May 26, 2018

Girls hockey team eyes three-game win streak2/12/09

Feb. 12, 2009

The Champlain Valley Union High girls hockey team will close out the regular season Saturday in Barre, carrying a two-game win streak when it laces up the skates for a 2 p.m. clash with Spaulding High.

CVU was nipped 2-1 by the Crimson Tide at Cairns Arena in mid-January.

The Redhawks lifted their record to 10-7-2 Tuesday night with a 3-0 victory at Stowe High. Amanda Armell, Molly Howard and Lizzy Betz fired home the goals for CVU. Maggie Ryan logged a pair of assists.

Goalie Nicole Bonneau had 16 saves in notching her fourth shutout of the season.

Howard, who had a four-goal outburst in the Hawks’ 10-4 victory over Middlebury Union High last Wednesday, now leads CVU goal producers with 17. Armell, who also scored in the Middlebury victory, has 13 tallies.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Redhawk gymnasts set sights on Saturday

Feb. 12, 2009

Hoping to take their performances to the nines, the Champlain Valley Union High gymnasts will need a flurry of nine-plus scores to knock defending champion Essex High from its perch in the annual state meet, set for 2 p.m. on Saturday at Essex.

“Essex is very strong this year,” CVU co-coach Rachel Miller said last week after the Hornets defeated the Redhawks in a head-to-head meeting.

Miller also noted that it was “not our strongest meet” of the season.

The Hawks had a much better night last Friday in their final competitive tune-up before the states, taking the top two positions in all events for a 133.8-130.1 victory at St. Johnsbury Academy.

Ashley Bachand won three skill events — the vault, bars and floor exercise — to take the all-around honors. Bachand had an eye-popping 9.4 in floor exercise and a 9.2 on the vault.

Teammate Kiley Bourdeau won the beam competition —Bachand was runner-up — and took seconds on the vault, the bars and floor exercise, where she drew an excellent 9.25 from judges. Bourdeau was second in all-around.

— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Boys hoops team positioning for playoffs2/12/09

Two games remain in regular season

Feb. 12, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

With just three days left in the regular season, the Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team has two opportunities remaining to lift its postseason playoff seeding.

Coach Scott Bliss and the 10-8 Redhawks head for Essex High on Thursday to tangle with the 13-6 Hornets at 7:30 p.m. Essex bumped CVU 53-40 Jan. 10 at Bremner Gymnasium.

In a Saturday contest at home, the Redhawks will entertain North Country Union High in a 12:30 p.m. varsity start. The game, originally slated for Jan. 3, was postponed by a snow day.

“Every game is important,” Bliss has said over the past week.

After taking care of business with a 55-45, come-from-behind victory at Mount Mansfield Union High last Thursday, CVU tried to crash into the penthouse of 2009 Vermont boys basketball Monday, when 18-0 and Division 1 top seed-to-be Burlington High bused into Hinesburg in search of its 43rd straight victory.

The Redhawks did get into the living room for a while, but were denied a place at the highly regarded table when the Seahorses, starting late in the third period, put together a 17-0 run for a 50-29 triumph.

While they never led, the Redhawks hung around. After two first period ties (7-7 and 9-9), Burlington led for the remainder of the game. CVU, however, pulled off a 7-0 run of its own in the third period, getting to within 33-26 with 1:01 left in the quarter on a three-pointer by junior reserve Chris Nigh.

But after that rush, the CVU shooting drew only icicles. The Redhawks went ouch-for-10 from the floor and did not score again until junior Andrew Leckerling hit a free throw in the closing minutes.

By that time, the Seahorses — led by 6-foot-4 Joe O’Shea with 15 points, 6-foot-7 center Clancy Rugg with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and 6-foot-2 Kevin Cherry with 11 points — had control and the reserves on the floor.

Bliss had his team in a deliberate offense and a hard-working man-to-man defense that limited fast and quick Burlington to just two three-pointers over the first 3.5 quarters. BHS had eight treys in knocking off North Country last Thursday.

CVU was led by John Donnelly, who notched four of his first five shots to put up 10 points, all in the first half. Jack Jesset was held to four points, but had three assists and three rebounds against the big BHS front line.

Robert Russ had six points for the Hawks.

Redhawks mount comeback vs. Cougars

In Jericho, CVU found itself trailing an inspired 3-14 Mount Mansfield team 17-3 late in the first quarter in a Cougars’ den where victories have historically been hard to come by.

The starting five of Jesset, Jake and John Donnelly, Ryan Poirier and Russ, after being lifted by Bliss, returned to the fray and immediately rolled to a 23-3 bender and 26-23 edge at halftime.

