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Tuesday May 26, 2009 Edition
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An Ever Increasing Circle Of Hands: VUHS Celebrates Community

photo provided

photo provided

Tuesday May 26, 2009

By Cookie Steponaitis

    Two years ago VUHS decided to establish the days of state and national testing as community service time for the whole school. The students involved in the testing diligently complete their tasks bringing to bear their best performances academically. The other students not testing venture out into the community and give back with projects linking youth, elderly, civic organizations, private business and teens in a partnership that focuses on the interconnectedness of the county and its people.

    May 19th- May 21st were the latest continuation of this project and while over three hundred tested each morning, close to four hundred teens were bussed to sites including the three local elementary schools, Rokeby Museum, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Basin Harbor, several area churches and local fire departments, Job Corps and Addison County Field Days. The members of the senior class of 2009 returned to the elementary schools they came from, working with students there spanning kindergarten to grade six making this trip especially poignant. Senior Meghan O’Daniel remarked about the experience, “It was neat to see the future grades of VUHS excited about high school and ready to come. They are all ready to grow and the enthusiasm on their faces was priceless.” Senior Sarah Lucia commented that, “The third graders I worked with were all so excited to listen to what we had to say. It was also really notable that they all had plans and ideas of what they wanted to accomplish in the future. Those visions of the future were great to hear and they asked for our advice on how to achieve them.”

    VUHS faculty member Sandy Chicoine who witnessed and photographed the work at many sites remarked, “It was invigorating to see all of our students out being a part of the community, lending a helping hand, and being role models for others. They brightened the smiles of elementary schoolers, cleaned buildings, beaches and grounds, built bleachers and made their teachers proud.” Freshman Jesse Bunde reflected on his visit to Job Corps, “It was interesting to see all of the different programs available right here in Vergennes. I really did not know what they had to offer before our visit.”

     The program is planned to continue into the future. Co-chair Lee Shorey envisions each year as a progression in developing citizenship skills in students and bringing together all of the parts of the community that work together to educate the teens of the county. The idea for sending the seniors back to their roots was a goal for this year and resulted from seeing the Art Fair and other programs that showcase learning from a K-12 approach.

    While the end of the school year is rapidly approaching and time is short, the VUHS community embraces the annual tradition of scheduling the community involvement of hundreds to raise awareness, increase civic responsibility and giving back, which includes the ever growing circle of hands that make up the ANWSU community.


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