Posted in Accountability, Colchester High School, Colchester Middle School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Other Important Information, Programs, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS

Update on the CHS Science Classrooms’ Revitalization

(Adapted from CHS Principal Amy Minor’s letter in the April Laker View.)

Many, many thanks once again to the taxpayers of Colchester for the opportunity to renovate the science labs and instructional center. Construction will officially begin on Friday, April 18, at 2:45 p.m.!

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All CHS science classrooms will be closed following students’ return from spring recess; these classrooms will be under construction for the last six weeks of school, and general contractors will be working in those classrooms throughout the day. Please note: any individual hired to work on the renovation project will have undergone a background check in order to do so.

A considerable amount of construction equipment outside of the building on the side that is closest to Colchester Middle School, near rooms 109 and 111 (far left-hand side of the building if looking at CHS from the front) is anticipated. CHS respectfully asks that all students and parents stay away from that area of the building during construction. Visitors attending sporting events are asked to not walk around that side of the building; instead, please park in the large CHS parking lot and walk around the back side of the building to access the softball field, or park at CMS, as it is closer.

Design of revitalized classrooms and laboratories
Design of revitalized classrooms and laboratories

All CHS science teachers have been relocated to other spaces at CHS for the final six weeks of school (to view the temporary classroom relocation plan, please visit the Laker View online by clicking here). In order to avoid the costly renting of mobile classrooms, CHS worked hard as a school to coordinate the use of every possible space in order to relocate science classrooms for the remainder of the school year.

If the project goes smoothly, our hope is that it will be completed on or before August 22, 2014. We look forward to sharing future updates about this project!

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Your schools and your town 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 High School, Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS

General Contractor Selected for CHS Science Labs Project

The renovations project for Colchester High School’s science labs and instructional center continues to move forward!

The Colchester School Board has selected Wright & Morrissey as the general contractor that will manage the project.

While limited, preliminary work is scheduled to begin in February, more substantial renovative work will take place beginning at the end of April.

If you would like more information, please contact our administrative offices at (802) 264-5999, or contact the school board.

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 Middle School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Grants, Programs, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

The Hands-On Study and Application of Science—How We Do It and Why It’s Important

As we announced in October, Colchester School District’s students surpass the state’s average in NECAP examinations in every grade, including in science. 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 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. (All of this underscores the importance of the proposed renovations for the CHS science labs; if you would like more information about them, please click here.)

Recently, as part of a unit on geology, sixth graders in Colchester Middle School’s Infinity Program conducted hands-on experiments in order to explore the question “How does the earth’s surface change over time?

Hands-on experiment demonstrating the Plate Tectonic Theory
Hands-on experiment demonstrating the Plate Tectonic Theory

CMS science educator Mariah Keagy led the group in the exploration of the Plate Tectonic Theory, which holds that the movement of the earth’s crust is driven by convection currents beneath the surface.

Representation of convection currents
Representation of convection currents

Reconstructing the evidence for the Plate Tectonic Theory, the students investigated the concept of convection currents in water, examining how warm water rises and how cold water sinks as the result of temperature’s influence on its molecular density.

Armed with the knowledge acquired during their observations, the students then embarked on an inquiry exploration, creating convection currents in a tray and predicting what would happen if waxed paper “continents” were placed in the tray, as well.

Sheets of waxed paper representing continents shifting on the earth's surface in response to convection currents
Sheets of wax paper representing continents shifting on the earth’s surface in response to convection currents

The students observed how the waxed paper “continents” moved on the water’s convection currents in the same way that scientists believe the earth’s continents move on the earth’s mantle, causing volcanoes, earthquakes, and mountains as they shift.

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After the experiment, some of the students wrote reflections demonstrating their learning. Here are some examples:

Have you ever noticed that all the continents fit together? This is because the magma in the mantle slowly moves, which causes the continents to shift. This is also called Continental Drift. Below is a picture of continental drift and how we discovered it. The waxed paper represents continents, and the food coloring shows the hot and cold water making a convection current.—Josh

The hot water has molecules that are less compact, and so it rises. The cold water has molecules that are more compact, so they sink to the bottom. This causes a cycle. Plates of the earth’s crust float on the mantle, and the mantle has convection currents, so the contents move by the currents. In our model, the water was the mantle, the food coloring showed the convection currents, and the heat on the bottom was the heat of the earth’s core. The waxed paper continents moved together and apart on the convection currents in the water like plates do on the mantle of the earth.—Gavin

