Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

Happy New Year Everyone!

Some news and information that will be helpful to know as winter kicks into high gear!

SOME IMPORTANT DATES FOR JANUARY AND FEBRUARY:

January 25: Report Cards Mailed Home
January 30: District In-Service -- NO SCHOOL for students
February 16: Lantern Parade!
Feb. 25 to March 7: Winter Break -- NO SCHOOL

REPORT CARDS OUT THIS WEEK! Report Cards are being mailed out in the next few days! Please be on the lookout for them in your mailbox. Last week, I sent a letter home explaining the grading system and some other details about the report card, and I attach it here for you below in case you missed it. Please let us know if you have questions!

Report Card Message

SOME THOUGHTS ON A TOUGH MONDAY... Many of us woke up on Sunday to the horrible news that a violent act had resulted in the loss of a member of our community. As the hours passed, we also came to realize the victim was not only a dad of one of our PreK students, but also a former aide to a number of students both here at Union and at Main Street. There is a lot of info out in the social and traditional media world about Markus Austin and this terrible tragedy right now, but I am certain of this: this gentleman was a kind and talented caregiver who had a positive impact on the UES community in the brief time he was with us. Those who worked with Markus (he was an aide in my daughter's class before I arrived at UES) were in a state of shock and grief yesterday. His time with us was truly memorable and positive; he made a difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable children.

But, we all came to school and took care of our students and each other, as always. I was so proud to be a part of this school community yesterday! Dealing with grief and loss in a meaningful, supportive way while in a large community is always very challenging, but the professionalism and kindness displayed by your teachers and staff yesterday was such a reassuring and comforting experience. Your kiddos were in excellent hands! School Counselor Suzanne Francke shared some wonderful resources for dealing with grief and children with us yesterday, and here is one that we think could be helpful for you and your family:

Facts for Families Dealing with Grief

Finally, Markus' co-workers at Washington County have put together a GoFundMe page for his family.  They've already raised a lot of money, and we could all put them over the top! The link:

https://www.gofundme.com/3a01lqg


Markus Austin helping little ones with their Snowball Tree, Winter of 2013
RUBIK'S CUBE FUN WITH MS. LLOYD'S 4TH GRADERS Last month, I was walking around the 4th grade hallway making the rounds, and I wondered what was going on with all the Rubik's Cubes I was seeing. The kids were really focused, and I simply couldn't believe how quickly these 9 and 10 year olds were flying through this challenging puzzle! If you're in my demographic and came of age during the Cube's early heyday, you'll remember a lot of confused and frustrating rainy days trying to figure this thing out. Or was that just me? :)

Six of Ms. Lloyd's students volunteered to show us all how it's done. This is worth checking out -- four minutes of your time well spent!




MHS MENTORS Did you know that a large number of Montpelier High School students come over to Union every Wednesday morning to be Play Mentors with our students? Thanks to Suzanne Francke and MHS's Matt McLane for coordinating this wonderful program! The mentor who happens to be my daughter (Olivia, just to my left below) has loved the experience, and I know all of our students really look forward to it every week!


Some of the Best and Brightest of MHS!
SNACK HEROES NEEDED! Snack Hero Coordinator Extraordinaire (and UES mom) Bianca Magiera is looking for volunteer heroes for Fridays! If you can help her, please contact Bianca at snack@mpsvt.org. Thanks!

WE LOVE PRE-K AT UNION ELEMENTARY! I often hear this about our new PreK program from people who've been at Union for years: "It's like they've always been here!" What a wonderful addition to the UES community these little ones and their teachers have been! Congratulations and gratitude to Morgan Nicastro, Peggy Watson, Aimee Weddleton, Robyn Fleming, Brenda Bolio, and Emily Cooke for creating a thriving learning environment for our youngest students almost literally from scratch this summer! They are an excellent team, and, my goodness, are they ever a talented group of educators who love working with little ones! Stop by for a visit the next time you're walking to the cafeteria...


