Lake Region considers hiring police officer

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copyright the Chronicle July 26, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

A proposal to bring a deputy from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department into the school as a resource officer met with questions at the Lake Region Union High School’s board meeting on July 20.

The board invites the public to attend its next meeting in August in hopes of getting feedback from parents.

North Country Union High School has had a resource officer for several years, first a Newport City police officer, and then a sheriff’s deputy.

The move was controversial at first, Lake Region Principal Andre Messier said. But when it looked as though North Country might lose its resource officer Mr. Messier said, the community actively came out in support of the program.

“We’ve touched base with a number of schools,” Lake Region vice-principal Sharon Gonyaw said. “They all started out with the same reservations.”

Deputy Kyle Ingalls, the current resource officer at North Country, came to the Lake Region meeting to talk about how the program works.

A 2006 graduate of Lake Region, Deputy Ingalls said he provides onsite law enforcement services along with counseling and mentoring students as needed.

He also teaches drug awareness and driver safety classes on campus.

“We have counseling support already,” Mr. Messier said.

But he went on to add that there are social pressures affecting students these days — things happening in the school and in the parking lot that go beyond what traditional counselors can deal with.

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Lake Region continues to beat the odds

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copyright the Chronicle July 5, 201

 

by Brad Usatch

 

When U.S. News and World Report issued its 2017 rankings of Vermont public high schools, no one should have been surprised to see Lake Region Union High School near the top of the list. For five of the past six years, Lake Region has earned a silver medal in the annual review. This year it was rated eighth best in the state and in the top 10 percent nationally.

The rankings, according to the U.S. News and World Report website, are determined through a four-part test. Step one compares how students perform on standardized tests in math and English language skills compared to other students in the state. Step two measures the success of economically disadvantaged students against what would be statistically expected in the state. Step three factors in graduation rates. Step four uses advanced placement (AP) test performance to determine college readiness.

The class of 2017 was particularly impressive, according to Principal Andre Messier, who said the bar keeps getting raised by each successive senior class that comes through. While the class boasted a 91 percent graduation rate, with 35 percent of seniors taking at least one AP course, Mr. Messier said what marks this group as exceptional is their courage to leave Vermont and expand their range of experiences. A number of the students are heading off to highly competitive college programs, including Harvard University, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Middlebury College, Ohio State University, and McGill University in Montreal.

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LRUHS — A very good school has a very good year

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copyright the Chronicle June 7, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

Lake Region Union High School Principal Andre Messier had nothing but good to say about this year’s graduating class at the school’s annual awards night last Thursday. Awards night recognizes students in all grades, but Mr. Messier focused on the seniors and the school itself, which U.S. News and World Report has once again ranked in the top ten high schools in Vermont. This year it’s eighth.

“This is my favorite night of the year,” Mr. Messier said. Students get recognition when they win in sports and other events, he noted. “But rarely do we get to focus on the academic side.”

Towards the end of the program when he handed out the Presidential Awards for Academic Excellence, he said: “This group of seniors has set the bar, the standard, for this school. Those of you who are younger have something to chase.” He added that he fully expects them to do that, of course.

Eighteen students received the Presidential Award: They are: Maria Brosseau, Hunter Cota, Rebecca Doucet, Hunter Duquette, Margo Foster, Emily Klar, Elizabeth Locke, Avery Marcotte, Ashley Morrill, Olivia Owens, Andrew Parkinson, Colton Porter, April Streeter, Katherine Whipple, Alexis Rodgers, Sam King, Zachary Hale, and Erin Smith.

Mr. Messier also noted that this is the sixth year in a row that U.S. News has recognized Lake Region for outstanding achievement.

“That’s something this community should be extremely proud of,” he said. “That’s six consecutive years that the students who have come through Lake Region have maintained this.”

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Drilling underway on new well for Lake Region

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Drilling began on Friday for a new water well at Lake Region Union High School.  As of Tuesday morning, H.A. Manosh was still drilling.  A big pile of dirt shows that progress is being made.  Photo by Elizabeth Trail

Drilling began on Friday for a new water well at Lake Region Union High School. As of Tuesday morning, H.A. Manosh was still drilling. A big pile of dirt shows that progress is being made. Photo by Elizabeth Trail

copyright the Chronicle September 23, 2015

by Elizabeth Trail

Drilling began Friday on Lake Region Union High School’s new well.