We’re doing this because we are learning about Continental Drift, which is when plates of the earth’s crust move and break up and then move apart again. When magma in the earth gets heated by the core, it rises up and gets cold on the surface and then goes back down. In our model, the waxed paper represents continents, the water represents magma, the hot plate represents heat from the core, and the food coloring shows the water is moving.—Braylen

If you would like more information about the convection currents experiment, please e-mail Mariah Keagy (keagym@csdvt.org), and if you would like more specific information about CSD’s science curriculum, please contact Director of Curriculum and Instruction Gwen Carmolli at (802) 264-5999 or by e-mail at carmollig@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 High School, Community, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, General, Other Important Information, Programs, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS, Student Spotlight, Videos, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Proposed Renovations to CHS Science Labs and Why They Are So Important

Science and technology education is now more important than ever before.

The global clean-tech market alone is expected to expand to at least $2.3 trillion by 2020, and that is just one tiny component of our increasingly scientific world.

Now the Colchester community has the opportunity to create within Colchester High School a twenty-first-century science center that will truly prepare our current and forthcoming students for not only their futures but for all of our futures. They are the ones who will champion science and engineering for the rest of us. They need to be ready.

Please click here to view this video explaining why renovating the CHS science classrooms and labs is so important—and why now is the best time to do it.

CHS student Noah Kozlowski, a very talented videographer, worked closely with CSD in the creation of this video. Many, many thanks to Noah!

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 emphasizes the importance of high standards and expanded opportunities for our students along with innovative, flexible approaches with a commitment to excellence. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas and the Vermont Science Curriculum and Standards also emphasize the critical importance of up-to-date learning environments.

And yet, while Colchester High School students’ academic performance has significantly improved in recent years and has even attracted the attention of the Vermont State Legislature as a result of these improvements, their science labs and classrooms—which have not been updated since the building’s construction in 1975—are considerably inadequate, placing our current and future students at a direct disadvantage as they prepare for their post–high school lives in an increasingly technological and scientific landscape.

Last October, Colchester School District requested community partners interested in collaborating with us to design twenty-first-century science classrooms, amassing a fantastic committee of scientists from our community as well as school board members, administrators, student representation, and educators.

  • Committee members toured the existing science facilities to observe firsthand the facilities’ current condition and why they are no longer sufficient for twenty-first-century learners.
  • The community scientists discussed current best practices in the field and provided valuable insight into the numerous considerations that must be taken into account when creating thoughtfully designed science instructional environments.
  • Black River Design offered extensive expertise and a number of options for the potential project’s design based upon the committee’s insight, including strategic floor planning to maximize flexibility, functionality, and long-term serviceability for our students and staff. Committee members discussed a number of the proposed floor plans to determine the safest, most optimally designed and technology-rich yet cost-effective option. The considerations included but were not limited to:
    • access to and flexibility of instructional spaces and equipment
    • proper storage and ventilation of chemicals and other materials
    • maximizing energy efficiency and its associated cost savings and environmental impact
    • monopolizing upon cost incentives whenever possible
    • inclusion of student and teacher meeting areas
    • maximizing natural light
    • composition of classroom fixtures and materials
    • optimal locations of sinks, gas valves, hood systems, emergency showers, demonstration tables, electrical outlets, smartboards, projectors, computers, and more
    • safety and security
    • construction schedules and other logistical considerations
Design of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories
Design of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories

(For a .pdf version of this design, please click here.)

What we present to the Colchester community is a collaboratively designed, comprehensive, well-thought-out, highly serviceable, and flexible plan to be considered for support on Town Meeting Day 2013. These labs will offer collegiate-level, professional-grade learning environments for the current and future students of Colchester High School.

We welcome and encourage your input. If you have questions or comments, please contact us by e-mail or by phone at (802) 264-5999.

Sketch of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories
Sketch of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories

(For a .pdf version of this sketch, please click here.)

Please vote on Tuesday, March 5.

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, Budgets, Colchester High School, Community, District Office, General, Other Important Information, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

PLEASE READ: Important Budget Information

We are working hard to make the Colchester School District FY 2014 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. As is stated in the Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017, we work to “generate positive awareness of school activities and services and to encourage effective dialogue within Colchester and beyond.”

The superintendent’s recommended FY 2014 budget can be found here. It offers financial information as well as information about per-pupil spending, cost-related factors to consider, and other helpful information about our schools.

