• May 19, 2022

    Dear Parents/Guardians and Staff,

    This spring, like any, has brought with it numerous transitions. As the school year draws to a close, some staff retire or move on to other career opportunities while, at the same time, we begin the process of welcoming new individuals into our District community. For me, I know my time with the District is running short. Which seems strange to even think, as I’ve always considered myself a “long timer,” having spent 17 years now in the SBSD alone! I wanted to take a moment to share a happy transition that has recently happened in my own life. Last week, my daughter Anna and her husband Colden, welcomed their first child, Tate Elodie into the world. I am grateful I had the opportunity to go meet her in person and all are doing well! 

    Please see District updates below.  

    Dates of Note:

    May 19, 7 pm 8th grade Step Up Night at SBHS

    May 20, 6-8 pm, FHTMS 7th and 8th grade social

    May 24, 7 pm FHTMS Chorus Concert

    May 25, 6:30 pm GCS K and 1st grade concert

    May 26, 7-9 pm SBHS Athletic Awards Night

    May 27, 8:45-10 am, RMCS Fun Run

    COVID Update

    I wanted to let you know that due to the continued rise in COVID cases in our community and thus, in our schools, we have been experiencing staff shortages. While a number of our staff have stepped up to fill in wherever needed, some days have presented such challenging circumstances that they have given me pause. Our current plan is to continue with in-person learning and events for the remaining 16 days of this school year. I ask that families, students, and staff continue to exercise universal precautions in order to make sure we can continue with our culminating activities as planned.  

    We encourage all who are eligible to get the COVID 19 vaccine and booster. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ranks Chittenden County's community level of COVID as high. The CDC recommends that individuals living in areas with high community levels take the following steps to protect themselves:

    This week, it was announced too, that the Federal government has opened up a third round of ordering for free antigen tests. You can order them via the USPS website.  You can also request them from your school. If you or your student(s) have any illness symptoms, please stay home and use two antigen tests, at least 24 hours apart. If the first antigen test is negative, use the second at least 24 hours later. If they are both negative, and you still have concerns, get a LAMP or a PCR test. Or, use one LAMP test instead of antigen tests. FREE LAMP, antigen, and PCR tests are available from the Health Department at a number of state run testing sites ro the moment but will be phased out this month and next. If you have symptoms within 90 days of being infected with COVID, you can still test with antigen tests (not LAMP or PCR). Please check the District’s COVID dashboard often to help make personal decisions around testing, masking and attendance at school.

    In addition, effective May 18, the state has ceased updating their daily COVID dashboard and instead shifted to a weekly report. You can find the May 18 COVID surveillance report here. If you are looking for additional information, VT Digger will continue to provide information on their own dashboard and a weekly summary of the report noted above. 

    Enrollment Committee Update

    The enrollment committee, made up of a dedicated team of volunteers including community members, parents, and staff, has been hard at work, meeting nearly weekly for the past several months. They, along with assistance from Dore and Whittier Architects, have been working to determine short, medium, and long term solutions to our enrollment crunch at two of our elementary schools. The group initially evaluated eight options including their associated costs and have now narrowed these options down. A working subgroup of the committee will meet next Tuesday to further refine these options prior to making a presentation to the school board. Soon thereafter, I will hold one of my Q and A sessions focused on this topic. Stay tuned! 

    The City of SB Needs YOU for Volunteer Committees

    Looking for a great way to get involved with the SB community? Apply to be on one of the city’s committees, boards, or commissions. From Recreation and Parks to Affordable Housing, check out the offerings and apply by May 26th! Want to know more before applying? Attend a virtual or in-person meeting today!  Find the Weekly warning list here.

    May is Mental Health Awareness Month

    In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, the Vermont Department of Mental Health has been creating a  series of weekly newsletters. This week’s Mental Health Awareness Month newsletter can be found here. In addition, next week, the UVM Health Network will be hosting a Facebook Live on the state of Mental Health May 25 from 7:00-7:30 pm. Aron Steward, PhD, Chief of Psychology at The University of Vermont Health Network - Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital will be discussing the general state of mental health today and leading participants through a group mental health exercise. 

    School Happenings

    SBHS Students Garner Awards at UVM Math Contest!

