• April 14, 2022

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    We made it! Spring break is nearly here. My hope is that you will have some time to rest, recharge, and connect with family and friends over the next week. Enjoy the outdoors and those first crocuses popping up around town. Trails are still muddy, but there’s a little more green and sun every day. I want to thank you for all of your hard work and resilience, again, this year. It’s hard to believe we only have two months left in the 2021-2022 school year. At times, the year seems to have sped up (where did March go?) and slowed to a crawl, but here we are and we’ve persevered together.

    Now, comes the time to celebrate! Already, the 40th annual (in person this year!) District Arts Festival took place this week and the SBHS spring chorus concert occurred over the weekend. And, of course, high school graduation as well as many other music events, sports championships, and other culminating events will round out the year. I’m looking forward to taking part in as many as I can! 

    Dates of Note:

    April 18-22: Spring Break

    April 27: Regular School Board Meeting 7 pm

    April 29: Deadline for Applications to Serve on the Superintendent Search Committee (see below)

    COVID Update

    Our experience shows us that following school breaks, we often see an uptick in COVID cases. For that reason,with spring break upon us, I wanted to let you all know that FHTMS and SBHS will be providing a test kit for each student before break. Test kits can also be requested from the school nurse and high school students can pick up test kits at security. For elementary school families, test kits can be requested by contacting the school nurse or by using the request forms for Orchard School, RMCS, or GCS. Staff can request tests from their individual schools as well. The Vermont Department of Health states that individuals should test for COVID19 via an antigen, LAMP, or PCR test as soon as possible if they have symptoms of COVID-19 ─ even if the symptoms are mild, and even if they previously had COVID-19, if they are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and are not vaccinated or not up to date on one's vaccines (Learn more about when close contacts should get tested), or if they have travelled internationally.

    If you or your student(s) have any illness symptoms, please stay home and use two antigen tests, at least 24 hours apart. You can also access antigen, PCR, and LAMP tests for free at a number of state run testing sites. I wanted to remind everyone that our dashboard will continue to be updated. Please check the dashboard often to help make personal decisions around testing, masking and attendance at work or school.

    Elementary School Assistant Principal Search: Two Recommended to the Board

    Thanks to everyone who participated in the Zoom Q and A’s last week to hear from our three finalists for the elementary school assistant principal positions, Stephanie Sumner, Chris Shackett, and Olivia Kane. After reviewing the feedback from the surveys and conferring with my team, I offered the positions to Stephanie Sumner and Olivia Kane. They have both accepted and therefore, my recommendation will go before the school board at their April 27 meeting. The locations where these positions will be based is to be determined. I’m excited to welcome both!   

    Executive Director for Equity Position

    Last Thursday, we offered a Zoom listening session with two candidates for the Executive Director for Equity position for families, staff, and community members. RMCS Principal Kathleen Kilbourne facilitated this session and the same questions were asked of candidates De-Dee Loftin-Davis and Nikki Ellis. A short Google survey was provided after the sessions and I am currently reviewing responses along with feedback from administrators and staff. More to come soon! 

    Superintendent Search Update: Apply to be on the Search Committee!

    The South Burlington School Board invites you to apply to serve on a Superintendent Search Committee. The Board wishes to appoint a Committee that represents the diverse interests and perspectives of our community. Committee members will serve for a period of up to 6 months and will primarily be responsible for making hiring recommendations to the Board, as well as several support and interview activities. Interested? Please complete this application by April 29th, 2022!

    Spring Break: Virtual Style!

    If you’d like to get away over April break, you can do so through a virtual field trip!  You can explore museums, zoos, National Parks, interesting landmarks, or even bring 3D virtual animals into your home! Check out these amazing resources for hundreds of FREE Virtual Field Trips and Virtual Animals!  Explore the Olympics, Antarctica, Space, Pyramids, Sharks, Volcanoes, National Parks, and virtually anywhere from any device or observe 3D virtual wolves, pandas, cheetahs, sharks, eagles, tigers, and more from any mobile device!

    Update on FHTMS Initiative to Send Backpacks to Ukraine

    If you’ve been following the outstanding efforts of our FHTMS students and staff to collect and send backpacks to Ukraine, you will be heartened by this update from Liz Siddle. “We have an approximate number of over 400 backpacks! Tuttle took in packs and processed them from surrounding areas- Bristol, Williston and Berkshire Elm and Middle which added to our efforts. This article on the effort gives a fantastic summary of the students’ involvement.

