May 14, 2021
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
It seems like spring has finally decided to stay. The sun and warmer temperatures coincided perfectly with our first week back to more in-person learning for our students. Beginning Monday, May 10, elementary students moved from 4 to 5 days of in-person learning and the middle school also transitioned to 5 days in person. While this has been a big lift to have students and staff transition, yet again, overall I believe providing the additional opportunities for connection are invaluable and will position us well for a more normal looking 2021-2022 school year.
I wanted to share a couple of anecdotes that illustrate just how important having a little extra time at school means to our students. Gertrude Chamberlin Principal Holly Rouelle heard this quote from a 5th grader: "It feels like we are one step closer to normal."
While over at Rick Marcotte Central School, Principal Kathleen Kilbourne shared that as students were leaving school Tuesday afternoon, she heard a 2nd grader say, "I get to see you tomorrow without using my username and password!" The teacher's response: "I look forward to teaching in person tomorrow without my username and password too." Powerful words that drive home the importance of what we are doing. Thank you!
Please see more updates below including information on a vaccine clinic being hosted at SBHS May 25!
Current Year District Calendar Update
Please note that May 26th and June 9th will be a late start day at the HS/MS and an early dismissal for the elementary schools at 12:30.
SBHS to Host COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic May 25
We were excited to learn this week of the FDA's authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for youth ages 12-15. This is a hopeful step in the state and country’s transition out of this pandemic. To help facilitate this effort, many school districts across the state, including South Burlington will be hosting vaccine clinics. Our clinic will take place May 25 at the SBHS Burleigh Gym from 11:00 am-6:00 pm. You can find an evolving list of vaccination sites and how to register here. Vermont residents 12 and older can also access vaccination walk-in clinics, but individuals in that age group should look for clinics that offer the Pfizer vaccine and bring a parent or guardian with them.
If you have questions about the vaccine as it relates to children, please take the opportunity to join local pediatricians for Zoom info sessions! The Vermont Department of Health is offering this series of online meetings May 16-May 19 and they all take place from 7:00-8:00 pm.
Annual Student Update Forms Are Open for the 2021-2022 School Year
Get started today! Please register your student for the 2021-2022 School Year by completing the Annual Student Update forms before August 17th. These forms help families verify and share important health and contact information as well as allow for permissions to be set for school technology devices. To start, click this link: Getting Started: Register a Returning Student. If you have questions or need assistance with this process, please contact your school directly.
Connecting with the School Board: Upcoming Opportunities
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 began piloting these virtual pop-in sessions this week. Next week, you can join Board Chair Bridget Burkhardt Monday, May 17 from 9:00-11:00 am and Rebecca Day beginning Tuesday, May 18 from 10:00-11:00 am. Check out the School Board's Facebook Page and the District website for the latest dates and links!
The next regular school board meeting will take place Wednesday, May 19 beginning at 7:00 pm. You can also watch board meetings (livestream and after the fact) via the Media Factory website and see the meeting minutes and backup information on the District website. The board will also be joining the City Council for a steering committee meeting May 18 beginning at 7:00 pm.
Enhancing Communication: Texting Going Live May 25!
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). We have established a "go live" date of May 25 at 6:30 pm. At that time, if you have a mobile phone number on file with the District, you will receive a one-time text message asking if you want to receive texts going forward. The message will come from the number 67587. Simply respond with the letter "Y" or the word "Yes" to opt-in. Ready to opt-in now? You can simply send a text to the number 67587 with the letter "Y" or the word Yes" to opt-in today!
Big Picture Program Student Minelle Sarfo-Adu’s Equity in Housing Project
For Big Picture student Minelle Sarfo-Adu’s service thesis project she decided to focus on the issue of equity in housing and recently gave a presentation of her work as part of CVOEO’s Fair Housing Project. Minelle wrote, “Essentially, I became interested in real estate and started noticing how people that are African Americans don’t own many homes in South Burlington. Which got me thinking to learn more about this and so I wrote a paper on it then made it my service thesis project which is a service project for students in Big Picture South Burlington (self directed, community based, project based learning project). I decided to make my project have the goal of bringing awareness to the situation.” Minelle will present her project to the South Burlington City Council at their May 17 meeting. The agenda and participation information can be found here. We’re looking forward to it!
SBHS New Club Beginning on Gender Based Violence Awareness
SBHS student Maddie Merrill will be launching a new club at SBHS to help spread awareness regarding gender based violence. SBHS ELA teacher Carly Bennett will serve as the advisor. The current plan is to meet once per week. According to Bennett, some potential learning and activities proposed include relevant film viewings, self-defense classes, readings and conversations about global gender-based violence issues, school-wide awareness-raising activities, and fundraising for organizations working to end/prevent gender-based violence and support victims.
FHTMS Why Not Team Virtual talent show
Christine St. Clair, who teaches on FHTMS’ Why Not? Team reported that in late April, a virtual talent show was held where students sent in videos of their talents. “We had skiing, magic, piano, fiddle, unicycling, painting, guitar and singing all included in the show. Our kids are amazingly talented. The teachers also put together a very silly music video that featured many of the off-team teachers that Why Not? students have, as well as the administration, librarians, etc, dancing around in bumblebee tutus. It was ridiculous and really fun,” St. Clair wrote. Much needed levity for all!
Gertrude Chamberlin School Poet to be Published
April was National Poetry Month and 5th graders entered a national poetry contest through Creative Communications. According to Library Media Specialist Allison Balk, Creative Communications is a program run by educators that offers free poetry contests that provide students with the opportunity to become published writers. However, only a select few students are chosen to be published in their book, “A Celebration of Poets.” Leela Sides entered a Haiku and her poem "Cherry Tree" was selected for publication. Balk wrote, “Leela is beyond proud of herself and so are Mrs. McKegney, her parents and myself.”
Oh great cherry tree
You are so pink, so pretty
A light in the dark
RMCS to Receive Books Thanks for Grant Garnered by SBHS Student
RMCS students will soon benefit from the industriousness of SBHS student Niko Lekkas, who after being inspired by working with a student at Central School on their reading for half an hour each Tuesday over Zoom, decided to apply for a grant to help buy books to support the third grade and literacy support teams. The books are for low-level readers (K-1-2) and intentionally multicultural in theme/representation. Lekkas is a senior at SBHS and wrote the grant proposal to the Academic Boosters fund after finding out about it from CDC Director Christine Lundie. He was awarded $640 to buy two sets of books from Leff Books.
Niko wrote, “I noticed that this is a very diverse class, and for some of the students, English is a second language. I absolutely wanted to work on the grant and help get the books for them. This was my first grant that I ever wrote. Every room in my house has books and I know the importance of books for developing creativity, imagination, writing, and communication. So, working on this grant to get the books for these 3rd graders was important for me.” Well done!
Orchard’s Reading to Raise Anti-Racists Program will Continue!
Over this past year, Orchard School has had a schoolwide "Reading to Raise Anti-Racists" project in which each class reads the same book for each month of the school year. The project has been so successful that the organizers were encouraged to plan for year two. Donna Sullivan-MacDonad reported that Donors Choose had a promotion for Teacher Appreciation Week where Sonic (and later Google) matched donations. Six copies of ten different books were selected and submitted to Donors Choose. Orchard’s project, which totaled over $1000 was fully funded in two days! Sullivan-MacDonald wrote, “We are ever so grateful to our very generous donors and corporate sponsors. The school population is so excited that they will be continuing this important work for a second year!”
Thanks for reading and enjoy the sunshine this weekend!