July 19, 2019

PHOTOS: Community food drive

More than 30 residents of  Pinecrest Village and Balsalm Circle came together on Nov. 22 and 23 to collect food and raise money for the Williston Community Food Shelf during a food drive organized by Rev. Ramona Guadalupe. Residents donated $290, plus tables full of produce, non-perishable goods, toiletries and even two turkeys. (Observer courtesy photos by Ramona Guadalupe)

More than 30 residents of Pinecrest Village and Balsalm Circle came together on Nov. 22 and 23 to collect food and raise money for the Williston Community Food Shelf during a food drive organized by Rev. Ramona Guadalupe. Residents donated $290, plus tables full of produce, non-perishable goods, toiletries and even two turkeys. (Observer courtesy photos by Ramona Guadalupe)

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Everyday Gourmet: Noshing nostalgia

By Kim Dannies

The holidays always make me feel nostalgic in a nice, old-fashioned way. It’s the time of year I can feel homesick, even when I am already at home. It’s fun to splurge on some classic snacks while decorating and wrapping. Kettle chips, popcorn triangles, gluten-free crackers, toasted naan bread, crudités—all are excellent scoopers for noshing the season.


Hot Artichoke Dip  

My pal, Mary Ellen, makes this classic a healthy one—from Cooking Light 12/05

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and drain one 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts and one 15.5-ounce can of Great Northern beans. In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream, 1/3 cup low-fat mayo, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, half of the artichokes and half of the beans. Process until smooth. Add remaining artichokes and beans, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Pulse 20 times. Spoon mixture into 8-inch baking dish. Top with 1/4 cup cheese and bake 25 minutes.


Sister Jo’s Spicy Nuts

Heat oven to 275 degrees. In a prep bowl mix 1 egg white, 2/3 cup sugar; 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1 tablespoon orange zest; 1 tablespoon smoked cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon cinnamon; 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, allspice and salt, each. Add 3 cups mixed nuts and coat well. Split batch between two cookie sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake 35 minutes, stirring and turning every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, nuts will crisp as they cool.


Onion Chive Dip

Dice 5 pounds of Spanish onions. Heat a large sauté pan with 4 tablespoons olive oil and cook the onions on medium heat until they are caramelized, 30 minutes. In a food processor, mince the zest of one lemon. Add the onions, 8 ounces of cream cheese, 16 ounces of sour cream, juice of one lemon and process until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Chop a bunch of fresh chives, fold into dip.


Mom’s Classic Clam Dip

Mash 16 ounces of soft cream cheese with two 6.5-ounce cans of minced clams and their juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Bugles and Fritos corn chips.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters. Archived Everyday Gourmet columns are at kimdannies.com. Kim@kimdannies.com.


Volunteer Opportunities

The listings below are a small sample of the more than 300 volunteer needs from more than 250 agencies online at www.unitedwaycc.org. If you do not have computer access, or would like information about the volunteer opportunities below, call 860-1677.


Burlington & Winooski Dismas Houses are inviting individuals or families (up to four) to cook a portion of Thanksgiving dinner and join residents  for the meal. This is a great opportunity for individuals who don’t have plans or a small family who wants to share a meal with an appreciative group. There is no training required, just the willingness to cook and share a meal with residents. Nov. 28, noon to 3 or 4 p.m.


A number of local agencies will be providing holiday gifts of warm clothing, books, bus passes, gift cards, food baskets and more to families and children who are facing poverty and homelessness. A gift to one of these agencies can help make the holidays warm and bright for those in need: Burlington Emergency Shelter; Champlain College Single Parents Program; Fletcher Free Library Books for Children Gift Campaign; Howard Center; Salvation Army; Winooski Family Center and Women Helping Battered Women. Go to http://www.unitedwaycc.org/volunteer/ and click the link under Holiday Opportunities.


Chittenden Community Action and United Way of Chittenden County will be providing tax assistance to low-to-moderate-income Vermonters in order to bring the earned income tax credit and other tax credits to those who are entitled to them. VITA Volunteer tax preparers can serve at a variety of sites, including workplaces, to provide this service from early February through early April. No experience is necessary, but volunteers must become IRS certified and pass the IRS test. Free training is provided in January. Greeters are also needed at some sites to welcome people, provide paperwork and discuss financial opportunities, if appropriate.


