Parent Voices

Juliann Ambroz

first posted to Save Cabot High School Facebook page

Those that are unhappy with Cabot School are an absolute minority, but are quite vocal with their protest. I encourage everyone that is in favor of local schooling, and having a voice in their children’s education, to speak up.

School choice would be detrimental to Cabot. It would cost the taxpayers more money. Objective evidence proves that school choice is NOT a cost saving measure. It would take money out of the town.

Additionally, parents would lose the ability to have a say in how their children are educated, as they would not be taxpayers in the town that would be schooling their children.

Most importantly, Cabot provides a unique and wonderful educational experience. Closing this school would be a travesty!

The children here develop relationships with their teachers and the staff that allow them to develop their strengths and abilities and discover who they are as learners and individuals.

Interestingly, no one has talked about how they feel about their tax dollars being used to support private institutions of choice, including religious schools, but it is an issue for consideration.

Equity would certainly suffer with school closing, as those with special needs might be denied access, and those without adequate funds might lose the opportunity to be educated. Even if busing were provided, there are many times when children stay after, or are involved in extra-curricular activities when transportation would be a huge issue, particularly considering the weather here.

There are those trying to make the argument that houses are being vacated because of the education. I would argue that towns everywhere are having issues with real estate due to economic realities. Closing the school would certainly add to the fiscal crisis.

If you want your children to have a good education: Keep the school open.

If you want to save tax dollars: Keep the school open.

If you want your children to expand their horizons and see the world: Keep the school open.

If you want a strong community: Keep the school open.

If you want your children to avoid the problems often associated with large schools: Keep the school open.

We are Cabot and we are strong!

Rebecca Nally

first published in the Cabot Chronicle

How many of you remember your school days quotes, such as “When will I ever need to know this or “ I will never use this in real life?”  I know I said some version of those more than once while I was in school. Cabot High students don’t need to say these sayings or anything like them. Cabot School students are using the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom in the real world. Recently the 10th grade biology/chemistry students were invited onto the UVM Lake Champlain research vessel to take water samples from the lake and then go in to the laboratory to study the samples and see how the information could be used to help make plans to protect the lake.

Last year, Cabot High School implemented project- based learning. Unlike creating a project at the end of a unit study like we did in school, project based learning uses the process to enhance a student’s knowledge, skills and demonstrate learning.  Project based learning also uses many different avenues to educate students thus being able to reach all students not just some of them. Instead of learning subjects in isolation; math, sciences, history and English are used to create the projects. This mimics real life; such as when a lawyer is researching a case, a mechanic is diagnosing a vehicle’s problem or an engineer is designing a new device. In all of these cases the professional needs to use skills and knowledge from different areas to solve a problem or create a finished product.

Cabot is a leader in this area of learning. Cabot students and staff have been invited to present at conferences around Vermont and New England. They were the inspirational speakers at the Vermont School Boards Association Meeting in the Fall of 2012, presenters at the New England League of Innovative Schools in March of 2012, and at the Vermont Superintendents Conference in the Spring of 2012. Cabot is also one of 6 schools to be charter members of the League of Innovative Schools. Earning an award of a $50,000 grant to begin project based learning and an additional $10,000 to continue implementing this program of study.

Additional real life skills that the students develop include poise in public speaking situations, critical thinking skills, asking probing questions and confidence in different situations.

Closing Cabot High School actually starts to limit school choice. As small high schools are closed it limits the number of educational opportunities available to students. There is already choice in Cabot. Through the regional lottery students can apply to attend other high schools at no additional cost to their families.

Susan Holl Hammer

first posted to the Save Cabot High School Facebook page

My son has been thriving at Cabot School since day one of pre-school.A s you know, he is now a high school junior. He and a number of his classmates have performed admirably on the PSAT’s, achieving scores in writing, mathematics and reading comprehension that are desired by highly selective colleges and universities.

Within the last 5-10 years, Cabot graduates have been accepted to Ivy league and selective colleges such as Harvard, Middlebury, Dartmouth, Hamilton and Stonehill, to name a few. The performing arts department recently presented “A Magical Mystery Tour.” This was an incredible multi media performance presented by students and members of the community. It received a glowing review in a recent edition of the Hardwick Gazette.

I could go on and on. I am a proud parent of a member of the Cabot High School class of 2014.  Voice your pride in our school!

Barbara Jarvis

first posted to the Save Cabot High School Facebook page

It is a shame that some people would even consider closing the high school. My son is supposed to graduate next year with kids he has gone to school with since first grade. There is no way for me to even put into words how incredible his experience has been at Cabot. Not to allow him to graduate from the school with his classmates would be such a shame.

