About Franklin West SU

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

The Show Must Go On!


Music and the arts are an essential part of life and who we are as a BFA Fairfax community.  This month, I asked Mr. Wallace and Ms. Maynard to share some thoughts on our music program this year. I hope you will join me in thanking them (and all of our music and choral students!) for their adaptability, and for their willingness and dedication to keep music in all of our lives.

This year has seen the BFA Band program doing its utmost to be flexible and adaptive while still providing our young musicians with fun, engaging, and challenging rehearsals, working on repertoire ranging from Wind Ensemble standards to cool Bossa Novas, Frere Jacques to Star Wars, and all points between and beyond!  Thanks to the support and accommodation of our admin team, the parents of band students, and our colleagues in other subject areas, we’ve been able to roll with the many different punches this year has thrown at us, developing myriad new schedules and finding as many ways to rehearse as possible.  Most impressive throughout this process has been the way our students have continually stepped up and put in the effort they needed to, whether on Zoom, before school, or in their own practice time; without their effort, we wouldn’t have been able to find anything like the success we’ve achieved.

With all that said, the BIG NEWS, as many of you have likely heard, is that this month we’ve begun working in more and more in-person rehearsing!  While taking all the necessary precautions to do so safely, we’ve been able to get nearly all of our instrumentalists back in the band room for at least one sectional.  I can’t begin to express the joy and relief I’ve felt in finally having students making music TOGETHER, the way it’s meant to be made…and what’s even more rewarding is seeing the obvious joy our young musicians are feeling!

Looking ahead, we’re exploring options for our end of the year concert; the hope is that we might just be able to get the whole band back together for an outdoor, in-person recording session to craft a video performance for the Spring Concert (scheduled for June 3rd).  Unfortunately, the concert itself will likely have no in-person audience, but we’re extremely excited to be working with BFA Chorus program to do something a little different for this show.  Without giving away too much, I’ll just say that we’re entitling it, “BFA Music presents…A Night Among the Stars.” – Mr. Wallace

Ms. Maynard shares the following about Chorus:

As I think about our BFA Chorus students this year, a particular memory comes to mind.  One morning, at the beginning of chorus rehearsal, one of our singers wrote a quote on the board that has become our mantra:  “We’ll make it work…we always do!”  This statement embodies the attitude and perseverance of our music students this year.  Whatever has been thrown at them, whether it was singing outside while snowing, humming our parts when inside the building, playing choir chimes and Boomwhackers, or spending tons of time tapping out sight reading rhythms with drumsticks, chorus members have kept the music going.  Singers have continued to participate in “normal” activities such as auditioning for All State, even when we’re not sure what being selected will look like.  They have been very good at keeping the focus on what we can do and what the future can hold for us.

As you may know, we recently were given permission to sing inside the building with safety precautions.  The singers were so thrilled on the first day that we were able to sing together again (with lyrics and not humming) that they laughed and literally jumped up and down for joy. It was a moment that I will always carry in my heart as a reminder to never take for granted what means the most to us.  

We have been spending our time learning new pieces for our upcoming concert which will definitely be a “star-studded” event. In addition to our concert pieces, we’ve been working on a piece from the musical, “Dear Evan Hansen”.  We’ve got folk songs, a song from a movie, and even a Hall and Oates tune.  Not all of it will make the concert but we are having a blast, even taking student requests to pull pieces from past years to JUST SING!

I am so proud of our music students, the music department, our administration and classroom teachers for their flexibility and positive attitudes.  They have helped make this challenging year a year of growth and positive experiences.

We look forward to our upcoming concert on June 3rd.  Stay tuned for more information!

As the old saying goes, “If you can talk, you can sing; if you can walk, you can dance.” I am so grateful for all of our musicians for just rolling with it this year and continuing to make music.  And thank you to our music staff for continuing to support our musicians and singers to find joy and make music despite all of the tribulations of this year. And, I look forward to our upcoming performances!

