News & updates

News & updates

Randolph Elementary Student Experiments with Morse CodeStudents Hold ‘Inventions Fair’

Courtesy of The Herald, April 18, 2019

Photo by Tim Calabro / Story by Cecile Smith

“The world wouldn’t be the same without it,” said elementary student Emma Dimick-Ritter last Thursday as she explained why she chose to study the development of the internet for a class assignment.

Dimick-Ritter’s research project was on display at an “inventions fair” hosted by three different fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms at Randolph Elementary School. Migrating from room to room, students took turns manning their displays and visiting those of their peers.

Pupils in Gus Howe Johnson’s class began researching inventions in February and focused on determining how the innovation changed the life of its inventor and the world, Johnson explained. This project, she added, was designed to introduce students to a unit on the Industrial Revolution.

Fellow educator Melinda Robinson saw the potential for an “inventions fair”—a museum of sorts, involving students in several classrooms— and “the kids got very creative about their projects,” Johnson wrote in an email.

In order to demonstrate her learning on the invention of Hungarian Argentine inventor László Bíró, one student handcrafted a ballpoint pen using a drinking straw, plaster, and homemade ink—made from blueberries, vinegar, and salt.

Blake Allen, whose arm rested in a cast beside her display, eagerly explained the basics of how x-ray images are taken. Nearby, Cameron Shultz-Currier sat in front of a model telegraph machine she had built out of a tissue box.

Connor Hood and a handful of classmates crowded around the bicycle he constructed entirely from scratch. Hood even did the welding himself, he said proudly.

Pasteurization was the topic of choice for Megan Taylor, who is involved in 4-H and said she has “always been interested in animals and farms.”

Across the hall, Evelyn Murawski stood beside a brightly-colored trifold containing images of early cameras. Photographs, she said, require no writing and allow people to simply “take a memory.”

RES Principal Meets With Members of Congress

Erica McLaughlin Traveled to Nation’s Capital to Advocate for Public Education

Randolph Elementary School principal Erica McLaughlin joined nearly 200 elementary and middle-school educators from across the country recently at the National Association of Elementary School Principals’ (NAESP) National Leaders Conference. McLaughlin advocated on behalf of principals, schools, and students to ensure that lawmakers support public education and do what’s right for American education.

McLaughlin took the needs of Vermont schools directly to congressional leaders to discuss pressing issues, including amending the Higher Education Act to strengthen principal recruitment, boosting school safety and mental health services, and advocating for responsible federal education funding.

“Very few people understand the needs of our nation’s schools better than the educators that work in them every day,” said McLaughlin. “When Congress is making important decisions about the future of American education, the voices of principals, along with teachers, aides, and other school professionals must be included.”

“Principals [especially] can provide key insights on the issues that affect our nation’s schools,” said NAESP’s executive director, Dr. L. Earl Franks, “including issues such as school safety and social-emotional learning. By sharing their expertise with lawmakers, school leaders have the power to shape legislation impacting these critical issues.”

With support from staff representing NAESP and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, McLaughlin visited congressional offices and asked lawmakers to address a number of issues, including boosting federal education funding, improving principal recruitment and preparation, and strengthening school-based mental health services.

McLaughlin, along with Braintree Principal Pat Miller, was also featured in the Winter 2018-19 issue of Impact Magazine, a University of Minnesota publication on trends and initiatives in education.

Braintree Writers Win 1st Place in Essay Contestpicture of two braintree students

Grace Best and Nora Celley have each received regional and state recognition in an essay writing contest sponsored by the Daughters’ of the American Revolution. Grace won 1st place for 6th grade in the Central Vermont Chapter and 3rd place for the whole state; and Nora won 1st place for 5th grade in the Chapter AND the whole state! Thee American History Essay Contest was established to encourage young people to think creatively about our nation's great history and learn about history in a new light.

Essays were judged based on historical accuracy, adherence to the topic, organization of materials, interest, originality, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and neatness. In August the girls will participate in a ceremony honoring their achievements. Thanks goes out to Janni Jacobs for her creative efforts in teaching and motivating students about the 19th amendment.

And congratulations to Grace and Nora!

Braintree Celebrates "I Love to Read Month"

From February 6th to March 13th, Braintree students (and teachers and administrators and staff!) will be participating in "I Love to Read Month!" Each week a mystery Guess Who photograph will be posted in the lobby for our students to guess. We will also participate in DEAR each week- that’s Drop Everything And Read. That means that every adult and student in the school will drop everything and read for 15 minutes at scheduled times.

