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)

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.

Qualifying for Program

Over the summer Dorfman, who is new to the Orange Southwest district this year, met with Food Service Director Karen Russo, and the two discussed pursuing free meals for high school students.

“As the district’s food service director, I felt that it was my responsibility to investigate providing free school meals to children in our community,” wrote Russo in an email to The Herald. “40% of our students that attend Randolph grades seven-12 are below the poverty level. Offering free breakfast to all students rids of the stigma that some students may think is out there even though that information is strictly confidential.”

Russo noted that every year she looks into which food service funding programs each school in the district is eligible for. The percentage of students eligible for free or reduced meals in Brookfield is too low for that school to be able to provide free breakfast to all students.

During the first two weeks of school, Dorfman, Russo, and a handful of teachers started a campaign to get as many families as possible to fill out the paperwork needed to determine whether they qualify for free or reduced meal prices, under the federal program.

Dorfman estimates that during the campaign, “many dozens of forms” were handed out, but that once completed, the forms get processed by someone else through a confidential process, and so she does not know how many families actually filled out the form.

Ultimately though, approximately 40% of the student body qualified for either free or reduced meal prices under the federal requirements, according to Dorfman.

State funds then cover the remaining portion of reduced meal costs, allowing the district to provide free breakfast for all students.

Dorfman explained that making free breakfast available for all students is important, because she feels the federal threshold for qualification is too low.

“It may look like a lot of money if a family of four is getting $2,000 a month,” said Dorfman, “but … that’s gone just when the bills are paid.”

Prior to serving free breakfasts across the board, the school served about 120 students each morning. With the beginning of the new program, about 200 students have been eating breakfast at the school.

“We really want to make sure that [the students] are getting nutritious food,” said Dorfman, noting that not only does research show that being well fed contributes to higher performance in school, but that it also lowers the likelihood of childhood obesity.

Dorfman hopes that eventually the school may be able to provide free lunch and an after-school meal to students, but that to qualify for federal funds for those programs, the school would need a much higher percentage of students to be eligible free or reduced price meals.

RU Art and Music Departments Looking for Help!

Hello All! 

The RUHS Music and Visual Arts departments are reaching out to community members for help, assistance, (and a fantastic time) at one or more of our upcoming events.

The annual Rutland Halloween Parade was heldon October 26th from 3 – 10 pm.  For those of you who’ve seen the parade and show, you know it’s a fantastic event showcasing the artistic and musical talents of students throughout Vermont.  We'd like to say thank you to all those who donated their time, candy, pizza money, and more. We couldn't have done it without you.

Now we’re looking for volunteers to help us with our trip to Clark Institute of Art / Mass MOCA in Williamstown Mass on November 22 from 8 am to 7 pm.

If you can help – or if you’d like to come along – please let Craig Wiltse or Ray Cole know…we’d love to have you and we promise, you’ll have a ball. You can contact either Craig Wiltse or Raymond Cole at:
cwiltse@orangesouthwest.org or rcole@orangesouthwest.org

Agatha Christie is coming to Randolph Unionpicture of students rehearsing a play

This October, RU’s young actors and technicians will perform the most famous of murder mysteries!
Nearly 70 years after it opened in London, “The Mousetrap” continues to delight audiences.  It is the longest running play in the history of theater. 
See the making of the play as filmed by RTCC's Digital Film Program here.

Agatha Christie was a master of detective fiction - and remains best selling novelist of all time.  More than two billion copies of her work are in print. 
Getting permission to perform the work required approval from Christie’s grandson, guardian of the family legacy.  “I never expected the kids and I would get a contract,” explained RU Director Brian Rainville.  “This was a huge ask.  Christie created the murder mystery.”

“The Mousetrap” is a classic whodunit, a template for murder mysteries that would appear in film and on television for generations.  “What people often don’t suspect is that Christie’s play is very, very funny” noted Director Rainville.  “She writes brilliant comedy – while posing essential questions about the loss of empire – and talent overcoming restrictions dictated by class and gender.”

Although the cast and crew has gathered for just two rehearsals, an elaborate set is taking shape.  The stage in Murray Auditorium is filled with antique furniture, Persian rugs, and artwork from four continents. 
“Theater is time travel,” suggested Director Rainville.  “One of my mentors continually invoked L.P. Hartley, who famously said; 'The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.' That’s our theme this season.”

March will bring an adaptation of “The Cake,” a new play about the clash between a baker and a same-sex couple. “I bought this script last spring” said Director Rainville “when individuals insisted during community forums that their views were neither heard nor respected.  This show is about real people who have fundamentally different beliefs.  It’s not a story I expected to tell, as I needed permission to cut language and trim dialogue.  Yet the playwright was tremendously gracious in allowing this incarnation of her work.”

Two other big projects are on the horizon for RU Theater. Thanks to a range of institutional and private donors including the Lamson-Howell and Byrne Foundations, high-density mobile shelving will be installed in the costume room.  The renovation will allow the 3,000 piece costume collection to grow while largely eliminating the need to work from ladders when accessing garments.  And before the academic year is over theater students and their intrepid director will enjoy the 17th Annual New York City Theater Trip!

RU’s director had surprisingly little to say about what he’s planning for 2020-2021.  Even though it will be Rainville’s 25th season of theater in Randolph, he wasn’t willing to discuss show titles.  “It’s not that it’s too early,” said the director as he sat in Murray Auditorium, “I’m waiting for confirmation on the second contract. Everything should be in place when “The Mousetrap” opens October 18th.   The kids and I will make an announcement in the show program.  You’ll just have to be here to find out!”

Welcome to New Faculty and Staff!
RU is pleased and excited to introduce the new faculty and staff that will be joining us for the 2019-20 school year. Each of these teachers and educators bring unique talents and a special love of learning to our school, and we look forward to welcoming them (and you!) on August 28.

  • Christie Blodgett, Special Education paraprofessional
  • Katherine Brown, 8th grade English
  • Dorinne Dorfman, Joining the administrative team as the Director of Targeted Supports, working with grade teams to ensure all students on 504 and EST plans are getting the supports they need.
  • Cynthia Glenn, HS math, Algebra
  • Jennifer Grace, Health office part-time (Wednesdays)
  • Samantha Holmberg, 10th grade English - for Emily Therrien’s 1 year sabbatical.
  • Jillian Hutchins, Special Education paraprofessional
  • Nancy McNally, Special Education Teacher
  • Jennifer Moore, Part-time music teacher, also at the elementary level
  • Shanna Moyer, HS Science, Biology and AP Biology
  • Tim Moynihan, HS Math, Geometry and Robotics
  • Julia Schuster, Grade 9 Social Studies
  • Katie Vincent-Roller, World Languages

RU’s Innovation Center Fosters Growth of ‘Applied Learning’ Skills
Students learn in the Innovation Center
This 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.”

“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.”

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.”