Posts filed under ‘Sterling’

Perspectives on the Penguin Plunge

Ben TownleyWilliston Central School Penguin Plunge Team

Have you ever thought about jumping into an ice cold lake in the winter?  27 students and parents from our school jumped into frozen Lake Champlain on February 2, 2013.  We raised $10,221 for Special Olympics Vermont and also raised $600 for our Unified Sports Programs (Bocce and Snowshoeing.) There were new plungers and many who returned from prior years to take the plunge.

My first time doing the Penguin Plunge was in 2011 on my 13th birthday.  I had a great time turning into an icicle!  The first year I wore a black mullet wig into the lake because I thought it would keep my ears warm. After plunging, I asked my Mom this really weird question, “Can I do this every single day?”  Mom said, “No, but you can plunge again next year.”  I’ve plunged every year since then and hope to for many more years.

Now try to imagine what jumping into a frozen lake would feel like!  It takes about 10 seconds from the Staging tent to getting into the lake. When I went under I felt like I just suffered a non-electrical stun right through my body!  I could walk, but I felt like my legs were made out of cement!  It takes a little longer getting back to the changing tent, which is heated.  For the last 3 years, I was the 3rd to last person out.  I love the feeling of the ice cold water!!

I’m hoping more WCS staff and students will consider joining the Williston Central School Plunge Team next year!!  Congratulations to this year’s Williston Central School Plunge team!! Great job!!

Meghan Eustace

Brutal wind, freezing weather, ice everywhere, snow. This sounds like the Arctic right? Well actually, it’s the Burlington Waterfront in the beginning of February. Imagine running in the 30 degree water during the winter.  Sounds crazy, right? Well about 1,000 people or more decided it would be a fun idea to run into the water, me being one of them. I was a part of the Williston Central School Penguin Plunge team. We raised money for our Unified Sports team. This experience is one I am sure not to forget.  I only went into the water a little above my knees, but it still was the coldest I have ever been. Right when you run into the water you cannot feel your body, it’s very very cold. No matter how cold the water was, I still had a really great time. The experience is breathtaking; it’s a rush of nerves and excitement. Most people have no problem running right in, and even dive into the ice water; I was a little different going in. I hesitated at first, and then ran in! Remember, think again when you you don’t go into a cold pool, because trust me, there is colder water you could be swimming in!

penguin plunge

Maggie Warren

Every year in February in Burlington, more than 1,000 people jump into Lake Champlain to raise money for the Special Olympics.  I am proud to say that I am one of them.  The Penguin Plunge is basically a lot people jumping into freezing water trying to raise money for the Special Olympics.  This past Penguin Plunge was my third year doing it and I can’t wait to do it again next year!  The day of the Penguin Plunge is crazy; everybody who signed up is there plus watchers, friends and family, so the place is packed.  You have to wait about two hours before actually going in the water.  First, you go to the sign-in tent where you  sign in and get your free hat and gift bag, there’s also hot chocolate and bagels. Then you go to the changing tent where you get into whatever you are wearing into the water.  After that, you and your group walk (or run) to the staging tent where you wait for your number to be called.  The staging tent is really small and it has a lot of excited and anxious people in it, so it feels like the tent is shaking.  Everybody is really excited and nervous to go out because you are about to jump into frozen water!  It takes a lot of courage to do the Penguin Plunge and everybody gets nervous. “At this point I don’t want to do it anymore.”  said team member Cassidy right before jumping in!  After that it is pretty much how everyone explains it: wet and really cold.   Then you are running out you grab a towel and heading in the direction everyone else is going – back to the changing tent. Unfortunately,  most of the people on the WCS team are boys, so on my first year I found myself in the boys changing tent! I have learned my lesson and luckily that has never happened since then. The Penguin Plunge is a great way to raise money for the Special Olympics and have a really fun time!  I can’t wait until next year!

March 13, 2013 at 6:34 pm 5 comments

A Sterling House Tradition

Jordan Van Wilde

On Thursday, August 30, 2012  Sterling house went on a hike. Where did they go? Sterling Pond. Sterling goes every year. On the way up many people’s legs hurt because the hike is very steep. Although their legs hurt it was worth it because the view was so beautiful. We ate lunch up there and then we went down. Everyone was so happy to be down again but some kids were disappointed that we had to go back to school. I interviewed  some kids in Sterling House, here’s what they said,

1] How is the view at Sterling Pond?
Ethan said really cool. Lucas said that he saw cool things like plants. Liam said, “I like the rocks there.”  Martha said, “It is a good view.”

