THE FWSU STORY: Summer Learning on the BFA Fairfax School Farm

What happens on the Fairfax School Farm in summer?

Who takes care of the gardens, the berry nurseries, the construction projects?

When students and teachers are gone what happens?

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The BFA Fairfax Farm to School Club takes care of business! 

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 9:00 and 11:00 throughout the summer members of BFA’s Farm to School Club come in to work on the School Farm.  Thanks to their efforts the school gardens are thriving, growing the vegetables for our Harvest Dinner, and for schoolwide “taste-testing.” The students in the club all have other jobs but they do their best to free 2-3 mornings per week to keep the School Farm operating.

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Shane Seals sums it up well: “Summer Farm to School is a great experience to learn how to garden and take part in a farming environment. It’s a good way to give back to the community and help build a foundation for the future of the school. The program has an amazing amount of diversity.”

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The Club harvested and froze two gallons of blueberries that will find their way into the Farm to School Class’s kitchen curriculum in fall. They have timed the planting of vegetables so that the bulk of our produce will be available when school is in session. A portion of our summer harvests is donated to the Fairfax Food Shelf. When the garden is caught up, kids work on the chicken house or maintenance of the beehives. We are currently involved in clipping and drying parsley, sage, oregano, thyme. Each of the many tasks provides unique opportunities to learn.

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“During the summer work at Farm to School, I have been able to increase my gardening and building skills and gain overall worldly experience. We are all hard workers who enjoy each other and the fruits of our labor,” said Alyese Caruso-Randall.

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Isabelle Collum agrees, “Seeing your hard work pay off every week is such a rewarding experience, and knowing that you’re helping your school and community makes it so much better.”

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The club members understand the importance of their volunteer efforts. “Summer Farm to School is a fun creative way to integrate community service and easy learning. Farm to School is a very extensive program that allows people to enjoy what they are doing and learn more about it. In the future I hope to see more faces come and enjoy their summer the way I do,” said Farm to School Club President Caitlin Allan.

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But there is so much more involved than just work. Eli Silman adds it’s a great way to hang out with friends during the summer.” 

This may be the most important reason of all!


If you are interested in joining us this summer contact Farm to School Club President, Caitlin Allan.

THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax High School Field Team Transects Franklin County

The new BFA Fairfax High School end of year Mini-mester has enabled Science Teachers Thomas Lane and Thomas Pfeiffer to engage students in a unique field experience. Nearly 20 students and teachers Lane and Pfeiffer are currently transecting Franklin County from east to west.

(Map of Transect Franklin County Field Team route.)

(Map of Transect Franklin County Field Team route.)

This field assessment has not been done by anyone in this manner before.

(Field Team at the start of Day 1.)

(Field Team at the start of Day 1.)

The students and teachers are collecting baseline data to establish existing aspects of the environment and hopefully monitor change in the future.

(Moving through a beaver dam in the first minutes of Day 1. Wesley in the foreground.)

(Moving through a beaver dam in the first minutes of Day 1. Wesley in the foreground.)

(Left to right Jackson, Sky, Jaxon and Michael at Branch Creek near the eastern edge of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

(Left to right Jackson, Sky, Jaxon and Michael at Branch Creek near the eastern edge of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

(Eastern boundary of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

(Eastern boundary of Franklin County southeast of Bakersfield, VT.)

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(Left to right, Eli, Shane, Luke, Devyn collecting data during transect.)

Students and teachers stopped to collect data using observation and Vernier sensors every 15 minutes during the transect. Types of data include; air temperature, humidity, soil moisture and type, numbers and types of birds, animal presence, human presence (current and historic), land use, reptiles and amphibians, tick numbers, tree types and background sound level.

(Small frog. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

(Small frog. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

(Harry with a snake. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

(Harry with a snake. Picture courtesy of Shane Seals.)

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(Moving through a horse pasture near S. Rd. and Buck Hollow Rd.)

(Lucky to find a beaver dam to cross Dead Creek in the middle of Fairfield swamp.)

(Lucky to find a beaver dam to cross Dead Creek in the middle of Fairfield swamp.)

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(Ethan in the dense thickets of Fairfield swamp.)

(Collecting data and having lunch at Black Creek south of E. Fairfield, VT.)

(Collecting data and having lunch at Black Creek south of E. Fairfield, VT.)

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(Sky with red eft.)

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(Michael and Tyler in front stepping carefully across a manured field off Whitney Rd. E. Fairfield.)

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(Ethan uses his backpack to keep Tyler from being zapped by an electrified fence east of Swamp Rd. Fairfax, VT.)

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(Moving through steep terrain somewhere south of Fairfield, VT.)

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(Start of day 4 the BFA Field Team transecting Franklin County.)