The afternoon crew
The morning crew


HENNESSEY'S HOOTS! A big Hennessey Hoot to...

* 3rd Grader Evan Coates for his excellent leadership skills in helping us with our bus evacuation drill last month! Evan made all of the children feel totally safe as they practiced evacuating the bus in an orderly fashion.



*  UES Mom Adrienne Gil for joining us at our January Assembly to celebrate the 16 students who raised over $100 for the UES Parents Group at our Kids Cup this fall!  This was a highly successful fundraiser and a really fun event too.  We can't wait for next year's Cup!
The very proud fundraisers!





Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

Happy Holiday Season everyone!

Some news and information that will be helpful to know as colder weather comes around the corner (November was a busy month!):

SOME IMPORTANT DATES FOR DECEMBER:

December 6: December All School Assembly, 8:30 in the gym
December 22: UES Festive Winter Concert! 6:00 in the auditorium
December 24 - January 1: Holiday Break! School reopens on Monday, January 2.

UPP UPDATE! There is a lot going on with the Union Playground Project! Here is the latest from the UPP team:






WALKING SCHOOL BUS The UES Walking School Bus Wednesdays are continuing through the winter! Yes, even on the coldest of days! Come join us at Shaw's, the State House, or the college green at 8:00 sharp each Wednesday. We hope to see you! A Hennessey Hoot to MJ, Sarah Mele, Samantha Funk, Emmanuel Williams, and Sylvia Fagin for joining me in keeping the "bus rolling." It's a terrific way to start the day.

COLD WEATHER PRACTICES/PROCEDURES It hasn't really happened yet, but the cold weather will get here eventually! The faculty and staff of UES strongly believe that our children need as much time as possible running and playing outside, even during the cold of our Vermont winters. For our students to enjoy this time on the playground, it's essential that they come to school with adequate snow gear to keep them warm and dry. There are certain mornings and days, however, where it really isn't safe to be outside no matter what they're wearing due to extreme conditions. The procedures we follow are straightforward and in general practice around the state: if the temperature (with wind chill) is at 0 degrees or above, we'll be going outside. On cold days, we monitor the local conditions very closely at this weather site:

Local AccuWeather Forecast

This is an excellent site, and it will take you directly to the conditions and forecast for Loomis St. here in Montpelier! You can't get much more local than that! Again, please make sure your child comes to school prepared for the conditions, and please let me know if you have any questions. If you need assistance getting appropriate gear for your child, let us know in the front office right away; we have quite a supply of gear on hand here at UES!

UES DELAYED OPENING PROCEDURES: Speaking of cold weather, winter will soon be in full gear, and with the unpredictable weather comes the possibility of cancellations or delayed openings for school. We certainly got our first look at the crazy Vermont weather on Tuesday!

Here is what you need to know in case Mother Nature throws a snow or iceball at us one of these mornings. You will receive a robocall from Dr. Ricca as soon as the decision is made to either delay or cancel school. For delays:

UES DELAYED OPENING PROCEDURES 

Buses will run exactly two hours later than normal.

9:30     Teachers arrive 

10:00   UES doors open; IAs arrive; buses begin to arrive; we're open for business!  Students should arrive no earlier than 10:00 to ensure we have enough supervision.

10:00-  Students will begin arriving to class; transition time; Morning Meeting.
10:25


10:25   UES schedule officially begins.  Students will proceed as normal where the schedule would be normally at 10:25.  Lunches will not be affected.  The Snack Program will not be running on delayed opening days.

VETERANS DAY PARADE! In a month of many highlights, we have to mention the honor of participating in this year's Montpelier Veterans Day Parade. Another Hennessey Hoot to music teacher Samantha Funk for her organizational efforts and enthusiasm in planning this event. It's safe to say that our veterans greatly appreciated our presence! I'd also like to thanks MHS principal Mike McRaith and MSMS principal Pam Arnold for encouraging their students to join the audience on a cold, rainy day. It was such a joy to march through town with all our students cheering us on! Here are some pictures from this special day:

















1st GRADE BUG PARADE! The UES community was treated to a wonderful Bug Parade last month by the 1st grade team! It has been so much fun to learn about our insect friends again after so many years! Here are some of the little bugs in action:






HENNESSEY'S HOOTS! A big Hennessey Hoot to...

