Rivendell Interstate school district click for home

mission statement click for home

Friday, January 19, 2018

facebook

News From Keri Gelenian

October 2013 

Dear Rivendell Families,

Congratulations to all Rivendell students for the high level of engagement, independence and leadership that they have demonstrated this year.

Students have embraced the advisory program that staff worked tirelessly to put into place. When I walked into Ms. Barsamian's morning meeting one day, the entire junior class and their advisors were discussing complications surrounding a fundraising event. The level of student focus, collaboration, and problem solving was exemplary. In a short time they had worked through the issues and had all the necessary information needed to make a wise decision. I believe that the effectiveness of the group that day was a reflection of the other purposes of morning meeting—learning to listen, share appropriately, develop a positive group identity, support others, and seek to help when needed. These skills are developed further in advisories where we work on projects to develop character, community, and scholarship. Students are currently developing their personal learning plans and building their electronic portfolios. Each advisory has also taken on a service project for the year.

Some reflections on students
Our senior class is an outstanding group. They are thoughtful leaders in the classroom, on the soccer field and in the community. Every student in the school benefits from the quiet leadership they demonstrate each day. Besides the collaborative skills I witnessed, the juniors have also shown us that three of them can keep four balloons in the air longer than any other class in the school! Their level of seriousness with the NECAP testing this week was outstanding. They have matured into thoughtful and responsible individuals. The sophomore class has continued to develop their confidence and ability to take on major responsibilities. As demonstrated by their recycling work last year, they are especially reliable. The ninth grade is made up of solid individuals who know how to work together. This is an unbeatable combination. The word dynamic comes to mind when I think about the 8th grade. They exude energy, ideas, and laughter. The 7th grade has proven to be ready, willing and able to jump in and get going. Within days it seemed as though they had all been going to school together for years. They showed up en mass at the homecoming dance. All this is to say that we are very, very lucky to have such high quality students at Rivendell Academy.

Trust the students
Last year's student government left us with a challenging idea: Around the theme of survival, give Rivendell students summer reading books about individuals facing severe social and psychological difficulties. The student government wasn't worried about adult opinions or concerned with challenges we would face in building a positive educational experience for students when they returned to school. They made us think and dig deep for ideas. They also helped us by including Carmen Tarleton's book, Overcome. They knew there was a good chance that Carmen could be our main speaker. Carmen's hour with us was magic. We also had help from Peter Tse and Robert Bryant. Students also came up with the idea of the survivor's garden for the main community event. Each student honored a "survivor" in their lives on a 6x8 card, and we hung the cards between the maple trees on the green in Orford. It was a powerful installation. Again, we have our students to thank.

Good things build on themselves
Two of our alumni, Mariah and Cassondra Gray, came back to Rivendell the day Carmen spoke. The Valley News selected a photo of Carmen hugging the girls for the front page. The girls shared their story with some teachers and the theme of survival became less abstract. As a school community we were compelled to try to do something to help Mariah and Cassondra meet some of their immediate expenses related to housing, gas money, counseling services, jobs and/or education. Students again took the lead. With one volunteer from each advisory and a weekly meeting, we were able to organize a complex and successful fundraising event.

Academics and Extra Curricular Activities
Our mid-trimester grades close on October 4th and will be mailed on Tuesday the 8th
In August we received three congratulatory letters from the state of Vermont. The first letter acknowledged meeting Annual Yearly Progress for all groups of students. The second letter congratulated us for improvements of more than 10% in reading or math and the third congratulated us for scores 15% to 20% above the state average. This year we broke up our NECAP testing into four ½ days, October 1st and 2nd and 7th and 8th

Scott Calhoun, Nate Eastman, Josh Marshall, Richard Otis, Ryan Fauci, and Maxwell Green are taking advanced math courses at Dartmouth. Hanna Rockwell is completing an LN course at Lebanon College. Moriah Ludwig is attending the Mountain School this fall.

NECAP Science Scores were almost at the level of last year. Two to three students moving from level 2 to 3 would have made all the difference. The scores do demonstrate the consistency we are looking for. We are very pleased to have hit the lowest percentage of Level 1 students in three years.

NECAP Science

  Level 4 (high) Level 3 Level 2 Level 1 (low)
Rivendell 2013 3% 35% 53% 9%
State 2013 2% 30% 43% 26%
Rivendell 2012 0% 40% 47% 13%
State 2012 0% 31% 42% 25%
Rivendell 2011 0% 5% 53% 43%
Rivendell 2010 0% 17% 67% 17%

With the establishment of functioning advisories, the Academy is transitioning back to three-way conferences. Our conferences are Friday, October 11th. Rather than moving around to different teachers, parents or guardians and the student will only meet with their student's advisor. Students will focus the conversations on their personal learning plans, community service and reflections on their academic progress this year. Advisors will discuss e-portfolios and observations of the quality of each student's participation in morning meeting and Tuesday advisory meetings. Each advisor is responsible for sending home information about scheduling a 30-minute meeting. If the information has not reached you, contact your student's advisor directly.

You should have received student's mid-term grade reports before Friday, October 11th. If you have concerns about grades, please contact those teachers directly via email or a phone call. The three-way conferences will not focus on student grades.

Rachel Sanders has started a SMART team at the Academy. SMART teams ... delve into the molecular world, explore science as a process and not just a collection of facts, and work closely with a researcher to understand and model the structure-function relationship of a protein the researcher studies. After designing and building a model of the protein using Rapid Prototyping technology, SMART teams create an oral presentation explaining their work to a lay audience and a poster which is presented to a scientific audience. For more information, see the Center for Molecular Modeling web site: http://cbm.msoe.edu/stupro/smart/

We instituted "Green Cards" (to be renamed Eligibility Cards) as a way to better monitor extracurricular eligibility. Students must come to the office, complete a card, have Bridget Peters check their records, and get the card signed by her in order to be eligible to participate in an activity. The cards are then given to the coach or activity leader. The cards have proven to be the most effective method we have tried in order to monitor eligibility. This will be done at the start of each trimester.

Sincerely,
Keri Gelenian

October 2013 Newsletter