No Kidding: Goats are on Grounds as Part of Natural Resource’s Permaculture Project

Ms. Sophie Boyer

HINESBURG– On Thursday June 1st, Champlain Valley Union High School’s Natural Resources class received goats as a part of their permaculture project. Permaculture projects are ones that will, according to Wikipedia, “develop agricultural ecosystems to be sustainable and self-sufficient.”

The goats will be cared for by students who signed up through a program called the Norman Fund which will also provide pay for those who participate. Six to seven students have been selected for that role. They will be responsible for providing care for the goats, garden, and also chickens which will be arriving at CVU on June 8th.

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Image by Sophie Boyer

The overall goal for these projects is that they will provide benefits for CVU. The goats play a very important role for the CVU community. They represent a natural way to get rid of invasive species such as poison parsnip… by eating it! Goats eat grass, herbs, tree leaves and other plant material. With this, they will help get rid of the unwanted plants.

The goats are expected to be around for about six months, potentially longer. The decision is based off when the students and Dave Trevithick, the Natural Resource teacher, intends on slaughtering the goats to provide food for CVU’s Cafe.

The garden of CVU is also a project of the Natural Resources class, and that as well will be providing food for the cafe, including vegetables and fruits like raspberries, and blueberries.

Want to Save the Planet? Then Eat Bugs

Mr. Damon Proulx

Should we eat insects? The gross crawling creepies that scare us and look nasty? I believe that this will be in our meals in the distant future. The protein and efficiency you get out of insects is crazy, and world hunger is a major problem we must combat as a species. The answer to our famine, is under our feet.

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Image from Newtopia Magazine

There’s a gigantic world hunger problem right now, with parts of Africa and Asia having the most countries in complete hunger chaos. If we were to increase hoofed animal production, or chicken and turkey production, it will fail. Scientists have already predicted that if we reached a population from 1.7 billion to 3 billion by 2025 or later, that the world would reach a max capacity for beef pork or chicken production. The world can’t withstand and handle that much C02 release and there isn’t enough room to hold that many production farms.

We need a better method for feeding the rapid growth of our population. Animals you see and hear of everyday in our food isn’t gonna work forever.  According to Sara Boboltz in an article on the website Huffpost “Here’s the number one reason to eat bugs: they’re good for you! They’ve got protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and essential minerals. Nutrients differ, of course, by species, age and preparation method, but grasshoppers in particular are packed with about just as much protein as lean ground beef with less fat, and mealworms are typically a fair substitute for fish. Some caterpillars have more protein by weight than a turkey leg — and more fat, too, but it’s a healthier, monosaturated kind.” Insects are an amazing solution to the problems we face. They provide more protein than the animals we eat now, so people that are starving can gain the nutrients they need to keep going.

This also leads to helping obesity in the United States. You can eat less of bugs and still gain the same amount of nutrients as a couple hamburgers. This benefits for the reason that people will eat less to be more satisfied with the insect diet. This means healthier people and in the long run a much better healthier world.

By switching to insects we can provide more food to help stop hunger and to lower people’s weight over the course of time. It makes the United States hoard food less and distribute food more to the other countries in need. So we as a human race can survive and world hunger could be finally stopped.

Let’s talk about the efficiency of insects and costs. Look at the picture below.

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Infographic from The Bug Shack (UK)

The picture shown is so clear to the truth and what our world will come to if we continue. Cattle is the most farmed animal in the United States, and these are the comparisons. You get double the percentage of edible product from insects, a overwhelming decreased amount of water usage and barely any feed. The C02 and emissions (feces) is significantly reduced when insects are being farmed instead. Now we aren’t getting rid of milk we need the product, so we can’t completely get rid of cows and that’s not what is suggested. Milk and beef will still be around regardless, but just produced less. I wouldn’t consider it becoming a delicacy and only available to the rich, but it definitely will be reduced in production. We don’t have to get rid of cows completely but we need to replace a good 50% of these cow farms with insects at least.

