Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Season for Gratitude

Dear Stowe High Parent/Guardian,

In this season of giving, I think it is also important to express gratitude. On behalf of all of us here at Stowe High School---thank you so much for supporting our school. Many communities talk a good game when it comes to supporting their schools. We are blessed with an actual and very strong school/community partnership. This partnership is evident in so many ways: a wonderful new hockey rink, the Stowe Education Fund's Christmas tree fundraising drive, an animated group of parents at last week's SHS Parent-Teacher-Student Team meeting, and, most recently, a group  of fathers who cooked and served a holiday breakfast to our faculty and staff.

Clarification from earlier version: "We are grateful for our school and community when tragedy strikes." My earlier version did not convey what I had intended. My apologies if the earlier sentence left the wrong impression.   Recent SHS graduate (Class of 2013) Haven Shonio's passing last week in a traffic accident demonstrates the importance of school and community working together to support families and students. As difficult as these circumstances are, we can only move through them with each other. Our hearts go out to the Shonio family. As the holiday break approaches, join me in trying to put the little things in perspective---and hug your children all the more tighter.

Happy holidays from everyone here at Stowe High School to your family,

Jeff Maher

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving To All!

Dear SHS Parent/Guardian,

Over this past week we marked the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. While fitting and proper to do so, it overshadowed another anniversary of great significance. Tuesday, November 19 was the sesquicentennial of The Gettysburg Address. President Lincoln’s brilliant, magisterial 272 words ring across the last 150 years with a moral authority whose relevance continues to apply today.

The President also established this most American of holidays, a day of thanks, and perhaps the only national holiday that has resisted the dry rot of rampant consumerism. As we go forth to join family and friends---thank you---for your support of our schools and teachers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jeff Maher

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fall Review

Raider Athletics

In over 31 years working in high schools, including 7 here at Stowe High, this fall sports season is quite possibly the most impressive I have experienced. First of all, I received not one complaint regarding sportsmanship from any official, coach, athletic director, or principal. In fact, I received only compliments regarding our teams' deportment and character. The 'wins' and successful performances are important (I'm as competitive as anyone); but, to be so successful this fall and exercise character through good sportsmanship---now that, is truly special.

Speaking of success, I would like to commend our Girl's Soccer and Cross-Country teams for competing into playoffs/state tournament. Congratulations to our State Champion Boy's Cross-Country and Soccer teams, and, our Girl's Field Hockey Team. Special kudos for individual performances in cross-country go out to Colleen and William McGovern, and, Sam Puddicombe. Coaches Becky McGovern, Janet Godin, Brian Buczek, and Tim Ziegler, as well as assistants Gordon Dixon, Paul Lawson, Bryan Hallett, Mark Poduje, Jill Loughran Tyler Post, Athletic Director Joanna Graves, and, many volunteers all deserve a big round of thanks for their selfless dedication to our athletic programs. Well done and Go Raiders!!! And if you did not already see it, WCAX had Stowe in 2 of their 3 Fall Highlights recently. Check it out! Top 3 on 3

Dance Update

Over the last couple of weeks we have started the process of a student-directed dialogue regarding alternative structures, or, activities in place of the dances put on hold. Student Leadership Team, which is comprised of two students from each grade level elected by their peers, has discussed the issue in some depth. Last week this group meet with the senior class; next week Student Leadership Team will conduct a Teen Town Meeting with the student body. The challenge I, with the support of all the adults in this building, put before students is to engage in constructive dialogue with the goal of developing a proposal on alternative structures/activities. If such a proposal can be developed which is positive and healthy, it could be implemented this year. We have no specific timeline for this process; but, I have faith in our students to come to a 'good place' with the whole issue.

Important Up-Coming Events

Next week we have several important events at our school. Please be reminded that:

Monday, November 11 is Parent-Teacher Conference day between 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.. If you have not already reserved time, please see the high school website to do so.

On Tuesday, November 12 we are hosting A Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) "Paying for College Presentation" for juniors and seniors in our library at 6:00 p.m.

Wednesday, November 13 is the "Evening Recital" of our Solo Ensemble at Spruce Peak at 7:00 p.m.

On Thursday, November 14 our thespians will present Into the Woods at 7:00 p.m . Performances will continue Friday and Saturday evenings. Please join us one of the nights and enjoy our students' dramatic skills.

