Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Who owns conflict?

U-32 has been working to allow for members of the school community to resolve their own conflicts, with support, through use of restorative practices.  Much of the work of restorative practices is based in building community through proactive circles in TAs and classrooms. When there is a conflict, however, restorative circles are used to allow participants the opportunity to resolve the conflict and repair the harm.

Recently, as part of a class I am taking in Restorative Practices, I read an article from The British Journal of Criminology on Conflict (Christie, 1977).  The article discussed the social consequences of criminology - indicating that the justice system has taken on the ownership of conflict.  Unfortunately, the consequence of having a legal system with lawyers that take on conflicts on behalf of clients means that the clients themselves may never truly have resolution, the perpetrator may never have to actually take responsibility for their actions, and the victim may never feel they had closure.

For students at U-32, conflict is often mislabeled as bullying or harassment by parents, staff and students. There are many reasons for this, however, by seeking to avoid that conflict, administrators have been asked to take conflict off the hands of their students.  What has been lost in a system where conflict is taken on by others?  The opportunity to resolve the conflict.  Yes, our system allows for punishment, but it doesn't always allow for those involved in the conflict to learn either strategies for resolution or reasons to avoid making the same mistake again.  Part of the goal of bringing restorative practices to U-32 has been to provide a facilitated process through which students can learn conflict resolution.

There is a reason for every action and it is important that the reasoning is heard, just as the impact of those actions are made clear.  This can’t be accomplished in a system that does not allow the voices from both sides of the conflict to be involved in its resolution.  Ensuring that all voices is heard is based on the "belief that a more personalised meeting between offender and victim would lead to reduced recidivism." (Christie, 1977, p.9)  If the victim and offender are not given the opportunity to resolve the conflict, a few things happen, the offender, has lost both the opportunity to take responsibility and to be forgiven.  In cases where a victim does not have the opportunity to face the offender, the victim is often removed from the case, sometimes in an attempt at protecting them and they rarely come to know the offender or have the opportunity to understand what happened or to hear that person to take responsibility for their actions, which often results in the victim going "away more frightened than ever." (Christie, 1977, p8).

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Chronicle Needs Your Help - Tribute to Laure!

Hello U-32 Community,

Our school paper, The Chronicle, is collecting short, specific stories about Laure Angel to publish as a simple tribute.

If you have a vivid memory of Laure and would like
to share it, you can write it and send it as an email to chronicle@wcsu32.org.

If you would like to share your story in an
interview with one of our reporters, please email us and let us know when you're available.

Here's one of our first examples, to give you an idea of the length & type of story we're hoping to collect:

From Zach Gonzalez, Social Studies teacher:

“During the Root v. Kingwood race, there were many students and lots of faculty that came out that day.

The race had clearly turned in Jackson's favor... he was going to win.  
Isaac was trying really hard, and as he was coming around for his fourth lap, it looked like he was going to quit, but then a bunch of students began cheering for him, giving him energy.

I remember seeing Laure, coffee in hand, running down the hill onto the track, and she ran alongside Isaac that entire last lap."

We hope these stories can help in a small way to celebrate Laure's life. We will begin posting them next week, so please send in your story soon.

Thank you.
The Chronicle Staff

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

U-32 Library encourages U-32 community to read outside of their comfort zone!

Citing a Book Riot challenge, the U-32 Library launched the Read Harder Challenge 2017 last week.  The U-32 community is challenged to read outside their comfort zone - exploring new worlds, new genres and deepening their variety of reading throughout the year.  Readers are challenged to read 32 books from each of the following categories:

1. Read a book about sports.

2. Read a debut novel.

3. Read a book about books.

4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author.

5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative.

6. Read an all-ages comic.

7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950.

8. Read a travel memoir.

9. Read a book published in 2017.

10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location.

11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location.

12. Read a fantasy novel.

13. Read a nonfiction book about technology.

14. Read a book about war.

15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.

16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.

17. Read a classic by an author of color.

18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey. 

20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel. 

21. Read a book by a Vermont author.

22. Read a classic children's book that you have never read.

23. Read a collection of poetry on a theme other than love. 

24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. 

