May 26, 2018

School Board kicks off budget talks

Oct. 28, 2010

By Greg Duggan
Observer staff

If attendance at two forums on Tuesday was any indication, faculty and staff in the Williston School District have much greater interest than parents in budget talks.

The Williston School Board began the budget season at Williston Central School by hosting two forums — one for faculty and staff, and another for parents. Three parents showed up at the 6 p.m. forum; by comparison, approximately 30 faculty and staff members attended the earlier forum for teachers, board Chairwoman Holly Rouelle and District Principal Walter Nardelli said.

The School Board needs to present its proposed budget by January. With a non-binding directive from the state Legislature to reduce spending, the board wanted to begin its budget process with feedback from teachers and parents.

Under the Challenges for Change bill passed in the spring, the state’s education commission must identify $23.5 million to cut from school budgets statewide. Each supervisory union and school has a budget reduction goal for the next fiscal year, as assigned by the commissioner of education. Williston has a Challenges for Change reduction figure of $265,760.

School districts must decide by Dec. 15 whether they will be able to meet the challenge. Chittenden South Supervisory Union Chief Operations Officer Bob Mason said Williston would receive its baseline budget figure on Nov. 10.

The fact that Challenges for Change is at this point a suggestion rather than a requirement was a major sticking point for parent Joshua Diamond.

“What if we say no (to Challenges for Change), to promote quality education?” Diamond asked, noting that a strong educational system also boosts property values.

Diamond praised the School Board for minimizing budget increases the past few years, and said the district shouldn’t necessarily have to make more cuts this year.

Diamond had support from Larry Lackey, another of the parents at the forum.

“Kids get an excellent education here,” Lackey said.

To bolster Diamond’s argument, Mason and School Board members said that debt the school district usually needs to pay off will come off the books in the next fiscal year; Mason estimated the savings could essentially cover the Challenges for Change figure.

But the board cautioned it wanted to take a long-term approach to the school budget, in case it was forced to make larger cuts in future years. Furthermore, Mason noted the uncertainty in anticipating how the Legislature would react if schools reject Challenges for Change.

The discussion followed a brief presentation by Nardelli and Mason about school curriculum and the budget situation.

As part of the forum, the School Board asked participants four questions: which areas or programs could be reduced or eliminated, which areas or programs should not be reduced, what are the minimum requirements for providing a quality education and in what ways can the school district “rethink the way (it) currently provide(s) education to preserve the quality and programs while funding sources decline?”

Diamond, Lackey and parent Jan Mazzone all preferred to make as few cuts as possible. Mazzone encouraged the school to continue its enrichment programs, while looking to trim the outdated parts of educational programs.

All three parents said they attended the forum to voice support for the school district and to ensure a quality education for their kids.

“I’m interested in my kids’ future,” Mazzone said.

“I think schools are the core of our communities,” Diamond said.

Nardelli and Rouelle said they were impressed by the teacher turnout and suggestions, which included thoughts of a longer school year — classes would run the same number of days, but over a more spread out schedule — and offering more online services.

Nardelli plans to compile and type up the suggestions, and to continue the discussion with the school’s Program Council.

The School Board plans to continue budget discussions in mid-November, and encouraged parents to participate in the process.

“We’re at the very beginning stages,” Rouelle said.

The next Williston School District budget hearing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 at Williston Central School.

Musical brings Caribbean beats to CVU

Oct. 28, 2010

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Sasha Torrens-Sperry (from left), Greg Zengilowski and Amelia Munson practice a song called ‘Pray.’ (Observer photo by Stephanie Choate)

For Candy Padula’s first play as Champlain Valley Union High School’s theater program director, she chose her favorite musical.

“As it’s my first show at CVU, I wanted it to be a special one,” she said.

“Once On This Island,” the school’s fall musical, is set to open Oct. 28 and run through Saturday.

“It is so beautiful and there’s always something going on, always something that I think will take the audience’s breath away,” Padula said. “It’s a fast-moving show, very high energy.”

