Mr. Nacho Elguero Tejera
The moment when you wake up in the morning, see a large coating of snow on the ground, and learn that school has been cancelled for the day can be incredibly exciting. Have you ever wondered what is involved behind the decision upon whether or not a school day should become a Snow Day? Jeanne Jensen, the Chief Operations Officer at the Champlain Valley School District Office, explains the requirements to call a day of school off due to the weather.
“The driving factor in our decision to call a “Snow Day” is the safety of students,” Jensen said. The district office not only has to make sure that the roads are clear for the buses to take students from and back home, but the school’s facility has to be safe as well. Jensen explained that the office in cooperation with the school faculty makes sure that the emergency exits are clear and the heat is working, among other things.
Image from Vermont Public Radio
“The process starts a day before the storm when the National Weather Service starts to send out alerts about an approaching ‘event,’” the COO explained. “There are two kinds of storm events that we worry about, the kind where it snows all night and stops in the morning but has left the roads a mess, and the kind where the snow doesn’t stop in the morning.”
Mr. Grayson Moore
HINESBURG, VT– With all the recent winter storms and snow days that the Chittenden County area has recently experienced, some seem to be skeptical of the idea that the Earth is actually warming.
According to the National Weather Service, the Burlington area just experienced its greatest snowfall in the month of January since 2010 (41.3 inches) and only the second instance of 40+ inches of snow in January in the past 40 years.
Image from EPA.gov
However, the notion that snowstorms disprove the concept that the world is getting warmer is misguided and simply false, based on the statistics on climate and weather changes.
According to the 2017 Climate Science Special Report, “global annually averaged surface air temperature has increased by about 1.8°F (1.0°C) over the last 115 years.” This report also states that the planet is in the warmest period “in the history of modern civilization.” The report notes that the global average sea level has risen by 7-8 inches since 1900, with almost half of that growth coming since 1993.
HINESBURG, VT- Each spring, Champlain Valley Union High School students set off on a bus to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take part in the annual Habitat for Humanity trip. This year, 31 students and five chaperones will leave on Saturday, April 20th, and return on Sunday, April 28th.
CVU’s travel website highlights the Habitat for Humanities trip, stating, “CVU has sponsored successful Habitat for Humanity trips for almost 20 years.“ The Habitat for Humanity page goes on to explain the benefits of the trip, ”This is an incredibly powerful win-win trip for students. [They] get to experience another part of the country and help others who are less fortunate than many of us. CVU students participate in building projects that benefit the community, while they learn life skill that benefit themselves.”
Images courtesy of Ms. Carol Fox
Participants also meet CVU students that they may not have connected with before, creating new friendships that last a lifetime. “They get to have an “alternative” spring break and enjoy some warm weather, and, it looks good on their transcript/resume or makes an excellent college essay!” according to the site.
Mr. Aidan Bundock
The Recreation Department of Charlotte surveyed the community in November of last year, asking them to respond about their use of the Charlotte beach as well as what community members wanted to see in the next steps for the renovation.
The survey had over 215 returns on Front Porch Forum and the results were presented to the select board on November 26th, according to Charlotte News. The results of the survey expressed that the beach and swimming docks are the most utilized aspects of the beach park. CVU senior Lily Pecor from Charlotte said, “I like the swim platforms the most because I can be there with all my friends.” Charlotte Beach is a popular place to access Lake Champlain, but there is also has a park with many facilities. Another Charlotte senior at CVU, Daniel Bernier, said that aside from the beach, he also likes to use the tennis courts and cookout stations with his family.
Image from All That’s Interesting
Over 35% of applicants said it would be ‘Likely’ or ‘Very Likely’ that they would use the playground while attending the beach. The respondents also indicated overall satisfaction with the present facilities at the park and would be open to upgrades to the facilities.
According to Nicole Conley, the Recreational Director for Charlotte, a recent donation of forty thousand dollars by a private donor was given to Recreation to upgrade the playground. Conley said there are many things that the Recreation Department wants to do with the beach, but that “we want to start small, work on the playground, and expand from there.” According to Conley, the beach practically pays for itself from beach fees, so Recreation has to be conscious of money and take what they can get.