This also ties in with the greenhouse gases, which we are producing way too much of. “In addition, insects actually like being confined to tiny spaces. Unlike chickens and cows and other animals who would prefer, we assume, being kept on “free-range” farms, bugs don’t mind being cooped up together in one massive cage. If farmed on the same scale, the U.N. report states insects would require “significantly less” water and land resources than traditional livestock.” (Huffpost, by Sara Boboltz) and the land we are using can be deducted and used for other things. Less land used for farming that causes a lot of C02, by replacing those with insect farms it frees up land for other uses. Cropland could also be reduced on a smaller scale provided that a certain species of insect can be a good supplement for a vegetable, but the vegetables and fruits can be left alone more. Also with the increased land we can have more beekeepers, increasing pollination. Pollination equals better quality fruits and vegetables, and honey products. So in reality insects have so many uses for our economy in saving money and efficiency. The United States would save millions of dollars by switching over to the insect way.

Insects are a great way to solve so many problems, and mother nature is a powerful force. We had the solution all along but we are being too stubborn and won’t give up what we are used to. Eventually we will feel the wrath that nature is gonna bestow upon us. Once we use up too much land and are farming too much inefficient animals, our species will ruin the Earth and we’ll die. Nature doesn’t like inefficiency and that’s what we are: inefficient. Nature will remove us and continue life without us because we won’t fit in with the efficiency problem and how we manage Earth. So my people, we must switch to insects and help out our species and the world as a whole. Switching to creepy crawling bugs will save us all, so should we? I think we will.

 

 

Climate Change is Worse Than We Think: Put Down the Hamburger and Grab Some Kale Chips

By Ms. Carly Alpert

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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.

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VT Birds: On the Decline and Cause for Concern

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.”

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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.

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Felt Soled Wader Ban Repealed In Vermont

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.

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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. 

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Chemical Re-Actions: AP Chem at the End of the Year

Mr. Thomas Daley

HINESBURG, VT — On Monday, AP Chemistry students from Champlain Valley Union High School took the national exam at St. Jude’s Church in Hinesburg; with the AP exam over, the class is looking to take on a new purpose for the students.

Up until this week, AP Chemistry students have been focusing on the AP Chemistry curriculum and preparations for the AP test. “We are a pretty intensive class and we start in the summer,” said course teacher Sarah Malcom.

For the rest of the school year, students will be working on project-based group tasks that apply their chemistry knowledge. Malcolm described it as “an opportunity to do something different.”

Why are large chemistry design tasks only assigned at the end of the year? “Time,” stated Malcolm. She noted that students are better able to complete their projects because of the knowledge base they have established.

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Students work on producing an edible meal

James White, a senior in AP Chemistry, expressed excitement for the new applications of his knowledge: “AP Chem gave me a new sense of bewilderment that arises when I stretch an eraser, or boil water, or crush salt. Having a more in-depth understanding of everyday objects makes the world around me more interesting, and makes me all the more curious to see how it works,” said White.

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AP Human Geography: Lacey Emphasizes Empathy

 

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.

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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.”

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The Shop is Open

Mr. Kyler Murray

The CVU “shop” is the classroom where students take Wood and Metal Fabrication classes. The metal shop and woodshop used to only be available to students enrolled in the woodshop and metal classes. A new approach gives opportunities for individual students to collaborate with other classes. The shop at CVU has recently been opened up to the use of all students starting in the 2016/2017 school year.  Jeff Tobroke, the “shop” teacher, says that open lab time is “a new idea that brings more students and classes into the Innovation Hub. We are tracking student use and have found that every block of open lab time has students utilizing the technology and resources available”.

This is somewhat of an open door policy; Tobroke shares that students with experience with the tools from previous classes are able to use any tools or machines. Students who are new to the lab are given instruction and safety lessons before they are allowed to use the tools and machines they would like to work with. The one requirement for all students is that they must provide a visual plan of what they would like to do. Tobroke refers to this as a “project proposal”. Students need to prepare drawings and/or sketches based on research so that they can discuss the project proposal and develop a timeline for completion.

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Musky Might Make a Comeback in Lake Champlain

Mr. Justin Olson, CVC Natural Resources Correspondent

With an area of 490 square miles and a depth of 400 feet in some spots, Lake Champlain is an immense ecosystem for numerous species from all walks of life. It is considered as a high class fishery, holding several tournaments throughout the year. After being ranked as one of the 7 best smallmouth bass fisheries in the country, WFN (World Fishing Network) describes the Lake Champlain as “perhaps the best lake in all of North America for both quality largemouth and smallmouth bass.” Fisherman however, are beginning to see an all but forgotten friend making their comeback in the lake.

pasted image 0 (4)Lake Champlain has always been home to the Esox genus of fish, or more commonly known as the pike family. The Northern Pike, Chain Pickerel, Redfin Pickerel and even some hybrids of the species call Lake Champlain home, just as the Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) once did. The Muskellunge, or Muskie, has been reported to pass 50 inches in length and 50 pounds in weight.