A World Café

Vermont news sources seem to routinely report on the latest drug ‘craze’ sweeping through Vermont.  It can be hard to separate those sound bites from the issues that our students are actually presented with in their daily lives.

The Stowe Parent-Student-Teacher-Team would like to invite all parents and community members to an evening of round table discussion.  The topics of conversation will be drawn from the latest trends in substance abuse (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) affecting our town, county, and state.  Various experts from the field of substance abuse treatment and education will be on hand to provide resources and to answer questions.  This continuation of the ‘World Café’ series will be held at Stowe High School on November 19th, from 6:30 – 8:00.  Light refreshments will be provided.
Please contact Pierre Laflamme (pierre.laflamme@lssuvt.org) should you need further information, with an RSVP, or if you have a suggestion for specific topics or questions that you would like to see included in the evening’s discussion.

Have a great Raider Day!

Jeff Maher

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Taking a Break From School Dances

This morning I announced to students that we are cancelling school dances for the remainder of the year. The Prom in May will be the only exception.

I arrived at this decision following considerable feedback from parents, faculty and staff, and students. All of this feedback was directed at the 'style' of dancing common among students in high schools across the nation; students and adults alike are uncomfortable with 'grinding' as this style of dance is called. It is inappropriate, demeaning, and, does not represent our values in both school and community.

I do not blame students: they are reflecting the increasingly coarse, vulgar popular culture they inhabit. We as adults, however, have a responsibility, a moral obligation I would assert, to stand-up and convey the message to students that this practice is not permissible and cannot be condoned.

We have tried to convey this message in the recent past with little change for the better. We need to take a break in order to: 1) get  the message across that we are serious 2) give student leadership a chance for sustained conversation on this topic with the student body and 3) discuss proposals for different, appropriate dance structures and guidelines in the future.

I ask you as parents/guardians to discuss this decision with your student. I ask for your support and that you encourage your student to be a positive force in conversation as we reflect on where to go with dances in the future.

Thank you,

Jeff Maher

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gr. 11 NECAP State Testing Starts Tomorrow

Dear Junior Class Parent/Guardian,

On October 15, 16, & 21 we will be testing juniors in reading, writing, and mathematics as part of The New England Comprehensive Assessment Program. Each day is a three-hour test. Please help us by ensuring your student gets adequate rest. Our teachers have worked hard to prepare students. Your encouragement and support are appreciated. A student who misses a day needs to see me to make-up the test immediately upon return.

Please know that the results of these tests are publicly reported. Individual student results are also recorded on transcripts.

Thank you,

Jeff Maher

Friday, September 27, 2013


On behalf of everyone at Stowe Middle and High School---thank you S.E.F. for funding implementation of this valuable school climate program at both schools. S.E.F.'s help will tide us over until we build annual funding into the next budget cycle. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Les Goldberg for his long-time advocacy of  "A World of Difference". Further, new middle school principal Dan Morison has been quick to jump in with his support to implement in S.M.S.. Finally, I'd like to thank fellow program advisor Roger Murphy for his leadership within our school with students and peers.

At this point, we have trained our initial cohort of high school students, conducted a parent information night, and, trained the high school faculty. We also had a follow-up meeting with our student cohort to begin to structure their work within the high school. This will be an on-going process supervised by Mr. Murphy and myself. Next week, Mr. Morison and I will meet to discuss a plan for middle school implementation.

"A World of Difference" will indeed make a difference here at Stowe Middle and High School. Students, teachers, and, parents alike have reacted favorably to its philosophy and methods. I'll keep you informed as we continue through the school year.

Have a great, 'Raider' weekend!!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A World of Difference Family Information Night

A World of Difference Family Information Night
Wednesday, September 18
SHS Auditorium
Please join students and Anti-Defamation League members for information and discussion on implementation of ADL's A World of Difference Program at Stowe High School. Your support this evening would be appreciated. Please R.S.V.P. me by e-mail:
Thank You!