Vermont Adult Learning is looking for a volunteer to help new Americans become familiar with computers including Internet navigation and Microsoft Word. Flexible weekly scheduling in on-site computer lab. References and background check required.


Winooski Community Services Department needs volunteers to help combat senior hunger by packing and/or delivering meals, performing safety checks and chatting with senior clients. Volunteers should have a reliable car and valid driver’s license and be able to devote 1 1/4 hours once a week between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. for a miniumum of two months. Background check required.


Railroad Avenue Recess is looking for volunteer conductors for their Essex Junction Train Hop. Volunteers greet the public, punch tickets, answer questions and make visitors feel welcome in the community. Dec. 4, 6-8 p.m.


American Red Cross Blood Services is looking for volunteers to answer phones and greet donors and other visitors. Clerical and customer service experience would be helpful. Two three-hour shifts per week. Flexible scheduling.


Burlington Parks & Recreation is sponsoring its annual Candy Cane Land event for children on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Miller Community Recreation Center. Volunteers are needed to help with candy cane crafts, cookie decorating, parking cars, circulating as costumed characters, etc. Have lots of fun and help benefit the department’s scholarship program. 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.


Greater Burlington YMCA is in need of a volunteer to help with organizing and nurturing playgroups. Tasks include setting up and taking down play areas, engaging with children and caregivers and modeling appropriate adult/child interactions. Cultural sensitivity toward new Americans and non-English speaking caregivers is needed. References and background check required. Weekly scheduling.



HomeShare Vermont is seeking a companion for a man in his 30s with mild development disability. The gentleman is smart, talkative, loves animals and would enjoy having a friend to take him on occasional outings such as community or sporting events, a short hike, lunch or a scenic drive. References and background check required. Flexible scheduling.


Cathedral Square Corporation is looking for a group discussion leader for 8-12 Heineberg senior residents. Topics can range from elder law to cooking for one. Preferable time is Fridays from 1-2 p.m.


Residents of Holy Cross Senior Housing in Colchester are in need of volunteers to clear off their cars after snowstorms. A great group activity.

Music education: is it worth the money?


(Observer courtesy photo by Alan Kirkpatrick)

Elana Valastro, 18, of South Burlington, in concert.
(Observer courtesy photo by Alan Kirkpatrick)

By Ethan de Seife

Observer correspondent

Being the parent of a child who turns out to be a musical prodigy sounds pretty great. Who wouldn’t burst with pride at being the parent of the next Beethoven, Billie Holiday or Paul McCartney? But when it comes to placing an actual monetary value on music education, the notion quickly becomes more daunting: musical instruments are expensive, as are private lessons, and such expenses can quickly mount over the years it takes to become musically proficient. How are parents supposed to encourage their children’s musical creativity without breaking the bank?

There’s no getting around the fact that — depending on the instrument your child elects to play — musical instruction can be costly. But before you refuse your child’s request to play the bassoon, a little perspective is in order. Investing in musical education now can bring great richness and value to your child’s life – and to the lives of others – in the future.

Getting started

Even with the perennial cutbacks in education spending — arts education, in particular, seems always to be on the chopping block — most local elementary, middle, and high schools still offer classes in music instruction. The first step for any prospective Paganini is to acquire an instrument. To do so, there are three standard options. Some schools own the instruments that students play, and will often rent them for a modest sum which varies by type and popularity of the instrument. Musical instruments may also be rented from third-party businesses, with, again, prices that vary significantly depending on the instrument.

Should the school’s musical training inspire your child to take up musical performance, you may need to find an instrument to purchase. New student-grade instruments can be relatively inexpensive. A violin “starter kit” can be found online for under $50; a saxophone will cost at least a couple of hundred dollars; if you and your child are really prepared to commit to a musical future, you’ll spend a minimum of about $2,000 on a used upright piano. Websites such as eBay and craigslist, as well as various sites dedicated to this very purpose, can be a good place to find an instrument without shelling out a fortune. Check the “free” section on craiglist, which fairly regularly has listings for “if you can haul it, you can have it” pianos.

