News & updates
News & updates
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.”
Students and Community Strike for Climate
Courtesy of The Herald, Sept 26, 2019
Story by Sandy Vondrasek. Photo by Dylan Kelley
Randolph had an impressive turnout of 250 or more folks at its Climate Change Strike gathering, Friday afternoon, held on a parking lot off Pleasant Street that had been cleared of vehicles for the event.
The 90-minute protest featured a series of speeches, songs, and readings, and concluded with the entire assembly taking a walk—with banners, chanting, and waving signs—around the block.
Randolph Union High School junior Aleigha Griggs said the event was planned by students in the “Inequality and the Environment” class at RUHS, in collaboration with a community group—Randolph Area Climate Emergency (RACE).
Getting to work on the climate issue this year, she said, had moved her outlook from one of being “devastated” to “feeling super motivated.”
The average age of attendees at Friday’s protest might have been around 40, but few fit in that demographic.
Young people were fairly well represented, with a contingent of high school students, as well as a big group of fifth- and sixth-graders from Randolph Elementary School and teachers, who marched together, from school to the event. Students joining this optional activity were giving up lunch and recess in order to do so, RES art teacher Rebbie Carleton said.
There were also a lot of folks, 60 and older on hand Friday. Many of them, like the young people, held up homemade signs urging action on climate change. Messages included: “Respect existence and expect resistance,” “If you did your job, we would be in school,” and “The antidote to fear is action.”
It was a lively scene, with a series of presenters taking to a stage equipped with speakers to share spontaneous comments, as well as poems, letters to the planet, and song.
Friday’s protest—staged in thousands of locations around the globe—had been characterized as a time to set aside “business as usual”—to strike on behalf on the planet, and in support of young people whose futures are now in jeopardy.
Among the strikers—those absent without permission—were RUHS students who had walked out of school, without a “planned absence” request, to attend the rally, and a few of their teachers, who walked out with students, in support of their cause.
Griggs noted that more than 50 students at the high school had pledged to participate, despite potential disciplinary action. Fewer than that came, however, she said, because they were on sports teams, and participation would have meant they could not play at games scheduled later that day.
Tev Kelman, the teacher of the Injustice and the Environment class, was among the handful of teachers who walked out with their students.
Kelman addressed the crowd, to explain his choice and express support for the young people.
“I am here in violation of my contract,” he said. “Most of the students here,” he added, “are in violation of school rules and risk disciplinary action.”
He said that the teachers who walked out will likely have letters of reprimand placed in their personnel files.
The teachers who walked out, Kelman said, felt it was their “ethical obligation, as teachers,” to join their students that day.
“How can we prepare them for a future that might not exist, if we can’t stand with them?” he asked.
Kelman’s comments were briefly interrupted by the appearance of a bald eagle, wheeling overhead, high in the sky.
Kelman added that the teachers’ union in Vermont and the Agency of Education have categorized climate change as a “political issue,” and therefore one that should not interfere with teaching responsibilities.
Shortly afterwards, a woman who identified herself as a representative of the faculty union of University of Vermont, took to the stage to say that the union, “for the first time in history, called for faculty to walk out” that day.
Student Charlie McCaffrey of U32 took a turn at the microphone to encourage others to support students in a planned, October 17-19 “campout.”
“If things get worse, it might be our future,” he said.
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.”
Boston Trip Turns RUHS Students Into U.S. Senators—for a Day
Courtesy of The Herald, April 4, 2019
by Sandy Vondrasek
A busload of Randolph Union High School students had the opportunity to walk in the shoes of a U.S. senator for a day, last week, during Vermont Day at the The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.
Along with peers from three other Vermont high schools, the students started the day with a video conference call with Sen. Bernie Sanders, broadcast in the institute’s full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate chamber. Later in the day, students participated in the institute’s nationally recognized, Senate immersion module program, during which they debated the merits of amendments to the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as the Farm Bill. Before heading back home, the students passed the legislation by a vote of 67-15.
According to a press release from the Kennedy Institute, Sen. Sanders stated that the institute “doesn’t just give students a better understanding about how the Senate works, it also helps them to think critically and debate really big issues in a respectful and civil manner.”
Tev Kelman, a U.S. history teacher at RUHS, and one of three teachers accompanying students on the day trip, said the institute delivered that understanding, by focusing on “learning by doing, not by hearing.”
RUHS junior Joseph Dingledine said the immersion module started with each student being assigned “a personality” and party affiliation. Dingledine was a Republican senator from Alabama, for example; senior Brandon Ryan was a Democratic senator from Minnesota. All “senators” were provided information on their respective states’ and parties’ priorities.
Emily Therrien, who teaches AP U.S. History at RUHS, explained that students were required to advocate for or against proposed amendments to the Farm Bill. They attended a series of meetings throughout the 2.5-hour simulation— first with their respective committees, then in party caucuses, and finally gathered on the floor, to vote on the bill.
“We had to write speeches for amendments that our party wanted to add to the bill,” noted Dingledine. “Sometime we were just writing a speech to bash the other party’s amendment, to make it seem as unimportant and useless as possible.”
