Posted in Accountability, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Other Important Information, Programs, Student Spotlight, Videos

Who Wouldn’t Want to Read Books After Seeing These?

A lot of us didn’t have access to opportunities like these when we were growing up.

We recently published a Spotlight article discussing Chromebooks and some of the ways in which they bolster educational opportunities for students in your schools. In that article, we discussed how CSD students in grades 6–8 have explored a wide variety of Google applications using Chromebooks, collaborating—in real time—on writing tasks with their classmates and even with virtual classmates from all around the world, conducting research for argumentative or informational essays, completing differentiated study in science, and completing skills assessments in mathematics.

Recently, seventh- and eighth-grade students developed book trailers—designed to hook potential readers—as part of their Language Arts coursework using Chromebooks and free Google account tools like MoveNote, WeVideo, YouTube, Powtoon, Google Slides, and Google Docs. Some students also linked Animoto clips to their book trailers’ introductions.


Please click here to watch CMS seventh grader Jackie Palaza’s book trailer about The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

Please click here to watch CMS seventh grader Abby Palaza’s book trailer about The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Even Assistant Principal Dovid Yagoda got in on the movie trailer scene with the students; please click here to watch his book trailer about Jinx by Sage Blackwood.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B79Xgw7gCWIbM2VNc3NoQXUzVVE/edit?pli=1


These embedded technology practices in curriculum are taking place right now in your classrooms, providing educators with the opportunity to guide students in appropriate expectations as digital citizens—true real-world practice and preparation for college and career readiness.

Furthermore, such work fosters opportunities for students to connect their reading ideas and thoughts with readers beyond their classrooms’ walls … and differentiated choices allow students to create work that matches their book recommendations with a technology readiness level as they bring their text discussion to life with audio and video features.

The FY 2015 budget includes funding to procure a Chromebook for each student in grades 7 and 8 and a laptop for each student in grade 9 to support academics in the core areas of science, social studies, and language arts.

Questions? Comments? Please contact Colchester Middle School at (802) 264-5800, or call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999. We want to hear from you!

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

Posted in Accountability, Colchester High School, Community, General, Other Important Information, Town of Colchester

Offering Your Town’s Weekly Update, Voting Information, and More

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  • Want to know where to vote on March 4?
  • The Assessor’s Office might soon be paying a visit to your home. Would you like to know more?
  • You are invited to a free community dinner! Would you like to know more?
  • Would you like to know where the Town stands with regard to its to-date budget summary?

Please click here to find out more—access the Town of Colchester’s update for the week ending February 28, 2014.

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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.

Posted in Colchester High School, General, Student Spotlight

Vermont Brain Bee Creates a Buzz

Two Colchester High School students recently participated in the fifth-annual Vermont Brain Bee at the University of Vermont’s College of Medicine.

Junior Andrew Pike and sophomore Katie White represented CHS in the all-day event—the first time that CHS students have competed in this event—which was described as “part competition and part learning” for the twenty-three high school students from around Vermont who participated.

Students Katie White and Andrew Pike represented CHS at the fifth-annual Vermont Brain Bee at UVM's College of Medicine on February 8
Students Katie White and Andrew Pike represented CHS at the fifth-annual Vermont Brain Bee at UVM’s College of Medicine on February 8

The competition consisted of written and practical tests followed by two rounds of oral questioning in front of the audience. Highlights of the day included several opportunities for the students to interact with UVM faculty and doctors in the neuroscience field through neurological disorder interactive case presentations and a keynote address about the latest research on the prefrontal cortex that included a live experiment on a student subject. To round out the day, students engaged in a question-and-answer session with a panel of undergraduate and graduate students of neuroscience who shared their experiences and reasons for entering their fields.

In preparation for the Vermont Brain Bee, Andrew and Katie received copies of Brain Facts, a text published by the Society for Neuroscience, in order to conduct relevant, independent reading.

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 emphasizes the importance of high standards and expanded opportunities for our students along with innovative, flexible approaches with a commitment to excellence. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas and the Vermont Science Curriculum and Standards also emphasize the critical importance of up-to-date learning environments.

Well done, Katie and Andrew!

For more information, please contact CHS science educators Marijke Reilly (reillym@csdvt.org) or Andrea Boehmcke (boehmckea@csdvt.org) or call (802) 264-5700.

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

Posted in Accountability, Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Porters Point School, Union Memorial School

Friendly Reminder: Parent-Teacher Conferences on March 3 and March 4

In case you haven’t yet seen it, please take a few moments to check out this mini-film!


As a friendly reminder, parent-teacher conferences are coming up!

  • On Monday, March 3, grade K–8 parent-teacher conferences will take place from 12:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m.
  • On Tuesday, March 4, grades K–5 parent-teacher conferences will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • On Tuesday, March 4, grades 6–12 parent-teacher conferences will take place from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Parent-teacher conferences are a really important opportunity for parents and teachers to forge partnerships in students’ education. They help to foster positive, ongoing communication with all stakeholders in our students’ academic experience, and research has repeatedly demonstrated that, when parents and community members are actively engaged with students’ education, the students reap significant benefits.

