Randolph Union High School

Randolph Union High School

Welcome to Randolph Union High School!

We'll be using this page to highlight all the great things that are happening here -- every day -- as our students prepare for life after RU. So check back often and soon! (Also, follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on activities and events)

Want to know what our PBL classes are up to? Check out their Winter 2018 Newsletter by clicking the Newsletters tab in the documents box to the left!

RU’s Innovation Center Fosters Growth of ‘Applied Learning’ Skills

Students learn in the Innovation CenterThis spring, RUHS engineering students, working in the school’s new Innovation Center, used their math, communication, and fine motor skills to design and create original lighting fixtures.

They used the school’s new 3D printer to create the housing for the electronics, and utilized its new laser cutter to cut and etch the design. Then, just like it happens in the real world, they presented the idea to local light manufacturer LEDdynamics.

It’s all part of a new addition to the middle and high school curriculum, designed to help students connect the writing, language arts, math, and science concepts they learn in the regular classroom to real-world projects and solutions outside of the classroom.

Ken Cadow, RU’s director of career pathways and workforce development, believes the Innovation Center could be many students’ ticket to better jobs following graduation, as well as a more focused and productive college experience.

“The world is rapidly changing,” Cadow said. “And it’s more important than ever that students coming out of high school are on a track towards something, be it college, a career—or both.

“When they’re able to connect what they’re learning in math class to a real-life application or solution,” he said, “or when they can use their language arts skills to put together a presentation on something they’ve designed or created, they begin to understand why it’s important to learn the subjects they are being taught; and how they can use that learning to better their lives. Education actually begins to come alive for them.”

The Innovation Center, Cadow said, is actually a resource for everyone in the school, not just students in the engineering class.

“The space can be booked much like the media center is,” Cadow said. “It can be booked by any faculty member in support of a whole class project, or by individual students who wish to demonstrate independent learning (instead of, for example, writing a paper) for any class, in accordance with their personalized learning plan. It’s not meant to be an alternative to the current curriculum, but rather embedded into it.”

Local Business Support

“The other reality,” Cadow said, “is that Vermont is losing its young people in droves. We are incredibly fortunate to have companies like LEDdynamics and GW Plastics right here in central Vermont that not only have made a commitment to staying in the area, but are literally inviting our students into their buildings and working with them to create future career opportunities.

“With their support, investment, and guidance, graduates coming out of RU who want to stay in Vermont have exciting and lucrative employment options—and they can begin investigating and preparing for those options while they’re still in school.”

According to Cadow, the Innovation Center is gearing up for a busy year when school resumes in late August.

“As the possibilities for growth and exploration in the Innovation Center become more evident,” he said, “I expect more and more teachers and students will begin utilizing the resources here to connect what is being taught in the classroom with challenges, applications, and solutions in the real world. I call it ‘applied learning’ and it’s been extremely satisfying to see students— and faculty—begin to embrace it.”

RU Students Seek to Raise Awareness About Racial Justice
Will Co-Host Conference for Schools Across Vermont May 29

Sometimes it’s a lighthearted joke about someone’s ethnicity in the hallway. Other times it’s a harmless comment tied to someone’s racial background – maybe in the locker room or on the ball field. But according to students in Emily Therrien and Dana Decker’s Racial Justice Project Based Learning class, the jokes are anything but “lighthearted” and the comments are not “harmless.”

“They are stereotypes,” said senior Zi Booska, “and regardless of whether or not the people saying them understand that, it doesn’t change what they are, and it doesn’t change how they feel.”

“There’s a lot of obliviousness out there around what it means and what it feels like to be different,” he added, “especially in a state and community that’s predominately white.”

In an effort to build awareness around what Booska and others in the class see as a problem that runs deeply in the community, they petitioned – and gained approval from – the administration to raise the Black Lives Matter flag earlier this year.  But the pushback from a number of community members caught them a little by surprise.

“The reaction to the flag was mixed,” Booska said, “and I guess we expected that. But we didn’t expect that some people would react as negatively as they did, and what that tells me is that there are people in our community who don’t realize, or don’t really believe, that we have a race problem.”

“I think part of the problem is that a lot of people see the Black Lives Matter movement as political,” said Sophomore Emily Baker. “But it’s not about politics. It’s about creating awareness around treating people the same regardless of their skin color. One of the comments I heard was ‘Why do you even support that movement – you’re not Black?’  I think a question like that goes right to the heart of the matter…it’s not about being Black. It’s about being human. By flying the flag, we’re trying to point out that we support people of all races and ethnicities...it’s precisely because we’re not Black that we need to fly it.”

