November 29, 2015

Schools learning about poverty 9/25/08

Sept. 25, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

When Allen Brook School Principal John Terko told the Williston and Shelburne school boards at a recent meeting that teachers and staff needed a “good, solid understanding of poverty,” Lisa Lovelette knew exactly what he was talking about.

Lovelette, Williston’s school support coordinator for the Vermont Department of Education, worked as a principal in the Hardwick school system up until last year. Lovelette estimated that low-income students make up 65 percent of Hardwick’s school population, and said the high number brought her closer to the challenges faced by students living in poverty.

“We had many kids at the end of the day who had no one to go home to because both parents had to work,” Lovelette said, adding that many parents worked two or more jobs to make ends meet. “There was this visible absence of parents and we had kids staying (at school) long after the school day was done.”

Though Hardwick may have a greater percentage of low-income students than Williston, whose economically disadvantaged students make up roughly 10 percent of the school population, the local school district is trying to come up with solutions to a problem facing the entire state — the low test scores of students from poorer families.

Each year, Vermont public school students take the New England Common Assessment Program tests, better known as NECAPs. The tests monitor academic achievement and improvement in reading, math and writing. The testing area depends on grade, but regardless of subject or age, economically disadvantaged students regularly score well below the state average.

In 2007, across Vermont, the number of economically disadvantaged students scoring proficient or higher came in about 25 percentage points less than their peers in the three test subjects.

Williston’s 2007 scores had an even wider gap than the state average. The town’s economically disadvantaged students reaching proficiency in reading, math and writing was 43 percent, 49 percent and 33 percent, respectively. The percentages of other students attaining proficiency were 81 percent, 82 percent and 67 percent in reading, math and writing.

It’s the third consecutive year Williston has failed to meet federal improvement standards for the economically disadvantaged students, and Williston administrators are looking for solutions. Lovelette is helping the district understand the everyday challenges faced by the disadvantaged students.

Williston learns about poverty


Lovelette said there are many reasons low-income students fail to perform better, including the lack of proper medical care and the lack of a healthy diet. She said students with poor diets and health are easily distracted and unmotivated.

District Principal Walter Nardelli said that at a Vermont Principals’ Association meeting a few years ago, he read a report that stated economically disadvantaged students did not receive enough vocabulary lessons before reaching school. The report showed children were not being read to often enough, he said.

Lovelette noticed similar reading deficiencies while at Hardwick. She said teachers often worked harder with key students, reading to them and helping them comprehend reading material.

Also, some low-income students have missed out on pre-school learning, which can have an impact when entering kindergarten or first grade, Nardelli added.

“It really comes down to learning vocabulary in those early years,” Nardelli said. “Sometimes we’re fighting things that either happened or did not happen before the student even got to school.”

TheWilliston school district has made a concerted effort to reach out to parents of low-income students to get them better involved in their child’s learning, Nardelli said.

Gail Taylor, director of standards and assessments at the DOE, said parental involvement could be a huge influence on improving achievement. Getting both parties working together should be the goal of all schools in the state, she said.

“We need to make school a positive place to engage parents in the process, especially parents who are working two or more jobs,” Taylor said.

Terko said he’s been handing out articles and other materials for teachers to read and discuss. He said he’s held meetings with teachers in order to broaden understanding on poverty.

“Williston is a pretty affluent area and some people need more exposure to it (poverty),” Terko said.

The Allen Brook principal said he expects the number of economically disadvantaged students to rise in the future because of the current state of the economy.

“The job market is tough — they’re not hiring,” Terko said. “It’s putting a lot of stress on people.”

Lovelette said she hopes her experience can be beneficial and believes Williston is heading in the right direction.

“It’s not an easy fix,” Lovelette said. “I’m very hopeful for Williston because there is an incredible understanding from John (Terko) on poverty to improve student performance.”

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Everyday Gourmet (Sept. 18, 2008)

Farmer Brown is in town

Sept. 18, 2008
By Kim Dannies

Did you know that Williston has its very own Farmer Brown? Yup — when he’s not growing students at the University of Vermont, Pat Brown grows rows and rows of gorgeous garlic. Temptress, Carpathian, Siberian, Leah, Georgia Fire, Romanian Red and Polish Hardneck are all thriving in picture perfect grids at the MacGregor Garlic Farm he shares with his wife, children’s book author and illustrator Amy Huntington.

Most cooks consider garlic a culinary rock star, but I never knew there were so many different bulbs grooving in Vermont until I ran into Farmer Brown at a food event. Pat shared samples of each variety and let me experiment with their different qualities.

