Dear MHS Community:

In 2009, educational leaders from across the United States formed a coalition to develop national educational standards.  These national standards--now referred to as the Common Core State Standards or CCSS--are intended to provide modern, in-depth learning targets for all students.

This spring, Vermont is launching a new assessment system to measure all eleventh grade students against the Common Core State Standards.  The assessment is called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or SBAC.  While we are accustomed to giving standardized tests to our students, we are less familiar with administering tests like the SBAC.  The SBAC is different for six reasons:

  1. It is administered online.

  2. The first two tests use adaptive technology and will adjust questions based on prior responses.

  3. There are classroom activities that all students must complete to prepare for the performance tasks.

  4. There are online performance tasks that all students must complete.

  5. Students may use a variety of computerized tools to assist them.

  6. It will require almost eight hours to complete.

We have created the schedules below (at the end of Salutes) to prepare for and administer the SBAC.  To prepare for the SBAC testing, practice tests will be administered during the regular school day on April 2 and 3. All juniors will be required to be at the practice and testing sessions as well as the classroom activities. If you recognize a conflict, please call or email Val Belanger as soon as possible.  We appreciate your support and patience as we embark on the SBAC experience for the first time!

  • A plug for Masque One Act Plays from Brooke Pearson:  I went tonight - and it was awesome!  Four interesting, fun, and  totally different plays - one written by Naomi Pitt, another directed by Isabel Tomasi, and another directed by Lilly Smith.  The acting was wonderful and the productions - in the round on the stage - were intimate and engaging.  MHS theater at its very best.  Please try to make one of the two remaining performances (Friday and Saturday at 7:30).  I promise you won't be disappointed!


  • From Jennifer Barlow: The RoboRaiders team (which includes MHS students Robert, Kirby, William J ) did very well at the FTC FIRST Tech Challenge on 3/14.  They finished 6th overall, and were the top finishing Vermont team. Good stuff!


  • A Salute to Bill Laidlaw and Matt Link for your work with the lacrosse team this week!

  • From Whitney Machnik:  My programming students and I would like to give a Solon Salute to Jason Miles who welcomed us into his classroom today for two 3D printer demonstrations. We thank him for his time, energy, and knowledge!!

  • To Grace O’Neil, thanks for joining the Solon Team!


  • From Anne Watson:  Big thanks to Bill Neuberger, renewable energy expert, for educating physics students on renewable energy calculations.  Also, thanks to Kasey Furness and her VSECU Team for your work to enhance our understanding of financial literacy.

Special Schedule for Friday,

  April 10, 2015


Student Support    7:30 -    7:55

Block 1    8:00 -    9:25

Block 2    9:30 -  10:55

Block 3 11:00 -    1:00

Lunch A 11:00 -  11:30

  Lunch B 11:35 -  12:05

Block 4    1:05 -    2:25

SBAC classroom activity  2:30 -    3:00 for 11th grade students/class meetings for students in grades 9, 10 and 12


Special Schedule for April 6, 7, 13, 14

SBAC Testing Schedule

  Schedule for 11th Grade Students

*11th Grade Breakfast  7:30 -   7:50 

SBAC Testing for 11th grade students 8:00 - 10:00

Testing Break 10:00 - 10:30

Class Schedule for All Students

Block 1 10:30 - 11:25

Block 3 11:30 -   1:00

Lunch A 11:30 -  12:00

Lunch B 12:05 -  12:35

Block 2  1:05 -    2:00

Block 4    2:05 -    3:00

* 11th grade students should arrive to school at 7:30 for a complimentary breakfast and SBAC testing followed by regular classes. The listening portion of the test requires earbuds or headphones.  We are asking students bring their own to use. We will provide headphones for those who don’t have them.  Students, in the event you finish testing before the end of the testing period, please bring something to read. No electronics are allowed in testing areas.   

Students in grades 9, 10 and 12 should arrive for classes starting at 10:30.  

Dear MHS Community:

Praise bright blue skies

and dark rain clouds.

Lift happy voices

upon morning air.

Murmur sweet words softly

in the evening breeze.

Be present

in all things

and thankful

for all things."

Maya Angelou

An MHS parent sent me the above poem this week.  I read it just before I witnessed the video clip below.  Our kids know how to lift happy voices even while saying farewell to a friend.  Jude, you couldn’t have had a better send off!  Jam Band: http://youtu.be/TGilPYQWjLw

Angelou’s poem also asks us to be thankful/for all things.  I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Brooke Pearson and Mary Redmond.  Both Brooke and Mary have decided to pursue the exploration of the bright blue skies and the evening breezes that retirement can offer.  While Brooke’s official job title has the word community in it, both Brooke and Mary are vital in making MHS what it is.  We are proud of you and of the legacy you have left us.  


  • From Brooke Pearson:  I went to The Taming of the Shrew last night at Twinfield.  An impressive production!  Lindsey Grutchfield as Trania, Asa Wagner as Hortensio, and Evan Lewis as Christopher Sly.  Laura Cassetty was Assistant Director (to Tom Blachly, Director) and Rosie Boucher was Stage Manager.  MHS grads Patrick Schlott and Alex Vitzthum did Lighting Design and Poster Design and Layout, respectively.  The cast was made up entirely of students from MHS, Twinfield, and U32.  They were amazing.