2] Is the hike too long?
Ethan said, “It’s too long.”  Lucas said, It’s too short.”  Both Liam and Martha said that it’s not too long.

3] Do you think we should go every year? All four said yes!

4] Do you think the hike is worth it? All four said yes!

The Sterling House tradition of hiking to Sterling Pond at the beginning of the year is great!

October 16, 2012 at 6:32 pm 13 comments

Sterling on Broadway

By Makenzie Detch and Sophie Beliveau

In February, Sterling House students performed two grim fairytales, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hanes Christan Anderson, and “The Pied Piper” by the The Grimm Brothers.

In Hanes Christan Anderson’s classical tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, a boy named Peter lives with his grandmother. One day, they run out of money so Peter is determined to go into town, get a job, and make some money. He meets a blacksmith that leads him to the emperor’s palace. Peter tricks the emperor to think that he makes “magic” clothes even though he can’t. He pretends to make the magic clothes that are invisible to anyone who is unfit for their position or unfit for royalty. Later, at the royal precession, the emperor comes out without clothes, and gets revenge on Peter. “The best part was when the emperor was sleep-walking onto the stage.” Reports Tyler. Julianna feels that “The precession was the best part.”

In the Grimm Brothers tale “The Pied Piper”, Hamelin Town has trouble with rats so the piper comes to help. The piper exclaims that he’ll rid the town of rats for 1,000 dollars. After the deal was made, the piper got to work and all the rats left Hamelin Town. The Mayor and the city Council members decided to cheat the piper out of his fee. So the Piper gets mad and leads Hamelin Town’s kids toward the Kolpperburgh Hill that’s a thousand feet high. Hamelin Town loses their purse-strings and their collars then decides to pay him the 1,000 dollars. “The best part was when the townspeople yelled at Browning.” according to Liam. Shannon sums up the experience by saying, “The best part was being on stage having fun with all my friends.”

In conclusion, we think Sterling House did a wonderful job with these productions. We hope they do more good plays next year!

March 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm 6 comments

Enrichment Garden Science Class

A group of 5th and 6th graders from across the school has been working with Andrew the Gardener, Mrs. Gigliotti and Mrs. Milks to understand our school garden, management of this and all gardens,  and how the vegetation around the garden has developed over time.  As part of the class, students completed research for and produced the following blog entries.  Service was also a major component of the course and the students participated in service sessions in which they put the school gardens to bed, turned, spread and stacked the compost, and assisted 3rd and 4th grade art classes in a soap making project.

Plants vs. Weeds    

Angela Tarracciano, Shayla Lawrence, and Nick Petrunich       




A plant is something that you plant!                 Some plants that you would find in the garden here at school are mint, broccoli, kale, and Brussel sprouts. Weeds are plants that naturally grow on their own.  Some weeds you would find in our garden is dandelion and grass.



The WCS Medicinal Plant Bed

Sierra Polley

The following plants can be found in our WCS Garden medicinal plant bed.  Please see the table for potential uses.

Information taken from: Bremness, Lesley. Herbs. New York: Dorling Kindersley, 2002. Print.


Medicinal Uses



Stimulates the body’s defenses against disease.  It is antibiotic, antiviral and restores inflamed connective tissue, treats fevers and may reduce allergies.



Stimulate digestion and reduce flatulence.  Helps get rid of colds and can relieve headaches and other pain.  If you inhale the essential oil, you can treat nausea.



The volatile oils in sage kill bacteria, making the herb useful for all types of bacterial infections.




The seeds can be used to treat coughs and kidney inflammation.  The root is a laxative and treats stomach pain.

Wild Strawberry


Used to relieve kidney and liver issues.  Can be made into juice that may relieve fevers.  Soothes sunburn and lightens freckles.  Makes a common herbal tea and can be used as an oily skin tone


November 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm 16 comments

Enrichment Garden Class Looks at Succession


The Enrichment Garden Class learned about succession and the development of the WCS property over time.

The Concept of Succession

Nathan VanBuren and Abby Rosenthal

In our garden class we talked about what happens when there is disaster that brings plant life in that area to ground zero. This is the beginning of the process called succession. The stages of succession are annual plants, perennial plants and grasses; shrubs; young forest; mature forest and finally, climax forest . You’re probably thinking, “What do these words mean”! Well this handy table should help.

