When Basketball Is More Than Just a Game: BFA Celebrates 3rd Annual “Play 4 Kay” Pink Game


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Target 4 – Engaged Community Partners. FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state, and global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step - Plan and manage instruction around problems relevant to students and their community and develop solutions for authentic audiences.

Indicator of Success – Students challenge convention and make contributions in their community, state, and world.


Last night at BFA Fairfax, the girls basketball game between Richford and BFA became more than just a game. For a 3rd consecutive year, the BFA Fairfax and Richford High School girls’ basketball and cheerleading teams joined the nationwide effort to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. The game itself was officially part of the Play 4Kay games (formerly Pink Zone Games), and the score was recorded, but the moment was about more than basketball. It was about two communities coming together to raise awareness for an issue touching so many lives. 

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There was a packed crowd at the Richard Brown Gymnasium. Fans were encouraged to wear pink to the game, with pink bead necklaces and ribbons being sold before and at the event. A bake sale and ticket sales were also part of the fundraising effort.


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All of the proceeds from the game were donated to the  University of Vermont Cancer Center. This community service event demonstrates the athletes’ commitment to finding an answer in the fight against women’s cancers through raising money for scientific research, assisting the underserved, and unifying people for a common cause locally. 


The game itself has become a large part of the girls basketball season for both BFA and Richford. Last night’s contest was an excellent example of athletic ability, sportsmanship and teamwork by all who participated. The JV game that occurred first was hard fought and exciting. The BFA Cheerleading Squad and the Richford Dance Squad both put on great exhibitions at halftime and between games. The varsity game that ended the night punctuated the importance of the event with an exciting game played end to end!

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We are extremely proud of our students for making the pink game more than just a game. Hopefully next year’s event will be even bigger and better! Beyond that we hope the message of raising awareness and giving back to our community continues to resonate in meaningful ways for all of our students.

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Local iPad Artist Corliss Blakely Inspires GEMS Students!

Target 1 – Student-Centered Learning. FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step - Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will create personalized learning networks to communicate and collaborate with others.

corliss blakely

Last month, local artist and iPad art expert Corliss Blakely of St. Albans worked with GEMS middle grade students to teach them how to use two excellent art applications.

Students began working with the Art Studio app to create a multi-layered fish tank.

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awesome fish

Next, the students celebrated the first snow day of the year by creating a snowman scene with the app Procreate. They were able to use layers in the app to work on each part of their painting.

Students use layers to work on each part of their painting.  Student Artist: Brooke F


Many students took off with this new learning and created their own art pieces. The 8th grade students were particularly inspired by the flexibility of the iPad art apps that they went right to work!

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We are so thankful to have such a talented and knowledgeable artist so close to home. Thanks Corliss for showing students how to create digital works of art using these wonderful applications.

BFA Culinary II Class Develops Awareness of Hunger in Vermont

Target 2 – Leadership in a Student Centered Learning Environment. FWSU will foster development of teacher & student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step – Provide multiple avenues for students and staff to lead, advocate, and serve within the school and community.

Indicator of Success – Teachers embrace role of coach, facilitator and co-learner in a student-centered learning environment.

Recently BFA Culinary II students, along with learning more advanced cooking techniques, are also learning about hunger in Vermont.  Statistics on hunger include that 1 out 5 Franklin County children are living in a food insecure home. 7,500 (6%) of Vermont seniors are food insecure and household food insecurity has increased by over 45% since 2000 according to hungerfreevt.org. The students learned about different food programs including the Fairfax Food Shelf, Meals on Wheels, and community-sponsored meals. Class Speakers included Liz Griffin sharing the mission of the Fairfax Food Shelf and Sharon Caruso-Randall providing information on the Meals on Wheels program.

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After hearing from Ms. Caruso-Randall that many of the 22 Franklin County clients are socially isolated, the students baked pumpkin breads and wrote personal notes for these individuals in need.

On a field trip to the Fairfax Food Shelf, the students learned that many clients struggle to prepare healthy and appetizing recipes using the food shelf staples. Mrs. O’Brien and the students developed a service learning project to create mini-cookbooks focusing on the various common issues including finding recipes for diabetic clients and finding appetizing recipes using dry beans and rice (highly nutritious but not as favored by clients).

