Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School, Other Important Information, Porters Point School

CSD Wins More Grants!

Student delegates representing Porters Point School and Colchester Middle School recently attended an award ceremony at Berlin City Automotive Group in Williston to accept a total of $4,000 in grant funds awarded through Berlin City’s Drive for Education Foundation.

Berlin City awarded each school a $2,000 grant. PPS will use its funds to support incorporating ELMO document cameras and projectors and related equipment into its kindergarten classrooms to further facilitate instruction and inspire our students to actively engage in their academic experience from a very early age.


CMS will use its awarded funds to incorporate additional computer devices into its classrooms as a means of enhancing instruction.


CMS student Sarah Mendl with her supporting essay that contributed to the award-winning grant proposal
CMS student Sarah Mendl with her supporting essay that contributed to the award-winning grant proposal

The Vermont Technology Grade Expectations outline major focus areas in education, and among them are digital citizenship and technology operations and concepts. Similarly, Colchester School District has identified the implementation of technology into its curriculum as a high priority and is proactively promoting and supporting that agenda through various initiatives. The grants awarded by Berlin City will further support these endeavors at both PPS and CMS.

This is not the first time Berlin City has supported Colchester schools … or even the second or third. In June 2012, Berlin City funded a human-powered generator project at Colchester High School in an effort to foster greater ecological consciousness and hands-on development of sustainable technology. In December 2011, Berlin City awarded Malletts Bay School with $3,500 to further its literacy initiatives through a guided reading series. In December 2011, Berlin City also awarded Colchester Middle School with $3,500 to help increase its laptop inventory.

Many, many thanks to Berlin City Automotive Group for their generous grants providing additional opportunities to our students! And special thanks to Berlin City Sales Manager Dedrick Casab for his tireless support of our schools.

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Posted in General, Malletts Bay School, Union Memorial School

More Ways to Promote Literacy!

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.
—Maya Angelou

Every year, the Colchester Education Association (CEA) donates a number of $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificates to students in Colchester School District.

Gift certificate winners from Union Memorial School
Gift certificate winners from Union Memorial School

Winning students’ names were drawn from a collection of avid readers.

Winners from Malletts Bay School
Winners from Malletts Bay School

This effort by the CEA complements and helps promote the district’s literacy efforts. The CEA’s annual gift certificate giveaway also provides the winning students with additional opportunities to add to their personal libraries.

Created by CHS art teacher Anne Cummings
Created by CHS art teacher Anne Cummings

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Posted in Community, General, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Videos

Colchester Students and Community Members Shine Yet Again

What an amazingly generous, warmhearted community this is.

As we announced in our November 30 CSD Spotlight article, Malletts Bay School launched Project Giving Tree to help fulfill the holiday wishes of New York City children affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Colchester community members took up the challenge in earnest—including a young child who asked his mother to purchase a gift for the New York City children instead of for him—collectively amassing an astounding 160 gifts!

MBS's Project Giving Tree collected thirty boxes of gifts
MBS’s Project Giving Tree collected thirty boxes of gifts.

MBS also had tremendous community support from area organizations, including employees of Dwight Asset Management with their contribution of forty-eight wrapped gifts, Vermont Teddy Bear for its donation of ten bears, Eileen Moore—who offered her truck to transport the gifts to Burlington International Airport—charity shipment of the gifts to New York City by JetBlue, and WPTZ for assisting in publicizing news about the project.

Principal Julie Benay expresses her appreciation for the community's generosity with Project Giving Tree.
Principal Julie Benay expresses her appreciation for the community’s generosity with Project Giving Tree.

To view a video of Project Giving Tree, please click here.

At Porters Point School, students created cards for students at Harry S. Truman Elementary School in Sayreville, New Jersey. The cards, along with books purchased by PPS parent Susan Bokelberg, were sent along to the New Jersey students to help lift their spirits in the aftermath of the historic storm. Please click here to watch a fabulous video of the students’ cards and heartfelt messages of care and concern.

Upon receipt of the care package on December 19, Harry S. Truman Elementary School’s guidance counselor, Nikki, Panza, wrote, “We received the package! Our school opened it together and we are so touched by the cards and books. The inside of the books with class pictures and signatures brought us to tears. The fact that you took the trouble to organize everything was the cherry on top. I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to us and our children. Our principal is currently out on leave so she has not yet had a chance to see it, but I am positive she will be blown away by your generosity and thoughtfulness.”

The project was organized by Susan Bokelberg and Lyndsy Blais—many, many thanks to them! To view a slideshow of the endeavor, please visit PPS’s PBIS blog page.