Name of stage

Years in that stage

Plants in that stage

What’s Happening

Annual plants. First 5 years Grasses, wild flowers Pioneer plants like grasses and wild flowers flourish
Perennial plants and grasses. 6 to 25 years Tree seedlings, Large shrubs Tree seedlings and shrubs take root.
Young forest  26 to 50 years Deciduous trees, Evergreens Deciduous trees develop and shade the forest
Mature forest 51 to 150 years Evergreen trees Evergreen trees take over the forest which opens holes in the canopy for annual plants
Climax forest 150 to 300 years Oak or maple, or fewer larger evergreens Larger trees dominate the forest


Succession in Williston

Nate Cuttitta and Zach Hark

 Williston Central School in 2007 (taken by Jessie Fleischer), and below in 1970

 For many years this area was forested.  In the 1700s, signs of industry started to appear.  The forest was chopped down for agriculture, especially in the northern part of town because it is close to the Winooski River.  In the early to mid-1800s, farmers grew a variety of crops and kept sheep.  The railroad was built along the Winooski River at this time.  Development, including a gristmill, train station and other important businesses along the railroad tracks in North Williston happened at this time.  The development of the railroad and farm land development in the mid-west led to the growth of dairy farming in North Eastern towns like Williston.  In the 1900s, dairy farming continued, but fluid milk replaced butter and cheese as dairy product that were produced.  During the time from Williston’s settlement until the 1940’s, several one room school houses were scattered around Williston.  Before Williston Central School was built, several buildings and farmland were where the School now stands.

Some information taken from Allen, Richard H, (1987) Our Town: Williston, Vermont, Williston Central School.  Photographs and maps supplied by Richard Allen.

For more information, see


Williston Village in the days of early settlement (left).  Topographic map from 1948 that shows vegitation in yellow (below).

November 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm 9 comments

Enrichment Garden Class works to Put The WCS Garden To Bed

How to Put a Garden to Bed

Evan Turner and Nick Durieux

It’s the end of the season and you have all this good and nutritious stuff going to waste. All these useful ideas could be used to make sure you are making the most of your garden this year and preparing it for a great growing season next year.

 How to put a garden to bed:

  1. Play “Dead or Alive”.  We pulled out lots of dead plants from the garden clean out service session.
  2. Dead goes to compost.
  3. Choose what you want to eat and eat it.  We ate cale and broccoli.
  4. See if we can harvest seeds from anything.  In our medicinal plant garden we kept the big aster, strawberries, and Echinacea plant.  We also kept the sage and some mint.  We cut and dried echinacea flowers and sunflowers so that we can plant the seeds later.
  5. Turn the soil and add compost.


Tools that will help you put a garden to bed:

  • snippers-make sure to secure the lock when you are not using these
  • spading fork- get weeds out by roots
  • rake- for raking and smoothing
  • forked hoe- to rip open the ground (loosens soil in long line, and then you can take out the weeds
  • Grabby fork- like rake, only grabber
  • Wheelbarrow- for carting stuff

 NO More wasted plants and a happy garden for the future!


November 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm 6 comments

Enrichment Garden Class Participates in Science-Art Collaboration

Having Fun AND Learning at The Same Time!

Danielle Urban & Shannon Loiseau

Equinox house third and fourth grade students worked with Andrew (The gardener), Ms. Baker, Ms. Amanda from Equinox, Ms. Milks, and the Garden Class student helpers  to use their math, science, art and team work skills to make a soap. They made a variety of different soaps using herbs, plants and oils.

One recipe that they developed contained yarrow, birch, lavender, ylang ylang, a bit of oatmeal, a drop of sage and a Shea butter soap base. Another recipe included birch, clove, wintergreen, oatmeal and an olive oil base. Although the classes developed different recipes, they were similar.

Some of the ingredients the students had to choose from were:

Herbs Oils
Birch- Pain Relief
Yarrow- Skin astringent (cleanser)
Calendula- Skin astringent (cleanser)
Oatmeal- Skin calming
Rose Buds- Relieves stress
Mint- Energizing
Lavender- Calming scent
Anise Hyssop- Scent
Beet Root- Pink Color
Ailonet- Red/Brown Color
Clover- Comfort and Pain Relief
Rosemary- Awakening
Eucalyptus- Cleansing
Patchouli- Relaxing
Ylang Ylang – Relaxing
Vetiver- Grounding
Wintergreen- Awakening

The students could choose one oil and a variety of different herbs and plants. If you want to make soap we would recommend to pick plants, herbs and oils that go well with each other.

We hope you have fun making your sensational soap!  Soap you later!

November 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm 5 comments

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