Mr. Samuel Knox
Photo of Champlain Valley Union High School Senior parking lot, courtesy of Samuel Knox.
Hinesburg, VT — As Champlain Valley Union High School (CVUHS) seniors wheeled into school on August 30, 2018, they brought more than just their school supplies; they were required to present their license, registration, and $50 (payable to the school) to Debbie Seaton at the front desk.
On September 17, CVUHS principal Adam Bunting responded to some concerns, “In a single school year we spend over $2,000 on striping and $24,000 on plowing. I would say
that in total we probably spend more than $25,000 a year on the parking lot alone. I mean, the recent renovation that was done cost around $192,000.”
When the Champlain Valley Union High School Seniors were given a survey asking them how they felt about their parking lot, 82.1% of them felt as if the lot was “well maintained.” However, in the same survey, when asked on a scale from one (“very upset!”) to ten (“happy to pay!”) about how they felt about their $50 parking fee, the average response was a four.
Mr. Zachary Hark
Hinesburg, VT — Fall time in the Green Mountains is a special time. Spectators from all across the world are drawn to Vermont to catch the vibrant colors of fall.
Image courtesy of Zachary Hark
This year’s foliage is even better than people believed. The Weather Channel came out with an article on October 4th, 2018 by Linda Lam, a Weather Channel meteorologist, about a weather pattern that caused warmth in the east and snow in the west. Lam said, “these weather changes have impacted fall foliage.”
Ms. Alia Russo
Imagine leaving school for one period, travelling to Lake Iroquois and going on a peaceful adventure with canoes in the outdoors. That’s what CVU science teacher Dave Trevithick invisions in the near future for his students here at Champlain Union High School in Hinesburg, Vermont. “Students need more connections with the outdoors,” says Dave, “We have water access but don’t use it.”
According to Trevithick, the most useful way to use this water access would be through canoes. Having canoes will establish a great learning experience for students. They can spend their time outdoors instead of sitting in class for an hour and a half, allowing them to learn more about the environment. “Kids aren’t getting outside enough,” says Trevithick. According to a study done by the Outdoors Foundation, “almost half — 49.0% — of the US population ages 6 and over participated in an outdoor activity at least once in 2017. This continues three years of slight growth in outdoor participation.” The report also says that, “adults who were introduced to the outdoors as children were more likely to participate in outdoor activities during adulthood than those who were not exposed to the outdoors as children.” The report asserts that kids aren’t spending enough time outdoors, and the numbers only grow slightly.
Ms. Jasmine Leavitt
Hinesburg, VT — The condition of the Hinesburg rural roads, specifically Magee Hill Rd, Pond Brook Rd, and Palmer Rd, have Hinesburg residents angered.
Over the course of the 2018 summer, the roads have been crumbling. The town of Hinesburg rarely maintains the roads; there are potholes and washboards everywhere, and the right side has completely turned into a ditch, making the road very narrow and dangerous. Some residents are angry, and they want to be heard.
Palmer Rd. Courtesy of Jasmine Leavitt
CVU sophomore, Palmer Rd Resident, Jade Leavitt says, “These roads are not safe to drive on because when two people are driving on it you could easily get in an accident due to the road being so narrow.” She presents a solution for this issue, stating, “The town should maintain the road as often as needed, and fill in the potholes to make the road less dangerous.”
Mr. Zaq Urbaitel
Courtesy of Wikimedia
Have you taken a shower and used shampoo or conditioner today? Have you washed your hands with soap or done a load of laundry with detergent? Maybe you had some margarine or Nutella on your toast. These are all normal things that all of us do, although, what you probably don’t know is that all of these commodities have palm oil in them.