Irene Harvey

first posted to Front Porch Forum
 

What School Choice Means To Me

I lived in Walden, a school choice town, and I moved to Cabot because of the school. One of my children graduated from Cabot in 2011, and is currently on the Dean’s list at UVM. My other child is currently a freshman at Cabot School. I have lived and worked in Lamoille, Washington and Caledonia counties my whole life. I am very familiar with local schools.

Coming from a school choice town, this is what school choice means to me:

– School choice means that the only control you have over the school budget and your taxes is to cut elementary and middle school programs.

– School choice means that parents find ways to transport their child or children to and from school(s) and related activities. This places a greater burden on low income families.

– School choice means less access, opportunity and community involvement in Varsity and Junior Varsity sports, which reduces the number of social events in the community in number and quality. In some area schools, parents have to pay for their child to play.

– School choice means your child adjusting to how that choice school operates. You are not a voter or a taxpayer in that choice school’s town. You do not have the opportunity to try and fix most issues that arise.

– School choice means no local input into curriculum or methods.

– School choice means no local data (testing or graduation rates/college attendance) on students after 8th grade.

– School choice means increased high school numbers because home schooled students and private school students could access school choice. This means increased taxes.

– School choice means area schools needing to expand to accommodate our children, which results in increased tuition rates, which again means increased taxes.

– School choice means our children having differing graduation expectations which could mean more time in high school as area schools decide what credits transfer and what credits do not transfer. This means children may have to stay longer which means more taxes.

– School choice means our children loosing close contact with their friends, following 8th grade as they go in different directions.

– School choice means our children spend more time in communities other than our own.

– School choice means possible discrimination for 504 and Special Education children, as not all schools are able to serve certain populations.

In every organization , there will be issues. We have the ability to work on those issues rather than trading those issues for others that we cannot. Closing our local high school and sending our children to other towns for their education is a bad idea.

Karen Mueller-Harder

A Parent’s View Of Cabot School

first posted to Front Porch Forum

I haven’t been writing much to FPF as there are so very many things I want to say that I haven’t known where to begin. I’m afraid this will be quite a long post.

I’ll start by clarifying a few things about the whole Project-Based Learning thing for those who do not have children in the high school, as a lot of what’s being said about it doesn’t sound like it’s coming from people who have experienced its implementation at Cabot School. First, this is not some bizarre idea way out in left field–from my parental perspective, it seems to mostly consist of two things: including more hands-on, interesting, complex projects in the curriculum at all grade levels, where the students have to figure out a plan of action and follow through on it (which has been a great requirement for my children), and combining English/Social Studies classes in the high school.

The science, math, French, Spanish, music, and art classes are not remarkably different than before, except that more connections are made between subjects (such as between history and French when they were studying the French Revolution), and the research projects and other activities are more interesting to work on. The first year with the new ideas, the school tried to combine subjects to a greater extent, but that proved to be too complicated, and they’ve made some adjustments.

Do note that this is only the second year with changes in the curriculum, and there’s been some adjusting to be done. This does not mean that the kids have been suffering, however–their learning has continued unabated. Having had a child in the HS before, during, and after the change, I can unequivocally state that the rigor of the Social Studies and English curriculum has increased markedly in the new arrangement, and the instruction has gotten richer. I’ve watched my son answer interesting, thought-provoking questions in his homework, and seen his writing become more mature. (Here are links to the “newscasts” the students made this fall, making connections between pairs of revolutions in world history, and drawing conclusions about the causes and results of revolutions–really interesting work!

http://www.washnesu.org/cabot/let-them-eat-cake-revolutions-throughout-history/ )

While it’s certainly true that Cabot offers fewer courses than larger schools, the courses they have are totally appropriate for college preparation: the 9th and 10th grade Humanities class incorporates US History and World History in alternating years, just as before, and as in other schools, and the 11th and 12th grade classes study a combination of history, sociology, geography, anthropology, and current events in addition to heavy doses of literature and writing instruction.

(For example, in the past few weeks, the older group has read Cry, the Beloved Country and Things Fall Apart, both classic works of cross-cultural and historical understanding.) The science coursework includes the HS canon of earth science, physics, biology, and chemistry, and also allows students to take Marine Biology and/or AP classes in chemistry and biology. Math includes the opportunity to take AP Calculus, and foreign language study is offered for as many years as the student wishes.

