Posts filed under ‘Swift’

Candidate Forum

Ella Workman

“On Oct. 5, a month and a day before voters across the nation will decide the political future of America, a panel of candidates took the stage at Williston Central School for an hour-long Q-and-A session.” Luke Baynes, Williston Observer. I am proud to say that I got to be there for that Q-and-A session.

I have to say, I started off with low expectations for this event. Politics, not just as a class or a subject, but as a whole, is mind-numbingly boring to me. I thought a full hour of it would be even worse, and then, to rub salt in the wounds, I actually had to pay attention;  not end up drawing like I normally do when I need a break. Oh, no. I had to be on the ball, completely paying attention because I was running sound for an important event. Without a tech rehearsal. So not only was I nervous about being bored, I was nervous about messing up. But as they say, those who are not nervous are not careful. But I was completely shocked by the outcome of this event. It was awesome. I was actually interested in what they were saying! And to top it off, THEY were saying it!

Quite frankly, reading a black and white packet from a textbook does nothing for me. It’s not my style. But watching real people debate over their beliefs was just entertaining! It was fun and interesting to watch how the candidates reacted to the other candidate’s opinions, and, it was most fun when they were fuming but had to keep their composure. It was also really interesting to see what topics they were weak on. You could tell that by when they were stalling for less time. You could tell that they were stalling because they would go on for over half their time limit thanking us, than give rudimentary facts because they ‘ran out of time’; but when they knew what they were doing they got into the subject topic really quickly and wasted no time, and really got into depth about what they’re doing and why and how it’ll work, and why the opposite party opposes it. It’s kind of like a debate, and I love debates. The dynamics and the passion as people fight for what they think is right….such a wonderful learning experience.

In conclusion, the candidate forum blew my mind with how deeply engrossing and interesting it was to watch; although the dynamics from the candidates or their representatives was the best. It was full of passion, which is a far cry from some reading, and I wish we could do more things like this.

January 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm Leave a comment

Swift House Camp-out 2012

Carly Labrie and Alexis Meyer

On September 6th Swift House students boarded the buses for our annual camping trip at Grand Isle State Park. Every year, Swift House carries on the tradition of going camping to make our team stronger and to get to know other students. 8th graders, in pairs of 2 or 3, are the leaders of camping groups that they create about a week before. In the days of preparation, the camping groups plan who brings what in terms of food, the tent, and other supplies that are needed. In the morning, everyone lugs in their bags full of equipment.

When we arrive at the camp grounds, everyone goes to their tent sites to get ready for the day ahead. After everyone is unpacked and ready, we head down to an open field near the lake. There, activities are set up to entertain us throughout the next few hours. First, we all stand in a big circle, all facing one way. Now, it’s time to start the lap-sit. On the count of three we all squat down and sit on each others laps. So you are pretty much holding everyone elses weight in the circle. Then we split up into a girls circle and a boys circle. We have a competition to see who can stay up the longest. The girls always win!

Now, a boy and girl camp group are combined to participate and cycle throughout the different rotations that have been set up for us. One traditional rotation for Swift House is the spider web. There are ropes all tied and criss-crossed across an empty swing set. The older and bigger students usually lift the smaller students through the holes. The objective is to get your whole team on the other side, without touching any of the ropes or reusing holes.

At night, we have a traditional bonfire, where each of the individual groups perform skits. The 8th graders also have their own skit to amuse the audience. There are some skit’s that we have seen before, and some that are more original and new. After everyone presents their skits, we all sit down and sing traditional songs around the fire. A couple songs are; Let it Be, Yellow Submarine, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and more. During the singing, people pass around candles and we light them, using the flame from other peoples candles. After the singing is done, people make speeches about Swift House while their candle is still lit. After our candles have been blown out, we head back to our camp sites for a long night’s rest, until morning comes.

September 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm 4 comments

Swift House Enrichment Science Class Protects the Allen Brook through Service Learning

Some background from Williston Central School Enrichment Teacher Cris Milks:

Eleven students were selected to participate in an exciting Enrichment/Swift House collaborative project that was embedded in the Swift House Earth Systems Unit.  Within the unit, students had the opportunity to learn about a variety of earth science topics including the rock cycle and water cycle.  This project has been an authentic opportunity to learn how both the water cycle and rock cycle come into play in our community.  Completing independent research, meeting with Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti, and participating in a service project were integral parts of the class.