“Another part of the problem is ignorance,” said Senior Brandon Ryan, “and by ignorance I mean unfamiliarity. This is not a particularly diverse community, and most people here have never had to deal with being stereotyped or singled out for being different, so they don’t really understand the problem. Sometimes that lack of understanding leads to misunderstandings, and sometimes it leads to fear. Fear makes people insecure, and insecurity leads people to put up walls.”

According to many of the students, the problem also exists among some members of the faculty and staff.

“I definitely think there are teachers and staff members here who make assumptions based on perceptions around race and ethnicity,” said Senior James Grandy. “In the real world it’s called profiling, and it’s no different here.”

“I’ve been outraged by things I’ve heard in these hallways,” Booska said,  “and right in front of teachers…but nothing gets done about it. There are seldom any consequences. It’s like they think it’s just harmless joking around.”

“What happens,” Booska said, “is that the kids using those words say they ‘didn’t realize’ their comments might be hurtful or inappropriate. But I promise you they’d never make those comments if they were among a group of minorities.  There is a sense of ‘supremacy’ when a group of white kids can make jokes or comments – even lighthearted ones – in front of a single person of color.”

“A big part of the solution,” said senior Keegan Jarvis, “is education and awareness. I joined this class not because I’ve ever been the victim of racism or profiling. I joined because I saw it happening to my friends, and I wanted to do my part to put an end to it. By creating awareness, not just of the problem, but that there IS a problem, we can begin to address it.”

And addressing the problem they are.  The class, in conjunction with a class from South Burlington High School, will be hosting the Conference for Vermont Schools Against Racism on Wednesday, May 29, from 10 – 2 at Randolph Union High School. The conference will focus on discussions and workshops for fighting racism in Vermont schools.

“I'm exceptionally proud of these students,” Supt. Layne Millington said when asked about the upcoming conference. “They've identified and advanced an issue of social conscience that is vital to the safety and equality of not only our students, but to the greater community as well.  Finding their voices and speaking their truths provides courage to anyone who may be suffering injustice and inequality to do the same.”

34 (Plus) Years of Health and Inspiration
Todd Keenhold recognized for service to area youthTodd Keenhold

When Todd Keenhold arrived in Randolph as a brand new physical education instructor – 34 years ago – he underwent some significant culture shock.
“I had just spent the last four years working and studying in Ithaca, New York, a very lively college town,” he said laughing.  “Let’s just say Randolph was a considerably different community.”

Fortunately for decades of area young people, Keenhold found his way. And since those early days, he has made significant contributions to students and families in the Randolph, Braintree, and Brookfield communities.  “I bought a little school house in 1985,” he said, “and maintained a long distance relationship with my partner, Beth, until she graduated from college. She moved here soon afterwards, we got married, and we raised our family here.”  And for the entire time he has been here, he has facilitated physical education courses for the community’s youth.      

“For the past 34 years, Todd organized and led the annual Run for Health race,” notd Deb Lary, a high school teacher and longtime colleague.  “Because of him, my daughter’s interest in running began at the age of five and her passion for it turned into a scholarship at Norwich University.”
Keenhold is also an avid swimmer and swimming coach. 

“Both of my children participated in Todd’s swim team, the Randolphins,” Lary said, “and they have beautiful form now because of him.  When my daughter was in sixth grade one of her classmate’s home burned to the ground and she arranged with Todd to support her with a swimming fundraiser.  My children are only two examples of the hundreds of kids in whom Todd has helped form an interest in good health practices and it would be impossible to count the number of children, co-workers and community members who have benefited from his work.”

Randolph Elementary School teacher Julie Hinman had similar praise. “Todd shares his love of swimming and skiing with the entire community,” she said, “and has led a number of wellness events over the years. During one of his swimming events I learned how to make my stroke more efficient.  He has led outdoor snowshoeing and skiing events at his home and he stays with the beginners to help them feel comfortable.  He has also facilitated adult dodge ball events through Bethel University, creating a great mix of socializing and activity.” 

“Todd also is known for teaching fairness and respectful behavior during games,” Hinman said.  “It’s so helpful and important.  We make use of his rules when we’re on the playground during recess and when we get stuck, we ask students ‘What would Mr. Keenhold do?’ so that we can follow his lead.”