The Georgia Fire is hot, but sultry, and salsas right through any fresh tomato dish with lots of style. The patrician Siberian is garlic royalty, with a purple skin and a common touch (use it in everything). For a pure garlic splash, go with the Polish Hardneck. I like it chopped, swimming in a pool of cold pressed olive oil, smeared on lightly toasted artisanal bread, with a glass of Spanish Rioja acting as lifeguard. The zesty Carpathian is the stuff to ratchet up basic mashed potatoes along with buttermilk, melted butter and sea salt. Mellow out the Romanian Red by roasting it for puree — slice the head off, douse in olive oil, bake in a covered ramekin for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. It’s great in my Garlic Flan recipe.

Natural Provisions in Williston is now selling Farmer Brown’s garlic varieties in limited quantities, so try some while they last.

Roasted Garlic Flan

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Scald 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of cream in a saucepan; cool. In a work bowl, whisk together 2 eggs and 2 additional egg yolks, one-fourth cup of cooled roasted garlic puree and a pinch of nutmeg. Whisk while slowly adding small amounts of the cream mixture to the eggs (tempering) to form a liquid custard; season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Lightly grease 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray. Portion custard into ramekins and set ramekins into a large cake pan. Pull out oven rack and set pan on it. Fill the cake pan with boiling water until it hits halfway up the ramekin to form a water bath (bain-marie). Cover with foil and gently slide into oven. Bake 32 minutes at 300 degrees or until flan is firm but glossy. Cool slightly; un-mold flan to serving plates. Top with a simple salsa of fresh tomatoes, parsley and basil. Serves 6.

Quick tips about garlic: There is no substitute for freshly chopped garlic. Choose heads with firm, plump bulbs and dry skins. Avoid garlic with sprouts — it’s old and nasty. Try chopping cloves with a bit of kosher salt and the garlic will hold together nicely as the salt absorbs flavorful juices. Garlic presses are generally frowned upon because they are metal and react with the acid the garlic releases when pressed.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to
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CVU cross country teams look to continue strong run (Sept. 18, 2008)

Sept. 18, 2008
Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley Union High cross country teams will compete in the Burlington High Invitational at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. The teams are coming off impressive performances last Saturday in the annual Essex Invitational at the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston.

In what CVU coach Scott Bliss called the teams’ first test of the season, the CVU girls, five-time defending state Division I champions, captured first place while the boys came in second to Essex High.

While South Burlington High’s Caroline Weaver (19:36.73) triumphed by more than a minute in the girls’ race, CVU placed six runners in the top 11, led by Maddie Christian (third), Nora McFadden (fourth), Summer Spillane (seventh), Adrienne Devita (ninth), Danika Frisbie (10th) and Laura Jackson (11th).

In the boys event, Tony Sulva of CVU took second place, just 16 seconds behind winner Adron Pitmon (16:55.40) of Mount Mansfield Union.

The Redhawks’ John Dixon took ninth, Matt Mainer 12th and Zack Pete 14th.

In team totals, the boys trailed first place Essex, 52-36. The girls team won 33-55 over Essex, which took second.

[Read more…]

CVU girls soccer team rolling through competition (Sept. 18, 2008)

Redhawks meet unbeaten Burlington on road Thursday

Sept. 18, 2008
Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

After neatly dispatching Stowe High and Mount Mansfield Union at home on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively, coach Brad Parker and his 5-1 Champlain Valley Union High girls soccer team motor to Burlington High on Thursday. The afternoon test against the 5-0 Seahorses kicks off at 4:30 p.m.

Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Haleigh Smith, a Champlain Valley Union High junior, splits two Stowe defenders during Saturday’s game.

BHS has returned many of the players who last October knocked the Redhawks out of the Division I playoffs. Meanwhile, the young CVU team is working its way toward the division’s elite, having thus far scored 13 goals while allowing just four.

On Tuesday, the Redhawks whipped Mount Mansfield Union, 3-0, as captain and midfielder Asia Sienko scored once and assisted on the other goals. Juniors Haleigh Smith and Johanna Fehrs had the other net finders.

Sienko also scored in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Stowe. Two juniors, Erika Gobeille and Nicole Utter, also scored.

Sophomore goalie Emily Sackett had two stops in picking up the shutout of Stowe. Tuesday, Sackett shared time with junior Ashley Trayah, and the two combined for seven saves.