CVU extended the margin to 45-29 early in the fourth quarter before Mount Mansfield rallied to close to within the final 10-point margin.

Jesset had a production night with 11 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, six steals and two blocked shots, a virtual general store of hoop goodies.

John Donnelly knocked down seven of 13 shots for 20 points to go with four rebounds. Jake Donnelly had six points and six grabs off the boards, while Poirer popped in 11 points, including two long-range threes in the fourth quarter that scuttled the Cougars’ comeback hopes.

The youthful Mount Mansfield team was led by freshman Tom Lacy with 11 points. Conor Leland, who lit up Bremner Gymnasium for 20 points two weeks ago, was ill and played sparingly, getting seven tallies.

Coach Seth Emerson’s junior varsity bowed 60-40 to a hot-shooting Burlington team after scoring a 56-40 victory at Mount Mansfield.


Burlington (50)

Cherry 5 0-0 11, Hale 1 4-4 6, Rugg 5 2-2 13, Norris 1 0-0 2, O’Shea 5 5-6 15, Alexander 0 0-0 0, Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Grady 1 0-0 3, Davis 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 11-12 50.

CVU (29)

Jesset 2 0-0 4, Ja. Donnelly 1 0-0 3, Jo. Donnelly 4 1-1 10, Poirier 0 0-0 0, Russ 3 0-0 6, Beaton 1 0-0 2, Duke 0 0-0 0, Nigh 1 0-0 3, Hurd 0 0-0 0, Gale 0 0-0 0, Leckerling 0 1-2 1, Rensch 0 0-0 0, Lambert 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 2-3 29.

BHS    13    11    11    15 – 50

CVU     9    8    9    3 – 29


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District meets loom for CVU alpine skiers2/12/09

Feb. 12, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Competition at Stowe Mountain Resort on Thursday against several high school teams will be the final tune-up for the Champlain Valley Union High alpine ski teams before the upcoming Northern Vermont District meets.

The girls will square off in their districts on Tuesday at Mount Ellen, while the boys will have their competition on Friday, Feb. 20 at Smugglers’ Notch Resort in Jeffersonville.

The Jeffersonville slopes were where the CVU team captured the title in a combined boys-girls event this past weekend against 10 other schools.

In final team scores, the Redhawks swooped to a 148 to 266 triumph over runner-up Stowe High.

“We had a good weekend,” summed up CVU alpine coach Mike Minnerly.

Cassie Smith, who took fifth in the two-run slalom and ninth in giant slalom, led the girls team in the two-event races. Allie Maynes was eighth in GS, while Mariah Hill took sixth in the slalom combined times.

Dan Caffrey (4th), Cody Putre (5th) and Sam Darling (7th) paced CVU in the giant slalom. Caffrey took third, Putre seventh and Warren Colomb 10th in the combined slalom runs.

Darling, one of the usual leaders for the Redhawks, had one of those tough days in the slalom.

“He fell in the first run and so was 47th before the second run,” Minnerly said. “He also crashed during the second run, but picked himself up and got down the hill fast enough to boost his combined finish to 23rd.”

Minnerly is confident the teams will do well in their districts.

“We have great depth on the boys side,” he said. “We have 11 skiers capable of top 10 finishes.

The coach said there is depth on the girls side too, with Smith the most consistent high finisher, as well as solid work from Maynes, Erika Gobeille and four freshmen.


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Murky playoff picture for CVU boys hockey2/12/09

Feb. 12, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

“We could finish anywhere from first to sixth,” a prognosticating Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey coach Doug Hopper said on Tuesday, speaking about seedings for the upcoming Division 1 playoffs.

Hopper’s Redhawks were looking ahead to the final two games of the regular season: Wednesday at Rutland, set to be played after press deadline, and Saturday at 4:15 in Barre against Spaulding High.

In previous matches, the Redhawks trimmed Rutland 8-1 at Cairns Arena in late December. CVU lost to Spaulding at home, 2-1, on Jan. 10.

“These games are very big,” Hopper said. “We have a bit of control in that if we win both we could finish second in the (postseason) pairings.”

The CVU coach said defending Division 1 champion Essex High is likely to get the top seed, “but you never know. It is an interesting league this year.”

Typical of the league’s balance is that the 9-6-3 Redhawks went to Rutland on Wednesday with two straight losses on their resume. Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, a team they tied earlier in the campaign, shut them out 2-0 last Wednesday at Cairns.

On Saturday, also at Cairns, Colchester High popped the Hawks 3-1. This after CVU bumped off the Lakers twice earlier in the campaign.

