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May 13, 2013
Here Comes the Common Core
Despite the fact that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have frequently appeared in national, state, and local news over the past two years, many community members and students remain in the dark about how these standards will affect public education and student learning. Forty-five states have adopted the standards, each following its own timeframe for implementation and testing. Vermont’s first year of teaching the CCSS is 2013-14, and districts, schools, departments, and individual teachers need to redesign instruction and assessments to fulfill these new, higher expectations. In spring 2015, handwritten tests from the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) will be replaced with the online “Next Generation Assessments” of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
May 5, 2013
The Final Stretch Makes a Difference
Posted on the library entrance is the countdown of days remaining until graduation. Now that the last date of the 2012-13 school year has changed to Friday, June 14, every student has the same number, 26 to be exact, since the last three days are devoted to final examinations. This provides 26 opportunities for students to learn from their teachers, focus on their assignments, and strive to perform their best.
April 8, 2013
Guys and Dolls
When did we stop calling women “dolls”? When did we start calling them “guys”? The Broadway production of Guys and Dolls in 1950, based on Damon Runyon’s stories penned in the 30s and 40s, depicts business and personal relations as conquests for getting ahead. Stability and routine in love and work are anathema and avoided at all costs. The Leland and Gray Players performed the historical magic of Guys and Dolls with zest and depth, during which they left behind the chaos of the depression and World War II and embraced the joys of the good life.
April 29, 2013
Prepared for Art
Last Friday, thirty-eight students from Leland and Gray’s high school art classes traveled to North Adams to visit the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), led by their teachers, Ms. Kristen Wilson and Ms. Stephanie Nyzio. Intensive Needs Programs para-educator Cheryl Cullen, driver Joyce Russ, retired special educator Roger Turner, and I had the good fortune to chaperone and enjoy two irreplaceable opportunities: one, to appreciate new masterpieces in fine art, and two, to observe our students well prepared to do the same.
March 25, 2013
Last week Leland and Gray held its second annual Spirit Week. After a six-year hiatus but reactivated in 2012, Ms. Tammy Claussen still had many activities tucked away. Across the country, whether it’s Homecoming or Fang Fest, school community and climate benefit from a week devoted to activities promoting pride and fun. At last Wednesday and Thursday’s morning assemblies, classes competed for Spirit Points in science trivia questions and mental and physical contests, including a school-wide rock-paper-scissors tournament, won by freshman Max Cramp. On Friday, classes ended at 11:30 for a quick lunch before the most-awaited event: the hypnotist. Marco the Magician, who lives in Montpelier, has performed for audiences of all ages and recommends the hypnotist act for the secondary school level. During the 80-minute show, he explained the relaxation benefits of hypnotism and the “power of suggestion” that relaxation allows. After a couple of rounds with the full crowd participating, thirty volunteered for more. Using music and his voice, he led them through a series of exercises and some students began following his commands, many full of humor and delighting the audience. Afterwards we jumped into driver education trivia and contests of problem-solving, collaboration, and dexterity. Some students dressed in their classes’ decades, from togas to tie-dye. In three weeks we will host the final event that determines the 2013 Spirit Week winner: a pageant-like performance of the decades. Each class continues to plan their acts and build their sets to present before nine judges, who include retired and new teachers spanning three generations. Positive energy, class unity, and sportsmanship grow from a successful Spirit Week, immediately putting smiles on the faces of students and staff alike, smiles that return for years to come when recalling the best school memories. Many thanks goes to Ms. Claussen, Mr. Jason Sperling, and Ms. Jeryl Julian-Cisse for all their efforts since September in organizing and carrying out Spirit activities. Next year will be even better!
For more information on Marko the Magician, please visit his website: http://www.markomarko.com/bb/hs.html.