Set on a Caribbean island divided between two isolated societies, the play is loosely based on “The Little Mermaid.” It follows the story of TiMoune, a peasant girl who falls in love with Daniel, an upper class boy from the other side of the island, after saving his life.

Senior Amelia Munson, who plays TiMoune, is no stranger to the play. A longtime participant in school drama programs, she has taken part in this musical in some capacity four times. She has even played TiMoune before — though she was in middle school.

“It’s definitely not the same this time,” she said with a laugh. “I’ve brought a lot of different stuff to the role that I couldn’t at 12 years old.”

Munson said viewers shouldn’t expect the Disney version, but that the play is a “beautiful story.”

“It teaches us all the reasons we should celebrate happiness and celebrate life,” she said.

Senior Matthew Shepardson, who plays the god Agwe, said he also likes the storyline.

“It’s a great family experience and a lot of fun,” Shepardson said. “It’s fun music and dancing.”

Shepardson said he has been acting in plays since he was 5 or 6 years old.

“You get to take on a different persona and be someone else, but you can still put parts of yourself in different characters.”

Padula said she loves the music and dancing in “Once On This Island.”

“I’m a choreographer, and I enjoy a lot of dancing in a show,” she said. “This show is almost nonstop movement and dancing from start to finish. It’s often been referred to as a choreographer’s dream.”

Although this is Padula’s first time directing at CVU, she is by no means a stranger to the drama world.

Padula has been involved in theater since she was a preteen, and has been directing “forever.” She ran the drama program at Trinity College before becoming a director at Mount Mansfield Union High School in Jericho, where she has been for the past 11 years. Padula will continue to direct plays at Mount Mansfield in addition to CVU.

During the last few weeks of rehearsals, Padula said she is too busy to be nervous or excited about the show.

“This last week of rehearsing a show is always a challenge for everyone,” she said. “We’re all invested and we’re all exhausted and working very hard and everything that could go wrong goes wrong, and then we figure out how to fix it.”

Padula said she is looking forward to opening night.

“I’m excited for the show to open, because that’s when I get to sit back and relax a little bit and watch it,” she said. “It’s a beautiful show to watch and enjoy.”

Performances of “Once On This Island” are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 and 29, and 2 p.m. on Oct. 30. Tickets are $6 for students and faculty and $8 for general admission. They can be purchased in advance at CVU during lunch periods or at Brown Dog Books in Hinesburg.

VIDEO: Williston School Board meeting

Oct. 22, 2010

The Williston School Board held its monthly meeting on Oct. 13.

Video courtesy of RETN Channel 16.

PHOTOS: Nordic soccer in Columbus Day tourney

Oct. 21, 2010

Courtesy photos

The Nordic U-12 Boys Premier soccer team won the 8 vs. 8 Premier Division in a World Cup Columbus Day Soccer Tournament played in Nashua, N.H. Williston players included Max Hamrell, William Hubbard and Brock and Dillion Hamrell.

PHOTOS: CVU Spirit Day & craft fair

Oct. 21, 2010

Observer photos by Stephanie Choate

Champlain Valley Union High School held a craft fair as part of its Spirit Day festivities on Oct. 16.

PHOTOS: CVU football vs. Colchester

Oct. 21, 2010

Observer photos by Stephanie Choate

The Champlain Valley Union High football team beat Colchester High 23-14 on Oct. 16, CVU’s Spirit Day.

PHOTOS: CVU football vs. Colchester

Oct. 21, 2010

Courtesy photos by Joe Kropf

The Champlain Valley Union High football team beat Colchester High 23-14 on Oct. 16, CVU’s Spirit Day.

CVU girls soccer team handles South Burlington

Regular season finale on Friday

Oct. 21, 2010

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

A rematch between the 2009 Division 1 finalists Burlington High and the Champlain Valley Union High girls soccer team will close out the Redhawks’ regular season Friday at 4 p.m. at their Hinesburg Heights Nest.

CVU popped the defending champion Seahorses 5-1 just two weeks ago on Burlington High’s turf.