To get the most benefit from their conferences, we encourage parents to:

  • write down in advance any questions or concerns that they may have;
  • consider developing a plan with the teacher to facilitate the student’s learning; and
  • feel free to take notes.

Please remember that parents are always welcome to contact their child’s school at any time to discuss any questions or concerns they may have—not just during parent-teacher conferences! We encourage, welcome, and value your partnerships at all times, as is affirmed in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017.

Please also feel free to contact your child’s school with any questions or concerns.

Thank you for partnering with us!

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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.

Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General

The Legendary Count Basie Orchestra Performing at Colchester High School March 5!

Happenstance will allow for our students to perform with legendary musicians, bring world-renowned talent to Colchester, and support the CHS Theater Restoration Fund all at once!

A last-minute scheduling change will bring the Count Basie Orchestra to Colchester High School on Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 p.m.!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

This world-renowned, eighteen-piece ensemble has released hundreds of recordings, won nearly twenty Grammy Awards in its decades-long history, and collaborated with such singers as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald. In addition to performing at one of JFK’s inaugural balls, the ensemble has appeared in a number of movies and television productions and has won respected jazz polls. Some of its former members include Billie Holiday, Lester Young, and many others.

And to add an additional layer of excitement, the CHS jazz band will also have the opportunity to play along with the orchestra during the program’s finale!

The two-hour performance (with intermission) is open to the public, and any profits from ticket sales will go to the CHS Theater Renovation Fund. Tickets prices are as follows:

  • $20 for general admission
  • $15 for teachers, students, and senior citizens
  • $55 for a family of 4
  • $12 per person for groups of 20 or more

Pre-ordering of tickets is strongly recommended! To pre-order tickets, please call the CHS box office at (802) 264-5729 and leave the following information:

  • your name
  • your phone number
  • the number of tickets you would like
  • your method of payment (credit cards are not accepted—checks can be mailed, or payment can be made at CHS)

The CHS box office is open Monday through Friday from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Checks made payable to Colchester High School may be mailed to:

Colchester High School
131 Laker Lane
Colchester, VT 05446
Attn: John Coon

Tickets for those paying by mail will be available at the “will call” table on the night of the performance. The last day to pre-order tickets is Monday, March 3.

Special thanks to John Coon and the Colchester Theater Company for making this event possible. For more information, contact Evan Peltier, CHS Director of Bands, at (802) 264-5742 or via e-mail at peltiere@csdvt.org.

Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime performance!

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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

Posted in Accountability, Community, General, Other Important Information, Town of Colchester

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Town Weekly Update, Voting Information, and More!

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Please click here to find out more—access the Town of Colchester’s update for the week ending February 21, 2014.

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

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

A Great Way to Start Your Day: Breakfast, Stretching, Learning!

Wellness efforts in your school can be heartwarming.

Malletts Bay School has won $3,700 in grant funding from the New England Dairy & Food Council and Fuel Up to Play 60!

MBS student committee
MBS student committee

MBS will use the grant funds to bolster its “Breakfast in the Classroom” program—where students enjoy a healthy breakfast at the start of the school day—and to initiate a program where students will have “classroom stretch breaks” using Yoga4Classrooms Card Decks. (To read the formal press release from the New England Dairy & Food Council about this grant award, please click here.)

“Students who are able to have a healthy meal at the start of the day are better able to focus and learn throughout the day, and taking short breaks between lessons helps rejuvenate their bodies and minds,” said Jaycie Puttlitz, CSD’s wellness coordinator. “We support our students’ wellness and promote the importance of leading healthy, active lifestyles. We are proud of our Fuel Up to Play 60 student committee, which actively participates in implementing nutrition and fitness ideas for a healthier school environment.”

MBS students create heart-shaped pancakes
MBS student committee members create heart-shaped pancakes

The idea for heart-shaped pancakes for the Valentine’s Day-themed event came from the student committee, and the idea was implemented in every school in the district.

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Members of the student committee with Principal Benay, Wellness Coordinator Puttlitz, and Director of Nutrition and Food Services Davis
Members of the student committee with Principal Benay, Wellness Coordinator Puttlitz, and Director of Nutrition and Food Services Davis

This isn’t the first time that the New England Dairy and Food Council has supported your schools. Last spring, the organization sent NFL alum Lamar Mills to Colchester Middle School to honor CSD’s Director of Nutrition and Food Services Steve Davis with its Program Advisor of the Year award and to encourage students to live healthy lifestyles (please click here to read that story and watch WCAX’s story about it).

Nutritious eating campaigns are not new to your school district, either; in addition to such initiatives as healthy recipe contests, a sweets-free celebrations pilot, and engaging multimedia presentations, Porters Point School’s grant-funded “In Shape and In Season program was a huge success, and the district has pursued and won grant funding to support a number of other nutrition-related initiatives, including a farm-to-school grant. Colchester High School’sFood: From Soil to Stomach” class has also garnered significant acclaim.

And as we’ve mentioned before, CSD’s food service program has been steadily making impressive improvements in recent years all while battling rising global food costs.

