THE #FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax Partners with United Way to Host Foster Grandparent

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce and welcome Beth Blanton (Miss Beth) to BFA Fairfax Elementary School. Miss Beth has joined us through our new partnership with the United Way of Northwest Vermont and their Foster Grandparent program. We feel so fortunate to have her working with our students and staff in Mrs. Penny Aceto’s classroom.  

Beth Blanton ("Miss Beth") is a Foster Grandparent.
Beth Blanton (“Miss Beth”) is a Foster Grandparent.

Sometimes an opportunity presents itself at just the right moment.  When I was contacted by Mary Pelkey from the United Way in October, we were confronting some difficult news about Mrs. Aceto’s health. Mary Pelkey shared that the Foster Grandparent program provides a caring adult that can support students in a classroom, fifteen to thirty hours a week with a focus on instructional and social/emotional support and mentoring.  After hearing her presentation, I was confident that this opportunity was what we needed.

Miss Beth started working this week and she has made an immediate and positive impact.  Our students have welcomed her into the classroom and are teaching her our routines and expectations.  She, in turn, has provided our students with another caring and trusted adult that they can interact with on a daily basis.  Miss Beth brings a lifetime of experiences and a kind and caring heart. She has also experienced some medical issues and brings a perspective and understanding of what Mrs. Aceto is dealing with.  

We feel so fortunate to have Miss Beth at our school.  I am excited to see how this new partnership evolves over the coming months.  We know we are in for some challenging times but are grateful to have her insight, the extra support, and her time. I hope she benefits as much from interacting with our students, as we will benefit from having her in our school. Please consider contacting your local United Way and learning about this unique program.


Thomas Walsh is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @educatamount

THE FWSU STORY: A Thanksgiving Celebration of Community at BFA Fairfax

Last Thursday, our students, families, and staff members came together to enjoy a wonderful meal and celebrate our community.

Thanksgiving lunch is one of my favorite events at our school. It reminds me how fortunate we are to have an engaged and supportive community in Fairfax.  

Thank you to The Abbey Group and our student volunteers for providing all of us a delicious meal. I hope everyone has a safe, relaxing day and an opportunity to spend time with family and friends. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this community.

Be well!


Thomas Walsh is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @ecucatamount

THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax Senior Shane Seals Recognized as Top 10 Vermont Student-Athlete Leader


On Monday, November 5 the Vermont State Athletic Directors Association in coordination with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association held their annual scholarship banquet at the Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington. This banquet serves as one of the highlight events of the annual Vermont Student Athletic Leadership Conference, to which BFA Fairfax sends eight of our top student-athlete leaders each year.


This year, BFA Fairfax was proud to have Shane Seals (‘19) selected as one of ten NIAAA Student-Athlete Scholarship winners in the State of Vermont.  In addition to an essay on how athletic participation has impacted his life, Shane was required to demonstrate his exceptional qualities in academic potential, athletic participation, and service to others.

At the awards banquet, Athletic Director Geri Witalec-Krupa’s introduction of Shane stated “Whether on the cross country and Nordic trails, the ultimate frisbee pitch, serving on our School Board, or leading the construction of our phenomenal school farm, Shane guides others to success with humility and integrity.  Many BFA Fairfax programs have greatly succeeded with him, and our school is a much better place because of him.”


Shane’s acceptance speech included a powerful and motivating message to the younger student-athletes in attendance, sharing “Before I go, I have one thing to say: For every sports superstar there are hundreds of athletes working just as hard, day after day, to reach their goals; be that athlete, push yourself to the limit and keep pushing, because, at the end of the day, that’s what you’ll be proud of.”


We are extremely proud of Shane’s scholarship, as well as all of his accomplishments during his time at BFA Fairfax.  He has been a leader and role model for others, and will undoubtedly experience continued success next year at the University of Vermont as the Green and Gold Scholar.  Congratulations Shane!

Good Health and Well-Being

Geri Witalec


Geri Witalec-Krupa is an Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at BFA Fairfax is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You follow her @GLWit  

THE FWSU STORY: The Fairfax Long Range Facilities Planning Committee is Looking For Your Feedback

The Long Range Facilities Planning Committee (LRFPC) consisting of community members, school board representatives, administrators, staff members, and parents continue the process of developing recommendations to address the future needs of our school building.

LFCPC Blog 1

The charge of this committee is to determine the facility requirements that will support current and future educational, safety and physical needs of our students, staff, and community for the next twenty-five years.

LFCPC Blog 5

At the same time, remaining aware of the fiscal constraints of our budget and community.

LFCPC Blog 2

The committee developed a list of improvement projects that have been identified through input from our community, school personnel, and building assessments.

LFCPC Blog 3

We are asking for community members to rate each project in terms of how important that item is for you in an overall building plan. The projects have been separated into four different categories: (1) Safety, (2) Efficiencies, (3) Accessibility and (4) Opportunity.

LFCPC Blog 4

Please complete this Building Improvement Questionnaire for the BFA Fairfax School to provide input to the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee by clicking on this link below:

Or you can access the survey using this QR Code:


There will also be paper copies of the questionnaire and drop boxes located at the Fairfax Green Senior Housing, the BFA Fairfax Library, the Post Office, and the Fairfax Town Office.

