Randolph Union Middle/High School

Randolph Union Middle/High School


RU students study in the libraryWelcome to Randolph Union Middle/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)

Graduation Plans:

 

After the AOE and Governor released their guidance for the end of year ceremonies, we spent a few week in deliberation with the senior class, our neighbors at RTCC, and members of the wider community, and we’ve decided that RU will have our culminating graduation ceremonies in the form of a gathering - which is something of great importance to our seniors.  There will be a virtual component as well, for members of families and the wider community who cannot attend. 

 

Here are the details: 

 

  • Seniors will receive their caps, gowns, tassels, and NHS sashes, etc, the week of June 9th.  Also included will be a special RU facemask for seniors to wear at the event.
  • The gathering will be supported by social distancing protocols. 
  • The ceremony will take place at the VTC parking lot, with a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. 
  • There will be no tent but there will be a stage across which each student will march and receive their diploma. 
  • Students and guests will remain in cars.  There will be two vehicles allowed per graduate/family.
  • Video will be taken of the event so that a short movie can be made of the ceremony in the days afterwards.  This short memento movie will also include videos of guest speakers who may not be able to attend the event.
  • We also anticipate that the event can be live-streamed via the wireless connectivity at VTC.  More info to come on this.
  • A special expanded graduation program will include lists of all awards and scholarships that our graduates are receiving.  The list of honors received by a student will also be mentioned upon receipt of the diploma.  These recognitions will stand in place of the annual “Awards Night.”
  • A photographer will be hired to take pictures of each student on the stage so that families will not leave cars to come forward to take pictures.
  • Pictures will be sent to each senior and others can be ordered for family and friends.
  • RU will have its ceremony on the evening of June 19th.  RTCC will have theirs on the 18th, as scheduled.  Rain dates will be announced.
     

 

On behalf of our planning committee, thank you for your support for the class of 2020.  More information will be provided in the weeks to come.

 

Important notice: While the schools are closed due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 (the "coronavirus), check here for updates and special notices regarding distance learning, self care, and other news and information. Also, please click on the COVID-19 link at the top of the page.

Admin Roles to Change at RU

Changes will support ongoing efforts to improve student learning and create a positive school culture.
RU Principal Elijah Hawkes this week announced a number of new changes to the school’s administrative structure. The changes, he noted, are designed to build on the restructuring that took place last year when Associate Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Caty Sutton joined the administrative team.

“One adjustment we made during this current year,” Hawkes said, “and which is working well, was to insulate Caty from most daily concerns in the operational and disciplinary realms. This allowed her to spend more time in the classrooms, collaborate more closely with OSSD curriculum coaches, and help lead grade-level teacher teams.”

“Next year,” he said, “we plan to increase this kind of support for teaching and learning in the classrooms, with a sharper focus on both the upper (10 - 12) and lower (7 - 9) grades."

Under the new arrangement, Ms. Sutton will provide instructional leadership to the upper grades, providing them with focused administrative and supervisory support for teaching and learning. Lisa Floyd, currently the Director of Project Based Learning and Senior Project Coordinator, will provide focused administrative and supervisory support to the lower grades.

“As Head of Upper Grades,” Hawkes said, “Caty will work closely with history teacher Tev Kelman, who will take on coordination of Senior Project, which has been a responsibility of veteran teachers in the past. She will also support the various pathways students take in their final years at RU, whether it’s a traditional pathway, an RTCC program, early college, or AP courses. She will collaborate closely with OSSD curriculum coaches and RU department chairs to ensure curriculum alignment across the district, and will work with Director of Applied Learning, Ken Cadow to help support teachers and students with project-based and applied learning opportunities. Providing this kind of intensive support to the upper grades will help ensure dynamic senior year opportunities at RU and support for diverse post-secondary pathways.”

“In the lower grades,” Hawkes noted, “students require a great deal of careful support when it comes to the major developmental changes that are taking place in their lives, as well as the increasing academic demands, which now include a fairly intense state testing regime. We have also heard from our community that more attention should be paid to ensuring a smooth transition from elementary to middle school, and from middle school to high school. This role will help ensure these transitions get the attention they deserve.”

“As Head of Lower Grades, one of Lisa’s first endeavors will be to lead teachers in grades seven through nine in 'Responsive Classroom’ professional development in late spring and early summer. This professional development will help ensure consistency of high quality practice in classrooms from late elementary school through middle school and into high school. Lisa will collaborate closely with OSSD curriculum coaches and RU department chairs to ensure curriculum alignment across the district, and sound implementation of local and state assessment systems. She, too, will collaborate closely with Ken Cadow to help support teachers and students with project-based and applied learning opportunities.”