…and speaking of performing arts, please remember that this weekend is the premier Help Desk!

Please read this note from the directing team of Help Desk:

We are so excited to perform our newest (virtually) LIVE show, Help Desk, this Friday and Saturday. Our cast is excited and READY! We are hoping for great audiences so we hope you are spreading the word to friends and family!

Show Times: Friday 7:00pm and Saturday 2:00pm and 7:00pm

Please visit the BFA Dramatic Arts Ensemble website to access all the Zoom webinar links to our show. 

The show is entirely free. If you feel inclined to donate, visit our Donations page and support one of the theater organizations there. The pandemic has been hard on live theater and many could use your support.  

While you are looking around our website, be sure to visit the Virtual Performance page to meet our cast members as well as the (More) Sponsors page to see the many businesses supporting our productions. 


I hope you will enjoy our performances and please have a restful and recharging April Break!

Justin Brown is the Principal at BFA Fairfax Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jbrownenator.

Other duties as needed…


The job description for principals includes many of the tasks you would expect-supervise teachers, manage the budget, maintain student discipline- but, like every other job description, it includes “other duties as needed”. In a typical year, these “other duties as needed” might include supervising a school dance, cleaning up a hallway mess, or substituting for a teacher in an emergency. This year, two new “other duties as needed” have emerged: public health official and lunch delivery person. Both are necessary and important as we navigate through the school year in an effort to keep students and staff healthy and in school. To clarify, here are additional details to add to the principal’s job description.

Public Health Official:

Since the school closing last March, principals have worked with school nurses to better understand the health implications of the COVID-19 virus. As we planned for the return of students in the fall, we collaborated with them to make sure that our spaces were set up to allow for appropriate spacing between students, planned entry procedures (drop off and pick up routines, temperature checks), and worked together with the maintenance staff to ensure sanitation and cleaning products and processes were in place. This work was really just a variation on our regular summer planning to reopen schools. 

It wasn’t until our first positive COVID case was received that we started in the Public Health Official duty. The school nurses typically receive a call from the Department of Health regarding a positive test result. Sometimes the family may inform us directly, but our school nurses are always the first point of contact. They immediately advise the principal of the situation and we begin to work together to determine next steps. We establish when the person was last in the building and compare it to the time when they were contagious. We look at class lists and seating charts to determine who we may need to advise to quarantine. We speak to classroom teachers to determine what activities may have been occurring in the classroom as some activities (like a science lab) might require closer contact for more time. All of this information is shared with the Department of Health and we work to establish a plan. Do we need to quarantine an entire pod of students? Do teachers need to quarantine? Are buses involved? Can we keep school running as normal or do we need to go remote with certain impacted groups due to staffing needs?

Nurses Michelle Sheehan and Amy Black consulting with Principal Tom Walsh

Once we make these decisions, we start to contact families. We divide up the list and make direct calls to every family. We explain the situation, tell them dates for testing and return to school, and answer any questions they may have. Since COVID is unpredictable, we make these calls when we get information. Sometimes that means we are calling on a Saturday night, a Sunday morning, or even 5:30 on a Tuesday morning. We follow up with emails to each impacted family with the details of quarantine and then a general email to our entire school community. Throughout all of the calls we have made, families have been gracious, cooperative, and understanding. Our community knows that we all have to do our part to get through this and return to normal. 

While this duty is a new task for all of us, it has been made so much easier because of our school nurses. They have given up time on their nights and weekends to work through this process with us. Honestly, they do the majority of the work and have established a smooth process to make sure we don’t miss anything. Communicating information to families is not new for principals.  This year, as we work through the health crisis it has become a much more important and essential duty for us all.

