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School Notes: Cradle of Valedictorians: Cornish Students Top Their High School Classes

Emma Healy, a Cornish native, was honored as Hartford High School's valedictorian during commencement in White River Junction on Friday, June 13, 2014.
 Healy is one of many graduates of Cornish Elementary School to earn a spot at the top of their high school graduating classes. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Emma Healy, a Cornish native, was honored as Hartford High School's valedictorian during commencement in White River Junction on Friday, June 13, 2014. Healy is one of many graduates of Cornish Elementary School to earn a spot at the top of their high school graduating classes. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

Cornish — On the eve of delivering her speech for Hartford High School’s graduation last week, valedictorian Emma Healy wasn’t surprised to learn that she was following in a long line of students who walked to the podium of Upper Valley high schools by way of Cornish Elementary School.

“I had a really good experience at Cornish,” the Yale-bound senior recalled. “It was always a comfortable and safe place to learn. The teaching staff is amazing, and the size of the middle school allows people to get to know their classmates and their teachers.”

Even before retiring from the Cornish faculty a year ago, Caroline Storrs had noticed a general trend over the last 20 or so of her 36 years there. Recently, she learned from the mother of a Cornish graduate that nearly 20 students have ascended to either valedictorian or salutatorian at six secondary schools in the Upper Valley since the town voted to let students choose their next stop. At Hartford, Healy is following in the valedictorian footsteps of Graham Scott in 2011, Courtney Merrill in 2005, Emily Robbins in 2002, Lydia Durant in 2001, Sadie Dworak in 2000 and Heather Danz in 1991. Cornish also has spread the academic wealth to five other secondary schools in the Upper Valley. By school, they are:

∎ Hanover High School — Robert Chandler, 1995 valedictorian.

∎ Kimball Union Academy — Heidi Esty, 1992 valedictorian; Jennifer Esty, 1993 valedictorian; Benjamin Newton, 2009 valedictorian.

∎ Lebanon High School — Stacey Alves, 1990 salutatorian.

∎ Stevens High School — Greg Hills, 1990 valedictorian; Emily Edson, 1992 valedictorian; Mirka Zapletal, 1995 valedictorian; Alyssa Chandler, 1997 valedictorian; Gillian Teterick, 2007 valedictorian (home schooled).

∎ Windsor High School — Monica Lamoureaux, 2003 salutatorian.

“I knew all of them,” Storrs said while on substitute duty at the school last week. “I started with Greg Hills, I think when he was in fifth grade, and almost everybody else at the middle-school level. For a few years I taught kindergarten to third grade, and started with Sadie Dworak in the third and fourth grades, then had her again in five through eight.”

Storrs adds that Cornish resident Roger Barraby, who did not attend the elementary school, is valedictorian at Windsor this year.

Cornish graduates are maintaining this pace of achievement despite the erosion in enrollment over the last decade. As with many many towns in Vermont and New Hampshire, fewer families are moving into town and those who relocate and stay appear to be producing fewer children: Between the fall of 2003 and February of this year, the student body shrank from 142 students to 113. A consulting firm earlier this year estimated that as few as 93 youngsters could be attending kindergarten through grade eight in Cornish by 2017, before enrollment bounces back over the ensuing six years. That decline has prompted budget cuts and discussion of Cornish sending students up Route 120 to Plainfield Elementary in Meriden, which also is experiencing enrollment losses.

In recent weeks, the Cornish School Board has been wrestling with proposals to consolidate grades under the tutelage of fewer teachers, all while dealing with a public uproar over board member Holly Taft’s controversial comments on social media.

As comfortable and safe as she felt in her time at Cornish, Emma Healy said that the staff there prepared her well for the transition to high school.

“I visited both Hanover and Hartford before deciding where to go, and what swayed me was my visit to Hartford,” Healy recalled. “I shadowed a student, and the community feeling really appealed to me.”

So did the science faculty. With Al Kobe as her teacher in advanced biology for freshmen and in advanced-placement biology her senior year, she recalls, she developed an interest in molecular, cellular and developmental biology that she plans to pursue at Yale. After visiting 24 colleges between her junior and senior years at Hartford, she narrowed her choices to Yale, Tufts University and Hamilton College, and applied early to Yale.

“Yale seems to promote the most cooperation, rather than competition,” Healy said. “It seems like people help each other, rather than compete with each other.”

Sort of the way her teachers approached education at Cornish.

“We really looked at who they were, and taught them accordingly,” Storrs said. “There’s a lot of community support, and the parents and the staff have high expectations. The kids know that their parents and their teachers are invested in their education. The town has had a clear vision of what they want for an education.”

School Honors

Springfield, Vt.’s Riverside Middle School recently earned recognition from two statewide educational associations. In August, the Vermont Principals Association will give its Vice Principal of the Year award to assistant principal Steve Cone. And during its spring conference at the Lake Morey Inn in Fairlee on May 23, the Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators (VCSEA) conferred its Golden Apple Award on Riverside’s Team Sojourn, for its advocacy for students with special needs. Team members are Jeff Vandivere, Mary Ellen Schofield, Tom Green, Franco Chiapperini, Meredith Jez, Val Gasco and Darlene Petke.

