School Notes: New Teacher Keeps Cornish Elementary Science Fair Going

Published: 8/8/2016 9:25:10 AM
Modified: 4/14/2015 12:00:00 AM
Leading up to the science fair for his 49 students in grades 5 to 8 at Cornish Elementary School last Wednesday , first-year teacher Paul Hammond issued a boast to his students:

He would outscore everyone who tested one student’s project that used three different hockey sticks to measure the curve of a shot.

“When I then did the worst of anyone, the kids found it very funny,” Hammond said via email the next day . “There was also a project where a student needs to take two pictures of people, one with a real smile, one with a fake smile. I volunteered. To get me to really smile, the student boasted that their homeroom would kick my homeroom’s butt in the upcoming competition, to which I busted out laughing.”

In the homestretch of his first year at Cornish and first as a full-fledged teacher, Hammond has been smiling early and often.

“The previous science teacher had been running science fairs for the past four years,” Hammond said. “So when I accepted the job here, it was my desire to try my best to keep the tradition running, even if I was learning as I went.”

Among other lessons, he found out how resourceful kids can be.

“I had students who would give out gum (in the weeks leading up to the showcase) , and thought it would be a good idea to keep all the used gum in a jar to bring to the actual fair,” he said. “I allowed (it) so as not to restrict the creativity.”

All that creativity was evident to science teacher Corrinne Kanser, who was visiting from Riverside Middle School in Springfield, Vt.

“One couldn’t help but feel the energy,” Kanser said via email a few days later. “The children, who put so much hard work into their projects, were excited to share and very knowledgeable about their projects.”

Even those who started with more energy and imagination than resources learned, and taught Hammond, a few things about adaptibility.

“I had students who tried building hovercrafts or go-karts, only to change their projects two to three weeks before the fair because they realized they had been too ambitious,” Hammond said. “Then there were the psychology experiments where students were testing each other; always in my room during lunch for the last month. I had to arrange with the principal to supervise another section of the school in order to accommodate the sometimes more than 10 projects that were going on at a time.”

With the fair in the rear view mirror, Hammond is counting on the weather to match the calendar, the better to reintroduce his classes to the riches surrounding the school — nature’s own science fair.

“In the beginning of the year (the classes were) taking nature walks to observe the effects of glaciers, creating a scaled map of the local playground, measuring transpiration that came from local trees, etc.,” Hammond concluded. “Now that spring is coming, I again intend to bring them outside to study the ecology of our local forest — the flora and the fauna — (and) to measure the attributes of the local river to (understand) how healthy it is, which can be seen by the bug population.”

Mind Games

A team of fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders from the Woodstock school system is raising money for their upcoming trip to the Odyssey of the Mind world finals in Michigan later this spring.

During the state championships in Hinesburg in March, the squad of Noah Anderson, Riley Chynoweth, William Drebitko, Ian Goldberg, Liam Harper, Allison Leibly and Carolyn Leibly finished second in Division II for devising a solution to a problem, entitled “Silent Movie,” that highlighted the dangers of social media. The team also earned an Omer’s Award for their communication song promoting face-to-face communication over cell-phone use, and a Ranatra Fusca Award for their skill in “risk-taking and out-of-the-box thinking.”

Contributions to the team’s trip can be made online at or by snail-mailing a check made out to WES PTO-Odyssey to Woodstock Elementary School, 15 South St., Woodstock, VT 05091. For more information, email Jen Anderson at or Elaine Leibly at

Also competing in Division II at the state Odyssey of the Mind championships, the Woodstock team of Emily Dean, Ethan Dean, Molly Maxham, Hudson Maxham, Nixon Malik, Owen Quicker and Alex Inglis finished third for using a video-game format to depict the story of Pandora’s Box.

In Division I, the Woodstock Elementary School septet of Phoebe Anderson, Lila Beckwith, Tess Belisle, Lucy Drebitko, Remy Malik, Peter Stover and Jack Quicker placed seventh with their “Silent Movie” solution.

∎ Thetford Academy eighth-grader Lily Vaughan won the senior division during the Vermont 4-H Dairy Quiz Bowl in Randolph on March 21.

∎ With their performance in the Improvisation Challenge competition at the recent New Hampshire state tournament, Lebanon High School junior Anwen Morgan and senior Jacob Shaker qualified for the Destination Imagination Global Tournament in Tennessee the third week of May. The Lebanon duo tied Hollis-Brookline for second place among secondary-level teams.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Cells

Mascoma Valley Regional High School student Calvin Wilson has been named outstanding student for the third quarter in his building trades program at the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center.

Business Class

Lebanon High School students Josh Gilmore and Richard Rogers qualified for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) national competition, with their performances at FBLA’s Vermont conference in South Burlington in late March.