Lunch Delivery Person

One of the guidelines for reopening schools was that school cafeterias could not be used as we normally would. We determined that students would eat their lunches in classrooms. This meant we had to figure out how to get meals to students since they were not able to access the cafeteria. We decided that principals would take on the task of delivering food. At first, it might not seem like a good use of a principal’s time, but if you consider that, in the past, we spent some portion of our day supervising the cafeteria, delivering food is not that drastic a shift.

Every day, we load up our delivery carts with (hopefully) the correct number of meals, milks, fruits and other accompanying items. The process became a little more complicated when our foodservice added additional options for students, but we worked through it!

. Mr. Brown’s Food Taxi

We move out and get the food to our students as quickly as possible. We use thermal bags to keep the hot foods hot and the cold food cold (who remembers the McDLT!). After three elevator rides and about 20 minutes, every student who needs lunch has a meal in their hands.

If I’m being honest, I prefer the food delivery option over cafeteria supervision. I get the chance to interact with every classroom and student every day in a pretty relaxed setting. I get feedback on which meals they prefer (no surprise-it’s chicken nuggets and pizza!) and, as a bonus, I get quite a few steps in along the way! 

Satisfied high school food delivery customers!

One thing that is certain about this change is that it could not have been possible without the flexibility of our teachers and staff. They have made adjustments to their day to support the students in their classrooms during what would normally be a short break in their day while students were in the cafeteria. We appreciate our staff for this and the thousands of other duties as needed they have taken on this year!

When we return to school in the fall, these two duties will certainly be reduced or removed, but there will most likely be some new “other duty as needed…” to take its place. Which, of course, is what makes the job of principal interesting, challenging, and exciting!

John Tague is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jtague252

Bulletin Boards Help Tell Our Story


As I walked the hallways of our school the other day, I was noticing and appreciating the quantity and quality of information on display throughout our school. One of the important design features of the elementary school were bulletin boards throughout our hallways. It seems simple, but bulletin boards serve many purposes. I value our staff’s efforts to consistently and effectively use bulletin boards to foster a sense of community, celebrate our students, and communicate about learning.

Our students and staff spend a significant amount of their daily time in our school building. In a sense, our school building is a second home for all of us, and similar to our own homes, is personalized through photos, art work, and family memorabilia. It seems so simple, yet it requires time, effort, and a commitment to enhance our place of learning.

I am keenly aware that our families are not able to enter our school because of the pandemic. Nonetheless, we still hold the belief that bulletin boards foster a sense of belonging in a learning community, they make learning visible by displaying student work, and make our house a home. I value all of our students for the willingness to share their learning with all of us. And a big thank you to our dedicated staff for the extra time they spend making our school an engaging and supportive learning community.

Thomas Walsh is currently the Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

Scott Thompson Named New FWSU Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment


Franklin West Supervisory Union is pleased to announce that Scott Thompson has accepted a position as the new Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment at Franklin West Supervisory Union, effective July 1st 2021. He will replace Linda Keating who is retiring after 6 years at FWSU.

The decision made by the Franklin West Supervisory Union Board of Directors follows a comprehensive search process which began on March 1st 2021.  A search committee was formed of superintendent, principals, content-area specialists/teachers, school board members, and FWSU staff. Following interviews, the committee identified 3 finalists out of a pool of 10 applicants. Scott Thompson was presented by Superintendent Tager to the FWSU Board and they voted unanimously to offer him a contract.

Scott Thompson is currently the Professional Development Coordinator with the Tarrant Institute for Innovation at the University of Vermont where he has served for the past 7 years.  Prior to that, Scott served as Assistant Principal/Principal at Milton Middle and High School for 8 years.  Scott received his Master of Education degree from Saint Michael’s College and completed School Leadership through the Snelling Center for Government: Vermont School Leadership Project. Scott brings over 17 years of experience in education to the FWSU team.

Upon acceptance of the Director of Curriculum position; Scott stated that he is “honored to join the FWSU team.”  The Board is confident that Scott Thompson’s extensive knowledge of curriculum and broad administrator experience make him an excellent fit for this position. We look forward to welcoming him to FWSU in July!

