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Back To Our Roots Tradition Continues In ANWSW
photo providedWhile the sizes of the students varied, the focus was all about the future, growing up, and being a strong member of the school and community.
photo providedVUHS Senior Alison Provost helps a Ferrisburgh Elementary class bury their time capsules to be opened at their graduation, full of memories, dreams and plans.
Tuesday May 31, 2011
By Cookie Steponaitis
Amidst the raindrops, the greening of Vermont and the mad dash to the finish line of graduation, VUHS seniors paused for two mornings to return, reflect and pass on to the next generation lessons they have learned in school. Back to Our Roots is in its fourth year at VUHS and pairs VUHS seniors with students at the three elementary schools that they came from. The seniors shared dreams, ideas and worked with students in the elementary schools to create their own time capsules and memories to be opened when they are themselves seniors.
Seniors returning to Addison Central started the May 17th and 18th gatherings with ice breaking activities and shared with the younger students their favorite memories of elementary school and their goals for the future. Responding in kind, the students from kindergarten to grade six shared bread and honey with the seniors and also talked about their goals for the future. The students used guided handouts to create a time capsule that each class would bury and save to be dug up and reviewed during their graduation week in the future. At Ferrisburgh and Vergennes Elementary the focus was the same and the results as heart warming as they were powerful.
Back to Our Roots was born four years ago when A.J. Devino, a senior at the time was having a conversation with VUHS faculty member Lee Shorey. A.J. wanted to connect with the elementary schools and offer both the seniors and the younger children another way to bond. Coupled with the testing that involves three grades of the VUHS school community, the two mornings allowed for a great deal of reflection and let the seniors take on the role of big brothers and sisters as well as spokespeople for the entire school process. “2011 Back to Our Roots, a K-12 initiative and social assessment opportunity, generated conversations, observations, and connections between students of all ages and district professionals across our four schools,” remarked faculty organizer Lee Shorey. “By mirroring their achievements and post secondary goals the seniors’ intent was to capture the hopes, dreams and achievements of the K-6 students in an activity that let them look into their future.”
As part of meeting the five VUHS guidelines for success, the seniors are also cast in the role of adult organizers and involved with Back to Our Roots at each level. “Several things went into the planning of Back to Our Roots 2011,” reflected senior chairperson Ashley Brunet. “I could not have planned and carried out this event without the help of Lee Shorey and the senior delegates, Asa Hunt, Cassie Devino, Allison Provost, Monique Simpson, Sierra Roberts and Shelby Sheehan. Lee and I developed the idea of "Look to the Future" and the time capsules after discussing how important it is for younger students to think about their futures now. Once Lee and I decided on a theme the senior delegates and I attended faculty meetings at each of the elementary schools. After the schools were on board with the idea, the real planning began. The seniors met as a class to work in groups several times before the event. During these work assemblies the seniors worked together to establish what activities they would do with the elementary school students and what they needed to carry these activities out. These work groups were crucial to the success of this event. The Class of 2011 obtained the time capsules, made of PVC pipe, from the Town of Vergennes. Kory Cousino and Brandon Hoose worked on putting the capsules together. The local bread the seniors brought to each elementary school to share with the students was given to the senior class by Good Companion Bakery located in Ferrisburgh, Vermont. The honey brought to the elementary schools was from the local company Honey Gardens. Next, we had to decide where the time capsules would be buried. All elementary schools were great about deciding where they wanted the capsules to go. I will admit planning this event was one of the most stressful experiences of my life, but the outcome and final product was more than enough of a reward. I am so proud of the Class of 2011 and how they came together to do something for a community that has given us all so much.”
Echoing the words of Ashley Brunet are not only the seniors themselves, but their elementary school counterparts. One young boy stood up at one of the elementary schools and thanked the seniors with these words. “Thank you so much for coming to our school and sharing your dreams with me. I want to be like you when I am grown. I want to care and to come back to share with others.”
Based in part on the belief that it does take a town to raise a child, Back to Our Roots is growing into an annual experience that is welcomed by young and old alike. By reaching out and using the experiences of the seniors as a jumping off place, the youth in the elementary schools learn to (1) stay in school, (2) work hard, (3) be respectful (4) be kind and (5) be a life long learner, lessons shared and seeds planted that the community will have to wait to see the growth of.
“Seeing the elementary students smiling faces as we carried out the time capsule activities and burial is a memory I will never forget,” concluded senior Ashley Brunet. “It made us all aware of the role we have as teenagers and now as leaders in our own way in the community.” Like all lessons learned in farm country, the root goes down deeply, the seed sprouts up, and the plant takes root and grows tall. The Valley Voice salutes this year’s entire crop about to begin their final days as seniors and wishes them safe journeys and travels as they graduate and move into the next phase of their lives.
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