News & updates

News & updates


picture of an outdoor shelterBraintree Students Learn About - and In - the Great Outdoors

Outdoor learning is nothing new for students at Braintree School. They’ve been studying and working in outdoor classrooms for years. So when COVID-19 came along and schools throughout Vermont began moving classroom activities outside, Braintree Elementary was way ahead of the curve.

“There are so many exciting things happening at Braintree right now,” said Principal Pat Miller. “We have two completely different - permanent - outdoor classrooms being built, which will enhance our outdoor learning in so many ways. Thanks to a very generous grant of $15,000 which was written for us by The Arts Bus and donated by an individual who wishes to remain anonymous; and the efforts of two local people who have deep ties to the school, outdoor learning at Braintree will take a huge leap forward this fall.”

“Bethel musician and longtime volunteer Spencer Lewis is working with us to develop and build a classroom area made out of stone,” she said. “And Josh Axelrod, husband of Misse Axelrod, our Farm to School Coordinator, will be building a structure made out of trees from their farm with a metal roof and a fire pit in the center. He built one of these on his own farm and when I saw it, I thought ‘it’s beautiful - we have to have one at Braintree.’”

According to Miller, one of the two classrooms (Josh’s) is under construction now, with the other (Spencer’s) scheduled to get started soon.


Miller also noted that between the grant from the individual who wants to remain anonymous, Braintree’s Farm to School Grant, a small grant from Vermont Rise, and a grant from the Vermont Principals' Association, the two outdoor classrooms will be fully funded through grants. What’s more, she said, a number of teachers have developed their own areas outside this year and are using these spaces for instruction.

“We have at least four areas with stumps for children to sit on and some even have a fire pit so we can stay warm on chilly days,” she said. “It’s so gratifying to see the many ways our teachers make use of our beautiful surroundings to enhance learning for their students.”

In other outdoor-related news, Miller pointed to two recent hires that have brought with them a wealth of knowledge about outdoor learning.

“Our preschool classroom and the kindergarten/first grade class have several new components included in their outdoor classroom areas,” she said. “First, we have an extremely experienced preschool director/teacher (Harriet Hart) who will be doing professional development with all of us throughout the year to enhance our learning on outdoor education; and second we have Aubrie Howard, our new Family and Student Support Specialist, who has a long history of teaching outdoor education as both a Wilderness Therapy Guide in Montana, and with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Both of these individuals bring so much to the classroom.”

Braintree Elementary Awarded Farm to School Grant

Braintree Elementary School was one of just seven schools throughout the state recently awarded a $15,000 Farm to School Grant from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM).
The VAAFM hosted a celebration of the Vermont Farm to School and Childcare Grant Program at the Vermont State House on Wednesday, March 12, where it recognized seven school communities and two early childcare organizations with important grants to support their local food programming.
 
farm to school grant winnersThe program strives to improve the education and health of Vermont’s students, as well as positively impact the local economy, by providing Vermont schools and childcare programs with technical and financial assistance to develop and execute farm to school and farm to childcare programs. These programs integrate fresh, healthy, locally grown foods and nutrition education into Vermont’s cafeterias, classrooms and communities.
 
On hand to present the awards was Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts, Health Commissioner Mark Levine and Education Secretary Daniel French.
“We’re so excited about receiving this grant,” said Misse Axelrod, founder and director of the Vermont Farm and Forest School in Roxbury, “and we look forward to digging even deeper into growing a strong Farm to School Program here at Braintree.

When students are connected to the food they eat, they are more likely to make healthy choices and eat more fruits and vegetables. The school is excited to cultivate relationships with local farmers through on farm connections, local food in the cafeteria, and plans to bring the community together through farm and food. The grant will give the school the support they need to make this all possible.”

Axelrod has been working with the Orange Southwest School District and the Farm to School Coordinator since 2019. The Vermont Farm and Forest School works with a dozen schools in Central Vermont and statewide on farm, food, nutrition education.

Vermont is a national leader in farm to school programs and activities, and has played a major role in helping secure hundreds of thousands of federal grant dollars for farm to school programs throughout the state.

March is Youth Art Month at Randolph Elementary

Artwork from Randolph Elementary SchoolIt's Youth Art Month at Randolph Elementary School (and across the country), and our student artists will be participating in several art presentations at the Vermont Statehouse and at Chandler Gallery. Our theme this year is "eARTh" which celebrates the 50th anniversaries of Earth Day and Vermont Green Up Day. Several of our pieces will be displayed along with other PreK- grade 12 work from around the State in an effort to show how art can reflect, communicate and illustrate our roles as stewards of our planet.