James Tager is the Superintendent at Franklin West Supervisory Union. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jrtager

Fletcher Students Enjoy a Sweet Spring Treat


Thanks to the generosity of several Fletcher maple producers, students at Fletcher Elementary School enjoyed a sweet treat last week. Sugar-on-snow is a Vermont March tradition, often including pickles to cut the sweet taste and raised donuts because, well, why not?

During a maple-themed school-wide event, the celebration began with two students asking maple-related trivia questions to the entire school via the PA system. Each classroom was invited to respond to one question collectively before the answer was shared with the entire school. Following the trivia, a maple-themed celebration of March birthdays was held, including a maple-themed song.

Individual classrooms shared maple-themed stories read aloud. The donated syrup was boiled down for nearly half a day before reaching the required 235 degrees, and was then ladled onto boats of snow collected by students earlier that day. Of course, the pickles and donuts were provided, too.

We would like to thank Genuine Foods for supporting this effort by ordering the pickles and donuts, boiling down the syrup, and putting the yummy goodness all together for us. We would also like to thank the following Fletcher maple producers for their donations of syrup:

Sweet Haven Farm

Shad and Melissa Minor

Marsh Family Maple


Gillilan Family Maple

The school-wide meeting was part of a monthly gathering supported by Fletcher’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) approach.

Christopher Dodge is the Principal of Fletcher Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @FletcherFalcon.

Team Phoenix at GEMS Publish Book Reviews


The team of 5th and 6th grade students participated in a three week enrichment course facilitated by GEMS librarian, Amy Rider, to develop critical reading and writing skills. At the end of the course, students published reviews as well as analyzed data to make book purchase recommendations for new library books.

The course began with students learning about all of the key components of book reviews. Each day, Mrs. Rider read picture books aloud and students discussed the elements in the books. Although often thought of books for younger audiences, these older students were able to do a deep dive into the short stories and illustrations, gaining insight for each of the books’ themes, messages, and audiences.

Next, the students were individually assigned a picture book, and were challenged to write a book review using all the skills they had recently learned. Once written, students were then paired with a student assigned the same book, to compare and contrast reviews with each other. Finally, these student pairs collaborated together using Google Docs on iPads to write a final cohesive review.

You can review the class’s book reviews in GEMS Follett Destiny Catalog (follow the instructions below for access.

  1. Click here
  2. Select Georgia Elementary/Middle School
  3. Click the Catalog tab
  4. Select Resource Lists in the left column
  5. Click ‘View’ next to the top link, 5/6 Reviews

For their final task, the students were then challenged by Mrs. Rider to review several book reviews to make recommendations of books that could be purchased by the GEMS library. Students read and analyzed reviews for over 20 books and submitted their recommendations citing facts and data from the reviews. As a result, Mrs. Rider was able to compile a list of 9 books based on the hard work and feedback of the team. In the future, these books will be purchased and added to the library, available for all GEMS students and staff.

Angelique Fairbrother is the Digital Learning Coach at Franklin West Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her on Twitter @FWSUtech.

A Writer’s Sense of Place


In February, I had the opportunity to join the 3/4 Class at Fletcher Elementary School during I Love to Read and Write Month. As a former classroom teacher and content specialist, it was an absolute delight to engage again with students and their teachers, Mrs. Locke and Mrs. Cardone, in a reading and writing activity that allowed students to make their learning personal. 

I was able to build on the big ideas of the Jump Into Writing Program that our elementary schools are working with this year, by focusing on the Launch Unit take-aways and what writer’s do. 

We started with having the students listen to my read-aloud of the story Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston. I chose the story because it portrays a strong sense of place. Our Fletcher students demonstrate a sense of place, that strong attachment to environment and community, in so much of their learning. It is one of the features that makes Fletcher such a special place to learn.

