Tag Archives: art


A Soiree But With Clay

By Brigid Skidd & Vivien Sorce

“You think that maybe you could literally spend the rest of your life learning all about it [ceramics]” 

Over the summer of 2022, CVU rearranged its art rooms, resulting in a larger Ceramics room and changes to the layout of most other art classes. Emily Mitchell, the new ceramics teacher at CVU delves into the details of the move and her perspective on ceramics at CVU.

Who are you and how long have you been teaching?

“My name is Emily Mitchell, I am one of the art teachers at CVU, and this is my 22nd or 23rd year teaching.”

How did you come to be teaching at CVU?

Mitchell: “So I actually was hired at CVU in 2005 and I was a teacher here from 2005 until 2013. I taught Intro to Ceramics, Advanced Drawing, Painting and AP Art (not all at the same time but over the course of my time here). In 2019 I was actually teaching in Burlington Elementary School for the last three years and then Abby Bowker shifting to WCS opened a shift to the positions and I reapplied, went through the process again of interviewing and such, and then got rehired.”

How did the art rooms change this year and where is the Ceramics room now?

Mitchell: “So it was a domino effect, but basically what was the Photography/Design Tech room split into two – to be a Photography/Design room, and to have a Design Tech room where our office was previously. Our office is now where the service room used to be, the Ceramics room is in 146 now with a storage closet in the Kiln room and room 144 is our new drawing studio.”

What were some challenges of teaching in the small space of the old ceramics room?

Mitchell: “The size of the room was very limiting, not so much in what we were able to do but more just how big people could work to a certain extent, and it was just, we were very much on top of each other like no question about it. That being said, one thing I miss about that room is that we were on top of each other – and so therefore there was you know, we sat family style like a big long table and so everyone was sitting with everybody else and I do kind of miss that because I think this room with our three shorter tables kind of lends itself to people separating into different groups. I do miss that part, that’s okay I think having more work space, having the wheels have a little breath around them is a lot better.”

What are some changes that you’d make to this room that would get you back to something like the family style?

Mitchell: “The best way to set up the space – I’m someone who has to be in a space to use it, tweak it, live it, I’m going to work with it organically; so it’s probably honestly going to take me a couple years to figure out how to set up the space and we keep tweaking things that just haven’t gotten on the punch list yet, just because it’s going to keep changing I think as I settle in and figure out things that will work best in the space and also how to work with access in the space as well.

Is there anything else that has improved with the new room?

Mitchell: “The amount of light for sure, and then, I think ceramics being in this kind of closed space is better for everyone’s health, keeping all the clay together in one space, I think it’s a lot better from a safety perspective and having bigger counter space is fantastic so those are things that are working really well, and more storage.”

How does the larger room affect class size?

Mitchell: “We’re going to modulate between 16 and 20 just because the number of wheels we have there is a minimal number of spots available.”

What are some general reactions you’ve noticed from students about the new room?

Mitchell: “Most people go to the office first that haven’t been down here yet this year, they go there first looking for the door between the one that was the ceramics room because that didn’t move, right? So it’s just kind of thinking about it, thinking about where it is that’s been sort of the  biggest thing and then also still like I’m still trying to decide where everything goes and so it’s again a list of work in progress so it’s kind of messier than I would like it to be”

What do you love about teaching ceramics?

Mitchell: “You think that maybe you could literally spend the rest of your life learning all about it and you would not ever learn all there is to learn or to do with clay and so that’s one. The second thing that I really really love about it in addition to being Hands-On, that part of success in clay is failing and having something break, having something crack, having ugly things go wrong, because that’s how you grow and then determine what you want to do next. So everything is laid upon itself and like I said you could literally spend the rest of your life learning how to do different forms, handle different things, combine different glazes in an infinite number of ways. There’s just so many responsibilities and I think it’s really exciting for students to try things in this room that they’ve never tried before working with this organic material. So different than any other material that we work with”

Do you think that the single semester style of teaching Ceramics is necessarily helpful with the ability to fail a bunch, the necessity of failure?

Mitchell: “I do miss the 90 minutes. That extra 15 minutes was actually probably as you know a good chunk of time but I have to plan you know leapfrogging products and then how long things take to build, dry, fire, glaze, right now it’s a whole a piece can take about a month right, so those are all things that I have to plan for regardless of if we were working a year-long or semester. So it doesn’t really matter, I’m glad we have Ceramics 2 and then you know there’s the possibility for either the independence of your studio block right, as ways for students to continue learning.”

What are some of the projects on display in the hallway right now?

Mitchell: “The large coil pots. I think right now it’s just the coil pots, and definitely first semester students have the excitement of possibly giving things that they make away for different holidays, so I think that a lot of things have headed out the door.”

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

Mitchell: “I don’t think so… I will say the pottery wheel I think for many students has a part about failure. I think it’s one of the hardest things that some students try. I’ve been watching this show on HBO called the Great Pottery Throw Down, it’s sort of a pottery take on the Great British Bake Off and I definitely got a lot of creative ideas about just you know just not making things to keep but making things to just practice; practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, and I think structuring some of those moments in class like that. That’s what I’m looking to to do with that, classes were giving me a lot of creative ideas about how to insert some of that into here, and not worrying so much about what I’m making and what my grade is but more like what can the clay do, what questions do I have, how do I want to grow, what else do I want to try, and that to me is way more important than, like making this thing and getting a good grade on it.”

