• April 30, 2021

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff, 

    We certainly needed these late April showers as we round the corner and enter May! It is truly hard for me to believe that in just under two months, we will be coming to the conclusion of a year like no other. As always, I am grateful. Thank you for all you have and continue to do to support our students and one another. 

    Another sure indicator of spring in Vermont is Green Up Day, which is taking place tomorrow, May 1st! If you are looking to get outside while doing good for our environment, this is a fantastic opportunity to help clean up our waterways and community. Learn more about how you can volunteer in South Burlington.

    Additional In-Person Learning for All Students Beginning May 10

    I am excited to announce that after much deliberation and careful planning with the administrative team, our District will be welcoming 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. 

    My rationale for implementing this change is as follows:

    • Current COVID19 activity continues to show a very promising downward trend as more Vermonters, including many of our 16 and 17 year olds become vaccinated 

    • We have heard repeatedly and innately know the importance in-person connections students make with their teachers and peers are to mental health. Adding Wednesdays in-person at the elementary grades (which will increase in-person days from 4 to 5) and at the middle school grades (which will increase in-person learning days from 2 to 5) as well as additional time at the high school will go a long way in keeping these relationships strong.

    • End of year celebrations! After everything our students and staff have been through over the course of the last year, the state recently released guidance on end of year gatherings and graduations. I want our students and staff to be able to participate in these culminating activities to the extent safely possible.

    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. In addition, next week, I'll be holding an open conversation for families Tuesday, May 4 from 6:30-7:30 pm via Zoom where individuals with questions or concerns on this change can "pop in" to learn more and share their thoughts. This is a promising step and we couldn't be making it without all of your hard work over this difficult period. I know this has been a challenging time and I am proud of how we have been moving through it together.

    Impact on Transportation

    Due to this change, 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, klarock@sbschools.net or Gary Marckres at 652-7052 or gmarckres@sbschools.net

    District Calendar Updated

    Our 2020-2021 District Calendar has been updated to reflect that the last day of school for all students will be June 18. Elementary grades will be released at 11:30 and middle and high school grades will be released at 12:30. The 2021-2022 District Calendar has also been posted.

    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 opt-in process or where to send questions/concerns will be shared over the coming weeks.

    Next School Board Meeting May 5

    This week, the school board held their regularly scheduled meeting and heard an incredible presentation from a Winooski School District Alumna and current student on their anitracism efforts. If you missed it, you can watch the video via the Media Factory website. In addition, you can find all of the board’s meeting minutes, agendas, and backup information on the District website. The next regular meeting will be held Wednesday, May 5 at 7:00 pm.

    May is National Bike Month: Check out the Art Scavenger Hunt

    No doubt, if you have traveled around South Burlington by car, foot, or bike, you have noticed the colorful utility boxes that have been brightening our city streets over the last couple of years thanks to the coordinated efforts of South Burlington resident Katie O’Brien Barritt. A number of South Burlington residents, including students of all ages have contributed their talents to make South Burlington pop with creativity. To celebrate National Bike Month, an art scavenger hunt is underway (there are prizes!). This is a fun and safe activity for all ages. 

    School Happenings

    SBHS (and FHTMS) to Screen the Documentary “Angst”

    On Thursday May 6, at  6:30 pm, SBHS and FHTMS, in collaboration with the HowardCenter will hold a virtual screening of the documentary “Angst” to share the impact of anxiety on our community. The event will feature a viewing of the 56-minute film, followed by a 30-minute discussion. Find more information about the film and the event in the SBHS Counseling Newsletter.

    FHTMS QSA (Queer Straight Alliance) Welcomes Guest Speaker Taylor Small

    Scott Carlson, a 6th grade teacher on the Polaris team and co-advisor of the QSA (Queer Straight Alliance) at the middle school reported that the group, along with members of SOAR (Students Organizing Against Racism) virtually hosted Taylor Small this week. Taylor was recently elected Vermont's first openly transgender member of the VT legislature. In the past, the QSA had someone from Outright Vermont, a nonprofit that supports queer VT youth speak at a QSA Zoom meeting. Taylor spoke about her experiences in Vermont, her new role in the VT legislature, her road to getting there and of course, answered student questions! 

    Gertrude Chamberlin Kindergarteners Head to the Zoo (virtually!)

    Kindergarteners in Tina Brown’s class took a virtual field trip to multiple zoos this week! Afterward, they completed a STEM activity where students were assigned an animal and given a task to complete. An example would be "Build a habitat for the giraffes. It needs to have a fence and a door tall enough for the giraffes to walk through. The door will lead to the zebra habitat."  Then, using materials like popsicle sticks, cardboard, and aluminum foil, they got to work building.  Brown noted, “The problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity that took place was amazing!  When we were done building, we used a photograph of our zoo to create a map which was labeled by the students. The kids also did some writing that we will use to make a brochure about our zoo. It has been awesome to watch my kindergarteners learn so much while thoroughly engaged in imaginative play integrated with science, math, reading and writing.”  

    Rick Marcotte Central School Girls on the Run Underway! 

    Note: This program is also active at Chamberlin and Orchard Schools

    Girls on the Run Coaches at Central School, Courtney Kutler and Melaney Wald have been keeping students active!  Recently, at their third practice, the focus was on Star Power, what it is, how it makes us feel, how to find it and how to reactivate it when it gets clouded. Kutler wrote, “The girls set their very first lap goal for practice and it was amazing to see how motivated they were to reach their goals! Ask your girl to tell you more about her star power, ways they can activate it or how others can activate it for them. They also talked about self talk and how to recognize negative self talk, stop it, and turn it around (into positive self talk).” And of course, there’s plenty of running and encouragement happening too!  

    Orchard Continues Celebrating National Poetry Month with Poetry in Your Pocket Day

    As National Poetry Month comes to a close, Orchard School participated in Poem in Your Pocket Day April 29. Donna Sullivan-MacDonald printed out "A Pocket Poem" by Bobbie Katz for all classroom teachers. These were sent home in the pockets of Kindergarten and 1st graders. Sullivan-MacDonald also created a "Poem in Your Pocket Day" cart which gave out poems to all 2nd - 5th grade students. Choices included haikus written by  2nd graders and cinquains written by Jo Pecor's 3rd graders, as well as copies of poems from the POCKET POEMS book and from the Poem in Your Pocket Day website. In addition, Principal Mark Trifilio read poems in his morning messages all week.

    Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

    David