Posted in Colchester High School, Community, Music

A Gift That Will Keep On Giving

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Accountability, Budgets, Community, General

Community Conversations Continue

CSD Logo

For the last two months the Colchester School District administration and School Board have been holding Community Conversation sessions at different venues around town. We have been pleased at the turnout averaging 15 to 16 folks at each meeting.  The School Board has also held a Saturday session at the Bayside Activity Center as well as a live broadcast last Thursday on LCATV viewable here. (A tip if you use IE as your browser… patient.)

What has been most satisfying for our team is to hear what people have to say, hear what they believe about the school system and what they believe are solutions to the State-wide Education Funding dilemma. For their part, the Board and Superintendent have presented facts and data to describe the responsibilities of Vermont School Districts, the human and structural resources required to meet those responsibilities and the costs associated with them. These two-way discussions have been invaluable to everyone in the rooms.

There is a need to continue these dialogues, not only in the run-up to the budget vote on March 3rd, but all year long. People need and value factual information to make balanced and thoughtful decisions about all manner of public policy and government operations. We agree. To that end we are establishing two new communications paths: a new email access at and a new Frequently Asked Questions database at The two will be linked manually so that questions and answers will be publicly viewable by anyone.

The initial populating of the FAQ will be with questions fielded during the Community Conversation sessions. Questions submitted via email will be posted and responded to in the FAQ as well. We hope that community members will take this opportunity to participate and share their viewpoints and experiences as a part of our learning community.




Posted in General

Publicly Funded Pre-Kindergarten Begins In Colchester


The Colchester School Board has approved participation in Act 166, the Vermont State Pre-Kindergarten program for the 2015-2016 school year.

The Colchester School District offers publicly funded Pre-Kindergarten for children between the ages of 3 and 5 who reside in the Town of Colchester, Vermont. Your child must be at least 3 years old by September 1, 2015 to qualify for the 2015-2016 school year.

The families of children enrolled in a child care center with a 4 or 5 STARS rating are eligible for $3,000 of compensation, designed to offset the cost of 10 program hours per week for 35 weeks a year. To access funding for the upcoming school year, please complete our Colchester Early Education Program Enrollment Packet and return it to the Colchester School District, PO Box 27, Colchester, VT 05446. Forms are also accepted by email to

Posted in General

UMS Students Break The 50 Mile Barrier!

Two Union Memorial School students have taken their commitment to wellness to a new level by reaching their personal goals of walking a total of 50 miles this school year. Ian Wirtz and Carter Faas have walked the one quarter mile course around UMS 200 times according to principal Chris Antonicci. Mr. Antonicci wanted to honor the boys for sticking to their goals, following through and being successful, so he arranged a presentation in front of the entire student body on January 19th.

Carter and Ian were honored by all the students and faculty of UMS and were interviewed by a reporter and featured on the Fox 44 evening news. Carter and Ian are pictured with Michelle Ziter and Mr. Antonicci.

Posted in General

Community Communications Session 5 via LCATV and Web

The Colchester School District will be holding the fifth in a series of Community Communications events on January 22nd, 2015 at the Lake Champlain Access Television (LCATV) studios at 63 Creek Farm Plaza Suite 3.

This session will run from 7:00 to 8:00 pm and cover a broad set of topics concerning CSD specific expenditures, areas of cost savings, enrollment and revenue projections and the resulting tax impacts for property owners and those on fixed incomes. The session is intended to provide information additional to the first four sessions, but with a focus on fielding questions from the viewing audience.

What will make this session unique is the fact that the program will run live on Comcast system channel 16 and will simultaneously be webcast available at While there will be limited room at the studio for a live audience, it is hoped that questions can be submitted via email during the broadcast to and the panel will respond accordingly.

Panel members will be Superintendent Larry Waters, Board Members Mike Rogers and Lincoln White with Dick Pecor serving as moderator.


Posted in General

Colchester’s Got Talent !

REMINDER! Colchester’s Got Talent Auditions Next Week!

TALENT SHOW REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 by noon.

Mark your calendars!  The 2015 Colchester Winter Carnival is quickly approaching, which means the “Colchester’s Got Talent” community talent show is also just a few weeks away!  The Colchester Winter Carnival Committee is seeking talented Colchester residents to perform at the annual show on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6th, 2015 at 6:00pm in the Colchester High School Theatre.  If you’d like to audition for the show, you must pre-register and select an audition time at the Colchester Parks & Recreation Department.

AUDITIONS: January 21 & 23, 2015 (Colchester High School, Theatre).  REGISTRATION DEADLINE: January 20, 2015 by noon.

