Randolph Union Middle/High School

Randolph Union Middle/High School

Welcome to Randolph Union Middle/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)

Important notice: While the schools are closed due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 (the "coronavirus), check here for updates and special notices regarding distance learning, self care, and other news and information. Also, please click on the COVID-19 link at the top of the page.

Here are the latest updates from Principal Elijah Hawkes and Student Services:

3/24: Main Office Hours - As part of the district’s efforts to have as many people as possible working remotely, we are going to reduce the hours of operation of the RU Main Office to the hours of 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM each day.   

Drop-off, Pick Up: As we did last week, we ask that students and families call ahead or email if they need to pick up or drop off something, such as school supplies, or chromebook.  We will arrange to get what you need.

Call or email Lisa Jacobs or Donna Collette:Donna Collette: dcollette@orangesouthwest.org 728-3397
Lisa Jacobs: ljacobs@orangesouthwest.org 728-3397

Donna and Lisa will answer the phone between 11 – 1, and will be checking phone messages daily. Response time will vary depending on when the message is left and received.

RU - Extended & Distance Learning Expectations

Note from RU Student Services

“The Cake” a Resounding Success
drama students
Randolph Union High School’s Encore Theater Company presented “The Cake” this March, with a script so new it has yet to be published. “The Cake” explores the 2008 dispute between a Colorado baker and a gay couple that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I bought this play,” said Director Brian Rainville, “because it’s so easy to ignore ideas that are not my own. Yet each side had valid yet conflicting claims – religious freedom for the baker and equal protection for the couple.”

Of equal interest, RU’s actors and technicians were rehearsing the show on the 20th anniversary of Baker v. Vermont, which plunged the state into the contentious question of gay marriage.

To provide context for the “The Cake” Director Rainville invited journalist David Moats to meet with the cast and crew prior to the performance. Moats won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vermont Supreme Court and subsequent legislative session.

Moats spent an afternoon with the RU theater students, answering questions and discussing his experience covering the Vermont Supreme Court in 1999, and the subsequent legislative session that led to the creation of Civil Unions in Vermont.  

"David was very gracious to visit," noted theater director Brian Rainville. "He answered a flurry of questions about how the Vermont of 1999 relates to the 2008 Colorado case on which our play was based.  In November ,I gave every member of the cast and crew a copy of David's book, knowing it would provide invaluable context."

Although crowds were smaller than normal on performance nights due largely to concern surrounding the Coronavirus, Rainville was still pleased with the result. "This show allowed young learners to engage with the past and present through deeply human perspectives.  My students explored primary sources, profound social change, and the engines thereof.  Theater - and public schools - provide a forum for far-reaching, challenging, respectful discussions."

Grant Funds Help RUHS Teacher Diversify Curriculumpicture of Emily Therrien

Courtesy of The Herald January 09, 2020
By Zoë Newmarco

Thanks to funds from two grants, Randolph Union High School teacher Emily Therrien is taking the lead on efforts to expand the curriculum for the benefit of a diverse range of students. Therrien, who typically teaches five classes and runs an advisory, is down to just two this year. The rest of her time is filled with work associated with the grants.

She was awarded a grant of $100,000 from the Rowland Foundation, an organization that offers 10 grants annually to secondary educators in Vermont who propose projects designed to improve the culture and climate in their schools.

A second grant of $32,200 from the Agency of Education was awarded to the high school [to be] used specifically for professional development on the subject of “equity literacy,” Therrien said.
“Equity literacy is really just about being … able to recognize the ways in which the world and our society are structured in ways that benefit some over others,” she explained.

Therrien noted that the Rowland Foundation grant allows her to have much broader goals than the AOE grant, although the projects under both grants complement each other. A significant portion of the money from the Rowland Foundation will go towards the costs of a substitute teacher for most of Therrien’s classes, as well as other costs associated with the work she does under the grant.

Our grant project this year is looking at equity in public education and examining the ways in which we can develop curriculum and programs to ensure that all students see themselves represented in the curriculum,” said Therrien.

She wants to make sure that, through the curriculum, “students are exposed to the world beyond Randolph— just exposing them to different perspectives, while at the same time validating their own identities and who they are.”

Therrien spent the first semester of school in the “research phase” of her work under the Rowland Foundation. She said she’s been looking into other schools that have created similar professional development programs and curriculum changes to support students from many backgrounds. She also took a course called Equity Pedagogies and Integrated Curriculum, and it was focused on examining the development of equitable and representative curricula and teaching practices.

