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Conservation Law Foundation file photo

Polluted Lake Champlain: How Can We Stop It?

Written By Jocelyn Kaplan

VERMONT–Have you ever driven across the causeway between Colchester and South Hero and been hit with the pungent smell of a chemical-like odor? Have you ever looked across the lake and noticed patches of green clinging to the surface of the once vibrant lake?

Lake Champlain, Vermont’s largest lake and greatest landmark is being polluted by an excess amount of phosphorus runoff.

Too much phosphorus promotes an overgrowth of algae blooms. The blooms grow on the surface of the water and block light from entering into the lake. The blocking of sunlight prevents plants from photosynthesis, causing decay and death.

The Department of Health in New York states, “Exposure to any blue-green algae blooms can cause health effects in people and animals when water with blooms is touched, swallowed, or when airborne droplets are inhaled.” Algae blooms are harmful to humans, as many types of blue-green algae contain toxins which cause digestive issues and breathing difficulties.” Animals swimming in the lake can also suffer from the toxins, which in severe cases if ingested can cause liver failure and seizures.

Heather Morely, AP Environmental Science teacher, noted that the amount of algae blooms are affected by climate change as temperatures continue to rise. She also commented on what farmers can do to help reduce runoff. “Riparian buffers, areas that absorb a lot of the runoff before they get to waterways, and strategies about the time of year manure is applied to fields.” I asked what her main concern was about phosphorus runoff, and she voiced troubles with wastewater treatments,“We should really be focusing on our wastewater treatments and applications of manure to lawns.”

The phosphorus intake is directly related to the amount of runoff into the lakes. Runoff is caused as snow melts and there is more water than the land can absorb. The excess water flows down the land into bodies of water.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program details how Lake Champlain is suffering from phosphorus runoff coming from all parts of human life. “Nonpoint sources of pollution, which include runoff from roads and developed areas, and from lawns, farmlands, and other rural areas contribute more than 90% of the phosphorus that reaches the Lake.”

Farmlands contribute a significant amount of runoff, with 38% of phosphorus in the lake stemming from nutrients within fertilizer and manure that wash off before reaching the soil.

Developed land also has a big impact on the sheer mass of phosphorus that is ending up in Champlain, taking responsibility for 16%! Developed areas like parking lots and roadways are impervious and shed water. Instead of the absorption through grass, the rainfall and snowmelt is sent towards the lakes. Intense storm flows, a direct consequence of rainfall building up with little to no absorption, causes a higher amount of erosion in stream-banks which sends more sediments into the lake.

Vermont citizens are concerned about the state of the lake’s environment, but many are unaware of how the increasing pollution is caused by farmlands and urbanization. Ally Clos, 17, was an anomaly who was able to cite important factors that contribute to the phosphorus runoff, but was unaware of how the phosphorus buildup could be prevented. “Isn’t runoff caused by farms? We learned that it was from the soil and cow manure that runs down and pollutes the lake. But I don’t know anything about how to stop buildup of phosphorus.”

CVU students Jimmy and Hayden, both 15, discussed how the pollution has affected their lives. They have both experienced the smell of phosphorus, and have been unable to swim in the lakes because of the pollution buildup. Hayden noted that his health has been impacted by the lake’s pollution, “I’ve gotten sick from the algae, I went home with a headache and ended up with a raspy throat.”

Educating Vermonters, specifically the farmers, on the harmful effects of phosphorus could be groundbreaking on preventing future pollution of the lakes. Cutting back from phosphorus fertilizers, and implanting sewage grates designed to catch runoff water would help all Vermont’s bodies of water.

While the issue can hardly be solved by one individual, being aware of the strategies designed to prevent pollution and educating others into considering and embedding these resources into our farming, gardening, and wastewater plants could help the lakes of Vermont tremendously.


First Semester of School, Last Year of Covid ?

By Ian Dunkley

HINESBURG, VT  – A student walks off a big yellow bus and onto the Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) campus for the first time.  Like many before them, they have butterflies in their stomach, but can’t wait to start their new life in high school. The first day of school was August 26th, with students and teachers alike getting right back into the swing of things. To see how the community was feeling about the return, I spoke with several people about events that they would like to see return in the 2021-22 school year.


Original photo by Ian Dunkley

Donovan, a senior in Nichols core, told me, “Rally or the winter carnival.” Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some students haven’t had the opportunity to attend large group events like these, and experience how fun they can be.

Jasmine is also a senior from Nichols. “I’m more like the person that wanted to see [...] the after school things like prom,” she said.

The next thought that Donovan and Jasmine shared was related to this year’s academic system compared to last year. Donovan described the courses as “a little harder” and attributed the increase in difficulty to the five in-person days per week we now have. Jasmine thought the opposite. ”I think they are easier because like, at least we’re not doing online learning, which was hard at least. [...] It’s easier because we got to see each other.” 

One new change implemented this year is a  program called Community, Clubs, Connect, better known as C3. To better understand the purpose of C3, I asked co-creator Zach Smith why he developed the program, “In part with Emily [Rinkema] here, a bunch of other faculty and staff, it was actually something that over the last few years was developed by a bunch of committees made up of a lot of different teachers and leaders at CVU. So it was about a two-year process to design it. And this is just our first year implementing it. [...] Our purpose, one, has been students have been remote or in some form of remote learning for the past two years, and a lot of students are missing out on those social connections and C3 is a great way to bring our focus in now not just like our staff, but our community. We really want to encourage those connections as much as possible this year, [...] our number one thing here is to engage students. And with clubs, in the past clubs have only met after or before school, so it was inequitable. So a big part of having C3 in the middle of the day, is all students can attend it, it’s time to either connect with the teacher find a new community or club that interests them, whereas in the past, it was only equitable to students who had a form of transportation or who didn’t have a job after school or siblings to take care of.” 