About two weeks into the new school year, Lake Region maintenance personnel discovered that there was no water in the building.  The well refilled a little overnight, and the school limped carefully through the remainder of the week. But it soon became clear that the school was going to need a new well.

“I know just enough about this to be dangerous,” Principal Andre Messier said at the Lake Region school board meeting on Thursday night.

Normally, the school draws about 3,000 to 3,500 gallons of water a day, Mr. Messier said.  At the time that the well failed, the draw was about 6,000 gallons a day, and a leak was discovered… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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In boys baseball: Rangers trip to Florida apparently paid off

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The Rangers pose in their camouflage uniforms for a group portrait.  In the back row, from left to right, are Coach Eric Degre, Ethan Willey, Eli Leroux, Matt Messier, Logan Harper, Brennan Perkins, and Liam Kennedy.  In the front are Kolby George, Noah Royer, Zach Royer, Dakota Macallister, Denver Bodette, Brady Perron, and Dillon Gile.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

The Rangers pose in their camouflage uniforms for a group portrait. In the back row, from left to right, are Coach Eric Degre, Ethan Willey, Eli Leroux, Matt Messier, Logan Harper, Brennan Perkins, and Liam Kennedy. In the front are Kolby George, Noah Royer, Zach Royer, Dakota Macallister, Denver Bodette, Brady Perron, and Dillon Gile. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle May 13, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

Major Leaguers begin each season with spring training, a time to polish skills that may have gotten rusty over the winter. For almost all clubs that means heading south to warm weather.

What works for the bigs ought to work for high school, thought Lake Region Union High School Baseball Coach Eric Degre. His staff and players agreed.

Deciding to head to warmer places was easy; making it happen was harder. Each player had to raise more than $1,000 to pay for the trip, but with help from the community they managed the feat. Their destination was Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida…. To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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How to play spring sports without spring

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Lake Region Union High School boys baseball coach Eric Degre steps outside to survey the baseball field Friday.  “There's two feet of snow on the ground now,” he said.  “And we're expecting more over the weekend.”  Though Mr. Degre has reason to feel blue — the pitcher's mound can be seen just above center frame — he intends to take his team to Florida for spring break.   Photos by David Dudley

Lake Region Union High School boys baseball coach Eric Degre steps outside to survey the baseball field Friday. “There’s two feet of snow on the ground now,” he said. “And we’re expecting more over the weekend.” Though Mr. Degre has reason to feel blue — the pitcher’s mound can be seen just above center frame — he intends to take his team to Florida for spring break. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle April 8, 2015 

by David Dudley

Each year around April 1, the weather plays its own April Fool’s prank on the Northeast Kingdom. For young athletes in the area, the first day that the temperature rises above 30 degrees engenders an irrepressible need to get outside and play.

That need is only magnified for high school athletes. The delays caused by weather such as this year’s, where winter shows every sign of hanging on, can mean less time for practice, and could give opponents in a less snowy clime a competitive edge.

Spring sports coaches have to be on top of their game to face this challenge. They have to figure out resourceful ways to practice outdoor sports while indoors.

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At Lake Region: Madame Rivard to leave the classroom

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Sally Rivard, or Madame, as her students call her, is leaving the classroom after 30 years of teaching French at Lake Region Union High School.  She will coach other teachers and help them self-reflect on their own teaching practices.  Photo by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

Sally Rivard, or Madame, as her students call her, is leaving the classroom after 30 years of teaching French at Lake Region Union High School. She will coach other teachers and help them self-reflect on their own teaching practices. Photo by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

copyright the Chronicle March 25, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

When you enter classroom 213 at Lake Region Union High School, you’ll find it filled with French-related paraphernalia. Canadian, French, and Haitian flags are suspended from the ceiling, and a bilingual “unload at top only” plaque hangs on the back wall above travel posters.

“I got that one from Jay Peak,” said Sally Rivard, who has been Lake Region’s French teacher for the past 30-odd years.

This is her last year of teaching French at Lake Region. Her blue eyes sparkle and her blond, jaw-length hair swishes as she talks about her students’ curriculum, which she is obviously passionate about.

