Posted in Community, General, Malletts Bay School

Ever Wanted to be a Genie?

Have you ever wanted to grant a wish?

Now you can!

Malletts Bay School is branching out to offer help to children affected by Hurricane Sandy; a tree in the school’s lobby has been gloriously transformed into a “giving tree” strung with “wishes” from children who lost everything in the historic storm. Community members who are interested in fulfilling any of the wishes are invited to select one from the giving tree. Granted wishes may be wrapped and dropped off at MBS by Friday, December 14 with the gift tag attached to assist in delivery to the correct recipient.

Malletts Bay School’s giving tree strung with wishes

Working with the New York City Department of Education and JetBlue, MBS staff members are working to deliver the gifts to the New York City area in late December.

If you would like more information or are interested in granting a wish, please contact MBS Principal Julie Benay at or call (802) 264-5900.

Remember that Malletts Bay School’s “The Buzz” newsletter can be found on the the school’s website, and remember that Colchester School District posts a district-wide calendar of events, as well!

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 High School, Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Student Spotlight

Supporting Student Leadership

Did you know that the Colchester School Board benefits from student representation?

Colchester High School senior Jordan Isham

Colchester High School senior Jordan Isham, who is acutely interested in politics and in the Colchester community, earned his position on the school board after a competitive selection process. “I am a non-voting member; my position is purely to offer insight and perspective,” Jordan said. That insight and perspective includes that which pertains to policies, budgets, and the general pulse of the school community. “I feel it’s my responsibility to present to the board anything I see that isn’t going well. In the world of compromise, radical ideas don’t happen; it’s all about finding compromises and solutions.”

Jordan is also a member of the National Honor Society (NHS) (you can read more about what is involved with NHS membership here), an active volunteer at Malletts Bay School and with Special Olympics Vermont (he is coordinating CHS’s team for the upcoming Penguin Plunge) and a former volunteer with Burnham Memorial Library, a member of the National Guard (having already completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri), a competitive athlete, and he has worked part time for years on a family farm in Williston. He has also already taken thirteen college credits—two years of Arabic and a course in counterterrorism at the University of Vermont and a course in criminal law at Champlain College.

“I hope to learn the political aspect of what it takes to be presented with a problem and then overcome the obstacles through my service to the school board. I want to be a part of that, and I want to gain a better of understanding of how that works,” he said. “I think policymaking is a much longer process than most people think. It’s easy to criticize the process or what gets done, but policy making is a lot harder than it seems.”

Jordan also expressed concern about some of the challenges facing the school board. “Colchester doesn’t always pass budgets the first time, and from my perspective, we get the most out of our money; we have to end up cutting when we shouldn’t be cutting. There are infrastructure problems in the buildings. We know we don’t have as much interest as we should. We’re competing with the best schools in the state, and yet we don’t have a consistently supportive community; for our district to continue to prosper, we need to be backed by our citizens. I see my role as being a link to the students and teachers, the citizens, and the board, and I hope to strengthen the bridge between the three.”

Students all across our district step up to make positive contributions. Megan Scheck, a fourth grader in Mrs. Chittenden’s class who, inspired by her special relationship with a rescued chocolate lab, organized an extensive, creative project she named “Paws for Caring” to benefit animals at Northern Greyhound Adoptions (NGA) and the Humane Society of Chittenden County (HSCC).

Malletts Bay School fourth grader Megan Scheck

Megan recruited over forty fellow classmates to make and sell handmade animal-themed items—bookmarks, foam animal figures, greeting cards, and dog biscuits—and extensively marketed the effort through posters, handouts, and announcements using MBS’s intercom. Megan and her invested classmates met regularly throughout the three-week effort, raising $49.25 for HCSS and $41.56 for NGA—a total of $90.81. It was an excellent demonstration of her ability to inspire and lead others with a common goal to support an important and meaningful cause. “Megan was remarkably poised, independent, and focused on her project, and she independently ran the entire thing,” said Principal Julie Benay, who, with Assistant Principal Carolyn Millham, actively supports the growth of student voice, leadership, and citizenship at Malletts Bay School. “She remembered when to come make announcements, met with students who wanted to help, and organized the sale all without any adult at school helping her at all. It was remarkable!”