Original photo by Ian Dunkley

 The final person I spoke with was Jamie Hayes, CVU’s very own campus supervisor. I asked Jamie how she usually connects with the new, and returning students, especially after last year. She told me, “Honestly, it’s really hard, it’s a very difficult thing to do. We try to talk or I personally try to talk to people in the hallways, whether it’s like, hey how you doing today, or sometimes I’m like yo your shirt is awesome [...]  It’s really hard getting to know ninth-graders and transfer students just because we don’t see them as often. I just try to talk to people every day and get people comfortable with seeing me and talking with me, and hopefully, eventually form a connection where they might come up and say hi.”

Finally, I asked Jamie how this year compares to last year. “I think it just feels more chaotic. [...] Yeah, it was too quiet last year. It’s just really really nice to see everyone together again and you see everyone you know, happy to see each other too.” 


Social Justice Has Been a Pandemic Priority at CVU

Myleigh Kilbon

HINESBURG, VT– At the end of my sophomore year, I had a very basic grasp on the concept of social justice, but not enough to talk about it to a group of teachers, who (I assumed) were experts on the topic. So when I was approached by the advisor of the Social Justice Alliance (SJA) to help with inservice presentations before school started, it was fair to say I was a little hesitant. I went to meetings, I did research, I talked with current SJA members, and I learned. I went into these presentations expecting the teachers to correct everything I said, but they listened. This was the day I realized I had the power to make a difference, to make a real change.

From the day we are born, we live in this world of “right” and “wrong”. As we grow, we develop our own innate sense of what it is to be fair and what it is to be unfair. Justice is something that we, as a society, strive for. At CVU, we have worked to put into place systems that ensure that: our students are part of a community where each student has a right to equality; they feel they are a part of a supportive learning environment; systemic change is implemented to uplift marginalized groups; and all students voices are not only heard, but valued.

Just over a year ago, a group of juniors at CVU decided that it was finally time for a concrete change. All of the Social Justice clubs at CVU were in a place where they were respected but not listened to unless it was convenient. CVU’s Environmental Action (EnAct) Club, Bring Change to Mind (mental health) Club, Racial Alliance Committee (RAC), Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Students Awareness Change and Training (ACT) for sexual violence, and our Unified Advocacy Club (UAC), came together February of 2020 to form an alliance of social justice related organizations in order to push our agendas and make CVU a more inclusive community.

Our collection of clubs has worked to achieve our goals of students rights, education, and equality. Our broad objectives for this inclusion were;

  • Maintain safety, well being, and comfort, 
  • Create a comfortable environment so that students can report incidents in confidence that the administration will listen.
  • Prevent threats of discrimination, alienation, or persecution
  • Construct a place of understanding.
  • Ensure that every member of the CVU community is equal.
  • Maintain core values of freedom, peace, and justice
  • Create a holistically supportive learning environment
  • Reform curriculum and increase student education regarding race, identity, sexual violence, bullying, non-neurotypical peers, and general sensitivity.
  • Expand education and training for faculty, staff and administrators to ensure problems are dealt with compassionately.
  • Develop citizens that contribute positively to their environment and value inclusion.

The sheer number of concrete actions that we have accomplished this year alone has surpassed the actions of all of our individual clubs combined over the past several years. We have worked in the areas of policy to: collaborate with house directors and administration to review existing disciplinary policies and implementation, created pamphlets and resources for students outlining new policy implementation, the implementation of surveys, accessible reporting options, and more. We have worked in the areas of education to: create a race and ethnic studies, and gender studies course, create a social justice credit, and refine existing curriculum to include social justice issues. We have done faculty presentations, student forums, and teacher forums to spread our message. We have created a website and a podcast (The Round Table) as well as creating a more accessible reporting form for students who face injustices.

The Social Justice Alliance has taken this year as an opportunity to work to guarantee all students at CVU have equal rights, status, opportunities, and treatment. The idea of social justice can be a bit daunting at first, I know from experience. But knowing that talking about these issues can make our world even a little bit of a better place, why not take the risk?

Reach out to the CVU Social Justice Alliance for more information about social justice and what social justice looks like in our community.

Social Justice Alliance Website


New Virus, New Mask Mandates, New College Application Process?

Hailey Chase

HINESBURG, VT– Two words of 2020 were “new normal,” and that can even be applied to CVU’s seniors’ different college application process. From travel restrictions to different class scheduling at CVU, this “new normal” has had a significant impact on seniors’ college decisions.

CVU senior Sunny Premsankar expressed how this year’s college process was unique for her. Sunny was unable to visit any schools before sending in her applications—something most seniors can relate to. Like Sunny, most seniors utilized online resources for the majority of their college research. Many colleges and universities now offer virtual self-guided tours; prospective students can click through campus and get an idea of what schools may look like. Thankfully, Sunny was able to visit the school she committed to, but only a few days before the May 1st National Commitment Day deadline. Another obstacle she had to overcome was the final semester of junior year; the world was shutting down, school was online, but AP classes continued to teach new material. 

“End of the school year-wise, I think it was harder for AP class and for AP exams. For Chem at least, we had to do three units online before the AP exam. It was definitely harder to end with a good grade,” the student noted. Sunny’s experience in her final semester as a junior is something almost all students at CVU can relate to; when COVID hit and school was online, it was a major change that didn’t discriminate—absolutely everyone was affected. For juniors and seniors enrolled in AP classes last spring, that meant a greater challenge to learn the new material in preparation for finals and the AP exam. 

CVU Guidance Counselor Jen Bickel-Hayes weighed her opinion on the class of 2021’s college application experience as well. On the topic of new test-optional policies, she explained, “One of the biggest changes was that most schools took a test-optional approach with their testing policy. This means that applicants were able to submit test scores if they felt they would be beneficial to their application. However, if they chose not to send test scores, the schools would not view this negatively when considering a student for acceptance,” which many students were grateful for. In Vermont, SAT and ACT testing sites began canceling test sessions in March 2020, and there were little to no tests offered until September of 2020. The guidance counselor also touched on new COVID-related writing prompts on many schools’ applications as an opportunity for applicants to share how COVID has affected their life, whether it be academic or not. 

