News & updates

News & updates


students explore carpentry at summer instituteFirst RU Summer Institute Success!

From July 9th through 20th, twelve 7th and 8th graders participated in the first RU Summer Institute, organized by RU 7th grade science teacher, Kerry Hazard and led with support from Media Specialist Michelle Holder and Cathy Ingalls. Generously funded by a grant from the State of Vermont, the sessions took place during two sunny weeks in which students normally are on vacation.

“We invited 22 students to join us this summer,” Hazard said, “and about twelve showed up. I think some were a little leery at first, a little shy, but it didn’t take long for them not only to settle in, but to start having fun. They participated in hands-on learning experiences, learned strategies about working coorperatively through team building exercises, prepared and shopped for meals, gathered data, practiced digital documentation skills, and even built amazing bat houses.”

“The experience was completely unique,” said Michelle Holder, Director of RU’s Media Center. “It wasn’t camp, and it certainly wasn’t a traditional summer school. Really, you could say the students created their own kind of learning environment. We’d do some activities around a particular topic, farms for example. Then we’d take a road trip down to the farm. There we’d learn not only about caring for animals and the land, but the financial aspect of running a farm as well. That, in turn, led to students connecting math skills with everyday activities. All in all, it was a very practical way of learning through doing.”

“The academic work focused on literacy, math and science as it related to the environment and projects in the community,” Hazard said. “There were also a variety of fun field trips. Students learned about invasive species, animals, and helping the environment through visits to local woodland areas, the Ayers Brook Goat Farm, the White River National Fish Hatchery, and the ECHO museum in Burlington. Through these visits, students learned the importance and application of math and science in the world around them. Whether it was shopping for our week’s groceries, or learning about which goats will produce the most milk, it was clear that math in school has practical and important applications.”

“What we hoped,” she said, “was that we could give the students a better mindset for learning. That nearly all of them asked if they could come back next summer made us feel we’d made some progress in that direction.”

“In keeping with our transition to proficiency based instruction and assessment,” Holder said, “throughout the two weeks, students were also engaged in using social and transferable skills that will help them as they move into the next grade level. Days ended with students reflecting in their own personalized blog. Each Friday, we celebrated the week’s accomplishments.” 

According to Hazard, she’d like to see the institute become an annual event, and possible expand it down to the 6th grade. In the meantime, by all accounts RU’s first Summer Institute was a huge success.

Harwood, Northfield, & RU Begin 2-Year Agreement in Girls Ice Hockey

Harwood Union High School (HU) and Northfield High School (NHS) recently received approval from the VPA’s Activity Standards Committee to begin a 2-season cooperative team for varsity girls ice hockey beginning this winter 2018-19. Randolph has traditionally played with Northfield High School, and will be part of the combined team.

The cooperative team was passed by the Committee on Friday, August 3rd with representation from HU’s Chris Langevin, Athletic Director. Cooperative agreements between schools are designed to provide relief to school districts experiencing shrinking student bodies and, as a result, athletic teams with fewer participating student-athletes. By nature, a cooperative team is rooted in the premise that both schools would otherwise not be able to sponsor a specific sports team without working together with a nearby school(s).

Considering shrinking team numbers at HU and NHS & the smaller number of athletes playing youth ice hockey in those school districts, a cooperative girls ice hockey team provides a way for athletes to continue competing at the high school level. “When we looked at our numbers for the upcoming girls hockey season, it was clear that we had to look at what our options were for the betterment of our programs and the safety of our players,” explains Harwood Athletic Director, Chris Langevin.

Northfield/Williamstown Athletic Director, TJ Powers, offers “Northfield has a proud history of competing in girls’ hockey and it’s hard to see the numbers as low as they are.  In an effort to keep interest in hockey for the future, it is important to have an option for our girls to keep playing.  This cooperative team with Harwood looks to be the best, but hopefully temporary, solution for now.  We are excited to work together!” 

The Harwood/Northfield cooperative team will practice daily at the Ice Center in Waterbury. The team’s home games will primarily play at the Ice Center, but the schools’ ADs will also look to bring home games to the historic Kreitzberg Arena in Northfield. While the newly combined team may be comprised of athletes from all three schools – the rest of the state can expect to see the team competing in the newly formed

“Tier 2” of Girls Hockey (playing a mix of both Division 1 & 2 opponents). The new cooperative team looks forward to having head coach Mike Vasseur leading the girls in 2018-19. Coach Vasseur was previously the head coach for the Harwood varsity girls ice hockey team.

R.A.N.D. Students Making P.S.A.s to Promote H.E.L.P.
(Got Acronyms?)

Students in the Randolph Area Narrative Documentary PBL class have spent the past year learning interviewing and movie making skills. Now they're putting those skills to good use.

During this past winter, they've been participating in H.E.L.P. (the Heroin Epidemic Learning Program), an eight-10 week youth program designed to educate students on the reality of the opioid epidemic and empower them to make a difference. Taking what they've learned in class and through the program, they've been creating their own PSAs (public service announcements) this spring, which they will soon be submitting for review and final edit. The national H.E.L.P. committee will view and vote on all completed PSAs, and one will be chosen as the winner. That PSA will be professionally edited and air on local and national TV.

The R.A.N.D. PBL invites everyone to join them in the RU Auditorium on June 1 at 6 pm to view the PSAs and see which one is the winner. Members of the winning team will win GoPro cameras.