    “The flow of backpacks into our school and the overall generosity and call to action was astounding. It took a lot of effort and commitment on the part of our peer leaders to check each backpack and to keep things organized. Every bag that came in was dutifully emptied and repacked to ensure that kids were getting what they needed. We felt so fortunate to be a part of an organization that is helping kids in such a direct way. Every backpack felt personalized and made this whole experience very emotional. To think of kids receiving such a simple gesture of comfort and compassion was what motivated students, families, and coordinators.” Peer leaders who were involved in the effort had a small get together and celebration on Thursday. I am so proud!

    School Happenings

    SB Chorus Students Shine at Performances

    Last weekend the high school chorus held their spring concert which was a true joy! Vocal Music Educator Aimee Bushey shared that students in the Vocal Music Department have been VERY active this year! She expressed a desire to recognize their efforts and celebrate their participation in numerous music festivals (that are finally taking place after a 2-year hiatus!):

    American Choral Directors Association All-Eastern Choir:  Luke Nelson and Gianna Morin

    Champlain Valley District 3 Choir:  Anna Willis, Gianna Morin,  Hanlan Paquin, Melissa Rosowsky, Luke Nelson, Parker Banas, Casey Sullivan, Gracie Lawrence, Earl Aguila, Simon Hall, Audrey Warren, Sophie Warren, Julia Todd, Jamphel Yangotsan, Sam Button, Ken Smith, and Braden Paquin

    All New England Music Festival Choir:  Luke Nelson, Parker Banas, Justin Shafritz, and Matthew Vigneau

    Vermont All State Choir:  Anna Willis, Gianna Morin, Hanlan Paquin, Melissa Rosowsky, Parker Banas, Casey Sullivan, Matthew Vigneau, Justin Shafritz, Lucas Gales, Luke Nelson, Earl Aguila, Morgan Baker, Maddie Magnant, and Walker Hughes

    Well done!

    FHTMS SOAR Students Stand Against Racism

    Earlier this month, FHTMS students who are involved with SOAR (Students Organizing Against Racism) along with their advisors Gary Russell and Cam Basden, held a demonstration along Dorset Street. Russell shared that this was a great opportunity for SOAR students to be proactive rather than reactive in solidarity against racism. Students have attended meetings and participated in a variety of anti-racist activities throughout the school year, in order to raise awareness and promote discussions about racism and racist acts. This event culminated much of what they've worked on, rather than mobilizing following a racist act.

    Following the demonstration, a debriefing session was held for students to share their experiences. Russell wrote, “Although we prepared them with a "3 Principles of Positive Messaging" discussion of what to expect, many were pleasantly surprised at the large numbers of passers-by that supported them. What's really impressive is that even IN THE RAIN not one of them left. SOAR students were being proactive rather than reactive and staying on message.  It was definitely the high point of their day (and mine!)!”

    RMCS Students Earn an All-School Celebration and Choose Karaoke!

    Kesia Cope and her 4th grade class recently had some fun belting out the tunes using their karaoke machine! Students at RMCS had earned an all-school celebration after earning 100 Marky Marks for being respectful, mindful, and cooperative. Students who wanted to participate, picked a song, and sang in front of their peers and teachers. Some students were judges and were expected to share one positive thing about their peer's performance. Cope said, “I was so impressed with the talent that is among my fourth grade class and how brave and bold they were to sing in front of their classmates and their teachers.”

    GCS Students Develop Digital Books 

    Students in Emma Testone’s 3rd grade class at Gertrude Chamberlin School have been working hard for the last two months on their informational writing unit. To wrap up what they had learned, the students chose a topic that was of high interest to them to research and create a nonfiction book using the website "book creator." Yesterday was their final day to work on the nonfiction books and they had an author's party today to present them! Some of the chosen topics include Minecraft, dogs, soccer, school during COVID, and the history of baking.

    SBSD Elementary Technology Integration Specialist, Kristen Courcelle, presented a “techspiration” on Book Creator to Chamberlin staff this week.  Periodically, Kristen showcases innovative and creative technology tools to teachers to inspire them to integrate them in the classroom with their students. Book Creator allows students (and teachers) to create custom ebooks combing text, images, videos, audio, links, shapes, drawing tools, and more!  Once the books are completed, they are put in a virtual library that classes can access at any point. “The students have been loving book creator....I've never seen them this excited about a program!” Testone said.

    Orchard Students and Staff Create Doves 

    The DEI team at Orchard organized a schoolwide project for this month's Reading to Raise Antiracists book, IN MY MOSQUE. On one of the last pages of the book is the sentence, "In my mosque, we pray for peace, love and joy.... just like my friends who worship in churches, temples, and synagogues." The project focused on the words "peace, love and joy." After hearing the book, students used media of the teacher's choosing such as watercolor, markers, or cut paper, to decorate paper doves. Beautiful!

    Thanks as always for reading my lengthy updates. Next week, I will be taking a break from the newsletter, but it will return to its normal schedule on April 28. Have a great break!

    David