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Thanksgiving baskets

The annual Thanksgiving basket partnership between Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington and Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. took place Nov. 16. 
 
The students, teachers, staff and Rice community put together baskets of food and decorations for a full Thanksgiving feast for needy families from the Chittenden County area.  From turkeys and stuffing to pies and candles, goodies were placed with care in baskets and boxes. 
 
Twenty-one families (46 adults and 59 children) will enjoy a full Thanksgiving dinner thanks to this project.
 
“Thank you so much for the Thanksgiving basket. Without your generosity, we would not have a Thanksgiving this year. We all appreciate it more than you know,” said one recipient.
 
“Thank you so much for your help this year in helping my children have a great Thanksgiving. It is people like you that help us all grow.  Thank you!” said another.
 
Members of the Vermont Catholic Charities and Diocese of Burlington staff judged the baskets. The judges were inspired and impressed with the creative and overflowing baskets.  
 
The students who worked on the winning basket earned a dress-down day. There was a tie this year so the dress down day was awarded to the students from Gretchen Fricke-Langan’s and Sarah Smith Conroy’s classes.  
 
“As emergency aid coordinator at Vermont Catholic Charities, I feel blessed and thankful this Thanksgiving for the support of our extended community at VCC and Rice,” said Irene Manion, emergency aid coordinator at Vermont Catholic Charities. “It is so gratifying to see the generosity and spirit of the entire Rice community come together from the students, staff, parents — the abundant food donations, the beautifully decorated baskets and the spirit of sharing and helping our neighbors in need. The families we assisted could not have been more excited and appreciative, some were overwhelmed with the generosity, some almost tearful for the kindness. It truly makes me thankful to see how VCC and Rice working together can bring holiday joy to our friends and neighbors.”
 
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Rice Memorial High School Homecoming

Eight new members were inducted in the Rice-Cathedral Athletic Hall of Fame in October. Hall of Famers from previous classes welcomed the newest members at the induction ceremony during Homecoming for Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington. There were seven different events over three days.
 
These included a Pep Rally at which Rice Memorial students gathered in anticipation of Homecoming weekend and a faculty/staff dodge ball game.
 
During a “Knight to Remember,” more than 250 alumni and parents gathered under a tent on the Rice campus to kick off Homecoming weekend and celebrate Rice's 100th birthday.
 
For the Cow Maneuver, alumni from all corners of the country purchased plots in the Return of the Great Cow Maneuver. Daisy the cow plopped in an unpurchased plot thereby awarding Rice the winnings.
 
A record number of runners and walkers participated in the fourth annual RJ Rice Run to conclude the Homecoming weekend festivities. Brian Mongeon '03 won the race.
 
Rice Memorial High School had its start with Cathedral High School in Burlington, which opened 100 years ago.
 
 

Rice Memorial High School celebrating centennial

Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington is celebrating its centennial.
 
Tracing its beginning back to Cathedral High School in Burlington in 1917, the largest of the two Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Burlington has earned a reputation as a “great school,” said Interim Principal Lisa Lorenz. “It is known for its Catholic identity, its community service and everlasting sense of family. The spirit and love of Rice is felt long after graduation and even decades later.”
 
Celebrating the milestone anniversary is important, Lorenz said, to commemorate the roots, mission, drive and purpose that brought the school into existence. “When we take the time to pause and deeply reflect upon the events that inspired the beginnings it is then we allow the Lord to work in us anew to continue His work in the world of today, being lead by the inspirations of the Holy Spirit,” she continued. “If we fail to pause and reflect on our past and future direction, we risk the danger of floundering about like a boat without a rudder.”
 
The 100th school year kicked off Aug. 29, an occasion marked with a special First Day of School Assembly and "Clap In” to which alumni and parents were invited.
 
Alumni from every decade since the 1940s were present to cheer on current students, hear from school leaders and blow out the candles on Rice-Cathedral's 100th birthday cake. 
 
The celebration continues on Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 6-8, with a full calendar of events designed to engage alumni, parents and students.
 
For more information on the events go to rmhsvt.org/riceturns100.
 
“Our Centennial year is book-ended by these events and those at the tail end of the year including an All School Reunion and Rice-Cathedral Alumni Association Golf Tournament the weekend of June 22-23, 2018,” noted Christy Warner Bahrenburg '88​, director of advancement and communication.
 
There are currently 431​ students enrolled at Rice, up 21 percent in six years. Students come from 53 towns and 12 countries.
 
The mission of Rice throughout the years has remained in essence the same: to love learning, to serve others and to seek God through Jesus Christ and His Church, Lorenz said.
 