And did you know that the budget includes funding to support improved building security and monitoring? Included in the budget is funding for:

  • Main and secondary entry systems
  • Replacement of unsecure doors
  • Upgraded door locking systems
  • Improved monitoring systems

The School Budget Book for FY 2014 can be found here. This is a very comprehensive document that includes general information as well as information about revenue, Act 68 and the tax rate, the core budget, enrollment, debt service, the Consolidated Federal Program Spending Plan FY’14, and the budget vote.

Information about expenditures can be found here.

Information about revenues can be found here.

Information about the tax impact can be found here.

Would you like a quick fact sheet about our FY 2014 budget? Please click here!

Would you like a quick fact sheet about the bond for renovations to the Colchester High School science labs? Please click here!

Would you like to request an absentee ballot? Please click here to find out how!

All of this information can also be found on Colchester School District’s website. You may also stop into the administrative offices 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 5.

Vote3

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, Other Important Information, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS, Vision Summit/Vision and Strategic Plan

Proposed Renovations to CHS Science Labs & Instructional Center

The Colchester School District Vision and Strategic Plan 2012–2017 emphasizes the importance of high standards and expanded opportunities for our students along with innovative, flexible approaches with a commitment to excellence. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas and the Vermont Science Curriculum and Standards also emphasize the critical importance of up-to-date learning environments.

And yet, while Colchester High School students’ academic performance has significantly improved in recent years and has even attracted the attention of the Vermont State Legislature as a result of these improvements, their science labs and classrooms—which have not been updated since the building’s construction in 1975—are considerably inadequate, placing our current and future students at a direct disadvantage as they prepare for their post-high school lives in an increasingly technological and scientific landscape. In working to better meet the instructional needs of our students and teachers, we envision revitalized science labs and an enhanced instructional center.

In October, Colchester School District requested community partners interested in collaborating on this endeavor. We indeed amassed a fantastic committee consisting of scientists from our community representing an array of scientific disciplines, as well as school board members, administrators, an exceptional CHS science student, and science educators, and since then, the group has accomplished a great deal of work.

  • Committee members have toured the existing science facilities to observe firsthand the facilities’ current condition and why they are no longer sufficient for twenty-first-century learners.
  • The community scientists serving on the committee have discussed current best practices in the field of science and have provided valuable insight into the numerous considerations that must be taken into account when creating thoughtfully designed science instructional environments.
  • Black River Design has offered extensive expertise and a number of options for the potential project’s design based upon the committee’s insight, including strategic floor planning to maximize flexibility, functionality, and long-term serviceability for our students and staff. Committee members have extensively discussed a number of the proposed floor plans to determine the safest, most optimally designed and technology-rich yet cost-effective option. The considerations include but are not limited to:
    • access to and flexibility of instructional spaces and equipment configurations
    • storage considerations, including proper storage and ventilation of chemicals and other science-related materials
    • maximizing energy efficiency and its associated cost savings and environmental impact
    • monopolizing upon cost incentives whenever possible
    • inclusion of student and teacher meeting areas
    • maximizing natural light
    • composition of classroom fixtures and materials
    • optimal locations of sinks, gas valves, hood systems, emergency showers, demonstration tables, electrical outlets, smartboards, projectors, computers, and more
    • safety and security considerations
    • possible construction schedules and related logistical considerations

Design of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories
Design of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories

(For a .pdf version of this design, please click here.)

We present to the Colchester community a comprehensive, well-thought-out, highly serviceable and flexible plan for these revitalized learning environments—as well as its associated costs—to be considered for support on Town Meeting Day 2013. These labs will offer collegiate-level, professional-grade learning environments for the current and future students of Colchester High School.

We welcome and encourage your input. If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns, please contact us by e-mail or by phone at (802) 264-5999.

Sketch of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories
Sketch of proposed revitalized classrooms and laboratories

(For a .pdf version of this sketch, please click here.)

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, District Office, General, Other Important Information, Science Labs & Instructional Center at CHS

CSD Seeks Community Partnerships!

Do you like science? Are you interested in Colchester schools?

We are looking for community partners who are interested in collaborating with us to design a revitalized science lab and instructional center at Colchester High School.

Those who are interested are asked to contact Superintendent Waters at (802) 264-5999 or by e-mail at watersl@csdvt.org by Friday, October 19, 2012.

For more information, you can download the letter from Superintendent Waters to the community here.

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!