Because of some recent revisions to scheduling and licensure requirements, Keenhold is now teaching physical education in four of the district’s schools, including the high school (brand new for him).
“I’ve created a program called Individualized Learning Opportunities,” he said. “If a student prefers to engage in a specific physical activity rather than attend the regular physical education classes, they may do so over a 16 week period of time provided they also read and summarize eight research articles about physical fitness and create their own wellness plans. It’s been an interesting transition spending some time here at the high school,” he said, chuckling. “I mean, I pretty much know all these kids. When they’re five, all they want to do is run like crazy and do everything you say. When they’re fifteen…well…not so much! But it’s been fun.”

Keenhold also provides alternatives for students who are not comfortable with specific parts of the required physical education courses.  “If a student doesn’t want to participate in basketball, for example, he or she may use the weights and fitness equipment during the class.  I am never going to make students do something they aren’t comfortable with,” Keenhold said. “My grading system is based on a willingness to try and a consistent demonstration of being respectful.”

A Brief Setback

Despite his love of activity and physical wellness, in 2010 Keenhold began experiencing some significant pain.  “I really felt crippled,” he said. “My hips had become so arthritic that it became more and more difficult to move. I really didn’t want to go through a hip replacement because I felt I was just too young.” Instead, he opted for a surgical procedure wherein they scraped the arthritis out of his pelvis.  “Not the most pleasant thing I’ve ever experienced,” he said, “but since then I have had much more mobility, I have lost weight, and I now spend several days a week swimming 3000 yards at the end of the school day.”

And as for the future?  As a member and consultant for the International Society of Physical Education of Young Children, Keenhold has been invited to present his thoughts and ideas on best practices for teaching physical education to young children in China next year – something he is currently writing a book about with Dr. Kira Maehashi, a professor in the Department of Health Science and Social Welfare at Waseda University in Japan. He led a similar program for Japanese teachers in Japan back in 1995. “Physical education programs are still fairly new and in development in many Asian countries,” he said, “and it’s exciting to be able to share my thoughts and expertise on health and wellness with such a wide range of people.” 

And when he’s not in the gym (or pool, or on snowshoes, or skis)?  You might find him at one of any number of nightspots around Vermont playing guitar and covering for The Grateful Dead or Bob Dylan. “I’m out there on stage about 100 times a year,” he said. “Hey, you’ve got to keep it interesting.”

ETC Theater Company Presents: The Diana Tapes
Picture of a poster announcing the play The Diana Tapes
A new play about Diana, Princess of Wales, premieres at Randolph Union on March 14th – where young thespians are making a habit of introducing new work to the Upper Valley. 

When asked why the troupe chose to offer an untested script by a young NYC playwright, director Brian C. Rainville said “The kids and I look for new, engaging stories.  28 Marchant Avenue, the musical version of Mary Poppins, and Mastering the Art entertained and enlightened.  That is the essence of theater.”

Rising sophomore Allison Johnston has the plum role of Diana. According to Johnston, “[Diana] was a real, deeply troubled person who struggled with abuse, eating disorders, and constant media attention.  It wasn’t easy to find a place within the monarchy.  Diana was a modern woman, grappling with issues that continue to plague us today.”

For cast and crew the play also served as a seminar.  Senior Philip Papp explains; “Every show reveals another time and place.  In many ways the climate of 20 or 30 years ago doesn’t seem that different.  Media and celebrity were still deeply intertwined.  One could not – and can not - exist without the other.”

Courtney Clement, a relative newcomer to the RU stage, is clearly excited about the world of the play, noting “today we are still inundated by media, particularly electronic media.  This script offers a look at the people who profit by exploiting others – and how some utilize media to help advance their own career and interests.”

Rounding out the cast is freshman Ilya Andreyev, who portrays journalist Andrew Morton.  “The play is part history, part fiction, and part something else.  It looks at a range of issues – including the stereotypes that women are overly emotional, and unable to operate media.  Yet here’s a beautiful, powerful woman who crafts a very clever book – perhaps the most brilliant divorce petition ever.”

“The Diana Tapes” will be performed at Randolph Union at 7:30 p.m. on March 14-15 and at 2:00 p.m. on March 16.  All tickets are unreserved, and available at the door.  The box office opens 45 minutes before curtain.  Admission is $9 for adults and $6 for students.  Homemade treats are available during intermission, proceeds from which underwrite student participation in the annual NYC theater trip.