The trickiest part, he added, was when the priorities of his state and party were at odds. “I had to choose whether to support my party or my state.” he said. “In that situation, I was pressured into supporting the party, as opposed to what my constituents would want.”
Ryan, who is in Therrien’s AP class, said he found this “crisscrossing” between state and party priorities a useful exercise in exploring the “gray areas” in issues.
“I was surprised at how many compromises we had to make,” commented RUHS student John Blaisdell. “Because I was playing a Republican senator, a lot of our amendments proposed were totally opposite of what the Democratic senators were wanting,” he said.
Not all of the RUHS students on last week’s trip were U.S history students. Teacher and drama director Brian Rainville accompanied several students who had been part of a student production of a play about the Kennedy family last year.
RUHS Program Puts Focus on Racism
‘Black Lives Matter’ Flag Raised at H.S.
Courtesy of The Herald, Jan 24, 2019
By Zoe Newmarco
A group of Randolph Union High School students known as the Racial Justice Alliance proudly displayed the Black Lives Matter flag in front of the entire student body as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly. The alliance, which formed as part of a project based learning initiative at the high school, sent a proposal to administrators on January 4, asking to raise the flag. On January 10 Principal Elijah Hawkes and Associate Principal Caty Sutton approved the students’ proposal to fly the flag in front of the high school.
During the assembly Hawkes noted that he had twice before denied requests to hang the flag at the school, because he believed more communication with the full school community about the flag was necessary before making a decision.
In the written proposal, students in the racial justice alliance outlined the history of the Black Lives Matter movement, the name of which began as a hashtag on Twitter after the death of high school student Trayvon Martin, unarmed 17-year-old African- American who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watchman in 2012.
Noting that more than 95 percent of Randolph community members are classified as white, students wrote “as a school community we feel the need to speak up for the less than 5 percent who feel like they don’t have a voice, or like they aren’t represented in our school … in raising [the flag] we can show support for students of color.”
Making the Proposal
The idea of raising the Black Lives Matter flag at the high school was first brought up last year, when Booska mentioned the idea in front of the school community. At the time, Hawkes denied the proposal, asking for more students to be involved in the decision.
Booska said he had challenged administrators and students to raise the flag for the beginning of the school year.
“That didn’t happen, obviously,” said Booska, “but it did start the biggest conversation we’ve ever had about race issues in Randolph, I believe.”
Booska noted that Montpelier High School was the first public school in the nation to fly the Black Lives Matter flag, and RUHS is now among only a handful of schools that have opted to fly the flag, as well.
Twelfth grade student Brandon Ryan noted that “it’s very hard to talk about systemic racism in such a white state.”
Ryan explained that even though raising the flag is not intended as a threat to white people, it can sometimes be interpreted as such.
Senior James Grandy said that raising the flag “does feel like an accomplishment. We’ve worked so hard—It’s taken us half the school year to raise the flag.”
Booska and Grandy explained that earlier in the school year the racial justice alliance distributed an optional survey to the student body asking whether students were familiar with the Black Lives Matter movement, its history, and whether the students wanted to see a Black Lives Matter flag raised at the school.
Booska estimated that the alliance received more than 170 responses. Overall, he explained, most of the comments reflected that many students knew little about the Black Lives Matter movement, but were interested in learning more.
Grandy explained that after compiling the results of the survey, the group decided to visit each grade and share information about the movement’s history, and why the alliance felt raising the flag was an important action to take.
Noting that for the most part the students, staff, and faculty have seemed overwhelmingly supportive of the racial justice alliance efforts, Grandy hopes that support will turn into more action.
Wood said going forward he hopes the community will continue to discuss issues of racism with people who have different perspectives on the issue.
“When we talk about it, when we have civil discussions, we can really get something done,” said Wood.
Cadow Recognized for Effort, Excellence
RU’s Director of Career Pathways and Workforce Development, Ken Cadow, was recognized in a surprise and well-attended award ceremony this week by his peers and members of the Vermont Business Roundtable.
In presenting Ken with the 2018 New Medallion Award, Roundtable President Lisa Ventriss noted his many outstanding – and creative – efforts towards helping students understand and pursue areas of work and study that are of interest to them and important to the State.
“For more than twenty years,” Ventriss said, “the Roundtable has formally recognized and celebrated strong school leaders and inspired faculty members who help to improve students’ educational experience; launch their future aspirations; and provide them with the preparation they need for success in either college or a career. The New Medallion Award recognizes excellence, passion, dedication, and innovation in the design and delivery of proficiency-based learning experiences for students.”
“You should also know,” she added, “that out of all the nominations we received for this award from across the state, the vote of the Roundtable was unanimous: the award is going to Ken Cadow.”
The award included a monetary prize of $5,000, which Cadow noted will be applied to the various programs he is overseeing. “This money will go a long way towards supporting our programs,” he said, “and we are very, very grateful.”
Ventriss was joined at the podium by Roundtable colleagues Sherra Bourget, Patrick Leduc, and Chris Loso.
The Vermont Business Roundtable is a statewide organization of chief executive officers representing a diversity of economic sectors and geographic regions. The Roundtable is committed to sustaining a sound economy and preserving Vermont’s unique quality of life by studying and making recommendations on state wide public policy issues. You can visit their website at www.vtroundtable.org.