By Chiara Antonioli and Hannah Bohmann

 On Thursday December eighth, eleven students from Williston Central School’s Swift House took a field trip to the Allen Brook to help with the “Brook Project”. We left at eleven in the morning in our enrichment teacher and parent volunteer’s cars. When we got there we hiked down to the water to help tarp and wrap trees. Lauren Chicote, an AmeriCorp Environmental Educator from Winooski Valley Park District, was there to help us and show us what to do.   

We did this because the Allen Brook might overflow onto the ground and wash away the earth. Nothing could be left after the next big storm! As storm water flows into the Allen Brook the trees will stop erosion and suck up toxic chemicals and bacteria like E. Coli. With the trees there, it will stop the overflow and poison; the Allen Brook will be saved!

First we got into groups and started to put plastic tubes around the growing trees to prevent the deer from eating them. We worked in pairs to dig small trenches, slide the tubes on, and hold them in place with bamboo poles.  Once that was done, we had to put plastic mats around the base of the tree so critters (mice and other small creatures) wouldn’t eat the roots.  These are held in place with metal stakes.

 The trees will absorb toxins in the water so that our water is cleaner.  This means that it will be less expensive to purify for drinking and household water.   It costs less to purify nearly clean water then it does to purify toxic water. The trees will also hold the soil in place so when the river overflows, it won’t wash away all the soil.

We have taken the time to interview some of the people from our group.  We asked two students on the trip questions about their experience and about other ways we can keep our watershed healthy. 

 We asked Bennet Cheer, “How can we stop runoff from happening besides planting trees?” He responded, “You can insert a rain barrel and wash your car on the lawn, not on the pavement.” Inserting a rain barrel can help catch water running off your roof.   If you wash your car on pavement then all the toxins go straight into the storm drain without being cleaned by the grass and earth.

 We asked Morgan Roberts: “What do you think would be a result of further erosion and poison in the Allen Brook?” She responded, “The fish and their habitats would die out. It would turn into a dump! You wouldn’t be able to wade in it. Not pleasant…” This means that all of the erosion will make the brook walls larger and wider. All of the water will get shallower and shallower and eventually it will almost be completely gone. Another thing that could happen would be all of the plants and grass would grow in it because of fertilizer washing into the brook. Fertilizer is washed off of farm land and yards during storms.  It could turn into a swamp from all the toxins and bacteria pouring in from the storm drains.

 We asked our Swift House teacher and service project helper, Amy Skapof, “Have you ever seen erosion in your day to day life?” Skapof replied, “Yes! Killington, on the side of the road.   Also on trails after Hurricane Irene.”

 We asked Karen Cutler, a parent volunteer on our trip, “How did you feel about this field trip as a great learning experience?” Cutler responded: “As a mom, I get into the habit of thinking that kids need instruction, supervision, and prodding to get real work done.  What I love about projects like this is seeing how you young people can self-organize into teams and work efficiently and responsibly, pretty much on your own.  Of course you need some instruction at first, to know what to do, and adult supervision is important to keep everyone safe, but you guys kicked butt out there and got everything done on time.  I think you had fun doing it, too.  I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see you all working so cooperatively; I’ve known some of you since first grade, and you have learned so much since then.  I think I had a glimpse of the future… and it looks good.”

Our community service trip was very fun and we learned so much. Wrapping and tubing trees is a great way to learn and experience science. This would be a great hands-on project to do with other small groups for school. 

December 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm 15 comments

Rock Cycle

Morgan Roberts and Johnny Colt

During our Swift House Enrichment course we have been learning about Earth systems. In this unit we have been learning about the rock cycle and the water cycle.  What we have learned about these earth systems has helped us to understand how and why storm water runoff is such a big issue in Williston.

