Randolph Union High School

Randolph Union High School

Welcome to Randolph Union High School!

We'll be using this page to highlight all the great things that are happening here -- every day -- as our students prepare for life after RU. So check back often and soon! (Also, follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on activities and events)

Randolph Union Explores ‘Restorative’ Conflict Resolution
Courtesy of The Herald, November 15, 2018

By Zoë Newmarco

As the restorative justice project based learning program at Randolph Union High School (RUHS) is held for the third year in a row, students, staff, and faculty involved are trying to spread awareness and acceptance of the program’s practices.

“[Restorative justice] is not a distraction from school work,” emphasized Principal Elijah Hawkes, “it’s an investment in the whole child.”

According to Hawkes, restorative justice has an important role to play in building strong community within the school.

He believes it is important to examine how traditional disciplinary measures in response to rule-breaking can go hand in hand with restorative justice practices. Restorative justice is a system that aims to support offenders in reconciling with both victims, and the broader community, through a cooperative process.

Traditional responses—such as detention, suspension, and expulsion— remove, or “exile,” the student from the school. Such punishments can be valuable, he said, but only if students believe the community values them, and wants them to succeed.

Hawkes explained that by using the practices to focus on building community within the school, and on the re-entry of students that have been expelled, the restorative practices should make an “exile” all the more meaningful if, and when, it’s necessary.

According to Angela Bauer, the current leader of the restorative justice project, the restorative practices primarily revolve around holding “circles,” or in-depth group conversations the seek to resolve, or prevent, conflict.

The content of the discussion can range from supporting a student who is struggling in school, to resolving a bullying incident, or many other potentially difficult topics. For example, a circle might consist of a student who broke a rule, any students or staff who were harmed by the rule breaking, any witnesses of the event, and a facilitator who was not directly impacted by the event.

The facilitator asks the group pre-determined questions, such as “What is one thing each of us needs to feel okay and move past the situation?” By utilizing a talking piece, an object held by the person speaking, to designate that it’s their turn to share, the facilitator ensures that each person is given a chance to answer to each question.

Ultimately, Bauer explained, the goal for every circle is that the participants come out feeling that the situation has improved.

‘Circles’ at RUHS

Although a handful of staff and faculty have been trained to host restorative justice circles for many years, in 2016 that number grew significantly. That summer nearly half of the staff and faculty participated in a restorative justice training, noted Hawkes.

In the 2016-17 school year, Hawkes hosted the inaugural restorative justice project, designed to help students understand the restorative process, and to train students to facilitate circles, when real-life conflicts take place at the school.

Also that year, faculty started incorporating the circle practice into advisory meetings, allowing students—and faculty—to practice actively participating in discussion through the circle model.

Lisa Floyd, who directs project based learning at the high school, explained in an email that circles held during advisory are similar to those held to support students or resolve conflicts. Notably, conflict resolution circles are always facilitated by students, whereas during advisory, a faculty member tends to facilitate.

Students’ Stories

A group of students, ranging from grades 7-11, shared some of their experiences practicing restorative justice with The Herald last month.

For seventh grade student, Dakota Porter, getting in trouble during elementary school meant that he often had to miss recess, and was eventually banned from riding the bus.

But this year, he noted, when he lost his temper, a circle was held for him.

“It kind of felt good to just be able to come talk to someone,” said Porter, “It was a place that I could … tell what happened, instead of just going over and having it in your head all the time.”

Tenth-grade student Yelena Merriam, who participated in the project last year, said she often perceives a “stigma” held by some students, and teachers around restorative justice circles.

For those students, she said, circles can sound like a waste of time, and teachers sometimes express that they believe a student’s time would be better spent in class, rather than in a circle.

“But at the heart of it,” said Merriam, “I think [the circles] are making a safe community at Randolph— I think it really helps teach students the value of communicating with [our] peers.”

Hawkes emphasized it’s important to run the project each year, because at the beginning of the school-year it’s been helpful to utilize former participants, such as Merriam, to facilitate conflict-resolution circles, before new facilitators have been trained.

Going forward, Hawkes hopes to continue training facilitators, and creating the space, time, and resources to make circles even more accessible at the school.

Racial Justice Project Based Learning Publishes First Newsletter

The Racial Justice Project Based Learning Class is spending the year asking a simple, but complicated question: How can we advocate for and create a more racially-just community?

Students in this PBL Challenge are responding to increasing community concerns about racial injustice in our local and national community. To do something about that issue, students have been working to form   a Racial Justice Student Alliance at RU, with the goal of raising awareness around racial injustice to create a safer environment for all community members.

In order to build a solid foundation from which to build their project, students have been studying the history of racial injustice in our country, as well as different racial justice movements (Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter, etc.). Through the RJSA, students will work with their peers to educate our school community about current issues, including working with teachers to develop inclusive curricula. Throughout the year, students will work to recruit RJA members, establish goals, and host regular meetings and events.

This past week, students published their first newsletter, which can be viewed or downloaded from the "documents" box to the left.

Annual Music Department Coffee House is Coming

The RU Music Department is holding its second annual Coffee House on Friday, November 2 in the cafeteria from7 - 8:30. We are hoping to have a large turn out this year, so if you are interested in performing something please consider signing up! Poetry, Singing, a band, a skit anything you can think of is welcome!
Food and beverage will be provided by the RU Music Boosters and admission is by donation!