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UVM’s Rubenstein School of Natural Resources Offers Local Programs for the Environmentally Minded and Academically Motivated

Ms. Carly Alper, CVC Environmental Correspondent

Seniors going into UVM may want to consider joining the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources. At a large university, with nearly 12 thousand students enrolled, it’s nice also to be a part of a smaller community. The Rubenstein School is one of twelve colleges and schools at UVM. As the world increasingly needs to depend on renewable energy and find greener ways to sustain our way of life, knowledge of the environment and natural resources will become more and more valuable. 

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Image from UVM

 

The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources has a mission “to understand, nurture, and enrich the interdependence of people with healthy ecological systems.” The Rubenstein School has only been around for the past 14 years, but UVM has always had a strong environmental program, being ranked number ten for environmental consciousness out of all colleges in America. UVM began offering forestry courses in 1888, evolving into the School of Natural Resources in 1973, until 2003, when it was renamed the Rubenstein School. UVM alumni Steve and Beverly Rubenstein donated a generous gift so that the environmental program could expand to include even more members, allowing it to truly thrive.

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CVU Natural Resources: Baby Goats, Not Just about Cuteness

 

Ms. Jaime Vachon and Mr. James Keenan

HINESBURG– This Friday, CVU’s wood shop started to build a goat and chicken enclosure. In the following weeks, three weathered bucks will be arriving at CVU.

According to CVU student body president, Annie Bedell, “The idea really came from Dave [Trevithick]. A group of us knew livestock was an option for a project so we joined in!” CVU has rallied together to finish the project. Other students involved are Paige Niarchos, Shianne Jimmo, Sophia Bolivar-Adams, Jamie Monty, and Drew Major.

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Baby goat! Try not to go “aww” — we dare you.

Jake Evans and Hayley Hallack are leading the building process. At the moment, only the base of the enclosure is completed. The enclosure will be mobile and travel around the CVU grounds.

Tech education teacher, Jeff Tobrocke stated, “This is a big project right now. It has to be done in the next few weeks because we have the baby goats coming.”  

These goats won’t just be for show, they will be helping CVU with invasive species. It is an excellent alternative to other chemicals and harmful ways of destroying invasive species.

CVU will also be raising chickens from eggs. When it comes to taking care of the new members of the CVU community, the students have it covered. “There will be a job offer for the summer to take care of the chickens, goats, and the gardens,” says Bedell.

In the meantime, the CVU community excitedly awaits the arrival of the baby goats.

 

 

A Force in Motion: The CVU Science Curriculum Will Evolve Next Year

Mssrs. Isaac Cleveland and Earl Fletcher

HINESBURG, VT – The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), after being adopted by the Vermont Department of Education in June of 2013, are completely changing CVU’s science curriculum to allow their students to have more well-rounded skills in science.  The NGSS is completely altering how students learn and use their science skills.

According to Katherine Riley, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, students will be getting “two solid years of science curriculum where they will be practicing their skills for the upper level science classes.” NGSS educates students through skill-based learning targets, allowing them to be knowledgeable in the general science topics needed for life.

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Physics in action. Image by Isaac Cleveland

CVU started altering their curriculum in the Fall of the 2015/16 for the incoming freshman class. Integrated Environmental Science has replaced Freshman Core science and Integrated Biology has been introduced as a required class for this year’s Sophomores. One of the reasons for making the new Integrated Biology a required course was that, according to Katherine Riley, “Teachers couldn’t have the students long enough to really get an in-depth look at human bio.” With the new system for Freshman and Sophomores, students “can go into more depth” and they “get better general skills.”

