March 19, 2019

War hits home for Williston family

    Observer photo by Greg Elias
The Lunna family — (from left) Cassandra, Jennifer, Shania and Stephen — poses at the Williston home. Sgt. Maj. Stephen Lunna will depart next month for his second deployment to Afghanistan. See story below.

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War hits home for Williston family

    Observer photo by Greg Elias
The Lunna family — (from left) Cassandra, Jennifer, Shania and Stephen — poses at the Williston home. Sgt. Maj. Stephen Lunna will depart next month for his second deployment to Afghanistan. See story below.

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Sports Notes (12/23/09)

CVU gymnasts have home meet on Tuesday

A rare, weekday home competition awaits the Champlain Valley Union High gymnastics team Tuesday when the St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltoppers come to Williston’s Green Mountain Gymnastics (240 Pioneer St.) for a meet starting at 1 p.m.

The Redhawks came away from Saturday’s Rebel Invitational with some solid performances.

In the four divisions of competition, which matched competitors by their high school class, Ashley Bachand, Madision Bourdeau and Amanda Holman came away with significant scores.

Bachand took top honors among sophomores in the vault and bars and tied for the lead on the beam. Her scores on the vault and bars were the best of the day.

Bourdeau posted the top freshman scores on the vault, bars and beam.

Holman was runner-up among seniors on the vault and tied for second on the bars.


Two CVU athletes nominated for scholarship

Two Champlain Valley Union High senior athletes are among six Chittenden County high school fall sports stars nominated for scholarships by Burlington’s Ethan Allen Club.

Kelsey Jensen for field hockey and Addie Peterson in soccer were two of the three girls sports participants to receive a fall nomination. There will be additional nominees for winter and spring sports, with the winners of the $2,500 scholarships, one for boys, one for girls, to be announced at a June dinner.

Several criteria are used for selecting nominees including athletic achievement, academic success (at least a B-plus average) and community contributions.

Linsey Judge of Essex High cross country was the third girls nominee.

Boys named were Max Librizzi of Essex football, Ben Lustgarten of Burlington High cross country and South Burlington High soccer player Andrew Mercier.

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Holiday week tests for CVU girls hoops team (12/23/09)

Dec. 23, 2009

Some old antagonists were on the holiday schedule for the Champlain Valley Union High girls basketball team, which took a spiffy 5-0 record into its Tuesday night home contest against 2-3 Rice Memorial High.

On Monday, the Redhawks will take a ride to Barre for a 7 p.m. meeting with a solid Spaulding High team before returning home Wednesday for a 5:30 p.m. rematch against South Burlington High.

So far, the Redhawks are looking good on facing teams a second time around. At least once, that is.

On Friday, coach Stan Williams and his merry hoopsters travelled to the Jericho Center digs of the Mount Mansfield High Cougars and laid a 43-30 licking on the Big Cats. This after the two teams had gone to overtime before CVU could pull out a 55-51 victory in the season-opener on Dec. 4.

Allison Gannon unloaded 20 points on the Cougars, who fell to 2-4.

The Redhawks’ bench also chipped in as nine players got into the scoring column.

Tesse Bugbee was a force for MMU, swishing three treys among her 11 points.


— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Redhawks seek to extend win streak (12/23/09)

Boys hockey team has three straight victories

Dec. 23, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

The Champlain Valley Union High boys hockey team will be skating for a fourth straight victory Wednesday when 2-3 Hartford High comes to Cairns Arena.

The puck drops at 5:30 p.m.

Next up for the defending Division 1 champion Redhawks will be their first meeting of the season with the Essex High Hornets a week from Wednesday in Essex, at 5 p.m. The last contest between the two rivals was in the title game late last winter.

The young CVU skaters (4-2) earned their third consecutive victory Saturday by smartly dispatching previously unbeaten Rutland High 4-1 at Cairns Arena. The Red Raiders left town with a 3-1-1 record.

“This is a young team and the guys work hard,” CVU head coach Doug Hopper said.

It is and they did.

The visitors never recovered from a troubled first period in which they were out shot 17-2, leaving their goalie Andrew Boyle possibly wondering if he was a target in a puck proving grounds.

Part of Rutland’s problems in the period was caused by six penalties. Despite swarming around the Raider net, CVU’s lone score came on a power play with 1:02 remaining. Nate LaCroix fired in a rebound off the stick of Kyle Logan, who got an assist.

