News & updates

News & updates

Kelsey StrattonGear Up Alum Kelsey Stratton Gives Back to Her Hometown

Courtesy of VT Digger and the VT Student Assistance Corporation - December 2020

Speaking with special education teacher and GEAR UP alum Kelsey Stratton is nothing short of inspiring. A native of Randolph Union High School, Kelsey credits both her ability to give back to her students and her interest in education to the support VSAC gave to her as a young student.

Read the whole story here: RU Alum Gives Back to Her Hometown

For the RU Theater Program, the Show Must Go On!

Photo shows students on a Zoom call

Randolph Union High School's Encore Theater Company has seen its share of challenges over the years, but COVID-19 may be its biggest hurdle yet. Think about it: what does a theater troupe do when it can't use a stage, meet for rehearsal, and the costume room is locked up tight? For this year's thespians, the answer is innovation and creativity...because as every actor, actress, and stagehand knows, the show MUST go on.

Listen to the show here, courtesy of Underground Studio: 1930s Radio Theater

Enjoy the program here: 1930s radio show! program

RU’s thespians found a solution to this year’s crisis - instead of the traditional main stage - they will offer a 1930’s radio drama. Beginning on Thursday, October 29th the broadcast will be available on the school’s website, free of charge, for one week. The troupe is presenting this program to the greater Randolph community - as a gift - to enjoy at its convenience.

When asked why the troupe was performing a work that was exclusively auditory, Senior Ana Turinetti responded “Why not? We are in a predicament - and radio is a form of entertainment that doesn’t involve being in close proximity. By using a computer with a camera and microphone I still got to hang out with like-minded, zany, and understanding people. We made it work - I enjoyed it.”

Adam Leicher, one of five seniors involved in the production, spoke of the medium’s challenges. “With radio you have to work more on inflection and tone. On stage that doesn’t hold all the weight - because you can express what’s happening with your face and body. Coming up with the right voice for a character was a lot of trial and error - and fun.”

Christin Nolan, a senior performing in her fourth RU production, echoed Leicher’s comments. “Stage work has more components - it’s about expression in actions and voice. You’re constantly being watched - but with radio the focus is just on your voice. That’s harder to do. But it made me think critically, made me a better problem solver, and more confident.”

Performing in her seventh production at RU, senior Allison Johnston agreed. “Radio is definitely a challenge. To have to work with your cast mates in a remote situation, not being present with them, not being able to react with their physical blocking - it’s a change. But it’s also exciting. I miss being in that physical space - but we’re still all here together.”

With lighting and costumes being unnecessary even the techies have become actors. Senior Xavier Olmstead found himself building character instead of scenery. “This is more fun than I thought it would be. I never thought I would enjoy acting. I have bad stage fright. But I don’t have to see the audience, so I feel more comfortable. And I think it’s very entertaining - relief from the chaotic world we’re in right now.”

Speaking of the rehearsal process, Freshman Jessie Johnston said “we all take our creativity and throw it at each other. Making something means combining other people’s ideas and your own - then editing. This show has so much of every person packed into it - which is really cool.” Junior Ilya Andreyev concurred
“When we all went into quarantine it was extremely difficult. But the arts come from within. What matters is that we’re all connected to each other - hearing other people’s voices and thoughts - and sharing creative energy.”

Freshman Phoena Turinetti believes the radio play made her - and the entire cast - better actors. “When we get back to the stage it will improve our ability to bring stories to life - because we recognize a lot more about the characters. How they’d react - and say things. Radio gave us more opportunity to get a line right - and create a vocal presence.”

Director Brian Rainville, now in his 25th year at RU, was pleased with his students' work. “Keeping the lights on in the fine arts wing has been a challenge. Yet these young people embraced a script from the 1930’s - a very funny work rooted in themes of disruption and uncertainty. Their growth during this experiment has been impressive - and given me the courage to pursue an audio-only musical for March - featuring current students, alumni, and members of the community.”

Asked which show that would be, Director Rainville was hesitant to provide more information. “It’s not just that I’m waiting for our check to clear with the licensing company, but I want the focus to be on this work - the 1930’s radio show. To celebrate this cast’s adaptability and achievements. They’ve shown that art doesn’t stop amid crises - and how central art is to the human experience.”

RUHS Bass Fishing Returns to the Podium
RU Fishing Team
The RUHS Bass Fishing Team returned to the podium this pastSaturday, October 3d, taking home the Vermont runner-up award at the VPA Bass Fishing State Championships on Lake Champlain.

In the three years the VPA has held this championship, the RU team has gotten pretty comfortable on the winner's podium, as they have finished in 1st or 2nd place in all three competitions.

Fall 2018: State Runner-up
Fall 2019: State Champion
Fall 2020: State Runner-up 

This year’s derby featured the largest field yet with 18 schools competing. RU’s team reeled in 6 fish totaling a weight of 18.74 lbs, beating out 3rd place Essex whose 6 fish totaled 18.67 lbs, but falling short of White River Valley's total of 22.93 lbs. 

This year’s anglers were Chase Martin and Brendan Vinton, with Anthony Vinton serving as boat captain during the competition. Also on the team were Blake Baker, Joey Ferris, and Landon Campbell. 
community volunteers assemble food boxes
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.

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.”

RUHS Jazz Ensemble Performs in Randolph Café
By Connor Engelsman (Photo courtesy of Tim Calabro)
jazz band performs at cafe
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.

RUHS Wins Award for Originality At Rutland Halloween Parade
picture of halloween float
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 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.”