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. 

educational 2 educational

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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CVU Provides a New Course for Aspiring Artists

Ms. Haley Vespa

The Chittenden South Supervisory Board once again gives their support to students’ creative and flexible pathways for learning by signing off on a new course, allowing the freedom for students to excel in their individual artistic passions.

Beginning in 2019, the CVU Art Department has been given the go-ahead to provide a new course for all types of art media, according to Jen Bickel-Hayes, a CVU Nichols House Guidance Counselor.

Image result for easel

Studio Block is offered during second block on red days and is taught by Jason Fearon, an art teacher of four years at CVU. Three of the four art rooms are available for use during that time. “I think we were really lucky, it just happens that the photography room and the ceramics room are open at the same time. Having all three of the spaces is really fantastic!” said Fearon. He explained that the class is designed to give students the freedom to work on independent projects based on their personal artistic goals, not goals set by the instructor.

Students should understand that this is not only open to those enrolled, but for any CVU artists in need of a space to work. “I also like that students are coming into the class who aren’t assigned to the class, but are using it as a time to be in a room where they can ask a teacher questions and that teacher isn’t going anywhere, that I’m dedicated to helping them. I hope that also grows!” Fearon assured. He sees the value in providing space for student learning without whole class instruction involved.

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New Courses Broaden Art Department’s Pallette

Ms. Violet Hamel-Wade

HINESBURG, VT — Two new art classes will be offered at CVU starting semester two of the 2018/2019 school year.


Graphic Design, taught by Abbie Bowker, will occur during fourth block on white days. Bowker says that this class will “further the students understanding of design and visual communication.” Throughout the course, students will partner with the Principles of Business class that runs during the same block. “I’m looking forward to the collaboration between the classes,” Bowker says. “It creates a deeper appreciation for the team involved in creating PR [Public Relations] for a business.” 

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CVU Art Department: NEW Art Gallery in December

Ms. Taylor Chatoff

Hinesburg, VT — Students from CVU present their art in the recently renovated art gallery outside of the learning center this December.

Courtesy: Taylor Chatoff
Courtesy: Taylor Chatoff

Abbie Bowker, a CVU art teacher, plans to open the gallery December 13th to kick off Celebrate the Arts Week.

The Arts Department originally applied for two grants, but received only one. The Val Gardner Trust Company gave a very generous amount of money to help pay for the expenses of the gallery.

The grant that was received for the gallery will pay for everything including the red paint, barnwood panels, special lighting, and other expenses throughout the process.

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A Little Artistic Competition

Drawing Contest

By Ms. Jam Giubardo

CHAMPLAIN VALLEY UNION HIGH SCHOOL, HINESBURG, VT–On Tuesday, May 17, 2017 during W1 a group of CVU students, including Seth Emerson, CVU campus supervisor, enjoyed a friendly drawing contest during their free block that resulted in Sophomore student, Cole Otley, taking the win.

The drawing contest was between Seth Emerson, Cole Otley, Eryn Erdman, and Tim Trevithick. Their drawing prompt was to draw a phone. After they finished their drawings, multiple students voted for their favorite and Cole won by a staggering 11 votes, followed by Eryn with 8 votes, and Seth and Tim with a combined total of 5 votes.

When asked what he thought about the contest, Cole replied with, “The drawing competitions allow me to express my creative side during my free block when I have no work to do…also winning feels great.”

Eryn also said, “The drawing competition spices up our free block”. This demonstrates just how these competitions give light to a boring morning at school. On the other hand, the students involved in voting are also having fun.

Seth Emerson was asked how the drawing contest helps him make relationships with the students. He replied saying, “ I think the drawing contests are cool because we get lots of kids to vote and meeting kids that are going to vote is a cool way to make someone new acquaintance. It’s less awkward then just saying “Hey what is your name”. This shows how much good is coming from the contest and its positive effects on the CVU students and staff.

According to Eryn, there have been approximately 14 contests since second semester started and it’s fun to look at the leaderboard and compare the drawings from the beginning to now.


Intro to Art Class Conveys the Character of Color

Ms. Sophie Boyer & Mr. Jacob Bouffard

CVUHS- Tim Duvernoy’s W1 Intro to Art class (Room 150) currently attempts to distinguish the color wheel and use complimentary colors by tracing previous work and applying various shades and tones to further express its personality.

According to Devon, a CVU Freshman, “The purpose of this project is to trace over our previous drawings and to use color and reflect to our color wheel documents and use complimentary colors to give our pieces character.”