In terms of college applications for future college applicants, Bickel-Hayes believes that there are a few significant changes that are here to stay, the first one being test-optional policies at some colleges. “Many schools will remain test optional for at least next year’s application season. This is due to the fact that it is still difficult for students to take the tests or take it multiple times,” she stated. 

COVID has had an immense impact on the world—not just on CVU and its students. “New normal” policies are being implemented into every aspect of life, and the college application process is no exception. With lasting effects, from finishing junior year remotely and the inability to visit colleges, CVU’s seniors have had a much different college application process than pre-COVID classes, and now some of these changes, such as test-optional policies, are here to stay.


Can Hiking Help Your Mental Health?

By:Katrina Kajenski 5/4/2021

Hinesburg-This pandemic has taken a toll on student’s mental health. Without sports, and an overall lack of access to exercise, student’s mental health has certainly suffered. Studies from the Primary Care Companion Journal, show that lack of exercise can decrease mental help substantially. A senior from CVU in Hinesburg Vermont, Charlotte Couperthwait is a mental health advocate from Bring Change to Mind Club, and a two-varsity-sport-athlete. I spoke to her on May 4th about how mental health and exercise/sports correlate. 

When asked about how the pandemic has affected her mental health, Charlotte said that, “Covid definitely took a toll on my mental health. My anxiety was heightened dramatically and it was really hard to handle sometimes.” One strategy she recommended to the CVU community that helped her was to go outside on a hike with her family. In correlation with exercise and mental health, she said that “exercise can help. For me, it makes me feel productive and puts me in a growth mindset which I think is eneficial for mental health.” One thing she also wanted to share with CVU is to recognize that, “everyone is struggling right now, especially with the pandemic going on, but really try and focus on yourself and make sure you are doing stuff you enjoy. Look at the little things that make you feel better and try and do it more frequently.”

A study done by the Primary Care Companion Journal of Clinical Psychiatry claims that just a short walk can affect brain function. The study states that, “thirty minutes of walking can reduce anxiety, depression, and negative moods… This is done by improving self-esteem and cognitive functions.” Covid-19 has put many students into a “slump” and a great way to get over that hump is to start going outside. Listed below are some places in each town where you can go on a hike or a bike path. See you outside, CVU!

Willison: Williston Community Park/Cross VT Trail Location

Hinesburg: Geprags Community Park Location

Shelburne: Shelburne Bay Park  Location

Charlotte: Mt. Philo State Park Location


India’s COVID-19 Second Volley

Sawyer Thorpe

INDIA– In the beginning of the pandemic the Indian government downplayed the critical situation that COVID-19 would put them in, and now instead of the government suffering, it’s the people. 

As of this report, casualties continue to climb: the current death toll in India is at about 700 per day. Although, that is currently thought to be 20% less than the actual number due to under-reporting. As the pandemic continues, the Indian government continues to spend money on things such as state houses and government buildings. Instead of spending this money on the citizens of India. Doctors and nurses in India are beginning to fall ill which is complicating the pandemic crisis.

Throughout the pandemic, Indian politicians had publicly posted on twitter their thoughts on the reaction of their government to soon later have that same government take their post down off of the website. 

“India will never forgive PM @narendramodi for underplaying the corona situation in the country and letting so many people die due to mismanagement.” Said Moloy Ghatak, an Indian government official publicly stated on Twitter.

As Indian residents continue to call out their government about how ill prepared they were and still are to face a pandemic, their words are partially silenced and hidden away by their government.

As international efforts to give aid to nations in poverty are underway, Indian government officials continue to ignore the safety boundaries that was announced by the World Health Organization. It was reported that the prime minister of India had a political rally with it’s home minister as well.

As India once exported COVAX vaccines in large numbers, they have more recently halted all exports in order to vaccinate the citizens of India instead of those of the entire world due to the inability to prepare for the unknown waves to come.


Teaching During Covid: An Interview With CVU’s Jeff Hindes

By Brennan Murdock, Fri, May 7, 2021

HINESBURG – This year has been tough on all of us, and we’ve all had changes in our everyday lives. One of the largest topics that I’ve seen covered during this global pandemic has been how students like me feel about returning for the 2020/ 2021 school year. How our classes have been split up, how we have to wear masks, and how we have to take many other precautions that interfere with our education. As a student, I’ve heard all about that. What I haven’t heard about at all is what it was like for teachers to adjust to these huge changes in the classroom, to deal with split classes, shortened courses, and online work.

Has it been easier or harder? More or less stressful? I am curious about the pros and cons of teaching at CVU during the COVID-19 pandemic, and am looking to shine some light on how this school year has been for our educators. What was it like shortening courses, communicating with students while wearing a mask, dealing with online classes, and only seeing half of their regular students in person each day?

Jeff Hindes, a CVU Humanities teacher, described this year as “logistically challenging.” He compared shortening his course material to “creating an abridged version of a book”, where it was crucial to select the most important themes in order to still convey the same story, but in a smaller amount of time. Hindes also said that he personally doesn’t find wearing a mask to be much of a hindrance when teaching, but expressed some difficulty in communicating with students. “The biggest problem that I have is understanding students, particularly those who are already a little soft spoken to begin with.” 

Here at CVU, students are split into two groups by last name. The first group has in person classes on Monday and Tuesday and asynchronous work on Thursday and Friday, the second group has the opposite schedule. On Wednesdays, however, classes are fully virtual and include students from both groups. This form of online schooling has been a big challenge for some teachers, but it certainly has its pro’s, too. “On Wednesday I have my Thursday/Friday and my Monday/Tuesday kids all in the same place, and so I can introduce a concept or introduce a project and then students can begin to work on it, and because they’re all in the same place at the same time, I only have to explain it once,” Hindes said. This is one of the best things about remote Wednesdays for teachers. It’s a perfect opportunity to provide instruction on upcoming or current assignments while all of their students are present at once. The downside is that most students and teachers are forced to sit in front of a screen all day long, which can get very tedious.