After listening to the story and engaging in some discussion, students followed steps to write a three line, free-form “place poem” with rich description (a key feature of the story). The purpose of the free-form poem was to tell a personal story of their own sense of place as well as a personal dream, as Amber does in the story.

Here are some of their free-form poems:

In addition, many of the students created watercolors to portray their sense of place. I was thrilled to receive some of these as gifts! I do love I Love to Read and Write Month, and this year’s experience was made especially memorable by these writers at Fletcher Elementary School. 

Linda Keating is the Director of Curriculum,
Instruction and Assessment at Franklin West
Supervisory Union. She is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY.

Despite the Pandemic, Our Kids Are Resilient and Growing!


We have heard it from our state leaders. “Our kids are not OK.”  Let’s be honest, none of us are.  We are all ready to move on. This year has been hard.  That said, it is important to remember that, as Viktor Frankl said:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

While the events of the past year pale in comparison to the lived experience of Dr. Frankl, I have yet to meet anyone who would have chosen the restrictions, guidelines or other challenges that this year has brought to us.  But, when asked to reflect on the past year, a Middle School staff offered, “We have all grown so much as people.” In that vein, I am choosing to focus on some of the ways that our students have (and are) growing and showing their resilience despite (or in spite of!) the pandemic. 

Grade 5:  A Long Walk to Water

BFA MS grade five students virtually hosted author/illustrator Jim Averbeck on March 19. Mr. Averbeck illustrated the pictures for the original A Long Walk to Water, written by Newberry Award winner, Linda Sue Parks. Averbeck discussed his relationship with Linda Sue Parks,  the experiences of Salva Dut, a real life “lost boy of the Sudan”, and water borne pathogens common in Africa. Averbeck shared his stories of living as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon, the symbolism involved in his drawings, and fielded questions from many curious fifth graders.

Averbeck’s visit was the culmination of the novel study in which students explored the themes of survival and perseverance, and identified character traits of the main characters.

In this experience, throughout this year, and across each room, students have become more empathic and compassionate with one another. Students continue to work together with scientists and historians to build collaboration skills and community. Students continue to be curious and questioning about the world around them while maintaining a supportive learning environment.

Grade 6: A Day in the Life

In response to my question “How are students showing us that they are, in fact alright, the 6th grade teachers shared a running observation of observed student behaviors throughout a day :

Students are greeting their teachers upon arrival at school. 

Students are asking their teachers how they are doing. It’s not only teachers doing the asking.

Students are given a structured and predictable day they can count on.

Students are racing out to recess ready for play.

They want to be the first one to grab a sled and get to the sledding hill.

Students are exploring nature. 

Students are swinging to see how high they can go. 

Students are cheering for someone who just scored a touchdown outside at recess. 

Students are setting goals and envisioning their future.

Students are engaged in math games that allow for friendly competition and connections to math concepts. 

Students are jumping out of their seats, barely able to contain themselves because their teacher just asked an intriguing question.

Students are emailing their teachers questions when they are home. 

Students are writing hello and thank you notes to their teachers on their papers. 


Students are whispering YES to themselves after receiving successful feedback on an assessment. 

Students are asking a peer for help on a hard math problem, accepting help, and learning from one another. 

Students are learning to persevere, try, and take risks. 

Students are making a list for themselves and crossing out things to do as their day progresses. 

Students are hurrying over to their teacher to tell them about a new science fact they just learned.

Students are asking for book recommendations.

Students are asking everyday if a book has been returned because they’ve been anxiously waiting to read it. 

Students are celebrating that their picture was a winner in the winter photo contest. 

Students are complimenting each other’s outfits and new hair cuts.

Students are holding the door for their peers. 

Students are wishing each other a Happy Birthday. 

Students are joking with their teachers that they are now taller than their teacher. 

Students are writing inspirational quotes on the cover of their notebook: “Keep Hope Alive.”

Students have multiple adults that care about them each and everyday. 