Feeling musical? Ready to show what you can do? Ready to have a little fun? Join us. If you are interested in participating, sign up with Mr. Cole or on the bulletin board found outside the music room! 
For more info: rcole@orangesouthwest.org

1st Annual Alumni Fundraiser/Dinner
Tickets on Sale Now!

Tickets are now available for the 1st Annual Alumni Fundraiser and Dinner - Saturday, November 17 from 5-7:30pm @ the Canadian Club in Barre, VT.

Alumni and community members are invited to attend this newly formed group for dinner, a cash raffle, & silent auction in between the fall & winter sports seasons. Some of the great silent auction items include 1980's Celtics autographed memorabilia, local area business cards, and free services (oil change, tire rotation, etc.). If all 100 tickets are sold, cash raffle prizes of $2500, $1000, and $500 will be given away at the end of the night!  

Tickets are $100 and include a dinner for 2. Tickets can be purchased from Donna Pittsley at the HS or by emailing Kate Mayer at kathrynamayer@gmail.com. All proceeds benefit RU's co-curricular programming & major projects for athletics, drama, and music! 
Hope to see you there!

Project Based Learning at RUHS - It's been a busy couple of weeStudents taking part in a training exerciseks!

Senior Project Proposals came in last week, and panels will meet to hear about the projects, from students on October 11.  Panel members represent the Randolph, Brookfield and Braintree communities as well as communities that have high school choice and have students enrolled at Randolph Union this year.

All of the PBL groups are collaborating with one another, asking good questions, and building momentum as teams and engaging with the community.  Several of the groups attended the UVM ropes course last week, as a way of developing as a team and seeing what they could accomplish as individuals when pushing themselves outside their comfort zones.

The Interact PBL was paid in full on 2 Kiva loans that they granted last year, so they are able to fund more and their first blood drive of the year is being planned for October 4, here at Randolph Union.  Digital Music students have been making great music and are looking forward to creating a collaborative album as well as playing their music on a couple of local radio stations.  The Food Systems PBL went apple picking last week, and at the very beginning of the year initiated composting (along with Ms. Hester-Reyes' Bodies of Atoms class). 

Restorative and Racial Justice PBLs are working intensively developing a knowledge base that will allow them to accomplish their goals, while the movement PBL is setting goals, experiencing a lot of joy as they work together and dreaming big about a collaborative block party that at least 4 of the PBLs hope to host in collaboration with the Randolph Area Community Development Corp (RACDC) in  the spring. Planning will kick off with a panel of people who have planned large community events representing Gifford Hospital, the Gifford Auxiliary, the Randolph Recreation Department and Chandler Center for Performing arts, as well as RACDC, presenting to a group of students and helping them understand the logistics related to planning a large event. 

Hugh Garavan, Professor of Psychiatry from UVM came and presented to the Learning Brain PBL do help them develop deeper knowledge around how the human brain develops and grows. Students were deeply interested in the presentation and students asked in depth questions, to collect information as they prepare to visit the Reading Brain Lab at Dartmouth College in October.

Eighth graders engaged with Lt. Scott Clouttre of the Orange County Sheriff's Department, he came in well prepared having read their questions and thought about their concerns and was able to really connect with them. Questions covered a range of topics from concerns that arose when students read the book, The Hate U Give, about bias in policing, to questions about Lt. Clouttre’s career path.  In mid October students will conduct interviews with people who are committed to making their communities a more inclusive, just and beautiful place.

RU / Gifford Medical Center to Partner on Athletic TrainingAthletic Director and Athletic Trainer prepare first aid kits

As student athletes and their coaches prepare for the upcoming fall season, Gifford Health Care and Randolph Union High School (RUHS) have made official an agreement to provide athletic training in the coming year for all high school and Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA)-required middle school sports. Per the agreement, a Gifford athletic trainer will cover RUHS home games and events and provide training-room hours for athletes.

The partnership is the result of several months of collaboration between RUHS Athletic Director Steve Croucher and Gifford Rehabilitation Services Manager Troy Stratton, a physical therapist who also works with the sports medicine team at Gifford.

“This program is so important for the health, wellness, and safety of our student athletes,” said Croucher, who has worked toward the goal of having a permanent athletic training program at RUHS since he started at the school three years ago. “We are now joining the vast majority of schools in Vermont that have athletic training programs. I think our community—especially our high school athletes and their parents—will see in these first few weeks just how valuable it is to have an athletic trainer available on a permanent basis.”

Historically, RUHS hired trainers on a per-diem basis and to meet state mandates, which Croucher said wasn’t enough and resulted in “coverage with very little continuity or connection to the student athletes.” Now, RUHS will have consistent access to Gifford athletic trainers, both at school facilities and at Gifford’s Kingwood Health Center, enabling trainers to get to know the athletes and their individual histories.

“A significant benefit to our partnership with Randolph Union High School lies in the prevention aspect,” said Stratton. “This program will give parents peace of mind. Not only will Gifford athletic trainers be available immediately when acute injuries happen at RUHS home events, to be that first responder, but they’ll also provide ongoing education on how to take care of the body and how to recover from athletic events.”

Croucher agrees that prevention and education are critical. As part of the program, all fall athletes will undergo screenings for pre-concussion and functional movement.

“I am excited about the valuable information that will come from early-season screenings,” said Croucher.
“With direction from the athletic trainer and Gifford’s rehabilitation staff, we will incorporate what we learn from the screenings into team warmups and functional movement drills as well as pre-season trainings throughout the year.”

The first day of varsity practice at RUHS was Thursday, Aug. 16. In the meantime, Gifford trainers have been assisting pre-season and attending meetings with coaches.