Separated students means much smaller in person class sizes, yet another strange adaptation brought to the classroom during this school year. Hindes stated that he doesn’t necessarily see this as good or bad, but “just kind of weird.” Some classes can be as small as four students, which definitely aligns with the phrase “just kind of weird.” While tiny classes are a lot to get used to at first, they can provide a much more focused class that can more easily adjust its pace to the needs of each student, since there are so few. 

This year has had no shortage of stress for any of us. Most would say it has been much more stressful than previous years. However, Hindes’ response to this question came as a bit of a surprise. “I think all things being equal, the stress level is about the same as a normal school year, but the stressors are different, if that makes sense.” He went on to say that during a normal school year he has many more moving parts, and sees more students each day. So for Hindes, his work for school is less stressful than normal, but the added stress of a global pandemic brings it back up to a fairly regular level. He is hopeful that next year, things will be returning to a relatively normal state.

For me, this school year at CVU has just been different, rather than bad. It’s had its issues, but has ended up being a learning experience for everyone, even teachers. Through these huge changes, we’ve been able to more easily see what worked well and what didn’t, and hopefully move forward with the best of both worlds. With vaccines now being distributed and fully in-person school nearly in sight, we can finally have hope that the next few years won’t be quite so chaotic for our students and educators, or for the rest of the world.


Concealed Handguns

Kobey Pecor


NEW YORK– The Supreme Court conservative majority decided Monday, April 26th to hear an appeal of a New York law that restricts people from carrying concealed handguns in public. This would lead to the first major Supreme Court decision on gun laws in a decade. 

New York has banned carrying a handgun openly. The state law says anyone seeking a license to carry a concealed weapon must demonstrate “a special need for self protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the law as necessary to ensure safety, also calling on the federal government to pass stricter national laws. There will be a hearing later this fall

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a Hawaii law similar to New York’s. The appeals court had ruled earlier that individuals do not have a Second Amendment right to carry concealed weapons in public.

Vermont gun laws are the most permissive in the United States. The state does not issue permits for carrying firearms and operates on an “Unrestricted” policy. Any person 16 or older (Federal law requires the age to be 18) and who can legally possess a firearm is allowed to carry openly or concealed.

lewis creek

Grandparents Found in Lewis Creek

Brennan Murdock

On Monday April 19 at 12:30pm, two bodies were found by fishermen in Lewis Creek in Charlotte Vermont. They were identified as 70 year old Martha Illick and 71 year old Terrence Dinnan. Their grandson, who was in the boat with them, was found later, wet but uninjured.

The grandparents had planned a small boating trip on their local creek with their three and a half year old grandson earlier that day, but somehow the boat flipped and both grandparents ended up dead. Police are still unsure of what exactly happened, but the boat was found capsized with the deceased couple not far away. The strange thing was that their grandson came out of the accident seemingly unharmed. He was found by police over an hour later in his grandparents’ car. “We started to walk back up the residence, the child popped out of the vehicle and ran up to his parents,” said Captain Matt Daley, Vermont State Police.

The boy was the only one wearing a life jacket, which may explain how he survived the incident at only three.

Photo via Lewis Creek Association/Caleb Kenna


Redhawks Go Green!

Abby Niquette, Hazel Civalier, Maddie Connery

An adaptation of EnACT’s Stall News Publication


Join in on a Green-Up, Win a Prize!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, May 1st to join Vermont’s annual clean-up! Green Up Day is a great chance to clean up trash in your community with family and friends. If you are interested in helping, you can get green-up bags at specified locations throughout the CVU school district. The Environmental Action Club has some amazing prizes for participants who upload photos to Instagram stories and tag @enactcvu or share with Learn more at or contact Ruby Opton, Ava Rohrbaugh, or Olivia Brand!


Earth-Friendly Tips for the CVU Community

  1. Vegetarian/Meatless Mondays: Try to eat only plant-based foods one day a week!
  2. Transportation Challenge: Pick a distance (eg. 2 miles) and challenge yourself to use alternative modes of transportation, such as walking or biking, for any travel of that distance or less. 
  3. Sustainable Fashion - Check out these local second-hand stores: Hinesburg: Twice is Nice. Shelburne: Schip’s Treasure Resale Shop. Williston: Once upon a Child, Plato’s Closet, and Style Encore. Burlington: Dirt Chic, Old Gold, Downtown Threads, Replays, Outdoor Gear Exchange, Possibility Shop. 
  4. Grow Your Own: Try growing some of your own food in a backyard or community garden. Find local community gardens at
  5. Legislative Activism: Advocate for environmental legislation like the Expansion of the VT Bottle Bill (see the top left article). 

Statewide Action in the Works

According to the VT Department of Environmental Conservation, “out of all the waste Vermont generates annually, only about 35% gets sent somewhere other than a landfill to be recycled, composted, or reused.” This April, in honor of Earth Day, consider taking action to reduce statewide waste. Check out the Green Up Vermont webpage and commit to picking up trash on May 1st. Last year, over 421 tons of trash were taken from our roadsides, giving incredible relief to the surrounding environment. Or take it a step further and spend few minutes writing a letter or email to one of our Senators asking them to move forward with the proposed bill H.175. This bill intends to expand on our current state Bottle Bill and “would increase recycling, create green jobs, and is another step forward in our work to reduce plastic pollution,” according to Vermont Conservation Voters. Additionally, consider encouraging your family and friends to do the same and take action for the environment this April. Help to keep the “Green” in Green Mountain State!

A Brief History of Earth Day

Earth Day was first celebrated in the United States on April 22nd, 1970, through teach-ins and protests organized by thousands of colleges and universities. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, these actions sought to harness student activism to bring visibility to growing concerns about environmental degradation, including air and water quality in the US. Last year, at least one billion people in 192 countries celebrated the 50th Earth Day. Observances include Global Unity And Regeneration Gathering in Lanjaron, Spain, with environmental presentations and workshops; Earth Day Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan, which highlights sustainable businesses and environmental organizations; and Earth Expo in Johannesburg, South Africa, which includes educational forums on nutrition, fashion, technology, and sustainable entrepreneurship.  