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Spirit Day downer for CVU boys soccer (Sept. 18, 2008)

Sept. 18, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

No doubt smarting from their first loss to South Burlington High since 1990, the Champlain Valley Union High boys’ soccer team hoped to get back on the winning side of things on Wednesday at Mount Mansfield Union.

Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Champlain Valley Union High fans cheer on the men’s varsity soccer team and Harrison Gatos waves the school colors during Saturday’s Spirit Day contest against South Burlington High. South Burlington’s Rebels won 2-1, handing the Redhawks their first loss in nearly two years.

The Redhawks will then play host to Colchester High at 4:30 p.m. on Friday in Hinesburg. The Lakers entered the week with a 4-2 season mark.

Coach T.J. Mead’s youthful Redhawks (2-1-1) got some pointers from the veteran 4-1 South Burlington team. The Rebels shook off a 1-0 halftime deficit with two second half goals for its historic 2-1 victory. In the process, they gave CVU its first loss in nearly two years.

Tom Eddy’s third goal in two games got CVU the first half advantage, with Jack Jesset assisting.

The Rebels, however, grabbed geographical advantage in the second half and potted scores by Noah Johnson and Ethan Martin in the first 12 minutes of the closing 40.

Two days prior to the Spirit Day rumble with the Rebs, CVU bopped visiting Route 116 neighbor Mount Abraham Union of Bristol. The Redhawks won 5-0 and didn’t allow a shot on net.

Tino Tomasi and Eddy each slammed home a pair of tallies for the Redhawks, while Jesset nailed a goal. Kyle Logan had two assists.

In chalking up their second shutout of the campaign, the Redhawks outshot Mount Abe 18-0.

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Allen Brook adjusts to all-day kindergarten (Sept. 18, 2008)

Observer photo by Tim Simard
Kindergarten students Ashton Moshovetis (from left), Kyle Rexford, Celia Cote and Lizzie Maklad enjoy a creative playtime on Monday during Sarah Read’s class. This is the first year the Williston School District has all-day kindergarten.  –Read more here….

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Redhawk football shuts out Winooski (Sept. 18, 2008)

CVU faces defending champs in next game

Sept. 18, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

With two straight home victories in the bag, the Champlain Valley Union High football team will head south on Saturday to the home of the defending Division III champion Poultney High Blue Devils.

“They are the defending champions,” said CVU head coach Jim Provost. “This is an important league game for us.”

The Redhawks hiked their season record to 2-1 Saturday with a 21-0 triumph over 0-2 Winooski, which had handed CVU two losses in the past two seasons.

Poultney is 1-2, having had its eggs scrambled at home on Saturday, 46-6, by Rice Memorial High, a Division II team with a 2-1 record. The Blue Devils’ lone victory was an 18-6, turnover-aided triumph at Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax. The Redhawks knocked off BFA 27-6 in Hinesburg two weeks ago.

The young Winooski team did not go down easily before the multi-faceted Redhawks.

“We had to work for this,” said Provost. “We needed to play well to beat them.”

Primary factors for CVU’s victory were an aerial defense that produced a quartet of interceptions and an effective ground pounding that racked up 246 yards.

Leaders of the blitzkrieg were speedster J.P. Benoit, who lugged the ball 18 times for 131 yards and a touchdown. The dash and dart zinger had his second straight century mark game, having trotted for 107 yards in the win over BFA.

Fullback Crawford Morris became known as the “drive-extender,” slamming for 66 yards in 13 carries, seven of those earning first downs for the Redhawks.

The CVU pass interceptors were defensive backs Collin Teator, Konnor Fleming, Nick Meunier and linebacker Eric Palmer.

Teator’s first quarter grab in the end zone on a Winooski fourth and goal from the 5 was a serious momentum changer. Winooski, with its second possession, unleashed a 41-yard scurry by halfback Cyle Chaplin, which set up a first and goal from the CVU 3 in a scoreless game.

On the first play, CVU linebackers Jake Thibault and Dale Conger threw Winooski halfback Gary Grant for a 3-yard loss. After a no-gain line plunge and a 1-yard pass completion, Spartan quarterback Chris Blais threw into the end zone and Teator made the pick, returning the ball to the CVU 21.

From there, the Redhawks drove 79 yards in 12 plays, quarterback Ian Solomon hitting end Matt Long with a 16-yard completion to the Winooski 11. Benoit then scooted in for the initial tally.

Benoit then showed he has hands to go with his legs, as he caught a Solomon pass for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 CVU lead.