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That Dirty Snow is Alive! And It Just Might Improve Your Quality of Life

Mr. Justin Chapman, CVC Advisor

If anything, New Englanders are known as a hearty bunch, not least for withstanding the yearly onslaught of winter with its barrage of ice, snow, sleet, and the occasional passing polar vortex. And no one complains about it — unless you’re “from away.” Yankees are fond of saying, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait ten minutes.” Yet this stoic veneer in the face of ever changing varieties of inclement weather belies the giddy promise of spring. As winter winds down in New England, ice and snow begin to loosen their grip on the landscape, and signs of vernal shifts begin to emerge, sometimes literally right out of the snow. By March steam pours from the vents of sugar-houses as syrup-makers begin boiling maple sap down into Vermont’s signature liquid. On those same late winter days, when the temps begin to push into the 50s and the streams begin to run full of snow-melt, a hiker or skier might happen upon a patch that looks at first like someone came along and emptied a ten pound bag of ground black pepper all over the snow. If you stop and take a closer look, however, you might see that that black pepper is a teeming microcosm of life.

What at first looks like dirty snow turns out to be a millimeter-long hexapod, the springtail, or as they’re colloquially known, “snow fleas” — and these snow fleas just might hold the key to some major scientific advances. Various springtails exist all over the planet, but they somehow manage to persist even in extreme winter climates like Antarctica and northern New England. These intrepid snow enthusiasts turn up by the thousands per square meter, up to 10,000 of them in fact, according to legendary naturalist David Attenborough. Even at high elevations, in late winter springtails emerge from the snow in huge numbers on warm afternoons in order to feed on decomposing leaves or moss. Snow fleas represent not only the inevitable arrival of spring in the northern woods, but further evidence of nature’s amazing ability to adapt and survive in harsh climates — plus they have a couple of potential benefits to humankind.

Snow fleas on Stark Mountain.  Photo by Justin Chapman

Snow fleas on Stark Mountain. Photo by Justin Chapman

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Robohawks Rock Robotics

Mr. Thomas Daley

Standards Based Learning has become a phrase well known to any CVU student. The underlying concept of the system is that students will graduate from CVU with proficiency in a common set of life skills. These themes tend to be very general, such as communication or problem solving—abilities that can be applied to any situation. What if there was one program that could cover all of the graduation standards? The answer: robotics.

CVU robotics teacher Olaf Verdonk explains that participating in the Robohawks, the school’s premier robotics team, requires math, physics, mechanical knowledge, effective communication, goal setting, and more. For students to use these skills outside of the robotics lab, they would need to take several different classes, furthermore; CVU may be expanding its robotics program over the next few years. The nature of the global job market is different than it used to be, and CVU wants its course offerings to adapt in response. Continue Reading

Mind Over Matter: Positive Thinking May Have Real Physical Effects

Ms. Koko Vercessi-Clarke, Editor-in-Chief 

Image Courtesy of Deviantart.net

Image Courtesy of Deviantart.net

So you’ve heard the saying, “think and it shall become” but what does this actually mean? Does the idea that your mind has the power to create and change your reality actually have any basis in fact and statistical evidence?

There have always been people who have told you that your brain has the amazing ability to create its own reality based on your thoughts and regular thinking habits and patterns, so how exactly does this work and how can we use it to our advantage? The definition of the statement “Mind Over Matter” is one that refers to the ability of thought processes to influence our physical reality.  UCLA scientists and colleagues from the California Institute of Technology have collaborated to complete studies that show humans can regulate the activity of specific neurons in the brain. According to the UCLA Newsroom our brain can “increase the firing rate of some [neurons] and decrease the rate of others”. If our brain has the ability to exert its control over which neurons fire and when, this means that it can choose what we focus on and “override the visual reality”.

Perhaps the best example of the power of the human brain to manipulate and create our own visual reality is what is known as the Placebo Effect. According to Dr. Mercola, “A placebo is an inactive treatment or substance, such as a sugar pill or sham procedure, that looks and feels just like a regular medical treatment. Patients receiving a placebo generally believe it is the same as the typical standard of care, and many experience what’s known as the “placebo effect” – an improvement in symptoms – even though they received no actual “active” treatment.” In patients with certain ailments or injuries, studies have shown that just the belief that a pill has the ability to heal and repair your body can have the same effects as if the patient actually had taken a pill with the ability to bring about this healing medically. This is because the brain is tricked into believing in this pill and its abilities and therefore it tricks your body into healing normally as if the pill’s effects were really at play.

ScienceDaily reported out about a study done at Baylor College involving patients with knee pain and osteoarthritis where 180 patients with knee pain were randomized into three groups. One group had torn or loose cartilage removed, the second group underwent arthroscopic lavage (the bad cartilage is flushed out), and the third group underwent simulated arthroscopic surgery where small incisions were made, however; no instruments were inserted and no cartilage was removed from these patients.