RUHS Music Department Making Some Changes
Courtesy of The Herald, January 03, 2019Photo of Music Teacher Ray Cole
by Martha Slater - Photo by Dylan Kelley

Now halfway through his second year as the music teacher and band director at Randolph Union High School, Raymond Cole would like everyone to know that he is working on making some changes to the department’s offerings.

“I direct the jazz band, regular band, and chorus, and teach all of the music classes here,” explained Cole, who grew up in Manchester, graduated from Burr & Burton Academy and UMass, and taught one year at a middle school in Massachusetts, before coming to RUHS.

“The marching band here is important to the town,” he noted. “However, I feel that throughout the past couple of years, with the decrease in the number of students at the school and the change-over from the previous band director, Josh Stumpff, who had been here for 15 years before he left, the program has changed.

“We lost quite a few students in both the chorus and band, as well as the jazz band, and with that, the interest in the marching band, as well,” Cole added. “Currently, the marching band does three performances during the year—Memorial Day, the Fourth of July parade, and the Rutland Halloween parade.

“Students don’t have the pride in the uniform that they used to,” he continued. “You want them to feel that putting on the uniform represents not only their pride in their school, but pride in themselves.”

‘Marching’ on Pause

Cole said that “in order to re-center our core curriculum, we’re going to pull back on some things that the marching band does, and show the music department in a different light. We’ll still have band and chorus and jazz band, but the band won’t march, because there is less student interest and enthusiasm to wear the uniform and take part.

“We are still doing some incredible things in the music program,” he said. “For example, in the past couple of years, we’ve given two concerts—one in December and another in March—with the band, chorus, jazz band, and the two middle school ensembles. And this year, we’re adding a third concert in May—a ‘pops’ concert at Chandler Music Hall—featuring quite a few pieces that I hope people will recognize.”
Cole feels that student interest in the music program, in general, is “constantly growing.”

He said that since he came to RUHS in the fall of 2017, the number of students in school ensembles has doubled.

“In addition to the performing ensembles, we also have a strong digital music program, where the students who don’t generally play an instrument get to create digital music.

“Outside of our school performances, we have students auditioning and being accepted for the All- State band and chorus,” he added. “In mid-May, the RUHS music department sponsors a ‘Night of the Arts,’ which features mainly seniors doing senior projects that involve performance.

“For example, last year we had a student exhibiting a CD of music that he had written, and there was also a drag performance—a variety of things.”

The department’s next performances will be March 21 and 22, with one night featuring the middle school students, and the other one spotlighting those at the high school.

“I want to make sure that the community knows that we’re just taking a ‘hiatus’ from the marching band—it will be back, and we will still participate in the Memorial Day observance, but we won’t march in the parade,” Cole concluded. “We have a vibrant music program, which is constantly growing. We’re just taking a break to re-establish our core musical values.”

Senior Phillip Papp is Named VT Presidential ScholarPicture of Phil Papp

Senior Phil Papp was notified this month that he has been chosen as one of a small handful of Vermont Presidential Scholars for 2019.

The Vermont Presidential Scholars Program is a statewide recognition of academic, service, and leadership excellence. Outstanding students from the state of Vermont are selected based on nominations from teachers and administrators.  High schools can nominate up to one female and one male in both the general and, for the first time, the Arts categories, and CTE centers can nominate up to two students.  Selection committees identify 10 male and 10 female students in the general nomination process, 5 in the Arts students, and 5 CTE students.  

The 25 Vermont Presidential Scholars will be invited by the U.S. Department of Education to apply for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes some of the country’s most distinguished high school seniors. The program honors students who show exceptional academic achievement, talent in the visual, creative and performing arts, and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

According to Drama teacher Brian Rainville, Phil is presently enrolled in (3) Ap courses - Lit, Calc, and Stats.  “Not a typical senior year,” Rainville said. “So many students just want to coast to the end of the year  and run down the clock to graduation.  Phil's entirely different in that regard - he's a tremendously curious, hardworking, and bright young man.”

What’s more,” Rainville added, “Phil is a scholar, artist, and athlete.  In addition to building a fine transcript filled with our most challenging coursework, Phil is a pillar of the theater program.  Regardless of the scope of his role, Phil continues to come in on construction days, and for sessions where we're cleaning the auditorium and organizing storerooms.  He has an abundance of talent, but there's a kind, curious, gentle personality that consistently shines through.  That's one of the things I've enjoyed most about Phil, he's a genuinely nice person.”

Beyond the fine arts wing, Rainville said, Phil is also a member of the jazz and marching bands, as well as an accomplished athlete.  “Phil embodies so much of what public education is about.”