Rice – named after third Burlington Bishop Joseph J. Rice – opened in 1959.
 
 
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Rice students serve in Derby Line

These students from Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington could have spent the first week of their summer vacation catching up on sleep, working, spending time with family and friends or going to the beach, but they chose to travel to the Canadian border town of Derby Line to assist with a vacation Bible school for children and visit residents of an elder care home.
 
“They chose to spend this time helping others…and entered into it with a spirit of love,” commented Father Scott Gratton, head chaplain at Rice and one of the chaperones.
 
In addition to helping at the Mater Dei Parish vacation Bible school at St. Edward Church and visiting residents of Michaud Manor, the high school students shared morning and night prayer and attended daily Mass during their June 12-16 service trip.
 
About 30 children age 3 to 11 and 10 parish middle and high school student helpers -- part of the Mater Dei Young Apostles youth group -- participated in the afternoon classes at which the Rice students served as volunteers and mentors as well as acting in skits about virtues, preparing snacks, cleaning/setting up crafts and leading games.
 
“It’s important for the younger children to see such vibrant teens,” said Steve Gonyaw, co-director of the Vacation Bible School with his wife, Ann, who added, “The Rice students make the parish youth (helpers) feel part of a bigger team.”
 
At Michaud Manor – one of the elder care homes run by Vermont Catholic Charities Inc. – the Rice students visited with residents, played games, helped garden and played music. Resident Tom Day liked playing catch with a plastic ball in the lobby and said the teens were all “nice guys, nice girls.”
 
Resident Georgette Routhier liked having the students visit, saying it was a good change in the routine to have a visit from such pleasant young people.
 
“It was wonderful” having them visit each of the five days of their service trip, said Michaud Manor Administrator Anne Steinberg. “It’s been good social interaction. They all had fun. It was uplifting for everybody.”
 
Ann Gonyaw praised the Rice students for their enthusiasm and their willingness to participate in the Masses.
 
“It’s fun to watch the kids be so excited about religious things,” said Rice rising senior Jordan Finkelstein. “And it’s cool to learn about the lives of the” elders at Michaud Manor.
 
Richard McClintock, a rising senior at Rice from St. Catherine of Siena Church in Shelburne, appreciated the children’s energy: “It brings my energy up.”
 
Molly Altadonna, a rising senior at Rice from St. Pius X Church in Essex Center, said, “It’s fun to be excited with the kids about their faith.”
 
Eight-year-old Ben Thompson of Mater Dei Parish liked having the Rice students at the vacation Bible school. “They are very nice, and all of them like me,” he said. “And they all like God.”
 
Elisabetta Anelli, Rice campus minister, said the service trip to Derby Line – for which some students received community service credit – was an opportunity for them to put others before themselves and make a sacrifice to serve others. “Their presence is meaningful in both places” they served, she added.
 
“We want to show them energetic, engaged people who are passionate about the faith at our age,” said Leo Capone, a rising sophomore from St. Patrick Church in Fairfield.
 
 
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Students research water quality

Sarah Eustis and Katie Garret, students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington, are doing research to determine the health of two local streams and their impact on Lake Champlain.
 
It is more than research; it’s a way for them to put their faith in action.
 
“God created us as the caretakers of the rest of creation, so it’s our duty to protect the environment and protect other species,” Katie said.
 
The Research on Adaptation to Climate Change program in which they are participating is funded by the National Science Foundation through The Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, a program designed to fulfill the foundation’s mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide and to get students involved in research.
 
Rice has participated in the program for eight of its nine years.
 
Sarah and Katie began the project in June. It entails collecting water samples from Potash Brook and Bartlett Brook in South Burlington and sending them to St. Michael’s College for analysis regarding levels of phosphorous, suspended sediments and nitrogen. This helps determine the health of Lake Champlain, into which both streams flow.
 
The teens also collected insects from the bottom of the streams, as they are indicators of the quality of the water.
 
“Both streams are urban-impacted so we expect to find bugs that are tolerant of pollution,” said Sharon Boardman, a Rice science teacher who is working with the students on the project.
 
A third component of the students’ project is an experiment: Sarah and Katie made leaf packs – one with faux foliage, one with maple leaves and one with witch hazel leaves – to collect bugs to see if they have feeding preferences. They were analyzing those packs in January in the school lab.
 
The two students are scheduled to make a presentation at a symposium with other Vermont Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research participants in March.
 
