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 debora.price@state.vt.us or by phone at (802) 479-1172.

Congratulations, Colchester High School!

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 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, Budgets, Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, District Office, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School, Programs, Union Memorial School, Videos, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

IMPORTANT! Introducing a Must-See Mini-Film

We think you’re really going to want to see this mini-film.

An engaging inside tour of your schools … surprising facts about school funding … a helpful discussion about what the budget might mean for you …

Please click here to watch the film.

This film is also streaming on LCATV; you may click here to view it, or tune into LCATV’s Channel 16 to catch one of its ongoing showings.

We are working hard to make the Colchester School District FY 2015 budget information as widely available and accessible as possible. We ask everyone to review the budget materials, ask questions, and generate dialogue as you consider your vote.

All of this information can also be found on Colchester School District’s website. You may also call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999 or stop in at 125 Laker Lane to request copies of the materials and ask questions.

We are working to continue the critically important work of strengthening our schools and our community. Please vote on Tuesday, March 4.

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, Grants

Great News! CHS Wins Another $10,000 Grant!

We are thrilled to announce that Colchester High School has been awarded another $10,000 grant in order to support its work in developing personalized learning grants (PLPs) for its students!

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The grant funds from the Vermont Agency of Education will accelerate and further build CHS’s capacity to develop PLPs, allowing for additional professional development and training as well as facilitating collaboration with other schools that have successfully implemented PLPs. CHS’s goal is to begin implementing personalized learning plans with all seventh and ninth graders beginning in the fall of 2014.

A key component of personalizing the educational experience for all students at CHS involves reviewing school-wide performance data; CHS’s Leadership Team regularly analyzes performance data in order to assess and implement necessary changes at CHS in order to ensure the success of our students. This grant funding will support further development of these systems and structures to refine understanding of each students’ learning progress throughout their CHS careers. It will also provide greater access to resources—including trainers, time, and technology—to build a more cohesive, personalized learning system and to more effectively personalize individual students’ learning.

This most recent award boosts CHS’s grant awards to $30,000 for this academic year alone; in December, we announced another $10,000 grant supporting classroom technology (please click here to read that article and to view a short film about it!). An additional $10,000 grant to support PLPs was also recently awarded.

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Colchester School District actively pursues alternative funding opportunities in order to augment programs and services for the students and community it serves. The district has investigated, sought, and received grant funding to support programming in the areas of science and technology, mathematics, literacy, early education, career exploration and preparedness, nutrition, physical education, music, environmental sustainability, and supplemental instruction.

To learn more about personalized learning plans, please click here to visit the Vermont Agency of Education’s page about them. And for more information about CHS’s instruction, please call (802) 264-5700, or call our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999.

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, Employee Spotlight, General, Grants, Other Important Information, Personnel, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Expanding Professional Development for Teachers and Why It’s Important

With grant funding provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Colchester High School science teacher Kara Lenorovitz recently honored Colchester School District by presenting at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual fall meeting in San Francisco, having been selected to do so by the Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) program.

Ms. Lenorovitz joined teacher Tom Lane of Bellows Free Academy, Fairfax and St. Michael’s College’s Miranda Lescaze at the San Francisco meeting. (To read a brief feature about Ms. Lenorovitz’s San Francisco presentation, please click here, and to view her presentation materials, please click here.) More than 22,000 earth and space scientists, educators, students, and other leaders gathered to present groundbreaking research and connect with colleagues as part of the December 9–13 event.

“It was incredibly powerful and reaffirming to both attend and present at the AGU conference,” Ms. Lenorovitz said. “Having the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge scientific findings across the multifaceted disciplines of Earth science, network with researchers and educators from around the world, and to partner more closely with RACC colleagues represented unparalleled professional development. Learning more about the complexities of climate change and educator professional development opportunities offered by other national and international organizations truly highlighted that the broader RACC research focus and model of authentically integrating both high school teachers and students in a vibrant research community is a unique, dynamic, and effective model.”

