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!

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.”

Randolph Union Explores ‘Restorative’ Conflict Resolution
Courtesy of The Herald, November 15, 2018
By Zoë Newmarco

As the restorative justice project based learning program at Randolph Union High School (RUHS) is held for the third year in a row, students, staff, and faculty involved are trying to spread awareness and acceptance of the program’s practices.

“[Restorative justice] is not a distraction from school work,” emphasized Principal Elijah Hawkes, “it’s an investment in the whole child.”

According to Hawkes, restorative justice has an important role to play in building strong community within the school.

He believes it is important to examine how traditional disciplinary measures in response to rule-breaking can go hand in hand with restorative justice practices. Restorative justice is a system that aims to support offenders in reconciling with both victims, and the broader community, through a cooperative process.
Traditional responses—such as detention, suspension, and expulsion— remove, or “exile,” the student from the school. Such punishments can be valuable, he said, but only if students believe the community values them, and wants them to succeed.

Hawkes explained that by using the practices to focus on building community within the school, and on the re-entry of students that have been expelled, the restorative practices should make an “exile” all the more meaningful if, and when, it’s necessary.

According to Angela Bauer, the current leader of the restorative justice project, the restorative practices primarily revolve around holding “circles,” or in-depth group conversations the seek to resolve, or prevent, conflict.

The content of the discussion can range from supporting a student who is struggling in school, to resolving a bullying incident, or many other potentially difficult topics. For example, a circle might consist of a student who broke a rule, any students or staff who were harmed by the rule breaking, any witnesses of the event, and a facilitator who was not directly impacted by the event.

The facilitator asks the group pre-determined questions, such as “What is one thing each of us needs to feel okay and move past the situation?” By utilizing a talking piece, an object held by the person speaking, to designate that it’s their turn to share, the facilitator ensures that each person is given a chance to answer to each question.

Ultimately, Bauer explained, the goal for every circle is that the participants come out feeling that the situation has improved.

Racial Justice Project Based Learning Publishes First Newsletter

The Racial Justice Project Based Learning Class is spending the year asking a simple, but complicated question: How can we advocate for and create a more racially-just community?
Students in this PBL Challenge are responding to increasing community concerns about racial injustice in our local and national community. To do something about that issue, students have been working to form   a Racial Justice Student Alliance at RU, with the goal of raising awareness around racial injustice to create a safer environment for all community members.

In order to build a solid foundation from which to build their project, students have been studying the history of racial injustice in our country, as well as different racial justice movements (Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, etc.). Through the RJSA, students will work with their peers to educate our school community about current issues, including working with teachers to develop inclusive curricula. Throughout the year, students will work to recruit RJA members, establish goals, and host regular meetings and events.

This past week, students published their first newsletter, which can be viewed or downloaded from the "documents" box to the left.

Project Based Learning at RUHS - It's been a busy year!Students taking part in a training exercise

All of the PBL groups are collaborating with one another, asking good questions, and building momentum as teams and engaging with the community.  Several of the groups attended the UVM ropes course last week, as a way of developing as a team and seeing what they could accomplish as individuals when pushing themselves outside their comfort zones.

The Interact PBL was paid in full on 2 Kiva loans that they granted last year, so they are able to fund more and their first blood drive of the year is being planned for October 4, here at Randolph Union. 

Digital Music students have been making great music and are looking forward to creating a collaborative album as well as playing their music on a couple of local radio stations.  The Food Systems PBL went apple picking last week, and at the very beginning of the year initiated composting (along with Ms. Hester-Reyes' Bodies of Atoms class). 

Restorative and Racial Justice PBLs are working intensively developing a knowledge base that will allow them to accomplish their goals, while the movement PBL is setting goals, experiencing a lot of joy as they work together and dreaming big about a collaborative block party that at least 4 of the PBLs hope to host in collaboration with the Randolph Area Community Development Corp (RACDC) in  the spring. Planning will kick off with a panel of people who have planned large community events representing Gifford Hospital, the Gifford Auxiliary, the Randolph Recreation Department and Chandler Center for Performing arts, as well as RACDC, presenting to a group of students and helping them understand the logistics related to planning a large event. 

Hugh Garavan, Professor of Psychiatry from UVM came and presented to the Learning Brain PBL do help them develop deeper knowledge around how the human brain develops and grows. Students were deeply interested in the presentation and students asked in depth questions, to collect information as they prepare to visit the Reading Brain Lab at Dartmouth College in October.

Eighth graders engaged with Lt. Scott Clouttre of the Orange County Sheriff's Department, he came in well prepared having read their questions and thought about their concerns and was able to really connect with them. Questions covered a range of topics from concerns that arose when students read the book, The Hate U Give, about bias in policing, to questions about Lt. Clouttre’s career path.  In mid October students will conduct interviews with people who are committed to making their communities a more inclusive, just and beautiful place.

RU / Gifford Medical Center to Partner on Athletic TrainingAthletic Director and Athletic Trainer prepare first aid kits

As student athletes and their coaches prepare for the upcoming fall season, Gifford Health Care and Randolph Union High School (RUHS) have made official an agreement to provide athletic training in the coming year for all high school and Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA)-required middle school sports. Per the agreement, a Gifford athletic trainer will cover RUHS home games and events and provide training-room hours for athletes.

The partnership is the result of several months of collaboration between RUHS Athletic Director Steve Croucher and Gifford Rehabilitation Services Manager Troy Stratton, a physical therapist who also works with the sports medicine team at Gifford.

“This program is so important for the health, wellness, and safety of our student athletes,” said Croucher, who has worked toward the goal of having a permanent athletic training program at RUHS since he started at the school three years ago. “We are now joining the vast majority of schools in Vermont that have athletic training programs. I think our community—especially our high school athletes and their parents—will see in these first few weeks just how valuable it is to have an athletic trainer available on a permanent basis.”

Historically, RUHS hired trainers on a per-diem basis and to meet state mandates, which Croucher said wasn’t enough and resulted in “coverage with very little continuity or connection to the student athletes.” Now, RUHS will have consistent access to Gifford athletic trainers, both at school facilities and at Gifford’s Kingwood Health Center, enabling trainers to get to know the athletes and their individual histories.

“A significant benefit to our partnership with Randolph Union High School lies in the prevention aspect,” said Stratton. “This program will give parents peace of mind. Not only will Gifford athletic trainers be available immediately when acute injuries happen at RUHS home events, to be that first responder, but they’ll also provide ongoing education on how to take care of the body and how to recover from athletic events.”
Croucher agrees that prevention and education are critical. As part of the program, all fall athletes will undergo screenings for pre-concussion and functional movement.

“I am excited about the valuable information that will come from early-season screenings,” said Croucher.
“With direction from the athletic trainer and Gifford’s rehabilitation staff, we will incorporate what we learn from the screenings into team warmups and functional movement drills as well as pre-season trainings throughout the year.”