    On May 17, the UVM Math Contest Awards Ceremony was held in person for the first time since 2019. The Vermont High School Prize Examination in Mathematics, informally known as the UVM Math Contest, has been held annually since 1958 and is believed to be the longest continuously running high school mathematics contest of its kind in the United States. The competition is open to all secondary students in Vermont (students who have not yet graduated from high school). Prizes are awarded each year to the top eight students in the state and to the top two students in each of four regions of the state. Certificates are awarded to all students who place in the top ten percent statewide, and to the student who submits the best paper in each school. The winners from South Burlington High School were Region 1 tied for first prize Kenny Chamberlain, overall state winners included 1st prize YuYang Zhang, 2nd prize Sriram Sethuraman and 5th prize Saksham Bhardwaj. 

    Presidential Scholars Announced

    In addition, on May 12, the 58th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars were announced by the U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Cardona recognized 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields. Two students from Vermont were honored and we are so proud of SBHS Senior Sriram Sethuraman! 

    FHTMS 8th Graders Create Graphics on the Food Industry as part of Nonfiction Reading Unit

    Teacher Liz Siddle let me know that 8th graders on the Why Not? and Discovery teams recently completed a nonfiction reading unit. Students read the book “Foodprints: The Story of What We Eat” by Paula Ayers about the food industry and how changes in the production of food has changed and impacted our society. Students created a variety of graphic and video projects such as infographics, PSAs, VLOGs, and comics. In the end, both teams hosted an informational Food Fair and invited 6th graders to join them in the library. The culminating event in the library had the true spirit of peer leadership and collaboration. 

    FHTMS QSA Students to Meet with SB Rep John Killacky

    The QSA recently reached out to Representative John Killacky and he extended an invitation to QSA students to come to the Capitol in Montpelier and to visit his farm on June 2nd to gather with other OUT Vermont Legislators to embrace our LBGTQ youth.  QSA co-advisor Penny Pizer wrote that, “We will speak on important topics and learn about what we can be doing to advocate for ourselves and others throughout the country.”  If there are other adults or students interested in attending, please reach out to Co-QSA Advisors Penny Pizer and Scott Carlson. Emails are ppizer@sbschools.net and scarlson@sbschools.net.

    RMCS Students Learn about and Make their own Fossils

    Danielle Vincent’s 3rd graders are in the middle of their Life Science unit. Recently, students learned about the different types of fossils and the ways they are formed. After listening to "Fossils Tell Of Long Ago" by Aliki, students created fossils from items found on their playground and discussed what these fossils tell us about our ecosystem here at RMCS.

    In other experiential learning, Kindergarteners in Deb Alberghini-Miller and Brigid Kulhowvick’s classes have been having fun making fairy houses during their STEAM (science technology engineering arts and mathematics) time. The kindergarteners built their fairy houses outside of their classroom in the school’s garden area using natural items such as small sticks, tree bark, dried flowers, rocks, and grass to construct their houses. The kindergartners had a choice to work alone or with friends to build their fairy houses, which then became inspiration for some writing! 

    GCS 5th Graders Work on Civil War Battle Projects

    Students in 5th grade have been learning about the American Civil War. They traveled to the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh to learn about Vermont's role in the Underground Railroad. They learned about the stories of freedom seekers Simon and Jesse, as well as the abolitionist Robinson family that lived in what is now the Rokeby Museum.In small groups, they picked a battle to research and created a final poster project with facts, maps, routes and other information. 

    Orchard School Hosts Artist in Residence Master Yordan

    Master Lenny Yordan of Yordan's Black Belt Academy became Orchard’s Artist in Residence beginning this week and will continue next week as well. He has been spending time with students in every grade daily and the residency will conclude with a performance. Of his work with students, Master Yordan notes: "[this program] brings students a sense of honesty, integrity, spirit and motion-- it is a safe, holistic approach to build body awareness and confidence. People who stick with martial arts in this approach show more confidence and build that 'I-can' attitude." He also notes that this is not an aggressive program, "it's never a me-vs-them.” Orchard is proud to sponsor and support this program that helps each student work their body to its individual ability. See  some photos from week one on Orchard School's Instagram!

    Despite how today might feel, the humidity is set to return this weekend. Stay cool and thanks for reading,

    David