Megan—who enjoys the company of goldfish, birds, and the new family kitten named Mr. Mittens—feels very strongly about animal welfare efforts. “It is important to protect them so that they don’t go extinct like the dinosaurs,” she said. “And if you can, you should at least consider adopting them.” She says she loves all animals … except tarantulas. “If I knew I wouldn’t have to touch a tarantula, I’d definitely be a veterinarian!” she declared. “I still might be, anyway. I also want to build a dragon emporium.” Most importantly, Megan said of her project, “I learned that it was a lot of work, but it was worth it. Doing something you know is good makes you feel better.”

In our October 4 article, we discussed another CHS student who is actively involved in leadership development, the political process, and civic engagement—and has hobnobbed at the White House in the process.

And in case you missed our November 9 article about nearly a dozen other examples of young people in our community giving of themselves for the greater good, you can read it here. As we’ve said before, when our community members see young people making substantial efforts, they are more likely to support them … and when students feel supported, they are more likely to give back to the community. Everyone benefits from making ongoing positive contributions.

We really have remarkable citizens in our community.

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 High School, General, Programs

CHS Sends Delegates to Student Leadership Conference

Supporting student leadership development is important. Accordingly, Colchester High School recently sent a delegation to the Eighteenth-Annual Vermont Student Athlete Leadership Conference.

Colchester High School representatives Pearl A., Brittany I., Josh G., and Quinn T. at the Vermont Student Athlete Leadership Conference

The conference, created from a partnership between the Vermont State Athletic Directors’ Association and the Vermont Principals’ Association, is designed to encourage athletes to be effective leaders and to inspire them to share their positive attitudes with their schools and communities. The event included speakers, breakout sessions, an awards banquet, and a host of group activities. CHS’s representing athletes to the conference have a wide breadth of athletic experience, having collectively participated in field hockey, ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse, football, soccer, softball, and track.

School athletic programs are often heralded for encouraging discipline, accountability, responsibility, sacrifice, and self-confidence while instilling a sense of community spirit and school pride. They are also regarded as a fun and engaging way to enhance health and wellness and combat youth obesity.

If you would like more information about the conference or about CHS athletics, please contact CHS Athletic Director Bernie Cieplicki by e-mail at, or call (802) 264-5705.

Stay tuned for another feature about student leadership coming very soon!

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, General, Malletts Bay School, Videos

Addressing Challenge, Resilience, and Perseverance

Colchester Middle School recently invited Rhode Island-based stunt cyclist and youth speaker Chris Poulos to address CMS and MBS students about challenge, resilience, and perseverance.

Stunt cyclist and motivational speaker Chris Poulos

The CMS students also participated in a number of activities and discussions with their TA groups about these important topics.

The presentations delivered to the students also addressed issues like bullying and cyberbullying, self-motivation, cooperation, being kind to others, earning respect, being the best one can be, facing fears, and overcoming adversity—all of which are areas that Colchester School District actively promotes through a wide variety of ongoing school climate initiatives. CMS Assistant Principal Dovid Yagoda, who coordinated the event, said, “My message was really that it is important to go for your goals and never quit even when it gets hard.”

Best known for winning the 1991 Bicycle Stunt World Championships in Denmark at the age of twenty, Mr. Poulos has competed in hundreds of events nationwide and worldwide and has since turned his sport into a platform for encouraging young people to be the best they can be. To view a short video of his presentation to the CMS students, click here.

If you would like more information about the Poulos presentations, please e-mail Assistant Principal Dovid Yagoda ( or call (802) 264-5800.

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 High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.
—W. J. Cameron

Students from both Colchester High School’s CHS Cares and Colchester Middle School’s Infinity Team and Family and Consumer Science classes were hugely successful in their food drives this season.

Colchester Middle School Infinity Team and Family and Consumer Science students with the nearly 1,000 pounds of food donations they collected for the Colchester Community Food Shelf
Cheering their success!

Members of CHS Cares with over 500 donated food items that were assembled into baskets and delivered to twenty-five families in our amazing community.