Products possessing the substance include, ice cream, soup, lipstick, pizza, instant noodles, cookies, bio-diesel, and unfortunately chocolate. Actually, according to WWF (World Wildlife Foundation), in the US alone, palm oil is included in roughly 50 percent of all packaged food, cosmetics, and cleaning products. So, what’s the problem with that? Well, palm oil is one of the leading causes of deforestation in the world today, destroying life at an alarming rate.
By Ms. Carly Alpert
Courtesy of Wikimedia
The need to take action against climate change may be more necessary than we think. In fact, according to Environmental Researcher, Dr. Richard Oppenlander, “Without using any gas, or oil, or fuel, ever again, from this day forward, we would still exceed our maximum carbon equivalent greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030, without the energy sector even factored into the equation, all simply by raising livestock.” This is an extremely concerning statistic. It appears that even if you do everything right (recycle, drive eco-friendly cars, use renewable energy) you still cannot deter the accumulating greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, and thus prevent climate change.
Renowned theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, made the prediction that we would have to leave planet earth and colonize elsewhere in 1,000 years because it will no longer be sustainable for humans to live here. He just changed that prediction to 100 years. We are destroying our planet ten times faster than he had previously predicted. This should be a huge red flag that something on our planet isn’t right. There seem to be three options: one, humans can continue intensive agriculture and gorge ourselves on animal products, causing our entire species to die out in a matter of centuries; two, we can continue this current lifestyle for a short while, but it will be essential that we find another planet to colonize because we have nearly destroyed our own. This option is very unlikely as we are limited in space travel; three, humans need to start eating a fraction of the animal products they typically consume.
Mr. Zaq Urbaitel
The threat, legitimacy, and causes of climate change have been heavily debated for decades. According to a 2012 study done by the Pew Research Center, only 67% of Americans agree there is solid evidence that the Earth’s average temperature has been getting warmer over the past few decades, and a mere 42% say the warming is mostly caused by human activity. When climate change becomes the topic of conversation, many consider cars and industry as the main factors. To the surprise of many, the largest contributor to climate change may not be what you think.
Mr. Justin Olson
“Vermont has a strong fishing tradition, and world-class fishing in many of its lakes and rivers”, says States Louis Porter,
Photo Courtesy of Cbronline.com
Commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Free Fishing Day gives anglers of all types the chance to try out fishing in Vermont for the day for free, an experience we think they’ll truly enjoy.”
Vermont’s Free Fishing Day is an annual event in the state that allows residents and nonresidents to fish the lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams (found in abundance across the state), without having to purchase a fishing license. Free Fishing Day for the 2017 year is planned for Saturday, June 10. Participants can fish anywhere in the state, while still abiding by Fish & Wildlife regulations and rules: catch and release, use live bait and lures, as well as fish in legal and protected bodies of water.
Not everyone has the equipment and the experience to participate in this day of outdoor fun, and Vermont Fish & Wildlife has taken these thoughts into account: they have options. Fishing gear is available at 12 different state parks across Vermont, including Button Bay, Burton Island, and Lake Carmi State Park through the Reel Fun program.
For those that need a little instruction, the Grand Isle Family Fishing Festival is open to anglers of all ages with no experience or equipment necessary. The event will feature several learning stations, where participants will be taught a variety of fishing skills such as knot tying, casting, hook setting, identification, and even how to clean any caught fish. Information about the events can be found online on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website.
Mr. Justin Olson
From the time it was first documented, in the winter of 2006 in the state of New York, up to now, White Nose Syndrome
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
(Pseudogymnoascus destructans) has been decimating the North American bat populations. In 2012, it was estimated that approximately 5.5 million bats had been fatally affected by the fungus.
White Nose Syndrome (WNS), is a fungus that survives and thrives in caves and cold, including bat hibernacula, hibernating locations. This fungus can often times be prominently seen on the nose, wingtips and other hairless areas of infected bats.