Please feel free to contact Tom Walsh or John Tague if you have any questions or concerns at and/or  We look forward to continuing to engage our community in a process that serves our students for the next several decades.


THE FWSU STORY: BFA Fairfax Students Visit Summer Cultural Exchange Partners in China

At this moment, eight BFA Fairfax students and two teachers, Sara Villeneuve and Emily Nieckarz are exploring China as part of a cultural exchange in cooperation with SPIRAL International.

BFA Fairfax students in China

BFA Fairfax has worked with SPIRAL for many years through our Summer Exchange Program.


Typically, Chinese students spend two weeks in the summer living with Fairfax families and experiencing the culture of Vermont.


Our students left Vermont on Friday morning and arrived in Shanghai for a brief stop en route to Chongqing. They visited schools and explored the city during their time in the city.


Their next stop was Chengdu where they visited more schools and got to see pandas!


Tonight, they are in their final stop, the city of Guangzhou. They are sharing pictures through social media throughout the trip.


For this blog post, we are sticking to the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” and anticipating a future blog post from the students describing their trip in great details.


Teacher Emily Nieckarz reported that “students are doing amazing, jumping in to participate and in total awe of the different culture, food, and traffic!”


We can hardly wait to hear about their experience and are extremely proud of our BFA ambassadors!

Global Goal 17: Partnership for the Goals #teachSDGs



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

THE #FWSU STORY: Fairfax-Lamoille Football Senior Night Pays It Forward for Make-A-Wish Vermont!

Fun, food, friends and football were the themes of the evening last Saturday as the entire Fairfax community came together to celebrate our graduating football seniors, as well as raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Vermont foundation.  

Fairfax Football raises funds for Make-A-Wish Vermont


Service is a regular component of our community-wide school events and is a priority to our student body and athletic department. Last Saturday’s Make-A-Wish fundraiser was the brainchild of BFA Fairfax Sophomores Natalie Bates and Kiana Labor, in coordination with Make-A-Wish participant, BFA first-grader Asher Lawrence.

Fairfax football players greet BFA Fairfax first grader Asher Lawrence

Through admission costs, a 50/50 raffle, and generous donations on behalf of Mt. Abraham Football and Boosters, the evening raised nearly $1400.00 for this important foundation!


Contributing to the excitement of the evening was the strength and skill demonstrated by our Fairfax/Lamoille Co-op football team in a 38-6 victory over Mt. Abraham.  

BFA Fairfax Cheer Team

The win earned the Bullets a #3 ranking in Division 3 and secured a home playoff game against Springfield High School on Saturday, October 27 at 1pm.

BFA Fairfax Football Team


We need to extend a huge thank you to Brock’s Heating, Air Conditioning, and Gas Services, who generously donated the lights to make football Senior Night that much more special, as well as all the fans, students, and community members who contributed to making our entire weekend of games under the lights a resounding success.  

Good Health and Well-Being


Geri Witalec

Geri Witalec-Krupa is an Athletic Director/Assistant Principal at BFA Fairfax is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You follow her @GLWit  


THE #FWSU STORY: Magnificent Mondays at BFA Fairfax

Every Monday for the past two years, students in first grade at BFA Fairfax have eagerly participated in Magnificent Monday.

Magnificent Monday at BFA Fairfax

It is an important example of how our school demonstrates a belief in the value of allowing students significant opportunities to create, collaborate, innovate, and play.

The future belongs to a different kind of person." Daniel Pink

It is an amazing time in public education.  After a decade of focusing on preparing students to perform on standardized tests, a significant shift is taking place.

“The ability to innovate—to create something new and better—is a skill that organizations worldwide are looking for today.”-George Couros

This is not a new concept.  Rather, it is a recognition that our students must learn and apply a comprehensive set of skills for success in an ever-changing world due to technology and an abundance of information.

“Creativity is as important now in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”-Sir Ken Robinson

Magnificent Monday provides every student learning experiences that allow them to be designers, problem finders, engineers, and artists.  It is sometimes messy, slightly chaotic, always full of positive energy, and the results speak for themselves.

Students on the cardboard bus

“65 percent of students we’re currently training will have jobs that don’t exist yet.” -Alexis Ringwald

For example, last week was Cardboard Day where students were allowed to design anything using cardboard. A small group of students wanted to create a vehicle.  One member of the group uses a wheelchair, so the group designed the bus to accommodate all group members.  The final product was less important than the learning, collaboration, and empathy in which students engaged.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try.” –Dr. Seuss


Another activity required students to apply their knowledge to create an insect.  There were no constraints, just four criteria.  The results were amazing and no single insect was the same.  Most importantly, it was clear that students understood the objectives of the unit and could apply the content.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world.”- Albert Einstein


Sometimes we only focus on what we see to measure success. Magnificent Monday’s success is apparent from what you do not see.  There is rarely a behavior issue and students do not require frequent prompts and reminders to be engaged or follow expectations. They are happy, highly motivated, focused, and excited about learning.

A huge thank you to the First Grade team for inspiring our students to be creative, empathetic, collaborative people.  You all rock!

UN SDG Global Goal 4: Quality Education



Thomas Walsh is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @educatamount