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Opinion: New Vistas Development Falls Short of Utopia

Ms. Carly Alpert, CVC Environmental Correspondent

If we continue emitting the amounts of greenhouse gasses that we do today, it is projected that by 2060, we will die from lethal heat stress, according to the American Geophysical Union. We clearly need to make a change in our lifestyles, preferably a drastic one, if we want to be able to continue calling planet earth home. Former Mormon bishop David Hall believes the problem of global warming can be combatted with his invention of a completely sustainable design called The New Vistas. However this design appears very cult like and does not seem like the appropriate method to address the world’s environmental issues.

In blue, properties bought by NewVista. In red, the Joseph Smith Memorial. All data is approximate. CREDIT NICOLE ANTAL / DAILY UV

In blue, properties bought by NewVista. In red, the Joseph Smith Memorial. All data is approximate. CREDIT NICOLE ANTAL / DAILY UV, by way of VPR.net

David Hall plans to build The New Vistas in southern Vermont; more specifically in the intersection between the towns of Turnbridge, Royalton, Safford, and Sharon. It is a non-profit organization, committed to building an entirely self-sustainable community. According to the New Vistas website, the goal is to “provide housing and employment opportunity within an ecologically and economically sustainable infrastructure, and conserve real property for fully sustainable development.” People who want to join this community must sell off all their assets with the proceeds going to the Foundation. In exchange, that person can live in The New Vistas. Everyone who joins the community will be entirely equal. He plans on 20,000 residents in this first community, but he expects it to grow, and eventually be home to 1 million people in Vermont alone. His goal is to eventually create a continuous empire of 5,000 acres, made up of many communities.

People living here are limited to the opportunities granted within the small walls of their community. They are literally shut out from the real world; living in an alternate fantasy world. It sounds like a mix between Divergent and The Matrix. While this does seem like an enticing program because it supposedly will have little to no impact on the environment, it is very different from anything Vermont has seen before, which makes some people uncomfortable.

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Recent tragedies on Lake Champlain highlight need for safety, awareness

Mr. Maxwell Akey

HINESBURG, Vermont– The drastic and unpredictable weather patterns in Vermont are no surprise for those living in the Green Mountain state. Vermonters embrace the many different seasons that make all sorts of varied activities prominent. Days go from temperatures in the 80’s during the summer to grounds wet and muddy in the fall, and then to freezing temperatures with snowstorms and slick ice in the winter. Fishing, hiking, skiing, and swimming are just some of the activities that Vermont’s weather provides.

Once temperatures start to drop below freezing and the cold rain begins turning into snow, a new surface for activities is created. While the freezing of many ponds and lakes, including the famous Lake Champlain, creates an area for activities, the safety hazards that come along with frozen bodies of water are very serious. Dave Trevethick is a natural resource teacher at Champlain Valley Union (CVU) High School. His thoughts on this topic are short and powerful: “Always understanding that ice is never safe is important, and keeping that in mind will keep you safe on the ice.”

Photo courtesy of Vermontbiz.com

Photo courtesy of Vermontbiz.com

Every year there is an incident of people falling through thin ice mistaken for ice that is solid and strong enough to hold. Last March of 2016, a Shelburne resident fell through the ice at Shelburne pond and was unable to be saved and drowned. A Vermont Fish and Wildlife game warden also experienced a near-death situation when he fell through the ice trying to save the victim. Jeff Bernicke, a well known father in Shelburne, was neighbors with the man who fell through the ice last year. He said that, “After this incident happened, I have definitely been more cautious with frozen water and our pond, especially for my three sons who love to skate in the winter.” People’s judgment when it comes to frozen water can be poor and often times inaccurate.

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CVU’s woodchip boiler keeps the heat on and the fossil fuels off

Mr. Max Akey

HINESBURG, Vermont– It is no surprise that during some of Vermont’s coldest months, buildings require massive amounts of energy to keep heated through the cold winters. There has already been a day that reached as cold as -5 degrees fahrenheit and it hasn’t officially hit the “winter” starting date. Responsible for heating over 1,200 people, Champlain Valley Union High School’s (CVU) maintenance crew is always prepared for the coldest of days.

