THE FWSU Story: BFA Students Address Parking Situation, with Creative Results

At the end of the last school year, high school students participated in mini-mester courses. The courses were designed to give students the opportunity to explore an area of interest as the year ended. Courses explored areas including hiking, biking, swimming, sports, Chinese, dance, and how to “adult”.

Students who were enrolled in “Think Tank” spent the class trying to solve problems to make BFA a better place. One of the main areas of concern was the parking lot. Students expressed frustration with the number of spaces available, people parking in their reserved spots (students pay for a designated space in the main parking lot), and the loss of parking spaces in the winter due to the snowbanks. 

Several students in the class decided to try to fix the parking situation and worked with Amy Plog in the main office. They developed new guidelines for parking and determined that some spaces would be open on a first come first served basis. The students also proposed the idea of allowing members of the senior class to personalize their parking space. 

One student, Natalie B. took the mantle to make this idea a reality. She found other schools that have tried this and researched their policies and procedures. Through the summer, Natalie worked with administrators to create an information packet to send to seniors with the guidelines and expectations for personalizing their space. 

On a Thursday night two weeks before school started, the seniors (and their families) gathered in the parking lot to begin the process of transforming their spaces. They brought paint, rollers, tape and an approved design with them. They quickly learned that they needed more paint than they were told by the hardware store as they started their designs. A quart of paint doesn’t go very far on asphalt!

Students worked through the weekend, when their schedule and the weather allowed, and created impressive final products. It is clear that the students took great pride in their work.

This project was a great example of student voice and initiative coming together to solve a problem and allowed students to express their creativity and artistic abilities. Yes, we still have some parking problems, but thanks to our students, our seniors’ parking spaces are clearly reserved (and fun to look at!).

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

The FWSU Story: Kids Are Back!

Yesterday was the first day for students across the FWSU schools (BFA – Fairfax, Georgia Elementary and Middle School, and Fletcher Elementary School) and it was an exciting day! Having the hallways full of happy students looking toward their next adventures has always been a special time of the school year. Thank you to all the families for sending us your children, to the educators for working so tirelessly for all kids, and to the students for sharing your enthusiasm and aspirations with us. It’s going to be an awesome year!

I joined the FWSU community in July as Interim Superintendent, and from the first day I could recognize the specialness of organization. FWSU’s Action Plan highlights the commitment of “High Performance and Equity in a Digital Learning Culture” and having conversations with many educators over the summer reinforce the commitment to this work. I saw the welcoming of new educators through a commitment on understanding the impact of trauma on our children and families, the opening of in-service focused on understanding the impacts of equity, and, while visiting schools on the first day, seeing in action the welcoming and caring educators working with children.

There really is A belief in what is possible.

The images above really stuck out in my travels around the FWSU community. The messages were written on the sidewalk of the GEMS entrance and really hit home the purpose of our work – to support students in developing compassion and knowledge as citizens. As parents of three children (two in elementary school and one in college) my wife and I are proud to be Vermont educators, and I am looking forward to being part of the FWSU!

BFA HS students and teachers hit the gym as well.

Dr. Suess once stated, “Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” As the children and staff return to the schools remember to take time to celebrate all the successes – big or small. Enjoy the school year!

Donald Van Nostrand is the Interim Superintendent of Schools at Franklin West Supervisory Union. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter at @dsvannostrand.

Be sure to follow #FWSUTwitterChallenge for the FWSU 20-Day Twitter Challenge and #FWSU all year to see more exciting things happening in our schools!

Senator Bernie Sanders Visits BFA Fairfax

Target 2Leadership in a Student Centered Learning Environment. FWSU will foster development of teacher & student leaders who provide innovative opportunities for local and global student-centered learning.

Action Step – Ensure students and staff take an active role shaping their learning using rich, authentic questions, problems they identify, and diverse resources.

Indicator of Success  Student voice will have the power to impact the perceptions of others.


Today, students in grades 7-12 at BFA Fairfax had the opportunity to meet with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders engaged the students with an open forum discussing issues facing our government as well as issues touching the lives of our students.

b2Prior to meeting with students, Senator Sanders met with BFA High School Principal Michael Clark to learn about the unique programs offered at our school. Among the emphases highlighted is BFA’s 1:1 Student iPad Learning System, intercultural competence and awareness, online Virtual High School course offerings, student support systems, and of course the school mission.

BFA Logo


“BFA Fairfax is committed to ensuring that all students become informed, literate, critical-thinkers who demonstrate responsible social and civic behaviors.”

Today’s visit was an up-close lesson in democracy for our students. The interesting discussion that followed directly tied to our FWSU Action Plan as well as to the mission.