Activism on Social Media to Get Involved With!

Want to help out from the couch? Consider taking a look at an account below! Environmental activism is often falsely stereotyped as judgy and inconsiderate, but there are many underrated influencers who offer a variety of tips on how to be more eco-friendly. Addressing the threat of climate change requires widespread awareness. Social media is a powerful tool for environmental activism, as it enables a vast array of environmental opportunities that are accessible to all! This earth day, it may be hard to see a bright future with the numerous challenges our world is facing, but the accounts below examine the many ways in which our biggest problems intertwine, while also offering simple yet powerful actions to be taken. Small steps are key. Take a second to look at one of the accounts below and discover just how empowering and interesting climate activism is!


  • @zerowastecutie
  • @climatediva
  • @greengirlleah
  • @queerbrownvegan
  • @intersectionalenvironmentalist


  • @greenpeace
  • @treehugger
  • @gretathunberg


  • @solanathagreenfairy
  • @sustainablecherub 



Fire Engulfs St. George Home

Shayne Waite

Fire officials arrived on the scene of a house fire on Martel Lane in St. George on April 14th around 1:20 pm.

The fire was believed to have started in the basement. When officials arrived on the scene, flames were raging out of the basement. It had continued up the west side of the home and the wind made it more difficult to extinguish.

Crews were on the scene until 8 pm that night. Crews from Hinesburg, Charlotte, Shelburne, Williston, Richmond, Underhill-Jericho, Monkton, Essex Junction, South Burlington, and Saint Michael’s Rescue were also on the scene. No injuries were reported.

From a story by NBC 5, During an interview, Captain Ed Waite of the Hinesburg Fire Department said, “The task of extinguishing this fire was made especially difficult by the roads lack of water access. It’s tough getting manpower and water supply set up. For a house out in this area, it’s all done by tankers so you have to get manpower and trucks out here and we just didn’t have that today.” They were able to save the detached garage that has been converted to living space.

The fire was not deemed suspicious at this time by the State of Vermont Department of Public Safety’s Fire Marshall’s office. The house is considered a total loss.

Photo via

Birthdays Are Still On

Ms. Lauren Kovacik

The typical birthday usually consists of a gathering of friends and family, the exchange of presents, the iconic song, and the ultimate finale of blowing out a specific number of candles on top of a decorated cake.

The COVID-19 virus that has spread to almost every country in the world has made these birthday celebrations non-existent. However, even considering the global pandemic, people are still finding ways to celebrate one another on their special days.

Senior Sophie Dauerman says, “For my birthday, my friends surprised me with a video of friends, family, coaches, and teachers wishing me happy birthday. It made my day and helped me feel more connected. Now I’m passing it on and working on a surprise birthday video for someone else!” Having her friends do this allowed Dauerman to be positive in the face of COVID-19, and allowed her to enjoy her birthday even while in quarantine.


Another senior, Abigail Harkness, states, “I think it’s important to still stay connected virtually, even though we can’t be together in person. There have been a few of my friends’ birthdays and we have made videos for them of all their friends and family saying happy birthday. This was an awesome way to show them that we’re all still there for them to celebrate on their special day.” These videos are a powerful memory that anyone who has to have their birthday in quarantine can look back on for years to come, and remember what their friends did for them.

Class president, Mia Brumstead, also adds,  “For my quarantine birthday, I had a special celebration with my family. I got to pick out what I wanted for dinner and dessert, and my family put it all together. Even though I was really looking forward to celebrating my 18th birthday with friends, I was happy that I could still find a way to mark this big milestone in my life. Social distancing guidelines have restricted everyone from being connected with friends and family, but there are still innovative ways to celebrate a quarantine birthday, and I hope people take advantage of that.” Celebrating with family is just as important as celebrating with friends, and especially in quarantine they are always there for you to make your birthday special, regardless of a global pandemic.

Ella Thompson was able to come up with a fun way to celebrate, “For one of our friend’s birthday I coordinated with her mom and we got a group of people to come and hold up signs that read “Happy happy Bbirthday” on her lawn. Her mom even put tape in the yard that was eight feet 8ft apart so we knew where to stand. Then we sang happy birthday and left the present and cards on the lawn. Obviously it wasn’t the same as a real birthday party, but it’s so important to show people that you care. A birthday may not seem like a huge deal but everyone is going through something right now and it’s a great way to reach and brighten someone’s day.” Thompson was able to find a way to celebrate that made her friend feel special but also followed the social distancing guidelines that had to be followed.

Lily Michalak says, “I was in a car parade, and I think it’s important because it keeps people’s spirits up and still helps celebrate a birthday.” Ensuring that even in quarantine someone knows that people care about their special day is essential, even under circumstances when normal birthdays and other celebrations aren’t able to happen.

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Students Make Lemonade

Mr. Ryan Eaton

During the Current COVID-19 pandemic, the CVU community has experienced new and diverse experiences. These experiences have given people opportunities to do and try new things.

This video shows the various things some CVU students do when dealing with quarantine. There’s everything between throwing rocks and playing sports, to new hobbies and shopping online. Everyone deals with quarantine differently, and these are just some things people do to stay occupied.

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2020 Graduates Honor Connor Lewis’ Memory

Ms. Sabine Foerg and Ms. Lauren Kovacik

CVU’s 2020 senior class chooses to honor their former classmate, Connor Lewis, with a memorial scholarship for two deserving seniors,  keeping Connor Lewis in their hearts as they graduate from high school. Students and teachers voted for two recipients of the scholarship on May 15th.