CVU has been and continues to be one of the top 3 largest high schools in Vermont. For many years, the school’s hallways are home to some 1,200 people. Students, teachers, community member, and other staff. Making sure the school is always heated and at a comfortable temperature is something that requires not only a lot of energy, but maintenance and money as well. I sat down with CVU’s ground and maintenance manager Kurt Proulx to learn more about the school’s underground boiler room built the year of 2005.


Using biomass fuels for heating has been a big step for CVU in the past decade and has had an eco-friendly impact on the community. Before the boiling room was built and running, CVU was heated through the burning of fossil fuels more specifically oil. Although the process worked and kept the building heated. Massive amounts of smoke and greenhouse gasses were emitted out of the building daily and the efficiency of the process was poor. CVU has turned to an alternate solution that has proven to work extremely well, is much more efficient, and is cleaner for the environment.

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Hinesburg’s Geprags Park Continues to block pipeline completion

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

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.

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Hunting: a vermont tradition is still handed down from generation to generation

Mr. Jeremy Lang

Hunting is normally a tradition passed down from generation to generation which teaches sustainable living and becoming one with nature. Hunting connects and feeds families. Vermont is one of the first states to develop constitutional language that protects a citizen’s right to hunt.

With that said, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife, Vermont is rated as one of the top ten worst states to hunt in. This is because in the past five years, public land has dropped by 10%. Private landowners are also posting their property because they don’t want their land to be hunted.

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Mackenzie Fournier with a 10-pointer she bagged in West Harrison, Indiana. The buck weighed 180 pounds, field-dressed.

According to VT Fish and Wildlife, in 2016 almost all of the state’s 65,000 resident hunters hunted deer at some point during the fall season and more bucks were taken per square mile in Vermont than in any other New England state. In addition, 18,950 muzzleloader doe permits were issued. This is so that the state can manage deer herds in Vermont and stop them from destroying small animal habitats.

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Opinion: skeptical politicos, it’s time to get real on climate change

Mr. Alex Merrill

Every year it seems that winter is getting a little shorter.  Climate change is a reality that we must understand. Snowfall is becoming noticeably unpredictable. What used to be a thick white blanket that coated the landscape has turned into a variable carpet frequently interspersed with rain and long thaws. While many of us hate prolonged periods of -10°, few of us complain about lots of snow. Shorter winters are the most notable effect of climate change, and others persist.  The drought that we experienced over the summer can also been attributed to climate change.

On a larger scale 100 year storms are occurring more frequently. Is the old 100 year storm now a twenty year storm?  What will the new 100 year storms look like?  Will we see more flooding? More droughts, and more heat waves?  From a statistical lens it appears so. Fifteen of the sixteen hottest years on record (through 2015) have occurred since 2000 according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  This does not include 2016 which may well be the hottest year on record according to weather.com. Saying that this is a coincidence is statistically impossible.

Image courtesy of Skeptical Science

Image courtesy of Skeptical Science

In the last several years, landmark deals on climate change have been reached, culminating in the Paris accords which stipulated that all countries seek to limit global warming.  This summer, a deal was reached to limit the emissions of fluorinated hydrocarbons, HFCs that are 100 more times powerful than other more common greenhouse gasses such as CO2. These international deals represent significant hope for the planet.

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Swipe Right: The Rise of Online Dating

Mr. Kyle Gorman

“Hi!! I’m a 21 year old looking for a good time ;) I love long walks on the beach and my pets. I am a career gal, so don’t go messin with my business. I love corny pickup lines, so HMU! Swipe right for a passionate night!”

Image courtesy of Innovative Technologies

This could be just one of the many profiles that is swiped through millions of times a day on any number of dating applications. Dating sites and apps like Tinder, eHarmony and Match.com have torn through dating pools all over the world, especially in the U.S., and have revolutionized social norms in doing so. These sites have made social connection much easier and have turned courtship into a flurry of hookups. Even in the last ten years, dating has changed infinitely, and it all can be attributed to these successful dating sites.

While online dating has not always been the go-to place to meet someone, in just the past 10 years the trend has taken leaps and bounds. According to eHarmony, the second-most popular dating site on the web, from 2013 to 2015 the percentage of 18-24 year olds that reportedly use online dating sites has jumped 17 percent, from a slim 10% nearly tripling to 27%. That is an incredible increase in just two years. 27 percent may not be a majority, but that encapsulates hundreds of thousands of people in the 18-24 age group. With all these people on dating sites, it is no wonder that meeting people one may be interested in online is much quicker than patrolling the bars in their hometown.