The Field Team is on track to reach Lake Champlain by Thursday afternoon to complete the Franklin County transect. A huge thank you to FWSU Transportation Manager Patsy Parker and all of the Bus Drivers at BFA Fairfax for coordinating the drop-off and pickups on a daily basis.

THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax Students Engage in Financial Literacy Program

Students and staff in grades four and eight partnered with Junior Achievement and People’s United Bank on June 6th to engage in a day of financial literacy.

 

Junior Achievement (JA) is a non-profit organization that provides age-appropriate programs for youth in grades K-12, focusing on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career exploration. People’s United Charitable Foundation (People’s United Bank), is a long-time supporter of JA’s mission. The People’s United Bank Foundation has provided the funding for all the materials and People’s United Bank employees volunteered to present the programs in the classrooms.

Students learned important financial literacy skills using a fun and interactive game.

Students learned important financial literacy skills using a fun and interactive game.

Students in grade four participated in a range of activities to increase their understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur.  Students engaged in learning activities that explored the traits of an entrepreneur and deepened their knowledge of human, capital, and natural resources in different regions of the country and the impact on business, and the finances and problem solving of running a business.

Materials provided age-appropriate instruction for 4th graders about business and entrepreneurship.

Materials provided age-appropriate instruction about business and entrepreneurship.

In grade eight, students investigated types of careers based on skills, interests, and values.  Students explored the importance and impact of education and work skill development on career offerings.  In addition, students deepened their understanding of gross and net income, taxes, opportunity costs, credit, and the value of different types of insurance coverages.

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A self-knowledge treasure hunt allowed students to reflect on their learning and assess their financial literacy.

We are really appreciative of Junior Achievement and People’s United Bank for partnering with BFA Fairfax to provide this important learning opportunity for our students. The content and activities were engaging and relevant.  The program made direct connections to the Common Core State Standards and provided an authentic opportunity to engage with the Vermont Transferable Skills.  We had a great day of learning and encourage other schools to participate in this program.

Resources for financial literacy learning were provided to students.

Resources for financial literacy learning were provided to students.

For more information about the Junior Achievement program, contact Jennifer Connolly at jconnolly@jawm.org.

THE FWSU STORY: A Picture Is Worth Thousand Words: 2017-18 BFA Fairfax Sports Edition

As the 2017-18 school year comes to a close, and the cleats, balls, pinnies, skis, and batons are put to rest for another year, this is a great opportunity to reflect on all the athletic successes of this school year.  

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BFA Fairfax Lacrosse

BFA Fairfax Lacrosse

Soccer Practice!

Soccer Practice!

Student Athletes participated in a statewide Leadership Conference

Student-Athletes participated in a statewide Leadership Conference

BFA Fairfax’s athletic participation numbers are among the highest ever, and we are providing the broadest selection of opportunities in our school’s history.  

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BFA Bullets on the field!

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BFA Fairfax Bullets Football

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Soccer under the lights!

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2017-18 saw our first home night soccer games, multiple fundraisers for both local and global service causes, a new football cooperative team with Lamoille Union High School, tournament basketball at Barre Auditorium, the annual Fairfax Relays and Pink Game, record increases in participation numbers for track and field and club lacrosse, the approval of Ultimate Frisbee as a new Varsity sport, training trips to Quebec and Florida, multiple Mountain Division championships and track and field podium finishes, and as of today at 4:30, the Division 3 softball semifinals at Green Mountain Union High School.

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At BFA Fairfax, athletic participation is not only valued, it is viewed as a core component of the educational experience.  The participation numbers serve to validate the passion held by our students, our school, and our community year after year.  Congratulations on yet another successful year, Bullets! You have made us proud once again!

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Go Bullets!


Geri Witalec

Geri Witalec-Krupa is an Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at Bellows Free Academy Fairfax. You follow her @GLWit

THE FWSU STORY: The Life of a Principal’s Daughter

You’re sitting in your high school social studies class when one of your parents walks in. They start to talk with your friends about what they are doing in class and then they check in with your teacher. At this point, most people would wake up startled from a bad dream, but when you’re the high school principal’s daughter, it’s an everyday occurrence!

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Abi Tague talks about her interesting life as the Principal’s daughter.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you leave your house for school before any of your friends are even awake because your dad has an early meeting. Actually you arrive at school before your friends are awake. Every day. You stay late because there are meetings in the afternoon and sometimes you stay even later because “something came up” after school that has to be dealt with before you can leave.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you get used to seeing your dad in all of your classes. And in the hallways. And at lunch. Every day. It takes some time to figure out how to interact with each other during the school day, but you find a balance somewhere between ignoring and overwhelming each other.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you spend a lot of time in the main office because you get to school early and leave late. You get to know the office staff and the other principals. This is a pretty good thing, because they’re all nice people, they understand your situation and they sometimes have snacks.

