The Valley News has been selected to add two journalists — a photojournalist and a climate and environment reporter — to our newsroom through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

School Notes: Bethel University Welcomes All Comers, and Subjects

Tuesday, March 08, 2016
The catalog for Bethel University’s third annual run through March already was brimming with continuing-education courses, in subjects ranging from quilting and memoir writing to a survey of Freemasonry and “Let’s Talk Brisket.”

Then just before the deadline to submit a course proposal, Craig Wortman asked Dave Sambor, one of the founders and organizers of the Bethel Revitalization Initiative’s “pop-up university,” about letting Wortman and his wife, Joan, teach a class built around their experience raising and milking shorthorn cattle on their Shumway Green Acres Farm just over the town line in South Randolph.

Thus has Bethel U grown since its founding in 2014.

“It’s pretty amazing the way it’s grown, and the variety we’ve been getting,” Sambor, who runs the Bethel Village Sandwich Shop and teaches a pop-up course on wine appreciation, said last week. “The first year we had about 15 courses. Last year we had 45. This year we’re up to 65.

“In late December, early January, we put out a call to the community to anyone who wants to teach. People have to come to us with ideas. We take their ideas, we sit down, a group of about 10 of us, and try to hash everything out where classes are going to be held, what equipment they’re going to need, figure out the schedule, and where the classes will be. Town Hall’s got something almost every night in the month of March.”

Take next Tuesday night at Town Hall, when the Wortmans will teach the first of two sessions on “Managing a Successful Family Dairy Farm,” with a focus on the process of raising a heifer calf from birth to age 2, when the cows start producing milk. The following Saturday, March 19, the Wortmans will host the final session at the farm, which they took over after Joan’s mother, Ruth Shumway, died in 2008. As they prepare, through a land trust, to sell Green Acres this year to a young farmer from Pennsylvania, they aim through this course to convey a message that they’d talked about sharing for several years, but never had the time to prepare for and present before this winter.

“There’s a lot of bad information out there,” said Craig Wortman, who sweeps chimneys as his day job. “You see people pushing things like soy milk, saying cow’s milk is bad for you, and people saying that it’s bad for the cows. People don’t have any idea what it takes to do this, and what the cows mean to the people who raise them.

“If I had a family with some kids, I’d say, ‘Hey, they’ve got a class where you get to see a dairy farm: Let’s do it!’ ”

As of Monday, according to the Bethel University website, the dairy course still had openings for 26 students. Other classes, some of which began last week, have already filled up, many others are still welcoming students.

“As of Tuesday, March 1, we had over 500 people registered for classes,” Sambor said. “That compares with 125 the first year and 400 all of last year. Last year we had people coming from as far as Hanover to take classes. One of our instructors is coming from Brandon.”

The guest teachers this month include three candidates for governor of Vermont: Republican businessman Bruce Lisman with “Leadership and Management” on March 24 and Democrat Sue Minter with “Building Resilient Communities” on March 29, focusing on the state’s recovery from the flooding that Tropical Storm Irene wrought in Bethel and around Vermont in 2011; and Democrat Matt Dunne, who will give a March 31 presentation about “The Vermont Economy: Past, Present and Future.”

The idea for Bethel University began percolating in the wake of Irene. The storm’s catastrophic flooding hit Bethel as hard as any town in the state and led to a crisis in town politics. The long recovery prompted business owners, artisans and educators to look for new ways for the Bethel Revitalization Initiative to bring residents together. With a $2,500 grant from the Vermont Community Foundation, and sponsorship from several local and regional businesses, Bethel U opened in March 2014.

Starting in 2017, the Wortmans will be freer to maybe even take a course or two.

“My husband’s wanted to teach this course for several years,” said Joan Wortman, a part-time nurse at Gifford Medical Center. “We never got our act together in time to apply to each it. We’ve been too busy running the farm and doing our other jobs.”

The Bethel Revitalization Initiative is inviting residents from Bethel and beyond to its third annual “pop-up university” offerings of courses ranging from planting of winter crops and Chinese medicine for chronic pain to blacksmithing and soap-making. The classes, all tuition free except where indicated, and taught mainly by White River Valley-area artisans, proprietors, instructors and practitioners, continues through March. To register and learn more, visit or obtain registration forms at the Bethel Village Sandwich Shop or the Bethel Public Library.

World Views

Tucker Briglin of Thetford will compete in the New Hampshire National Geographic State Bee at Keene State College on April 1. He earned a semifinal slot for the state competition by winning the geography bee at Crossroads Academy in Lyme, where he attends eighth grade, then scoring high enough on an online exam to receive an invitation from the National Geographic Society.

