CVU parent group seeks new leadership

Sept. 16, 2010

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff

Organizers of a Champlain Valley Union High School parent group are looking for new leadership and members to help revitalize it.

Friends of CVU was established more than 12 years ago as a way to unite the school district’s towns. The group works to connect staff, students, parents and the community.

Lori Smith, who has been involved with Friends of CVU for five years and led the group for two, is looking for someone to take over her role.

“I think it just needs somebody who is completely new and has some different ideas,” she said. “It’s always good to have new leadership and ideas.”

The organization currently puts on four main events and provides grants and assistance for some school clubs. It runs a freshman parent information night, a dessert night with school Principal Sean McMannon and a staff appreciation night. It also helps out at graduation challenge presentations, providing food and assistance.

“It adds a real celebratory feeling to the day, and that’s been wonderful,” said MaryAnne Gatos, who runs the graduation challenge program. “Over 300 students make presentations, and there are a lot of balls in the air … Friends of CVU has been incredibly supportive.”

In recent years, though, involvement has been dwindling. Smith said she thinks the group could go in many new directions.

“We’ve been struggling with Friends to have an identity for probably the last four or five years,” she said. “I think it’s going to take some energy to redefine it.”

Smith said the group used to provide concessions at sports games, sell CVU clothing and put on spirit days, but it doesn’t have enough people now. Many parents are involved with specific things at CVU, such as football or other sports, but she would like to see them combined into a strong parent organization.

“My goal is to try to have this kind of governing piece really at a larger level, and not aligned with any one specific thing,” she said. “The volunteerism is there, it’s just very segmented.”

Smith said she got involved with Friends of CVU because she loves the school and the teachers. She said many other parents and community members feel the same way.

“The passion for CVU is there,” she said. “If we could tap into passion, we could get more people involved.”

For more information about Friends of CVU or to get involved, contact Lori Smith at