Her infectious grin makes it easy to see how she made a lasting impression on the people she worked with over the years and the students she taught.

Principal Andre Messier was a senior when Ms. Rivard, or “Madame,” as her students call her, first taught at Lake Region.

“He was only sent to the office once,” she said of her former pupil. She also said he was a good student.

“She was always dynamic and full of energy,” Mr. Messier said. “Both of my kids had the benefit of it.”

That energy explains the huge variety of activities and subjects Madame included in her curriculums.

For every quarter, students study a song, a book, a movie and have both a listening project and a cooking project.

“Oh, there’s the escargot,” Mr. Messier said when describing the types of sounds and smells that might waft down from the second floor where Madame teaches.

Her own French teacher, who died last year, inspired her.

“She approached the classroom with a sense of play,” Madame said. “That’s cool. I sort of try to honor her by doing that.”

When Ms. Rivard first moved to Barton 30 years ago, the area resembled her own hometown of Deerfield, Massachusetts, she said.

“There wasn’t any diversity,” she said.

She decided to give kids an idea of other cultures. Together they explored stereotypes and backed away from them to ask “why” and “what does that say about people?”

“I think my role is to cause other people to think about stuff,” she said. “Humanity is the common denominator.”

Mr. Messier said she has children speak, hear, and read the language through culture.

There are two types of culture, Ms. Rivard said, little “c” which includes day-to-day life and habits, and big “C,” which encompasses history, art, dance, and music.

“There’s always food,” she said, referring to techniques that get students involved. “That usually does it.”

In the French culture unit this year, students tried escargot, or snails, for the first time. Half the class loved it, some hated it and the rest felt indifferent, Ms. Rivard said.

“They’re willing to try something new and different.”

Level four students worked on the Renaissance period in France, cooking raspberry and nutella-flavored macaroons, which were created in the renaissance.

Next up, chocolate, which was imported during the Enlightenment period and was all the rage at the French court.

By picking topics that are likely to interest the kids but still have historical or cultural importance, Ms. Rivard gets the students to think backwards and make connections.

One student was interested in hunting and decided to compare practices in the United States to practices in France, discovering that people don’t hunt as much there.

Ms. Rivard said that according to the student’s research, one possible reason for that was connected to history.

“Hunting was traditionally for nobles and kings,” she said.

With restrictions on hunting land, peasants simply couldn’t hunt and the practice didn’t develop the way it did here, she said.

Some of her cultural teachings hit even closer to home, going into the students’ own cultural roots by learning how to pronounce Canadian French or Québécois using a book called Québécois for Dummies and online tutorials.

The students’ own grandparents’ accent and Québec’s media outlets made the teachings more relevant.

The people at Lake Region taught her some things about French too, Quebecois French.

“We joked about creating a dictionary of Québécois words versus Parisian words,” Mr. Messier said.

Despite her French name, Madame’s background is English.

“I can’t be a French teacher with the name Filkins,” she said, joking that she married her husband for his French name.

The French curriculum is both local and global, covering cultures from around the world that speak French.

In a unit about Haiti, students read a book about a day in the life of a Haitian child. The book was written in Creole, French and English side by side, which allowed students to see the differences and similarities between the languages, Ms. Rivard said.

They discussed political turmoil, resilience, what people value and why they go to extremes. They went into a civics discussion asking how to help raise the standard of living and whether or not it’s their place to do so.

“She has kids experience the language,” said Mr. Messier. “It’s not just textbooks.”

In fact Ms. Rivard has made sure her teachings reached further than the classroom and affected more people than just her own students.

The higher French levels did a research and community project of their choice, but the project had to have a long-lasting impact for the community, she said.

One student who loved ballet and recognized the French names of ballet positions decided to make a YouTube video explaining the positions and their names as a teaching tool for an after school class.

“That’s longevity,” Ms. Rivard said.

Lake Region welcomed kids from France on Wednesday, March 25, for a two-week visit. Ms. Rivard had to find homes for 19 kids and two chaperones.

It’s the first time Lake Region has welcomed a class from abroad during the school year, she said. The 16- and 17-year-olds will spend a day and a half in school with her students.

“It’s going to be a challenge because English is not their focus,” Ms. Rivard said about the visiting teenagers.

