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Thetford Elementary 2nd-Graders Lobby on Behalf of Duck

  • Kimberlee Stevens, of Middlesex, Vt., kisses Peep, a 3-year-old wood duck at her home Monday, May 2, 2016, in Middlesex. Stevens' dog found Peep when it was a chick and brought it home. Vermont wildlife officials tried to take Peep away from Stevens, but the state relented after a public outcry. Last week the state issued Stevens a permit to keep the duck. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) ap — Wilson Ring

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/30/2016 10:01:28 PM
Modified: 5/30/2016 10:00:17 PM

While Vermonters, and some of us New Hampshire neighbors, waited for Gov. Peter Shumlin to decide the fate of an orphaned wood duck earlier this spring, a group of second-graders at Thetford Elementary School took action.

After her class discussed whether Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials should take custody of 3-year-old Peep, or let him stay with the East Montpelier woman who had adopted him when her dog Puggie found the abandoned hatchling, teacher Joanna Waldman asked her students to write opinion essays to send to the governor.

“They approached this writing project with great interest, heartfelt emotions and academic vigor,” Waldman concluded in her cover letter to the package of essays that state Rep. Tim Briglin (D-Thetford) delivered to Shumlin at the State House. “It is in this spirit that I wanted to share their writing with you so you could consider the perspective of second-graders as you and the Fish and Wildlife Commission navigate Peep’s journey.”

Most of the students, who as part of their science studies spend three to four hours a week observing wildlife in Thetford’s Zebedee Headwaters wetland, leaned toward letting Peep stay with his adoptive family — the decision that Shumlin ultimately reached — rather than risk going back to the wild.

“Peep thinks the pug is his mom and he can’t leave him,” 7-year-old Mavis Downey wrote in an essay that she decorated with a sticker of a wood duck as well as a drawing of her own. “And he doesn’t know how to survive on his own.”

That sentiment was not quite unanimous.

“I think they should give the duck back to the cops because it is the law and if they did not give it back they will get a big fine and the duck needs to know how to survive in nature,” Cody McKinstry wrote. “He needs to know how to get food and make a home and shelter and make a nest and know who his predators are.”

On April 29, the day the governor announced that he would let Peep stay with his adopted family, Shumlin’s office sent a letter to Briglin thanking him for delivering the letters.

“I was very impressed,” Shumlin wrote, “that students wrote about both the concern and care the family has shown for this duck, but also the importance of leaving wild animals where they belong, in the wild.”

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Cells

Nine students from Crossroads Academy and three from Hanover’s Ray Elementary School qualified for next month’s national competition, with their performances at the recent New Hanpshire and Vermont state championship at Crossroads in Lyme.

Crossroads students making the grade for nationals, which will take place in Houston, are Roxane Park and David Viazmenski, who finished 1-2 at the grade 3 level; Alex Zitzewitz and Amica Lansigan, who went 1-3 among fourth-graders; Audrey Llewellen, the No. 2 student in grade 5; and sixth-graders Maxine Park, Zoe Zitzewitz and Zachary Zitzewitz. Sixth-grader Saia Patel also earned a trip to nationals.

Competing for Hanover’s Richmond Middle School math team, Ray School fifth-graders Sora Shirai, Lauren Hall and Sarah Hall punched their tickets for nationals by placing third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in their grade level.

In team competition, the Crossroads unit of Maxine Park, Alex Zitzewitz, Zachary Zitzewitz and Zoe Zitzewitz won at the grade-six level, at which their Crossroads classmates Matthew Adner, Liana Lansigan, Saia Patel and Evan Yang finished third. In grade-five competition, Crossroads placed fifth with Riley Chin, Audrey Llewellen and Cecy Sweeney.

All the Valley’s a Stage

Mascoma Valley Regional High School’s Mascoma Music ensemble bids farewell to the school’s soon-to-be-refurbished gymnasium in West Canaan on Saturday night at 7. During Saturday’s Spring Concert, the group, which next school year will perform in the school’s new auditorium, also will pay tribute to former Mascoma music teacher (and Upper Valley Community Band leader) Carole Blake, who died earlier this year.

Collegiate Recognition

The Middlebury Institute for International Studies recently awarded a Michiel Brandt Memorial Prize to Katy Murdza, of Hanover. Murdza, a 2008 graduate of Hanover High School and a 2012 graduate of Notre Dame, will use the cash grant to further the work she will do against human trafficking this summer, in collaboration with the International Institue of St. Louis, Mo. Murdza is pursuing a master’s degree with the Middlebury Institute, located in Monterey, Calif.

