Latest South Burlington School District Updates:
May 8, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
The clouds have cleared and May is here! There is so much to celebrate this week and month, it’s becoming hard to keep track. One of my favorite aspects of the warming temperatures and this gradual return to more in-person activities is hearing and seeing students participating in opportunities that were suspended or held virtually for nearly a year. From the sound of conversations held in the parking lot after school to catching a glimpse of play practices in progress, these moments mean we are slowly and safely moving forward.
This week was National Teacher Appreciation Week and what a year it has been for our teachers and staff. Each school found ways to honor their teachers this week from catered lunches and breakfasts to thank you notes, both physical and virtually at SBHS. In addition, Vermont Vita-Learn is inviting anyone to submit a brief shout-out video to honor a teacher in their school district! They will create compilation videos of the shout-outs and share them over social media to publicly recognize the great work and dedication of our teachers! Look to their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and for the hashtags #vted & #TeacherAppreciationWeek for highlights. Submissions are open now until May 14, 2021!
Additional In-Person Learning for Students Begins May 10
Since Current COVID19 activity continues to show a very promising downward trend, the District is still on track to welcome more students back to additional in-person learning time effective May 10. What will this look like? It will vary based on grade level. At the elementary and middle school grades, students will attend school in-person five days per week, while the high school will follow a modified in-person schedule. Details regarding the high school plan will be communicated via the high school administration. Students enrolled in VTVLC remote learning will continue with their program through the end of this school year.
To be clear, we will be following the state's updated Strong and Healthy Year Guidance along with our established protocols around masking, physical distancing, and hand washing as well as making ample use of our outdoor spaces where constant air flow decreases the risk of virus transmission. I held my first open conversation for families this past Tuesday where individuals with questions or concerns regarding this change “popped in” to learn more and shared their thoughts. I found this to be extremely valuable and plan on holding more of these in the future. I will keep you posted!
Impact on Transportation: Bus Schedule Changes
There will be changes to the bus schedules for the middle and high school beginning Monday, May 10. These adjustments have been posted to the transportation page of the District website. We are still encouraging parents/guardians who have been driving their students to school, especially at the elementary and middle school level to continue to do so in order for us to maintain 3 ft distancing requirements. If you have any questions, please contact Kathy LaRock at 652-7479, firstname.lastname@example.org or Gary Marckres at 652-7052, email@example.com.
Celebrating our School Lunch Heroes!
Friday, May 7 was National School Lunch Hero Day, a great time to thank our nutritional services staff, custodians, and bus drivers who have made getting meals to students possible all year (including over the summer and on vacations). Director of Nutritional Services Rhonda Ketner said, “The Nutritional Services staff, Transportation and Custodial Staff have worked tirelessly to ensure our students have access to nutritious meals in a safe and sanitary environment, regardless of the learning modality and service constraints. Some have worked for over a year without a break and will continue to work through the summer. Not all Heroes wear capes, some wear aprons, hair nets, deliver meals, and clean the cafeterias.” Thank you all today and every day! We could not have a thriving District without each of you!
National Nurses Week is May 6-May 12
Yesterday kicked off National Nurses Week and we are so thankful for our school nurses. This year, in addition to their regular duties, they have taken on the responsibility of keeping track of the latest COVID information and have deftly adapted protocols that have seemed to change almost daily. Thank you for being a critical part of our District team.
Enhancing Communication: Texting Coming Soon!
In order to enhance our communication and engagement with families and staff, we will be adding SMS/text messaging to our SchoolMessenger notification system (the system the District uses to send phone and email communications to families and staff) with a target start of the end of May. Further details regarding the precise date and time this will "go live" as well as where to send questions/concerns will be shared over the coming weeks. Ready to opt-in now to receive text messages when they become available? Text the letter “Y” or the word “Yes” to the number 67587.