The steps taken to form these products teach the young artists patience, as it requires several drafts to create the final piece for the tracing portion. Once done with the tracing, students then use a color scheme to adapt the emotions behind the drawing.   hmDLRNA69C8k8cb9nwhlan4JxqEs-OBF72quvraadlAaLwXx6ko_aKSCkfLkR1JYK5oNK7roMqwvpttjzXZQCKiNj_c=s2048

Within art, color can be used for numerous applications, including the mood or the tone of the piece. It helps to create a focal point or draw the eye to different parts of the piece and can administer a warmth or give the spectator an idea of the piece’s physical climate.8cNcBnyqPwtAgnNSFWUIqOuYtK70u96VB8S9_kkSaDIqOUdIJCUH-iaJ-K54GfmwHdIUtkY7ov2nN8gFfNLmTSap7Ao=s2048

Intro to Art is a base level fine arts course that “introduces” all students to the world of art. It is a required class for students who are contemplating the art industry, or just looking to take more art classes. This course is also among those required for graduation for all students.

Art Makes You Smart

Ms. Jam Giubardo

Image Courtesy of Static.pexels.com
Image Courtesy of Static.pexels.com

As a high school student I, along with millions of teenagers, have to wake up early five times a week to go to school. I then have to sit through almost eight hours of lectures, worksheets, and tests. The only time when I get a break is art class. Like exercise, art is a way to relax and regenerate the mind during long, academically intense days. But art isn’t merely an escape from thinking, it is fuel for thinking.

The true value of an arts education goes far beyond learning how to draw, sing, or play a musical instrument. Getting students involved in visual arts, music, and theater not only broadens their perspective and helps to promote social tolerance, but gives students various academic advantages as well.

In the past few years, neuroscientists have been researching the effect of arts on students of all ages and what they discovered should change the way the arts are viewed in schools. According to the American Association of School Administrators, studies show that, “During the brain’s early years, neural connections are being made at a rapid rate. Much of what young children do as play — singing, drawing, dancing — are natural forms of art. These activities engage all the senses and wire the brain for successful learning.” However, these activities should be carried on throughout the later years of a student. Also, the arts have been proven numerous times to help with cognitive learning and motor skills. To be able to create fine art requires that you  develop precise and thoughtful movements, and learning a musical instrument allows the mind to create patterns and count. More Specifically, it stimulates a certain part of the brain that is connected to social skills and emotional control (AASA). So, knowing this, why are schools still cutting art programs?

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Can Art and Athletics Coexist at CVU?

Ms. Isabella Margi

At Champlain Valley Union High School, in Hinesburg, Vermont, there are a wide variety of students’ personal interests ranging from the robotics team, to varsity football or to the theater program. While students at CVU are very involved with the athletic program, there are also a lot of students in the community surrounding the arts.

The majority of students know the types of art classes that are offered at CVU, but many are a little apprehensive about taking them. “We have a wide range of courses in music, performance and visual arts… If you are a student interested in the arts there is a lot here for you,” according to Tim Duvernoy, an art teacher at CVU. Abbie Bowker, another art teacher agrees, “The cool thing about CVU is that there are so many opportunities for our students.”

Photo by Eli Hark
Photo by Eli Hark

For some students, finding the time to simply take an art class can be an issue, according to Carl Recchia, CVU’s chorus teacher. “CVU lacks a comprehensive approach to scheduling that allows students to fit arts classes into their schedule. This is particularly true for freshmen. And, there seems to be no interest in addressing this issue.”

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Tangible Product Fair Showcases Senior Works

Ms. Katherine Hoechner

Graduation Challenge is an opportunity for students to explore into a topic that they personally find interesting. There is an option of the project that allows students to create a Tangible Product that can both be graded by the Panel and showcased for fun. This year, CVU hosted its annual Tangible Product fair on May 21, 2015. Over 40 students showcased their projects ranging from a photography display to a reconstructed car.

Although the CVC didn’t have the chance to document every single project, here is photo gallery of those we did get to check out, and the stories that accompany the products.

Franklin (skis)


Natalie Franklin- For her Grad Challenge, Natalie spent 60+ hours designing and creating her own pair of skis.

Jake Dawson- For his Grad Challenge, Jake built a Tiny House with a team of 15 others. A family of three and their pet dog plan on moving in once construction is finished.

Emma VincenVincent (skirts)t- For her Grad Challenge, Emma had lots of fun designing and making ballet skirts. These skirts can be found and purchased off of her website: ableskirts.bigcartel.com. You can also check her out on Instagram and Facebook @ableskirts

Nicole Boufard- For her Grad Challenge Nicole worked with photography and created a small-scale exhibit for people to view. At the Fair she also showcased her new website that her photographs can be found on as well. Nicole spent over 300 hours on the project itself, and 150 on the Tangible Product alone.

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Changes in CVU’s Art Department

Mr. Dane Whitcomb

The 2015-16 school year is looking to be another successful year for the CVU art department. Currently the department offers a wide variety of beginning to advanced art classes. In the 2014-15 school year, there are twelve visual art classes: five of which are advanced level classes.

According to CVU art teacher, Abbie Bowker, the three most popular CVU art classes are Intro to Art, Photography and Ceramics. Of course, Intro to Art is at the top because it’s required to take before taking any other art classes. Generally speaking, all of the art classes receive a fairly even number of students but there are a couple that have more than others.

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