Other members of the school’s administrative team will maintain a 7-12 purview next year:

  • Ken Cadow will retain his focus on curriculum at all grade levels that involves applied learning. As Director of Applied Learning, Ken will support project-based learning, community engagement, career and workforce development at all grade levels. In addition, Ken will take on oversight of the majority of fiueld trips so he can support teachers with dynamic and deep applied learning in the community.
  • Dorinne Dorfman will remain in her role as Director of Targeted Supports, serving as the case manager of 504 plans, and working with grade teams to support interventions based on student outcomes at all grade levels. She will help us plan for VT state summative assessments, and manage a team devoted to improving student behavioral outcomes and school climate.
  • Elijah Hawkes will remain building principal, with 7-12 responsibilities that include operations, budget, safety & security, supervision, human resources, strategic planning, coordination with OSSD Directors, bullying/harassment, restorative practice and disciplinary interventions.
  • In addition to his teaching duties, Humanities teacher Tev Kelman will take on Senior Project coordination. Tev has years of experience as a Senior Project panel head, and as a writing and history teacher, will be a natural fit for this role.

“The Cake” a Resounding Success
drama students
Randolph Union High School’s Encore Theater Company presented “The Cake” this March, with a script so new it has yet to be published. “The Cake” explores the 2008 dispute between a Colorado baker and a gay couple that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I bought this play,” said Director Brian Rainville, “because it’s so easy to ignore ideas that are not my own. Yet each side had valid yet conflicting claims – religious freedom for the baker and equal protection for the couple.”

Of equal interest, RU’s actors and technicians were rehearsing the show on the 20th anniversary of Baker v. Vermont, which plunged the state into the contentious question of gay marriage.

To provide context for the “The Cake” Director Rainville invited journalist David Moats to meet with the cast and crew prior to the performance. Moats won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vermont Supreme Court and subsequent legislative session.

Moats spent an afternoon with the RU theater students, answering questions and discussing his experience covering the Vermont Supreme Court in 1999, and the subsequent legislative session that led to the creation of Civil Unions in Vermont.  

"David was very gracious to visit," noted theater director Brian Rainville. "He answered a flurry of questions about how the Vermont of 1999 relates to the 2008 Colorado case on which our play was based.  In November ,I gave every member of the cast and crew a copy of David's book, knowing it would provide invaluable context."

Although crowds were smaller than normal on performance nights due largely to concern surrounding the Coronavirus, Rainville was still pleased with the result. "This show allowed young learners to engage with the past and present through deeply human perspectives.  My students explored primary sources, profound social change, and the engines thereof.  Theater - and public schools - provide a forum for far-reaching, challenging, respectful discussions."

Grant Funds Help RUHS Teacher Diversify Curriculumpicture of Emily Therrien

Courtesy of The Herald January 09, 2020
By Zoë Newmarco

Thanks to funds from two grants, Randolph Union High School teacher Emily Therrien is taking the lead on efforts to expand the curriculum for the benefit of a diverse range of students. Therrien, who typically teaches five classes and runs an advisory, is down to just two this year. The rest of her time is filled with work associated with the grants.

She was awarded a grant of $100,000 from the Rowland Foundation, an organization that offers 10 grants annually to secondary educators in Vermont who propose projects designed to improve the culture and climate in their schools.

A second grant of $32,200 from the Agency of Education was awarded to the high school [to be] used specifically for professional development on the subject of “equity literacy,” Therrien said.
“Equity literacy is really just about being … able to recognize the ways in which the world and our society are structured in ways that benefit some over others,” she explained.

Therrien noted that the Rowland Foundation grant allows her to have much broader goals than the AOE grant, although the projects under both grants complement each other. A significant portion of the money from the Rowland Foundation will go towards the costs of a substitute teacher for most of Therrien’s classes, as well as other costs associated with the work she does under the grant.

“Our grant project this year is looking at equity in public education and examining the ways in which we can develop curriculum and programs to ensure that all students see themselves represented in the curriculum,” said Therrien.

She wants to make sure that, through the curriculum, “students are exposed to the world beyond Randolph— just exposing them to different perspectives, while at the same time validating their own identities and who they are.”

Project based learning director Lisa Floyd is also enthusiastic about Therrien’s work with the two grants this year, she said. Floyd and fellow RUHS educator Angela Bauer were co-recipients of a Rowland Foundation grant in 2015, which they used to make improvements to the high school’s advisory program.

Floyd emphasized that she appreciates how Therrien recognizes that the work done under the two grants has the potential to have “real impact on real students,” and to set high expectations for both students and staff.

“[Emily] is able, as a social studies and English teacher, to provide historical context for students and help them see how events in the past impact our present,” said Floyd. “I believe her equity work will benefit the Randolph Union community for years to come.”

RU Senior Serena Hanrahan is Named VT Presidential Scholar
picture of Serena Hanrahan
RU Senior Serena Hanrahan was notified this month that she has been chosen as one of a small handful of Vermont Presidential Scholars for 2020.