Ms. Lenorovitz has participated in the Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) program, which is part of the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)—which is itself a NSF-funded collaborative research effort between university researchers, graduate and undergraduate students, and high school teams throughout New England, New York, and Puerto Rico—for four years. She also mentors CHS students in EPSCoR-related efforts; last school year, three CHS seniors focused their efforts on understanding how storm events impact phosphorus levels in streams in various areas of different land uses and were later recognized for their contributions to climate change research. (Read more about that impressive feat here!)

CHS has participated in the Streams/RACC project for all six years of the program’s existence (the name morphed to Research on Adaptation to Climate Change (RACC) after its third year). Because science teacher Will Warren led the CHS team for the first two years, two science teachers and thirteen students have been actively engaged in this research initiative over CHS’s six years of participation.

Why is this important?

Exceptional teachers and teaching opportunities best position our students for success. Teacher collaboration is a critical element of student success (please click here to read a Spotlight primer about it), as are strategic professional development opportunities. In addition to serving as an elemental component in CSD’s teacher evaluation model (please click here to access our three-part primer about it), professional development is also the foundational aspect of in-service days (please click here to read more about them). Students’ ability to participate in hands-on, experiential learning is critically important, and your schools work to provide as many hands-on opportunities as possible for students—from pioneering a first-of-its-kind sustainability initiative and partnering with UVM to conduct atmospheric research to working with a state official to design simple water filtration systems … and from seeking grant funding to support the construction of a human-powered generator to teaming up with Colchester Police Department to explore forensics, your schools work to align with the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s many pathways, including Pathway A: High Standards, Expectations, and Individual Engagement for All Learners; Pathway B: Technology Infrastructure and Integration; Pathway C: Learning Outside Our Four Walls; and Pathway E: Parent, Community, and School Partnerships Among Lifelong Learners. And we are having an astronomical reach—literally; did you know that one of our graduates is a flight controller for the International Space Station?

Hands-on study and application of science is important because making real-world connections to abstract classroom learning piques student engagement and attention—thus encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and enhancing learning. It also strengthens students’ observational skills and allows them to actively engage in their learning, providing additional sensory activities and expanding their curiosity. Our students are busily preparing for careers that do not even exist yet, and as such, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills are of even greater importance; students must be able to translate the theories and concepts they learn now toward applications they will use in their careers that have yet to be developed. Facilitating an increased emphasis on hands-on education—and providing opportunities for leadership development and career preparation in the process—is an excellent example of the forward thinking that the district works hard to promote and encourage. In order to do that, we must have quality teachers. To have quality teachers, they must have relevant, meaningful, and ongoing professional development.

In short, expanded professional development for teachers equals enhanced experiential learning—and thus greater success—for our students.

For more information, please call CHS at (802) 264-5700.

Your schools and your town government are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

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

$10,000, the “Hour of Code,” and Working Toward the Future (Contains Video!)

Colchester High School’s “Hour of Code” proposal was selected as the Vermont winner … and earned CHS $10,000 to purchase technology for use in its classrooms.

CHS science team leader Will Warren and math educator Tara Sharkey spearheaded the initiative in which the entire school participated in learning code for one hour as part of an international program called the “Hour of Code.” A kickoff event and award ceremony held on December 9 included Vermont Agency of Education’s Secretary Armando Vilaseca and was attended by Superintendent Larry Waters, members of the Colchester School Board, and many others. A check for $10,000 was presented at the ceremony, which will facilitate the purchase of nineteen new laptops for CHS.

To view a video of the kickoff ceremony and some of the coding that CHS students did during the event, please click here.

The event coincided with Computer Science Education Week, running December 9–15. “Using technology is a necessity for all of us, especially our students,” said Secretary of Education Vilaseca. “This weeklong event provides our students and our schools an opportunity to showcase their talents and their work.” (To read the VT AOE’s press release about it, please click here.)

Why is computer science important?

Computer science is evident everywhere—not only in formal disciplines like engineering, medicine, biology, and business management but also in everyday life … mobile phones, financial transactions, televisions, vehicles … it is ubiquitous. As such, there is an immensely strong practical relevance for studying it. And yet computer science is only taught in approximately 10 percent of US schools, and most students never try it. Computer science skills—required for the creation and development of advanced technologies and applications and to optimally use the ones we already have—are paramount.