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Abi Tague waits in the main office with Accounting Clerk Sally Billado

When you’re the principal’s daughter, you hear all sorts of things about your dad from other students. Some of it good, some of it bad, some of it true.

When you’re the principal’s daughter, your friends text you to “tell your dad to make tomorrow a snow day.” You know it’s not really up to him, but you tell him anyway. You’re one of the first to know when there is a snow day because you hear your dad talking to the superintendent and the other principals at five in the morning. And then, just when you start to fall back asleep, you get the robo-call from him anyway!

When you’re the principal’s daughter the days are long and it seems like high school might last forever. But before you know it, you’re ready to graduate and leave your dad to run the school on his own. It’s scary and exciting for both of you.

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Abi Tague at the NHS Induction Ceremony

Before I applied for the principal position at BFA Fairfax, we had a family discussion to talk about the potential impact of the job on the family. We knew that my daughter Abi would be most directly impacted as she would be a student at BFA if I got the position. We determined that we could make it work if I got the job.

The principalship was certainly a big change for both of us, but we have made the best of it. I appreciate that Abi was flexible and understanding throughout our time at BFA Fairfax. She kept me honest and provided some valuable feedback like “people are really confused about…” or “people are upset about…” and occasionally “people think _____ is a good idea”.

Truth be told, I spent as many nights waiting for her to finish play practice or basketball practice as she spent waiting for me to get out of a meeting. Our drives to school were pretty quiet in the morning, but we had great conversations on the way home. In one conversation, we agreed that I should write a blog about her near the end of her senior year. Thankfully for both of us (mostly her), she got her license in her junior year, so we were able to travel independently when it made sense.

Principal John Tague with his daughter Abi.

Principal John Tague with his daughter Abi.

Abi will be attending Endicott College in the fall to pursue a career in Nursing. She has worked diligently throughout her time at BFA Fairfax to prepare herself academically. Abi has also emerged as a leader in the National Honor Society and in Ultimate Frisbee. She is funny, kind and a little sassy (sometimes a lot sassy!). Abi will have no problem adjusting to college life. She probably won’t be upset that I don’t randomly show up in her labs, library, or dormitory next year!

To say that I will miss seeing her at BFA everyday is an understatement. However, I know she is ready to move forward. Which is, of course, my hope for all of the students at BFA Fairfax. Abi just happens to be the principal’s daughter. And when you’re the principal’s daughter, your dad gets to use the FWSU blog to say how proud he is of you.


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John Tague is the High School Principal at BFA Fairfax. You can follow him @jtague252 

THE FWSU STORY: Promoting School Inclusion Through Unified Sports

This spring BFA Fairfax started a Unified Sports Bocce team. The team is practicing and learning the fundamentals and strategies of the sport.

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The Unified Bocce Team at BFA Fairfax

The team will participate in the spring Unified Champion Schools Bocce Tournament in June.  They will compete against many other community Special Olympics Unified Sports Bocce Teams.

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In Unified Sports, teams are made up of people of similar age and ability which makes practices more fun and games more challenging and exciting.

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Unified Sports builds friendships, promotes social inclusion, and empowers individuals with and without intellectual disabilities.

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BFA Fairfax has partnered with the Special Olympics to provide this opportunity for students in grades 4 through 6. Unified Sports has positive impacts throughout the school. This allows for meaningful participation opportunities for students and increases social inclusion.

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Thank you to the coaches, Cindy Anderson and Paula Thompson. Their effort and dedication to supporting all student-athletes have made this program possible.

Bocce Coaches Paula Thompson and Cindy Anderson

Bocce Coaches Paula Thompson and Cindy Anderson

THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax Students Shine in 2018 Shape-Vermont Fitness Competition

On Thursday, May 3rd, BFA Fairfax Middle and Elementary School PE teachers Dylan Callan and Heather Weeks took a team of grades 5-8 students to compete in the Shape-Vermont 2018 State Fitness Competition held at Norwich University.  Although this event is held annually, it was BFA Fairfax’s inaugural time attending the competition.

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Any interested 5th-8th grader was invited to participate in our school-based competition, with the top scorers receiving a spot to attend the state competition involving teams from over forty Vermont middle schools. Competitors worked to achieve their personal best in push-ups, curl-ups, sit and reach, and the mile run.  

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It was a fantastic experience for our BFA Fairfax participants.  Although the competition was the highlight, the day also provided the opportunity for our students to experience one of Vermont’s beautiful college campuses and all that the Norwich facilities and staff had to offer.  We were also pleased to be able to share the day with a team competing from Georgia Elementary Middle School.

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With all the positive feedback, we are already looking forward to sending a BFA Fairfax team again next year!  Thank you to Mr. Callan and Ms. Weeks for bringing this exciting and beneficial opportunity to our students and school.  

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Geri Witalec

Geri Witalec-Krupa is an Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at Bellows Free Academy Fairfax. You follow her @GLWit