* ...UES Mom Jessica Robbles-Worch for taking the lead on our Lost and Found this year!
*  ...the UES Parents Group for the tremendous amount of work they put in to the Scholastic Book Fair!  As usual, it was a great success!  Here is the crew hard at work:


*  ...2nd grader Kianan Griffin for taking the lead on the composting program during 2nd grade lunch.  I've been able to watch this young man in action, and he is highly organized and industrious!  The man at work:


Kianan at your service!
*  ...an anonymous young man who was at the breaking point with having to keep tying his shoes!  He took the matter into his own hands, as you can see below.  I have become highly proficient at helping little ones tie (and untie) their shoes down low to the ground, but I had never seen an effort like this!  Wow!


How would you handle this one in a busy hallway??
AND FINALLY... A THANK YOU TO THE MPS COMMUNITY Losing a parent is never an easy experience for anyone, whether the loss is a sudden occurence or after a lengthy illness. No matter what the circumstances, it's tough! The very sudden passing of my father at the beginning of the school year was indeed a very difficult event for me and my family, but I still think about the overwhelming kindness and support we all received from so many of you in this wonderful community. The many cards, calls, and conversations warmed my heart and made a sad and trying life event so much easier. Thank you all!

Dick Hennessey with his oldest boy, 1968.  The plaid shorts, striped shirt,
and epic attempt at a mustache were inspirational and the stuff of legend.

 


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Wise Owl: March 15, 2016

March 15, 2015

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

Some news and information that will be helpful to know as spring comes around the corner:

SOME IMPORTANT DATES FOR MARCH AND APRIL:

March 15-17: Kindergarten Registration (please help us spread the word!)
March 18: Bingo Night at UES! (See below)
March 23:  Montpelier Community Forum #4:  "What's In A Grade?", MHS, 5:30-8:00
March 24:  3rd Grade Puppet Show (See below)
March 31:  4th Grade Art and Storytelling Community Night
April 1:  Parent Conferences -- No School
April 7-8:  Spring Book Fair!
April 18-22:  Spring Vacation!


THANK YOU! Town Meeting Day was a day for the MPS community to give thanks, and not just because of the overwhelming way in which our community supported our school budget (by nearly a 3 to 1 margin!). I'd like to lead off this Wise Owl by offering a heartfelt thank you to Lowell Vanderlip and Sue Aldrich for giving so much of themselves to our community while serving on the Montpelier School Board. Serving and volunteering on a school board requires a calm, visionary, and patient approach while being able to listen to all sides of some often controversial issues. Lowell and Sue served us with honor. Thanks to both of you!



WELCOME NEW SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS!  Best wishes and a sincere welcome to new school members and UES Dads Jim Murphy and Peter Sterling!  An official (and late) welcome is also due to Bridget Asay, who has shaken her interim status and become an official, full-fledged member of the board.  Again, best wishes to all three of you!

BINGO NIGHT! THIS FRIDAY, MARCH 18! One of the biggest family events of the year is on for this Friday! We hope to see you at one of our most valuable fundraisers for a night of Bingo fun and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream! If you have the night free, you and your kiddos won't want to miss this! We also really, really need volunteers! The details:



UNION PLAYGROUND PROJECT UPDATE: The night of February 13 will go down as one the more memorable evenings in recent UES history. Those of us who attended the Give It UPP Gala fundraiser were treated to a wonderful evening of fun and community spirit! The whole experience really showed us all what a joy it is to live and work in this community. I share with you below the Press Release the UPP team put together following the event. It truly was a special evening, and, just as importantly, we made a ton of money for our playground! Thank you all! The press release:


“Give it UPP” Gala Draws 300 Plus to Raise Funds for New Playground


"Near record breaking cold last Saturday evening did little to deter hundreds if Montpelier residents from donning semi-formal attire and heading out to a gala to raise funds for a new upper and lower playground at Union Elementary School in Montpelier. 