Contestants will be divided into four categories for competition: Youth (Ages 6 – 11), Junior (Ages 12 – 14), High School (Ages 15 – 18), and Adult (Ages 19 and up).  Group acts will be placed based on their oldest member.  CASH PRIZES for the top three finishers in each category!  1st place = $150; 2nd place = $75; 3rd place = $50.  The 2015 Colchester’s Got Talent show is sponsored by the Marriot Residence Inn in Colchester.






Rules & Regulations, Registration Forms, and more info can be found on the Winter Carnival webpage:

You can also email or call (802) 264-5643.  The Parks & Recreation Department also has registration forms at 781 Blakely Road, Colchester.




Posted in General

Coffee With School Board Feedback

Many thanks to the 16 citizens that joined 3 members of the Colchester School Board and Superintendent Waters last Saturday at the Bayside Activity Center for “Coffee and Conversation”. There were very thoughtful and enlightening discussions of education taxation, spending spurred by mandates from the State or Federal Government, and how we might maintain the quality of education in a reduced revenue environment statewide.

Larry Waters circulated a State DOE report around the room that points out where the Colchester School District stands relative to the rest of the districts in the State in terms of core Student - Teacher ratios. The report is available on the State DOE web site here. It may interest readers of the Spotlight that Colchester has the highest core Student - Teacher ratios not only in Chittenden County at 12.85 to 1, but higher than any other multi-school district in the State.

FY2016 proposed budget information was shared. This budget adds no new programs or personnel and in many ways is subject to the funding and taxation decisions that will be debated and decided upon by this session of the Vermont Legislature. It was pointed out that as is common annually, citizens will not know clearly the tax impact of district budgets until well after they are voted on in March, since the legislature typically does not come to agreement until late in the session in April. Mr. Waters will be creating a videocast detailing budget specifics and legislative impacts this week.

Lastly there was a video presentation created by the district in an attempt to explain how education funding is performed currently in the State of Vermont. The video is accessible on the CSD web site here. A discussion followed on the nature of how local budgets have statewide effect and that both expenses incurred and revenues raised for the operation of schools are centralized functions often out of our hands directly.

Thanks again to citizens that have attended the District Open House and Coffee sessions to become more informed about our District and to share their views and concerns with us.



Posted in General

Weather Alert This Week

It’s cold and probably getting colder this week. The National Weather Service says wind chills will be below-zero at times and could be colder than 20 or 30-degrees below zero Wednesday night into Thursday. Those temperatures have the potential to pose a danger to our students as they wait for busses in the morning and as they return home in the afternoon. We would ask that parents monitor their children to minimize exposure and assure that appropriate clothing, especially layered clothing in these conditions, is worn. Fashion needs to take a back seat this week.

We would also suggest that provisions be made before and after school for minimizing the amount of time that children are outside and some mechanism be in place to assure that everyone is safely at home in the afternoon.

Remember that excessive exposure to cold and especially wind can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissue that becomes frozen. At high wind chill levels like we are expecting, frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately. Slowly warm the affected areas as you await medical assistance. The district has informed all teachers and staff of the weather severity expected and they are prepared to monitor students as they arrive in the morning and as they embark busses in the afternoon.

At this time schools are all on normal schedules. Mountain Transit, however, cannot guarantee that there will be no delays on the morning runs. Parents must ensure that children are successfully on the bus.

Please be safe.




Posted in General

Sophie Fellows and the New Year

Readers of the Spotlight may recall the story of MBS student Sophie Fellows who has been battling brain cancer for the last month. She has been the first item of interest every day for all of us here in the school district, her classroom and Malletts Bay School as we follow her progression back to her family, friends and classmates.

The Spotlight is happy to report that Sophie is doing very well. Her Caring Bridge web page has had over 22,000 visits and the Boston Children’s Hospital has featured her in their blog. See you soon Sophie!!

Posted in General

Coffee And Conversation

The Colchester School Board would like to invite the community to the Bayside Activity Center at Bayside Park on Saturday January 10th from 9 am to 10:30 am to share Coffee and Conversation. This informal event will introduce the FY 2016 Colchester School District Budget and provide an opportunity for residents to provide feedback to and engage board members in conversation about the current and future operation of the District. Information will be shared concerning the impact felt by Colchester taxpayers as a result of local and state-wide proposed taxation indexing changes. The Board hopes to hear the community’s concerns and ideas and at the end of the session have a sense of collectively how we translate those ideas into successful outcomes for our children and our community.

See you There!