Annual Events

Unless otherwise noted, we anticipate school wide participation among the students for community service events.

Every Friday

Every Friday we have our weekly fundraiser called PINE Day – People In Need Everywhere.  Organized by the eighth grade students, PINE Day has a weekly theme (Pajama Day, Wild Hair Day, Decades Day, Spirit Day, Stuffed Animal Day, to name a few) and students and faculty members pay $1 to participate.  Usually the money at the end of the year goes toward purchasing an animal through the Heifer International organization.  In the past we have purchased water buffalo, goats, and chickens for a family.  However, during times of local or national crisis, the money from a PINE Day is donated to a local family, business, or charity in need.  In the past we have donated to Kendall’s Fund, Emmy Strong, and to the rebuilding of a local gymanstics team gym after a flood.

September

Northeast Kingdom Youth Shelter Walk – Community Service Events

The annual shelter walk benefits the local homeless youth by raising funds and awareness. There is no fundraising involved for the students or families as the School makes a donation on behalf of our community.

All proceeds go to the Elm Street Shelter where adolescents receive safe care, information on life skills, and ways in which to find permanent resources.

PARTICIPANTS: Alumni students, current students, parents, faculty.

It is a fun day that ends with a barbecue, entertainment, prizes, and a raffle.

Lower Elementary Hike – Fourth grade leadership opportunity

The fourth grade students lead the 1-3 grade students in a hike.  Fourth grade students become “chaperones” for groups of the younger students and help them through the hike. This is a great opportunity to develop leadership and teamwork skills!

October

Animal Celebration Day

This is an international day reserved to acknowledge the role animals play in the lives of humans. Animals provide food, clothing, and companionship. The domestication of cattle and sheep also create landscapes.

Students bring their pets in to school and share stories. A variety of speakers are invited to discuss their professions with regard to animals and food production. Local farmers and veterinarians share their knowledge and beliefs with the students.

This usually last about two hours.

PARTICIPANTS: Students, parents, faculty, guests.

Meet the Candidates Night – Election Years

In election years the School invites the area senatorial candidates. The students prepare and ask the first round of questions. After that, the questions are open to the public.

Refreshments are served. The press usually covers the event for the Caledonian-Record.

PARTICIPANTS: students, parents, faculty, alumni families, public

GLAAD’s Spirit Day

In 2010, a high school student conceptualized Spirit Day to honor and memorialize those who had lost their lives to bullying.  Spirit Day is an international movement of solidarity for LGBT kids, teens, and young adults who have been persecuted, specifically in schools. Today, 8 out 10 LGBT students experience harassment while at school. By inviting students, administrators, faculty, teachers, and even parents to participate in Spirit Day we can send a strong message of support. We can demonstrate that a place of learning is a safe place for ALL children.  Community members wear purple, and can even take an online pledge to show their support and take a stand against bullying.

Faculty Pumpkin Carving Contest

On or near Halloween faculty members participate in an all-school pumpkin carving contest judged by the students!  Eighth grade students prepare the pumpkins the day prior to the contest.  We roast the seeds that night, and the next day all faculty members are given 30 minutes to carve their pumpkin while the students watch and cheer and munch on the pumpkin seeds!

PARTICIPANTS: all TSS community members welcome!

December

Simple Gifts – Saturday Community Service Event

Simple Gifts is a morning activity held in St. Johnsbury during the Victorian Holiday activities. Thaddeus Stevens School provides materials to young children in order to make gifts for the holiday season. Stations are set up with the materials to create bird feeders, jewelry, paper decorations, or other simple gifts. The tables are staffed with a Thaddeus Stevens School parent, a faculty member, and/or an alumni or alumnae. Children move from one station to another accompanied by a Thaddeus Stevens School student and finish at the wrapping table.

PARTICIPANTS: Alumni students, current students, parents, faculty.

Toy Drive – From November to December

The lower elementary students organize a TSS community toy drive.  Students bring in old, gently used toys between November and December.  The lower elementary students then wash, dry, and package up the toys and donate them to H.O.P.E. just prior to our Holiday Break.

Burke Christmas Tree Contest

Fifth through eighth grade students create, make, and decorate one of the trees in the Burke Christmas tree contests.  The winner of the contest then chooses a charity or non-profit of their choice to donate the money raised during the contest.  In 2014, TSS tied first place!  We chose to donate to Northeast Kingdom Youth Services.

January

Martin Luther King Candlelight Vigil – MLK Day – Community Service Event

In fulfilling our commitment to the legacy of Thaddeus Stevens and civil rights, the School hosts a Candlelight Vigil on the third Monday of each January.

The public is invited to view the speech; speakers are sometimes invited to address a specific civil rights issue.

Refreshments are served and the participants light a candle and walk a short route outside to illuminate the night. A brief moment of silence is observed and the candles are extinguished all at the same time, symbolizing the extinction of bigotry and inequality

PARTICIPANTS: students, faculty, parents, alumni students and families, public.

February

African-American Read-In

February is Black History Month. The international African-American Read-In is observed at some point during that month.

In 1990, the first African American Read-In was sponsored by the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English. In 1991, the National Council of Teachers of English joined in the sponsorship. The Read-In has been endorsed by the International Reading Association. Over a million readers of all ethnic groups, from 49 states, the West Indies, and African countries have participated.