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Trout in trouble, pending precipitation

Mr. Maxwell Akey

Courtesy of Lake Champlain International

HINESBURG, Vermont — Ski resorts around Vermont are beginning to prepare for a snowy winter while students at Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) tune and wax their skis. Last year marked one of the lowest annual snowfall seasons Vermont has had, taking a toll on some of the major ski areas around Vermont, especially Mad River Glen. Unfortunately for Vermont’s population of trout, the lack of precipitation affected much more than just ski resorts.

Vermont’s many rivers and streams have been known to support thousands of healthy trout with the necessary habitat and food. This is slowly changing as Vermont’s weather patterns are beginning to devastate trout populations throughout the state. According to statistics released by weather.gov, last winter saw one of the lowest recorded annual snowfalls of only 29 inches. In 2010-2011, the annual snowfall was 128.4 inches.

Vermont’s rivers are home to three species of trout: brook, rainbow, and brown trout. Trout are some of the most fragile and sensitive species of fish and require cold, well oxygenated water- and a lot of it. Trout are most healthy in water temperatures between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter, trout move to slow and deep waters where they hold (stay in one spot and are not active) until water temperatures increase in the spring.

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Another intelligent insight as to why teenagers can’t get anything done…

 By Ms. Koko Vercessi

Image Courtesy of Addassets.com

Image Courtesy of Addassets.com

So why is it that you just can’t seem to manage your time, or you can’t organize your thoughts? All of these issues, from time management to making good choices, can be attributed to the inner workings of your executive function. According to WebMD.com, in its simplest form, your executive function is a collection of “mental skills” that helps you to get things done. These mental skills, including time management, attention, ability to focus, and memory, all are linked to an area of the brain known as the frontal lobe.

During your high school years, the frontal lobe is not fully evolved yet. In fact, this area of your brain continues to evolve until you reach the age of 25. Executive functioning during the adolescent years is particularly hard. This is because not only is your body going through a physical and emotional roller coaster ride, your mind is working to keep up with it all while it is still in the process of evolving towards adulthood. Dr. Lynn Margolies stated in an article that “Executive functioning is slow to fully develop. It emerges in late infancy, goes through marked changes during the ages of 2 through 6, and does not peak until around age 25. Adolescents’ limited executive functions are out of sync with their emerging freedom, sense of autonomy, and intense emotions, failing to equip them with the reins needed to for appropriate restraint and good judgment during this time of temptation.”

The development of executive functioning occurs in an area of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex, an area highly sensitive to stress. With this in mind, it’s not surprising to find out that there is a relationship between low levels of executive functioning during the teenage years and the stress many high school students face on a daily basis. Dr. Adele Diamond spoke on the subject saying, “Unlike anywhere else in the brain, even mild stress can flood the prefrontal cortex with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes executive functioning to shut down.”

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time to do homework? time to turn up the tunes

Ms. Olivia Cottrell

Music while studying, doing homework, or doing classwork is a highly debated topic. Does it help you focus more, or does it distract you more? Some think that if you are on your phone, you are more apt to start playing games or browsing Instagram. To others, music makes everything about working, either on homework or on other things, far better. Experts have studied the effects of music in many aspects of daily life such as: how it affects stress levels, how music generally affects the human body, and can help you while working out. Overall, if a student feels that music is helping them, it may be beneficial to them, not the hazard most people think it is.

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Unfortunately, music while studying continues to be a topic of conflict both in and out of the classroom. According to a piece published by Uloop in January, 2015, many studies have been able to come to the same conclusion; listening to music before studying may be able to help in a variety of ways. It can improve attention span, memory, and even the ability to do mental math. Music is also known to help lessen depression and anxiety, both of which have been shown to be at very high levels in high school age students.

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Opinion: Regulation causes Additional Hardship for Vermont Farmers

Mr. Jeremy Lang

When one imagines Vermont, the mind may wander to lush green rolling hills, farms covered in neatly wrapped hay bales, and black and white spotted cows grazing peacefully. Tall, slow moving tractors dot the mountains, and the only sound is the wind blowing through neatly planted rows of corn and hay. Under this postcard view is a disturbing truth: our Vermont farmers and farms are vanishing quickly.