Colchester School District wishes everyone a very safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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, Malletts Bay School, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Honoring Our Veterans

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!
—Maya Angelou

Poppies have become a symbol representing veterans.

With the assistance of student teachers from the University of Vermont, Malletts Bay School’s Principal Julie Benay taught fifth graders a general history of Veterans Day. Afterward—in alignment with one of the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017’s Pathway A goals, which states “students determine individualized learning goals, creating a plan for their own learning based on their interests, readiness, and abilities”—students were given three options to demonstrate their learning:

  • A group of students worked to create cards to give to veterans at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Colchester.
  • Other students teamed up to prepare presentations, which they delivered to the third and fourth graders in their “houses” within the school.
  • A third group wrote essays about the holiday, with an emphasis on taking individual responsibility for “practicing peace.”

Nine students were awarded top prize for essays that exceeded expectations and were treated to lunch at the local Subway restaurant, which donated a 10 percent discount in recognition of the students’ accomplishments.

From left to right are Tracy W., Jessica L. (front), Jordan C. (rear), Rachel N., Abdi H., Zakir B., Blake R., Jared T., and Ethan F.

Teaching students about Veterans Day as a solemn and important day of remembrance helps to honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces, and it also blends well with CSD’s efforts in facilitating civic engagement.

If you would like more information, please e-mail Principal Julie Benay ( or call Malletts Bay School at (802) 264-5900.

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 High School, General, Programs, Student Spotlight

Writer’s Poem Wins Inclusion in Published Anthology

As part of Colchester School District’s literacy efforts (you can read our five-part primer about literacy initiatives here), we are involved with the Young Writers Project (YWP)—an organization focused upon aiding better student writing.

One of our students, Colchester High School senior Chiara Evans, was recently honored by the YWP for her submission “What Makes Up Dreams.” The piece is part of YWP’s Anthology 4, selected for inclusion from nearly 12,000 writing submissions and 2,000 pieces of visual art, representing the best work of more than one hundred students from across Vermont and New Hampshire.

CHS senior Chiara Evans

This is not the first time that Chiara has been honored by the YWP; in fact, the YWP has recognized her approximately twenty times since her sophomore year through various outlets in addition to her most recent honor, including publication in Anthology 3, the Colchester Sun, Seven Days, and the Burlington Free Press. She hopes that some of her writing will also be included in the YWP’s Anthology 5 collection next year.

“She is attune to the subtleties of language and no matter what she writes, carefully chooses each word,” educator Wayland Cole, head of CHS’s Humanities department, said of Chiara. “She loves words and language,” said Mr. Cole. “She is the rare student who truly cares about how and why each word fits with the next to create meaningful ideas … she reads well and widely, which clearly has helped her to become a better writer.”

Chiara’s anthologized poem, which she said was inspired by a YWP writing prompt about dreams, was written—incredibly—in a single draft without revisions.

“What Makes Up Dreams”

Conglomerate messages wound up in the day’s thoughts
A simple process of untying your own knots
The best objects of your desire
A wish for something better
A touch of love
A tear shed for something gone wrong
Allow yourself to take a journey into your own mind
Look at yourself through your own eyes
And see what others see
Go floating through your scatterbrains
And don’t let anyone take away your childish wonder
The best entertainment is one you make
Wrapped up in memories and wishes
To go far away
To have something new
Or just a better life one day
Dreams fulfill us and take us through sleep
Seemingly short but ever so long
Conscious but unconscious you sleep
While being carried off farther and farther
Don’t get lost
Dreams will haunt you, make you laugh
Dreams will love you, and send tears to your eyes
But you have to remember not to get caught
Hold on to reality
Because dreams are just your brain
Figuring things out.

Chiara plans to pursue higher education in bioscience following her graduation from Colchester High School; she is particularly interested in exploring a career as a biomedical engineer or in pharmacology.

Congratulations, Chiara!

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 Accountability, Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information, Programs

CSD to Partner with CPD’s K-9 Unit in Drug-Deterrent Initiative

After much thoughtful consideration and serious discussion, the school board, its administrators, and Police Chief Kirker have authorized a program in partnership with the Colchester Police Department in order to proactively address the issue of drugs in our schools.