Besides necessary incidentals such as cases and replacement parts, the biggest expense, if your child is serious about music, is that of private lessons. The cost per session will vary depending on the instructor and the instrument. Consider also the time and money required to travel to the instructor’s studio. It is not unreasonable to budget for about $50 per session, with the understanding that such costs can escalate if your child proceeds to higher levels of proficiency.

Ultimately, the cost of the instrument and the cost of instruction are the chief expenses for anyone’s musical education, and they can rise in accordance with the student’s growing interest, or vanish entirely in accordance with the fickleness of youth. As the check-signer for such expenses, it is entirely fair for parents to ask what they are getting in return. And this is where the intangible value of music education must be calculated – no easy feat.

According to the nonprofit Music Empowers Foundation, a music education can produce valuable benefits both short- and long-term, both measurable and intangible. Some of the more measurable benefits include improved test scores and grades, particularly in math classes. The close relationship between music and math has been recognized for thousands of years, so it should come as no surprise that musical proficiency can produce a deeper mathematical understanding.

But it is not just math classes in which music students are more likely to excel. A 2006 study concluded that musically inclined students also showed demonstrably higher test scores in both math and English, and a study conducted in 2000 showed that a musical education corresponds fairly strongly with greater proficiency in vocabulary and reading. Higher grades can themselves be the ticket to a promising educational and/or professional future.

An education in music has other less tangible benefits, as well. Burlington musician and music educator Brian Perkins is passionate on the subject of the benefits of a musical education. “Culture and human effectiveness is based upon the ability to creatively interact with those around us,” he said. “We do this through politics, through literature and through musical culture. People who can express themselves musically and have the intellectual and physical skills to engage with others musically have one more way in which to understand and affect the world.”

For Perkins, who has been teaching music for more than 20 years, the chief benefit of a musical education is that of community and communication. Citing the folkloric tradition of protest songs in the U.S., Perkins said, “The skills of cooperation and collective action are amazing skills that we develop through music. The subtleties of supporting one another and giving space to one another, musically … are wonderful skills for people to develop.”

Shawn McElwain, associate director of admissions at Champlain College, reports that since Champlain does not offer a major in music, he does not see evidence of musical information on many applicants’ transcripts. McElwain, however, is himself a musician, and believes his own personal musical education has played a major role in making him who he is today. “Music gave me a sense of satisfaction, but it also made me very disciplined,” McElwain said. “Balancing music lessons and sports and outside work with school—it makes you have to learn time-management skills and discipline that you won’t necessarily get if you don’t have all those responsibilities.”

McElwain also participated in informal music-exchange programs, in which he and his band mates would host traveling musicians, and would in turn be hosted by them. “It was a cool way to meet students from all over the place,” he said.

The Voice

South Burlington resident Bill Reed, 68, has offered courses in voice instruction for more than 45 years. In New York City, he had — and has — long-standing affiliations with Lincoln Center and with the prestigious Circle in the Square Theatre School. At Bill Reed Voice Studio in South Burlington, he continues to educate young people in voice and musical theater.

His elite pedigree notwithstanding, Reed credits such popular media as the “High School Musical” films and the television show “Glee” with sparking a “huge wave of interest in musical theater.” This renewed interest, Reed said, is significant because it has created and/or strengthened a peer group for students interested in this form of musical expression. “It’s a big deal for these kids in terms of forming their personalities, their self-esteem, their friendships,” Reed said. “Thank God Chittenden County schools have been able to hang onto their music programs. They’re usually the first thing to go when you have budget problems.”

As far as the value of an education in music, Reed remarked, “You get what you pay for.”

Musical instruction is an unregulated business, he noted, observing that there are more licensing hurdles to surmount in becoming a manicurist than in becoming a music educator. Reed made the case that the attainment of an elite level of musicianship requires private coaching, just as elite athletes require one-on-one training outside of gym class and varsity teams. The costs, he feels, are worth it.

Elana Valastro, 18, of South Burlington, is currently studying theater, music and dance at Cornell University. She is one of Reed’s former pupils, having taken voice lessons with him for eight years, and praises his vocal expertise and knowledge of the entertainment business. For Valastro, “Music has been an important learning vehicle for concentration, listening and memorization, but it’s also an incredible outlet for creativity and a wonderful mode of expression. Music helps us learn how to open ourselves up to creative ideas and self-expression.”