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With the class’s 3rd Annual “Soups On” sale proceeds, the students raised $112.00 which was split between the Fairfax Food Shelf and Champlain Valley Agency on Aging’s Franklin County Meals on Wheels program.

In a recent thank you note from Liz Griffin, she states, ” While your financial support, the gift of the Thanksgiving meal, and your “cookbook” and visit are all important and certainly helpful to the operation of the food shelf, what is most important is that you are developing an awareness of food and hunger issues not only in our community, but also in our world. And surely, what you have done, and what you have learned will make you citizens who are more engaged in the world. ”

Powerful food for thought!


Engineering Science in Fletcher

Target 1. Student Centered Learning – FWSU students will engage in personalized learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step - Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicators of Success - Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

In June 2013, the Vermont Department of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, commonly referred to as NGSS. Last year, teachers throughout Vermont familiarized themselves with the NGSS, which now represent the foundation of all science instruction in the state and beyond. Designed collaboratively by representatives from 26 states and a team of 42 writers, the NGSS have been adopted by a dozen states and the District of Columbia.


Prior to the NGSS, Vermont teachers used the Grade Expectations for Vermont’s Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities to guide science instruction and as the basis on which student assessments were created. With the transition to NGSS, student assessments will also change from the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, commonly referred to as SBAC. The SBAC assessments are completed online and require students and schools to be prepared with the skills and technology to be successful with this new testing format.

The transition from our State Standards to the NGSS represents several cultural shifts including a substantially increased interconnectedness between science and other subjects and concepts such as technology, engineering, mathematics, reading, writing, critical thinking and more. Previous standards have been less clear about the importance of this integration and helping students realize the relationships between subjects. Additionally, the NGSS aims to create a strong connection between science instruction and the real world. The NGSS also strongly emphasize engineering skills across grade levels and throughout content areas.


The NGSS are a set of standards and skills that children need to know and be able to do by the time they complete a particular grade level. They are not a curriculum. It is the job of skilled and trained teachers to design curriculum and instruction that supports students in their quest to achieve the rigorous NGSS and develop a love of science inquiry. In Fletcher, teachers have designed both curriculum maps and calendars that guide their implementation of the new standards at each grade level and inform families of the rigorous work happening in classrooms. These grade level documents are available on the Fletcher School website by clicking here.

The NGSS emphasize science as a coherent K-12 subject. While students learn varied content and details from year to year, they frequently revisit and build upon previous concepts in order to complete a progression that, by the end of high school, provides the overarching skills and knowledge to process complex material, gain an overall understanding of scientific literacy and apply content learning to real life.

unnamedEngineering and technology are receiving a new level of attention in the NGSS. The Engineering Design Process supports students in identifying and researching a real-life problem, brainstorming solutions, choosing and testing a model or prototype, communicating a solution and redesigning as necessary. Technology resources allow students to research and interact with global resources in countless new and exciting ways.

“Science and engineering are needed to address major world challenges such as generating sufficient clean energy, preventing and treating diseases, maintaining supplies of food and clean water, and solving the problems of global environmental change that confront society today. These important challenges will motivate many students to continue or initiate their study of science and engineering,” the NGSS authors wrote.

Vermont’s adoption of the NGSS also aligns with the ongoing implementation of the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English Language Arts, providing opportunities for students and teachers to integrate and develop comprehensive learning across content areas.

Fletcher teachers continue to dedicate professional development time to the use of the NGSS. Most recently, Teacher Leader Denette Locke facilitated staff meetings that helped teachers understand the links between science and the other various content areas.


“The idea is integration,” Locke said. “Math class should not just be 10:00 to 11:00. Students have a natural curiosity that blends subjects and that curiosity is just naturally there. We’re really teaching everything all day long and kids love that.”

IVECA Global Learning Opportunity a Success at GEMS!

Target 3 – Flexible Learning Environments. FWSU will maximize flexible learning environments by redefining the school day, promoting learning experiences that extend beyond the school classroom, and fostering creativity, innovation, and differentiated learning opportunities for all.

Action Step – Increase access to resources for all students using digital tools making learning more accessible for diverse learners.

Indicator of Success - Staff, students and community embrace the digital, social, mobile and “always on” learning styles of 21st century students.


