School Newsletter

Quarter IV: Spring 2021


I am reaching out to you this afternoon excited to introduce myself as the new Superintendent of the Barre Unified Union School District!

For those of you who don't know me, I am a former teacher and administrator at Spaulding High School and Barre City Middle School with 32 years under my belt as an educator, and all who know me understand that the most rewarding thirteen of those years have been spent here with you in Barre.

As we continue to emerge from this pandemic year, there are so many reasons to be excited and optimistic about the school year ahead, and, beginning today, I plan to reach out to all of you and listen closely to your hopes, dreams, and concerns about what the years ahead can look like for our school community.

The last sixteen months have been a great struggle for many in our community, yet I have seen so many opportunities for us to learn and rethink what school can be coming out of this pandemic. Navigating the challenges of meeting the needs of all of our children and families this last year has been an experience unlike any other of my career, but my idealism and commitment to the children of Barre remain firmly in place.

I share this picture of me taken by my former colleague and Barre City art teacher, Adrienne Feeser that I hope gives you an idea of what I aim to bring to our community. Adrienne's Soar Project brought the BCEMS community together in a beautiful way, and that is exactly what I hope to do for the entire Barre community in the years ahead.

I hope you all have a safe and fun Independence Day Holiday with your family and friends! After a brief vacation next week, I plan on being back at work from Friday, July 9 through the rest of the summer.

Chris Hennessey
Interim Superintendent of Schools
Barre Unified Union School District

120 Ayers Street
Barre, VT 05641
(802) 476-5011 (ext. 1017)



Preparing students for the future by mastering STEM skills.

Programming at Generator, a leading makerspace in Burlington has enabled our students to be successful after high school.

Their programs: Design Lab, SPARK, and Advanced Manufacturing Program (AMP) have been extremely valuable to our students over the past four years.

However COVID impacted programming and students were unable to access those off campus programs including the annual Work Based Learning: Science, Technology, Engineering & Manufacturing (WBL: STEM) Rotation with manufacturing partners.

In response to this, WBL STEM's goal was to now replicate and streamline some of Generator's services, materials, and equipment onsite at Spaulding High School by creating a mini makerspace. Thus increasing equity of access for other students too.

This vision would not be possible without the generous support of the Vermont Community Foundation because WBL STEM Programming was a recipient of a Regional and Local Impact (RALI) grant.

This grant has enabled Spaulding educators: Miss Sara Dorr (Science and a former engineer), Mr. Brendan Eaton (Artem Teacher), Ms. Michelle LaFrancis (Work Based Learning), and Mr. Benjamin Moore (Math) to participate in a Makerspace Training for Teachers and acquire innovative equipment and hand tools for the makerspace.

Even though Miss Dorr understands that the makerspace is in infancy mode, she is excited to offer a Science of Engineering course next year that focuses on hands-on/experiential learning for students who are curious about the science behind the technologies and infrastructure of their world.

Her goal is for students to explore concepts of movement, forces and renewable energy through project-based learning challenges, which echoes the tenets of Generator & WBL STEM partners.

For Mr. Moore, he's thrilled to know that programming was a recipient of a Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE) Grant enabling Spaulding to acquire arduino kits.

He noted "First Robotics has enabled his students to be exposed to innovative technologies" whereas one year ago, the course offering around robotics was not a thing.

He feels confident as he refines his curriculum for next year knowing that a dedicated, collaborative space will be available, along with equipment and basic hand tools to implement his lessons.

In turn, all are excited to empower our students' confidence and interest in various STEM-careers, including our facilities & electrical crew who will be working on the makerspace over the Summer.

*For those interested in learning more about Miss Dorr's course, feel free to reach out to her at or Mr. Moore about Robotics at .


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For Better or Worse

The Class of 2021 grew, evolved, gained, lost, and learned during a pandemic.

Even though they did not experience the daily norms of a Senior year, members of the Senior Class did not go down without a fight.

Many of the Senior athletes felt compelled to "push themselves" and make it a great Senior year while being a role model to the younger athletes on the Junior Varsity teams. As Zach Stabell, a three season athlete noted, "... rather than blaming others for our losses, we tried to step up our game to the next level."

This was clearly apparent in the number of teams who were contenders in the Fall, Winter, & Spring playoffs.