'Service Learning' Students Return From Nicaragua

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Here is their story...in their own words:

On April 15th, 17 students and two teacher chaperones from Randolph Union High School traveled 21 hours to San Ramón, a small rural town in the northern area of Nicaragua. These students, all enrolled in either Spanish classes or a Service Learning Project Based Learning course at Randolph Union, started the 2017-2018 year with the goal of teaching lesson plans to Nicaraguan students in elementary schools, and engaging with kids of all ages.

The purpose of these lesson plans were to give students one-on-one attention, as well as to address one Nicaragua's problems, a high rate of illiteracy, which is due to a lack of accessible education and resources. In order to meet this goal, each student wrote their own children's story initially in English, then translated them into Spanish. Each of them chose a different animal native to Vermont to write a story about, illustrate, and then “test run” the final product, thanks to the help of Randolph Elementary students.

The group worked in cooperation with a non-profit organization called Planting Hope, which is based in Montpelier and San Ramon, Nicaragua. Beth Merrill, the director and founder of Planting Hope, assisted the group with their planning and nica3work while in Nicaragua. Planting Hope’s goal is to “enhance educational opportunities, support grassroots initiatives and foster cultural exchange” while bringing groups of high school students with lesson plans and unique ideas into these environments to give the local students an opportunity to learn and fully engage in the lesson plan.

When students arrived in Nicaragua, they read their stories and worked with the lessons plans that were developed to expand on their stories in classes ranging from 30-40 elementary students. The RUHS group stayed with host families San Ramon and as student Anna Jickling observes, “I noticed that all the host families, although having little, were willing to open their doors and hearts to us and give us a real taste of what Nicaraguan life is really like.”

Over the course of 10 days, the Randolph students visited two elementary schools, one high school, and a Planting Hope library where students came to gather and participate in activities. Their lesson plans shined at each school they visited as the Nicaraguan students participated with open hearts, minds and beaming smiles! RUHS student Zi Booska says, ”seeing the children's faces light up after we read our stories to them really showed me how much of an impact we made on their day and potentially in their life.”

The afternoons were spent engaged in enriching cultural activities where the RUHS students got to hike to a coffee plantation, learned to paint using a unique local technique (coffee based paint), visited a weaving cooperative, and made jewelry using local seeds.

The schools in Nicaragua are much different than the elementary and high schools in the United States. A lot of the kids in Nicaragua do attend school on a normal weekly basis. Some kids are not able to commit to the normal week schedule, because they have to help their parents in the coffee fields throughout the week. The Nicaraguan education system offers weekend schooling for these students and older adults who choose to get their high school degree if they did not already have it.

The schools in Nicaragua do not have nearly as much funding from their government as we do here in the United States. There can sometimes be up to 30 to 40 students per one classroom/teacher. This makes it difficult to give the students the individualized learning that most students at can get in the classroom at RUHS. When the students from RUHS were in Nicaragua, they visited only three out of five schools that were on the trip’s itinerary. The reasoning behind this was because the Nicaraguan government cancelled school because of the mass protests that were taking place in many of the cities in Nicaragua. Being in the country during a period of social and political unrest was in itself a substantive learning experience for the 17 students.

RUHS Club Does Its Best To Make a Better Worldinteract

Courtesy of The Herald, April 5, 2018; Photo by Tim Schroeder

Recently, five members of the RUHS Interact Club met with the Sunrise Rotary Club to tell them firsthand what the club is doing for projects and fundraisers.

Rielle Brassard and Sarah Rea spoke about the “Hands in Outreach” program. The students are sponsoring a young woman who lives in Kathmandu, Nepal. For $500 a year, she is able to stay in school and further her education, something that could change her life forever.

The students are also working to raise money to bring her to Randolph for a visit, and helping her her to get into college in Kathmandu. This has been an ongoing relationship with the Interact Club for several years now. The girl’s academic interests are engineering, law, and learning English.

Micro Loans
Student Ben Osha explained the Kiva program, which started out with $400. This program makes zero-interest micro loans to help people around the world to make opportunities for themselves and their families. Kiva sends updates to the club when loan money is returned.

Some 75% of the applications are from women from Pakistan and Tanzania. More information is at www.kiva.org.

Children with Cancer
Sarah Garvin spoke about Camp Ta Kumta, a Vermont camp that is free for children with cancer. The program includes a “mom’s retreat” and winter weekend programs. The students are working on collecting formal wear, costumes, prom dresses and baseball gear.

The Interact Club will visit the camp on May 1 to clean up the outside and deliver the costumes, Sarah explained.  Sorrell noted that the Interact Club hopes to build a gazebo at the camp, with the help of area Rotary clubs.

Blood Drives
Finally, Hunter Brassard shared about his involvement with the American Red Cross. He helps run the blood drives in Randolph, organizing students to put up posters and to help with the registrations. Hunter works with a Red Cross staffer to organize the schedule and line up the location of the drive.

Eight to 10 students help run each drive, while reaching out to families of students. The next drive will be May 22 at RUHS, with a goal of 100 pints.

8th Graders Present Check to Jocelyn House
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As part of their 8th grade Community Service requirements, students at RU Middle School raised $100 for the Jocelyn House.  The proceeds came from a formal dance that they hosted, which attracted more tha 50 students. Good music, dancing and food sales resulted in a $100 profit.

The Middle-school students that coordinated and hosted the dance are members of teacher Craig Wiltse's Advisory.