“Colchester played a great game against us,” said Hopper. “But our guys did get their energy back with a solid third period.”

Sam Parent got the lone CVU goal, with an assist from Brady DeHayes.

Hopper is hoping that a slew of injuries that has plagued the Redhawks is over.

Defensemen Peter Levack, Eric Robinson and Chris Howard, as well as forward Ben Soll, have all been out, but all are just back or should be ready for the playoffs.

In addition, forward Tim Reichert is just returning to playing shape after missing most of the season with an ankle injury.

“I have not seen anything like this,” said Hopper. “There has not been a game, except for the first five minutes of the opener, when we had everybody in good health.”

Reichert went down with the angry ankle in that late November opening game.

The coach recalled only one injury last year that cost a player any time on the ice.

The playoff quarterfinal round opens a week from Saturday.


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Redhawks nip St. Johnsbury in girls hoops2/12/09

Feb. 12, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The young Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team has three games left to mount a late charge for the best possible seeding in the upcoming Division 1 playoffs.


    Observer photo by Pogo Senior
Carlee Evans (1), a Champlain Valley Union High junior, circles past St. Johnsbury Academy guard Brittany Regis on Tuesday night.

Having won their last two outings to boost their season mark to 9-8, coach Stan Williams and his Redhawks will host Essex High at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. They’ll then take to the road next week for a 7:30 p.m. Tuesday session at highly regarded Burlington High and for the regular season finale at equally strong Spaulding High in Barre on Thursday.

But the Redhawks have been showing some toughness of their own.

In nipping now 9-8 St. Johnsbury Academy 46-42 at home Tuesday night, CVU overcame a chilly second half shooting performance (7-for-33) to halt a late Hilltopper rally and even the season series with the Green and White at one game each. St. Johnsbury had squeezed past the Redhawks 40-37 in the Northeast Kingdom last month.

After a scintillating first half in which they shot 50 percent (11-of-22) from the floor to grab a 28-20 halftime advantage, the Hawks simply went cold on offense, hitting just three of 14 third period shots.

St. Johnsbury, unable to gain offensive continuity against Williams’ trapping 2-1-2 zone, had its own problems until late in the third quarter, when go-go guard Hannah Rowe (19 points, 6 rebounds) popped in seven counters to get the Hilltoppers to within 35-32 by the beginning of the final reel.

A difficult customer for CVU to deal with was St. Jay’s hard- working forward Adama Kay. The sophomore was all over the offensive boards, hauling down 13 rebounds and scoring 10 points.

With its shooting woes continuing, CVU fell behind 38-37 and 40-39 before guard Carlee Evans secured an offensive rebound and got the ball to Allison Gannon for a short jumper to put the Redhawks back in the lead with 3:08 to go.

Guard Kendall Berry laid in a rebound with less than two minutes left to put the Hawks up by three, but St. Johnsbury got to within 43-42 on a pair of charity tosses by reserve Britney Lane.

Evans then coolly swished two free throws with 24 seconds left and Berry popped the ultimate clincher, a charity toss at the six second mark.

Gannon had a blue collar night with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. Forward Renick Lalancette, who fired in 18 points in last Friday’s 55-46 victory at North Country Union, had 11 counters and six rebounds

Evans darted around for five points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal, and with fellow guards Berry, Kate Bashaw (6 points) and Amanda Kinneston, aggressively worked the top of the CVU zone to clamp down on their Hilltopper counterparts.

Williams was without starting forward Kendal Kohlasch (slight concussion at North Country) and valued frontcourt reserve Shea Hulbert. Both are day-to-day.

The junior varsity boosted its record to 12-4 with a 46-32 win over the Hilltopper juniors.

St. Johnsbury (42)

Driscoll 2 1-3 7, Kay 4 2-5 10, Calkins 0 0-2 0, Regis 2 0-2 4, Rowe 6 6-7 19, Lane 0 2-2 2, Bruckner 0 0-0 0, Linowes 0 0-0 0, Weaver 0 0-1 0. Totals 14 11-22 42.

CVU (46)

Lalancette 5 1-2 11, Gannon 7 2-3 17, Berry 1 1-3 3, Evans 1 3-5 5, Kinneston 0 0-0 0, Bashaw 2 1-2 6, Russ 2 0-0 4, Giles 0 0-0 0, Rock 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 8-15 46.

ST. J    11    9    12    10 – 42

CVU    12    16    7    11 – 46


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Education Briefs2/12/09

Feb. 12, 2009

Map wiz

Congratulations to Jonathan Liebman, an eighth grader at Williston Central School, who recently won the Geographic Bee. Liebman will represent the school in the Vermont State competition.