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 includes a pathway entitled “Technology Infrastructure and Integration,” and we are taking it seriously and working very hard to increasingly work toward this pathway.

To view WCAX’s coverage of the December 9 event and how it relates to statewide educational initiatives, please click here.

To view Fox 44’s coverage, please click here.

To view LCATV’s coverage, please click here.

To read the Vermont Tech Jam article about it, please click here.

Congratulations, Colchester High School!

Your schools and your town government are working hard to engage our community. Please encourage your friends and family to subscribe to The Spotlight. When we’re all informed, we make a stronger community!

Posted in Accountability, Colchester Middle School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Employee Spotlight, General, Grants, Other Important Information, Personnel, Porters Point School, Programs, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

CSD Technology Integration Specialist a Keynote Speaker at Technology Convention

Colchester School District’s technology integration specialist, Aimee Boucher, was recently part of the keynote at Dynamic Landscapes, an annual conference co-sponsored by Vita-Learn and the Vermont School Libraries Association.

Technology Integration Specialist Aimee Boucher
Technology Integration Specialist Aimee Boucher

Ms. Boucher offered a presentation about Wonder Blogging, which was developed by our own Natalie LaRose, a second-grade teacher at Porters Point School, in collaboration with teacher Ashley Merced in Chicago. These two teachers began their collaboration by doing a Mystery Skype (if you missed our CSD Spotlight article about that, you can access it here). From the original collaboration has grown a larger-scale project using Wonderopolis, an online education tool with countless classroom applications.

If you would like to view the slides from Ms. Boucher’s keynote presentation, please click here. (The event was also filmed by the Regional Educational Technology Network (RETN); please click here for more information.)

Ms. Boucher also writes a technology newsletter for CSD. Please click here to see it—it is packed with resources and information!

Why is all of this so important? Because technological innovation in education is more prevalent—and critical—than ever before. Creative and flexible approaches to instruction are on the rise in our district and around the world. (Did you see our article about “classroom flipping”? If you missed it, you can read it here. It’s really exciting!)

To learn more about CSD’s 2012–2015 technology plan, please click here.

CMS teacher Jenn Roberge was also recently honored for her innovative use of classroom technology; if you missed that article, you can read it here.

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s pathways include Pathway A: High Standards, Expectations, and Individual Engagement for All Learners; Pathway B: Technology Infrastructure and Integration; and Pathway C: Learning Outside Our Four Walls. There is a lot of forward momentum in our schools on these fronts. Furthermore, the Vermont Technology Grade Expectations outline major focus areas in education, and among them are digital citizenship and technology operations and concepts, so this work is particularly meaningful and relevant.

Your schools are working really hard to implement technology in meaningful, innovative ways (please click here to read about $15,000 worth of grants recently awarded for classroom technology). If you would like more information, please contact our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999, call any of your schools, or e-mail Aimee Boucher at bouchera@csdvt.org.

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!

Posted in Colchester Middle School, Employee Spotlight, General, Grants, Videos, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

NFL Alum Helps Honor CSD for Commitment to Healthy School Meals

Colchester School District’s director of nutrition and food services, Steve Davis, was honored by the New England Dairy & Food Council with Vermont’s Fuel Up to Play 60 Program Advisor of the Year award—and National Football League alum Lamar Mills was on hand to help celebrate and to encourage students to live healthy lifestyles.

CSD’s food service program has been steadily making impressive improvements in recent years all while battling rising global food costs. Using Fuel Up to Play 60 grant funds, Davis introduced a smoothie bar to the school lunch program as well a grab-and-go breakfast station at CMS, offering students a nutritious start to the day. “We’re excited to recognize the leadership of Steve for his innovative approach to making healthy changes that benefit the school meals program,” said New England Dairy & Food Council nutrition specialist Jill Goodroe.

(To read the formal press release from the New England Dairy & Food Council about the award, please click here.)