Boyle had pulled off some robbery specials, especially of Redhawks Robbie Dobrowski and Logan.

CVU got much more efficient with the shots in the second period and lit the lamp three times in nine pops at the net.

Logan fired a riser from 15 feet at the 9:58 mark, Derek Goodwin and Griffin Brady notching the helpers.

The prettiest score of the day came less than a minute later at 9:06. Dobrowski got a puck 20 feet out and neatly stick handled through the entire Rutland defense, deked about four ways and lifted a short shot past Boyle, who had no chance after the Dobrowski moves. LaCroix and Mayson Kropf were given assists.

Sam Parent notched CVU’s final goal at 6:20 when, on a power play, he gathered a loose puck in Rutland territory and let loose a stinging slap shot for the 4-0 edge.

In the meantime, defensemen Cully Millikin, Wilson Yandell and Quinn Kropf, among others, kept the Raiders from mounting any sustained assaults on goalie Mark Albertson, who had 18 stops.

Rutland’s lone tally came with 1:09 remaining in the game when Greg Roy unloaded a zinger.

Boyle wound up with 32 stops on a very busy afternoon.

Last Wednesday, the Redhawks picked up a solid road win, zapping Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans 5-2. Dobrowski and Logan each scored twice while swiftie J.P. Benoit added a singleton.

Albertson collected 19 saves as CVU outshot the Bobwhites 25-21.


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Boys hoops team to entertain St. Albans (12/23/09)

Dec. 23, 2009

Off to a glittering 5-0 start to the season, the Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team has a bunch of Bobwhites and then some Seahorses to contend with over the holiday break.

First up, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, is a visit from Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans. The BFA Bobwhites are no doubt smarting from a 93-57 licking last Thursday at Essex High, where the Hornets are 4-1.

Next Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Coach Scott Bliss and his cagers travel to Burlington High for a crack at the Division 1 runners-up, who took a 5-0 record into this week.

Last Thursday, CVU made it two-for-two against Missisquoi Union, bopping the Thunderbirds 62-51 in their Swanton cage.

Robert Russ, who had some fine moments (14 points and 10 rebounds) in the Dec. 14 victory over Vergennes Union, fired up 23 points in the latest triumph. Jake Donnelly notched 16 and Mike Clayton chipped in 10.


— Mal Boright, Observer correspondent


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Wins keep coming for CVU hockey girls (12/23/09)

Dec. 23, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Just call them The Lamplighters.

The Champlain Valley Union High girls hope to continue their thus-far prolific hockey sniping Wednesday at Cairns Arena, when they put their 6-0 record up against visiting Burlington High (1-4) in a 7:30 p.m. contest.


    Observer photo by Karen Pike
Champlain Valley Union High goalie Nicole Sisk makes a save during the second period of Monday’s game, held at Cairns Arena in South Burlington. CVU’s Amanda Lacaillade (4) also guards the net.


    Observer photo by Karen Pike
Molly Howard (15) of Champlain Valley Union High works the puck past Rice Memorial’s Brigitte Gagne (6) during the second period of Monday’s game.

On the following Wednesday, the Redhawks travel to Highgate for a match with 4-3 Missisquoi Valley Union at 6 p.m.

Starting a week ago this Wednesday, coach Tom Ryan’s aggregation outgunned three foes in six days by a combined 26-5 scoring advantage to hike their season goals for and against mark to 46-10.

The latest triumph came Monday afternoon, an 11-1 victory over Rice Memorial at Cairns Arena.

Molly Howard (three goals, two assists) snapped a 1-1 tie early in the first period and the Redhawks unleashed a torrent of rubber at Green Knights goalie Sydney Carney-Knisely for the remainder of the game. The Rice net minder wound up with 56 stops.

KK Logan and Amanda Armell each potted two scores while Addie Peterson, Maggie Ryan, Sasha Gunther and Hannah Johnson each netted one.

Gunther also passed off for three assists while Ryan, Armell and Johnson got two apiece.

CVU net minder Nicole Sisk made nine stops, including a third-period beauty off Rice’s Annie Maheux on a breakaway.

Ryan was especially pleased with the Redhawks’ 5-2 Saturday win over Hartford on the highly regarded Hurricanes’ home ice.

Sophia Steinhoff paced the victors with three goals, her second chapeau performance in two outings. Two of the scores came with the Redhawks shorthanded.