Students are growing, learning, and laughing.

Grade 7 & 8: Resilience is for real!

In Grades 7 & 8, A notable benefit for many students (and their teachers) has been the smaller class sizes. As eighth Grade Science teacher, Ashley Barnes-Cota explains, this improved ratio allows her to give more one-on-one attention to her students. Eighth grade Math teacher, Dana Hamm notes that the reverse is also true – the smaller ratio makes it easier for students to focus and learn in class. Seventh grade Social Studies teacher, Jen Skerrett’s whole instructional approach has shifted to take advantage of this dynamic. With more opportunities for small group discussions and personalized learning, she explains, “everyone’s voice can be heard.” Seventh grade English teacher, Emily Wills sees this benefit occurring beyond the in-person school days as well. With the hybrid model’s online learning opportunities, some students who might be more shy in the classroom are expressing themselves unreservedly in online work. “I hear they’re thinking now in ways that I otherwise wouldn’t,” Wills explains. 

Alongside these deepened connections with their teachers, students are also experiencing new ways of connecting with each other. Seventh Grade Math teacher, Mr. Bailey notes that students are taking the initiative to lead their peers in group games over Zoom each Wednesday.  Grade eight Social Studies teacher, Ben Psaros adds that on ‘Zoom Wednesdays’ during virtual advisory meetings, kids show up, have fun, discuss work due, ask questions if needed, and keep connected. 

Our eighth grade ELA teacher notes that mask-wearing and hygiene protocols are all second nature to students now. Remote work is getting done, with students even asking for extension activities to fill their time.  Students are learning life skills about coping with adversity, adapting to change, organizing their own routines to be successful, and emailing teachers in a professional way.

Ms. Wilkins speaks for many of us when she says, “I’m very proud of students’ adaptability and resilience.”

In Mr. Bailey’s and Ms. Skerrett’s rooms, the A and B cohorts have taken to leaving fun scavenger hunts in the room for the other group to solve. On top of these creative social dynamics, Seventh grade Science teacher, Michelle Messier has noticed something very significant happening this year; faced with different, smaller groupings during their in-person school days, she has observed many students making lemonade, “building relationships with peers they might not otherwise have connected with.” 

In context of all that we are, and have been going through, a frame that I think of is that of a chrysalis. I think of the transformation of caterpillars into butterflies. To make this transformation, caterpillars isolate themselves in a chrysalis. I sincerely doubt that what happens in the chrysalis is a painless process as the transformation is taking place. But what emerges is beautiful and moves through the world differently than before. 

While the events of the past year are none that any of us would have chosen, every day I continue to admire the resilience, compassion and care that students show during these challenging times. We are seeing a grace, support and understanding that speaks to a growth and positive transformation in how we work together amidst (or perhaps despite) difficult circumstances that will serve all of our students (and perhaps all of us) well into the future as we re-emerge and learn to move through the world in ways different, and hopefully better, than before.

Justin Brown is the Principal at BFA Fairfax Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jbrownenator.

Vermont Schools Receive the Green Light For Spring Sports


On Tuesday, March 23, the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) and Vermont Principals Association (VPA) released their formal guidelines for spring sports. With the beautiful weather we’ve experienced this week, it was welcome news for BFA Fairfax student-athletes. The information is even more meaningful as our spring student-athletes have not been able to play their respective sports since the end of the 2019 school year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 spring season was cancelled. 

The State of Vermont, and specifically our BFA Fairfax community, have done an outstanding job keeping our students safe and accessing in-person learning.  Accompanying our ability to learn in person has been the opportunity to take part in co-curricular sports and activities.  We have come a long way since the beginning of the school year last September. Safety protocols have become second nature, we know so much more about the virus and how it spreads, and we are on the verge of all Vermonters aged sixteen and older having access to vaccinations. These variables all contribute to the ability to hold a spring athletic season that will look the most “normal” of any season yet this school year. 