Scientists hypothesized that it was killing bats by causing them to use up their energy reserves before the end of their winter hibernation. USGS (United States Geological Survey) tested this and found that bats with WNS used twice the amount of energy compared to non-affected members of the same species. During winter months, bats will hibernate in caves, attics and other dry, dark places. Throughout this time, these bats have slowed their metabolism, this allows the bats to survive for several months without having to eat. WNS causes these bats to wake, and increases their activity.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife asks people to watch for any bat activity during winter months, as this is a sign of WNS. They also ask people to be observant of any bats they come across. WNS is not always visible, but if observed, report it to VT Fish and Game.
Ms. Carly Alpert, Special CVC Environmental Correspondent
Birds are like stars. They brighten up the sky and bring joy to those who view them. But unlike stars, many Vermont birds are in danger. There are eleven bird species in Vermont that are endangered, and two bird species that are threatened. There seem to be three major reasons for these alarming facts.
One leading cause of birds becoming endangered is habitat loss. Loss of habitat occurs for a variety of reasons. Climate change is one factor, being responsible for the rising temperatures in which some bird species cannot survive. Curt Alpeter, Chairman of the Vermont Audubon Society, as well as avid birder, provides a specific example in the Bicknell’s thrush. Alpeter says, “This is a bird that depends on cooler temps, higher mountain elevation, and the habitat that is found there to breed and nest. Climate change is impacting this habitat and the temperatures at 3,000+ feet of altitude and forces the birds out of their historical breeding areas. Since this is such a select area, the number of places that can support these birds is less and as a result their populations are dropping.”
Bicknell’s Thrush, photo from Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology “All About Birds”
Additionally, forest fragmentation destroys birds’ habitats. Urbanization in Vermont is causing large forests with diverse ecosystems to be divided into many smaller subsections. Smaller forests don’t have the resources that many species need to survive, forcing them towards extinction. It is essential that Vermonters preserve their birds’ habitats if they wish them to continue to flourish.
Mr. Brenden Rockgod Provost
In 2007, a Vermont fisherman found what he thought looked like a sewage leak at the bottom of the connecticut river in Vermont. Shortly after the fisherman notified Vermont Fish and Wildlife, the unknown object in the water was identified as Didymo, or “Rock Snot”. From that moment onward, rock snot was thought to be an invasive species. Restrictions on using felt soled waders were set in fear that they would aid the unwanted spread of rock snot.
Image courtesy of Wideopenspaces.
On June 20th of 2016, Scientists discovered that rock snot is not in fact an invasive species. Almost immediately after this discovery, Vermont Fish and Wildlife repealed the restrictions on felt soled waders. A very controversial decision for most avid Vermont fly fishermen. Vermont fishermen always tend to be as environmentally friendly, especially when it comes to wildlife. “Rock snot may not be an invasive species, but there’s no point in giving up on the control of other invasive species” said Ozias Peltier, an avid and dedicated Vermont fisherman.
Mr. Christopher T. O’Brien and Mr. Zachary O. Toensing
On May 4th at Champlain Valley Union High School, students walked out at the end of their day with small presents on their cars. These presents were the droppings from many ring billed gulls (seagulls) that had been around the school all day. The timing of the bird poop is no coincidence. Like many birds, the ring billed gulls head from the parking lots in the north, down to the parking lots in the south for the winter and then return when the weather gets warmer here in Vermont.
Mr. Thomas Daley
According to the World Health Organization, 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water water source contaminated with faeces. The United Nations Water for Life campaign reports that, on average, women in Africa and Asia walk 3.7 miles to collect water, sometimes in amounts less than three gallons. The United States Geological Survey states that the average American uses 80-100 gallons of water a day. In the U.S. humans have a very lavish relationship with water, something that is easy to unintentionally take for granted. One CVU teacher’s AP Human Geography class, however, has decided to put an end to the ignorance.
During the week of March 13, 2017, Lacey Richards tasked her students with a challenge. The first option was to carry five gallons of water everywhere for a week—something both physically and emotionally stressful. The second was to, over the course of the week, boil all water for 10 minutes before using it; this was designed for students who were physically unable to carry out the first option, or for those who simply could not fit transporting five gallons of water into their schedule. “It definitely made me appreciate the fact that we can turn on the faucet and have running water around here,” explained Ben Stevens, a CVU junior, “Carrying 40 plus pounds of water everywhere I went was not that fun. I think that experience is what made me realize how tough walking to get water is and how fortunate we are to have access to running water.”
