Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April 14, 2017

Upcoming Dates 

April 24th-28th: Spring Break
May 1st-5th: SBAC~ math and science standardized testing for all Swift students.
May 9th and 10th: WCS 8th Grade Science NECAP standardized test
Friday, May 19th- CVU Spring Social for the Class of 2021 (current 8th graders)
June 1st-2nd: WCS 8th Grade Celebration Trip
June 5th-9th: Swift DC Trip and "Hometeam" Theme Week
TBD- Swift End-of-Year Open House
TBD- 8th Grade Challenge Presentations
TBD- Swift Sandbar Picnic
Thursday, June 15th- 8th Grade Graduation! 

*We will determine the dates of "TBD" events as soon as the School Board releases the date for the last day of school.


The next Spark Enrichment Session will run April 20th, May 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th. Classes will be held on Thursdays from 3:00pm - 4:30pm.

Click here to register.  It's free and open to all middle schoolers with transportation provided.  

Changing Perspectives

Rayona from CVU came and talked about her experiences as a student with hearing loss. We learned about how she has become more mature and able to advocate for herself because of her challenges. The Swift students were welcoming, inquisitive and then captivated listening to her stories.

Author Visit- Kwame Alexander

Students from The Crossover literature group went to Burlington on Friday to see the author speak at Burlington High School.  He read from his book, shared his experiences with writing and publishing, and inspired students to tell themselves "yes."   The Crossover was rejected by 20 publishers before Mr. Alexander self-published.  It was quickly picked up by a retail publisher and then won the Newbury Honor in 2015!  Look for his work in young adult sections everywhere- he combines poetry and sports in a spectacular way.
Kwame recites a poem with backup on the guitar

Our literature group in Burlington High

Social Studies

Our 7th and 8th grade students are just finishing up our World War One unit in Social Studies! To showcase all their learning, students have created newspapers with various articles that include battle reports, interviews with key people in the war, information about the American homefront, and much more! Students were to take on the role of a journalist during the war and write from this perspective.


Our 7th and 8th graders are learning about how absorption,  transmission and reflection affect the color we see.  Using a diffraction grating we realized that the kiva lights do not offer the full spectrum of light that the sun or even a standard light bulb do.

Kiva lights through diffraction grating

Jonas and light bulb through diffraction grating

Swift Facilitators Update

Kevin, Amy and Debbie had the pleasure of joining Julie Longchamp, former Swift facilitator, as she successfully defended her dissertation for Degree of Doctor of Education from the UVM Graduate College.   She dedicated her dissertation to past and present teachers of Swift House.  We were proud to see her launching into yet another exciting post-Swift retirement adventure!


It is my hope that public schools will be places where children learn who they are as learners, to celebrate difference and uniqueness, to develop skills in challenging settings and in accordance with the best research on how the human brain learns, and where interpersonal problem solving and understanding is as central to the learning process as is personalized intellectual development. Al Myers, Swift House Facilitator, 2005.

I wish to dedicate this work to my colleagues and mentors on the Swift House Team in Williston, Vermont. Swift House began in 1990 when then-principal Marion Stroud paired me with three remarkable educators to develop a multi-age middle school team- Gary Howard, Bernie Caron, and the late Al Myers. The team was to both meet the needs of middle school learners, and prepare these learners for a rapidly changing, technological world. Together with the support of Charlie Wilson and Carter Smith, Swift House was created. During the first year of operation, the 1991-1992 school year, and subsequently, Swift House emphasized technology integration, personalized learning, proficiency-based learning, student-led portfolio conferences, project-based learning, and strong student voice. These educators were forward-thinking and had the autonomy within the structure of the public school to create these systems, many of which are considered innovative event today.

Swift House carries on under the dedication of my former colleagues, Kevin Hunt, Debbie Donnelly, Amy Skapof, Amanda Laberge, and Lisa Bisbee. Thank you for keeping the vision strong and always emerging. Strong public schools are vital to the health and well-being of our nation.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31, 2017

Upcoming Dates

  • April 3-7: Sound of Music Production week.  Classes will carry on as usual.  Students involved in the show should check in with teachers around missing work.  All Swift students will attend the show at 12:30 on Friday!
  • April 24th-28th: Spring Break
  • May 1st-5th: SBAC~ math and science standardized testing for all Swift students.
  • May 9th and 10th: WCS 8th Grade Science NECAP standardized test
  • June 1st-2nd: WCS 8th Grade Celebration Trip 
  • June 5th-9th: Swift DC Trip and "Hometeam" Theme Week
  • TBD- Swift End-of-Year Open House
  • TBD- 8th Grade Challenge Presentations
  • TBD- Swift Sandbar Picnic
  • TBD- 8th Grade Graduation
*We will determine the dates of the last four events as soon as the School Board releases the date for the last day of school.