Thaddeus Stevens School invites community members to participate in the Read-In. All are welcome to share song lyrics, poetry, excerpts from essays, short stories, novels, or speeches. The only criteria is that the piece must be written or composed by an African American.

It usually lasts about one and one-half hours and is always uplifting and inspiring.

PARTICIPANTS: students, faculty, parents, alumni families, public.

All School Spelling Bee

Thaddeus Stevens School participates each year in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The in-school bee must be completed by mid-February. The winner of the school bee represents Thaddeus Stevens School at the Vermont State Spelling Bee in March. The winner of the state bee then represents Vermont at the 2013 Scripps National Bee in June.

The bee is conducted orally and in rounds. It is single elimination. Each speller remaining in the spelling bee at the start of a round spells one word in each round. Students who misspell will be asked to join the audience at the end of the round. It is important to understand that all spellers, grades 1-8, will be given words at the same level of difficulty. A complete set of rules is available at school and at the school bee.

PARTICIPANTS: students. Parents and family are invited to serve as an audience.

The lists are distributed at school and are also available on line.

MathCounts Competition

The Regional Contest is held in February; the State Competition is held in March. The dates are announced in Student and Parent Notes.

Normal mathematics textbooks and curricula are task oriented. For example, a teacher might explain to a student how to add and subtract integers. They are given an assignment to practice this skill, often as homework. The next day, a new concept is introduced. That night they are given an assignment to practice these new skills. Isolated assignments such as these are necessary to allow the student to internalize the process. However, there is often little opportunity in standard curricula to allow for overlap. When presented with problems from multiple skill categories without foreknowledge of what skill to use, students become quickly overwhelmed and confused. How should they proceed? Which of their learned skills do they need to use? They have not had adequate practice learning when to use the skills they have learned. The only opportunity provided is when they are tested. This is inadequate (how can you test someone on a skill they have not practiced?) and leads to what experts have told us is a serious deficiency in mathematical ability for students in the United States.

We address this issue at Thaddeus Stevens School by providing additional material which is outside the normal curriculum. We are very lucky that the MATHCOUNTS foundation provides extremely high quality material which provides challenging, engaging, and well crafted problems that are specifically designed to meet NCTM standards and provide students an opportunity to apply the skills they learn every day in creative ways on problems that give an excellent introduction as to how mathematics is used in many applied sciences and various “real-world” scenarios.

MATHCOUNTS is a well-established and exceedingly well respected resource for mathematics teachers on a national level. Prof. Daisy McCoy from Lyndon State is our regional coordinator, and many other talented and qualified mathematicians have endorsed MATHCOUNTS as an excellent supplementary resource for a challenging middle school curriculum. The following page contains additional information about MATHCOUNTS from their website.

April

Mock Trial – Friday before Spring Break

Parents and community members are encouraged to observe the mock trial.

WHERE: Caledonia County Courthouse in St. Johnsbury

WHEN: First or second week in April. (Thaddeus Stevens’s birthday is April 4). The actual day depends upon the court schedule and the availability of the attorney who acts as judge.

TIME: The trial usually starts at 12:00. Students arrive at courthouse between 11:00 and 11:30 in order to set up the room and get a sense of the space.

DURATION: The trial itself usually lasts about two hours, the jury deliberates at the conclusion of the trial and we explain that they must decide by about 2:45 in order to dismiss school.

During the jury deliberation, the acting judge critiques the trial for the students and the audience.

DISMISSAL: School dismisses from the courthouse. Parents may pick their students up at the courthouse or arrange with other parents to pick their student up.

Students are provided with the facts of the case, the charges, and the witness statements. Each team meets once with an attorney. After that, they develop their opening arguments, prepare their witnesses, and write their closing arguments.

The trial is not scripted. The students work in teams and are given guidelines regarding the expectations of each assigned role. Because this involves teams of students and because it is sometimes difficult for them to get together after school, time will be allocated during the day to build the case and the trial. Consequently, a daily participation grade will weigh heavily on the quarter grade. Additionally, there will be times, particularly as the trial date nears, that the students will need to stay after school or meet on a Saturday to polish and finalize their work.

May

Seventh and eighth grade trip

Seventh and eighth grade take a school trip to a metropolitan area every year, rotating between Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. This is an intense trip with a strong academic focus.

Spring Celebration of the Arts Gala

We invite parents, grandparents, alums, siblings, and faculty members to submit fine arts pieces.  Our art teacher and professional artist, Leah Benedict, then hangs and displays the juried art pieces.  We also have a room dedicated to student artwork.  In the past, we have had short films, photography, woodwork, pottery, paintings, sketches, digital artwork, music, poetry, and live performances.  Our production team consists of fifth through eighth grade students who help design and then decorate the school for this semi-formal event.  During the night of the event, some of the students also work as servers and docents.

June

Eighth Grade Graduation – June

Traditionally we ask that the seventh grade parents help us gather supplies for the eighth grade graduation.

Eighth graders have a “skip day” on that day and the rest of the students decorate the school with ribbons, streamers, flowers, and signs.

Our colors for the event are lilac, purple, and silver; that decision is due to the fact that the only flowers in bloom and in abundance are lilacs!

• Cake
• Ice Cream
• Refreshments
• Plates, napkins, forks and spoons (we might actually have enough forks)
• Tablecloth
• Streamers
• Ribbons
• Silver star wires

Please call or email to let us know how you are able to help.

Thank you for helping us make our graduation special.

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