Armell and Logan also tallied and Howard chipped in with two assists.

Sisk came up with 21 rejections between the CVU pipes. The Redhawks took 23 shots at the Hartford cage.

Last Wednesday, Howard cranked out four goals and Steinhoff added three in a 10-2 bopping of Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester. Logan produced two scores and Armell got one.

Assist leaders were Ryan (three), Logan and Howard (two each).


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CVU to offer online courses (12/23/09)

Dec. 23, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Could the future of high school education include a virtual and global world where students learn alongside peers from all over the planet?


    Contributed photo
Tamie-Jo Dickinson.

Students at Champlain Valley Union High School will find out next school year, when they’ll have the opportunity to take online high school courses in a variety of subjects.

In 2010, CVU will launch a pilot program and offer its first online course through Virtual High School, a nonprofit online education organization based in Massachusetts. Students will have the opportunity to log on to a virtual class and complete lessons and group assignments.

A few students have already taken college-level online classes for extra credits in their senior year, but this will be CVU’s first virtual class tailored to high school.

As more and more education, especially college and graduate-level courses, takes to the Internet, CVU officials believe that offering online classes helps students become more in touch with 21st Century learning.

“Online learning is a key component to high school transformation but must be tempered with the appropriate developmental level of the individual student,” Principal Sean McMannon wrote in an e-mail to the Observer. “We must grow our online learning programs with the needs of all students in mind.”

But will online learning replace old-fashioned, face-to-face instruction? McMannon doesn’t think so and believes there may be a way to blend online instruction with traditional classroom learning.

Officials with Virtual High School, also known as VHS, agree, stating online classes are complementary.

“We’re not out there to replace person-to-person education,” said Carol Arnold, spokesperson with VHS.

Arnold said VHS offers 140 courses per semester, most of them advanced placement and enrichment classes. Many schools that become members of VHS generally lack certain AP classes in their curriculums, but want students to get the chance to take these courses, she said.

Only students in VHS member schools can take the organization’s online classes. VHS has 644 member schools in 31 states and 34 countries.

Guidance Counselor Russel Aceto is CVU’s online class site coordinator. He recently completed a four-week instruction course with VHS on how to work with students in choosing the best online coursework that fits their learning. If CVU decides to move forward with VHS on a more permanent basis, Aceto would organize the high school’s program.

“Personally, I enjoy technology,” Aceto said. “I do not pretend to try and understand all of it, though. The concept of online learning and VHS becomes more and more exciting as ease of access and functionality increases.”

The first online class offered by CVU will be international business. Business teacher Tamie-Jo Dickinson will teach the class and is scheduled to take a course through VHS this spring on how to best administer the virtual classroom.

Dickinson said there will be 25 slots within the class reserved for CVU students, with the possibility for students from other VHS member schools to enroll. The number of spaces for students outside CVU has yet to be determined. Students will be required to complete assignments on deadline and work with fellow classmates on virtual projects, communicating through e-mail and online messaging.

Because it is a pilot program, the international business course at CVU will be the only VHS offering at the high school. If successful, CVU may allow students to take other VHS online classes in future years.

Since many colleges are now making online classes a requirement, it makes sense for CVU to offer similar classes, Dickinson said. She said administrators are debating whether the class will be fully online, or something of a hybrid course with some classroom instruction.

Dickinson has experience with online classes; she earned her M.B.A. through Touro University International, an accredited online college. She said taking the online courses allowed her flexibility to choose when and where she’d read lessons and complete assignments.

She was surprised how the course structures made her a more active learner. The lack of classroom discussion required her to delve more deeply into assignments and research.

“I couldn’t rely on other people in the class to fill in the gaps,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson said she’s found that, in the past few years, more and more learning is taking place online. For instance, e-mail and CVU’s online network have made her more accessible to students than ever. She even gives classroom assignments only through e-mail, she said.

“I’ve found I’m doing a lot more of my teaching electronically,” she said.

While she doesn’t foresee online classes replacing traditional classrooms at CVU, she is thankful the high school is offering this unique opportunity to its students.


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Lunch prices rise in Williston schools (12/23/09)

Dec. 23, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Students returning from the holiday break will notice a difference in the school district’s cafeterias. The price of breakfast and lunch will increase by 50 cents beginning Jan. 4.