During the spring semester, she plans to visit programs that have implemented similar work, such as the one at Casco Bay School, in Maine. She hopes that at the end of the school year, the school will have a more permanent version of the staff training around inequities in place, both for current staff and any new staff or faculty hired by RUHS.

Therrien said that while balancing her teaching work and her grant work can sometimes feel like having “two full-time jobs,” she is very excited to be doing this work.

She noted that efforts to better include a wide range of students in the curriculum is not new to RUHS. One example, she said, is the racial justice project-based-learning class, which often takes on projects to address issues of racism within the school.

Project based learning director Lisa Floyd is also enthusiastic about Therrien’s work with the two grants this year, she said. Floyd and fellow RUHS educator Angela Bauer were co-recipients of a Rowland Foundation grant in 2015, which they used to make improvements to the high school’s advisory program.
Floyd emphasized that she appreciates how Therrien recognizes that the work done under the two grants has the potential to have “real impact on real students,” and to set high expectations for both students and staff.

“[Emily] is able, as a social studies and English teacher, to provide historical context for students and help them see how events in the past impact our present,” said Floyd. “I believe her equity work will benefit the Randolph Union community for years to come.”

RU Senior Serena Hanrahan is Named VT Presidential Scholar
picture of Serena Hanrahan
RU Senior Serena Hanrahan was notified this month that she has been chosen as one of a small handful of Vermont Presidential Scholars for 2020.

The Vermont Presidential Scholars Program is a statewide recognition of academic, service, and leadership excellence. Outstanding students from across the state 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 then 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.

“Serena has shown a truly independent and self-reliant ability that exceeds almost all of the other students with whom I have worked,” said school Guidance Counselor Kara Merrill.  “She knows what she wants out of school and is easily able to advocate to reach her goals.”

According to Merrill, Serena approaches whatever she does – sports, academics, hobbies, interests – with a level of maturity not often seen in young people her age.

“Serena [approaches projects] with a vision. For her senior project, cake baking and decorating, she developed a plan, found the best people possible to help her, and put forth her best effort.  By the end of last summer, she already had logged more hours than is required for the entire year-long project! And this is just one example of how Serena approaches all the challenges in her life.”

English teacher Jamie Connor called Serena “probably the best student she has ever worked with” in part because she is honest, genuine, and unafraid to voice her ideas.

“Serena is simply the best,” Connor said, “because she is intrinsically motivated to find value in her learning and she always engages fully. She is the best because she is so generous with her time and energy, finding a way to balance school, family, sports, work and friends. To say she is deliberate is an understatement. Serena, quite frankly, possesses too many incredible qualities to capture in a single letter.”

Following graduation, Serena will enroll at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she’s been accepted into the Baking and Pastry Arts program.

No Easy Task: Engaging Students to Meet the Challenges of Our Time

RU Principal Elijah Hawkes shares some thoughts and insights on how to engage students to prepare for, and meet, the challenges they will face following graduation.  Sometimes, the answer lies just beneath the surface. 

You can read the whole article here, courtesy of VT Kids Magazine.

No Easy Task: A High School Administrator on Engaging Students to Meet the Challenges of Our Time

OSSD Focuses on Free Breakfast for Allstudents taking advantage of free breakfast

Program Helps Stem Hunger and Stigma
Courtesy of The Herald, October 31, 2019
Story by Zoë Newmarco; Photo by Bob Eddy

Since October 14, free breakfast is available for all students at Randolph Union High School and Randolph Technical Career Center, thanks to funding from the United States Department of Agriculture and additional state funds.

Director of Targeted Services Dorinne Dorfman explained that part of her job is to examine all of the factors that would prevent students from performing at or above grade level. “And hunger is a culprit,” she said. Within the first two weeks of school, Dorfman had discovered that at least five teachers were feeding their students in class.

“Free breakfast is a low-hanging fruit,” said Dorfman, noting that in Vermont and across the country, teachers often spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket to provide for their students—everything from school supplies to clothing.

“There’s no free boot program, but there is a free breakfast program,” said Dorfman, noting that Braintree and Randolph Elementary Schools have already been serving free breakfast to all students prior to this year.

RU’s Innovation Center Fosters Growth of ‘Applied Learning’ Skills
Students learn in the Innovation Center
RUHS engineering students, working in the school’s new Innovation Center, are using their math, communication, and fine motor skills to design and create original lighting fixtures. They use the school’s new 3D printer to create the housing for the electronics, and utilize its new laser cutter to cut and etch the design. Then, just like it happens in the real world, they present their ideas 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.”