Colchester Police Department’s K-9, Tazor, accompanied by his handler, Corporal Dave Dewey, will visit our campuses for the purpose of locating illicit drugs as a means of reducing the possession and dealing of drugs on campus.

Please take a moment to read the formal letter to the community from Superintendent Waters about this initiative. Please also take a moment to review Colchester School District’s School Search and Seizure Policy and Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Abuse Policy.

If you have any questions, please contact our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999.

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 High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Programs, Union Memorial School

How Does Flatware Relate to Sustainability Efforts?

We have a moral responsibility to protect the earth and ensure that our children and grandchildren have a healthy and sustainable environment in which to live.
—Jim Clyburn

In collaboration with CSD’s food service program—and as part of an overarching, coordinated effort to improve recycling and waste management efforts across the district—students at Porters Point School are now using flatware at mealtimes instead of disposable plastic utensils.

And now, as part of Colchester Middle School’s ongoing sustainability initiatives, CMS’s Partners in Education (PIE) group is collecting used and unused flatware/silverware—specifically, spoons, forks, and service knives (not steak knives)—for use in the cafeterias at CMS and Malletts Bay School. Flatware can be dropped off with the main office at CMS, or a member of the PIE group will pick up donations upon request; please contact Cheryl Aley at (802) 893-3640 to coordinate a pick up.

As we have discussed before, the district has numerous ongoing efforts in environmental responsibility and sustainability. For example:

    • We began transitioning to eco-friendly cleaning products in our buildings before it was mandated by Vermont law on July 1, 2012.
    • CSD replaced its old Ford Taurus driver’s education vehicle with a new Toyota Prius—a hybrid vehicle that typically exceeds fifty miles per gallon—with funds received from an ARRA grant.
    • The district utilized funds received through another grant to install more than eighty LED lamps throughout the parking lots at CHS, CMS, and MBS, resulting in an annual savings of fifty thousand (50,000) kilowatt hours and additional incentive dollars.
    • The district also installed upgraded lighting at both PPS and UMS. In fact, CSD worked closely with Efficiency Vermont and various vendors to replace lighting in all schools with high-efficiency lighting, and the anticipated savings to the district were such that Efficiency Vermont covered the entire cost with incentives.
    • Three high-efficiency boilers resulting in annual cost savings replaced the aging boilers at CMS.
    • CSD works closely with Chittenden Solid Waste District in order to increase recycling efforts.
    • CHS won a grant to support a human-powered generator capable of storing electricity to help offset some of the stage lighting, sound, and projection equipment’s power requirements.
CHS staff and students and Berlin City’s Dedrick Casab

And there are many more examples; CSD has won sustainability-focused grants, we have community gardens, and much more.

Environmentalism is really important, and Vermonters are proudly leading the charge; our state has often been called the healthiest in the country, and Burlington has been considered the healthiest city in the nation (and really, that means us here in Colchester, too). Even more amazing is that Vermont has also been considered the most ecologically friendly state in the country. All of this is because our friends and neighbors make environmental sustainability a priority—and CSD does, too.

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 High School, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Malletts Bay School, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

¡Los Mentores!

He who teaches others, teaches himself.
—John Amos Comenius, 1632

As our community stated in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017, “Everyone is recognized as a learner and teacher.”

Last summer, MBS third grade teacher Claudia O’Neill and CHS Spanish teacher Keren Turner hatched a plan for Ms. Turner’s students to visit with and teach Spanish to Ms. O’Neill’s students. In a nod to the district’s vision plan and as part of a creative teaching strategy, allowing the CHS students to share their knowledge with the MBS students provides them with a deeper level of understanding, and it is highly engaging to the younger students. A total of fifteen CHS students—eleven freshmen, two sophomores, and two seniors—designed mini-lessons for the MBS Ospreys that included posters, handouts, and singing songs. Two of the CHS students are already dedicated community volunteers, as well; one is a reading buddy and volunteer at Burnham Memorial Library, and another is a summertime junior counselor for Green Mountain Conservation Camps.

The Spanish lesson was well received by the students. It is a great example of inter-school collaboration within the district and of enriching classroom experiences.

For questions or for more information, please e-mail Claudia O’Neill ( or Keren Turner (

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!