The gala took place at the Vermont College of the Arts’ Alumni Hall, which was donated for the event.  Silent and live auctions and a donation drive matched by an anonymous donor raised over $21,000 for the project, which will renovate, repair and significantly improve the principal playground in Montpelier, a space used by more than 400 students every day during the school year as well as many other children living in or visiting Montpelier.  Net proceeds are just over $19,000.

“We are thrilled, and so appreciative of the generous giving we have seen from the members of this community – from parents, local businesses and community leaders,” said Jenny Sheehan, a parent of a second-grader and Kindergartner at Union and Co-Chair of the event. “The success of this fundraiser shows just how much this community wants a better playground, one that can more fully engage children of all ages in outdoor play and learning.”   

The gala, which featured music by the Dave Keller band, was organized to raise matching funds for a $150,000 grant awarded to the project in March 2015 by the state’s Land and Water Conservation Program, which is administered by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and funded by annual contributions from the National Park Service. The grant program requires the school district to provide matching funds totaling the same amount as the award – in the form of dollars or in-kind contributions or both.

Our administration is working closely with a group of dedicated parents to raise these matching funds and take full advantage of this huge opportunity to give our playground a much needed makeover,” said Chris Hennessey, Union’s Principal. “The project will include replacing older, malfunctioning equipment that is expensive to repair, addressing damage from storm water runoff and erosion, making better use of the space we have to enrich our kids’ activities, and making greater use of plants and natural materials that can connect them with the natural world."  

Other improvements planned by the school-parent team working on the project include greater accessibility for students and adults with disabilities.  Next year Union Elementary will launch a pre-school program, creating a pressing need to revamp the lower playground currently used by kindergartners with age-appropriate features for pre-school play and learning.    

 “It has been inspirational to see our community come together in recognition of the attention we need to give this critical recreational space in our City” said Kristin Darcy, a parent of two Union students and the event co-chair along with Sheehan. Just imagine gardening beds, a rebuilt outdoor classroom and performance space, inviting spaces for talking and quiet reading for both kids and adults, and many structures that will fully engage our children’s imaginations.”

Potential design ideas for the playground have been created by a University of Vermont landscape architecture class taught by Montpelier resident Stephanie Hurley,  This spring, the Montpelier School District and the UPP Project team will hire a designer to build on the design ideas already developed, and create a master plan and detailed designs for the site." 

UES CHORUS! 3rd and 4th grade families were treated to quite a show right before vacation when Ms. Funk unveiled the new UES Chorus at a beautiful performance in our auditorium. As I watched the children sing and be led by the talented Ms. Funk, I couldn't help but think that we were all seeing the beginning of many wonderful performances on the UES stage! Families were then treated to an art show put on by Mrs. Kane in the cafeteria that showcased the talents of our students. Clearly, the performing and visual arts are thriving at Union Elementary!


The performers shine under the lights!
3RD GRADE PUPPET RESIDENCY! Speaking of the arts thriving, the arrival of March means it's time for the annual 3rd grade Puppet Residency! For the 11th year in a row, the No Strings Marionette puppet troupe will share their talents with our 3rd graders. The big show is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, March 24 -- you won't want to miss it!