The winner of the state competition will receive $100, a copy of the geographic society’s book The National Parks: An Illustrated History, and a medal, in addition to advancing to the national bee at the society’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., in late May. The national champion wins a college scholarship of $50,000, lifetime membership in the geographic society and a trip to Glacier Bay National Park and other parts of Alaska’s coastal wilderness in recognition of the National Park Service’s 100tth anniversary.

To learn more about entering the 2017 geography bee, visit

∎ On Wednesday night at 6, Hartford High School students and teachers will give a presentation on the three weeks in February that they spent on a service-learning project in Laos and Thailand. For more information about the presentation, which is open to the public, call 802-295-8600.

Collegiate Honors

Northeastern University in Boston recently named Jude Arbogast of Hanover to its dean’s list. A 2014 graduate of Hanover High School majoring in civil engineering, Arbogast maintained a grade-point average of 3.9 out of a possible 4.0 during the 2015 fall semester.

∎ Sam Berner of Corinth earned a place on the dean’s list at Maine Maritime Academy, for maintaining a grade-point average of at least 3.3 out of a possible 4.0 during the fall 2015 semester. He is majoring in marine-systems engineering.

High School Recognition

Thetford Academy recently named Hyla Maddalena as its student of the month for February. In nominating the junior for the honor, teacher Karen Heinzmann described her as “quiet, but she truly has the heart and spirit of an adventurer.  With the courage of her convictions and interests, she is always willing to take a chance.”

All the Valley’s a Stage

More than 150 students from Hartford Memorial Middle School and Hartford High School perform a Concert Grande in the high school gym tonight at 7. Each school’s ensemble of band and choir will play selections of pop, movie and Broadway music, before joining forces on the stage for the finale. Admission is free.

∎ Hanover High School’s music department hosts a Masterworks Concert tonight starting at 7. Admission is free.

∎ The Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph and the Chelsea Funnery are inviting school-age actors to their Cabin-Fever Reliever series of theater workshops in March at the Chandler Music Hall.

Also at the Chandler, an introduction to clowning for ages 6 to 8 will be held from 9 to 10 the morning of March 19 and from 11 to noon on March 20, at a fee of $8 a session. The clowning workshop for ages 9 to 12, at a fee of $15 to $20, will take place on March 19 from 10 to noon and March 20 from 1 to 3 p.m.

And for aspiring thespians ages 12 and older, the Chandler will host an improvisation class on building characters and scenes on March 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. and on March 20 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Fees are $15 to $20.

To register for or to learn more about the workshops, visit


May 9 is the deadline for college-bound children and grandchildren of former employees of Windsor’s Cone-Blanchard Machine Co., plant to apply for scholarships through the Cone Automatic Machine Co. Charitable Foundation. The parent or the grandparent must have worked at Cone-Blanchard for at least five continuous years. To learn eligibility requirements and receive applications forms, write to Cone Automatic Machine Co. Charitable Foundation, Post Office Box 65, Claremont, N.H. 03743. The foundation will announce award winners for the 2016-2017 academic year in June.

STEM Cells

The New Hampshire Department of Education is inviting high school freshmen and sophomores with interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to the fourth annual Girls Technology Days next week at the New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI) in Concord and at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

Educators and technology-industry leaders will conduct workshops on topics such as 3D modeling, game programming, development of apps for mobile devices, engineering solutions for stopping groundwater contamination and making ethernet cables.

There will also be a vendor fair at which girls can learn about college options and career opportunities and to see technology at work.

To learn more about the Technology Day sessions at NHTI on Tuesday and at UNH’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences on March 17, visit

Early Arts Appreciation

The Chandler Center for the Arts and Kimball Public Library in Randolph is inviting children ages 3 to 5 to a free, two-week introduction to the arts in late March. On March 21 and 28, the program will begin at the library with a story and a session of crafts, then move to the neighboring Chandler Music Hall next door for a snack and an introduction to music. To register and learn more, call Judith Flint at 802-728-5073 or email

Continuing Education

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in Springfield, Vt., is inviting devotees of gardening to a slide presentation on English gardens this afternoon at 2 at the Nolin Murray Center, next door to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Springfield. Patty Talbot’s “Six English Gardens in Five Days: A Whirlwind Photographic Tour,” visits the Cambridge Botanic Garden, the “Manor” gardens of Iford, Hidcote and Kiftsgate in Bath, Mt. Edgcumbe Country Park in Pl y mouth and Trelissick in Falmouth. Admission is $8 for people who have not signed up for OLLI membership. To learn more about this and other Springfield OLLI programs, visit

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304. Education-related news and announcements also can be sent to


Matt Dunne of Hartland is one of three candidates for governor of Vermont who will teach a course at Bethel University this month. An earlier version of this story omitted Dunne’s March 31 appearance and at one point overstated how many years the program has been held.

Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784


© 2020 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy