Congratulations 2017 BFA Fairfax Graduates!

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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

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

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

BFA Fairfax 6th Grade Goes To Lotus Lake

Last week, BFA Fairfax sixth-grade students and staff attended the Lotus Lake Discovery Center for an overnight, nature-based learning experience in Williamstown, Vermont.

This is the tenth year that our students have engaged in this unique and highly engaging learning opportunity.

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While at Lotus Lake, students and staff participated in a range of nature-based learning and team-building activities.  The mission of the camp is to:

  • Learn about the natural environment through outdoor experiences.
  • Grow in social relationships by broadening friendships and participating in group activities.

Students also had the opportunity to enjoy hiking, swimming, shelter and raft building, wire walking, fishing, fire building, cooking, making smores, and playing flashlight tag on this beautiful piece of property in central Vermont.

As students collaborated with one another to solve a variety of challenges, I was able to observe evidence of each and every one of the transferable skills that guide our middle school learning environment.

Students took on leadership roles, were self-directed in pursuit of specific goals, and took turns effectively communicating with their classmates to solve complex problems.  This trip was proof positive that authentic learning can occur inside and outside the classroom.

One task students were faced with was to build a raft that could hold an entire team of students using only the materials provided (rope, wood, and barrels). Not every team succeeded, but the learning that took place was invaluable. Take a look at this tweet from sixth-grade teacher Lindy Carpenter, and watch a team of learners exploring and learning from their mistakes.

The joy in this video is palpable!

Thank you to the sixth-grade teaching team for offering this unique experience each year to our students. Many positive memories were made and this experience will continue to foster our students’ love of Vermont and the outdoors.

This post was co-authored by Principal Tom Walsh and Principal Intern Chris Palmer.

 

BFA Fairfax Farm to School Welcomes Spring

Spring has finally arrived and BFA’s Farm to School Program is in full bloom. The FTS program has two components: a club and a class. Students in both areas have been working to meet the goals of their three-year plan. BFA was recently visited by Erica Campbell from the office of Senator Bernie Sanders who gave the students positive feedback about their progress.

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Shannon, a student at BFA Fairfax, gave Campbell a tour of our Farm to School Farm and reviewed the current plan. “She was able to see the potential for our project through our three-year plan. She thinks that our program will become the ‘face of Farm to School in Vermont'” Shannon said. The visit was “absolutely brilliant. Ms. Campbell offered to provide us with connections and resources and hopes to bring Senator Sanders back to BFA Fairfax for our Harvest Dinner.”

Club students have been busy through the long winter getting ready to plant. In early “spring” a greenhouse was built and ready to start seedlings for transplant when the time was right. The next projects for the students are to build a shed and a bridge to provide storage and access to the gardens. This work has been made possible through the assistance of community partners and parent volunteers.

“Our club has lots of traction as we finish the first year of the plan. Everything we promised has been delivered. We have overcome obstacles for the progress of the program” – Shannon, FTS President

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Students in the Farm to School class have been working on composting. They have built a worm composting bin and hope to obtain the cafeteria food scraps to keep the worms fed and creating more rich compost for the gardens. “The students are working on a local community meal and learning about food ethics when they are not busy planting and tending the garden,” said Farm to School teacher Marjorie Hollocher. Hollocher and Fred Griffin will be joining forces to team teach the Farm to School course next year.

“It’s a powerful vision,” said Griffin,  “It draws people in.  We are building a diverse outdoor classroom that works in partnership with our school cafeteria, our townspeople, and our students.  This is exciting stuff!”

Students will be tending the garden throughout the summer awaiting the fall harvest. All that is left to do now is to hope for the right weather to foster growth in the garden that matches the growth in enthusiasm for BFA’s Farm to School initiative.

Students Green Up Fairfax

Students, staff, and parent chaperones from BFA Fairfax participated in our annual Green Up Day activities last month.

BFAgreenup1Green Up Day is always the first Saturday in May and over 22,000 volunteers come together to remove litter from Vermont’s roadsides and public spaces. The day was launched in 1970, and since 1979 it has been officially organized by Green Up Vermont, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to promote the stewardship of our state’s natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment.” bfagreenup2.pngIn Fairfax, Students were dispersed throughout the town of Fairfax to pick up rubbish that accumulated over the winter months. Middle school students spent time bonding with their Initiative Time groups and forayed deep into Fairfax armed only with garbage bags, rubber gloves, and a firm understanding of safety precautions!  Elementary school students stayed closer to school, greening up the streets around the outskirts of the BFA-Fairfax campus. In addition, groups of students and staff cleaned up trash on the BFA Fairfax property itself — including the cross-country trails and recreation path — and weeded and mulched the flowerbeds surrounding the school building.bfagreenup3.pngThanks to BFA Fairfax educators Melinda Carpenter and Sandy Brown for making this opportunity happen for our community.  Their time and efforts to coordinate this event are so greatly appreciated. Lindy and Sandy mapped individual groups’ Green Up routes, organized parent volunteers, provided maps to teachers and parents clarifying routes, and put together a safety guide for each group to follow while they were greening up our community.

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Sandy Brown

There are numerous benefits to Green Up Day, including responsible and civic learning for our students. Green Up Day is both impactful and highly tangible, as the green garbage bags on the roadsides in our community are a highly visible reminder of the contributions students and parent volunteers made on this wonderful day!

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Melinda Carpenter with students

In Memory of Pete Lavoie

Last week, BFA Fairfax lost a champion for our school and its students. Long time BFA employee, Pete Lavoie, passed away unexpectedly. Pete drove a bus and worked with the maintenance staff in the summer, but his impact on students and staff reached far beyond his assigned duties.

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Pete Lavoie

Pete drove a morning and afternoon bus runs every day. He picked up students each morning and dropped them off in the afternoon. Students knew what Pete expected and he worked with them to help them if they needed it.

“Pete met with a student and parent that afternoon trying to help the student be successful on the bus. He always followed through with the school and the families to help the student succeed. That’s just the kind of guy he was.” – Tom Walsh, Elementary Principal

Pete was the regular driver for our students who attend Center for Technology, Essex. He was their consistent connection to BFA. Pete was there waiting for our students when Essex had their recent lockdown. Since the lockdown made them late, Pete drove every student directly to their homes so the other buses and students could leave BFA on time. It was another example of Pete putting students first after a stressful day.

Pete was the driver for the football and Nordic ski teams. He gave pep talks to the teams, cheered them on during the game or race, and supported them on the way home – win or lose. Students considered Pete a part of their team and he was routinely included in the end-of-season awards banquets.

“Pete cared. Pete cared fiercely about the town in which he lived, the school for which he worked, but most of all for the kids he drove. He was proud of them. He was protective of them. Pete cared.” – Fred Griffin, Nordic Ski Coach

Each afternoon as he left the parking lot, Pete gave the administrators a “thumbs up” to let them know he was ready to go.

When Pete left us last week, we were not ready to say goodbye. We will always carry the memory of Pete’s smile, enthusiasm, and caring to help us through the journey. Pete will live on in our memory and will be deeply missed.