It is both an honor and an inspiration to be a part of such an incredible community. Happy Holidays to you all!

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Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General

Gingerbread House Extravaganza Raises Money and Community Spirits

Conductor Cookie-Man
Conductor Cookie-Man

Colchester High School hosted its seventh-annual gingerbread house competition today.

Gingerbread treehouse
Gingerbread treehouse
Disney-themed gingerbread creation
Disney-themed gingerbread creation

This energetic and eagerly anticipated effort spreads cheer throughout the community. The competition involves teams of students in grades 9–12 collaborating on gingerbread houses. The finished products are then judged in three categories—traditional, open, and people’s choice. In the traditional category, the entire structure must be made of edible materials, and in the open category, up to 25 percent of the materials used in the construction and decoration can be inedible. This year’s celebrity judges were Dick and Dolly Mazza and Superintendent Waters.


Hurricane Sandy relief
Hurricane Sandy relief

Students and community members voted for their “people’s choice” favorite by a coin drop, and all funds raised as part of the event will support the Colchester Community Food Shelf.


And the winners are …

Traditional: Ms. Schenck’s group
Open: Ms. Lenox and Mr. Cole’s group
People’s Choice: Mr. Long’s group

After the gingerbread houses were displayed and the winning entries chosen, some of the faculty members and students spread positive energy and cheer throughout our greater community by delivering them to a number of organizations in our area. Numerous organizations have received the gingerbread houses in the past, including Cathedral Square Corporation (Heineberg Senior Housing, McAuley Square Senior Housing, Ruggles House Shared Housing, Holy Cross Senior Housing, Whitcomb Woods Independent Living, and Grand Way Commons Independent Living), the Ronald McDonald House, Starr Farm Nursing Center, Green Mountain Nursing Home, COTS Firehouse Family Shelter, the Children’s Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care, and Women Helping Battered Women.


Fun fact: Gingerbread houses are a German tradition stemming from the nineteenth-century Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hänsel and Grethel in which a young boy and girl discover a cottage in the woods built of gingerbread. Gingerbread house events—be they competitions or simply jovial team-building affairs—have been enjoying steadily increasing popularity all over the country.

Polar Express
Polar Express
Gingerbread fisherman
Gingerbread fisherman

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Posted in Colchester High School, General, Videos

What Do You Get When You Add Poetry and Performance?

To have great poets, there must be great audiences too.
—Walt Whitman

Colchester High School recently welcomed Vermont’s Slam Poet Laureate Geof Hewitt to work with students on the writing and performance of poetry, culminating into a poetry slam—an event in which poetry performers are judged by the audience on their use of style, content, and emotion. It is an annual event that has become hugely popular with students, one with which—as we mentioned in Part IV of our October 2011 literacy primer—other experts like the Breathing Poetry Project’s Kim Jordan have assisted in the past. Sophomore students, most of whom participated in classroom poetry slams in the days leading up to the event, signed up to participate in front of an audience consisting of their classmates, and Geof Hewitt served as the slam master again this year.

Why are poetry slams an important literary initiative?

In addition to students often regarding poetry slams as a favorite activity at Colchester High School, the slams also challenge students to fine-tune their writing, encouraging them to develop their own distinctive voices and purpose.

In what other ways do poetry slams benefit our students and enhance their educational experiences?

Aside from helping to cultivate public-speaking skills—which are highly useful in a variety of scholastic, professional, and personal post-secondary-education environments—they also often facilitate the transformation of bashful and perhaps even disinterested students into engaged and enthusiastic scholars, providing a powerful platform for expression and helping to develop students’ confidence and vision.

To view a brief video of the poetry slam, please click here!

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

National Honor Society Inductees Honored in Ceremony

Thirty-seven Colchester High School students were inducted into the National Honor Society (NHS) in a December 11 ceremony. CHS science teacher Jeff Richey spoke at the event.

The NHS recognizes high school students in grades 10–12 who have exhibited outstanding accomplishments in scholarship, leadership, service, and character. It has chapters in all fifty states as well as in many US territories and in Canada, and this prestigious affiliation can only be obtained after a stringent selection process.


In order to be considered for induction, candidates must detail their achievements in service and leadership and must meet the cumulative grade-point average requirement. The local NHS chapter’s faculty council deliberates the candidates’ qualifications before voting whether to invite a candidate for formal induction.

NHS inductees assume a number of obligations as a condition of their membership; along with maintaining the standards by which they were selected (failure to do so can result in discipline and/or dismissal), membership includes such responsibilities as conducting service projects for their school or community as well as individual service projects, and members attend regular meetings with the NHS’s local chapter. Membership offers a number of benefits, including access to a number of scholarship programs.