The rock cycle is a cycle that rocks take on their life.  Rocks cycle through the three different types of rock over very long periods of time.  The rock types are sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Igneous.  Sedimentary rock is formed when sand, pebbles, and shells  and other sediments are compressing together over many years. Metamorphic rock occurs when existing rocks change because of increased heat and pressure. Igneous rock is when magma cools and hardens, for example when lava cools.

A metamorphic rock is formed when the rock is under ground, and it starts heating and is under a lot of pressure.  It starts to melt and stretch which means that it sort of looks like the rock it started out as but stretched out and melted. An example of this is gneiss.

An igneous rock is formed when the rock is far underground where it is very hot.  As it reaches the surface (as a volcano) or close to the surface it starts to harden and crystallize.  If it cools quickly it can be all shiny and smooth like obsidian. When igneous rocks come up to the surface and weatherize and then erosion happens and then it gets laid back down as sediment to makes sedimentary rock.

The way this works is when sedimentary rock deforms and turns into metamorphic rock. Metamorphic rock melts and crystallizes and turns into Igneous rock. Then Igneous rock weathers to the surface then erosion happens and depositions and compacts to make sedimentary rock. That’s how the rock cycle works.

The rock cycle is what makes us have rocks of different types, so if we didn’t have this system, there probably would only be sand.  All and all the rock cycle is really important, that’s our way of finding diamonds, gold and other special rocks. If we didn’t have this systems all of our rocks would always stay the same and nothing would ever happen to them. Just think if we didn’t have this system?

December 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm 4 comments

Water Cycle

Ananth Malladi, Baxter Bishop and Prince Yodishembo

The same water cycles again and again. 

 Step 1  Water starts as runoff from precipitation and drains to a lake or an ocean or another large water body.

Step 2  The water starts in a lake or a stream and evaporates to form water vapor.  Water vapor also comes from plants during transpiration.

Step 3  Water condenses in the cloud. When enough water molecules build up in a cloud, it gets heavy enough to rain down. This is called precipitation.  Precipitation could also be snow, hail or ice.

Step 4  When the water reaches the ground it goes into the ground.  This is called infiltration. The water travels underground. When it feeds back into waterways or the ocean is called the subsurface outflow. It can also come out on the ground in springs or be stored underground in aquifers.

The water lands on pavement and goes into the sewer.  The water travels throughout the sewer until it is dumped out into a lake or an ocean. With the Allen Brook, water travels from that to the Winooski river, which travels to lake Champlain, which leads to the Atlantic ocean.

The rain goes straight into a body of water like a spring, river, lake or an ocean.       

 The cycle starts all over again.

December 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm 9 comments

Watershed Health

 Bennett Cheer and Jeff Goldman

According to the Town of Williston Comprehensive Plan for Watershed Health, the development of Williston has increased over the past several years.   This has affecting the volume, velocity, and quality of surface runoff in the town.  These changes are affecting the stability of the stream’s channel and the heath of the aquatic, wetland, and riparian communities along the stream.   Impacts created by land use in these areas, along with state and federal laws, have moved Williston to make watershed management a major priority.  The Allen Brook has been placed on the state list of impaired waters.

An example of how erosion and runoff brings sediment and nutrients into the water is that there has been a very large amount of dangerous blue green algae blooms in Lake Iroquois in the past two years.  An example of development near waterways can be seen as Vermont technical College is facing growth and wants to build an extra parking lot to accommodate for its new students.  As reported in the Williston Observer, “The school population is growing each year around 5 percent, and to accommodate that growth in the next year, we need more parking,” said Michael Burke, a senior project engineer with Kerbs & Lansing. The idea was stopped by the Williston Development Review Board (DRB) which cited associated environmental concerns.

There are several things Williston is doing to control erosion and water pollution. The first thing the town is doing is putting in rain gardens. Rain gardens treat and slow down polluted water that comes from tar surfaces and other impervious surfaces. Williston is also asking for people to put in downspouts with gutter extensions. These prevent erosion because rather than creating runoff they make it so the water goes into the ground. The third thing Williston is doing is having outreach workshops to teach people how to make and use rain barrels. These prevent erosion because the water will not turn into runoff which badly erodes the ground.   They have more information about what homeowners can do to keep the watershed healthy at


As you my or not know, the Allen Brook is slowly eroding and being polluted. The town approved up to $114,119 in funds to help this problem. Over 43.59 acres of land is being preserved so that trees can be planted there to suck in toxins and prevent erosion of the Allen Brook.  This year, 17 acres of trees were planted and over 23 acres of conservation easements were created.