Friday, September 6, 2013

UPDATES: "A World of Difference" & "Boosters"
Dear Stowe High School Parent/Guardian,
As I relayed in my first post of the new school year, Stowe High School will begin implementing the program "A World of Difference" next week. A cohort of 25 students chosen by lottery in each class will be training with professionals from the national program on Monday. We were thrilled with amount of student interest in this program. Nearly 60 students attended an informational session prior to the lottery. We think this bodes well for the program as we implement in the coming months.
On Wednesday, September 18 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Auditorium we will conduct a parent informational session attended by folks from the Anti-Defamation League Regional Office in Boston. Your support would be appreciated. I look forward to seeing you there!
Please take a moment to read the attached letter from the Stowe High School Booster Club. This group supports all of co-curricular activities for students, including art, music, drama, clubs, and athletics.
Thank you for your on-going support of our school. Go Raiders!!
Jeff Maher

Monday, August 26, 2013

2013-4 School Year Off To A Strong Start
Dear Stowe High School Parent/Guardian,
The new school year has started and Stowe High is off and running! Even after 31 opening days, I still feel the anticipation and excitement of a new year!
As always we strive to provide your student with the rigor, relevance, and relationships that have made our high school a good school always working to continue the journey towards 'great'. All of us at S.H.S. try to set clear, high expectations, communicate well, and, make the extra effort to help students succeed. Further, we want your student to feel safe and welcome.
In addition to this blog, information on daily activities can be found on the school website (http://www.stoweschools.com/SSD/SSD_home.htm). The website also contains handbooks, athletic information, forms, and much more. If you want to speak with us directly, please call the main number at 253-7229.
2013-14 is an important year for the junior class, not only for college research and planning; but, juniors must also present their digital portfolios to a faculty committee as part of Anagnorisis. In order to earn the first half of the Anagnorisis credit needed for graduation, students must present evidence on their progress toward our five school-wide expectations: communication, decision-making, problem-solving, initiative, and service. Many students see the value of Anagnorisis as they recognize their identify and plan their future. Some students, however, have not put much effort into their portfolios. Please be reminded that I sent home by certified mail reminders to students who needed to work on their portfolios over the summer. As we check junior portfolios over the next week or so, eligibility for privileges will also be determined by their portfolio status.
New this year to Stowe High School is a climate program called a World of Difference. Sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, A World of Difference "seeks to provide students, on a peer-to-peer level, with practical, experiential, hands-on training with skills to challenge prejudice and discrimination, foster intergroup understanding and equip participants to live and work successfully and civilly in a diverse world." 
On September 9, 10, and 11 a 25-student cohort will be the first Stowe High students to be trained by A.D.L. professional staff here on campus. We hope this group will then work with the student body to foster a respectful and inclusive school climate. While these climate goals have always been a part of S.H.S., we want to do more on a positive, proactive level.
Finally, if I can ever be of any service, support, or, just a willing ear to listen---please never hesitate to contact me.
Jeff Maher
Stowe High School

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Busy Month of May!
Dear SHS Parent/Guardian,
Forgive me for not posting for awhile---spring is hectic to say the least. As we 'spring' through the last few weeks of the 2012-13 school year I would like to highlight a few items for your attention. As always, I urge you to check the 'Daily Announcements' and 'Calendar' sections of our website.
Annual SHS Prom is coming up this Saturday, May 18. This year the prom is hosted by Boyden Farm in Cambridge. The hours, as per Boyden Farm, are from 8-11 p.m. Students must check into the prom by 9 p.m.
Every year this is both an exciting and anxiety-filled event. The excitement of relationships, formal dress, and a capstone social event of the school year is tempered in adult minds by concerns over safety and good decision-making. Tomorrow I will be pulling the student body together for a brief assembly to convey my expectations for appropriate conduct. I would ask you to help me by reinforcing  the following points:
  • Safety first! If driving, do so with care. The available routes to Boyden Farm are VT roads; they demand attention.
  • Substance free! Temptation is real: a moment of poor decision-making can impact one's character, school record, and, of most concern---your physical well-being.
  • Keep it classy! You have invested in the evening with careful preparation, and, some expense: dance and act with dignity.
  • No drama! Have a great time, but, be considerate of others.
 I will have a full complement of teacher-chaperones present. I will be present all evening. We have a police officer to monitor the exterior of the facility. I will conduct a screening check-in of all students upon arrival. Please be aware that if I suspect a student of being under the influences of substances, I will place a call home to you. Students in vehicles under the influence will be referred to the police officer on duty.
Mr. Ritzo is at present on medical leave. Some of you may of heard of his health struggles. I have been authorized by his wife Marie to inform you that he is being treated for cancer. He will undergo surgery at the end of this month. Subsequent to the procedure he will be further assessed. Please keep him in your positive thoughts. If you wish to send any notion to him, you are welcome to leave it with Charlene at the front desk. I can always drop anything to his home as I pass by it on my way home.
We currently have a long-term substitute in Mr. Ritzo's classroom. Her name is Ms. Alissa Raboin. She worked most recently at the Winter Academy and comes to us highly recommended. I have been very satisfied with her work in this difficult situation.
Wishing you a great spring day!
Jeff Maher