On June 2nd, 2017, our community unexpectedly lost a beloved classmate, student, and friend. Connor Lewis, remembered by his community as a kind, nurturing, and lighthearted student, has remained in the hearts and minds of his classmates, CVU’s graduating class of 2020. As a 9th grader, Connor entered the CVU community in the Nichols core. Years later, a committee of his classmates and friends have chosen to honor him as they graduate high school by creating a scholarship in his name.

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Students and faculty were asked to nominate “a classmate who embodies these values: kindness, inclusivity, and dependability”, says Principal Adam Bunting who addressed the community.  “Two $1000 scholarships will be awarded to CVU High School seniors who have demonstrated these values over the course of their four years of high school.”  These scholarships are to be given in honor of Lewis, and the students who receive them should have and portray some of the characteristics that Lewis is remembered most for.

The committee is led by Connor’s friend and classmate, Garrett Gruendling, alongside several other seniors. Originally, this group was organizing a ping pong tournament to raise funds for the scholarship, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event was unable to take place. Instead, the group turned to their classmates and came up with the idea of the scholarship in Lewis’ name.

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Students RISE Independently

Ms. Lauren Kovacik

If you have ever wanted to teach yourself something new, or acquire a unique skill set, a RISE independent study was a way for CVU students to do that. Now, however, considering the current quarantine, many students are finding ways to participate in independent studies on their own time.

The second annual RISE at CVU was to take place at the very end of the 2019-2020 school year, during the last two weeks of June, before Senior graduation and all students headed off to summer.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott announced the closure of all schools had to be done by March 17th, which meant that RISE would not be able to happen for the 2019-2020 school year. 


Many of these seniors were excited to take part in an independent study, and Mia Brumstead, one of the student body co-presidents provided an insight into why that may be. She says that seniors wanted to participate in independent studies “probably because they’re [seniors] in the mindset that they don’t want to be in school, and a lot of people didn’t like the RISE offerings because they are more based on teacher interest rather than student interest.” This mindset is seemingly a propelling force according to Brumstead, because seniors are ready to move on.

Bumstead also explains that an independent study allows students to explore opportunities that would truly interest them, “They [RISE leaders] are also being very lenient with the independent studies, so people can explore what they want and also can have the certainty of being with their friends.” These elements of an independent study made it attractive, because you could choose what you wanted to do and who you wanted to learn with.

Another senior, Madeline Love, explains why she was participating in an independent study, “I’m doing an independent project because as a senior in real high school and I’ve always been told what to do and what classes to take without much of a choice and I felt that with an independent [study] I’d be able to create my own learning, my own rules, and my own goals.” This personalized pathway is what an independent study is all about, allowing students to create a learning experience that would engage them.

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Monty Python Edukational Show Goes On

Ms. Tiferes Simcoe

“I didn’t want to be a barber anyway; I wanted to be a lumberjack.” That’s not a line you hear everyday. Well, the CVU students who participated in the Spring play were tirelessly rehershing these unusual yet funny lines spoken by Monty Python actors. 

Monty Python Edukational Show was supposed to perform on March 13 and 14 at 7:30 PM as well as March 15 at 2:00 PM. However, because of the coronavirus they only got to perform one show on that Friday, March 13 at CVU. 

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Monty Python was a British surreal comedy group who created the sketch comedy television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which first aired on the BBC in 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four seasons. The Python phenomenon developed from the television series into something larger in scope and impact. 

Sydney Hick’s, one of the senior directors, describes the play like this: “Monty Python is a comedy group, and the show is a bunch of their most famous sketches blended into one show.” This play is unique because five of CVU’s high school seniors are directing the play.

Hicks continues to say, “What they normally do is have the One Acts that are all completely separated. But this year a student directs a few different scenes in the show. One common thread throughout the show is the teacher. That is why they call it the Monty Python Edukational Show. The teacher tries to use these Monty Python sketches to teach life lessons which doesn’t really work out because it is Monty Python, which is immature humor.”

Interested in how immature humor contributes to the play, Cameron Hoff, an actor in the school play,  explains, “ it makes the play surface level funny, it’s easy humor for everyone to get and laugh at.  The immaturity makes the play inclusive and fun.” Humor adds to plays because it leaves room for all age ranges to enjoy the content. 

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Daylight Savings or Losing Time?

Ms. Asha Hickok

Every March, Vermonters, along with almost every other state in the United States, get ready to set their clocks ahead and lose sleep for the sake of later sunsets. This practice typically marks the beginning of Spring and welcoming back warm weather, but at what cost? 

Currently, in the US there are two states who do not follow the practice of Daylight Savings. Those two states are Hawaii and Arizona. However, the rest of the country still follows the changing of the clocks. In recent years, this has become a debate amongst senators throughout the US, as well as citizens.A poll conducted by AP-NORC found that 71% of respondents want to end the active practice of changing clocks. The reasons for this are varied. 


The US Department of Energy found that 0.5% of total energy saved daily during Daylight Savings. While this may not seem like a significant enough percentage to encourage a change in outlook of Daylight Savings, the US Department of Energy found that 99.8% of the US population uses electricity on a daily basis, so 0.5% can be a catastrophic number in reference to the size of the US population.

Additionally, an increase of light, according to the Brookings Institute, actually prevents an increase in robbery rates. 

However, in parallel to the pros, cons can also be highlighted surrounding Daylight Savings. In a research study done by Medium it was found that switching the clock two times a year can actually result in more health issues, such as a 10-20% increase in cancer rates. Concerned about health issues, local congress people around the world are moving to support adapting a standard time year round. 

In Washington state, Congress is close to, adopting year-round daylight savings. Senator Marco Rubio, from Florida and the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, has spoken out against the time change on Twitter, using the hashtag: #locktheclock. 

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One Hour, One Pint, Saves Three Lives

Ms. Sabine Foerg

Looking for a new way to give back to your community? A local Red Cross blood drive could be your next good deed. Many CVU students, faculty and community members did their part at CVU’s annual March blood drive. 

