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St. Michael's high school accreditation

Rodney Duteau and Catherine Mazzer, both 16-year-old sophomores at St. Michael’s School in Brattleboro, began their education there as freshmen. He had attended public school through grade eight; she was homeschooled. Both look forward to completing their high school education at the Catholic school that now has received both regional and state accreditation through grade 12.
 
She likes the family atmosphere and small class size. He appreciates the faith-based education and the confidence instilled in students.
 
Last year the New England Association of Schools and Colleges expanded St. Michael’s School’s accreditation from a pre-kindergarten through grade-eight school to one that educates students through grade 12. And in April the Vermont State Board of Education granted the school approval to include all high school grades.
 
The school currently goes to 10th grade, and plans call for one grade to be added each year until the high school section includes grades nine through 12.
 
There are currently five students in the ninth grade and seven in tenth. In the fall a dozen students are expected to be enrolled as freshmen, five as sophomores and eight as juniors. The goal is to have 10-20 students per class eventually.
 
“This is very promising,” said Principal Elaine Beam.
 
The Walnut Street school building used to house both elementary and high school grades, but the high school closed in 1968. The high school reopened in 2015, and the first class is expected to graduate in 2019.
 
The high school is filling a need in the tri-state area for not only a solid academic education addressing individual learners and a religious-based education but for a secondary education that prepares young people to become “invested citizens,” said Bethany Thies, the school’s development/admissions director.
 
The community aspect of the school is also important to parents, Beam said. “We are a Catholic school for all children not a school for Catholic children.”
 
Numerous families have joined or returned to the Church through the children’s experience at St. Michael’s School. “The New Evangelization is Catholic schools bringing people into a loving, respectful, caring community and presenting them with opportunities to feel God’s grace in a safe environment,” Thies said.
 
And if parents want a St. Michael’s education for their children but have difficulty affording tuition, scholarships are available. “If you desire to be here, we do everything we can to make it happen,” Thies said, noting St. Michael Parish has been generous with aid.
 
Beam hopes that during the next academic year, when more courses are added, St. Michael’s School will participate with the Diocese of Burlington’s St. Therese Digital Academy with a sharing of staff.
 
The Brattleboro school also is connecting with local educational resources and community leaders to offer additional hands-on learning experiences that support classroom learning and get students “invested in being community citizens,” Thies said.
 
“I love the education here,” said Rodney, one of the sophomores. “I feel confident to go out into the world from here.”
 
 
 
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Reduce, reuse, recycle, compost

Nineteen kindergarten and first-grade students from St. Michael’s School in Brattleboro donned green construction hats as they learned a lesson in the three R’s – not reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic – but reducing, reusing and recycling.
 
During an April 12 visit to the Windham Solid Waste Management District in Brattleboro they saw how recycled materials are sorted and bundled for sale and how compost is made.
 
It was part of the school’s observance of the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation, and the children understood the importance of caring for what Pope Francis calls “our common home,” the Earth.
 
“Not reducing, reusing and recycling is bad for the Earth,” said Jackson Ferreira, 7, a first grader.
 
“The Earth is our home, and we should respect it because God gave it to us,” added classmate Kalyn Curtiss, 7.
 
Before taking a tour of the facility, the children and their chaperones listened to a presentation by Kristen Benoit, program coordinator for the management district. “Everyone makes trash, but we can make the trash smaller by making smarter decisions,” she said.
 
Reducing consumption, reusing items, recycling recyclables and composting food waste and other compostables are all smarter decisions.
 
Benoit said every Vermonter produces about four and a half pounds of trash a day; that equals 1,640 soccer balls per year per person. “Our job here is to help make it less,” she commented.
 
Seventy-five percent of all trash is recyclable; recycling 2,000 pounds of paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water and 380 barrels of oil, she noted.
 
Paper, for example, can be recycled to make tissue paper, bathroom tissue and egg cartons. Soda cans can be recycled to make more soda cans, and milk jugs can be turned into carpet backing.
 
As for compost, Benoit said 30 percent of household trash is generally food and yard waste – items that could be composted “to make really good dirt for your plants.”
 
Putting food into landfills is not only unnecessary, it creates harmful methane gas.
 
Liz Martin, the kindergarten and first-grade teacher at St. Michael’s School, said during Lent the children made a special “sacrifice” to take better care of the Earth God has given them. “We’re going to try to do that for the entire year, not just Lent,” she added.
 
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Advent projects at St. Michael School in Brattleboro deliver joy

O what charitable works the students at St. Michael School in Brattleboro are doing for Advent!
 
They are not just learning about the holy season of preparation for Christmas, they are reaching out to others with messages of compassion, hope and love.
 
Students in second, third, fourth and fifth grades, for example, are involved in projects to benefit residents of elder care homes. The younger children are making Jesse Tree ornaments with residents of Bradley House, a residential care facility. The older students are making Advent cards with O Antiphon and Advent wreath themes to be delivered by eighth, ninth and tenth graders when they visit nursing homes to assist Father Justin Baker, pastor of St. Michael Parish, with weekly Masses.
 
“Advent brings joy, and the joy our students bring to the nursing homes is twofold – joy for our students and joy for the senior members of our community,” said Elaine Beam, principal. “Advent is a season, not one event. This is an opportunity for students to prepare with senior members of our community for Christmas.”
 
The projects are among the ways students connect with members of the wider community through service.
 
Third graders Brendan Rose-Fish and John Mazzer explained the Jesse Tree project taking place in their classroom. “It’s something we do in Advent to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus,” John said. “The ornaments that hang on the (Jesse) tree tell stories that are in the Bible about the promise that God made to His people that He would send a savior,” Brendan added.
 
Among the symbols are an apple for the story of Adam and Eve and a rainbow to represent the story of Noah and the flood.
 
Every other Thursday the second and third graders visit residents of Bradley House as part of the Catholic school’s community service.
 
Brendan and John like to go there and hear residents’ stories and play games. “Jesus teaches us to do this,” John said. “He wants us to be nice to other people and love your neighbor as yourself,” Brendan added.
 
The fourth and fifth graders talked about their Advent card project as they colored, cut and glued their cards. “Advent is getting ready for Jesus to come, and we want people to feel Jesus is also coming for them,” said fifth grader Annabelle Thies.
 
“We’re doing this to lift up their spirits,” contributed Bobby Ellis, a fourth grader.
 
“They should know God is still with them even if they are lonely or sick,” fifth grader Emma Gragen said of the seniors who will receive the Advent cards.
 
O Antiphons accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from Dec. 17-23, using ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament and present hopes.
 
Among the O Antiphons are O Wisdom, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn and O Emmanuel.
 
“Jesus inspires us to believe in Him…and to treat other people the same way you’d treat yourself,” fifth grader Kateri Laflamme said.
 
These are lessons students at St. Michael School learn and live there daily, not just during Advent.
 
“I hope it inspires people to believe in Jesus and to be kind to other people,” fourth grader Jayke Glidden concluded.
 
 
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