Before the Friday contest, the 11-1 Redhawks had some business at Essex High on Wednesday. The game was scheduled for after press deadline.

South Burlington High (6-6) tested the Red and White Monday in a contest rescheduled from Saturday. South Burlington came up short by a 6-0 tally, the Redhawks scoring three times in each half at their home field.

Amanda Kinneston notched a pair of goals, one of them a penalty kick, and Sophia Steinhoff launched one goal and helped out on two others. Shelby Hanlon, Molly Howard and Katie Parker also scored, Parker blasting her second penalty kick in the last two games. Howard and Parker also had assists.

CVU controlled the territorial play, outshooting the Rebels 16-7.

Regular CVU net minder Emily Sackett had two stops and gave way to Bryn Philbert and Sarah Monteith in the second half. Philbert made two saves and Monteith had three.

It was the eighth shutout of the season for CVU, which has outscored the opposition 51-3.

Redhawks remain unbeaten with win over MMU

Two home games remain for boys soccer team

Oct. 21, 2010

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Hustling forward Nick Spencer of the Champlain Valley Union High boys soccer team has over the course of the season had some eerily near misses on scoring opportunities.

But he has kept on dashing and slashing and Tuesday it paid off with two goals as he led the undefeated Redhawks to a 5-0 victory over Mount Mansfield Union at the Cougars’ Jericho Center lair.

The victory gives the Redhawks a 10-0-1 season mark going into the final contests of the regular campaign. Essex High, 9-3, rolls into Hinesburg at 4 p.m. Thursday, to be followed by 3-9 North Country Union at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Also scoring Tuesday for the ’Hawks were Tanner Tomasi, Henry Sengle and Hans Fredrik Fahle. Midfielder Tino Tomasi, who had missed two games with an injury, returned to action with a pair of assists.

Jeffrey Wettstein and Golden Golann split the CVU goalkeeping duties and combined had 10 stops. The Redhawks fired 18 shots at MMU net minder Dan Ebenstein.

Spencer also had a key assist last Wednesday in a 1-0 win over tough Burlington High. Spencer got the ball to Mac Edgerton, who launched the lone score of the game with 13 minutes and 58 seconds left.

Burlington, 9-2-1 after a 2-0 triumph over North Country on Tuesday, had stymied the Redhawks with a scoreless tie at BHS earlier in the season.

“They are a good team and very athletic,” CVU coach T.J. Mead said of the Seahorses.

In the meantime, CVU’s Goose Egg Gang now has 10 shutouts in 11 outings, a mark that senior defender Eric MacLean acknowledged is a source of pride for the team.

Redhawks buoyed by win over Lakers

CVU football team in Milton on Friday

Oct. 21, 2010

By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

Redhawks Eric Palmer (30) and Derrick Goodwin (28) make a tackle during Champlain Valley Union High’s 23-14 win over Colchester High on Saturday. (Courtesy photo by Joe Kropf)

With the Division 2 playoff race waxing hotter than a Phoenix heat wave, the Champlain Valley Union High football team heads for a nocturnal block and tackling session at Milton High at 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Redhawks (5-2 overall, 5-1 division) shook off their second loss of the season, which came Oct. 8 in Middlebury to the unbeaten Tigers (7-0, 5-0), by bumping off defending Division 2 champ Colchester High 23-14 on Saturday. The game put the Lakers at 3-2 in the highly competitive grouping.

“Milton will be fighting for its (playoff) life,” CVU head coach Jim Provost said Monday. “They will throw everything they have got at us.”

Milton is 4-3 overall, 2-3 in Division 2.

Last Friday night at home, the Yellow Jackets scored on an 8-yard pass play with 13 seconds left to snap a tie and win 18-12 over visiting North Country Union, which fell to 2-3 in the division.

CVU’s prescription for victory on Saturday was a smoothly operating offense early and some stubborn, all-hands-on-deck defense in the second half that blunted serious Colchester threats.

