About Franklin West SU

School District in Fairfax, Fletcher, Georgia, VT. Apple Distinguished Program. League of Innovative Schools. "A belief in what is possible."

Congratulations 2017 BFA Fairfax Graduates!



“There’s a lot of important lessons that you learn in high school. However, the lessons that I may have learned may not be the same as my classmates. All of our experiences were different in high school. There were highs and lows for every single one of us. But I hope that you will look back on these days as some of the best of your life.” – Jake Hakey, President of the Class of 2017



“We will have to face our fears of the unknown, our fears of failure, and our fears of the future. So how do we overcome these fears? Trust yourself and the process. Know that your experiences have shaped you into the person that you are today and that you have the talents, capabilities, and skills to achieve your goals as long as you put in the effort and hard work.” – Rebekah Larose, Salutatorian



“Never be afraid to take time to yourself.  Practice self-care every day, whether that be by drinking a cup of tea, or getting eight hours of sleep.  You are the most important person in your life.  Give yourself the care you deserve.”  Sophie Lee, Valedictorian



“For the first time, the structure and protections we have experienced as children and young adults will no longer be there to shield us from our mistakes and the variables of life. From this moment forward, we are truly exposed to the world, free to make our own decisions and experience new life.” – Julia Stergas, Class of 2017




“I believe that they have fulfilled our vision. BFA Fairfax graduates have the knowledge, skills, and experiences to make the best choices for themselves, their profession, and their community. All that they need now is to take that leap of faith into their future.” – John Tague, High School Principal




“Congratulations to the graduating Class of 2017. What a wonderful group of students!” – Ned Kirsch, FWSU Superintendent






Congratulations, graduates! We are so proud of your accomplishments!

FWSU Students Seek Answers Using GPS Technology


As a culminating event to an orienteering unit, first-graders took their learning outside with GPS units. Under the guidance of fifth-grade student leaders, the first graders learned how to program and navigate with the GPS units.

Global Positioning System (GPS) is a technology that is obviously embedded in our students’ everyday lives. This technology can help students explore real-world problems in an interdisciplinary and engaging way. When you combine this technology, with gamification, you get geocaching. Geocaching is an activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates.

To prepare for the navigation activity, the fifth-grade student leaders set up a geocaching course for the first graders. During the outdoor activity, students work in groups and used GPS units to locate various waypoints in the schoolyard at BFA that were hidden but the fifth-grade leaders to gather puzzle pieces.


First-graders persevered as teams to navigate and seek the geocaches using their problem-solving skills to reach their goal of finding the hidden caches. Each team member took turns in different roles as they helped contribute to their teams.


After successfully finding all 25 geocaches, the first-grade team returned to their classes and used the puzzle pieces they had gathered to completed the final stage of the challenge, making a final map.


A special thanks to the hardworking fifth-grade student leaders who made this all possible. Their leadership with the lower grades students was a valuable lesson for all.


BFA Fairfax Class of 2017 Enjoys Graduation Tradition

As the school year comes to a close, BFA has many traditions that lead to the final ceremony: graduation. One such tradition is the Senior Class Trip. Members of BFA’s Class of 2017 embarked on a journey earlier this week to enjoy some time together in a relaxed atmosphere filled with sunshine, food, and activity.


The seniors chose to spend the day at Sugar Ridge Campground in Danville, Vermont. They boarded the bus at 9:00 AM and by 11:00 AM, were lounging in and around one of the two pools at the RV resort. In addition to the pool, students played “cornhole”, volleyball, and basketball throughout the day. Students challenged each other on the 18-hole miniature golf course.


“I loved the pool, the food, the whole thing…maybe there was a little too much sun!” -Tanner N, Class of 2017


The students ate lunch, dinner, and snacks thanks to the catering efforts of their class advisors and chaperones Judy Stewart, Ian Meunier, Amy Racicot, and Sarah Coon. Sandwich platters, chips, fruits, and veggies were the lunch offerings followed by a barbecue for dinner. Due to the beautiful hot day, water and sports drinks were consumed in great quantities all day long.


After a day of abundant sunshine and sunscreen (and a little sunburn), the students boarded the bus for the trip back to Fairfax having spent one last day bonding and enjoying a BFA graduation tradition.

“It was a great time. I would recommend it for next year’s class” -Hayden M, Class of 2017

Appreciating our School Administrative Support Staff

The end of the year is right around the corner and soon the hustle and bustle of our hallways and classrooms will be quiet. Throughout the year we rely on our bus drivers to pick up and drop off our students safely – thank you. We rely on our maintenance and custodial staff to keeps our schools clean – thank you. We rely on our para-educators to support our students in the classroom – thank you. We rely on our nurses to keep us all safe and healthy – thank you. We rely on our teachers to deliver a world class education – thank you. And we rely on our administrators to make sure our schools are nothing less than awesome – thank you.

But in today’s’ story, I want to shine the spotlight and thank our building office professionals who are the first faces of our schools.

IMG_3881They serve a multitude of roles and frankly our schools could not run efficiently without them. They keep track of all the details from scheduling the principal to managing parking spaces.


They take every phone call and help deliver “forgotten” lunch boxes and musical instruments. They organize school mailings and make sure all of the student data is up to date and correct.