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Here are some facts:

2.4 million acres in Vermont in 2015 were currently used as arable fields, pastures, wilderness, managed woods and natural habitats.  This is called “Current Use,” which means the owner gets set in a lower tax bracket so that they don’t have tax debt. This amounts to one third of Vermont’s land being under land conservation.

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Opinion: Tesla Drives Toward Auto Pilot

 Mr. Declan Trus

Forbes.com

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

 

Tesla, an auto manufacturer that specializes in electric cars, has just released an upgrade to their car’s computer software. This new upgrade is called Version 8. One of the many updates in Version 8 of Tesla’s software is upgrading the autopilot system to use radar in order to know where it’s going. This is not one of the safest options that Tesla could have done. In October of 2014, the radar sensor was originally installed as a supplementary system to the primary camera imaging system. Tesla now believes it can be used as a primary system. One of the problems that this poses is that the car will have a very strange perception of its surroundings. For example, the radar can see through fog, rain and snow easily, but anything metallic appears like a mirror, and anything metallic and dish shaped will amplify the reflected signal, making the object appear many times its actual size. Avoiding false alarms like this is a big problem that Tesla is faced with as they attempt to convert to full radar. These false alarms include, anything opaque being partially, or fully invisible to passengers in the car or other drivers on the road.

Although metallic surfaces can be very visible to the car’s radar, anything opaque will be transparent as glass to the radar. This is a major hazard because if a person were to let the car do all the driving, then the car would not stop or avoid something it can’t see. This can be dangerous for passengers and other drivers on the road.

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Water Levels on Lake Champlain Could Hit a Record Low

By Mr. Kaelan Murdock

On October 11, water levels on Lake Champlain had dropped over four feet, according to My Champlain Valley. As of now on November 4, the water levels are still dropping. The Lake is rapidly approaching what could be one of its all-time lows. Boat launches are dry, small rocky islands are becoming exposed, and swamps are being replaced by mudflats. Due to the low water levels in McNeil Cove, the boat launch channel has become so clogged with sediment that dredging has become necessary.  The photos below document that process.


 

The iPhone 7: Are the new features worth it?

 Mr. Douglas Schmidt

Apple released their new iPhone 7 model earlier this month which features a better camera, screen, and stereo speakers. However, Apple neglected to include a headphone jack, rendering all previous headphone models useless unless customers purchase a lightning jack converter, or spend more money to buy their new headphone model AirPods, or Bluetooth headphones from a third party. Arguably, this could be Apple’s worst move, ever.  

A headphone jack serves more than one purpose on an iPhone. It can be used as a microphone input, a credit card reader, a thermometer, and 3D camera. More importantly, it can be use as an audio output. A headphone jack is a more practical, robust, and a much simpler version of Bluetooth. The headphone jack just worked. Micah Singleton, a tech writer for The Verge, said,The belief that killing the most popular port in the world on the most popular smartphone in the world would have no consequences is wholly shortsighted.It’s more than just a plug, it’s the source of income for a massive industry of headphone jack accessory developers around the world, and Apple just simply stole it from them.

 

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Image courtesy of Business Insider

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Chromebooks: The new normal for CVU Freshmen

Mr. Doug Schmidt

HINESBURG, VT – CVU’s new “1-to-1” program is equipping every incoming freshman student with a new laptop to use both at school and at home to further incorporate technology into the learning process.

The program started in 2015, when the class of 2019 received new Windows computers. While the computers worked, they were unable to properly connect to the wireless network the school already had installed. “The Windows computers were good in concept, but in functionality, they had an older wireless card so they only operated on one of the two WiFi frequencies which caused major issues in all cores”.  These computers were replaced at the end of the 2015-16 school year with an updated Chromebook to avoid running into the same problem. So far, three weeks into the school year, no major issues arose other than a few shattered screens and broken keys.

chromebook

Photo by Doug Schmidt

The goal of the program, according to Matt Vile, CVUs IT coordinator, is “to have a device in every student’s hand throughout the day to work on courses online with Moodle and Google Drive, and to do school work at home.” He went on to say “This creates an almost seamless connection between working at school and at home, in addition to equipping students with technology they can use throughout their four years at CVU,”

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