  • From Kelly Grey: [A Salute] to our students and staff who forfeited their February break to make a difference with Planting Hope in Nicaragua.  The students volunteered at local Nicaraguan schools, worked with local school children, worked to improve their Spanish while living with host families in the local community.  These were just a few of the many things they did. Both the staff chaperone Guillermo Sarriera and Beth Merrill of Planting Hope were amazing, taking such wonderful care of the students, especially when they all became ill.  It was good to know that our students were in such caring, trusting and capable hands.


  • Jen Wall Howard earns a double Salute this week.  Not only did she function as nurse, assistant principal, and wellness center staff, but she also helped organize our SBAC testing for juniors.  

  • Speaking of SBAC, a huge thanks to Sue Monmaney, Carrie Cook, Mike Martin, Sue Abrams, and Dan Miller Arsenault.


  • Bill Merrylees just accepted a job with Circus Smirkus, directing their summer camps and school-year residency programs.  Congratulations, Bill.  You have been a staple of our community for many years!

March 20, 2015: 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Teachers will be available to meet with you during the day. Due to the tight schedule, we encourage parents to set up appointments on the PTC Fast website. Conferences may be scheduled up to March 19th.

Sign-up online at:


Dear MHS Community:  Serving on the MHS School Board is a demanding job that requires vision, patience, empathy, listening skills and the ability to communicate difficult messages in times of stress.  It’s a good thing the job pays so well!  Wait...our board members do this work for free?  

MHS sends a warm thanks to Charlie Phillips (12 years of service) and Jen Cahill Bean (3 years of service) for their student-centered leadership.  We were lucky to have you!

In addition to our thanks, we also extend a warm welcome to our newest members Tina Muncy and Steve Hingtgen.  

Make sure to pencil in the Boys’ Hockey Championship on Monday, March 9.  The boys are ready!!!



  • Thanks to all of our students who welcomed the parents of our future Solons:


  • From Marijke Russo:  Another great accomplishment for the MHS debate team. George Huang and Omeed Fallahi won first place at the Novice State Tournament on 2/14/15. Omeed also placed second overall speaker and George sixth. Graham Janson and Angus Fraser also did a great job competing against some challenging teams. In the meantime Leah Sagan-Dworsky was able to enter quarterfinals in the congressional debate tournament at Harvard University competing against high school students for the entire country.

  • From Sue Abrams:  Calculus students and Mikaela Moore create clay models to understand the concept of finding volumes by cross-sections in calculus class!

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Thanks to Lissa Knauss and Geoff Sather for organizing Eighth Grade Parent Night.  Well done!

  • Mary Redmond.  We love you.  ‘Nuff said.


Saluting a Solon

-by Myles Chater

When Principal Adam Bunting took the lead at MHS, he began a tradition of honoring those in our community who shine.  And so the tradition of Solons Salutes began. My salute to a Solon this week is for a member of our community whose life's work has been making noteworthy contributions to Montpelier.

Francis Brooks, AKA Frank, Brooksie, Mr. Brooks, the Representative from Montpelier, Fireman Brooks, Sergeant At Arms, church deacon, Coach -  has worn many hats in his service to our community.   Last week, his departure from the Golden Dome concluded one part of his service to Vermont, as Sergeant at Arms.  

A few years ago, Mr. Brooks was my Chemistry and then Physics teacher.  Many things about that experience still reside in my memory, few of them based in chemistry or physics.  Mr. Brooks’ practical, no nonsense style and approach to teaching appealed to my desire to wrap up chemistry as quickly as possible.  His long game, however, was to share his life experience, in bits and pieces, to those who entered his classroom.  The course might have more accurately been titled How to be a Decent Human Being.

When January of those years rolled around, he prepared us for the long-term substitute who replaced him during the legislative session.  Another calling drew him away from the classroom: service in our citizen government.  Returning to the classroom every Monday, he  presented the week’s chemistry or physics materials and the content he had in store for us.

As a lawmaker, Representative Brooks truly represented the MHS mascot, Solon.  One of the Seven Wise Men of Greece, Solon was an Athenian Statesman who fought to address the political, economic and moral decline that filled Athens at the time.  For close to a quarter century, Brooks served as Montpelier's representative and for a time served as Majority Leader for the Democratic Party.  Standing up for issues of social justice and equality, among others, Brooks opened the door for many who followed him.  While his time in office has passed, the job is not yet done. Others must take up the charge to combat the political, economic and moral challenges of our time.

Transitioning away from lawmaking and teaching, he was selected for the role of 'protecting the State House' as Sergeant at Arms.  He has served Vermont in this capacity since 2007.  I am proud of the work he has done in all of his capacities.  

One of the most memorable ways Mr. Brooks, the teacher, shared his knowledge was through personal experiences.  This was apparent in many ways. A favorite saying of his--  “Well if I were me, which I am...I would...”--was his way of offering his approach to a problem without sounding directive.

Best of all, he told a story about how he always wrote P.O.C. at the end of every challenging assignment his professors threw at him.  After months of hard work, the professor finally asked, “What do the three letters P.O.C. mean?”  Piece of Cake.

Thank you, Francis, for the many ways you have served our community for so many years.  Like Solon, you made a difference.  Your integrity and dignity stand out in service to our community; let us be guided by your example and leadership.

© 2011 Montpelier Public Schools