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Join Us For a Discussion of Drug & Alocohol Issues at the World Cafe

If you have not already registered, there is still time!!! Or, walk-ins welcome!! See you tonight.
Stowe Middle and High Schools along with the Parent Student Teacher Team are pleased to invite all parents and community members to the World Café.  This event will be a facilitated discussion delving into issues related to substance use and abuse by our adolescent and teenage populations.  Members of the Lamoille Prevention Project will be on hand to facilitate focused round table conversations. Topics include: “How and when should you start the conversation about drugs with your children?” and “what resources are available to parents?” This event is intended to be far more than a simple open forum.  We look forward to seeing you there. Your RSVP wins you an entry into a raffle for a fabulous prize!
Where and When: April 4th, 2013 at the Stoweflake Resort from 6:30 – 8:00
Please RSVP to: pierre.laflamme@stoweschools.com  253-7229 ext. 2209

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Never Taking the Climate for Granted at Stowe High School

So far this year I have reported on academics, student engagement, personalization of education, co-curricula activiites, and, more. This week I would like to give you an update of work coming up soon which addresses an important climate issue in our school. While our school climate is generally positive, productive, and, healthy, we can never assume this is the case for all students. Bullying, for example, exists at some level in all high schools and communities. Our data, and, our experience tell us it exists here as well. Our faculty & staff, parents, and, students have been working hard to take a preventive approach to bullying. Here's what is coming up:

          A World of Difference---is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. AWOD is designed for students and educators from public, private, and parochial middle and high schools, grades 7-12. Students and educators will explore issues of prejudice and be presented with knowledge and resources to promote prejudice-free schools and communities. Bullying in schools most often originates in root causes based in a hateful perspective of some 'group' of people. This program asks us all to "Imagine a World Without Hate".

This afternoon, March 27, myself, Mr. Murphy, and Mrs. Carpenter will lead a group of eight middle and high school students as we attend a Youth Congress on A World of Difference. We hope our experience will help us to decide whether this program is a good fit for our schools. Since the start of the school year we have also conducted research and made site visits to schools in Vermont that have already implemented A World of Difference. Please stay tuned as we explore what schools around New England have learned from their experiences with this program.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dear S.H.S. Parents/Guardians,

I have devoted this blog issue to Superintendent Wrend's newsletter on the 'state of education' in Stowe Schools. We hope you find this information timely and useful as we approach Town Meeting.

Click here to read Superintendent Wrend's February issue of It's About Learning.

Our office will be open next week, but, not on Town Meeting day.

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable winter break with your family

Jeff Maher

Friday, February 1, 2013

Dear Parents/Guardians of Freshmen & Sophomores,


We are now a year and a half into our Anagnorisis initiative, elements of which have been designated a graduation requirement by the School Board. As you might recall, Anagnorisis is a program at SHS through which students are encouraged to keep track on how well they meet five school-wide expectations---communication, problem-solving, initiative, decision-making, and service/citizenship---and to what degree they achieve more sophisticated progress over time. At the same time, students need to reflect upon their progress as a student and a person, set goals for future progress, and hopefully identify their career and avocational passions.


Most of our sophomores have made ‘solid progress’ in selecting evidence of progress and of uploading supporting artifacts into ePearl, our online electronic portfolio. Some, however, have gotten behind at identifying evidence and uploading it. Teacher-Advisors have reviewed student ePearl portfolios and spoken to their advisees about the requirements for this initiative. I have also personally spoken to individual students to apprise them of their responsibilities in this matter.


 I encourage you as parents to have a similar conversation with your daughter or son to make sure she or he is doing what is necessary to ensure their timely graduation. Please know as well that besides not meeting graduation requirements, there will be consequences for not completing Anagnorisis responsibilities for next year’s juniors who have not completed their 9th and 10th grade requirements. Students could be denied junior privileges, and, driving privileges.