As Halle Pletzer, Girls Soccer and Tennis noted in the Library this past Spring, "We need to show the young teams the right way to do things." This was also echoed by Josie Diego, Mallory Kiniry, Taite Magoon, and Alyssa Winkler in terms of being role models in the building, especially for their Freshman siblings.

And like many of their peers, they longed for a nostalgic taste of high school. This was especially true for our avid thespians and musicians who have been waiting for curtain call for over a year. For Erza Bernier, Emily LaRose, and Will Poirier, the cacphony of a school performance has always been of great comfort.

When asked in the Fall about their Senior Portraits and recording information underneath or what they hope to accomplish this year? - responses were mixed with emotion and trepidation.

"IDK because I don't know if I will have a season," "maybe staying focused," "being motivated to actually attend school," "doing my work," "not getting COVID," or "reconnecting with friends."

For some, they felt like their Senior year was ripped from a high tide.

But as vaccinations became more available to the general public, many Seniors were focused on the future whether it be having a Prom, Senior Skip Day to committing to a college, entering the workforce immediately after high school, or enrolling in the military like Eusebio Aja, Kent Barcomb, and Matthew Durgin who will proudly serve our country.

When chatting with this year's Salutatorian, Jacob Allen, he credits his family, friends, and teachers for getting him through.

He makes the comparison to his love for growing large pumpkins and the importance of having good soil, seeds, sunshine, and of course, water in order to do this. He noted that like growing large pumpkins, ..."my classmates need the proper nutrients to grow."

And so, congratulations to the 128th Class to graduate from Spaulding High School!

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That's the Spirit

COVID has been like the sun and moon; it’s gravitational pull caused a significant swell for Tide Nation.

Despite this, we continued to navigate the waters and found that virtual programming was like our own personal flotation device (PFD); giving us buoyancy that was needed in order to keep afloat and connect families, friends, and loved ones.

Being keenly aware of the number of alumni within the region and throughout the United States, along with TIDE fans, virtual programming was necessary to not only celebrate academic success, but to increase access to a phenomenal Winter & Spring Sports seasons.

Thus setting off a wave of pride as viewership increased as Varsity teams became contenders in the playoffs.

In terms of additional support, outreach from WCAX's Digital Media Specialist, Audrey Ramsden was of great value because time was allotted on local broadcasting to honor all graduating classes in Vermont and parts of New York within the Champlain Valley area.

This was especially meaningful for either students or administration to be able to compose a featurette because for many high schools they were unsure as to if they would be having an in person or virtual graduation due to the ever-evolving guidelines around large groupings.

Whether it be producing an awards/scholarship video or having a live taping of graduation, all that were involved are truly appreciative of the technology in order to spread the spirit of TIDE Nation.


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First Priority & Beyond

The spirit of Tide Pride is always present whether it be in a classroom, during an athletic competition, school functions, or among the alumni and community members who continue to invest in our school.

For Mrs. Mya Violette, the In House Scholarship Committee Chair is very cognizant of the significance of earning a scholarship and as she noted, "life changing."

As an alum of Spaulding High School, she was a recipient of a scholarship that enabled her to attend Trinity College in Burlington, Vermont. For without it, she noted, "I might not have been able to attend Trinity College; it definitely opened a door and I took it."

As she fondly reflected upon her Senior year in high school and stated, "...seems like a lifetime ago", she can't imagine the challenges that this year's Senior class is experiencing, especially during a time of COVID and planning for one's future.

To alleviate undue stress, the In House Scholarship Committee in conjunction with Administration decided to 'move up' the application process and deadline for review, so Seniors and their parents/guardians could make a more informed decision about committing to a(n) college, university, or training program prior to May 1st.

"I think the timing of our work is of great importance," stated Mrs. Violette, especially as Seniors grapple with their post secondary options and rising costs of education.

Like the former In House Scholarship Committee, Mr. John Lewis, also the former History Department Chair, Mrs. Vallerand is "grateful for the generosity of so many donors and their love of the Barre community.'

Since the inception of the Scholarship Trust in 2015, the endowment has grown into the millions. Thus supporting the aspirations of Seniors.

For more information on the Scholarship Trust, please feel free to contact Mr. David Lacroix, Spaulding Alumnus, Class of 1973 at

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