EMS Newsletter

January 20, 2023

Letter from the Principal

Greetings, EMS Families & Community.

This week’s newsletter is absolutely packed with information, ranging from an update on the upcoming 8th grade Information Night at BHS and a range of opportunities for your students, to an important update regarding vaping among middle schoolers. And of course, there are updates on what students are doing in exploratory programs, valuable resources related to accessing Schoology to keep up with your student, and more. Please take a moment to review the information, and do not hesitate to reach out with questions.

As you know, we are concluding the second quarter today, and now embark on the second half of the year. If you have any concerns about your child’s progress at the halfway point, or would like to partner to establish new goals for best supporting your child during second semester, your child’s teachers are available to meet with you. Every team meets together daily, providing a great opportunity for families to meet with multiple teachers at once (in-person or remotely). We are all committed to doing what it takes to help your child be successful at EMS!

Finally, you’ll find an update in this week’s issue about a BSD Job Fair happening on 1/21 and 1/24. Like many districts in Vermont and around the country, we continue to have open positions we are eager to fill with qualified individuals. If you know anyone who is seeking work and interested in joining the Burlington team, please consider passing along this information. Edmunds Middle School continues to seek skilled paraeducators.

Thank you, and I wish you and your family a nice, snowy weekend!

In partnership,

Sabrina Westdijk

EMS Principal

EMS Announcements

8th Grade Families- Please Read

It is the time of the year for the 8th grade to start 9th grade transition to BHS. Next Thursday January 26, at 8:00 there will be counselors from the high school to talk to 8th grade students about registering for classes. We will have students register before February vacation, we will keep sharing the timeline for registration. Any questions please reach out to Pat Hulbert 802-864-8486 41011ext or phulbert@bsdvt.org.

Attention: 8th Grade Information Night @ BHS on 1/25 at 6:30pm

Hello future seahorses!

We at Burlington High School are so excited to meet our incoming 9th graders and their families! If you can, please join us for a presentation from our faculty, with opportunities to hear from our lead teachers from each department. We will also have a Q & A session at the end of the presentation.

8th Grade Information Night will be held on January 25th, 2023 at 6:30 pm. We will be in the choir room, room 143, at downtown Burlington High School on Cherry Street. If you have any questions about the specific event, please email bhscounseling@bsdvt.org.

World Language Club Opportunity

Have you ever wanted to go to Montreal? We, the after-school World Languages Club, have a dream of partnering with a school in Montreal. We hope to visit the school and shadow some of its students for a day. We’d also like to invite students from Montreal to come spend a day at EMS.

We need your help connecting with a school in Montreal. Do you know somebody who works at or attends a middle school in Montreal? If you have ideas to share with us, please contact Malik Mines (mmines@bsdvt.org) or Emily Smith (esmith@bsdvt.org). Thank you!

An Important Announcement on Vaping in our Schools

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

Our school is working with our local substance misuse prevention coalition, the Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community (BPHC)* to bring the widespread student use of electronic nicotine and cannabis vapor products (EVPs) to your attention.

Here in Burlington, students are reporting that an alarming number of their peers, across social groups, are using these products. Staff are also concerned by the numbers of students bringing vaping devices on school property. This is not only a BSD problem. Data* shows that vaping among high-school-aged children nationally, as well as across Vermont, has skyrocketed in recent years. Among VT high school youth, the rate of current EVP use increased more than 73% between 2015 and 2019. The Surgeon General’s Office representative said in recent years, they have "never seen use of any substance by America's youth rise this rapidly." (*Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration)

We wanted to share information and resources to help us all support youth in our community to make healthy choices.

  1. Vape products can contain a variety of substances, such as nicotine or cannabis. For middle and high school youth, the most common is nicotine. For example, one JUUL “pod” contains the same amount of nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.


  1. Youth exposed to nicotine at an early age are more likely to become addicted to both nicotine and other substances. Research shows that youth who use these products are more likely to start using combustible (traditional) cigarettes (National Academy of Science, 2018).



  1. These products are not safe, especially for youth. The aerosol that users inhale from an Electronic Nicotine device contains harmful chemicals such as: nicotine, heavy metals, ultrafine particles, cancer causing chemicals, diacetyl (a flavoring chemical linked to serious lung disease). WATCH THIS 5 MIN. VIDEO TO LEARN MORE FROM LOCAL PEDIATRIC PULMONOLOGIST DR. L.E. FARICY.

  1. We know that youth love flavored products. Youth love technology. Youth often use social media a lot. Electronic nicotine and cannabis devices are a dangerous combination of all three. Not only is the product interesting to them, advertisers are using social media and products they like to market to them, and “Influencers” and others youth follow, are giving tips about how to get and use these products, as well as ways to hide them.

