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

District Art Show at CHS – May 3-6, 2016

2014 art show pic

The annual Colchester School District Art Show will be held in the gym at Colchester High School on May 3-6, 2016.  The show will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Artwork from each school in the district will be on exhibit.  A reception for artists, families, and the Colchester community will be held on Thursday night, May 5 from 6:00-8:00 p.m., granting the artists the opportunity to discuss their work.  We hope that you will join us in celebrating the creativity and talent of our students!

Posted in Accountability, Colchester High School, Community, Currently Colchester, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, District Office, Employee Spotlight, General, Other Important Information, Personnel

Announcing the New CHS Principal

Dear Colchester Community,

On behalf of the Colchester School District we would like to thank the members of our community who participated in the collaborative process to find the next principal of Colchester High School. A selection committee consisting of students, parents, support staff, teachers, administrators, a school board member and other community members screened and interviewed candidates before recommending a finalist to the school board. I would like to extend special thanks to the selection committee, school board, and all individuals who attended the employee and community forums last evening.

CHS is a high-functioning school that requires a candidate who will continue the trajectory of the school.  We believe that an effective administrator pushes professional practice and promotes effective classroom and system-wide practices, while always doing what is best for students.

I am extremely pleased to announce that Heather Baron has been selected as the next Colchester High School Principal!  Heather was selected as a result of her ability to:

  • Understand what all learners need in order to be successful
  • Foster our culture of collaboration and curiosity
  • Develop and implement a vision for teaching and learning
  • Build strong relationships with students, staff, families and the community
  • Build capacity for teacher leadership
  • Seek out and listen to multiple perspectives
  • Make informed decisions confidently

Heather currently serves CHS as a science teacher, professional development coordinator and instructional coach.  During her 17 years in education she has demonstrated excellence both inside and outside of the classroom.  We are certain that she possesses the qualities and the capacity to lead Colchester High School to even greater heights.

Best wishes to Heather and Colchester High School for continued success!  Many thanks to all of the community members who participated in the comprehensive principal search process.


Amy Minor

Posted in Colchester High School, Community, Music

A Gift That Will Keep On Giving

Colchester-Milton Rotary, Friends of Colchester Music purchase piano for CHS music program

It was a festive night at Colchester High School on December 17 for the band and choral program’s annual winter jubilee concert, but the mood became even brighter when members of the Colchester-Milton Rotary and Friends of Colchester Music (FCM) came to the stage to make a special announcement.

FCM, a volunteer booster group that supports music programs in the Colchester School District, joined forces with the Colchester-Milton Rotary to fulfill a donation request from CHS Choral Director Melissa Towle for a Yamaha Clavinova piano for the school’s music room. At the December concert, FCM President Marie Bouffard, Rotary’s Past President Leora Black, and Rotary’s Chair of Allocations Kent Booraem, presented Melissa Towle two checks for $2,000 each to allow her to purchase the piano.

new piano_CHS

Some of the CHS choral students and Choral Director Melissa Towle (sitting) stand around the school’s new Yamaha Clavinova Piano purchased from Contois School of Music through donations from Friends of Colchester Music and the Colchester-Milton Rotary.


“The Colchester-Milton Rotary Club has a history of supporting music in the community. In 2011, the Rotary donated $1,000 to the Friends of Colchester Music to support a program at Malletts Bay School. In the past year, the organization has also made donations to the Colchester Community Chorus and Band,” said Leora Black, past president of the Colchester-Milton Rotary. “We believe music makes a difference in the lives of students and community members.”

According to Mrs. Towle, the 20-plus year old piano is the “workhorse of the CHS music department.” It gets daily use by the school’s 110 choral students (CHS has the largest high school choral program in Chittenden County); and, it’s used by the band and drama programs. The piano has been rebuilt once and was in need of major repairs.

The $4,000 price tag for the new piano put a replacement instrument out of reach for Towle’s already stretched music budget, much of which goes toward the purchase of sheet music for the school’s annual choral performances.


From left: Friends of Colchester Music President Marie Bouffard, Rotary Past President Leora Black, and Rotary Chair of Allocations Kent Booraem present checks to CHS Choral Director Melissa Towle for the purchase of a new Yamaha Clavinova piano for the CHS music program.

“We were thrilled that the Colchester-Milton Rotary was able to provide $2,000 to help purchase the piano,” said FCM President Marie Bouffard. “FCM is a small booster group, but we are fortunate to have great support from CSD families as well as the Colchester community…their support helped make our matching donation possible.”

“What a wonderful gift,” said Towle. “This piano means so much to the students and to our entire music program…We feel so very lucky to have such a supportive community.”

A brand new Yamaha Clavinova piano sells for nearly $6,000, but Towle received a quote on a floor model for $4,000 from Contois School of Music in Essex Junction.

Posted in Colchester High School, General, Grants, Other Important Information

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 or by phone at (802) 479-1172.

Congratulations, Colchester High School!