Please see below our Anagnorisis timeline:



Due Date
What is due?
Feb break
June 1
Upload evidence for communication and problem solving at a minimum.
Upload evidence for initiative, decision making, and service & citizenship.
Each student MUST have at least 1 piece of evidence with a reflection for each of the 5 school-wide expectations.
Feb break
June 1
Upload evidence for communication and problem solving at a minimum. All 9th grade evidence complete.
Upload evidence for ALL 5 school-wide expectations.
Each student MUST have at least 1 piece of evidence with a reflection for each expectation.
Dec break
Jan 31
Feb - April
Upload evidence for ALL 5 school-wide expectations.
Each student MUST have at least 1 piece of evidence with a reflection for each expectation.
Presentation schedule is finalized.
In second semester of junior year, a student will need to present progress to a panel of teachers. A student must explain evidence and demonstrate growth as a student and an individual over three years of high school, as well as next steps.
Feb break
An update on progress in a formal written document which serves as a reflection of one’s high school years, and, indicates next steps post-high school must be submitted to T.A.

We believe passionately in this process---that school is much more than grades and transcripts, that each of our students can see growth not only in academics over four years, but can come to a better understanding of who they are, what their passions are, and how best to achieve them.


Very truly yours,


Jeff Maher

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Second Semester Begins!

Hard to believe we are already in the second semester of the school year, but, away we go. I hope you and your student(s) feel comfortable with second semester schedules. Be sure to give Amy McArdle, SHS Guidance Counselor, a call if something is not quite right. Report cards will be distributed on Friday. This week is also the first high school Friday Program. We will be conducting our annual assembly on the logistics and expectations of Friday Program tomorrow with the student body.

***Security Drill:  Safety and security are, and have been, central to our work here at Stowe High School. Towards this end, we will be conducting a campus-wide security drill, along with Stowe Middle School, during the week of February 4, 2013. The exact day and time will not be announced. We will announce to students very clearly that this is a drill. First responders from local agencies, as well as a representative from the VT State Police will be on hand to observe our drill and participate in a debriefing afterwards. Stowe Police Chief Don Hull has worked with us closely to plan this drill. Please take a moment over the next week to talk with your daughter/son on the need to follow directions and behave in an appropriate manner. We will review expectations with students in teacher-advisory tomorrow.

Have a great week folks! Think snow!!


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Around the School

Around the School, In the Classroom

Dear Parents/Guardians, 
Students reflecting in journals

Stowe Rescue EMT Julian Harrison
This week I want to share a class I observed in Mr. Mark May's Health and Physical Education course this morning. As you can see from the attached photographs, students are deeply involved at the moment in learning cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Mr. May not only organized community resources to implement this lesson, but, he also pays close attention to integrating writing into his curriculum. Students are responsible for specific journal entries designed to assist them in drawing meaning and relevance from the demonstration.

Got One Hour? UVM’s Adolescent Health Improvement Project needs 15 students, aged 13 – 18  to spend one hour talking with them about why they do or do not seek recommended well-child exams annually.  Each participant receives $20 for their time. The event is scheduled for February 13 from 3:30 to 4:45 including a 15-minute registration. Parents are encouraged to participate on their own from 5:30 to 7:00 that evening. Parents receive $50. All participants must contact Joyce at joyce.gallimore@uvm.edu or call 1-802-656-9190 before February 13. Our school nurse, Eileen Crawford, RN has arranged for us to host this event in the name of school wellness. The event is sponsored by the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Dear S.H.S. Parent/Guardian,

I hope you enjoyed a restful holiday season with family and friends. My adult daughter and her boyfriend (still boyfriend, no announcement) spent five delightful days with us last week. Unfortunately, they had to leave to go back down south before we received our first real snow last Thursday, so, they missing winter sports. Nonetheless, we had a great time together---he even had the good grace (sense) to let me beat him in Scrabble!

Mid-term exams are fast approaching. They are scheduled for January 22-25. Your student will receive a schedule in T.A.. The schedule is also posted on the website under 'Daily Announcements'. Please be sure to encourage your daughter/son to prepare well and in advance; these exams represent a significant percentage of both semester and full-year courses.

With winter weather now truly here, please remind your student-driver to drive carefully, both in general, and, specificially in our parking lot. Later this month I will be asking all students to park out front and all teachers/sfaff to park out back of the school campus. The rationale for this is a consequence of our on-going efforts to tweak our security procedures. We are installing electronic door locks to the rear of the building which will be locked all day. Teachers/staff will be issued key cards to enter from out back. Students will enter through the front, main entrance.

Wishing you well in 2013,