SBAC Testing- Headphones Please

Students need headphones for portions of the SBAC testing.  If your son or daughter has headphones that they can bring to school, please send them the week of testing (May 1st-5th).  We have some headphones available, however it does not make sense to purchase 90 pairs when so many students already have them on-hand.  Thank you!


Rube Goldberg Machines

Swifties created Rube Goldberg machines recently  to demonstrate various principles of science.  Fifth and sixth graders practiced identifying and drawing forces acting upon objects within their machines.  Seventh and eighth graders are identifying potential vs kinetic energy in their machines, calculating the specific kinetic energy of one object as well.

A compilation of 5th and 6th grade "machines"

Girls Science Discovery Day

The University of Vermont College of Medicine’s Chapter of the American Women’s Medical Association will be hosting their annual Girls’ Science Discovery Day on Saturday, May 6th, 2017 from 9:00am to 4:00pm at the UVM College of Medicine in Burlington, VT.  Williston Central School has been invited to bring three seventh or eighth grade girls to the event.

The day consists of a keynote address, interactive workshops run by faculty and medical students, and an ice cream social.  Workshops from previous years have included learning about the immune system, medical imaging, and anatomy.  Activities have included viewing human organs, casting an arm and drawing blood from a dummy.  For more information, click here.

Any girls interested in attending should complete the Google Survey found here before Thursday, April 6th.  Further questions can be directed to Amy Skapof at askapof@cssu.org.  If we have more than three interested and enthusiastic candidates we will draw names on Friday, April 7th.  Those chosen to attend will be contacted by April 10th with more details.


CVU Spring Social- for 8th Graders


Who: All incoming 9th graders from the towns of Hinesburg, Williston, St. George, Shelburne and Charlotte
What: A DJ’d DANCE and an opportunity to get to know your fellow students of the CVU Class of 2021! This as a fantastic way for you to foster relationships with peers from other sending schools in the district before starting the 9th grade together in the Fall of 2017!
When: Friday, May 19th , from  6:45pm → 9:45 pm
Where: CVU cafeteria
Why:  Because you KNOW you want to see who will be joining you at CVU for the next four years. And,  its a great opportunity to make some connections before the start of summer vacation! And, it's a fundraiser for the CVU Senior Class Council. Be there!

Cost: $8 Admission
Snacks and drinks will also  be available for purchase
Casual (but classy!) dress→ this is not a “formal”
Questions? Please contact Michelle Fongemie at mfongemie@cssu..org

From Hurtful to Helpful: Helping Your Teen Navigate the Digital World

Free presentation for parents on April 11th at CVU.  Click on the image below for more detail.



Youth Lobby Day

Last year, approximately 700 young Vermonters from over twenty different schools and universities marched down State Street in Montpelier and gathered on the State House lawn in the largest youth-focused political rally in Vermont’s history. These students were all united in the belief that greater political action must be taken to address the threat of climate change. Student organizers are currently working hard to make this year’s Youth Lobby Day, taking place April 12th, 2017, even bigger and better than last years’ event.

Summer Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Interested in performing in this classic Shakespearean comedy this summer and exploring the wonders of the imagination?

Description: Two weeks of intensive rehearsals from June 26th-July 7th (Mon.-Sat.) and one week of performances (including indoor, evening performances and outdoor, mid-day performances for the community).
Ages: 12-17
Rehearsals: (June 26th-July 7th)-at the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts Monday-Friday, 9:00am-3:00pm Saturday, 9:00am-1:00pm (optional fun activities from 1-4) **no rehearsal July 4th**
Performances: (July 7th-15th) Evening shows at 7:00pm, July 7th and 8th (possibly 15th) (at the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts) ​ Mid-day shows July 10th, 11th, 13th, and 14th (various time/locations around Chittenden County)
Auditions: Monday, June 12th at 1:00pm in Williston (other arrangements can be made if necessary) Tuition: $300/participant ($200 for each additional sibling)
Contact: Lauren Palmer at silverclaw3@yahoo.com with any further questions or to enroll as an actor/actress (please also fill out basic registration form below).

Also see hourglassyouththeatre.weebly.com to check out the company’s previous production, for more information about the company, and for an online basic registration form (for actors) We are also searching for 2-3 crew members to help with lighting (for evening performances), sets, props, and costumes.

We are also looking for an assistant director (upper high school). Please enquire by contacting Lauren Palmer at silverclaw3@yahoo.com.