All of us - preschool through sixth grade - are trying to beat our reading minutes and get at least 1600 minutes of reading time in from February 6th to March 13th. If we reach our school wide goal of 1600 minutes, each library class will have a special mystery celebration! Please watch for reading logs to come home soon. Keep track of the minutes that you read to your child or they read to you and record them on the mystery logs. Return them to school and we’ll track all of our minutes!
Ready...Set... READ!

Randolph Elementary Students Get To Spend Time on the Farm

Courtesy of The Herald, Dec 20, 2018
Randolph Elementary students visit a farm
Nora Skolnick’s class of fourth-graders at Randolph Elementary School has partnered with a local dairy farm in order to develop hands-on learning opportunities and community building. Among Randolph’s Farm to School relationships, the school has obtained financial support from the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA).
Findings from a 2010 Vermont study show that students who know a farmer are more apt to report eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

In addition to experiencing milking, chores, mapping, and trying new recipes at Silloway Farms, students will listen to farmer John Silloway’s stories of generational farming.

“I really love the farm to school program,” said Ms. Skolnick. “It is connecting students with their community and local history. They are getting a much deeper understanding of how the land around them is used and has changed over time.”

Silloway remarked that “we live in an agricultural community, so kids need to know about life on a farm.”
To display their knowledge of local history, Skolnick’s students will work with special guest artist Brendan Taaffe, thanks to grants from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. The group of youngsters will tell their story with an old-fashioned “crankie”: a canvas that is wound onto two spools and loaded into a box which has a viewing screen.

The class’s Vermont History crankie and classroom educational program finale will be performed during a community farm event at Silloway Farms in May.

Braintree Young Writers to be Publishedpicture of young writers at Braintree School

A number of fifth and sixth graders took pen in hand this past September to write their own original "Spooky Sagas." Afterwards, they submitted them for possible publication in the 2019 Young Writers Book.

The Young Writers Project is a Vermont-based community of students and mentors who love the art of writing. Their website, publications, events and workshops provide a safe and respectful environment where young people gain the ability to express themselves clearly, think creatively and discover who they are — a process that can be life-changing in both their personal and professional lives.

This year, the following Braintree students were selected to have their stories printed in the 2019 Young Writer's book! We are so very proud of our wonderful Braintree writers,including Sam Farrington, Sofi Natvig, Savannah Wheeler, Jackson Berry, Nora Celley, Mason Evans, Rhianna Young, and Grace Best

Randolph Elementary Student Council Plans Busy Holiday Season

The RES student council is an important group of 3rd-6th grade student leaders at RES. This year students have already given of their time to volunteer at our Harvest Festival, worked at the Thanksgiving luncheon and collected feedback about future PBIS school wide events. Student council members understand that it is a privilege to serve in this role at our school.

Throughout the school year students learn what it means to help others- both locally and more globally. During the holiday season they would like to collect non-perishable food items for the Randolph Area Food Shelf holiday boxes that will be distributed to area families.

RES Students Help Decorate National Christmas Treestudents decorate christmas ornaments
Courtesy of, Adam Sullivan reporting (Nov 14 2018)

Watch the video

It's a painting project with a little more pressure. After all, this work will be on display in Washington, D.C.

Randolph Elementary School students in fifth and sixth grade were selected to make ornaments for the Vermont tree, which will be one of 56 smaller trees surrounding the National Christmas Tree in President's Park. The trees are lit every year during the holiday season.

"I got really excited because our school was picked to do something national," said Charlie Tucker, a sixth-grader at Randolph Elementary School.

"I think it is really neat because there are so many things that we are proud of and we get to be the ones representing it," said Lula Gage, a fifth-grader.

The kids decided to include three things on their snow globe ornaments: trees, mountains and snow. A clay snowflake in the middle is in honor of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley. "He was an earlier photographer, he was a farmer and he was a scientist," art teacher Rebecca Carleton said. The Jericho man was the first person to take microscopic photographs of snowflakes back in the 1880s.

"All of my classes are about how to create bridges to understand the world around them," Carleton said.
About 100 fifth- and sixth-graders took part in the project.

Almost 100 Kids and Adults Participate in 38th Annual ‘Run for Health’

The 38th annual “Run For Health” was held Sunday, Oct. 21, with almost 100 kids and adults participating in this year’s one-mile event.

“Run For Health” brings together families from local area schools (Randolph, Braintree, Brookfield, RUHS, Montessori, and homeschooled students). The third and fourth graders designed this year’s Run For Health T-shirt, “Go With The Flow” in their art classes with Ms. Carleton. Ribbons were awarded to all runners, and students enjoyed apples donated by Zina Dans of VTC and water bottles donated by Ted Elzey.
Volunteers included Beth Keenhold, Paul Easton, Rebbie Carleton, and Randolph Sunrise Rotary members Larry Davignon, Zina Dana, Bob Fotta, Timothy Schroeder, Ted Elzey, Sue Forcier, and Ken Vandermark. Todd Keenhold was the “Run For Health” organizer.