25. Read a Red Clover book.

26. Read a Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book. 

27. Read a GMBA book.

28. Read or listen to an Overdrive eBook or Audio book.

29. Read a U32 librarian pick.

30. Read a U32 teacher pick.

31. Read a short story.

32. Read a book about one of your hobbies. 
Since I've already read a fantasy novel (#12) this year, Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard, it's time to explore another category.  This year my son read a book for his English class from the category "classic by an author of color" (#17) that I've never read, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  I've decided that's my next book.  What's your next book?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Opportunities for Student Voice

The U-32 Student Council meets monthly with the U-32 Admin team, bringing ideas and sharing upcoming activities and community service.  As a result of these meetings there will be 3 high school pep rallies this year - the next one coming up on January 27th after a spirit week incorporating Bring the Change! (A Leukemia/Lymphoma foundation fundraiser)

In addition, individual students meet with the Administrative team on occasion and by appointment.  We've received wonderful presentations and valid feedback given from middle school students and high school students alike over the last few years.  This year a student requested that we bring a presentation to U-32 that he was fortunate to experience while at the HOBIE leadership conference.  As a result of his request and presentation, on January 18th – 19th Eric Thompson from Civil Schools will be at U-32 working with students, faculty and parents.  You can read more about the organization at http://civilschools.com/ .  Students leaders will be attending a workshop with Eric on January 18th, there will be a related faculty meeting that day and then a parent presentation at 6:30pm in the U-32 Auditorium Eric Thompson from Civil Schools will present:

CivilSchools: Helping Your Teen Navigate the Digital World: Moving from Hurtful to Healthful 
Rather than spending an evening discussing the dangers of social media, which are vast, we are going to equip you with the high leverage skills and interventions that are critical to your adolescent's well being.

We will focus on the pro-social behaviors that will help your family not only successfully handle cyber-bullying, sexting, and other negative elements of the online world but how to design a plan that prepares them to thrive within it.

Starting this month, Scott Harris and I will be facilitating monthly fishbowls in the restorative practice style.  We'll ask someone to prepare a dilemma to share with students to gather feedback and ideas on how to move forward.  Our first U-32 fishbowl will take place on January 25th and art teacher, Amy K. will present her dilemma around respectful communication at U-32 around the topic of diversity - she is seeking resources and ideas about ways to hold the discussion school wide.  If interested, sign up for callback with Scott Harris on January 25th!

*Photos courtesy of U-32 Learning Community & U-32 Student Council Facebook pages.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The spirit of giving is all around us!

U-32 student services has provided a bulletin board offering support to the whole school community recommending individuals take what they need:

Photo courtesy Cairsten Keese.

Faculty, Staff and Students have multiple ways in which they can support their community during the holiday season:

Student Council Winter Clothing Drive.

U-32 Student Council is organizing a Winter Clothing Drive! There will be a TA competition held from Monday, December 12th through Friday, December 16th. The TA that collects the most clothes will win pizza! The drive will continue into Saturday, December 17th for the rest of the community. From 9-11 am, on Saturday, community members are encouraged to drop off clean clothing: jackets, shirts, pants, gloves, hats, etc. Then from 12-3, all are welcome to come and choose from the free, donated clothes. Leftover clothing will be donated to the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program and the local Goodwill Store.

Giving Tree - Faculty & Staff

The holidays are coming and we are once again sponsoring the U-32 Giving Tree.  For the past two years, we have asked adult TAs for to offer suggestions of students in need, this year we asked parents/guardians directly .  At the beginning of December, a tree was placed in the mailroom with stars listing U-32 students’ needs/wishes.  Faculty and staff have been invited to take one of the stars to fulfill a wish.  

Toy Joy

U-32 is accepting donations of gently used toys, puppets, games, puzzles, books etc to Toy Joy. Collection boxes are located in the atrium by the Kiosk, on the second floor by top of atrium stairs, and in the Middle School outside Amy M's office.  In the past we have filled the pickup truck, please help us stuff the truck again this year.  All items must be collected by 7:45am on Friday Dec 16.  After TA on Dec 16 all toys will be delivered in hopes of bringing some holiday joy to those who depend on this annual, wonderful, service project.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Youth Ambassadors in the Muslim World: The U-32 and YES Abroad Connection

Written by: Karen Liebermann

One student at at time, one year at a time, U32 has been cultivating youth ambassadors in countries with significant Muslim populations.  This is made possible by the Kennedy-Lugar YES Abroad Program, an exchange program sponsored by the US Department of State.  YES was started in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, as an effort to increase dialogue and mutual understanding between people of the US and people of countries with significant Muslim populations. Initially, it was a way for students from abroad to live and study in the US, but in 2007, it was expanded to include US students.  Each year, 65 American students win this scholarship to study abroad in a country that has a significant Muslim population, and U32 students have a great record of being selected for this fully funded school year exchange program.  Students can spend their junior, senior or gap years immersed in another culture.  

In 2013-14, Quinn McVeigh (class of 2015) travelled to Oman, making lasting connections with her host family.  In 2014-15, Katie Ware spent her junior year in the  Philippines and Rachael Phillips (class of 2015) spent her senior year in Sarajevo,  Bosnia.  Last year, Kanwara “Pui” Limakara from Thailand, came to U32 on a YES exchange (the program that brings students from countries with significant Muslim populations here to the US).  