Competing for the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center (HACTC), Gilmore led the field in Computer Game and Simulation Programming, and finished second in Help Desk , which measures understanding of customer-support concepts through tests and role playing. Rogers, who also attends HACTC, posted the top score in Securities and Investments.

The national competition will take place in Chicago in June.

A Way With Words

Thetford Academy senior Claire Weider earned a $500 scholarship from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) for writing the winning Good Citizens essay in the DAR’s Northeast Division.

By winning the division with her essay on the topic, “Why History Matters,” Weider joins seven other students around the country competing for the national DAR prize of a $5,000 scholarship.

∎ Springfield, Vt., High School senior David Bryant III will represent the Springfield Rotary Club on Sunday at the district semifinals of Rotary International’s Four-Way Test speech contest in Henniker, N.H. Bryant edged out fellow Springfield High students Patrick Clancy and Tre Ayer during the recent local contest, in which contestants must speak for between five and seven minues on how to apply Rotary’s Four-Way Test in everyday relationships. Bryant, who won $100, is now in the running for the district prize of $700. The winner of the district contest will advance to the next level in Maine on May 30.

Teacher Recognition

Kathryn Scott of Claremont’s Disnard Elementary School and Jennifer Thompson of Unity Elementary School are among 24 nominees for the 2016 New Hampshire teacher of the year award.

The New Hampshire Department of Education will recognize the nominees today at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.

∎ The Vermont Humanities Council is inviting nominations for its 13th annual Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award. May 1 is the deadline for submitting letters in support of the candidacies of teachers of humanities subject in grades 6 to 12. The winner of the title, and of a check for $1,000, will be announced at the council’s fall conference in November. The council will welcome nominations from teachers’ former and current colleagues and supervisors, current and former students and the students’ parents, either online at or by snail-mail to Vermont Humanities Council, Victor R. Swenson Humanities Educator Award, 11 Loomis S t., Montpelier, VT, 05602, or by email to

Prep School Honors

For maintaining a grade-point average of between 10 and 11 on an 11-point scale, sophomore Zea Eanet, of Norwich, earned highest honors for the winter 2015 term at Phillips-Exeter Academy.

Earning honors with averages of between 8.0 and 8.9 during the winter term were junior Stephen Cerrone, of Quechee, and freshman Chase Ryan-Embry, of Quechee.

High School Recognition

Lebanon High School recently named senior Madeline Brown as its student of the month for March. In nominating Brown for the award, teachers Bonnie Robinson and Emily Pegorano praised her for how she “approaches her school work with meticulous attention to detail, exceptionally high standards and great responsibility.” In addition to her discipline in the classroom, Brown dances 15 to 20 hours a week at the Lebanon Ballet School. This coming weekend, she will dance the lead role in City Center Ballet’s production of Alice in Wonderland. She spent five weeks last summer honing her skills at the Washington (D.C.) School of Ballet.

∎ Thetford Academy recently named senior Nathaniel Froehlich its student of the month for March. His nomination describes him as a “deep thinker and a conscientious student” who is “exceptionally efficient as a writer, saying in one sentence what it takes many of us a paragraph to explain.”

College Achievement

Evangel University in Missouri recently named Jonathan David Carlson of Hartland to its dean’s list for the fall semester. A mostly home-schooled student who took math and science classes at and played football for Hartford High School, Carlson is majoring in athletic training while attending Evangel on a partial football scholarship.

∎ Thanks to his performance during the fall 2014 term at McDaniel College, Daniel A. Alberta of Hanover was named to the dean’s list with honors at the Westminster, Md., school. Honors recognition is for maintaining a grade-point average between 3.5 and 3.69 out of a possible 4.0.

Crafting for a Cause

Students and staff at the Oliverian School in Pike, N.H., recently raised more than $400 for nutrition programs at the Horse Meadow Senior Center in North Haverhill, by selling bowls that they created in the alternative high school’s pottery studio.

Oliverian teachers Bessa Axelrod and Liz Swindell organized the fundraiser through the nationwide Empty Bowls Project aimed at ending hunger. For more information about the project, visit

On Stage

Mount Lebanon School students in kindergarten and grades 1, 2 and 3 will perform the musical Hats! In the West Lebanon elementary school’s multi-purpose room on April 23 at 6:30 p.m.

∎ Chelsea High School’s Chelsea Mountain Players will present the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at the Chelsea Town Hall on Thursday and Friday nights at 7. Admission is $6 to $8.

Pomp and Circumstance

The South Royalton School Project Graduation program is inviting South Royalton residents and businesses for contributions toward the Class of 2015’s alcohol- and drug-free celebration. For more information, contact senior class advisor Raina Robins at the school.

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304. Education items also my be emailed to

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