By maintaining a perfect grade-point average of 4.0 in his civil engineering studies, Jude Arbogast, of Hanover, earned a place on the dean’s list at Northeastern University in Boston. Arbogast, a sophomore, is a 2014 graduate of Hanover High School.

Connecticut College recognized three Upper Valley students during its honors and awards ceremony on May 3.

Sophomore Kimberly Anne Alley, of Enfield, received the chemistry department’s prize for excellence in organic chemistry by an underclassman.

Senior Alexander Garland Woods, of Hanover, earned the Julia Wells Bower prize for distinction in mathematics.

Senior Teagan Mighill Atwater, of Plainfield, received the Bridget Baird Award for demonstrated excellence in research in arts and technology.

Christian Mueller, of Hanover, was recently initiated into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi at Elon University. He is a 2013 graduate of Hanover High School.

For maintaining grade-point averages of 3.3 or better out of a possible 4.0, seven Upper Valley students earned placement on the dean’s list at the New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord.

Making the grade at NHTI were Walter Hammond of Canaan, Nathanael Page and Michael Puksta of Claremont, Edward Quirk of Newport, Marie Wurtz of Orford and Kirsten Bielarski of Woodsville.

For their academic performance during the spring semester at Vermont’s Johnson State College, four students from the Upper Valley earned places on the president’s list and 21 made the grade for the dean’s list.

President’s list honorees, who maintained grade-point averages of 4.0 out of a possible 4.0, were senior Lori Beland of Hartland, sophomore Rachel Lemay of Newbury, Vt., junior Shavonna Bent of Randolph and sophomore Faith Thibault of White River Junction.

Achieving the dean’s list with GPAs between 3.5 and 3.99 were senior Kyle Selmer of Ascutney, senior Elizabeth Williams of Bethel, sophomore Jeremy Daigle of Bradford, Vt., sophomore Kaitlyn Townsend of Fairlee, senior Joshua Lemay of Newbury, Vt., junior Alexis Daniels of Norwich, senior Darby Parsons of Quechee, junior Katharine Abdel Fatah of Randolph, sophomore Sierra Benson of Sharon.

Also, junior Benjamin Simone of Sharon, junior Emily Wright of South Royalton, junior Joseph Kifner of Strafford, junior Tegan Pellerin of Thetford Center, sophomore Larissa Stride of Tunbridge, senior Jaimee Ferland of White River Junction, junior Kali Covell of Wilder, junior Ashley Fogg of White River Junction, junior Forrest Mattern of Wilder, junior Kaitlynn Woodward of White River Junction and sophomore Anilese Peterson of Woodstock.

Jennifer Lemay, of Lebanon, was named to the spring semester dean’s list at Thomas College in Waterville, Maine. She is majoring in accounting.

By Degrees

Jordan Koloski, of Lebanon, recently graduated as valedictorian from St. Lawrence University in upstate New York. While majoring in biochemistry, he maintained a grade-point average of 3.952 out of a possible 4.0 and earned Phi Beta Kappa status.

Bryce D. Lloyd, of Hartland, recently graduated cum laude from Alfred University in upstate New York. A graduate of The Sharon Academy, Lloyd earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from Alfred’s School of Art and Design.

Paul Detzer, of Wilder, recently graduated magna cum laude from St. Michael’s College. The 2012 graduate of Hartford High School received a bachelor of arts degree in media studies, journalism and digital arts.

Kate Rose Brown Spencer, of Strafford, received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Macalester College in Minnesota on May 14.

High School Honors

The Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center inducted five Newport High School students into its chapter of the National Technical Honor Society, for maintaining grade-point averages of at least 3.0 out of a possible 4.0, for keeping attendance rates of at least 90 percent and for demonstrating skill, honesty, responsibility, leadership and citizenship.

The inductees are junior pre-engineering students Tyler Hall and Connor Fleury; sophomore health-science technology students Hailey Perry and Kennedy Pysz; and freshman pre-engineering student Victoria Burroughs.

Citing his skills in music, math and robotics, as well as his adjustment to life in the United States after growing up in China, Thetford Academy recently named Qingyuan “Leo” Chen its student of the month for May.

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

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