Posted in Colchester High School, Community, Employee Spotlight, General, Personnel

Greetings from Norway!

Faculty Highlight Rachel Cohen (2)

The following is a post from Spotlight guest author, Rachel Cohen. Ms. Cohen is a humanities teacher at CHS who was awarded a Roving Scholar Fulbright Fellowship to Norway for the 2017-2018 school year. The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program that only awards two or three Roving Scholar Fellowships each year to applicants from all across America. The program brings American teachers to Norway for the school year where they spend their time traveling the country teaching and leading seminars about American history, culture, and teaching methods for both students and faculty. 

To hear more from Ms. Cohen about her journey abroad, visit her blog at www.rachelmaecohen.com

Greetings from Norway!

This month marks the mid-way point on my year in Norway as a Roving Scholar in American Studies, a grant made possible by the US-Norway Fulbright Foundation. While I am based in Oslo, the last five months have taken me to schools throughout this beautiful country. image1I have traveled by train, ferry and plane to reach some very remote schools, and others in large cities. I have logged nearly 70 teaching days and taught over 3,000 Norwegians students and teachers about US history, culture, geography, and the American education system. I have learned a new transportation system, developed strategies to cope with the long, polar nights, and learned a little bit of the Norwegian language along the way. I’ve also developed a fondness for brunost (brown cheese), the classic Norwegian “vaffel” and even reindeer meat! It’s a whirlwind of a teaching year— different in so many ways from my job at Colchester High School, and yet, at other times, I am reminded just how universal teaching and learning truly are.

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Most days I present several workshops to students in ungdomsskole, or lower secondary school, grades 8-10. After school, I often meet with teachers to talk about current trends in US education, sharing best practices in our respective systems.

A popular student workshop is called Teenage Life in America: A Day in the Life of Generation Z. In this workshop I ask students to finish the sentence “Teenage Life in Norway is all about…?” Here, their responses usually include things like “handball!” or “skiing!”, as well as “school work, hanging out with friends, preparing for the future, and watching Netflix.” Back in August I asked some of my students at CHS the same question, and when I share their responses it reveals how, in many ways, life is pretty similar for Norwegian and American teens!DSC_1056

 

This workshop led to a letter writing project between my students here and Mr. Price’s geography classes. In December we were able to skype with two classes here in Norway, in the tiny town of Kirkenes on the Russian border, and at another on the east side of Oslo, where the students are almost entirely new Norwegian or the children of immigrants. (You might be surprised to learn that about 17% of Norway’s population has an immigrant background). Questions ranged from “do you trust your President/Prime Minister?” To “what do you typically eat for dinner?” And “can you sing your national song for us?” This lesson will be one of my favorites of the year, I am certain.image4

The Norwegian School Day

My students here are surprised to learn that all Colchester schools begin before 8 am (compared to at least 8:30 here), that students move around the school all day rather than having all of their classes in one room, and that a hot meal is served at lunch. In Norway all students bring their lunch in a small box, and its customary to eat two slices of bread, and pålegg, meaning toppings for an open-faced sandwich. Cheese, caviar paste, meat pate, and cucumbers are most common. When Norwegians go home mid-afternoon they will have usually have a larger, warm meal then called middag, and perhaps a snack before bed.

image5Norwegian students are also surprised to learn about the large variety of extracurriculars opportunities that exist within American schools. By contrast, Norwegian teens play sports on town teams and are involved in private clubs for theater, arts, and music. So unlike in Colchester, the schools here are pretty quiet once the academic day has ended. Further, the students pay fees to participate in sports and everyone is welcome to play on the teams; there are no cuts. Students travel quite far for games and tournaments— sometimes even to other countries! Most teachers and students I talk with are very intrigued by (and perhaps even a little envious of!) the sense of community and spirit that school-sponsored extracurriculars foster in the USA.

A Social Democracy

Another popular workshop is based off of the 10th grade American Experience curriculum, and it is a look at opportunities and obstacles people face, both in the US and in Norway, to achieving their dreams. This topic often leads to a discussion of some of the benefits of Norway’s strong social programs, funded by relatively high taxes (about 35% on average) and their publicly owned oil fund. Many students are surprised to learn that American families have to save money for college, students hold jobs to save up too, and by the amount of debt that graduates take on. Here, higher education is basically free and accessible to everyone, at any time in a person’s life.image3

The US in the World

I’m surprised to learn just how much Norway’s culture is influenced by the US. Students watch American television, love American music, and use SnapChat to communicate with friends. Many students are eager to travel to New York City or Miami. Learning English is compulsory beginning in the first grade, and the English language is taught through a curriculum of US and British studies. As a result, many Norwegian teens have a good grasp of US history, and can identify many of the freedoms protected by the US Constitution. Norwegians also seem to know quite a lot about the history of indigenous Americans, and can draw comparisons between how American Indians and the Sami people have been treated by our respective governments.

DSC_1625Most Norwegians see the US as a great ally. Occupied by the Nazis during WWII and constantly under threat due to their border with Russia during the Cold War, Norwegians tend to hold America’s commitment to preserving democracy abroad in high regard. This helps explain Norwegians’ keen interest in the American political system and current events. Almost daily students express concerns about the threat of nuclear war. One teacher recently told me, “Our society is inextricably linked to American values. Destabilization in the American world means destabilization everywhere.”

Turning Nations into People

Despite the number of new students I meet each day, the real student here is me. With each interaction, workshop, train ride, and school lunch, I am growing as a teacher and DSC_1049lifelong learner in ways I never imagined I would. Every day I meet people from all walks of life who challenge my assumptions and force me to think differently. In the classroom I’ve been tested with questions that are complex and heart wrenching. “Are you proud to be an American? Is it harder to be an immigrant in America or Norway? Do you think the USA could learn anything from the Norwegian prison system?” I am at once a spokesperson for the US and a private citizen living abroad. Striking that balance has been the great challenge of this job, but an enriching experience all around.

DSC_0672Senator William Fulbright created the Fulbright Foundation in 1946 to promote mutual understanding in the post-WWII world. The value of this program and other opportunities for cross-cultural exchange has become abundantly clear to me. Often students will tell me I’m the first real American they have ever met, and that I helped them think differently about the US, perhaps even to second guess their stereotypes and biases. I am humbled and proud to be in this role. My work seems to be fulfilling Senator Fulbright’s vision:

“Educational exchange can turn nations into people, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations. Man’s capacity for decent behavior seems to vary directly with his perception of others as individual humans with human motives and feelings, whereas his capacity for barbarism seems related to his perception of an adversary in abstract terms.”

IMG_1654I am deeply grateful to both my colleagues at CHS and the Colchester community for allowing me to pursue this educational opportunity. While most days I have to pinch myself just to make sure I’m not dreaming, the work is never easy and most evenings I collapse onto a hotel bed, exhausted from teaching, traveling, and navigating a foreign country on my own.

But I am confident that I will return to my position at CHS with new teaching skills and a fresh outlook on global citizenship. I am looking forward to Fall 2018 and sharing more stories of my travels with my friends in Colchester!

Tussen takk og ha det bra,

Rachel Cohen

Posted in Community, General, Town of Colchester

Colchester’s Got Talent!

img_2616-adjusted.jpgAuditions for Colchester’s Got Talent 2018 will be held one night only on Thursday, January 18 at the Colchester High School Performing Arts Center beginning at 2:30pm!

This is a great chance to get on stage and show off your talents!  Sing, dance, play an instrument, do a comedy routine, or show us a new and exciting performance!  All are welcome to audition: youth, teens, adults, families, and groups.  Auditions will be scheduled every 4 minutes.

Colchester residents only, unless it is a group performance, and then at least one performer from the group must be a Colchester resident. IMG_2604

Interested acts should complete an Entry Form and return to the Colchester Parks & Recreation office; forms can be found at the Parks & Recreation office, High School front office, or online at http://colchestervt.gov/WinterCarnival.

Please be sure to read all rules carefully before submitting your act.  Cash prizes are awarded to the top three finishers in each category!

The big show will be on Friday, February 2 beginning at 6:00pm in the CHS Performing Arts Center to kick off Winter Carnival weekend.

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

Keeping the “giving” in Thanksgiving

We’re just over a third of the way into the 2017-2018 school year; the leaves are gone, the air has a chill to it, and the holiday season is upon us. As we think about the start of Thanksgiving Break next week, our thoughts turn to the families in our district who may benefit from a little extra help to make sure there’s enough food on the table.

Here’s a couple of ways we can rally behind those families. After all, this is what makes our community so special.  #wearecolchester

Donate Thanksgiving Fixings at CHS

What: Non-perishable items or monetary donations to purchase food 
When: This week (11/13 – 11/17)
Where: Front Office of CHS

If you didn’t already know, Colchester High School has an amazing club called CHS Cares.image They do some incredible things for our community all year round and Thanksgiving is no exception. For the past 10 years, they’ve collected and purchased goods to make 25 complete Thanksgiving meals for families throughout the district (including the turkeys!). They also include other items such as pasta, soups, and peanut butter to help beyond just the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

This Friday the club will stay after school to catalog what they have and what they still need before delivering the baskets on Saturday, November 18th. If you’d like to help this incredible group of teenagers please bring non-perishable items or a monetary donation (checks made out to CHS Cares) to the front office at CHS sometime this week.

Donate a Book to the Burnham Library

What: New or gently used books for kids and teens
When: Now until November 29th
Where: Lobby of all Colchester Schools, Town Offices, and the Burnham Library

SAM_7072The Burnham Memorial Library is once again partnering with the Colchester-Milton Rotary Club on their annual Holiday Gift Basket Project. The baskets will be filled with food and other items to help families in need have food on their tables during the holiday season. These baskets also include books for all the kids and teens in these families. Please help us to make this happen by dropping off your new (or very gently used) books at one of our drop-off locations. Bins have been placed in the lobbies of all Colchester schools, Town Offices and at the Burnham Library. We will be collecting books donations until Wednesday, November 29th.

Donate to the Colchester Food Shelf

What: Thanksgiving Staples: stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes (fresh or instant), casserole ingredients, and of course, turkeys!
When: Regular Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 11:00-1:30pm and Wednesday 3:30-6:00pm
Special Hours: Saturday, November 18th 10:00-1:00pm
Where: 245 Main St, Colchester

The Colchester Food Shelf is preparing for Thanksgiving and is looking once more to ourcolchester-food-shelf-logo loyal Colchester residents, who have continued to be wonderful, reliable supporters of the food shelf. They would like to be able to offer dinner fixings along with a turkey to food shelf clients and are looking for boxed scalloped potatoes, turkey gravy, green bean casserole ingredients, boxed stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, and turkeys.

They will be turning on our freezers to accept turkeys (14-16 lbs is a good size) beginning Tuesday, November 14th. Distribution to clients will be Monday, November 20th.

They are open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11-1:30 and Wednesday, 3:30 – 6:00 for drop-off of donations. They will also be open for donations, from 10am to 1pm on Saturday, November 18th.

Thank you for your continued support and Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Community, General, Malletts Bay School

CPD Shares the Story of the Red Ribbon Campaign with MBS Students

20171025_133222School resource officers Christian Mellen and Mark Jacobs have spent the beginning of the week touring classrooms at Malletts Bay School telling the story behind the Red Ribbon Campaign and this year’s slogan: your future is key so stay drug free.

Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985. When he decided to join the US Drug Enforcement Administration, his mother tried to talk him out of it. “I’m only one person”, he told her, “but I want to make a difference.”

In honor of Camarena’s memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends20171025_1329042 and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin. Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs, had begun forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the red ribbon. In Colchester, officers handed out red bracelets to students to wear as a symbol of support and commitment to their community.

20171025_131731After sharing Kiki’s story, Officer Mellen facilitated a discussion with students to encourage them to examine their own communities, both at school and at home, to see how they could make a positive impact. The students proposed cleaning up trash in common areas, donating food or time to a charity, contributing to small acts of kindness like holding a door open for someone, and being a “upstander” to bullying.

The kids sported their red bracelets to show their support of staying safe and drug free while doing their part to help the Malletts Bay School and Colchester communities.

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

Election Day Excitement Runs Through CSD

Presidential elections are exciting for students and provide a great opportunity to discuss and debate a range of issues in the classroom. On this historic election day, teachers and staff throughout the district have been working to educate and enthuse students on citizenship and civic responsibilities.

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To promote community citizenship, the middle school held a mock vote for the entire school (teachers too!). Students had registered ahead of time and checked in with high school students who were running the CMS polling station.

During the election students voted down the ballot from president to local Vermont officials. There was a lot of excitement and questions over what the different elected positions do and who to vote for. After casting their ballots they cheerfully donned the iconic, “I Voted” sticker.

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CMS students also spent the day reflecting on what it means to be a responsible citizen, both online and offline, in preparation of bringing their school chrome-books home. They started the day off evaluating balance between interacting with a screen and their individual lifestyle. They then studied some tips and tricks on troubleshooting potential issues and learned how to use new apps and programs through a series of workshops.

At Malletts Bay School and Porters Point School the elementary students learned about ballots, voting, and how the overall election process works. MBS students cast ballots for their favorite yearbook cover, and students in both schools voted for what the next school-wide celebration should be.

At PPS, the voters-in-training had to choose between a dance party or frozen treats. Principal Millham took the opportunity to speak with students about being respectful towards the opinions of others, even in the event their celebration choice was not the winner. In an election year when tensions are incredibly high, we can certainly count on our student community to bring us back to our core democratic values.

 

Posted in Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Union Memorial School

Journey to Independent Reading

If you happen to be in Union Memorial School on Monday, Wednesday or Friday mornings, you’ll notice the hallways buzzing with beginner readers.blogger-image-424245806

The Emergent Reading Literacy Program got off to a great start at UMS on Monday.  The program is a unique reading program centered around the student that brings together families, volunteers and teachers. The goal of the program is to bridge the gap between being read to and independent reading.