We are pleased to announce the following Colchester High School National Honor Society inductees:

Kiley Baillargeon
Jeremy Barton
Angela Bernasconi
Elise Bouffard
Daniel Brigante
Molly Carver
Kristina Chapman
Summer Colley
Benjamin Cross
Braeden Doud
Tanner Ducharme
Rachel Elgert
Alana Feeley
Alden Fredericks
Joshua Gervais
Julia Goldman
Whitney Grant
Danielle Hart
Lauren Hutchings
Tucker Jean
Haley Jestings
Jordan Lamay
Taylor Lance
Aaron Longchamp
Jacquelyn Nagle
Brett Nelson
Dugan O’Donnell
Natalie Orner
Samuel Pakulski
Maia Patrie
Jason Ploof
Carina Sobel
Ciara St. Armour
Ethan Thibault
Meranda Turner
Amanda Wark
Gabriela Zimbron

Congratulations and best wishes to all National Honor Society inductees!

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Posted in Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information

Important Information about Safety Procedures and Emergency Preparedness

Dear parents and community members,

Please take a moment to read a letter from Superintendent Waters regarding safety procedures and emergency preparedness in our schools.

Please click here to read the superintendent’s letter.

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

Thank you.

Posted in Community, General, Other Important Information

Important Information Regarding Today’s Tragedy in Connecticut

As the nation and the world become aware of the horrific violence that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, earlier today, we want to reach out with information and resources about ways to talk with your children about what happened.

Please be aware that our students were not informed about the tragedy during school today; however, we strongly encourage you to talk with your child about it in a developmentally and age-appropriate way. Please see “Talking to Children about Violence: Information for Parents and Educators” for help. You may also access this information online here.

Please also be aware that the HowardCenter offers First Call for Children and Families, a twenty-four-hour crisis helpline, at (802) 488-7777 to offer assistance in dealing with trauma and crisis. To learn more about First Call, please visit

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible event.

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

Posted in Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, General, Grants, Malletts Bay School, Porters Point School, Primer Series, Programs, Union Memorial School

CSD Libraries Offer Highly Accessible Resources, Research Skills Development, and More

Colchester School District’s libraries are wonderful resources, and they are a great deal more than simply vast book repositories. Increasingly celebrated as twenty-first-century learning environments, school libraries serve vastly important purposes in education. Along with teaching and empowering students to distinguish relevant, quality information from erroneous materials they might find on the Internet, they also serve as powerful sources of technology implementation and investigative collaboration in students’ daily lives. Interested? Read on.

CSD’s Information Technology department installed and set up Destiny® Library Manager™—a software product from Follett Software Company—earlier this year. The program, which is called CSD Reads, replaced the district’s former library software, and it is used in all of the district’s school libraries.

Why is CSD Reads good for parents and students?

A significant advantage of CSD Reads is its accessibility to the entire community; it is an online catalog which can be accessed using any Internet-ready device—and this facilitates searching the inventories of any of the five schools’ libraries rather than having to contact individual librarians to request information about specific titles. This makes CSD’s libraries’ inventories considerably more accessible to parents and students; it is a great resource for parents to manipulate in order to have at-home discussions with students about book selections. CSD Reads further assists students in locating the books in which they are interested, and it is also further integrated with PowerSchool, which allows for more up-to-date information in patron records.

Why is CSD Reads good for teachers?

Teachers use CSD Reads from their classrooms as they prepare for lessons, quickly and easily ascertaining whether the books in which they are interested are available and planning their lessons accordingly. Teachers can also far more easily reserve books across all schools in the district, which in turn allows for improved use of the district’s library materials.

What are some other library-related resources and skills development opportunities?

CSD Reads is not the only fabulous library software in use in the district. At Colchester High School, librarian Christine Eldred uses an online research software widely used in colleges and universities called LibGuides that allows for the integration of a variety of resources to support assignments and projects, including embedded video, e-books, recommended websites, research databases, documents, images, maps, primary sources, RSS feeds, Twitter feeds, podcasts, current news, online exhibits, and more. The LibGuides software helps the library to further support curriculum and student learning while also connecting the library to the classroom.

In addition to the dynamic software programs is the educational component of their use; at CHS, for example, Ms. Eldred works with teachers to help students develop excellent research and inquiry skills, including basic research and online searching; media bias; using online databases and other specialized research tools; social bookmarking; creating citations; and understanding the differences between paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing. She has also created a number of helpful guides to facilitate research; to view them, click here.

Colchester Middle School’s library is a buzz of activity, including a recently organized hands-on experience with civic responsibility.