The Vermont Presidential Scholars Program is a statewide recognition of academic, service, and leadership excellence. Outstanding students from across the state are selected based on nominations from teachers and administrators.  High schools can nominate up to one female and one male in both the general and, for the first time, the Arts categories, and CTE centers can nominate up to two students.  Selection committees then identify 10 male and 10 female students in the general nomination process, 5 in the Arts students, and 5 CTE students.  

The 25 Vermont Presidential Scholars will be invited by the U.S. Department of Education to apply for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, which recognizes some of the country’s most distinguished high school seniors. The program honors students who show exceptional academic achievement, talent in the visual, creative and performing arts, and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

“Serena has shown a truly independent and self-reliant ability that exceeds almost all of the other students with whom I have worked,” said school Guidance Counselor Kara Merrill.  “She knows what she wants out of school and is easily able to advocate to reach her goals.”

According to Merrill, Serena approaches whatever she does – sports, academics, hobbies, interests – with a level of maturity not often seen in young people her age.

“Serena [approaches projects] with a vision. For her senior project, cake baking and decorating, she developed a plan, found the best people possible to help her, and put forth her best effort.  By the end of last summer, she already had logged more hours than is required for the entire year-long project! And this is just one example of how Serena approaches all the challenges in her life.”

English teacher Jamie Connor called Serena “probably the best student she has ever worked with” in part because she is honest, genuine, and unafraid to voice her ideas.

“Serena is simply the best,” Connor said, “because she is intrinsically motivated to find value in her learning and she always engages fully. She is the best because she is so generous with her time and energy, finding a way to balance school, family, sports, work and friends. To say she is deliberate is an understatement. Serena, quite frankly, possesses too many incredible qualities to capture in a single letter.”

Following graduation, Serena will enroll at Johnson and Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, where she’s been accepted into the Baking and Pastry Arts program.

No Easy Task: Engaging Students to Meet the Challenges of Our Time

RU Principal Elijah Hawkes shares some thoughts and insights on how to engage students to prepare for, and meet, the challenges they will face following graduation.  Sometimes, the answer lies just beneath the surface. 

You can read the whole article here, courtesy of VT Kids Magazine.
No Easy Task: A High School Administrator on Engaging Students to Meet the Challenges of Our Time

OSSD Focuses on Free Breakfast for Allstudents taking advantage of free breakfast

Program Helps Stem Hunger and Stigma
Courtesy of The Herald, October 31, 2019
Story by Zoë Newmarco; Photo by Bob Eddy

Since October 14, free breakfast is available for all students at Randolph Union High School and Randolph Technical Career Center, thanks to funding from the United States Department of Agriculture and additional state funds.

Director of Targeted Services Dorinne Dorfman explained that part of her job is to examine all of the factors that would prevent students from performing at or above grade level. “And hunger is a culprit,” she said. Within the first two weeks of school, Dorfman had discovered that at least five teachers were feeding their students in class.

“Free breakfast is a low-hanging fruit,” said Dorfman, noting that in Vermont and across the country, teachers often spend hundreds of dollars out of pocket to provide for their students—everything from school supplies to clothing.

“There’s no free boot program, but there is a free breakfast program,” said Dorfman, noting that Braintree and Randolph Elementary Schools have already been serving free breakfast to all students prior to this year.

RU’s Innovation Center Fosters Growth of ‘Applied Learning’ Skills
Students learn in the Innovation Center
RUHS engineering students, working in the school’s new Innovation Center, are using their math, communication, and fine motor skills to design and create original lighting fixtures. They use the school’s new 3D printer to create the housing for the electronics, and utilize its new laser cutter to cut and etch the design. Then, just like it happens in the real world, they present their ideas to local light manufacturer LEDdynamics.

It’s all part of a new addition to the middle and high school curriculum, designed to help students connect the writing, language arts, math, and science concepts they learn in the regular classroom to real-world projects and solutions outside of the classroom.

Ken Cadow, RU’s director of career pathways and workforce development, believes the Innovation Center could be many students’ ticket to better jobs following graduation, as well as a more focused and productive college experience.

“The world is rapidly changing,” Cadow said. “And it’s more important than ever that students coming out of high school are on a track towards something, be it college, a career—or both.

“When they’re able to connect what they’re learning in math class to a real-life application or solution,” he said, “or when they can use their language arts skills to put together a presentation on something they’ve designed or created, they begin to understand why it’s important to learn the subjects they are being taught; and how they can use that learning to better their lives. Education actually begins to come alive for them.”

The Innovation Center, Cadow said, is actually a resource for everyone in the school, not just students in the engineering class.

“The space can be booked much like the media center is,” Cadow said. “It can be booked by any faculty member in support of a whole class project, or by individual students who wish to demonstrate independent learning (instead of, for example, writing a paper) for any class, in accordance with their personalized learning plan. It’s not meant to be an alternative to the current curriculum, but rather embedded into it.”