Helping things along was the presence of 23 cheerleaders in the red colors, the first CVU enthusiasm-building squad in years.

The contest teetered on the brink of a shaky 16-14 lead for the Redhawks until sophomore linebacker Tyler Barnes halted a fourth quarter Laker drive. Colchester had reached the CVU 31 before Barnes made a critical pass interception and 62-yard return for a touchdown with 3:11 remaining.

Tucker Kohlasch knocked through his second extra point of the day for the final nine-point margin. Kohlasch, Old Thunderfoot, had booted a 35-yard field goal in the first half.

Primary threat and gray hair producer for the CVU coaching staff was Colchester’s Devon Grammo. The all-state halfback legged out 144 yards in 20 carries and returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score the first time he touched the ball in the first period.

“He never stops,” CVU linebacker Konnor Fleming said of the apparently slight 5-foot-8, 155-pound Grammo. “He twists and turns and is strong and hard to bring down.”

CVU defenders did keep the little dynamo out of the end zone after the long kickoff return, although Grammo got loose for runs of 40 and 30 yards in Laker drives.

“If you had told me before the game that we would hold Grammo to 144 yards I would have taken it,” Provost said.

CVU had some churning legs of its own, led by Fleming with 166 yards in 20 totes. The quarterback’s stats included a second period, 86-yard scoring dash around right end on a keeper that, with the point after, put CVU up 16-7.

The Redhawks had opened the game with a nifty, all-tools 64-yard scoring drive, with Fleming and Barnes running and Fleming hitting three-for-three in passes to end Taylor Gingras. It was Gingras on a slick run, delay and then scoot pattern down the right sideline who got loose for a perfectly placed pass from Fleming for the touchdown.

After a missed extra point, Grammo made his long sortie and Colchester had a 7-6 lead.

Fleming and Barnes produced some ground pounding and CVU rolled right back to the Colchester 19, from where Kohlash booted his field goal for a 9-7 CVU edge.

The Lakers did not get their offense untracked until late in the first half. After recovering a CVU fumble at their 8, Colchester rumbled 92 yards in 12 plays, Grammo putting up runs of 16 and 30 yards. Alec Kozlowski plunged 3 yards for the six-pointer.

In the second half, the CVU defense bent but did not break.

A lethal-looking Colchester clock-killing 14-play drive in the third quarter ended in a failed field goal try from the 10. Barnes had tackled Grammo for a 6-yard loss on a play that started on the 4, and an incomplete pass failed to convert on third down.

A Grammo pass interception (his second) gave Colchester the ball on the CVU 46 early in the fourth quarter. That thrust stalled at the 23 following sure tackles by Fleming, Barnes and hefty defensive lineman Dale Conger on consecutive plays. The middle of the CVU defense then rose up to deny a fourth-and-one plunge by occasional quarterback Taylor St. Germain.

“The whole team really played well on defense,” Provost said.

“Our coaches had us well prepared,” said veteran lineman and co-captain Crawford Morris, who thought the action in the trenches went well for CVU.

Barnes slammed into the Laker line for 24 yards in 11 carries while J.P. Benoit had 15 yards in seven lugs. Gingras caught eight balls for 83 yards and the touchdown.

The pass defense and rushing of the passer held Colchester to three completions for 31 yards, and two interceptions (Gingras had the other) in 13 throws.

Provost said one of the overlooked big CVU plays was Fitzgerald’s only punt of the day, a 42-yarder that knocked the Lakers back to their 25 with 4:57 to go in the fourth quarter.

Colchester-CVU, Stats

Colchester                  7                  7                  0                  0   –   14

CVU                                    9                  7                  0                  7   –   23


First downs                                                      16                                    10

Rushing yards                                    246                                    211

Passing yards                                    31                                    83

Return yards                                    136                                    98

Comp-Att-Int                                    3-13-2                  5-11-3

Punts-avg                                                      1-41                                    1-42

Fumbles-lost                                    5-1                                    2-2

Penalties-yards                                    1-5                                    4-45