On exchange currently, in Dakar, Senegal, is Cricket Liebermann. Cricket has been in Senegal since September 1st and will return in June of 2017.  She’s in school at the Senegalese American Bilingual School in Dakar, and is getting involved in the community, playing softball on the school team and taking dance classes.  Of this experience so far, Cricket says

“Having the chance to study abroad in Senegal has made me grow in so many ways.  Just over two months ago, I arrived in Dakar and everyday since then I have been learning, exploring, meeting new people, immersing myself in the culture.  I can say for sure that exchange has changed the way I see and interpret so many things. It is truly a life changing experience.”

Cricket is blogging about her experience this year through vttodakar.wordpress.com and is happy to answer any questions about what its like to apply, and to be on exchange through this program.

Think you might be the next U32 ambassador?  Check out the YES Abroad website  (http://www.yes-abroad.org/) for application information.  The deadline for applying for the 2017-18 year is December 1st, 2016.  This year’s students are abroad in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, the Philippines, Senegal, and Thailand.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Geology & Central Vermont Culture Ninth Grade Field Trip

Written by & photos by: Brian Albee & Alison Gauthier

How does the Geology of Central VT affect the people who live here?
In turn, how do the people affect the landscape and rock formations of this area?

On October 28, 2016, the Ninth Grade student body traveled around Central Vermont in search of our local Geology and Culture. Learners were on three buses that traveled to Rock of Ages (Graniteville), Hope Cemetery (Barre) and an Old Slate Quarry (Northfield).
  • The Earth Science objective for this trip was: I will be able to create a unique model about a geological product found in Central Vermont.
  • The Global Studies objective for this trip was: I will be able to discuss/understand the relationship between humans and the geological features of this area.

Due to the rainy and snowy weather, each bus had a unique experience at each of the locations. The following summaries reflect what most of the buses (and their learners) saw and were exposed to.

At Rock of Ages, learners saw the Smith quarry and received some information about how the granite arrived in that location (Geology) and how the rock is extracted. Then learners saw the fabricating shop where the employees were hard-at-work making gravestones and sculptures. Some of the learners went into the Rock of Ages information center to watch a video about the history of the granite industry in Central VT and how the granite was formed. Each left with a sample of granite from the fabricating shop. Here are some quotes about the Rock of Ages experience from the learners:

“This was the place where we were closest to the actual important implementation of granite in our industry. Very in the moment and real learning. Also looked really cool.”

“I liked seeing the workers make the headstones”

“Rock of ages has a lot of different information about the granite and we also got to go into the area of where they cut the granite and they shape it and they also put letters on the stone and a bunch of other things, we also got to keep a piece of granite that was probably broken off of the stone that they carved.”

“It was really cool to see the snow covered piles of rocks, and look down into the quarry.”

“I felt like everything was right in front of me, so I could visualise the rocks being formed. And with the surroundings of the quarry, I could put the pieces together, like if granite was an intrusive or extrusive igneous rock.”

At the Hope Cemetery, learners had a tour by a phenomenal volunteer from the Barre Historical Society. She explained the history of Barre granite and the people that worked here; their stories, trials and tribulations. She explained the impact of the Spanish Flu in Central VT and pointed out notable gravestones and mausoleums. Here are some things that the learners said regarding the Hope Cemetery:

“The guide was very entertaining and kept me engaged in what she was telling us”

“I liked learning things at Hope Cemetery because it was about social studies and the stories we learned were interesting.”

“It was a nice place to be! I liked seeing the different headstones, and it was just in general a calm and pretty place.”

“It was cool to learn about the different stories behind each stone.”

“I liked to learn there because it was interesting to learn about the stories of how the stones came to be and connecting it back to the pros and cons of being a worker in granite quarries.”

“I loved hearing about all the stories, that happened before I was born.”


In Northfield, learners visited the Old Slate Quarry. The tour at this location was led by the head of the Geology department at Norwich University. He explained the history of the slate/phyllite in Central VT and how it originally formed. He went into depth about the Geological processes that occurred to form the rock, and then how it came to be in Central VT (actual original rock was formed thousands of miles away). Here are some quotes from learners related to the Old Slate Quarry:

“I like it because It was partially hands on and there was the visual aspect of seeing the rock layers in the ground vertically was really helpful”

“We were able to see a quarry in person, and we were able to interact, and see and identify different rocks. We also got to see a lot of landscaping from where we were, and from when we were hiking up to it.”

“I learned about how the rocks in the Quarry were made from the pressure of the tectonic plates.”

“The college professor was very informative about the place and how it related to the unit we are doing.”

“It was interesting seeing the quarry and what type of rock was in there.”