Students in Mr. Mahoney’s seventh grade have enjoyed participating in the IVECA program, which promotes global learning and intercultural competence based on the FWSU Action Plan. The GEMS seventh graders were matched with a class in South Korea. Students were paired with others in their partner class in South Korea. The last few months involved spending class time corresponding with their partner, and sharing about American and Korean cultures and traditions. The class recently celebrated a culminating event where both groups communicated with eachother using Skype. The students enjoyed seeing their partner student virtually.

Here are some of our student’s reflections:

I enjoyed learning about Korean culture. I also enjoyed learning about your everyday life. Goodbye and I hope to try this another time.  — Kameron

IVECA was pretty fun to do and I hope I can do it again. I enjoyed talking to my partner and all people in the IVECA class. I have learned that people in South Korea are not that different from people in America. IVECA has made my Thursdays more fun. I want to learn more about your music and food, the two things the two things I’m obsessed with. I want to say that I had a good time talking with my partner. Hopefully in the next 30 years I’ll have job being a teacher, and a family.  — Jordyn

I’ve really enjoyed doing IVECA this trimester. I have enjoyed learning about The Korean Cultures, and learning what you guys do in your free time. I would like to learn more about the Korean culture. I really liked IVECA. In 30 years I will probably be playing League of Legends professionally. Goodbye.  — Jacob


I have enjoyed IVECA a lot because I got meet new people and I got to learn about another culture. IVCEA has done so much for me because if I do a project on Korea it will be very easy. IVECA was amazing and I hope I can do it again. Thank you IVCEA friends! Now to my partner Dahee, It was amazing talking to you and I am glad I have a new friend. You helped me learn so much about Korea and your daily life and so I wanted to thank you. It was amazing meeting you and I hope we can talk again soon. — Samantha

While many elementary classrooms have already participated in IVECA, this was the first Georgia Middle School class to be involved. Thanks to the great leadership of Dayle Payne (GEMS Technology Integrationist) and Angelique Fairbrother (FWSU Digital Learning Specialist), this global learning opportunity was a huge success!

BFA Middle School Students Partner with King Arthur Flour to “Bake for Good”

Target 1 – Student-Centered Learning. FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will participate in a global dialogue to engage in authentic investigation and problem solving with partners located outside of their school community.

KAF logoWednesday morning all middle school students participated in the King Arthur Flour “Bake for Good: Kids Learn Bake Share Program.” Students learned that math, science, reading, and baking know-how add up to delicious bread!


Students were guided through the process of making bread dough. They learned about the life skills associated with the process, including the math and science of bread-baking.

Each student went home with two bags of King Arthur flour, a Bake for Good recipe booklet, Red Star yeast, a dough scraper, a bread donation bag and twist tie, and bread baking skills. Over the weekend students and family members will bake two loaves of bread and return to school with one loaf that will be donated to areas food charities.


To learn more about Bake For Good: Kids Learn Bake Share, please visit the website at kingarthurflour.com.

GEMS Students Learn the Art of Rangoli

Target 4: Engaged Community Partners. Students will collaborate, innovate, create and conceptualize ideas and learning with global partners to make a difference in their community, state, and world.

Action Step: Students Engaged with community partners in a focused collaborative inquiry process.

Indicator of Success – Collaborative student projects/partnerships become part of the fabric of the broader community.

2nd grade dying rice

Georgia Elementary School and art teacher Dorsey Hogg welcomed artist Gowri Savoor for a 4 day residency. She taught us about the ephemeral art of rangoli from India.  Large circular designs are created in colored sand or chalk outside of homes to celebrate a variety of festivals and celebrations. The art is temporary and washes or blows away over time.  The creative expression is through the bright colors and process of laying out the shapes and sharing with friends and family.

2nd grade tiles

She worked with 2nd through 4th graders to create large rangoli designs. The 2nd graders dyed rice and glued the rice onto tiles to create a permanent group rangoli that will be completed soon and displayed at the Vermont State House for Youth Art Month in March. The 3rd and 4th graders worked together to create 3 temporary rangolis that were each swept away for the rice to be reused or composted. The students experienced working together in a mindful and respectful way to lay down the loose rice. They learned that the beauty and significance of art doesn’t always have to be permanent.

3rd and 4th grade rangoli

Gowri’s personal art focuses on geometry and the environment. She shared with the Georgia students her own work with natural materials and shapes in nature. She taught the students about focus and being mindful through making art.