 **Sponsored by the Off Center for the Dramatic Arts**

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 15, 2017

Upcoming Events 

March 8th @ 6:30 pm: Parent Meeting for all Washington DC Students in Swift House kiva

March 10th: Swift House sponsors the WCS School Dance. Funds are shared among all teams for field trips. Sign-up here if you are able to chaperone. And thank you in advance!

March 25th: Swift Sponsors Fun Night (Washington DC Fundraiser). Sign-up form will be sent out soon.


Williston Campus July 17 – 21 (days - 8:30 am – 4:30 pm)

 Coder Camp for Girls (brand new day camp) - Geared for rising 8th- 10th grade girls (13-16 years) to bring their creativity and translate that into an active software coding environment; experience developing a program of their own design, have fun with SCRATCH, a friendly robust program designed by MIT plus others. Campers build leadership skills through team building activities, harness big ideas, gain essential programming skills, hear and learn from faculty and industry professionals, take field trips to local businesses, make new friends and have loads of fun -all at a very affordable price of $275 (plus some scholarships available) Contact: Elissa Lee (802)288-8915 Email: elee@vtc.vsc.edu http://www.vtc.edu/academics/high-school-students/camps/coder-camp-girls

Basket Raffle

Falconer Visit

We were so fortunate to have Tarim Kennedy, a Middlebury College student, come and visit our My Side of the Mountain literature group. Tarim brought his red tailed hawk named Zeru (Basque word for night). Swift students were able to ask Tarim questions (a literature group assignment!) and some brave ones even got the hawk to land on their arms. Some of the students now want to become falconers!

Puppy Visit....
We were also lucky enough to have the Medici's new puppy come by for a visit recently.  She was very, very popular.

Curriculum Updates

  • Student-led literature groups are wrapping up this week. We will be sending out the sign-up for our new literature groups this week.
  • 5/6 Science: Students have been modeling the sun/moon/earth relationship to explain the changes in the night sky.  For example: why do we see different constellations in different seasons?  Why can't we look at our star (the sun) while we can stare at the other stars?
  • 7/8 Science: Students have also been creating models of the sun/moon/earth relationship to explain eclipses, seasons, and moon phases.  They can now explain why a lunar eclipse occurs during a full moon but why not every full moon is eclipsed!

FAPAC February 2017 Meeting Highlights Information

To:  Swift House Parents
From:  Shelly Masson
, FAPAC Representative
cc:  House Teachers and Teaching Assistant

The FAP Advisory Council held its monthly meeting on February 9th.  FAP is Williston's equivalent of a parent-teacher organization.  We meet each month, our meetings our open to all, and you will receive an email like this every month with highlights of the meeting and a link to the FAP website for the full minutes.  Check the full minutes in a PDF format by clicking 
here.  Due to a technical difficulty there is not video recording for this month’s meeting.
You can now follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@FAP_Williston)!
Below are the meeting highlights: 
FAP Annual Fund
We are accepting online donations for the Annual Fund until the end of February.  Cash and check donations are still welcome after the end of the month.  Alternative online donation sites are currently being researched.  The link to donate to the Annual Fund can be found here. 
Upcoming Events
Big Basket Raffle: March 25th @ WCS
Fliers are going out to teachers on February 13th and the baskets will be in classrooms on Feb. 17th in both schools.  We have a list of around 250 businesses that we reach out to and have about 60 businesses committed so far, including Disney Tickets for the silent auction.  Reminder to all that this is an Adult Only event.  The Swift House will be hosting a Fun Night that children in grades k – 4 can attend during the event. 
Williston Runs for Education: May 20th 
This year is the 5th Anniversary for this event!  Eighth grader, Sophia Cross, will work on this even for her 8th Grade Project.  We are excited and grateful that Long Trail Veterinary Center is returning as Presenting Sponsor and Champlain Orthodontics is coming back as Fun Run sponsor. 
Administrative Report
Penguin Plunge – The Penguin Plunge team raised over $11,000 this year.  A special thanks to Sam Beatson for being willing to dye his hair pink if they raised $7000.  Then he also took pies in the face in support of fundraising efforts.  CVU had over 150 plungers and raised over $51,000.
Renovation Project – Tom Barden has been hired as the owner's project manager working with ReArch working as the construction firm.  We are looking at a very aggressive timeline for completion of the project in 16 months, starting in June of this year.  The construction firm has expressed interest in communicating with parents and use this as a learning project for students.
Safety Team Update – The WSD Safety team is partnering with Emergency Management and Homeland Security.  They are going to come in and plan and facilitate a realistic crisis scenario.  Parents were reminded to read the School Bell about what to expect as a parent in the case of a real emergency. 
Please contact me at if you have feedback or questions on FAP.  Thanks.