March 17, 2022
Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,
It certainly feels like spring has arrived on a day like today! I hope you all have a chance to enjoy a little of this sunshine. Maybe you’re thinking of getting your home or countertop gardens going? If so, the South Burlington Public Library has a FREE seed library available. You can even check out what’s on offer online before dropping by in person!
Spring thoughts aside, I wanted to remind you that tomorrow, there is no school for students as our staff will be engaged in professional development. Thanks to our Executive Director of Learning Violet Nichols for coordinating the series which this year has focused on antiracism. In the morning, the Pacific Education Group (Courageous Conversations) will offer a Virtual Introduction to Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Part II - How to build culturally relevant schools post pandemic, using the work of Gloria Ladson Billings to focus on: Academic achievement/student learning, Cultural Competence, and Socio-political/critical consciousness
We’re excited about this session! Please see my additional updates below.
Dates of Note:
March 15-April 6: 2022 Champlain Valley Regional Art Show at the UMall (more on this below)
March 18: No School, Professional Development for Staff
March 17-19 Talent Night at SBHS
Now through March 21, Spring sports registration FHTMS and SBHS
March 25: Late Start at MS/HS, Early Release at ES
April 1: SBHS Career Expo
April 12 and 13, GCS and Orchard School Kindergarten Screening
April 12, 13, 14, RMCS Kindergarten Screening
Masking in Schools Update
This week marked our first where the District allowed for optional mask wearing in our schools. From the feedback I received from our administrators, this seems to be going well so far with a good number continuing to mask. At last night's school board meeting, a motion was made to amend the decision they made last week regarding making masks optional in schools effective Monday, March 14, but requiring them on buses through the end of this school year.
The new motion that was passed by the School Board last evening made masks optional on our school buses effective immediately. It will be important to continue to communicate to our students and staff that there are many who will continue to wear masks both in school and on our buses and fostering a culture of respect and kindness for individual decisions continues to be crucial as we take this step. Thanks to all for helping to communicate this message.
SBSD COVID Protocols
Based on school nurse clinical decision-making, LAMP or antigen tests may be used to test students who become symptomatic while at school. Parental/caregiver consent and registration are required (see online form links below). If you have already consented and registered for testing earlier this school year, repeating the process is not necessary. If you have not consented/registered, please fill out BOTH the Consent Form and the SimpleReport form (which is used to relay the results). Please contact the school nurse if you have questions about consent / registration or need assistance.
A reminder for staff, if you become symptomatic while at school, you can visit the school nurse to pick-up a rapid antigen test kit or contact Maura Sawtelle in HR and plan on leaving work for the remainder of the day.
Our dashboard will continue to be updated. We will no longer be notifying families when a case arises in a classroom or grade-level. Instead, please check the dashboard often to help make personal decisions around testing, masking and attendance at work or school. The dashboard also includes testing recommendations and guidance.
Updates on District Positions
Executive Director for Equity Search Update
The Executive Director for Equity search team committee held a first round of interviews with seven candidates for the position March 10 and 11. The District received 38 applicants for the position. The committee unanimously selected two candidates to move to the second interview round. These interviews are being scheduled to occur with the administrative team by the end of March.
FHTMS Principal Search Update
Interviews were completed on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and the search committee will make recommendations as to which candidates to forward to the next stage. In that next step, administrators will be meeting with finalists and then faculty, staff, students, parents, and administrators and will have an opportunity to participate in forums via Zoom. Dates for these next steps will be arranged once finalists have been determined.
Memorial Bench Fundraiser to Honor Karsten Schlenter
Several staff members at FHTMS have been meeting to create an on-campus memorial bench to recognize Karsten’s kindness and devotion to our school community. The goal is to raise $3500 to install a VT granite bench with an inscription recognizing Karsten’s service to our community. The district business office is now accepting donations. The installation is currently planned to take place at the start of our Fall 2022 school year. If you would like to donate, checks can be made payable to the South Burlington School District, Karsten Memory Bench, 577 Dorset Street, South Burlington, VT 05403. If you have questions regarding the memorial, please contact Matt Guyette,firstname.lastname@example.org/802- 652-7397.