Per the AOE and VPA release, school-based spring sports may begin practices as of Monday, April 5 (with the traditional exception for baseball pitchers and catchers who may begin skill specific training as of Monday, March 29). Games and events may begin on April 17. Just as in the fall and winter seasons, student-athletes, coaches, officials, game personnel, and spectators will be required to wear masks at all times, pass a health check prior to attending practices or events, and teams will be expected to stay physically distanced when not actively practicing or playing. As with the fall and winter seasons, all state guidelines for travel, quarantine and testing remain in place.  

BFA Fairfax’s faithful fan base will be pleased to know that at Vermont’s school-based spring sports that are played outside, spectators will once again be allowed with strict guidelines in place of mandatory masks and physical distancing.  The maximum number of attendees allowed at events is determined by state guidelines, which currently limit group size to 150. 

BFA Fairfax High School teams will begin on April 5 (with baseball pitchers and catchers starting on March 29). Our Middle School (grades 7-8) teams are expected to begin practices by the end of April, playing a modified schedule of games through the month of May, and the first week of June.

Please be sure to register on the BFA Form ReLeaf platform (shown below) ASAP so we can plan appropriately for the return of our spring sports teams! Best of luck to all!


Geri Witalec-Krupa is the Director of Student Activities at BFA Fairfax. Geri is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow her @GLWit

Meet Takumi


Last February, during the annual Pink Game, a student from Richford approached me about attending BFA in the 2020-21 school year. Takumi told me he was in an exchange program and hoped to continue his education in the United States and knew that we were able to enroll students from other countries. I told him that we would be happy to have him and that we would be in touch to figure out a plan.

Takumi in his Senior Civics class (LBJ photobombing!)

Of course, this was prior to the school dismissal which changed our school and the world in general. In spite of the turmoil, Takumi stayed in touch with me throughout the spring and summer in the hope of joining us in the fall. We zoomed fairly regularly to answer his questions and update him about our return to school. In late July, it became apparent that we would not be able to have Takumi attend BFA at the start of the year given the unknowns about the virus and the conditions to return our students to school. It was a heartbreaking conversation, but we talked about the possibility of Takumi joining us in the spring semester. 

He was persistent and kept in touch with me and Director of Guidance Katherine McElroy throughout the fall. In November, we had seen success in returning our students to school and, in consultation with Superintendent Tager, we invited Takumi to join us starting in January. We started the process of government paperwork and set out to find a family willing to host him. Takumi created an introductory video which we shared over Schoology. After an opportunity to connect with Takumi, a Fairfax family agreed to host him for the semester. Takumi booked a flight, arrived in Burlington, quarantined and was able to start at BFA in early February. He joined the basketball team and hopes to be involved in other activities this spring.

To help the community get to know Takumi a little better, we asked him a few questions:

Where are you from? 

I am from Tokyo Japan 

What do you like best about Vermont? 

I like people in VT and a lot of nature so I can relax. There are not that many buildings around me so I can feel free and chilling.

What do you miss the most about Japan?

I miss food but I like American food too.

What are your favorite classes? 

I like every class but especially Senior Civics. It’s because I can get to know a lot of things which I don’t know about America.

What are your plans for next year?

Move to America to start a new life or go to college in the US. But I probably will be in the US.

What is the most surprising thing about BFA?

First of all,people are nice. Second, classes are fun.

How is BFA different from Richford High School? T

The size is pretty much the same, but I can’t really tell any other difference because due to COVID-19,there is a lot of unusual stuff.

What else would you like people to know? 

I like making new friends so feel free to talk to me!

Social Media



Anything else?

I am glad to be able to become a Fairfax student!

Takumi with his host siblings, Calliope and Max

We are so glad that Takumi was finally able to join us at BFA. As much as the experience benefits him, the impact on our entire school and community is far greater!

John Tague is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax High School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jtague252