Posted in General

How a Kindergarten Class Bought a Goat (and Why!)

 

Allbee Classroom 2

It all started with a book.

“The thing with teaching kindergarteners is, it doesn’t often go according to plan,” explained Porters Point Teacher, David Allbee. “I’ll have planned something and I’ve planned it really well, and all of a sudden I have to adjust my plan because their interest is so great in a certain subject. So, I have to be quick on my feet. This project came about in that sort of way.”

After spending some time with these energetic and imaginative kindergarteners, it is notEsther Gray and Ava Viens Reading a Book hard to understand what he is talking about. Especially when the timing of the visit falls on St. Patrick’s Day and the class just finished making leprechaun traps. However, all you have to do is mention the names Beatrice, Katjie, or Goat Lady, and they will proudly switch gears.

“She sold her goats to the same project that Beatrice got her goat, and that’s where we’re going to get our goats!” explained kindergartner, Esther Gray.

Beatrice is the main character in a book by Page McBrier called Beatrice’s Goat. The children’s storybook is based on the true account of Beatrice Biira, an impoverished Ugandan girl whose life is transformed by the gift of a goat from the nonprofit world hunger organization Heifer International.

booksPrior to Beatrice, the class read Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming. They thoroughly enjoyed the story of two girls from separate countries who bounded over sending each other packages. The Goat Lady by Jane Bregoli came last. It tells the story of an elderly woman who sent her extra goats to the Heifer Project so they could distribute them to those in need, like Beatrice.

“I specifically chose a few books that had international themes because I have kids in my class from other countries who have moved to this country,” said Allbee. “The connection between the characters in the books were that people were helping each other across international lines. People were sending aid to different countries and friendships grew out of that.”

It wasn’t long before the students started making their own connections, both between the books and within their own lives. They began thinking about how they could help other kids like Beatrice.

Allbee Classroom 1“Beatrice had to work so hard, and then some nice people got her a goat. Then she had to take care of the goat to get money and then she went to school,” exclaimed kindergartener Praydence Handridge.

“It really exposed the kids to the idea that we’re really privileged to go to school in Colchester and that public education is funded here. It also gave them an appreciation of what they have,” said Allbee.

After some brainstorming, the students decided they would make and sell bracelets to raise money to buy a goat through the Heifer Project.

“We introduced the idea to the parents and before we knew it, kids were hawking bracelets at their family birthday parties and holding their aunts and uncles accountable,” laughed Albee. “The money started rolling in, and it was more than I expected!”Books and Bracelets

Friends Praydence Handridge and Madden McMahon were thrilled at how much money the class raised. “We raised so much money we got enough for two goats and some chicks! And people can have milk. They can sell milk for good food so they can survive and they can sell it to get money to go to school,” they said.

The idea behind the Heifer Project is that any offspring produced by a Heifer animal will be gifted to other families. “They [the Heifer Project] helped her. These people give things to other people, and we teamed up with them!” said classmate Nichael Sharma.

“I think the most impressive thing is that somebody can make a difference. One little thing that a child can do, can create an avalanche of good deeds,” said Allbee.

If you would like to find out more information on how to donate to the Heifer Project, visit their website at www.heifer.org.

To watch a video of this story, visit Colchester School District’s Facebook page or website.

Posted in General

Colchester Senior Wins Trip to DC

Ryan Arel, a senior at Colchester High School, was named the first-place winner in the Vermont Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) 2016-17 Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest. The annual event encourages high school students to write speeches and essays based on democratic and patriotic themes. Click here to read Ryan’s winning essay.

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Ryan in Washington, D.C.

Nearly 40,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of $2.1 million in educational scholarships. The first-place winner from each state wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. This unique opportunity is designed to foster patriotism by allowing students the opportunity to voice their opinion.

After winning the local district with his submission titled “My Responsibility to America”, Ryan was invited to a banquet at Post 782 in Burlington recognizing the top three finalists in Vermont. He left that ceremony having received the top honor for Vermont and the opportunity to represent the state in Washington, D.C.

Ryan says writing this essay helped him to focus on his own values. “It’s important for all of us to really reflect on our true value; reflect on bigger picture ideas; reflect on what we define as right and wrong.”

As for the trip to DC? He says it went very well. “After writing this piece and spending time with people from all across the country, I can safely say that regardless of all our differences, I’ve learned how to get along with people from all different backgrounds a little better than before,” Ryan said.