They organize graduation and make sure every transcript and reference letter is delivered to the right college. They know all of our students and families. They find lost clothing and sometimes offer first aid.

All in all, they always make sure that everything in the school is just right. And we know that our schools could not do it all without each of you – thank you, Carol, Jen, Val, Sally, Corrina, Rhonda, Aleta, and Sharon!


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Ned Kirsch is Superintendent of Schools at FWSU. He is a constant contributor to The FWSU Story. You can follow him on Twitter @betaVT

Community Day Teaches Fletcher Students Lessons Beyond the Classroom

Fourth through sixth-grade students at the Fletcher Elementary school are lending a helping hand to some very unfortunate four-legged friends, and they’re learning a lot about supporting their community in the process.


Fifth and sixth-grade classes at the school have been working with the Hulbert Outdoor Center, an organization based in Fairlee that works with students to promote leadership and community involvement, as well as providing a way for students to give back. Members of the group have visited the school and the collaboration culminated in a community day at the school on June 2.

In May, students spent time in the classroom deciding on a non-profit community group they wanted to support. Their search for a cause led them to the Franklin County Animal Rescue, which is currently closed to the public due to financial difficulties but hoping to reopen soon.

Leading up to the community day event, students facilitated a school-wide competition to see which class could collect the most dog and cat treats, as well as materials to make animal beds and toys. Collectively, they gathered over 1,200 items. During community day, the fifth and sixth graders worked with their younger fourth-grade peers to use the collected materials to make a variety of dog- and cat-friendly items including beds and catnip toys. Their creations will be donated to the Franklin County Animal Rescue.

“The students are very passionate about animals and they wanted to help a community group that was struggling,” fifth-grade teacher Cassie Underwood said. “They knew that the animal rescue was shutting down temporarily, but hoping to reopen.”


Students also raised $500 to donate to the Franklin County Animal Rescue, and their donation was complemented by an additional $250 donation from the Hulbert Outdoor Center.

“It’s really nice to know that you are doing something for a real purpose,” fifth-grader Isaiah Burns said. “It felt great to stay focused on making the community a better place and to help us as students grow as people.”

“These kinds of projects are important because the fifth and sixth graders act as role models for the younger kids,” sixth-grader Jasmine Duncan said. “We can teach them to take care of their community so that when they are older they can step up and do a lot of good, too.”

“It gives them a place and a way to give back,” Underwood said. “It allows them to actually make a difference and demonstrate leadership skills.”

According to Nicholas Wood, Program Coordinator for the Hulbert Outdoor Center, “Projects like this are important for numerous reasons. Most importantly, it actively shows that students, who often feel powerless when it comes to making a difference in an adult world, that through their time and talents, they can make a difference. They can see a difference in their community following their projects.”


Of the Fletcher students, Wood noted their caring and creative spirit.

“The fact that students were able to gather over 1,000 items to convert into animal toys and beds in a mere four days was substantial,” Wood said. “The animal shelter is a great starting point when we think about ways to give back to the community and make a difference.”

“We learned a lot about helping others and what it means to be part of a community,” fifth-grader Maggie Nadeau said. “When you help out your community you get to know each other more and if something happens to you maybe they will have your back.”

“We got a lot done in a little amount of time,” fifth-grader Jack Tinker said. “Everyone worked together to do their job and in the end that made us stronger and the community stronger.”

“We are so very grateful for this outpouring of support,” Franklin County Animal Rescue Resource Committee Chairman Lydia Strider said. “Not only is this truly humbling for us but a great opportunity for us to help shape students into kind young adults.”


Strider emphasized that having students contribute to the shelter – both by donating funds and physical items – is a great opportunity for the children to learn the value of a dollar and how extensively their contributions can support the animals.

“There are so many wonderful non-profits and getting students involved with them early teaches kids how to remain active contributors in their community as they grow older,” Strider said.

“Before we left the school on Friday, one of the questions that students were answering was about what they can take away from this experience,” Wood said. “One student mentioned that is we could do all this for dogs and cats, imagine what we could accomplish for homeless and other people suffering. It was a touching thought from our perspective, a reaffirming prospect that students had those thoughts walking away.”

“Helping the animal rescue was an opportunity,” Burns said. “It taught me to continue to look for opportunities. I think there are ways to help people and animals that are all around us and we don’t usually see them or pay attention. We are changing that.”

GEMS 2nd Graders Study Irrigation Systems

Second graders have been engineering irrigation systems as they study the importance of farming in our state.


Gaining an understanding of the necessity of water and why farmers need irrigation systems to support Vermont crops was the underlying theme throughout the past weeks.


Imagining, preparing, planning, and constructing were the initial steps to support the local crops and then came testing and improving to help create the most efficient system.


Tests conducted measured the amount of water dispersed, in square inches, on a large paper grid as modifications and adaptations were considered.


Closing circle and discussion had students using words such as erosion, drought, flooding, sediment, and absorption.  One student even implemented their weekly “wow” word as she said, ” I was mesmerized” — referring to the sprinkler head as it rotated in a circular motion.


Students looked at the perimeter and total area of their crop and determined if their irrigation system was supplying a sufficient amount of water to their entire crop.


Engaged, thoughtful, learning by ALL!