In August, the Vermont Principals Association will confer its award for Vermont Technical Director of the Year on Dean Stearns, who directs the River Bend Career and Technical Center at Oxbow Union High School in Bradford.

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) has awarded its Silver Circle of Excellence Prize to Vermont Law School’s alumni magazine, Loquitur, for its most recent issue, “Good Food,” about the locavore movement. The award came under the category of Special Issues.

Student Honors

Graduating seniors Catherine Kondi of Mascoma Valley Regional High School and Jocelyn Vierzen of Kearsarge Regional High School are among 32 students around New Hampshire to receive Leaders and Achievers scholarships of $1,000 each from Comcast Cable. The scholarships were awarded at the New Hampshire State House in Concord on May 27, with Gov. Maggie Hassan on hand for the ceremony.

Abraham Shklar of Newport received the Howard Alexander Award on April 9, during the convocation ceremonies at Earlham College in Richmond, Ind. The award goes to a senior “exemplifying the intelligence, imagination, energy and devotion to mathematics” of a professor who taught at Earlham from 1952-1976.

The University of New England in Biddeford, Maine, recently named 12 Upper Valley residents to the dean’s list for the 2014 spring semester. Earning the honor for attaining a grade-point average of 3.3 or better out of a possible 4.0 were Lindsey Carter and Vanessa A. Valley of Bradford, Vt., Nicole E. Welling of Charlestown, Abbey R. Rouillard of Claremont, Ashleigh I. Stearns of East Corinth, Erin M. Tevere of Enfield, Nicole A. Maxham of Lebanon, Christopher C. Sanborn of Orange, Peter-John P. Trapp of Piermont, Francesca M. Scopetti of Thetford, Alexandria L. Rowlee of White River Junction and Megan P. O’Neill of Windsor.

Emily Lohr of Hanover was inducted into the University of New Hampshire chapter of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, for ranking academically in the top seven percent among juniors in UNH’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. She is a 2011 graduate of Hanover High School.

The Vermont Association for Middle Level Education named Chelsea Public School students Abigail Mattoon and Dakota Garrow as Middle Level Scholar Leaders, during the 17th Vermont Scholar Leader awards banquet at Norwich University on June 4. Criteria for the award include showing academic initiative and scholarship, service to classmates and school, positive attitude, and leadership in the classroom and school activities. In all, the association recognized 87 students in grades five through eight from 44 Vermont schools.

Lakes Region Community College named William Heighes of Claremont to its vice president’s list, for his achievement of a grade-point average of between 3.3 and 3.74 out of a possible 4.0 during the spring session. Heighes is majoring in fire science.

Upper Valley residents earning places on Norwich University’s dean’s list for the spring semester were Ellsworth Burch Gibbs of Lebanon, Rachel Sweeney of Bethel, Zachary William Fulton of East Thetford, Clara Kathryn Leiser of Hartland, Teddy McNabal Jeanty of South Royalton, Brittani Nicole Severance of White River Junction, Joseph Wood of White River Junction, Hailey Nicole Dunn of Windsor, Tyler Jay Kibling of Windsor, Aliza Ruth McCarthy of Windsor, Jordan Matthew McCarthy of Windsor and Aurora Claire Tafuto of Woodstock.

By Degrees

Jeff Wannop of Woodstock received his master’s degree in business administration from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business on June 7. Wannop, a 2005 graduate of Woodstock High School, also received the Tuck Centennial Student Award, by a vote of his classmates, for exemplifying “the spirit and character of the Tuck School.” Wannop earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University.

Samara Gariepy of Lebanon and Brian Charron of Quechee received bachelor’s degrees during commencement exercises at Boston College on May 19. Gariepy graduated with a bachelor of science degree in finance and economics from the Wallace E. Carroll School of Management , while Charron graduated with a bachelor of arts in communication from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Chelsey Ray Laughinghouse of Newport graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., with a bachelor of arts degree in English on May 18. She is a graduate of Kearsarge Regional High School.

School Nutrition

The Orange Windsor Supervisory Union’s One Planet Program will serve free breakfast, lunch and snacks to schoolchildren ages 18 and younger at four area locations for six weeks during the summer vacation. Children not enrolled in One Planet must be accompanied by an adult.

Schedules, by school, follow:

South Royalton School

Week of June 23-27, Monday through Friday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

June 30-July 3, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 7-10, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 14-17, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 21-25, Monday through Friday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 28-Aug. 1, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

Tunbridge Central School

Week of June 30-July 2, Monday through Wednesday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 7-11, Monday through Friday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 14-18, Monday through Friday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 21-24, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

July 28-Aug. 1, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; lunch noon to 12:30

Sharon Elementary School

Week of June 23-27, Monday through Friday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.

June 30-July 3, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.

July 7-10, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; snack 3 to 3:15 on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

July 14-17, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; snack 3 to 3:15 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

July 21-24, Monday through Thursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; snack 3 to 3:15 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

July 28-Aug. 1, Monday throughThursday — Breakfast 9:45 to 10 a.m.; snack 3 to 3:15 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday

Tunbridge Library

Supper served every Thursday, 5:15 to 5:45 p.m., June 26 through July 31

David Corriveau can be reached at dcorriveau@vnews.com and at 603-727-3304.