Posted in Colchester High School, Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information

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.

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

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.

Posted in Colchester High School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Grants, Other Important Information, Student Spotlight, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

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.

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

School District Budget Vote is June 3—PLEASE VOTE!

The Colchester School District budget vote is Tuesday, June 3, 2014, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Where are the polling stations?

District 9-1 (comprised of the area east of I-89, the west side of I-89 north of the Malletts Creek inlet, and excluding the south side of Blakely Road) is at the Colchester Meeting House on 830 Main Street in Colchester Village.

District 9-2 (comprised of the area west of I-89 south of the Malletts Creek inlet, including the south side of Blakely Road) is at Colchester High School on 131 Laker Lane (off Blakely Road).

Did you know that if your total household income is less than $90,000, the tax increase associated with this proposed school budget would be $2.38 or less? Please click here to learn more in this two-page informational flyer, which includes information about your schools as well as important tax-related information.

For questions about the budget or for any additional information, please call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999 or visit

Please vote on June 3!

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, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Programs, Student Spotlight

Congratulations, Honors Scholars!

Colchester High School recently applauded twenty-eight top-honors students at a celebratory banquet in South Burlington, continuing a long and proud tradition honoring students who have maintained academic excellence throughout their high school careers.

Caption here
Julia Meadows, Jackie Nagle, Kiley Baillargeon, and Kristi Chapman

The students, celebrated for graduating magna and summa cum laude, were distinguished guests for the special evening, celebrating with a sit-down dinner. Melanie Laquerre, the Vermont health teacher of the year, was the honors banquet keynote speaker. Each honored student was recognized for his or her accomplishments, and all received honor cords to wear during their upcoming graduation ceremony.

Caption here
Brady Doud and Alana Feeley with teacher Tara Sharkey

The students honored at the special event for their outstanding academic achievements are as follows:

Kiley Baillargeon
Alex Barnes
Jeremy Barton
Daniel Brigante
Megan Bullock
Henry Butler
Kristina Chapman
Summer Colley
Ben Cross
Brady Doud
Tanner Ducharme
Alana Feeley
Josh Gervais
Lauren Hutchings
Taylor Lance
Julia Meadows
Ethan Miller
Justin Miller
Jackie Nagle
Natalie Orner
Sam Pakulski
Maia Patrie
Chris Prado
Carina Sobel
Ethan Thibault
Amanda Wark
Marquel Webster
Gabriela Zimbron


Caption here
Jeremy Barton, Sam Pakulski, Justin Miller, Ethan Thibault, and Ethan Miller

CHS teachers Jim Price, Aimee deLaricheliere, and Pat Schiller coordinated the event. Many members of the Colchester School District contributed financially in order to make the event possible, along with many generous members of the community who also sponsored students in honor of academic excellence. To view the program and to see the list of sponsors who funded this event, please click here.

Congratulations, honors scholars!

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

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

Are Colchester Schools Efficient?

The following letter was written by Colchester School Board member Craig Kieny:

In March 2013, I was elected to the Colchester School Board. My reason for seeking election was that I was as frustrated as everyone else with increases in property taxes, and I decided the best way to do anything about it was to run for election.

One of my main goals was to make sure the school district minimized its costs by operating efficiently. That will be one of my goals for as long as I am on the board.

To monitor the efficiency of the schools, I look at data provided by the Vermont Agency of Education regarding per-pupil spending, student/teacher ratios, New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) scores, and others metrics. Here are highlights of what the most recent available data shows:

  • Of the 11 school districts that offer K-12 programs, 3 districts (27.2%) have lower per-pupil spending, when Special Education expenses are excluded.
  • Of the 28 senior high schools, 5 (17.8%) have a higher student/teacher ratio than Colchester High School.
  • Of the 25 similar-sized middle schools, 3 have a higher student/teacher ratio than Colchester Middle School.
  • Of the 25 similar-sized elementary schools, 0 have a higher student/teacher ratio than Malletts Bay School.
  • Of the 41 similar-sized elementary schools, 9 (20.2%) have a higher student/teacher ratio than Porters Point School and 11 (26.8%) have a higher ratio than Union Memorial School.
  • The student/administrator (principal, assistant principals) ratio for CHS and PPS are average for their respective school type and size.
  • The student/administrator ratios for CMS, MBS, and UMS are in the lower half for their respective school type and size. In the case of MBS and UMS, this is due to the size of the schools. For CMS, this is due to the need to address specific issues.
  • NECAP scores for eleventh graders are among the highest in the state for all subjects.

I don’t like paying a penny more than I have to for anything than I have to, and I bring this mentality to my work on the board. The above data suggest that the schools are operating relatively efficiently.

The data also suggest that it is expensive to operate schools in Vermont. After we have an approved budget, I hope to ensure the district continues to look for ways to operate efficiently and address statewide issues to further improve the cost efficiency of Colchester schools.

Please vote on June 3.

Craig Kieny
Colchester School Board member