News & updates
News & updates
RU / SHIZUKUISHI Program Turns 28
They’re back! Ten students from Shizukuishi, Japan are visiting Randolph Union Middle School this January as part of a now 28-year-old exchange program between the two towns.
In 1992, Carolyn Covalt, a graduate of Randolph Union High School launched The Randolph Shizukuishi Exchange Project when she brought ten students and their chaperones from Japan to her tome town. Their mission was to learn first hand about American culture. Since the start of the exchange, Japanese students have come to Randolph in 25 of the last 28 Januaries with more than 320 families opening their homes to our Shizukuishi guests.
During their visit, the guest present a program to share their culture to elementary and middle school area students. Visiting Ben and Jerry’s, Billings Farm, the Cabot Annex, Silloway Farm, Beidler Farm and meeting Mrs. Hisko Billings, Cold Hollow Cider Store, owner of Gillingham Store in Woodstock who grow up in Morioka, Japan next town over from Shizukuishi, Japan are some of the highlights of their visit.
This January, the Randolph Union Middle School hosted 10 Shizukuishi students, one teacher, a professional tour guide and Sumio Inoue. Sumio is a father of a son who traveled to Randolph about 10 years ago and hosted by Charlie and Suzie Zani of Brookfield. Sumio continues to guided Randolph travelers throughout Japan.
In the spirit of a true exchange, Randolph students have visited Shizukuishi nine times (as of 2018) and will once again travel to Japan in the spring of 2020. Similar to the presentation given by our guests from Shizukuishi, the Randolph students are introduced to the entire student body of Shizukuishi Jr. High School. They share a performance of song, dance, poetry, and a slideshow about Vermont. Typically the trip includes 2 days in Tokyo, seven days of home stay in Shizukuishi and 2 days visiting the town of Nikko. Nikko is a National Park registered as a World Heritage Site, containing sixteen century shrines and temples.
In order to participate in the traveling part of the program, Randolph students must go through a selection process which includes a written application, reference, and an interview. Since the first trip in 2000, the program has been dedicated to the concept that student participation should not be based on the ability to pay. Intense fundraising and grant writing efforts by parents and students builds strong bonds within the band of travelers in order to meet the approximate financial goal of $40,000.
RU Senior Sara Rea Steps Up to Prevent Hunger
During her Junior year, Sara Rae worked with the international relief nonprofit Rise Against Hunger as part of the Randolph Youth Leadership Award Conference. This year, for her senior project, she decided she wanted to bring them to her high school.
Read her story below, or take a look at Burlington NBC affiliate WPTZ's coverage of it here:
Vermont student organizes packing of 10,000 meals for the food-insecure
Student Focuses on Fighting Hunger
Sara Rea Coordinates Volunteer Effort To Feed 60,000
Courtesy of The Herald, December 26, 2019
By Tim Calabro
Last Wednesday afternoon, music thumped through the RU middle-school gymnasium as dozens of students, teachers, and other community members, wearing bright red hairnets, packed meals for tens of thousands of hungry people somewhere in the world. The event brought international charity Rise Against Hunger to Randolph at the impetus of RU student Sara Rea, whose senior project focuses on hunger relief locally and globally.
“I knew I wanted to do something with community service,” Rea said of choosing her senior project theme. The pieces fell into place when she was exposed to Rise Against Hunger during a program at the Rotary Youth Leadership Awakening conference in Lyndonville.
The group has delivered food to 78 countries, Rea said, following need as natural disasters strike around the globe. They also place an emphasis on self-sufficiency and literacy.
Hunger is a major issue in the world and in Vermont. At RUHS, she noted, 40% of students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch and many more would likely qualify, she posited, if not for a powerful stigma surrounding poverty and hunger.
That means Rea’s project aims to fight hunger on two fronts—that is to bring aid to those in need of food, but also to help lessen the social discomfort that hangs on those who go hungry.
To accomplish that second goal, Rea has been recording a series of interviews with personnel at Gifford Medical Center, high school students and teachers, as well as community members, which she hopes to compile into a short documentary. The interviews, she said, are revelatory of the degree that hunger affects the community. “You never know who” has a story about dealing with hunger, she remarked.
Even elementary students will have an opportunity to share their stories, Rea said. She added that she’d initially been wary of including the younger students in the project, but was inspired to add their voices to the mix as she saw them pushing for food drives at the school.
“My goal is to get rid of the negative stigma with hunger,” she emphasized, something she thinks can be achieved by shining a light on the issue. “So many people have stories held inside,” she added. To pack meals at the Rise Against Hunger event last Wednesday, Rea recruited about 40 students from a variety of backgrounds and made sure they were grouped with people they might not otherwise spend time with. By giving students (as well as teachers and a half-dozen community members) the chance to work together to pitch in for a good cause, she believes the issue of hunger will be much more real to them.
Over the course of the two-hour work party at RUHS, volunteers packaged just over 10,000 bags with soy-based protein, rice, dried vegetables, and a vitamin pack. Each bag is designed to feed a family of six at a cost of just 35 cents per bag.mTo cover that expense, Rea has been fundraising since October.