Mr. Tomas Georgsson
Photograph Courtesy of Justin Chapman
HINESBURG, VT – According to Gallup polls, 36% of Americans believe that spring is the best season of the year, with fall trailing behind at 27%, with summer and winter following. Americans all around the nation enjoy spring better than all of the other seasons, and it is understandable. Winter is coming to a close, new smells and sounds that were not present in the bleak, cold winter are being remembered. Finally, t-shirts are wearable and morning runs are not out of the question. For the kids in the United States, it is the light at the end of the tunnel: school is almost out. Spring is a symbol of new beginnings, rebirth and happiness.
The spring in Florida might be different than the spring in North Dakota, Oklahoma or Maine. The United States is a massive country, and people may have different perceptions of what spring looks like in different locations. In Vermont, it is said that spring comes late, and it comes fast. While the beginning of spring begins in late March, it is hardly visible in the state. Some of the biggest snowstorms that Vermont gets technically begins in the spring. This can be a major nuisance for the typical American, but for many Vermonters, it is a blessing. Spring skiing in Vermont is one of the most popular to ski, and many say it has some of the best snow.
The Galapagos Islands
Ms. Jam Giubardo
CVU Galapagos trip, students got to observe hundreds of new animals, including this friendly little Galapagos Barn Owl. Photo taken by CVU student, William Braun.
GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, Ecuador — Imagine you are snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Your tight mask sticks to your face as you clench onto the salty rubber tube and breath in. You dunk your head down into the glass clear water and immediately see a whole new world of unique creatures. Millions of colors flashing from a thousand different fish. The coral reefs are swaying with intense serenity and the starfish are bathing in the sun. You turn your head and see a giant sea turtle gliding through the blue sea and a white tipped reef shark swims past your leg. You aren’t afraid because they aren’t afraid. The animals don’t even seem to notice you.
The Galapagos Islands are very special. Most people know them for the discovery of the theory of evolution, developed by Charles Darwin. And yes, research done there has fueled thousands of scientific research projects and discoveries, but from a non-scientist perspective, the islands allow for the most unique experiences and drive curiosity.
In February, 2017, Champlain Valley Union High School took a group of 18 students and 2 teachers to the Galapagos Islands. While they were there they got the opportunity to observe thousands of species unique to the climate and to the islands. During a survey at the end of their trip, the students were asked to state something that amazed them the most about the islands. William Braun, a CVU Junior, responded saying, “Being in a place like the Galapagos, where the wildlife and land is almost completely untouched really redefined what it meant to be one with nature. It was amazing to get so close to the animals and still watch them behave naturally as if you weren’t even there.” This not only illustrates the beauty and experiences people have there, but also shows how 17-year-olds, with little to no knowledge about animals and ecology, notice the magic there too.
Ms. Carly Alpert, CVC Special Environmental Correspondent
We live in a time when our civilization’s growth seems to be limited only by the availability of energy. We all use it in our daily lives, and probably couldn’t imagine a world without lights, television, and heat. But people are questioning if the possible risks outweigh the benefits of capturing this energy. The pipeline crossing Geprags park in Hinesburg has been a recent source of controversy, though the project has been in the works for the past four years. This last section of pipeline will complete a 41-mile stretch from Colchester to Middlebury, and will allow for the distribution of gas to homes and businesses in Addison County.
Image from protectgeprags.org
Activists speaking out against the pipeline are concerned about the environmental and safety implications. Pipelines have been known to explode, causing colossal damage. According to insideenergy.org, there have been 4,269 pipeline incidents since 2010; 64 of them involved fatal injuries. Leaks are also a major concern. 474 people have been injured, 100 people have been killed, and $3.5 billion of damage has occurred as a result of pipeline accidents, leaks and spills. This has all occurred in the United States alone. Is providing energy to better the economies of these Vermont communities worth the risk of a malfunction? Explosions and leaks can also be very detrimental to the environment. While a malfunctioning pipeline is very dangerous, however, the probability of one exploding is extremely low.