On Friday, December 16th we went to the Town Planning and Zoning Office to have an interview with Planner Jessica Andreoletti.  We asked her for some examples of what Williston is doing to manage stormwater. She replied that Williston is:

  • Street sweeping to keep dirt out of the watershed by keeping storm drains clear.
  • The town also sponsors outreach and education workshops are being held for homeowners.
  • Scientists are studying the banks of the Allen Brook and other waterways to look for erosion.  They are also monitoring waterways for water quality.
  • Williston is putting in retention ponds in new development to keep the water from turning into runoff too quickly and causing erosion.
  • Homeowners within150 feet of named waterways and 50 feet of unnamed waterways have to say that they will not build anything on their land.  Homeowners may be able to build if they do mitigation to increase the waterway health in another way.


The town is also doing active restoration which is construction like cutting banks and putting in fish lunkers (habitat for fish). Some of the passive stream restoration things that are going on around the Allen Brook are that trees are being planted on the banks to hold the soil in place and take out harmful nutrients and toxins. They are also getting conservation easements so no one builds anything else around the stream. So far there has not been any evidence of the water quality getting better on the Allen Brook.  Although it’s hard to predict, Andreoletti hopes that water quality will begin to improve in the next ten years.


The town of Williston keeps our watershed healthy by keeping people from building without carefully planning.  If erosion is not controlled over time, rivers would erode until they ate away houses and buildings, pollution would kill all bugs and fish, and there would be algae blooms that would eliminate dissolved oxygen in the water and kill fish and bugs.  


For this project, we used these sources:                                                                           
1. Stormwater Projects in Williston – Stormwater – Town of Williston, Vermont (website)
2. Williston Observer Board approves Brook project By Adam White October 6, 2011 Observer staff
3.Vermont Tech wants to add a lot, DRB cites environmental issues Dec. 1 2011 By Luke Baynes Observer staff
4.Town Of Williston 2011 DRAFT Comprehensive Plan CHAPTER 11 WATERSHED HEALTH

5. December 16th Interview with Town Planner Jessica Andreoletti

December 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm 3 comments

Storm Water Runoff (And how it Affects Watershed Health)

Molly Duncan and Julia Neeld

Storm Water Runoff is when you have rain that gets dirty or polluted and it gets into streams then rivers and then larger bodies of water. This will do a lot of harm to our environment. Because the water is polluted it can harm and/or kill aquatic life. Town workers and managers have had to close some small lakes or bodies of water that people swim in because it is so polluted. Williston has been failing the water quality tests. What has been happening is that algae is blooming near lakes and dogs are eating them and dying. There is also a lot more that has been happening so please visit: to learn more about it and see what you can do!

There are lots of things we can do to prevent this. One way that you can prevent this is by putting a rain barrel near your gutter so that it can collect rain. This will help because on the waters way down to the sewer, it may collect sorts of things like cans, bottles, cigarettes, and all the other garbage that is on the ground. Also it may collect oil from cars. So what the rain barrels does is it keeps all of that water from going down into the sewer, and that will help a lot. Also it not only helps bodies of water from polluting, but it also helps prevent bodies of water from flooding, and erosion.

Another way to prevent storm water runoff is if you can put a gutter extension on your house, then it can decrease roof and driveway runoff. This will help because it allows the water to be filtered out naturally through the ground before it goes into the waterway through the ground.

One of the last things that you can do to prevent runoff is by putting a rain garden in front of your house. A rain garden is a bowl shaped garden. It is supposed to absorb and clean all of the rain before it goes into and bigger bodies of water.

We hope that you take action and try to help us prevent storm water runoff by doing any of these things to help. You can help by putting a rain barrel in your yard, attaching a gutter extension to your house, or by putting a rain garden in front of your house.  You can also do anything else that you have learned about that can help storm water runoff and improve watershed health. Thank you.

December 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm 6 comments

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