The students are from an agricultural and equestrian school and want to see the flora and fauna of Vermont.

While the upper French classes at Lake Region speak almost entirely in French in class, Ms. Rivard expects some communication difficulty. The goal of speaking mostly French in class is to help students not feel scared to try and speak, and to feel comfortable expressing themselves.

According to Mr. Messier, Ms. Rivard’s influence is also felt in other departments, like the Spanish department.

Ms. Rivard said she’s been working closely with the Spanish teacher to ensure students are being evaluated similarly in both programs.

Next year she will work even more with other teachers in the school since she is not actually leaving, only moving out of the classroom, she said.

“My role for next year is to be a coach,” she said.

She will observe other teachers’ courses and help them self reflect about their practices in a program tentatively called Mutually Exploring Teaching And Learning (METAL).

“I’m glad that I’ll be able to work here part-time because it would be like tearing out a part of my soul if I leave here cold turkey,” she said. “It’s been great fun. I would never have swapped this job for anything.”

contact Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph at natgagjo@bartonchronicle.com

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Lake Region’s ace pitcher commits to St. John’s University

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LRUHS pitcher Matt Messier, and his father, Principal Andre Messier, pause for this photo Thursday afternoon.  Photo by David Dudley

LRUHS pitcher Matt Messier, and his father, Principal Andre Messier, pause for this photo Thursday afternoon. Photo by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle November 19, 2014

by David Dudley

Lake Region Union High School (LRUHS) ace pitcher Matt Messier has signed a commitment to attend St. John’s University, in the autumn of 2015. Messier’s decision comes on the tail end of a summer traveling and playing with the New England Ruffnecks, a development program for players 13-18 years of age.

“The Ruffnecks give young players structure,” said Messier’s father, LRUHS Principal Andre Messier. “Matt had the opportunity to travel down to Georgia, Nashville, Missouri, and a bunch of other places. Places where he got to showcase his talents while preparing him to play at the college level.”

A scout from the Tampa Bay Rays spied the young right-hander in August, Andre Messier said.

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OCSU board picks new superintendent

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Bruce Labs.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Bruce Labs. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle February 26, 2014

by Richard Creaser

The Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) school board has tendered an offer to a new superintendent.

The name is not yet being released pending the candidate’s acceptance, but two final candidates were interviewed in public Tuesday afternoon.  A decision was made after the interviews and a lengthy executive session.

On Tuesday evening OCSU school board chairman Amy Leroux of Irasburg confirmed that the board has tendered an offer to someone to replace Stephen Urgenson.  The two candidates are Bruce Labs of Piermont, New Hampshire, and Don Van Nostrand of Concord.  Ms. Leroux said after an offer is accepted and a final vetting process by the state Agency of Education is done an announcement will be made, probably by week’s end.

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War on Poverty: Fifty years later schools are the battleground

Lisa Grout is a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School in Newport.  She has a perspective on both poverty and how poverty affects student outcomes.  Photo by Richard Creaser

Lisa Grout is a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School in Newport. She has a perspective on both poverty and how poverty affects student outcomes. Photo by Richard Creaser

copyright the Chronicle January 22, 2014

Editor’s note:  The following story is the first in a two-part series on the link between poverty and success in school.

by Richard Creaser

On January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared in his State of the Union Address an “all-out war on human poverty and unemployment in these United States.”

Fifty years later, the war rages on with the nation’s public schools as the battleground in this epic struggle.

“As a history teacher, I just can’t help but see that this isn’t anything new,” said Lisa Grout, a social studies teacher at North Country Union High School.  “At times, it has been described as a racial divide, but really it’s something else — it isn’t a war on poverty, it’s a war on the poor.  We need to rid ourselves of this myth that anyone can do whatever they want to do if they really want it.  Our system just isn’t balanced evenly that way.”

In fact, the system appears to be heavily weighted against students from poor families.

A direct link between low household income and student achievement is known in the educational system as the achievement gap.  The evidence is most readily appreciated by examining student performance on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) scores as tabulated by the Vermont Agency of Education.  Agency data for the reporting period of 2011-2012 for North Country is especially telling, although it’s important to consider that NECAP tests are only administered to juniors at the high school level.

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