Ultimately, the benefits of a musical education are difficult to measure — and, even if they are measurable, it is difficult to place a monetary value on them. Deciding whether a musical education is “worth the cost” is, like so many other choices, difficult to determine precisely, because it involves balancing long-term gains with short-term costs. But remember that part of the reason to encourage your child to play music has nothing to do with money, and that the sheer joy of making music has a value all its own. As Valastro put it, “Music brings people together and strengthens a community.”

Two chances to catch holiday classic

Lost Nation Theater actors perform ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in 2012. (Observer courtesy photo).

Lost Nation Theater actors perform ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ in 2012. (Observer courtesy photo).


Two local theater companies are performing versions of the holiday favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life” in the coming weeks.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” takes place in the fictional town of Bedford Falls shortly after World War II. The original film starred James Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve gets the attention of guardian angel Clarence Oddbody, sent to help him in his hour of need.

Lost Nation Theatre in Montpelier will transform the stage into a 1940s broadcasting studio for a live radio play version, back by popular demand. Performances are set for Dec. 4 and 5 at 7 p.m. To learn more, visit lostnation-

The Lamoille County Players will present the  classic play Dec. 6-7 and 13-14 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m.  at the Hyde Park Opera House. For more information, visit www.LCPlayers.com.

Soccer coaches honor 14 CVU players

Champlain Valley Union High soccer players were honored by the Vermont Soccer Coaches Association over the weekend. Kaelyn Kohlasch (left) was named Defensive Player of the Year and Haliana Burhans (right) Offensive Player of the Year. Emily Kinnestone (second from left) scored an All-Metro honorable mention and Mackenzie Kingston made the Coaches’ All-State Division 1 team, along with Burhans, Kohlasch and Emma Davitt. (Observer courtesy photo)

Champlain Valley Union High soccer players were honored by the Vermont Soccer Coaches Association over the weekend. Kaelyn Kohlasch (left) was named Defensive Player of the Year and Haliana Burhans (right) Offensive Player of the Year. Emily Kinnestone (second from left) scored an All-Metro honorable mention and Mackenzie Kingston made the Coaches’ All-State Division 1 team, along with Burhans, Kohlasch and Emma Davitt. (Observer courtesy photo)

The Vermont Soccer Coaches Association named four Champlain Valley Union High girls and three boys to its all-state teams, while five other girls and two boys drew All-Metro mentions.

In addition, attacker Haliana Burhans and defender Kaelyn Kohlasch were named Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

Burhans, who put away 25 goals, and Kohlasch were named to the Coaches’ All-State Division 1 team, along with teammates Emma Davitt and Mackenzie Kingston.

CVU boys’ all-state selections were midfielder Joe Castano, defender Zach Evans and goalie Brandon O’Connell.

Burhans, Kohlasch, Kingston and midfielder Paige DuBrul were named to the Burlington Free Press All-State first team, while Davitt was placed on the second team, along with goalie Maddie Turneau.

Audrey Morehouse was a Free Press honorable mention. All-Metro honorable mentions went to Morehouse, DuBrul, Emily Kinneston and Audrey Allegretta.

Castano and Evans of the Division 1 runner-up boys were Free Press first team selections, while O’Connell was honorable mention.

Richard Baccei and Tucker Shelley, both attackers, were second team All-Metro.

Metro coach of the year is St. Johnsbury Academy’s Stephen Levesque.

—Mal Boright,
Observer correspondent


Sports Roundup


The CVU Nordic Ski Team is holding its annual online auction Nov. 20 – Dec. 4. CVU Nordic has grown to be one of the largest in the state with over 80 boys and girls from Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne, St. George and Williston. Funds raised from the auction will cover additional coaching staff, uniforms, waxes and training equipment. Auction includes food, dining, sport and travel items. www.biddingforgood.com/cvunordic

Dunphy is field hockey Metro player of the year

Field hockey coaches named Champlain Valley Union High senior goalie Evangeline Dunphy the Metro Division Player of the Year in announcing their all-state teams and senior squad for next summer’s Twin State contest with New Hampshire.