Mr. Declan Trus
RICHMOND, Vermont — Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) is a non-profit organization that teaches young people lessons in personal responsibility with work that connects them to each other, the community, and the land. The VYCC was established in 1985 as a program of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. VYCC’s program model is based off of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. The VYCC was founded by Doris “Dot” Evans and Thomas Hark.
Members of the VYCC move a large rock. Image courtesy of vermontbiz.com
Thomas Hark is a former crew leader for the Youth Conservation Corps in Young Harris, Georgia and camp director for the Minnesota Conservation Corps. Hark also has a Master’s degree in Experiential Education from the University of Mankato.
Ms. Olivia Cottrell
CVU Redhawk Cafe — on January fifth, Dave Trevithick’s two classes of Natural Resources had a public night. Students who have been working all semester on project got a chance to present their ideas and work to the public. This work was all based around CVU, how it could be made more self sufficient, how the overall health of the watershed that CVU is in is being impacted, and many more. More impressively, the work was student driven.
This year Natural Resources got a revamp. Trevithick took the class over and redesigned the curriculum to be based around student driven (and designed) projects work that students would be able to complete. According to Trevithick the idea is to get more students involved and caring about the environment, how it impacts the school and more importantly how we impact it.
The night went smoothly overall. Students were able to get ideas out to the community and receive feedback. Some community members were very interested in the work that had been done and spend a fair amount of time talking to individuals about their findings and research.
Mr. Doug Schmidt
Photo Courtesy of The Huffington Post
Snow guns were blowing all across the state of Vermont as resorts made the final push for opening day. Temperatures dropped, allowing resorts to start the snowmaking process to open their lifts to the public. Resorts at higher elevations had the chance to start the process early, opening lifts before Thanksgiving. Although they may have opened, it didn’t necessarily mean conditions were going to be stellar.
Sugarbush was one of the few resorts to open prior to Thanksgiving, but skiing was very limited. The resort only blew snow towards the peak of the mountain, allowing for higher quality man made snow because of lower temperatures. The resort only had two spinning lifts, one of which was only serving as access to the second lift to reach the snow until the resort could open top to bottom. Until then, skiers would get their turns and then take a lift down back to the base. It’s a complicated process, but for many skiers, anything was better than nothing.
CVU students took advantage of the first turns of the season, and say it wasn’t the most favorable conditions, but they would rather kick off the season early than wait another month. Lucien Theriault, CVU 2018, was one of the first on the lift on opening day. “The terrain was rough, but it was just good to get back out there” Theriault said, “It was a choppy start to the year, but a promising start to the season.”
By Ms. Mia O’Farrell
Photo Courtesy of Inhabitat
We know the climate of our world is changing, and here in the small state of Vermont we can already identify some if it’s impacts: seasons changing at unusual times compared to past years, and temperatures rising at alarming rates being just a few examples. With these changes, Vermont as whole will be impacted, however; the greatest impact of all will be on winter, a season important to Vermonters and tourists alike, and one that is crucial for Vermont’s economy and recreational opportunities.
With temperatures becoming warmer year round, winters are getting shorter, and snowfall is becoming even more unpredictable. Here in the U.S., temperatures ranging from December through February have increased 0.55 degrees Fahrenheit on average per decade since 1970 -but this isn’t the case for the Green Mountain State. Here in Vermont, temperatures are found to be warming quicker than the national average, with winters warming twice as fast in relation to summers, and seasons changing at different times compared to previous years. In fact, fall is now beginning later than usual, resulting in a shorter winter season due to the fact that spring is now appearing earlier in the year. These concepts, coupled with increasing temperatures, make for a troubling forecast in the future when our winter precipitation shifts from snow to rain.