The score came just seven seconds into the second quarter. On the first play after the kickoff, Fleming picked off a Blais pass to give the Redhawks the ball at the Spartan 40. Two plays later, Solomon connected with his favorite long bomb facilitator, wide receiver Michael Bonfigli, for a 43-yard touchdown.

The final score came late in the third period. Defender Cameron Fitzgerald fell on a blocked Spartan punt in the end zone. Andrew Lieberman kicked the extra point to finish the scoring.

As to how the punt was blocked, the answer was in the trenches.

“What happened?” veteran senior lineman Tyler Hulbert was asked.

“A Winooski player was pushed into the kick,” he replied.

“Who shoved him?” was the next question.

“I did,” came the reply.

A reminder that winning starts in the trenches.

WHS-CVU, stats
                                    WHS        CVU
First downs                   8        15
Rushing yards             110        246
Passing yards             77        71
Return yards                59        37
Comp-Att-Int            5-11-4        3-10-1
Sacked-Yards lost        0        3-30
Punts-avg                    2-32        3-33
Fumbles-lost                4-0        2-0
Penalties-yards            5-28        4-40

WHS        0    0    0    0 — 0
CVU        0    14    7    0 — 21
[Read more…]

CVU field hockey team soars to 5-1 record (Sept. 18, 2008)

Sept. 18, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

After a trip to U-32 in East Montpelier on Wednesday, the red hot 5-1 Champlain Valley Union field hockey team returns home Friday for a 4 p.m. bash against Essex. Last Tuesday night, the Redhawks knocked Essex out of the ranks of the unbeaten with a 1-0 win at the Hornets’ nest.

(No, there is no substance to the rumor that the hornets flocking around the scorers’ perch during Saturday’s Spirit Day game against Middlebury were scouts from Essex.)

After taking care of business under the lights in Essex, coach Kate McDonald’s combine took out another unbeaten team Saturday in the 3-1 triumph over the visiting Tigers, now 4-1.

Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Katie Longshore, a senior captain of the Champlain Valley Union High field hockey team, works the ball past Middlebury defender Allison Kipp.

“It was an awesome effort and an awesome game,” McDonald told the team after the contest.

The Redhawks rapped early, when senior captain Katie Longshore flipped a loose ball into the Middlebury cage after goalie Casey O’Donohue blocked a shot by Emmaleigh Loyer.

The Redhawks generally dominated play through the first half, going ahead 2-0 when a pair of sophomores got loose — Louise Gibbs scored on an assist by Gillian Shelley.

Middlebury got a goal back before halftime on a rare penalty shot by Lindsay Lalonde. The shot was awarded when CVU goalie Elizabeth Godette was found to be lying on the ball in front of the cage after stopping a Tiger attack.

“I didn’t know where the ball was,” Godette said after the game. “I didn’t want to jump up and have someone score on a shot.”

Lalonde’s uncontested shot at Godette from 5 feet in front of the cage snapped a two-game shutout streak for the CVU net minder, who admitted she was nervous before the contest; Middlebury knocked the Redhawks out of the Division I semifinals a year ago in double overtime.

“I just tried to stay focused,” Godette said.

She did, coming up with seven stops as Middlebury applied serious pressure, especially in the second half.

CVU’s final score came with 18:05 remaining in the match, when KK Logan rolled in on the left side of the Tigers’ cage and fired her fourth goal of the season.

The junior’s tally came just moments after another junior, Kelsey Jensen, had a score denied when her long blast from beyond midfield bounced into the cage. In field hockey, goals have to be from in close.

Jensen should perhaps be known as “FedEx.” Her frequent long forwarding strokes from deep in foreign territory jumpstart the CVU offense. Some of the pokes are said to even enter different zip codes.

O’Donohue had eight saves for the Tigers, with Logan (twice), Gibbs, Jensen and Longshore all working their way to decent scoring opportunities.

Junior Kathryn Powell was among the leaders on the CVU defensive end.

Last Thursday, the Redhawks nipped Colchester High 1-0 on a Lucy Barrett tally, assisted by Longshore. CVU outshot the 1-2-1 Lakers, 11-6.

[Read more…]

Guest column (Sept. 18, 2008)

Finding affection for Taft Corners

By Rachel Carter
Sept. 18, 2008

I can’t believe I am saying this. Me, the corporate hippie. But, I am growing quite fond of Taft Corners. It is not that I have found a new appreciation for box stores. I have found a new appreciation for convenience. Now, I hope that doesn’t make me a Williston Barbie (I wish so badly I had saved the e-mail I read a few years ago on the descriptions of Vermont women as to what type of Barbie they were, based on the town they live in; in Montpelier I guess that would make them invisible, since they don’t allow Barbies to be sold in any stores there).