Puppet Master Dan Baginski works his magic!
Dan firing up the 3rd graders for the work ahead
MAIN STREET MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS AT UES! For the second year in a row, Main Street Middle School Students have joined many of our 1st graders for science classes. This program, known as TRY (Teens Reaching Youth), has been a huge success! I was privileged to join 8th graders (and UES grads) Catherine, Gavin, and Grace in Mrs. Dostie's class last week, and I was very impressed with their lesson on the translucency of different materials. Very challenging material for typical 1st graders, but these middle schoolers presented a beautifully engaging and joyful lesson -- the children were having so much fun with them! Here are a few action shots:


Gavin and Catherine show Kianan how it's done (or is it the other way around?)
Grace assisting Maeve and Alex
Catherine and Mabel -- 8th grade and 1st grade partners in learning!
NEW UES MESSAGE BOARD!  A huge Hennessey Hoot is due to UES moms Terry Holloway and Clare Rock and UES dad Dan Clar for the beautiful work they did in designing and building our new UES Message Board!  Come by and take a look the next time you stop by -- it's located on the side of the storage shed at the entrance to the upper playground.  It's beautiful, and I think you'll see a clear Dr. Seuss influence in it's design!  Here is a group of 3rd graders expressing their approval...

You can tell spring is coming with the variety of these outfits!
MORE HENNESSEY'S HOOTS!!  A Hennessey Hoot goes to...

*  Mrs. Pierce's 4th graders, including Eliijah, Beckett, and Tori, for taking the lead on the UES recycling program.  These students are highly organized, and they make Mr. Keller's job so much easier!

Keeping UES clean!
*  UES Kinder Owen for showing so much self-control in the hallway that he got a special visit and Hoot from our newest superhero, Super Self-Control!

Who is that masked man??


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wise Owl: February 12, 2016

February 12, 2016

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

UPP Gala Fundraiser This Saturday Night!  It's finally here, and just in time for our first real cold snap of the year!  It's also not too late to get tickets - the Gala will clearly be the place to be in Montpelier this Saturday night!  Please join us this weekend for one of the biggest events of the winter!

Here are some details for those who don't know:

The Gala will take place on Saturday, February 13 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Alumni Hall.  Doors will open at 6:30, and the Dave Keller Band will be playing from 9:30 to 11:00.  Prior to the music and dancing, attendees can check out the over 100 items that will be auctioned to raise money for the project!  The auctions will begin when the doors open and go until about 9:00.  Following a brief film about the project, the band will kick in and the real fun will begin!

Some other details:

*  Tickets are available at the door for $25.  Cash, credit cards and checks will be accepted.
*  Three Penny Tap Room will have a cash bar going.  Please have a valid picture ID with you!
*  Savory & Sweet snacks will be served at the event, but it's recommended that folks eat dinner before attending.
*  Some of the auction items include (and this is just a partial list!):

1. 2016 Family Pool Pass to the Montpelier Rec Pool
2. A Day in Burlington-Lunch at the Juniper Restaurant and a Scenic Boat Tour of Lake Champlain on the Spirit of the Ethan Allen for two.
3. 2016 Family Season Pass for 2 adults and 2 children for the Vermont Mountaineers
4. Meet the Vermont Mountaineers General Manager Brian Gallagher  during a pre-game batting practice to throw a few balls in the Outfield. Mingle with the players and go home with an autographed 2016 Mountaineers team signed baseball. Also receive a Vermont Mountaineers 2015 team baseball card set, and a team photo with a team signed envelope!
5. Join the Montpelier Fire Department for a Positive Pie Dinner around their dining table at The Montpelier Fire Station.
6. Win a chance to be Mr. Hennessey's Assistant Principal for the day!


Wow!  We really hope you all can join us!  It promises to be such a fun night, and the cause couldn't be better or more important for our community!  I will have a long list of thank you's and kudos to share tomorrow night, but I'd like to give a shout out to UES moms and dads Jenny Sheehan, Kristin Darcy, Jody Andreoletti, and Jeffrey Ferrel along with UES teachers Theresa Giffin, Samantha Funk, and Kristina Kane and MHS student Levi Beavin for their absolutely tireless efforts in putting this event together! 

Speaking of the cause, UES mom Sarah McKernan has put together a nice summary of the Union Playground Project that perfectly captures the scope and status of the work, which I share with you below.  Thank you, Sarah!


What’s UPP with the Playground Project?