Wellness is a major component of the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017. Would you like to know more about what your schools are doing to promote and facilitate wellness? We have more than eighty Spotlight articles relating to wellness in our Wellness category, and we also have our aforementioned Wellness at CSD blog. Check them out!

For more information, please e-mail CSD’s wellness coordinator, Jaycie Puttlitz, at puttlitzj@csdvt.org.

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

Posted in Accountability, Community, Currently Colchester, District Office, General, Other Important Information, Town of Colchester, Videos

February 2014 Currently Colchester Published Today

The February 2014 edition of the Currently Colchester publication is scheduled to arrive in Colchester households today; many Colchester residents can look for it as part of the Colchester Sun, while those who do not receive the Colchester Sun should receive Currently Colchester as a stand-alone publication.

To view the February 2014 issue of Currently Colchester in electronic format, please click here.


Special reminder: have you seen this mini-film yet?


As a friendly reminder, Currently Colchester is designed to offer news and information relating to your school district and your town government in a format that is accessible to all residents, including those without convenient access to the Internet. We continue to strongly encourage our community members to access information about CSD and the Town of Colchester through our regularly updated electronic communications methods; we are working hard to provide a wide variety of avenues through which community members can receive information, including:

The Colchester School Board encourages community participation at their meetings; in fact, the board’s agenda solicits comments from the community at every meeting. (Join them at Colchester High School on the first and third Tuesday of each month beginning at 7:00 p.m. (You can also watch them on Lake Champlain Access Television.)

Can’t make the school board meetings? Click here to submit a question (or e-mail SchoolBoardQuestions@csdvt.org) and enter your contact information and question. During the meeting on the third Tuesday of every month, the school board will review the top questions and themes submitted.

We also host and encourage participation in numerous community events in all of your schools throughout the year to foster the collaborative spirit that is so essential to academic excellence.

The Colchester Selectboard meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Colchester Meeting House on Main Street, and LCATV also airs its meetings.

Remember, we can better tailor our communications with our community when we better understand what our community needs. We hope to encourage dialogue that allows us to be proactive and that enhances our collaboration. Please send us your comments and suggestions to csdwebmaster@csdvt.org.

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

Posted in Budgets, Community, General, Other Important Information, Town of Colchester

Special Article Up for Vote: Should the Town Increase Its Annual Contribution to the VNA?

One of the special articles coming up soon for vote by Australian ballot has to do with the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties (VNA).

Photo credit: Daria Bishop Photographers
Photo credit: Daria Bishop Photographers

The Town of Colchester currently provides the (VNA) with $18,000 annually. The VNA provides the Town with an annual $18,000 payment in lieu of property taxes, and it has asked the Town for an additional appropriation, noting that unreimbursed care for Colchester residents totaled $122,905 for Fiscal Year 2013; the average contribution from other towns is 48 percent of the cost of unreimbursed care, and the Town of Colchester’s is currently 15 percent.

Colchester voters will be asked to decide whether the Town should provide an annual contribution of $36,000 to the VNA rather than the current contribution of $18,000. The $18,000 payment in lieu of taxes would continue. This would increase the tax rate by 0.16 percent. Along with the budget, it would represent an increase of 3.06 percent.

Photo credit: Daria Bishop Photographers
Photo credit: Daria Bishop Photographers

For more information, please contact Chief Financial Officer Aaron Frank at afrank@colchestervt.gov or by phone at (802) 264-5502.

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

Posted in Accountability, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Programs

A Happy Contagion: Character Education is Spreading Like the Flu … But With Far Better Results!

In July 2013, Colchester Middle School introduced its new collaboratively written vision statement, which states:

“CMS is an inclusive learning community committed to providing engaging, innovative, and rigorous academics while also building ‘TRRFCC’ character in its youth.”

(The acronym “TRRFCC”—pronounced “terrific”—stands for trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship; the focus upon these six specific components of character comes directly from the work of the Character Education Partnership [CEP].)

Since unveiling the new vision statement, CMS’s enhanced character development work has been focused and ongoing. As an example, CMS recently celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Week (RAK) (organized by CMS counselor Kara Pawlusiak), during which time, students and faculty were encouraged to make special efforts to creatively offer kindness to one another. Special activities were held throughout the week to bolster CMS’s efforts in this initiative.

In fact, random acts of kindness have already sprung up around the CMS community. Last week, a mysterious benefactor cleared snow from cars in the parking lot, and stacks of cards filled with wellness-related tips regarding nutritious eating, exercise, increasing joy in life, and much more curiously appeared in employee mailboxes.

“It’s great to see this take off so well!” Principal Gruss said. “Small acts of kindness have a bigger impact than you think. We truly have a TRRFCC school community on all levels!”

A secret benefactor surprised CMS staffers with wellness cards
A secret benefactor surprised CMS staffers with wellness cards

And as Principal Gruss stated in our July 23 article, “Building and sustaining a focus on character supports us in meeting key issues facing twenty-first-century learning communities, especially in the areas of academic achievement, academic integrity, bullying prevention, school climate, and service learning.”

For more information, please contact CMS at (802) 264-5800, or e-mail Principal Gruss at grussd@csdvt.org.

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