Artists have long used their work to inspire others to appreciate and respect the natural world, and our students are adding their voices to this tradition.

The RES exhibits will include painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing from all OSSD students, PreK through grade 6. Preschoolers created a collaborative earth and earth prints while Kindergarten students made clay pieces about
endangered Vermont species. First and second graders created an installation of imaginative colorful plants, bugs, and fish, reminding us that nature inspires our imagination. "Save Life on Earth" is a collection of realistic animal portraits created by third and fourth graders that reflects their interests and the development of their observation skills; while complex, made from clay Earth Guardian sculptures were crafted by fifth and sixth graders. Their painted forms were inspired by indigenous people from Central America complimenting one of their theme units this year.

Randolph Elementary School Holiday Market
picture of vegetables
Don't forget to join your family and friends on Saturday, December 7th at the annual RES Holiday Market.

We’ll have a wide variety of vendors showcasing their jewelry, preserves, syrup, hand-knits, ornaments and more. Plus there will be live music and delicious food, including soup, salad, coffee and tea. 

Looking for that perfect holiday gift, or just want to catch up with your neighbors and friends? Don’t miss the RES holiday market. All proceeds will benefit the Farm to School Program.

For more information on farm to school activities and eating healthy, check out the Vermont Farm and Forest School at Drift Farmstead here: driftfarmsteadvt.com

Brookfield classes take in Bubble Mania!
bubble mania artist casey carle
Brookfield students recently attended a “Bubble Mania” performance put on by famous 'bubble mania' artist and performer Casey Carle.

An extremely popular show, Casey combines polished entertainment with high quality visual art and practical, age appropriate science.  Students of all ages learn how bubbles form, why they're spherical, how to make a square bubble, and the science of bubble bursting - each topic related to the physical laws of the natural world.

Older grades learn to appreciate practical applications of diverse bubbles in everyday life (soccer balls to air bags) and are actively involved in fun demonstrations of molecular bonding and surface tension.

But what did the students think of the performance? Let’s hear it in their words:

Casey Carle is very funny, he has a lot of energy and it was very cool when he put the boy in the bubble and it was cool.

Bubble Mania was a fun show because there was a trash bucket that had a fog machine in it and when the guy hit one side a fog circle came out. When the bubble guy blew bubbles at the fog they circled around.

Casey was an awesome performer and an awesome bubble-ologist. Casey used science and a lot of humor to amaze us and inspire us. Bubble Mania was awesome, I would go back any day.

Bubble mania was a fun and educational way to learn about bubbles.

Casey-Carle is entertaining and humorous. He is a bubble-ologist and he studies bubbles. He finds ways to entertain us and he makes doing bubble tricks look easy. Last time I did bubbles I could barely blow them out of the bubble wand.

Bubble mania is a very fun performance. Case is very humorous and the things he can do with bubbles are amazing.

Casey ties together humor and bubbles in Bubble mania. He makes learning about bubbles fun and extraordinary.

I think that Bubble mania was an amazing performance. Casey did a good job on making hilarious jokes, and using science words within the jokes. He also did some pretty cool tricks and experiments with bubbles. 

Braintree Upper Grades Enjoy Cardigan...AGAIN
picture of three braintree students
Braintree Elementary students in 4th, 5th and 6th grades, along with a contingent of parents, grandparents and former students, all enjoyed (another!) great hike up Mt. Cardigan in New Hampshire.

The colors were at their peak and stunning, and despite a few 45 mile per hour gusts, nobody got blown off the mountain! Our 'guesstimate' is that this is the 25th year in a row that Braintree students and their families have hiked Cardigan!

RES 3/4 Team Visits Groton State Park

RES teachers Linda Garrett and Nora Skolnick took students in the third and fourth grade classes on an overnight camping trip to Groton State Park recently. 

As part of their geology unit, the classes went on several hikes, Randolph elementary students pose for a photofocusing on the rock formations and the impact of the glaciers in the area. They also examined some of the natural history of the area. 

It was a great way for students and teachers to bond together as a group  - especially as they enjoyed smores, stories and songs around the campfire. Students took a night walk before retiring to their cabins, enjoying the late summer/early fall quiet and beauty of the park.