Project Summary

The Union Elementary School Playground Project will renovate, repair and significantly improve the main playground in the City of Montpelier, a site that is used by more than 400 children from our school and community every day during the school year.

The UES Administration and parents are working together to plan a new playground with better site design, new features and natural materials to create a space full of things for our kids to explore, play on and learn about.  Imagine gardening beds, spaces for quiet activities, a rebuilt outdoor classroom and performance space, and many new and creative structures that will fully engage our children’s imaginations.

Progress in 2015

FUNDRAISING

We won a $150,000 grant from the State of Vermont’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports recreational projects.  This grant to the Montpelier School District must be matched by $150,000 ($ and in-kind contributions) from our community.

We have raised over $20,000 towards this match already from the many generous people and businesses in our community.  

BUILDING A VISION

A core team including our Principal, school staff and parents have been assessing problems on the site – such as stormwater and erosion – with the help of experts

We have gathered ideas from every classroom at the school and many teachers and parents to create a vision of a natural playground filled with new play spaces and features. It will have more opportunities for safe climbing, jumping and swinging, more opportunities to bring learning outside, more plants, creative uses of improved  hillsides and forest, and more inviting spaces for kids and parents to sit, read and talk. Our children need, want and deserve this kind of playground! 

DEVELOPING AND SHOWING DESIGN CONCEPTS 

A UVM landscape architecture class taught by Montpelier resident Stephanie Hurley developed great design ideas this fall – view them at our Facebook site!

In December, parents and community members were invited to an UPP Open House to explore and provide input on a wide array of imaginative ideas for our playground.  Now we are hiring a playground designer to help us move to a final design.

Do We Really Need to Rebuild the Playground?

It has been more than 20 years since the playground was renovated.  The urgency is great!

*  The play equipment is old, and each time it needs to be repaired, literally thousands of dollars are spent.
*  Problems with storm water runoff and ponding on the site cause safety hazards and pollute the Winooski River.  That’s why the site will be identified as a priority location in the City’s new Storm Water Master Plan.
*  The amphitheater on the site is failing due to groundwater flow, and it must be rebuilt.
*  New pre-schoolers are arriving this fall, and a lower playground with features and activities that can engage them in play and learning are sorely needed.

What Happens Next?

This spring, the Montpelier School District will work with the UPP Core Team to hire a designer and finalize a design and budget.  

Every dollar we raise helps us reach our required match for the $150,000 state grant. We may need to raise more than this (playgrounds are expensive!); we will know this once a budget and final design are complete.

We plan to break ground this summer on a first round of improvements to the Upper and Lower playground.  A bigger Phase 2 is planned for summer 2017

How Can I Help?

There are many ways to get involved in this exciting project.

We need interested parents to join our UPP project committees working on fundraising, design, and communications (web site, marketing packets for large businesses etc.)

Later this spring, we will invite you to come hear about the proposed Union playground design!

And when we build, we will make significant use of community labor!  So please come out and lend a hand.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 23, 2015

"Have You Seen the Owl Today?"

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL!!
ENJOY THIS TIME WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES!

Some news and information that will be helpful to know as we head home for the Holiday Break:

SOME IMPORTANT DATES FOR JANUARY AND FEBRUARY:

January 4: Return to School!
January 6: PreK Information Night (if you missed last week's meeting!)
January 18: MLK Day: No school! (In-Service for MPS Faculty)
January 22: Report Cards mailed home
January 27: Community Forum #3 (See Below)
February 13: UPP Fundraiser! (See Below)

ONION RIVER BIKES GO TO TWO LUCKY UES STUDENTS! What a great story this is! And it says so much about the generosity of our community!

Earlier this week, our own MJ Jennings (also an occasional Onion River employee) came to let me know that a local woman had won an Onion River bike in a raffle. Not needing a new bike, she approached the OR staff to let them know she'd like to donate the bike to a worthy UES student! Wow! Moved by this generous spirit, the OR folks decided to donate another bike of their own! So... the decision was made to randomly select one lucky student from the 3rd and 4th grades for this incredible Holiday treat! Here is MJ with one of the Onion River guys picking the lucky two kiddos:

Who's it going to be??