Malletts Bay School’s library, with the help of librarian Lynn Hebert (read her blog here!) and a generous grant from the Robert T. Stafford Memorial Enrichment Grant, has acquired a number of NOOK and NOOK Color™ e-readers to facilitate special education initiatives. (If you would like to read more about our students’ use of NOOK readers and their associated benefits, please click here.)

Both Porters Point School and Union Memorial School’s libraries host the Red Clover event every year—an event cosponsored by the Vermont Center for the Book/Mother Goose Programs, the Vermont Department of Education, and the State of Vermont Department of Libraries that seeks to encourage young children’s appreciation for writing and illustration. More than twenty thousand K–4 students enjoy the annual list of nominated books. “My first goal is to help students become lifelong readers and find the library as an inviting place,” said PPS librarian Mary Ann Kadish (read her blog here!). “Another goal is to assist teachers in finding materials that can expand and enrich the curriculum to make lessons enjoyable and interesting for students.” Of PPS’s library, Ms. Kadish said proudly, “We have over nine hundred leveled, multiple-copy books housed in the library which are found in the catalog. These books are used by teachers for reading instruction.”

Second graders in Mrs. Bissonnette's and Mrs. Benjamin's classes learn to conduct and refine biography searches.
Second graders in Mrs. Bissonnette’s and Mrs. Benjamin’s classes learn to conduct and refine biography searches.

Union Memorial School’s librarian Judy Flanagan (read her blog here!) stepped up to help school libraries devastated by Hurricane Irene in 2011, coordinating the collection and donation of new or nearly new books to benefit Moretown Elementary School in a wonderful show of empathy and solidarity. (If you would like to read more about it, please click here.)

Annual book fairs held in our schools’ libraries are open to the public every year, as well; family members and friends can create and send wish lists to other shoppers through the online fairs, allowing shoppers to browse the selection from the comfort of home while supporting students’ reading and programs and materials for the libraries at the same time.

Our librarians work to create comfortable, inviting, and inspiring environments to help facilitate a love of learning and literacy, and they also host guest authors to meet with our students—author Margaret Peterson Haddix, author Mary Downing Hahn, and author Jason Chin are just some examples (author Robert Hunton has also visited with and even guest taught CSD students).

And did you know that CSD has access to the University of Vermont’s more than 1.39 million text and serial files—as well as a host of other materials—at no cost? (If you missed our September 20, 2011, feature about that incredible resource, you may read it here.)

If you would like more information about CSD Reads or about any of our schools’ libraries (Colchester High School’s Ruth B. Winton Memorial Library with Christine Eldred, Colchester Middle School’s library with Angelika Mahoney, Malletts Bay School’s library with Lynn Hebert, Porters Point School’s library with Mary Ann Kadish, and/or Union Memorial School’s library with Judy Flanagan), please contact any of our schools.

And if you’d like to read our five-part primer on literacy, please click here!

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Posted in Colchester High School, Community, General, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Welcoming International Visitors and Why It Is Important

As part of their tour of Vermont, five visitors from Kazakhstan, sponsored by the Vermont Council on World Affairs (VCWA) International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), recently addressed some Colchester High School students. The visitors are exploring accountable governance under the auspices of the US Congress’ Open World Program.

CHS's AP European History class welcomed visitors from Kazakhstan.
CHS’s AP European History class welcomed visitors from Kazakhstan.

Following the panel discussion with Jim Price’s Advanced Placement European History class, the visitors received a tour of Colchester High School. The students in the class were required to read the US State Department profile on Kazakhstan and prepare five questions for the visitors. Students also wrote reflections about the discussion; these student reflections—submitted anonymously—were also sent to the VCWA so that the student comments could be shared with the visiting group as well as with the US State Department.

Map of Kazakhstan courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Map of Kazakhstan courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Creating opportunities for students to meet people from a variety of cultures allows them to develop appreciation, insight, and understanding of others, encouraging respect for differences and building positive connections. It also often helps students to gain a greater appreciation for their own opportunities; many see the importance of their education in a new light, and this has a lasting and meaningful impact not only upon the students but upon society. Community engagement and collaboration and multigenerational learning partnerships of this nature foster the vision our community members created through the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017. We are listening.

Opportunities like these are not new to Colchester School District. Colchester Middle School hosted a student from Afghanistan in February, as well as a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who now lives with his family in Burlington. Colchester High School’s Advanced Placement US History hosted members of our community sharing their experiences during World War II, and CHS’s AP European History class has hosted guests sharing their experiences about the Holocaust.

If you would like more information about CHS’s recent visitors from Kazakhstan, please e-mail CHS teacher Jim Price (, or call (802) 264-5700.

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!