Braintree students enjoy outdoor classworkBraintree Students Enjoy New Outdoor Classroom

Braintree Elementary School has added an Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) program for the 2018-2019 school year. ECO is a standard's based nature immersion program for students of all ages.

Children learn valuable skills in nature inquiry, group dynamics, and cooperative learning though guided discovery. This year our kindergarten and first grade classroom is traveling outside to their ECO sight every Friday and we hope to expand this wonderful opportunity to other classrooms as well in the future.

Michelle Kluskiewicz our K/1 teacher and Abi Gershon our Teacher Interventionist received training over the summer in a nature immersion course in outdoor learning through intensive experiential lessons, activities and discussions from the North Branch Nature Center.

We couldn't have designed and prepared this outdoor area without the immense help of Michelle Kluskiewicz, Abi Gershon, Janni Jacobs, Pat Miller and Max VanHouten and his Environmental Resource Management students from Randolph Technical Career Center. We look forward to an exciting year learning about nature based education.

Braintree Students Meet Author Lisa BunkerBraintree students meet with Lisa Bunker

Our Braintree librarian Jennifer Curtin took three lucky students to visit with author Lisa Bunker today at the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Celebration. Tristan Gottshall, Grace Best and Mason Evans were able to visit with Ms. Bunker and hear her presentation. Grace received a special award for having read all 30 titles from the 2017-2018 list.

4 Winds is Back at Brookfield Elementary

We are pleased to welcome our Four Winds volunteers back to school! This wonderFour Winds students learningful program, carried out by trained volunteers, brings enriching nature-based science instruction and learning opportunities to all of our students.

This year we will be studying Ecosystems. Topics such as Signs of Leaf Eaters, Leaf Litter, Snags & Rotting Logs, Squirrel Tales, Staying Warm, White-Tailed Der, Forest Birds and Pond Life will be explored. Take a look at the 4 Winds website to get an idea of what Four Winds is all about.You could also ask your child what they know about 4 Winds.

Our program coordinator, Kristina Emmons, could always use more volunteers. Please contact her for more information about how you can be a part of this great program. You can email Kristina at:

Randolph Elementary Students Get Wet Behind the Ears!Randolph Elementary Students go Snorkeling

Students in Mrs. Garrett and Ms. Skolnick's 3 & 4 grade classes now know what's going on in and under our rivers and streams. They recently visited Vermont's famous White River, facemasks, wetsuits, and snorkels ready to go!

Brookfield 3/4 Graders Explore Hildene

The Bookfield 3/4 grade from went down to Hildene, Lincoln's family home in Manchester, VT to learn about goats and vernal pools. The students got the chance to learn facts about the anatomy of goats, what can be made from their milk, and even got to bottle feed the baby goats.
After lunch they gathered in the classroom andhildene visit learned about vernal pools and some of the creatures who live in them, before heading out to see one on site. There, the students got to explore with nets and other devices, the pools and their inhabitants while recording data on what they found.

Randolph Kindergarteners Study Chicks’ Metamorphosis
Courtesy of The Herald, May 24, 2018
Closing out a multi-unit study on life cycles, Randolph Elementary School celebrated its annual Chick Night with an open house event on May 17.

Studying for this hands-on unit began when students and teachers set the eggs into incubation the day after April vacation. These fertilized eggs were donated by Tracy Squire, who has a backyard chicken coop in East Randolph.

In teacher Sarah Langlois’ kindergarten classroom, her students watched as eggs sprang to life over the course of their 21-day incubation period. The pupils candled the eggs each day with the aid of a flashlight to see past the shell and examine growth intervals inside the egg. The students then created colored diagrams to better understand different components of the embryo.

This curriculum, a component of the Next Generation Science Standards, connects elements of multi-disciplinary study including math, music, art, reading, and writing. Unique within the Orange Southwest School District, the Randolph kindergarten class is the only one in the district to cover the life cycles of chicks. “In terms of our district, Chick Night is definitely a Randolph tradition,” Langlois said.

Langlois said highlights of the unit included the study of embryology and a week spent learning about many types of egg-laying animals and how they tend to vary. Studies also included vocabulary development as the children learned new scientific terminology. Learning songs helped the kids remember more complex ideas. Langlois said the day the chicks were hatching was the most exciting for her students. “The hands-on piece is really what makes it stick for these kids,” she said.