Higgins, a production that celebrates how our individual differences make us special and how it takes all kinds of people to make a world filled with harmony.

Music and performance are beneficial to students in a number of different ways. Music helps develop children’s language skills, listening skills, and self-esteem, and it has also been shown to stimulate spatial-temporal reasoning in the brain. Music is a fun way to encourage creativity and relieve stress in students, too. And participating in group performance not only develops a sense of camaraderie and collaboration but also encourages self-confidence, improved speaking skills, and imagination. The goal is for our students to engage in a positive performing experience.

The event is free and open to the community. For more information, please e-mail Ms. Mutz. You can also check out the Music at Union Memorial School blog.

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 Accountability, Colchester High School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General

VT DOE Releases Statewide Fall 2011 Assessment Results … and CHS Shines!

The Vermont Department of Education (VT DOE) has released the statewide results from the Fall 2011 New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) exams (you can find the VT DOE’s press release here), and we are thrilled to announce that, even though the district spends below the state average and even though the teachers’ salaries are also below the state average, our schools did very well!

The grid below represents how Colchester High School’s NECAP results compared with other schools in Chittenden County. CHS had the highest writing scores, and it tied with Essex High School and Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) for the highest math scores and tied with CVU for the highest reading scores!

And how did CHS compare to the rest of the high schools in Vermont?

CHS tied for #2 in the state for its NECAP math results

  1. Montpelier 57%
  2. CHS 52%
  3. CVU 52%

CHS tied for #2 in the state for its NECAP writing results

  1. Stowe 71%
  2. Colchester 70%
  3. Canaan 70%

CHS tied for #4 in the state for its NECAP reading results

  1. Arlington 96%
  2. Thetford Academy 91%
  3. Rivendell Academy 91%
  4. Colchester 87%
  5. CVU 87%

The VT DOE publicized all math, writing, and reading scores for schools in our state; to view all of the state assessment data, you can visit their website, or you can download an Excel spreadsheet of the 2011 data here.

Colchester High School has been working very hard to provide rigorous curriculum for its students. Administrators and teachers continuously examine their practices to ensure that they meet the needs of the students—and clearly it is working. In fact, it is working so well that Lawrence O. Picus and Associates recently conducted a case study of Colchester High School in order to ascertain how the school has managed to significantly improve school performance even though the district spends below the state average and even though the teachers’ salaries are also below the state average. (Stay tuned for a CSD Spotlight feature on this case study coming up soon. The findings are really impressive.)

Because of the various ways in which school districts and supervisory unions are structured (for example, we have two K–2 schools, a grades 3–5 school, and a middle school encompassing grades 6–8, whereas some other districts and supervisory unions have different structures), it is difficult to offer a clear comparison for how we ranked overall across the county and across all of Vermont. All of our schools, however, did very well compared to others all across our state. Indeed, Colchester High School students have benefited not only from its own excellent programming and educators but also from many years’ worth of foundational skills building in all of our schools as they progress through the grades; the entire district celebrates their results because their results are a product of the entire district’s efforts.

Please stay tuned for information about our other schools’ performance coming up soon!

Again, you can access all of the 2011 NECAP data for Vermont on the VT DOE’s website, or you can view it here.

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

CHS’s Lofty Reach—Graduate Steers International Space Station

Houston, Apollo 11 … I’ve got the world in my window.
—Michael Collins

This is pretty neat, and it makes a great fun-for-your-Friday feature: a 1988 Colchester High School graduate is a flight controller for the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISS is a research laboratory that can be seen with the naked eye from Earth under certain conditions, and it is expected to remain operational until at least 2020. An extraordinary technological accomplishment, is the collaborative effort of fifteen countries around the world, and it has enjoyed continuous human occupation for more than eleven years. Flight controller Jennifer Kimball, a CHS alumna, manipulates the positioning of the 431-ton ISS—which spans the area of a football field—from the NASA Space Center Houston in Texas.

You can listen to Ms. Kimball’s interview with Vermont Public Radio on this January 30 podcast.

Our January 17 CSD Spotlight feature described a bit about why the study of science is so important, and Ms. Kimball’s (literally) astronomical accomplishments in the scientific field lend additional credence to it.

Thank you 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!”