CVU held its annual Red Cross blood drive in the gym all day Thursday, March 12. Any student or faculty member aged seventeen or older, weighing a minimum of 110lbs in good health, was likely eligible to donate. 

According to Red Cross, the blood drive draws in people for many different reasons, ranging from giving for family members and friends in need, to simply the free snacks and drinks provided after the procedure.

Blood drive

“I am giving blood because it isn’t too painful for me, and I think it is the right thing to do. There are a lot of people who can’t donate, and I can, so I feel like it is the right thing to do because I have that ability,” says CVU Senior Maggie Sides, who donated at CVU’s blood drive. 

The process, Red Cross says, is simple for donors. The donor must fill out a questionnaire and sign in with ID before going through a brief “mini-physical” and a health survey. “The actual donation only takes eight to ten minutes,” according to Red Cross. One pint of blood is donated per donor. According to the Red Cross, every pint of blood could save as many as three lives. 

The CVU blood drive is run by the Student Council along with the Red Cross. “We have been publicizing the event with posters and banners, and student council members have been sitting at an information and sign up table during lunch one week before the blood drive and the week of,” says CVU sophomore and Student Council member, Finnegan Mittelstadt. 

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CVU Becomes Virtual Reality

Mr. Nani Clemmons

With the Covid 19 virus, our lives have seemingly moved to a virtual reality, plugged into computers, limited to the traveling space of our own backyards. What if we could travel though? 

What if, with the aid of technology, we could travel the world while staying home? What if we could go further? 

How you may ask? Through virtual reality. Virtual reality or VR is a fake 3D environment individuals can enter and interact with through the use of a headset and a controller. 

VR Equipment

Gary Lambert the media production educator at Champlain Valley Union High School believes there’s a lot of educational potential with VR, and for the last couple of years, Lambert has been experimenting with new ways to bring the technology to students. “I think there are applications for [VR] in lots of different classes. There are lots of different ways VR could potentially be used to put students in an environment, either a custom-built environment or even on virtual trips. With VR you can take virtual trips to real locations and experience what that place looks like without having to actually go there.” Through VR, students can travel to exciting new places that previously seemed out of reach due to high expenses. For example, students of history classes could visit famous historical sites and museums all around the world while remaining in their classrooms.

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Hank the Tank Raises Hope

Ms.  Jade Leavitt

Hot Dog! Have you heard about the Make-A-Wish Fundraiser?  

Did you see the dog at school? 

On Friday February 14th, Tammy Joe Dickinson, a CVU business teacher, used her dog, Hank, to raise money for the Make-A-Wish foundation in order to help her Champlain Valley Union Principles of Business class learn marketing skills through experience.

Hank Sales

Make-A-Wish is a foundation dedicated to raising money to fulfill the wishes of children diagnosed with a critical illness. Wish recipients must be older than two and a half and younger than 18 years old. Recipients also have a threatening medical condition.

According to Dickinson “Hank the Tank”, this semester’s ‘business,’ uses Dickinson’s dog to draw the attention of students passing by in the hallway. 

Dickinson thinks Hank is the perfect marketing tool. 

Katherine Riley purchased dog treats and expands her thoughts on the cause. “I think it’s a great fundraiser and I love the idea that the business class is actually doing something practical and seeing the reality of trying to get a product from the idea all the way through.” Riley also has a therapy dog of her own and thinks, “Having dogs at school adds to the climate. Especially in times of higher stress.”

Dickinson adds to the calming presence of her dog when she says, “I feel like my stress levels are so much lower when Hank is here.” 

In a recent Washington Post Article, Why do we love pets? An expert explains, Author Karin Brulliard states, “Ours is a pet loving culture… The pet industry spends a lot of money promoting what it prefers to call the “human-animal bond.””

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“Bro Code” Takes Aim

Mr. Calvin Lord

With several peaceful months having passed since the CVSD school board lifted their state of emergency on April 17th, it’s time to look back at one of the most historic, unexpected, and possibly redundant movements in this district’s history.  

It’s time to answer the question that many students are still asking: “Why in tarnation did they put up tiny little porcelain urinals on the walls?” The enigmatic answer: to comply with the Bro Code.


In August of 2002, the bathrooms and plumbing systems of most CVSD schools were torn down and rebuilt. This meant new sinks, new dispensers, fresh linoleum flooring, and new urinals in the men’s rooms.

“The old urinals were in serious decay,” says Ken Thompson, a retired contractor who had worked on the project, “by which I mean they bore a greater resemblance to petrified diseased fungal growths than actual latrines.”

“Most men were pretty happy about the change, and they welcomed my construction crew with open arms,” says one of the contractors who was employed by the district at that time.

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Pink Is For You

Ms. Tiferes Simcoe

Think back to this past Valentine’s day when you might have been sad, watching the person across from you in Advisory receive multiple carnations. Or were you the happy-go-lucky one with the flowers in hand? Either way, you have the Italy Trip fundraiser to thank. 

It was clear that many people at CVU were feeling some love because the red carnations representing love were sold out before the second week of the Italy trip fundraiser. 

pink carnation

The fundraiser took place during lunches in the CVU Cafeteria on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for three weeks leading up to Valentine’s day. 

Fortunately, for the consideration of all who might have wanted to buy themselves or a friend a pity flower or a last minute gift, the fundraiser continued during lunch that Valentines day, February 14th.  

Latin and art student organizers recognized that Valentine’s day can mean many different things to people and relationships. The fundraiser provided three carnation color options to meet those varying needs. 

According to the organizers, the red carnation was meant to be sent to someone you are in love with, while the pink carnations were for an awesome friend who definitely deserved to be recognized on Valentine’s day. Lastly, the white carnation was sent by secret admirers to their interests. 

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Danish Students Experience Superbowl and Walmart

Ms. Sabine Foerg

CVU welcomed 19 Danish students from Odsherreds Efterskole, our European sister school in Fårevejle, Denmark, into classrooms and homes on January 28th. This exchange experience has been successful for the past eight years, and the community and CVU’s volunteer hosts excitedly awaited the arrival of the Danes this year. 