And here are the lucky two UES students, 4th Grader Bethany Brush and 3rd Grader Ari Jorgenson, being presented their brand new beautiful bikes this morning! Thank you Onion River, and thank you to the mystery woman whose generous spirit was not lost on any of us!


UES FOOD DRIVE A HUGE SUCCESS! Speaking of generous spirits, UES set a goal K-4 to gather 800 non-perishable food items for our annual Holiday Food Drive. Well, as expected, our students (and all of you) stepped up in a big way and far surpassed our goal in the first few days! Mrs. Giffin let me know that she lost count when the number went way over 1200 items! The children delivered all the items to the Food Bank in the pouring rain yesterday to the grateful staff. Here are Mrs. Mello's kinders checking out our progress late last week (note the maxed out thermometer!):



COMMUNITY FORUM, JANUARY 27! Our ongoing series, "The Future of School," will be continuing with our third forum of the year on the evening of January 27. The focus of this session will be on "Proficiency Based Learning" and how we assess the learning of our students PreK to grade 12. We will gather in the MHS Library from 6:00 to 8:00 with a quick pizza dinner starting at 5:30. We really hope to see you there!

UPP FUNDRAISER, FEBRUARY 13! If you haven't done so already, mark your calendars! The "Give it UPP!" Auction Gala Event is on Saturday, February 13 from 6:30 to 11:00 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Alumni Hall! Tickets are now available at Capitol Stationers or online at eventbrite.com; buy them early -- $22 a ticket (or $40 for two) until January 15!  We will have more details about the Gala right after the vacation, but we're very excited about the items local businesses and artisans have donated to the cause!

BURTON SNOWBOARDS VISITS UES! First graders got a special treat when Burton Snowboard instructors visited UES as guest PE teachers! Students got to learn the basics of snowboarding from the pros! Just another awesome day in the Union Elementary Phys. Ed program!

Learning the basics!

Mr. Williams, MJ, Mr. Hennessey and the Burton Crew
AUDITORIUM UPGRADES! I'm sure many of you have noticed the deteriorating ceiling in our auditorium. Or, perhaps, you've noticed chunks of plaster falling upon you during one of our performances! Fun! The good news is that at long last our ceiling is being both repaired and given a fresh coat of paint! We hope to have this first phase of an auditorium "freshening up" done before we return from the break. Progress! Here is Mr. Keller supervising the action:



DECEMBER CARES ASSEMBLY! For the first time ever at UES, a 3rd grade class ran one of our assemblies, and they did a terrific job entertaining and inspiring the UES community. A big "Hennessey Hoot" to Mrs. Pine's "Pineers" (could there be a better class to demonstrate RESPONSIBILITY??) for their outstanding efforts!

A well-rehearsed skit demonstrating RESPONSIBILITY
Grace and some beautiful cookies share the stage!
COLD WEATHER PRACTICES/PROCEDURES It's hard to believe now, but the cold weather will get here eventually! The faculty and staff of UES strongly believe that our children need as much time as possible running and playing outside, even during the cold of our Vermont winters. For our students to enjoy this time on the playground, it's essential that they come to school with adequate snow gear to keep them warm and dry. There are certain mornings and days, however, where it really isn't safe to be outside no matter what they're wearing due to extreme conditions. The procedures we follow are straightforward and in general practice around the state: if the temperature (with wind chill) is at 0 degrees or above, we'll be going outside. On cold days, we monitor the local conditions very closely at this weather site:

Local AccuWeather Forecast

This is an excellent site, and it will take you directly to the conditions and forecast for Loomis St. here in Montpelier! You can't get much more local than that! Again, please make sure your child comes to school prepared for the conditions, and please let me know if you have any questions. If you need assistance getting appropriate gear for your child, let Mrs. Giffin (ext. 8230) know about it right away; we have quite a supply of gear on hand here at UES!