Dunphy, the Redhawk’s aggressive netminder, chalked up 10 shutouts during the season to lead CVU into the postseason playoffs. She was also named to the all-senior team.

Joining Dunphy on the all-Metro squad are teammates Amanda Whitbeck, a forward, and midfielder Emily O’Brien.

Midfielder Sami Harvey and defender Kathryn Asch were named to the second team. Midfielder Katherine King and forward Lily Schmoker are honorable mentions.

The Burlington Free Press named Dunphy to its all-state team. Whitbeck made the newspaper’s second team and O’Brien drew an honorable mention.

—Mal Boright,
Observer correspondent


Academic Honors

Students make honor roll

Champlain Valley Union High School students Aaron Crapo and Kiernan Fitzgerald were named to the Burlington Technical Center Honor Roll for the first quarter.

Williston resident Anna Leffler made the Vermont Commons School honor roll for the first quarter.

Donnolly honored

Williston resident Jake Donnelly was named a Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar at Bowdoin College’s annual Sarah and James Bowdoin Day ceremony to honor those undergraduates who distinguish themselves by excellence in scholarship.

The students honored are in the top 20 percent of each class for the previous academic year.

Young Writers Project: What are you most grateful for?

This photo by Laura Cavazos of Essex High School was selected as the photo of the week. (Observer courtesy photo).

This photo by Laura Cavazos of Essex High School was selected as the photo of the week. (Observer courtesy photo).


Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit that engages students to write, helps them improve and connects them with authentic audiences through the Newspaper Series (and youngwritersproject.org) and the Schools Project (ywpschools.net). This week, students answered the prompt, “What are you most grateful for?”


Baby brother

By Reagan Dufresne 

Grade 6, Williston Central School

I am thankful for my little brother, Jonas. Why? Because he has been through the hardest journey I have ever seen. He was born three months early—not weeks, months!

I had always wanted a little brother, so when I found out he was three months early, I was really sad. But I did not give up on him and my family did not, either. The doctors said he had a 3 percent chance of living. We were all very scared at the time and were worried he was not going to make it.

But every night I would pray for him. He was in the hospital for two months. I was so worried about him. One day, when my step-mother told me I could see him, I could not wait. I saw him through the glass.

About a month later they said he was well enough to come home! I was so happy I would have a little brother! The first time I held him I just could not stop thinking about how strong he is! It is amazing! I am so thankful he is here with us today! Jonas is 1 now.


Fun family

By Taylor Detch 

Grade 5, Williston Central School

I am most grateful for my family because I love them. I love my family because we do fun things together. They are my whole life! I am also grateful for my friends. Without my friends, I don’t know where I’d be now.


My mom

By Mykala O’Farrell

Grade 6, Williston Central School

I have many things that I am thankful for. I am thankful for my house, for food and many more things. But if I could pick one thing that I am most thankful for, it would be my mom.

I am thankful for my mom for so many reasons. She puts a smile on my face all the time. My mom makes me laugh so much that I can’t stop laughing. I am also thankful for her because she helps me with many things. She helps me with my homework and other things, too. She also teaches me right from wrong. I honestly do not know where I would be without my mom. My mom makes me see the good in everything even when sometimes it is hard to.

My mom is kind, generous, loving, funny and much more. I am also thankful for my mom because she has taught me to give 110 percent, no matter what.



By Ethan Knudsen 

Grade 6, Williston Central School

I’m grateful for my cat, Dexter. He is the best cat. He is a Himalayan breed.

Dexter is really fluffy—that is why I love him. Dexter and I have been though a lot… Dexter was 8 weeks old when we got him.

My parents

By Callahan Freeman 

Grade 6, Williston Central School

I am thankful for a lot of things, but I’m mostly grateful for my parents. My parents have given me a great life—a great house, food, water, heat, everything. I wouldn’t be so great without them…


Giving thanks

By Cassidy Frost 

Grade 6, Williston Central School

I am most thankful for my family. I love my family very much because they do a lot for me. I am very happy that I have a very nice family. In January, there was a new member to my family. We got a dog! We got a little yellow lab puppy. We named her Stella. She is a great addition to our family.

So this Thanksgiving, I will be thinking of the family and friends that have helped me become a better person. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing. If you would like to donate to YWP, please go to youngwritersproject.org/support.