“My main motivation is to get kids involved in doing field research…like they would do in college studying biology or ecology,” Boardman said. “Also, this gives them a chance to do original research.”
 
Sarah is considering studying environmental science in college; Katie might pursue a degree in classics.
 
Sarah sees that the project she and Katie have undertaken is contributing to care of the Earth. “We are learning that when the environment is not good we can come up with ways to fix it” like ensuring there is no construction close to the edge of streams to prevent erosion and the addition of sediment to the stream, she said.
 
Both students studied Advance Placement Biology with Boardman as juniors and are enjoying the stream project, which is an independent project and garners them no school credit.
 
The project included a week-long training last summer at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
“It’s important to think of the long-term health of the environment in Vermont,” Katie said. “Polluted streams will end up killing off wildlife.”
 
Boardman wants to instill in her students the attitude of caring for the Earth that Pope Francis espouses in “Laudato Si’,” his encyclical on the topic. “We’re called to be stewards of the Earth, and by studying ecology and understanding how ecosystems work, students become better stewards of their planet.”


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Originally published in the 2017 spring issue of Vermont Catholic Magazine.
 
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Rice Memorial High School students step up to alleviate hunger, homelessness

SOUTH BURLINGTON--Students at Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington are stepping up to alleviate hunger and homelessness.
 
As a part of the freshmen history curriculum, Sarah Smith Conroy, chairperson of and a teacher in the History Department, has integrated two required community service projects each year, and each year these students raise significant amounts of money for those in the community who are in need.
 
Freshmen walk to raise awareness and money around issues of hunger relief both globally and locally as they participate in the annual CROP Hunger Walk in October. Likewise, the entire freshmen class raises money and awareness around the issue of homelessness in Vermont by participating in the annual COTSWalk in May.
 
Conroy’s relationship with COTS began as early as 1985 and has evolved into a strong bond over the past 30 years. “Every student that I have taught, whether at Champlain College [in Burlington] or Rice Memorial High School, has been required to participate at the COTS Walk in some capacity as a part of my curriculum,” she said.
 
This is her 17th year at Rice where all freshmen must earn eight hours of service by doing both walks, sophomores earn 20 hours, juniors earn 25 hours and seniors must log 30 hours of service.
 
As a result, many upper class students also join the freshmen for the fall and spring events. “The result has been overwhelmingly positive; the community of Rice annually represents the largest single group at each of these walks and has been annually presented with awards and personal thanks from each agency,” Conroy said, noting that for the past nine consecutive years, the students at Rice have raised more money for the Crop Walk than any other high school in the continental United States and more than any other school in Vermont for the COTS Walk.
 
“Students get involved initially because they are required to as a Rice freshmen. This is the right thing to do and a young adult often needs to be introduced to the world of service and shown that they can make a difference in the lives of others,” Conroy said.
 
Some students stay involved with COTS by walking, others help with organizing future walks, and others serve as crossing guards during the walk itself. Once students are 18, many volunteer at COTS helping with any important steps that people take to get out of the cycle of homelessness. 
 
“This organization is important because it serves the many levels of homelessness, whether it is shelter, job training, interview skills or supplies for children learning to make their way. Working with COTS provides students with perspective and with a real sense of their ability to care for others,” Conroy said. “My efforts are to help those in our community who are less fortunate and to put a human, real face to these realities. Every person has a story and there are many lessons to be learned in listening to, helping with and supporting the lives of others.”
 
Rice senior Olivia Parker has participated in the walk and donated money to the effort. “Activism on the local level is vital because it promotes awareness about problems that are happening in our own community and how we can make a difference,” she said. “In terms of COTS, many people living in Vermont are unaware of the homelessness problem and its extent, and COTS fosters both awareness and activism.”
 
Her involvement humbles her. “Through participating and/or donating, I feel initially proud that I can do something to help, and it gives me another perspective on how fortunate I am,” she said. “Taking time to be aware of those around you and giving what you are able is a vital practice for all people to learn.”
 
 
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Rice Memorial High School students provide families with Thanksgiving baskets

SOUTH BURLINGTON—Students and members of the Rice Memorial High School community helped 21 families have a happier Thanksgiving this year by providing them with baskets of food for a Thanksgiving meal.
 
They also engaged in a bit of competition with first place basket awarded to religion teacher Patrick Welsch’s class for a Snoopy "basket,” and second place going to History teacher Christian Frenette's class. Third place went to religion teacher Marti Burt's class.
 
Every first-period class was responsible for putting together the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal. Students are encouraged to be creative in their presentation and often go above and beyond what is asked.  
 
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