“Pop-in” Chats with School Board Members
Our school board wants to connect with you! Although they have regular bi-monthly meetings, we understand that the dates, times, and even the format are not ideal for everyone in terms of participation. If you are looking for another way to ask questions, express concerns, or maybe just get to know your board members a little better, please join individuals for their upcoming Zoom chats! The board will begin piloting these virtual pop-in sessions beginning next week. Board members are in the process of developing their initial schedules. Next week, you can join Board Chair Bridget Burkhardt Monday, May 10 from 9:00-11:00 am and Rebecca Day beginning Tuesday, May 11 from 10:00-11:00 am. Check out the School Board's Facebook Page and the District website for the latest dates and links!
Caring for Mental Health
The stress of this pandemic has affected us all in a variety of ways and that’s why I wanted to take a moment, during Mental Health Awareness month, to provide you with some helpful resources from the Vermont Department of Mental Health as well as links to these wellness and mental health apps. Please be sure to take some time to care for yourself, lean on friends and family, and reach out to connect, even if it’s virtually, through a phone call or email. Let’s show one another compassion.
SBHS Student Justice Union and Culture and Geography Club Educate on AAPI History
In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Student Justice Union and Culture and Geography Club have been working to educate individuals on Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history. This week, via the daily announcements, they began answering questions and celebrating the cultures, traditions, histories and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the United States and to the Forest Service. On May 5, the two student groups hosted a Zoom for individuals to learn more about Ramadan and what it means to some of our Muslim students. Next week, students will have the opportunity to hear from some SB students about their experience as Tibetan-Americans in Vermont. More to come!
FHTMS Spring Play this Weekend!
After navigating the twists and turns COVID has presented to the performing arts this year, thanks to perseverance and ingenuity, the FHTMS spring play is ON! Director David Bailey said that FHTMS drama began the year with the intent to do a full production of Jane Eyre on the high school stage in early January, but after two months of rehearsals, the production had to be cancelled due to COVID restrictions. An impromptu drama club, held 2-3 days per week was developed and in late March they decided to try to put together a performance of their work using the only space available, the Tuttle Cafeteria. That evolved even further to the “Collection” individuals can enjoy Saturday night!
Some of the plays students are using material from include: A Midsummer's Night Dream, Alice in Wonderland, Our Town, Odd Couple, The Crucible, The Miracle Worker, Jane Eyre, Waiting for Godot, Man of La Mancha, The Glass Menagerie, Almost, Maine and more.
Because of Covid restrictions, the audience has been limited to immediate family members of cast and crew, but good news! The performance will be livestreamed beginning at 7:00 pm Saturday night, May 8!
Gertude Chamberlin Students Develop Teamwork Skills in PE
PE classes have been busy working on all kinds of skills this winter/spring related to developing skills and personal responsibility. All classes, K-5 have had a taste of a variety of movement skills from dance, basketball, floor hockey and striking skills with rackets and bats. This week they honed their dodging and teamwork skills. Students in grades 4 and 5 are learning to play different games using their volleyball skills The teamwork and cooperation skills keep getting better every day. Way to go GCS students! See photos in Principal Rouelle’s weekly newsletter.
Rick Marcotte Central Students Earn a Celebration
Lizzy Appleby’s 4th grade class recently celebrated earning 100 Marky Marks which are attained by being respectful, mindful, and cooperative. Students voted on what kind of celebration they wanted and decided upon a "create with cardboard" event. Appleby wrote, “Students brought in boxes of all sizes and had about 45 minutes to build. We had houses, a microwave, TV, bodysuit, helmet, and much more created!”
Orchard School Students Build and Launch Rockets!
Thanks to a collaboration with Starbase Vermont, 5th graders at Orchard School recently developed and launched their own rockets! Teacher Monica Petzold reported that before April break, “students video called the Starbase instructors to safely build their rockets.The Starbase teachers were very helpful in making sure every rocket was launched, even if it had problems on its first try! The teachers each got to launch a rocket as well, but they had stronger engines in them so they went twice as high. Ms. Petzold's rocket went all the way across the street! We were so glad to be able to safely have this experience this year!” See photos and video of this project on the Orchard School Instagram page.
Thanks for reading and on a final note, if you are looking to be inspired as you move into the weekend, check out the work of the Young Writers Project mid-April featured poet, FHTMS student Julia Todd.