Lamar Mills helped to present the award to Davis and also engaged the students in discussion about the many benefits of optimal nutrition and regular exercise.

Lamar Mills, Steve Davis, and New England Dairy & Food Council's Jill Goodroe
Lamar Mills, Steve Davis, and New England Dairy & Food Council’s Jill Goodroe
Lamar Mills talks with CMS students at the assembly
Lamar Mills talks with CMS students at the assembly
CMS students at the assembly
CMS students at the assembly
Signing autographs for students
Signing autographs for students
Interview with the Cougar Chronicle staff
Interview with the Cougar Chronicle staff
CMS students pose with Lamar Mills
CMS students pose with Lamar Mills
CMS administrators with Lamar Mills
CMS administrators with Lamar Mills

“I love doing this,” Mills said of his involvement with the campaign to encourage wellness among young people. “I love to help and to give back to the community, because I was helped growing up.”

To see the WCAX coverage of the event, please click here.

Wellness is a major component of the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017. Your schools are making it a high priority!

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!

Posted in Community, General, Grants, Porters Point School, Programs, Videos, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan, Wellness

“In Shape and In Season” Program Was a Great Success

The In Shape and In Season program—a proud health and wellness initiative we strategized that was generously funded through a $11,760 grant from Fletcher Allen Health Care’s Community Benefit Fund—has drawn to a close, and it was a hugely successful venture.

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In Shape and In Season was designed to make steps toward reducing childhood malnutrition and childhood obesity. It was strategically developed to serve as a collaborative, family-based, multidisciplinary approach to nutrition and wellness that incorporated:

  • access to nutritious foods emphasizing seasonal produce
  • hands-on, interactive education in wholesome food preparation
  • engaging education about healthy physical activity, and
  • information about a variety of services available through area organizations.

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The foundation of the program was the idea that, through fostering understanding about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise, malnutrition and obesity may be reduced over time. Research has shown that young people are more likely to make healthier food choices if they are already familiar with healthy food, and they are also more likely to regularly exercise if they are encouraged to do so—resulting in a lifelong impact on their health and well-being. Furthermore, nutrition has been shown to be a critical component of optimal child development and academic performance … and that education about and access to nutritious food choices is an integral part of best positioning students for healthy and successful lives.

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When designing the program, Porters Point School Principal Jim Marshall amassed a dynamic team of respected professionals to ensure its success; experts in nutrition (registered dietitian and professional chef Deana Novembrino) and childhood obesity (the University of Vermont’s Dr. Connie Tompkins) as well as Hunger Free Vermont’s “the Learning Kitchen” all contributed to the program. In addition, a team of UVM master of nutrition and food sciences students helped to educate the program’s participants about the important long-term benefits of healthy eating, and exercise and movement science students worked with participants to explore a variety of family-friendly physical activities in order to encourage regular exercise in everyday life.

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The program was comprehensive, consisting of a summer series and follow-up sessions in fall, winter, and spring. (To view a short video from the first session, which took place on July 23, click here.)

It provided nutritious ingredients for preparation at home and informational take-home recipe booklets to the participants, incorporated child-friendly recipes in order to encourage child participation, offered education about ways in which entire families can be physically active together, provided on-site child care to facilitate parent participation, hosted family-style dinners with the participants immediately following the cooking classes, provided additional professional training for CSD’s food service professionals—which in turn benefited the school district’s meal offerings for the entire school community—and more.

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The program also aligned beautifully with a number of the pathways described in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017.

As part of the grant-funded program, participants received a gift of a professional sauce pan, measuring spoons, a chef knife, measuring cups, a meat thermometer, and a knife sharpener.
As part of the grant-funded program, participants received a gift of a professional sauce pan, measuring spoons, a chef knife, measuring cups, a meat thermometer, and a knife sharpener.


We are very proud of the work that was done throughout the program and for all of its successes! Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed!

Do you like CSD Spotlight? If so, please encourage your family and friends to subscribe! We are working hard to engage our community and keep everyone informed. Please help us spread the word!