She won a $1,500 grant from the Randolph-based Lamson-Howell Foundation and then set about raising money from individuals and area businesses as well as Randolph’s twin Rotary Clubs.
Rea said working with Rise Against Hunger has been a great experience. She coordinated the North Carolina-based group’s trip to Randolph and they provided the raw materials to make the day meaningful.
Rea mentioned that her sister, Hannah, had studied the effects of drug abuse for her senior project and that example underscored Rea’s desire to focus on community service.
“Unless I’m working in my community,” she said, “I wouldn’t grow [as a person] the way I wanted to.”
Locally, Rea has worked with the Randolph Area Food Shelf for years through the RUHS Interact project-based learning program and through volunteering with the National Honor Society.
In fact, the day after her massive push to pack meals for strangers around the world, Rea was at the Randolph Area Food Shelf, helping load and deliver that group’s annual holiday baskets to families in need. Neighbors, too, are effected by hunger.
In her senior year, Rea is taking a full course-load at Norwich University and spends time off working as a technician at the Northfield Pharmacy.
Rea says she’s very interested in medicine as a career, but had been turned off by some of the more macabre aspects of becoming a doctor. Thanks to a love of sciences and helping people, pharmaceuticals has proven an attractive alternative.
Her next step will be choosing a college—she’s been accepted to all seven to which she applied, and each one was chosen for its top-flight pharmacy program.
Closer to the present, Rea will be monitoring the tracking labels she was given to find out where the Randolph-packed meals ultimately end up. And as she wraps up her senior project, she has a novel idea to distribute the remainder of her fundraising efforts: visitors to her display in the spring will be able to cast tokens and vote on good causes worthy of donations.
RUHS Jazz Ensemble Performs in Randolph Café
By Connor Engelsman (Photo courtesy of Tim Calabro)
The RUHS Jazz Lab performed their first gig at the Green Light Café in downtown Randolph [recently]. At the busy café, one could hear mugs clinking against spoons, light-hearted chatter, and rhythmic jazz coming from the upstairs lounge. One could then wander to the sitting area in which the students were playing and [literally] feel the hard work they'd put into preparing for the gig.
The musicians smiled, thanked the slowly swelling crowd, and played their instruments to the delight of onlookers. The ensemble of six created their own set list for the gig, which was full of classics like “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck and “My Favorite Things” by John Coltrane, and were at the forefront of organizing and planning for the event.
“In terms of a classical band program, the teacher chooses the music, the teacher decides who’s soloing, the teacher gives the interpretation of the piece, and the teacher conducts the piece. The students more often than not just play the notes and the music that’s on the page and then make little decisions within that,” said the band’s director, RUHS music teacher Ray Cole. “For the jazz lab, my goal was for them to make all the choices.”
“The performance itself allows the students to be self-sufficient, to really take their own education into their own hands,” he added.
After the show, Cole noted that the Jazz Lab, in its first year of existence, makes the RUHS band program more accessible, as jazz music is sometimes more appealing to students than classical music. Through the program, a wider field of students is becoming engaged in performing music. As jazz music can also be harder to play, it provides students the opportunity to be challenged. Jazz Lab will also perform at a variety show at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph on December 7, and in all upcoming RUHS band concerts.
Connor Engelsman is a student reporter at RUHS.
RUHS Wins Award for Originality At Rutland Halloween Parade
Courtesy of The Herald, October 31, 2019
By Connor Engelsman
Last Saturday evening, Randolph Union High and Middle School band and art students participated in the 60th annual Rutland Halloween parade and won the award for most original theme at the event.
The band played Black Magic Woman by Santana, Zombie by The Cranberries, and Back in Black by AC/DC from within and behind the art students’ “Rock Band of the Dead”-themed float, while the float’s creators joined them at either side of their construction, high-fiving onlookers and overall showing a lot of enthusiasm.
RU junior and saxophonist Kyrsten Paroline, who has marched in the parade four times, said that the band’s largest challenge this year was matching the enthusiasm demanded of the pieces they were performing.
Participating in the parade was a way to expose students to new experiences and the community around them.
“It gives [students] an opportunity to get out and see the community a little bit more and do something that we don’t usually do in the classroom,” said band teacher Ray Cole.
Craig Wiltse, the RU art teacher, added that problem-solving and validation of creativity were the largest benefits of students’ participation in the parade.
“They have to think about so many pieces,” he noted. The float, which the art students designed and built, has to be able to move down the road at 50 miles per hour and it has to look good!
“In the end, they see what was [once] in their mind rolling down the road with people standing on it and interacting with it and enjoying it. So, it goes from just a dream in their head to an actual, physical thing,” Wiltse continued. “[They] realize that they can make their ideas come into the physical world.”
Connor Engelsman is a student reporter at RUHS.
RU Bass Fishing Team Hooks Championship
Three-Person Team Holds Its Own
Courtesy of The Herald, October 10, 2019
By Zoë Newmarco
On Saturday, the Randolph Union High School bass fishing team won first place at the state championship tournament held on Lake Champlain’s Inland Sea.