Nicotine and Cannabis Use Disorders (addiction) are a lifelong battle, with expensive and grave consequences. 90% of the people who develop a Substance Use Disorder started using substances before they were 18. Delaying use while the brain is still developing is important and one of the best ways to support youth from developing a problem.

Here are a few ways you can help:

Educate yourself - High school and middle school youth are already very aware of these products. If you are not, please take a few minutes and learn more to have informed conversations with your children. We’ve listed a few places to learn more at the end with additional links at www.burlingtonpartnership.org.

Get them help - If your child is vaping or using other substances, there are trained drug & alcohol counseling staff in the district who are here for you and are ready to help. Contact:

Hunt Middle School: Sunnie Lobdell - slobdell@bsdvt.org or 802-865-5378

Edmunds Middle School: Angela Halsted (available Mon-Wed)- ahalsted@bsdvt.org or 864-8486 ext. 41010

Burlington High School: Ryan Nest - rnest@bsdvt.org or 864-8581 (the Student Assistance Counselor position is currently unfilled at BHS)

My Life, My Quit is a wonderful free resource for Vermont teens ages 12-17 who want help quitting any form of tobacco. Youth can TEXT/CALL 855.891.9989 or CHAT ONLINE at mylifemyquit.com with a trained Coach.

Students at BHS, EMS, and Hunt can anonymously order a free “Quit Kit” to pick up at school for themselves or a loved one to help on their quit journey. Students should fill out this form to order a kit.

For the full letter and a list of additional resources, please follow this link.


Schoology is the software we are using at EMS, HMS, BHS, On-Top and Horizons where students see their assignments, receive feedback and grades, and access content.

If you would like to create a Schoology account to access your student’s grades and feedback directly in Schoology, please follow the below directions.

To find your Schoology access code, log into your family Powerschool Portal.

  1. Log into your family Powerschool Portal (link here to log in)

    1. Additional resources around logging into your Family portal linked here

  2. Find your “Schoology Access Code” on the “Grades and Attendance Page”

You will use this access code to create a Schoology account with the below directions.

Link to step by step instructions of how to make your Schoology account: Link to Family Schoology support document and 1 pager in Report Cards

For additional support, please contact Margaret Talbot (mtalbot@bsdvt.org)

Music Opportunities

Apply now for Learning to Fly. This program will completely fund music lessons for approximately 20 to 24 students over the course of four years. The students are outfitted with an instrument of their choice. The “Learning to Fly” program launched in the Fall of 2020 and all students across Vermont are encouraged to apply.

These scholarships are made possible for youth musicians through the Music Dojo, Friends for A.Dog Foundation, and philanthropy organizations connected to the band Phish. Students in grades 6-12 are eligible for the scholarship and students from Edmunds MS have won a scholarship in years past. Click here to apply! No prior experience/musical training necessary!


Students in grades 6-8 are welcome to join chorus for quarter 3 if they are still interested. It is not too late! If interested, please email Ms. Pawlikowski at cpawliko@bsdvt.org


As we wrap up Quarter 2, I just want to highlight and remind everyone how creative and imaginative the students at EMS are. I appreciate the hard work and devotion so many students put into their assignments, and I especially love it when they show me things they have created at home. Thanks for a great quarter in the art room!

Here are some examples of the wonderful collages the 7th and 8th graders recently finished - the unit was called Cerealism - and we used recycled Cheerio boxes. First we got inspired by artist Michael Albert, and then got to work using the same materials and our infinite imaginations. Check out how clever they are.

6th graders are ending the quarter with a unit on optical illusions.

We used watercolor and sharpie markers to create these colorful and eye popping art pieces.

Finally, I am looking for a few things for Quarter 3, and if you have them please send them in with your student.

  • Empty Cereal boxes

  • Unwanted plastic animals for drawing class

  • Old parts from games…or old wooden block toys for sculpture

BSD Job Fair

BSD has a variety of open positions ranging from entry level to managerial. Anyone looking for work is encouraged to join BSD leaders and members of the Human Resources team at a Job Fair:

Job Fair Dates:

  • Saturday, January 21 (10 AM- 1 PM) and/or

  • Tuesday, January 24 (3-6 PM)

Location: Cafeteria at Downtown BHS (67 Cherry Street).

The team will be available each day to offer on-the-spot interviews for some positions and application support. Some available positions include:

  • Paraeducators ($17.16-$19.75 per hour)

  • Afterschool Support Staff ($15-$18 per hour)

  • Bus Drivers ($22-$23 per hour)

  • Day and Evening Custodians ($16.50 – $18.50 per hour, plus additional wages for night shifts)

  • HVAC Technicians ($26-$30 per hour)

  • Special Educators (From $46,529-$64,433 per year and up)

  • Food Services ($15.63-$21 per hour, plus hiring and retention bonuses)

These positions range across all schools in the district. EMS specifically continues to seek talented paraeducators and custodial team members. Please spread the word to anyone you know is seeking employment opportunities!