By the time he graduates next year, my son’s transcript will list 4 AP classes in addition to 4 years of HS science, 4 of HS math, and 5 years of French, as well as a full retinue of Social Studies, English, music, and art. When he had a schedule conflict this year between taking Marine Biology and Calculus, both teachers made extra efforts to give him the opportunity to take both classes, including the math teacher giving of his own time to come in early to provide math instruction before school.

This is something we’ve experienced repeatedly at Cabot School at ALL grade levels–teachers going above and beyond what’s required, giving of themselves in their “off” hours to make sure that kids get the support they need, and organizing and leading trips on their own time to help these rural kids broaden their horizons, and introduce them to places and things many of our kids wouldn’t have exposure to otherwise.

It’s important to bear in mind that anecdotal information shouldn’t be weighed as though it were an agglomeration of data in this process, but I feel compelled to counterbalance Daniel’s statement about his SAT scores by saying that my son, who has attended Cabot since his first day of preschool, scored in the 98th percentile when he took the SAT’s last year, including in writing (which I know is an area of concern for some), with ALL of his instruction having come from Cabot teachers. I also know that at every college we visit, they have explicitly told the tour groups that they take into account what courses are offered at a student’s high school when looking at their transcripts.

I can’t speak from first-hand experience about preparation for college, as we haven’t gotten there yet. What I can say is that the testimonials from a huge number of recent graduates, who wrote in support of the HS, spoke repeatedly of being worried that their small school might not have prepared them adequately for college, and finding that the opposite was true– that they were more prepared than most of their new classmates, as well as being used to taking responsibility for themselves and their role in their community and world.

Thank you for listening.

Juliann Ambroz

first posted to Save Cabot High School Facebook page

My son, currently enrolled at Cabot High School, but studying in Africa for 6 months, mentioned to me that he missed his teachers. The faculty at Cabot School build meaningful relationships with students. These relationships facilitate the intellectual, social and emotional growth of the student body. I give credit to the school for assisting me in the process of raising intelligent, responsible adults. I hope that they will have the opportunity to continue to do what they do so well. Please come out and vote to save Cabot school.

Melissa Yu

first posted to Front Porch Forum

Cabot Hs vs. School Choice Debate

We moved back to Cabot recently and have been back in Cabot nearly two years. I know some of you may think that I have not lived here that long, but this is the community I grew up in, my mother and her siblings grew up in and my grandparents raised their children in. I know Cabot, and our family has a long history here. I did a lot of research on the school before we moved here, and my oldest child had been slated to attended the St. Johnsbury Academy – most of her old friends are now attending the Academy. I learned the Cabot HS offered PBL, but it also offered hundreds of online courses, it offered AP classes (classes that children can get college credit for), it offered sports, and it offered the arts. And if all of that was not “good enough” it had a compact with 7 other schools in the area where children could attend (Choice).

The following is going to be an expose of my oldest daughter’s education at the High School over the past 1 1/2 years.

During her freshman year in High School she took Geometry, Project Based Learning (PBL) Physics, Humanities (which encompassed Language Arts, History, and Art), Chinese (yes, she took Chinese – at Cabot HS with some other students through VTVLC online learning courses), Band, Gym, and PBL Entrepreneurship. So what did she really do?

Humanities was a comprehensive study of India. The culture, the art, the food, the music, the politics and cast system, and the influences over the world. They had to research, analyze and present their knowledge, thoughts and interpretations not only in class, but also to the community as a whole.

Geometery was a normal sit in the classroom course with homework, tests and exams.

In Physics she did normal classroom work and she built a portion of a Rue Goldberg Machine and then had to work with the entire class to get all the individual Rue Goldberg Machines to work together as one – everything had to work and complete within a set amount of time. At the end of the year she went kayaking as it applies to Physics.

The Chinese course was online with Prof. Zhao. The students taking the class were allowed to do the work at school or use the language class time as a study hall, because they could also do the work at home online after school. Many of the students would congregate to speak with one another and Prof. Zhao would let the faculty and parents know about the child’s progress, grades, participation, and any other remarks.

For Band my child wanted to learn the Guitar. The Band teacher spent many after school hours giving her private lessons on the acostic guitar, but she was not allowed in the actual band until the Band teacher felt she had earned the right to play with the Band. Kudos to the school for making the kids responsible for putting in the proper amount of effort before they are allowed to “be in the band”. It is not about how “good” or “bad” they are at playing an instrument, but it is about doing the work.

Gym of course was taught by Deb Bothfeld. Noone cares more about the physical health of our children then Deb. She cares as much today as she did when I went to school at Cabot. Time has not slowed her down and she is still as enthusiastic about teaching physical education as she ever has been. Gym was a bit different for the High School Students as they went into the world and spent 2 1/2 hours one day per week hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, skiing, practicing archery skills, running, bowling, ice skating, etc. This was a more practical approach to a HS Gym class. We all know that in the adult world we no longer have the luxury of having a set scheduled hour every two days and a teacher telling us we need to play kick ball. This approach shows them the variety of activities that can be done with an couple hours once a week, which more accurately portrays the life of a busy adult.

Lastly, and certainly not least in any way was PBL Entreprenurship. In this class my daughter studied marketing, accounting, product pricing, fair trade, sustainability, how to conduct market research, product placement, (real business courses). What is more she had to help run the School Grounds Cafe where the class had to put their knowledge to the ultimate test – could they actually successfully run a business (there was one time where due to bad product pricing they almost bankrupted, but this was all part of the learning process). Finally they had to write a real business plan for starting their own business with $50.00 as venture capital, creating a mission statement and a vision statement, discussing their business type (LLC, Corporation, etc.), use Market Research to determine the feasibility of their business idea, include their Marketing Strategy, give a full cost analysis, develop their product pricing, and use their accounting skills to develop a three year business budget.

As if all of this was not enough, at the end of the year as part of the business class, my daughter traveled with the HS Band to New York City and back learning what it was like to schedule real venues and manage a real band touring schedule. This included getting up at 6:00 am when they had not gotten to bed until past midnight, lugging equipment, setting stages, etc.

What has she been doing this year? Algebra II (in Class), Band, Humanities (Civil War, Cabot Town History, Mexican American War), PBL Biology/Chemistry, Physics Online, YATS, and running the School Grounds Cafe. Just ask her about her classes.

Before we moved back into town, my children were in a failing school – a true honest to goodness failing school. A place where after 5 years of trying to just get a single textbook for each subject in each classroom was not something the school, school board, principal or superintendant were willing to do. I know what “fighting” for a child’s education can be like, and I can empathize with parents that feel they have to “fight” for their children’s education. I cannot however sympathize with you, as my experience with the school has been more than accomodating and has exceeded all of my expectations. (Thank you staff and teachers for your dedication, care, and what equates to real love for my children and thier education).

This is a small community, and in all small communities there are disadvantages and advantages. One of the greatest advantages is the ability and willingness to work with one another. You may ask why my child is taking Online Physics classes when she took PBL Physics classes last year… that is because I don’t always agree that PBL is the “only” or “best” learning. I beleive in choice just as much as any other parent and rounding out education with as many opportunites as possible. The staff and teachers at the Cabot HS were more than happy to accomodate my desire to have my child in Online Physics. They also discussed the many, many other online courses that she could sign up for. The sky is the limit or in this case the internet is the limit. Realistically she could graduate with 90+ HS credits if she so desired and had the time to complete. This is the reason that I cannot sympathize with those adovcating School Choice. There is already a magnitude of choice that best prepare our children for the future and the real world. Online courses, in class course, real world PBL courses, after school courses, courses you have to earn the right to be in, courses that require students to put in the extra efforts and stay after to complete, and now the addition of the alliance with VSAC which is offering all Cabot HS students a $1,000.00 scholarship just for attending their courses. Oh and don’t forget the required 200 hours of community service needed in order to graduate HS. If you can’t find it here… you may not have really been looking or perhaps you haven’t asked the rest of us in the community to advocate with you for what may be missing. Honestly though Cabot HS seems to really be the “Yes” school and the “we can do it” school.

Now there are some circumstances in which kids really should be sent to other schools, but I am not sure that education per se really is the reason some have presented it to be. An extreme athlete may have a better chance of getting a college scholarship at a different school, or an amazing dancer may get a better shot at a college scholarship from a different school.

Recently there has been a barage of attacks on the school, on community members, on students, on parents, on teachers, on staff, on the elders. In parting, I would just like to say in the words of my grandmother some of the happenings have been “just shameful”. We are a community, and we should be proud of our accomplishments and resources. We can work through this together and we most certainly can create solutions without losing an institution we should be proud to call our own. Most of what was my grandparents is now gone, the farm house, the sugarhouse, the cherry trees, the raspberry grove, the old wood shop, and now the trees. The only lasting things of them are thier love of the community and thier faith in the education – so much so they willed the Cabot HS scholarship monies. I ask that we stop all the shameful behavior and do what we always do best – work as a community to find solutions that do not destroy our institutions and make things better through education and advocacy.

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