Future business owners

Champlain Valley Union High School entrepreneurship students in Tamie-Jo Dickinson’s class recently completed their mid-term exam — an elevator pitch competition, in which students had two minutes to convey the heart of their business to judges. The students outlined their business proposals, marketing strategies and competitive advantages.

Christopher Ghazi of Williston finished in first place, followed by Wells Griffin of Shelburne in second place and Jason Schneiderman of Williston in third.

Parent workshops

Jeanine Fitzgerald, founder of the Better Behavior Institute and an internationally recognized human behavior consultant, will offer three workshops for parents, teachers and other professionals who work with children.

The first workshop, “Different Children, Different Needs,” is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 17 and will explore the unique pattern of influences upon a child’s behavior and development. The workshop will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Bellwether School, located at 1186 South Brownell Road in Williston.

Subsequent workshops will be March 30 and April 14. They are sponsored by The Bellwether School and The Schoolhouse Learning Center in South Burlington. Fees are $10 per session or $25 for all three.

For more information or to register, contact Debbie Millon at or 863-4839.


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Making sense of the NECAP scores2/12/09

School officials react to test results

Feb. 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

More than a week after the release of the statewide New England Common Assessment Program tests, local school and Chittenden South Supervisory Union administrators are sifting through the data and looking to make educational improvements.

Overall, the Williston School District and Champlain Valley Union High School scored above the state average in all subject areas, but struggled with scores for economically disadvantaged and special needs students.

The exams, known as the NECAP tests, were administered in October 2008 and track student academic progress, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Grades three through eight and grade 11 take the reading and math exams, while grades five, eight and 11 take the writing portion.

District Principal Walter Nardelli said last week he was pleased Williston performed higher than the state average — 80 percent of students scored proficient or higher in reading, 79 percent did so in math and 64 percent did so in writing — but said more work needs to be done for certain students.

Jude Newman, CSSU’s director of curriculum, assessment and professional development, said she’s pleased all the schools in the supervisory union performed above state averages. But she said she’s “worried” after looking at the numbers for economically disadvantaged and special needs students.

“It’s something that’s bothering us a lot,” Newman said.

Williston reflected the state averages for both subgroups. The percentage of economically disadvantaged students meeting proficiency hovered around 50 percent in reading and math. Numbers were lower for special needs, around 22 percent proficiency in both subject areas.

Williston wasn’t the only district with low scores for both subgroups. Newman said it’s a statewide and supervisory-wide issue that needs to be addressed. While Newman would not comment directly on Williston’s results, she did say schools in the union are adopting a “response to intervention” stance, which tests key students on a weekly basis to make sure they’re not falling behind. Known as RTI, the idea is to catch students who struggle on certain subjects and make sure they understand what they’re learning before moving on to new topics.

Williston implemented RTI in a district-wide capacity last year. Nardelli said results from the program might become evident in 2009’s fall NECAP scores. Nardelli also hopes the 2009 scores will reflect some of the supplemental services and after-school tutoring some economically disadvantaged and special needs student can receive through the school.

Newman said improving those students’ scores is a top priority in the supervisory union, and the schools are constantly looking for ways to improve teaching methods.

“We really, really want to see a change for us with that group of students,” Newman said. “We will not stop until we see the results change.”

CVU reactions

In the second year of administering the exam to its juniors, CVU had similar scores in reading and math from the previous year — 79 percent of students scored proficient or higher in reading, 46 percent did so in math. Writing scores showed noticeable improvement, as they did statewide. CVU had 62 percent of students score proficient or higher this year, as opposed to last year’s 55 percent.

“We’ve had a focus on writing for a quite a while,” Principal Sean McMannon said.

McMannon said he was pleased the school beat the state averages and showed improvements in writing, but said he was in something of a “holding pattern” in terms of analyzing student improvement through the years.

“I’m more concerned about how (individual) students have improved,” McMannon said.

This year’s 11th graders are the first group of students who have also taken the NECAPs in middle school. He said analysis of those results were in their early stages.

McMannon said he’s also interested in trends, and it would be difficult to find them with only the second year on the exams.

“To get any kind of trending, you want five to six years of hard data,” McMannon said.

He was reticent to talk about comparisons to area high schools, since some performed better than CVU on reading and on par in math, while all scored lower in writing. Again, he wanted to see what the trends in the data would be.

McMannon said scores for economically disadvantaged and special needs students are lower than he and the faculty would like, but there are programs in place to reach students early on when they need help in certain subject areas. The high school identifies students who need help with reading and math before they get to CVU, so when school begins, extra help can commence immediately.

CVU was below the state average in reading and math scores for economically disadvantaged students and close to average for special needs students.

Teachers and staff will go through the test to see if there are any major curriculum gaps that need to be addressed. But he stressed high school learning encompasses a wider approach than what’s found on the NECAP.

“I don’t want to ever foster a culture of teaching to the test,” McMannon said.


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Frameworks Committee postpones forums2/12/09

New building configurations being discussed

Feb. 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

In a near last minute decision, members of the Williston Conceptual Frameworks Committee and the school administration postponed a community forum that had been scheduled for Monday night.

The community forum would have been a chance for parents to weigh in on the best building and grade-grouping configuration options for the schools. But Mary Jane Shelley, the committee’s facilitator, said a different building configuration option was being discussed in the group and there wasn’t enough time to adequately present the option to the public before the Feb. 9 meeting. The committee spent much of its Feb. 5 meeting hammering out different design possibilities for the new building configuration option.

Shelley stressed that the group wanted to make this new configuration option easy to understand in a forum setting and to work out a few more details before bringing it before the community. She added that configuration recommendations to the School Board, scheduled for April, should not be delayed by the postponed forums.

Even with the new building configuration change, the forum was going to take place as planned. But Shelley decided more time was needed. An Alert Now notice went out to parents of students on Sunday. The community forum, along with a teacher’s forum, will be rescheduled for early March. Shelley said she hopes to know a date by next week.

“The community and teachers will be able to get more information and give better feedback to the committee,” Shelley said.

The new building configuration option would put grades one through four at Allen Brook School, and grades five through eight, along with pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, at Williston Central School. In the community and teacher forums, there were many positive comments about this configuration, but participants did not like what would have to be sacrificed — namely art and music rooms at Allen Brook. But with new enrollment projections for the 2010-2011 school years — when a new configuration could go into effect — the music and art rooms look to remain.

“When the administration originally figured out the numbers on all the building configuration options, they were thinking of next year (2009-2010),” Shelley said.

The only room that would be affected for this building configuration would be a computer lab at Allen Brook School. For the first year of a new configuration, this option would require computers to be brought into classrooms and the lab be used as office space. But with no impact on classroom space, this was seen as a favorable alternative.

Shelley said the committee believes the new option satisfies more items on a list of top 10 criteria the committee had previously compiled. The previous building option the committee considered, which would have placed kindergarten through third grade at Allen Brook, with pre-kindergarten and fourth through eighth grade at Williston Central, is no longer on the table, Shelley said.

Still, Shelley said the committee needs to understand the tradeoffs various grade configuration options might bring. Administration and School Board members plan to look closely this week at each of the configuration options the committee has proposed for feedback at the forums, to make sure the community and teachers understand all the details before providing input. Shelley said more concrete numbers and information should be available in time for the committee’s Feb. 19 meeting.

“This new building configuration offers the possibility of allowing for four-year grade spans and shorter grade spans, as well as the same age groups in one building,” Shelley said.

The community and teachers will also have the opportunity to weigh in on the option of keeping the current configuration with no changes, Shelley added.

The next Frameworks Committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 19 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The dates for the community and teacher’s forums have yet to be announced.


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Williston Central School on heightened alert2/12/09

School put in lockdown last week

Feb. 12, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Williston Central School went into a lockdown last Wednesday and remained on alert this week after receiving reports that a family matter may endanger a student.

School Principal Jackie Parks said it was a precaution the school took to protect the student.

“It was a situation involving one of our students that could have spilled into the school,” Parks said, adding the school went into a lockdown mode beginning around mid-morning.

Doors were locked all around the school, as they normally are, along with the front doors, Parks said. Staff members let people into the school through the front doors and students were kept in from recess. Parks said students probably would have remained indoors for recess anyway due to the day’s frigid temperatures.

Parks also said police were aware of the lockdown, but were not a presence on the campus.

The Observer was unable to speak with the police officers involved with the case before press deadline.

District Principal Walter Nardelli declined to go into details about the family dispute, only saying that the incident revolved around a “relation to the student.” Nardelli said police believe the relative is no longer in the area and poses no threat, but since the person can’t be located, the school is being cautious this week.

While not calling it a full lockdown, Nardelli said the front doors are being locked this week after the last bus has dropped off students. A staff member will be on hand in the lobby to let people in.

Nardelli said there was no danger to the student body and he expects everything to return to normal by the end of the week.


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