The rise in costs comes as the budget deficit for the district’s food service program shows no signs of declining. Food Service Director Scott Wagner said while more students are dining with the hot lunch program, labor and food costs continue to climb.

“We probably should have raised the prices at the beginning of the school year,” Wagner said.

A lunch will now cost $3 for students and $4 for teachers. Breakfasts will increase to $1.75. Students on free or reduced lunch programs will see no change.

Wagner said that while the cost increase could be problematic for some families, the lunch prices are still a good deal for what is offered. Since Wagner was hired last school year, the menu changes daily with more choices, many of which are healthy options.

“We’ve responded to a lot of prior years’ complaints and customer requests,” Wagner said. “I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people.”

But the program’s deficit remains high. According to Bob Mason, Chittenden South Supervisory Union’s chief operations officer, this school year’s projected deficit will run nearly $103,000. The Williston School Board has already pledged to put $25,000 toward curbing the deficit and may decide to use money from the school’s general fund to offset the remaining $77,000.

Deficits have been an annual problem for Williston’s food service program. Last school year, the deficit ran to nearly $119,000 before School Board support, Mason said.

With the 50-cent increase, Mason estimates the school will generate $35,000. It’s not enough to erase the deficit, but it will help, he said.

At a recent School Board meeting, District Principal Walter Nardelli explained the reasoning behind the increase. He said the district does not want to sacrifice quality by reducing lunch options to save money.

“We’re trying to put out very healthy meals with choices,” Nardelli said. “We’ve come so far from where we were before that we don’t want that to change.”

Nardelli added that replacements of out-of-date equipment also contributed to the deficit.

But while the School Board may need to use money from the general fund to offset the food service program deficit again this year, participation rates among students continue to climb. Wagner said November had a 50 percent participation rate among students. That means half the student body bought hot lunch last month on a regular basis.

Looking at preliminary numbers, Wagner believes December will have even higher participation numbers. He said that would make December the food service program’s most successful month in years in terms of participation rates.

At the beginning of this school year, the food service program rolled out a number of changes, including giving itself a new name the Wildcat Café. The program developed a new logo, which it has printed on a series of T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts.

Wagner said he just received the first shipment of Williston basketball shirts and sweatshirts with the Wildcat logo. Instead of saying “Wildcat Café,” the print says “Wildcat Basketball.” He hopes to sell the shirts at sporting events this winter, with profits helping to offset the deficit.


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Fire Log (12/23/09)

Dec. 23, 2009


Chimney fires

> At 6:20 p.m. on Dec. 7, the Williston Fire Department responded to a mutual aid call in Richmond for a reported chimney fire. A fire had started within the flue of a woodstove in a Richmond home and Williston crews helped inspect the chimney to make sure the fire had not spread.

Six firefighters responded to Richmond on Tower 1 and Command Car 1.

> On Dec. 9 at 12:32 a.m., Williston firefighters received a call for another chimney fire, this time at a home in the Pleasant Acres neighborhood. A homeowner put a substantial amount of wood in the woodstove with the flue open, according to firefighter Sean Soper. Creosote ignited within the chimney, causing a minor chimney fire, Soper said.

Firefighters inspected the chimney, allowing the remaining embers to burn out. They then used a chimney brush to make sure a fire would not reignite. Soper said the homeowner was instructed to hire a professional chimney sweep for a full cleaning.

Ten firefighters responded to the call on Engine 3, Tower 1 and Command Car 1.


Barn fire

A barn fire was reported to the Williston Fire Department on Dec. 20 at 9 a.m. The barn, used as a woodworking shop off North Williston Road, caught fire when a chimney blaze ignited from a woodstove, according to the fire department.

Williston firefighters called for mutual aid from several neighboring departments, including Essex, Hinesburg and Richmond. Firefighters discovered a fire burning through some of the walls of the woodworking shop, but were able to stop it from spreading, Soper said. Crews tore up some flooring and inspected walls to ensure the fire did not spread throughout the structure. Soper said that considering the flames, there was minor damage to the barn and the shop could easily be repaired.

Along with firefighters from other town departments, 18 Williston firefighters responded to the scene with Engines 1, 3 and 4, Tower 1 and Hazmat 1.

Soper said this is the prime season for chimney fires, as the weather remains at or below freezing temperatures. He said homeowners should have their chimneys inspected and cleaned to reduce the chance of a chimney fire.

Chimney fires can quickly spread into a home and cause a severe structure fire.


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