Seventeen CVU and two Burlington High School students hosted Danish students. Many of these hosts will travel to Denmark in April to stay with the Danish students at Odsherreds. The visitors were at CVU from January 28th through February 5th. 


The exchange program runs every two years, with two faculty leaders. CVU teachers Lacey Richards and Cyndy Craft are the 2020 chaperones. The Danes arrived Tuesday night, attended classes with their host students every morning, and participated in other local activities in the afternoons such as skiing with the CVU Shredhalks at Bolton, visiting and Jerry’s factory, exploring downtown Burlington, and touring the statehouse.

CVU Senior Maggie Sides volunteered to host a student. “I have always loved interacting with other cultures and this seemed like a great opportunity to show someone around CVU while learning about them and their life”. This is her first time hosting an exchange student, and she had a lot in store for her danish visitor. “I want to take her to Killington for tubing, go out to get some typical American food, go shopping, and do the Penguin Plunge together”.

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Redhawks Welcome Class of 2024

Ms. Sabine Foerg

8th graders joined CVU from five sending schools on January 30th for the annual 8th Grade Parent Night, an event that draws in almost 500 students every year, and even more parents. This event allows incoming students and their parents to gain first-hand knowledge about their future school in a welcoming atmosphere. 

CVU Senior, Ella Thompson, is the student council coordinator of the event. “The main purpose is to give students an idea of the CVU environment,” Thompson says. “It was helpful for me as an 8th grader to get my bearings and understand the layout of the school. It helped me feel more adjusted when I switched schools.”

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According to Thompson, the event begins with an assembly for both parents and students. CVU Principal Adam Bunting welcomes guests, followed by an introduction from Student Body Co-Presidents Mia Brumsted and Becket Pintair. “The speeches give a fun and heartfelt introduction to our school,” Thompson says. Following the speeches, students attend a skit performed by student council members and a student-led Q&A session, while the parents meet CVU students and 9th grade core teachers.

CVU senior Kate Gruendling attended the event as a freshman and has been helping with it as a member of the Student Council for years. “8th grade parent night was my first time really seeing CVU so it was good to get a tour and see where I would spend the next four years,” Gruendling recalled from her experience. “I also got to meet some of my future classmates, which was great.”

“We want them to feel welcome and comfortable in the school and show them that they have older students at the school who care about their wellbeing and want them to feel safe and successful,” Thompson says. “The mood is lighthearted and fun. I remember I was pretty nervous coming here for the first time, and we are hoping to make it a little less scary and make CVU feel more familiar for 8th graders”.

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Welcoming Restorative Justice at CVU

Ms. Alexandra Anderson

Restorative justice, a new disciplinary system focused on individual growth, has begun to take effect in institutions around Vermont. This model, hallmarked for its focus on community involvement, conversation, and personal development, has been applied to youth legal misdemeanors around the state and more recently has reached the halls of Champlain Valley Union High School. 

Beckett Pintair, CVU Student Body President and leader of the Youth Restorative Justice Board in Williston, has seen first hand the effects of restorative justice on youth infractions. “Right now the [justice] system is not very functional; it doesn’t look at actual people.” He said, “it doesn’t actually do anything to repair the harm to the responsible party or the victim… with restorative justice they can actually learn from their crime.” 

Through the Restorative Justice Board, Pintair has been able to mentor young offenders, write “creative and constructive” learning contracts and learn about the larger scale impacts of criminal justice reform. “Really, what restorative justice is about is repairing the harm yes, but also building connections, so that the community and the person is stronger and can become stronger out of that,” he explains.

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15 Minutes Can Make a Difference

Mr. Ryan Eaton 

If you’ve been a part of the CVU community for the past four years, you have experienced several schedule changes throughout the years. Over the past year, returning CVU students have encountered an increase in advisory time from fifteen minutes to thirty minutes each day.

 If you’ve been here for two or more years, you’ve gone from a late start during the middle of the week on Wednesday, to the first day back after a weekend on Monday. It has been a little confusing.

This change, explains Peter Langella, a CVU faculty member, is to allow students and teachers, time to meet with each other, whether it’s because a student missed a class and needs a recap on what they missed, or maybe the student just needs extra help to get a better understanding. 

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One junior CVU student, Charlotte Couperthwait, explains why she likes the new additional fifteen minutes.”Yes (I enjoy the extra fifteen minutes) because it gives me more time to study if I have a summative next block or later in the day, and I have more time to do homework and it gives me a lot of free time to meet with teachers about classes that I missed or don’t understand.” Couperthwait shares the value of more time during the school day, but some CVU students don’t see it that way. 

One CVU student, Ryan Canty, explains why he doesn’t like the new advisory times “I do not like the extended fifteen minutes of advisory because it takes away from time after school and time we can get out of school early at 3 o’clock and possibly (the extended time) could cause athletes to be late for sports practices or events. I’ve used the time once and that was to practice a dance for Winter Carnival.” Canty says he doesn’t find the extra 15 minutes in the morning useful.

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Students Push For Environmental Education

 Ms. Lauren Kovacik

The thought of Advanced Placement classrooms brings images of stressed-out students hunched over their work, but that’s not always the case. 

The new AP environmental science class will allow students to access to curriculum that engages students in scientific learning that is directly related to environmental issues they care about.  

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The new course offering was student-driven, and many have already expressed interest in taking the course. The Enact club has been working diligently for months to offer the new course here at CVU. Just this past week, the course was approved and is on the books for next year, according to Katie Antos-Ketchum, the EnAct Faculty Advisor. 

Sophie Dauerman, a leader in EnAct and a senior, explains that Enact specifically focuses on improving our school’s impact on the environment, sustainability, and educating its members about the climate. 

Dauerman was one of the students who spoke to the curriculum clearinghouse before winter break in December. This committee is a group of CVU educators that discuss and approve proposals for new courses.

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