Student Artwork on Display at the UMall
The 2022 Champlain Valley Regional Art Show is on! This show is hosted by the University Mall. and features the artwork of students in grades Kindergarten through 12 from the greater Burlington area. The exhibition opened Tuesday, March 15th and the artwork will remain on display until Thursday, April 6th. The South Burlington School District exhibits, including a sampling of artwork from each of the schools, is located near the Kohl’s Department Store. We encourage South Burlington community members to see this local art exhibition which is accessible during regular mall hours. Amanda Palmer, art teacher at Christ the King organized the show this year, but next year, our very own FHTMS art teacher Alison Treston will be taking the reins!
SBHS Student Gianna Morin Wins State Poetry Out Loud Competition!
SBHS student Gianna Morin took top honors at the Poetry Out Loud State Finals held at the Barre Opera House March 14. There were 18 other competitors and now, Gianna will move forward to the National Semi-Finals which will be held May 1st. You will be able to watch them here. Gianna read Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day? by William Shakespeare, Mr. Darcy by Victoria Chang, and Stomp by Nikki Grime. Also as a part of Poetry Out Loud, the Vermont Arts Council partnered with the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center’s Scholastic Writing Awards program to hold the Original Poetry Awards. This year, three poems from three students were recognized with a $100 cash award. SBHS student Brooks Balkan was one of the winners for his poem “Their Pumpjack.” You can read more about the competition in this press release from VT Digger Congratulations!
FHTMS Community to Participate in Ukraine Assistance Effort
Liz Siddle is organizing the FHTMS effort to join forces with local pilots and The Salvation Army through a program called Operation Backpack4Kids to assist families and children fleeing Ukraine. Students at FHTMS have voiced concerns about these events and wanted to help. Operation Backpack4Kids was created by local pilots who have witnessed long lines of children with very few basic necessities. They will be collecting and flying these filled backpacks to Cologne, Germany and giving them directly to Ukrainian refugees. FHTMS peer leaders will be helping to organize and lead this effort Monday, March 21-until April 1st. In the FHTMS Lobby there will be a Peer Leadership table that will have more information and accept donations. Checks and money can also be donated/collected at the main office (label Operation Backpack4Kids). Have questions or want to get involved? Contact Liz Siddle at email@example.com or Dave Hyatt at firstname.lastname@example.org
RMCS Kindergartners Learn Coding with Bee Bots
Teacher Brigid Kulhowvick shared that her Kindergartners at RMCS have been using Bee Bots to learn beginning coding skills. Bee Bots are small robots resembling a bumblebee that can be programmed to move along a grid. The kindergartners program the bots by pressing command buttons (forward, backward, right, left and go) in a sequence that determines how the bots will move within the grid. In addition to being highly motivating, these fun little robots provide opportunities for students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Recently, the kindergarteners used the Bee Bots to draw as they programmed the bots to move around paper with a marker attached to the bot. They are having fun using their coding skills combined with their creativity to draw pictures!
GCS Water Conservation Lessons Wrap Up!
GCS 3rd graders are now experts in water conservation thanks to a series of lessons they took part in in collaboration with members with the SBHS Green Team! Their final lesson took place yesterday and SBHS science teacher Matt Dransfield shared a few soundbites. A 4th-grade teacher said, "It was amazing to see and hear how much the kids remembered from all the lessons during the final review." 3rd -grade teacher to student-teacher: "I'm really impressed with your confidence and teaching. I know that I couldn't have taught a whole class of students at your age! You did a great job." According to Dransfield, “Students know their stuff. They can identify parts of the water cycle, explain what a watershed is, explain where water pollution comes from, and give you some tips on how to conserve water in your daily routines.” And shout out to Stephanie Hyatt who coordinated the bussing and transportation to make this happen!
Orchard Book Buddies are Back!
The 4th grade team shared that Book Buddies are back at Orchard School! After two years of not having Book Buddies, fourth graders have had the chance to spend time with kindergarteners and first graders. Teacher Sarah Vachereau shared that, “Even though we call each other Book Buddies, we enjoy all kinds of activities. Fourth graders read to their buddies and the younger students practice reading to their older buddies with books from their book bags. Fourth graders teach math skills through games, drawing and building activities. We also enjoy activities outside like group games and building fairy houses. I’m so excited to have older students and younger students learning from one another, making new friends, and having so much fun!”
As you move into the weekend and it being sugaring season in Vermont, it’s a great time to check out a sugar house! Vermont Maple open house weekend is happening March 19 and 20 and March 26 and 27. Time for some sugar on snow.