Three times a week each student works one-on-one with a literacy volunteer. Along with practicing their letters and sight words, the student gets to choose a book from the school’s collection and participate in shared reading with the adult. The student then brings the book home to read it with their family. During the next school literacy session the student brings the book back to read to a volunteer again, and then chooses a new book to begin the process over. The program focuses on active participation in all steps of the routine which can reinforce concepts and language skills.

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Superintendent Amy Minor reads with a student as part of the Emergent Reading Program.

The Emergent Reading Program is a great experience for both the child and the adult. The kids love reading to other adults and it can be very rewarding for the volunteer to witness the growth and progress each child makes throughout the program.

Volunteers are vital to the success of the program and the school is always looking for more people to participate.  Anyone can volunteer (after a background check); grandparent, aunt or uncle, sibling, community member, or a even high school students. There’s no steadfast commitment to make either; come as often or as little your time permits.

If you are interested in volunteering for the program contact UMS at 264-5959.

Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General, Music, Student Spotlight

Members of CHS Jazz Band to Perform at Flynn with Acclaimed US Army Band

On Sunday, October 30, three Colchester High School (CHS) jazz band members will perform with the U.S. Jazz Ambassadors at the Flynn Theater in Burlington. The nationally recognized Jazz Ambassadors, a 19-member ensemble formed in 1969, is the official touring big band of the U.S. Army. chs-jazz-band_2016

CHS Band Director Evan Peltier contacted the group and learned that they were seeking a trumpet player, trombone player and saxophone player to join them on stage to perform a piece during the concert. The following CHS jazz band students are participating: Nikoli Holly (trumpet); Nathan Colgrove (trombone); and, Jacob Dell (tenor sax).

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students,” said Peltier. “They won’t have the opportunity to rehearse with the group in the days leading up to the concert…They’ll be asked to join the group briefly backstage and then it’s show time!”

The Jazz Ambassadors band has played in every state and abroad; their Flynn performance will feature swing, bebop, contemporary jazz, popular tunes, Dixieland compositions, patriotic pieces and more.

The October 30 concert begins at 3 pm and is free and open to the public. For ticket information, visit: http://www.flynntix.org.

Posted in Community, General, Other Important Information, Student Spotlight

New Member Joins the CSD School Board

The Colchester School Board welcomed their newest member on Tuesday evening with the addition of student member, Jaclyn Cline. Jaclyn is a senior at CHS and although she is new to the CSD School Board, she is not new to politics.

Last fall Jaclyn lived, worked, and attended school in Washington DC as part of the US Senate Page Program. She was selected and sponsored by Senator Leahy. The program is highly competitive as there are only 30 positions available for 100 Senators. Her primary role as a page was to interact and assist with the daily functions of the House and Senate, Members’ offices, committees, and the Library of Congress. When asked what her most notable moments were she quickly responding by saying, “being on the House floor for the State of the Union delivered by President Obama, as well as the address from Pope Francis”.

During her freshman year at CHS she joined the Girls Rock the Capitol program as in intern, which gave her access to work side-by-side with female State Representatives in Vermont. She has participated in the program every year since; learning about advocacy, how to enact change, and benefiting from an up-close view of our State Government. With her personal pursuits evolving throughout the years she has begun to focus on attending college next year and is planning to study education and human development. With that in mind, this year she chose to shadow a Vermont legislator who serves on the Education Committee.

Jaclyn speaks proudly about her involvement in both State and National politics, however she prefers the excitement local government provides and is not interested in pursuing a career in Washington. Jaclyn is enthusiastic to represent the CSD student body on the School Board. She has volunteered and interacted with several schools and grade levels throughout the district leading up to this point in her education. The Board gave her a warm welcoming at Tuesday’s meeting.

School Board meetings are open to the public and are held on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Meetings begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Colchester High School Media Center (Library). Meetings are also aired on Lake Champlain Access Television (LCATV). You can stream them live or watch previous meetings on their website.

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

Bus Dismissal Schedule for Last Day of School, June 9

Colchester School District announces the bus dismissal schedule for last day of school, which will be Thursday,  June 9, 2016.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Colchester High School—There will be no bus departing from CHS on June 9. Students requiring a bus may walk to Colchester Middle School for 12:00 p.m. to access them.
Colchester Middle School—buses will depart at 12:00 p.m.
Porters Point School—buses will depart at 12:45 p.m.
Union Memorial School—buses will depart at 12:45 p.m.
Malletts Bay School—buses will depart at 12:45 p.m.

Please call your child’s school with any questions.

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!