OK — side note — I think that is LAME! Political correctness irks me, even though I must practice it as a Vermont PR professional. I credit Barbies to so much of the imagination and creativity I have today — especially as a professional storyteller. My Barbies were so complex. They ran businesses and had rock bands and wrote in diaries and traveled across the country and visited their friends in cities and had dinner parties. You simply cannot have organic apple dolls do all that. See? This is why I am a corporate hippie.

OK, thanks for letting me rant. Back to Williston. It rocks. It is close to my Charlotte home, which is on the Hinesburg side. Since I am not rushing in the way everyone else is, I sneak in the back way and have learned all the ways to get around and have had some fun maneuvering my car. Instead of having full-of-themselves hipsters yelling at me for my sneaky car moves, I have tired businessmen and bottled up soccer moms nodding to me in secret appreciation that I have the balls to sneak out of the cluster … um … traps.

Next there is the actual store experience. As opposed to my eight years in Burlington, where I felt like I had to dress uberly cool to even be looked at with respect in Vermont’s downtown metropolis, in Williston I can bounce in and out of places without anyone looking at me twice. And if I am dressed uberly cool — I am actually the coolest! I also find I run into more colleagues, friends, and neighbors than I ever did in the perpetual 23-year-old paradise.

And thirdly, there is the store selection. Downtown Burlington is to see and be seen and is for tourists who have lots of cash and locals who pretend to have lots of cash. This is why so many Vermonters head to Williston and other places to actually purchase clothes, groceries, supplies and more. The fabulous thing I have noticed is now that I am in such an accessible proximity to Williston, I don’t have to go anywhere else. Grocery shopping, hardware supplies, gardening supplies, client meetings, party supplies, office supplies, house crap — all in Williston. This doesn’t mean I am a fan of the Wal-Mart. That place is just creepy and I have to admit I feel a little weirded out by some of the people I see in there. And don’t judge me — you all feel that way too!

So, the recap — thumbs up, Williston! You are working towards making the Rachel Carter PR Best of 2008 List!

Rachel Carter runs a public relations firm, Rachel Carter PR, out of Charlotte. This column originally appeared on her blog,

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Visions of youth (Sept. 18, 2008)

It’s not all ABCs

Sept. 18, 2008
By Kayla Purvis

We don’t go to school just to learn our ABCs and 1-2-3s. We don’t go to school just to sit in a plastic chair and stare at a whiteboard. We go to school to learn how to be independent, to learn skills and values necessary for us to be successful people in life.

But we can’t do it alone. Someone has to help us along the way. Fortunately, those people are provided for us, and we call them teachers. The best teachers are the teachers who don’t try to be your friend, but let you know they care about you. The best teachers are the teachers who push you even when you resist, because they know what you’re capable of.

I was lucky to have one of those teachers for four of my school years. When I first met him he was intimidating and, I thought, a little mean. But by the time I was an eighth grader, I’d figured out that he knew what he was doing. That teacher repeatedly asked one question of me and my peers: “So what?” At the end of a sentence, paragraph, paper, or even explanation, we’d often find “so what?” written. What’s next? What else can you tell me? He wanted us to go deeper, to find something else to say. He knew when there was more to tell, even when we didn’t.

Teachers teach us things like proper grammar and the Pythagorean theorem, but a good teacher teaches us how to be who we are and accept it. We spend eight or more hours at school; our teachers watch us grow up just as much as our parents do. It’s important that they support us, and it’s important that we as students know they support us.

For two of my middle school years I wanted to be a firefighter, which is an unusual occupation for a 13- or 14-year-old to choose. But all the same, my teachers supported it and they supported me. Without that, I wouldn’t have gained the self-confidence that I did. Even though I no longer desire to be a firefighter, I know those same teachers will still support me in my decision to go college.

Remember the teacher that asked “so what?” a lot? Well, he told us another thing that I’ll always remember. It’s a song, by Lee Ann Womack, called, “I Hope You Dance.” One day this teacher read us the lyrics to that song, and then looked at all of us and said, “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance … I hope you dance.”

That teacher was Gary Howard, who recently retired from Williston Central School. I was sad to hear that he’d be leaving, because he was one of those teachers who pushed you even when you resisted. He was one of those teachers who asked you to read further into something. And he was one of those teachers who supported his students.

Williston resident Kayla Purvis is a sophomore at Champlain Valley Union High School.
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