Katie Vinton, who co-coaches the team along with her husband Anthony Vinton, noted that this is only the second year that bass fishing has been recognized by the state as a competitive sport.
“I was definitely optimistic that we would be in the top half of things, but definitely not expecting to be top five even or win the tournament for sure,” said Vinton, noting that during the qualifying tournament in September the team placed in the middle of about 30 competing schools.
During the championship, the team competed against each of the other 14 students over the course of the day, Vinton explained. At the end, each team took their fish (kept in water) to be weighed, and Randolph won with 23.5 pounds of caught bass. After weighing, the teams brought the bass to Fish and Wildlife officials who released the fish back into the lake. Vinton noted that although the day went well, the unseasonably cold weather on Saturday morning made the team’s ventures onto the lake especially chilling.
When the tournament started at 8 a.m. it was still approximately 30 degrees outside, she said.
Last year, Randolph’s team took second place. That year, Anthony Vinton noted, the team had eight members. This year, it was down to three—the Vintons’ son, Brendan Vinton, and Chase Martin, both juniors, and Bryce Thamert, a sophomore.
Katie Vinton noted that Randolph’s was one of the smallest teams this year. Some of the bigger schools had closer to 12 or 13 students, she said.
Martin and Brendan Vinton spent the summer training with a professional level bass fishing group, but it wasn’t until school started that the three began practicing as a team. They hope to start practicing earlier, with more people next year, they said.
Anthony Vinton, who captained the team’s boat, said that training was time consuming. “We’d leave Randolph at about 4:30 [a.m.] on the weekend,” said Vinton, explaining that they’d head up to the lake to train in the same spot where the championship was held. He noted that Lake Champlain is among the top destinations for Bass anglers around the country.
Overall the team was very satisfied with their performance, they said, noting that all three have loved fishing since they were young.
“It was pretty crazy because we don’t usually win very [many] tournaments,” Brendan Vinton said of the championship. “It was pretty cool that we won.”
AP Bio Students Get Their Feet Wet
AP Biology students in Shanna Moyer's science class at Randolph Union High School started the new year by getting their feet wet:They gathered live specimens in Ayer's Brook on the first day of school.
The students will be using these specimens to study the elements of life in their first unit of the course. All of the specimens were released back into the brook within 24 hours – and all in good health!
The AP Biology class will be raising trout through a "Trout Unlimited" program in the spring and hopefully releasing trout into the White River as part of their Ecology Unit.
The students also caught minnows, a crawfish, and, when this photo was taken, were trying for a frog.
Shanna Moyer is a new science teacher this year at RUHS.
RU's Brian Rainville Examines History at Summer Seminars
Courtesy of The Herald, August 15,2019
By Cecile Smith
Sitting before a floor-to-ceiling array of history books and antique radios, Brian Rainville reflected upon the three back-to-back seminars he attended this summer at some of the nation’s most significant historic sites.
Over the course of three weeks in July, the RUHS theater instructor and former history teacher found himself among fellow educators at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., inside railroad baron William Durant’s great camp in the Adirondacks, and at the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Penn.
Each program, which counted toward professional development requirements for Rainville, focused on different aspects of American history, he said. In Washington, Rainville and his peers spent a week at the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, learning about the capital city during the Civil War. Day trips featured visits to Lincoln’s cottage and Frederick Douglass’ house.
In upstate New York, Rainville was immersed in lectures and discussions on the Gilded Age and the creation of the Adirondack Park. The seminar focused on determining “why Americans in the Gilded Age confronted the loss of resources and realized that, without creating the park, they’d lose the water supply and affect their climate,” he explained. That course’s subject matter, he said, felt relevant given the presence of climate change today.
Valley Forge—the wintering grounds for Washington’s revolutionary army—was, surprisingly, the site of a seminar Rainville attended on World War II.
“It was pretty wild to have, every day, highly decorated World War II veterans with us,” he said. The first combat photographer to enter Hiroshima after the bombing took questions from seminar attendees and displayed his portfolio—“an astounding archive,” Rainville said.
For the Randolph resident, being able to engage first-hand with the artifacts is key to his understanding of historical events.
“I love a grad class, but you don’t get the sites and the artifacts and the interplay that you get in a summer seminar. And that’s the big three for me,” he said. Looking at a photograph or a record in a book or on a screen simply does not replace the experience of engaging with the physical object and place, he added.
Rainville’s time at seminars fuels the development of unique and creative lesson plans which he presents to his students, he said. A longtime U.S. history and social studies teacher, Rainville shifted to teaching theater full-time at the school last year but stressed that he still teaches a lot of history.
The RUHS productions, for which Rainville begins research and prop collection two years in advance, are “bigger-picture plays,” which challenge students to learn about different eras and places in history and ask big questions, he said.
In October, Rainville and his students present Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap”—a work which he said delves into mid-20th-century Britain.
“A production,” he noted, “is time travel.” And, the summer seminars allow Rainville to feed his curiosity and travel through history himself.
By the time he starts exploring a summer’s course offerings, Rainville said “I feel like a kid in the candy store.”