Posts filed under ‘Voyager’

Continental Math

Alison Spasyk

Twelve years ago, Mr. Reese was 15 years older than his son is now. If the son is now 10 years old, how old is Mr. Reese now?

This is Continental Math. It’s all about problem solving. Students working on problems that really make you think a little harder. Continental Math groups usually meet once a week with a parent volunteer. Groups practice problems and learn problem solving strategies. It is a great way to build up your math confidence and you can prove what you have learned once a month when there is a meet. A meet is like a test consisting of six challenging problems, each getting harder. You have 30 minutes to complete the questions.

You do not have to be great at math to participate in Continental Math. It is for anyone grades 2-8 at any level. It is a great way to improve your skills and learn useful math concepts that will not only help you in the monthly tests but in everyday math class and beyond. Continental Math is also extremely fun and enriching.

This year’s Continental math session has just ended, but we are always looking for new people for next year. Continental math is also competitive. The third grade winner this year was Amanda Li and second place was Jessica Klein. First place in the fourth grade was a tie between Benjamin Herskowitz and Baker Angstman and second place was Storm Rushford. In the fifth grade, first place was Ben Klein and second place was Justin Schaaf. The winner of the sixth grade was Ananth Malladi and second place was Sam Gelin. First place in the seventh grade was Will Hubbard and second place went to Zach Varricchione. The winner of the eighth grade was Kathy Joseph and second place was Alison Spasyk.

And for those who put on their thinking caps, the answer to the sample 8th grade problem above is that Mr. Reese is now 37 years old.

May 9, 2012 at 7:32 pm Leave a comment

Madeleine Barrett; Avid Student Playwright

Madeleine Barrett

I was ridiculously excited. But intermixed with that excitement was a bit of nervousness. Okay, a lot of nervousness. I had only contacted these people through e-mail. I had never met them, nor had they met me. What if I did not live up to what they expected of me? What if they thought I was just a child? Or worse— what if there were other children there and I was taking this too seriously?

These were all the thoughts I had while walking into Flynn Space on Monday, the second of April. I had been invited to judge the plays for Young Playwrights, a program in which I was a participant last year.

I had contacted Cristina Weakland, the director of education, and she had come up with opportunities to help me in my 8th grade challenge, but also in my passion for writing and theatre. She then directed me to Joan Robinson, the Associate Director for School Programs. They invited me to come help judge the plays submitted by the schools around Vermont, and then to attend the Festival in May. I was awestruck by this honor.

That very same day as the judging, I had come back from a weekend trip to Boston for a final showing of Les Misérables on tour (Yes, this is what we playwrights do in our spare time) and I was so tired that all my negative thoughts ate at me. What if? What if? It was not helped by the fact that when I got there, the inside door was locked. Just in front of it was a sign that read: Young Playwrights Judging meets down here, with a nice and big arrow pointing to the stairs. The elevator would not go down. What if I had come to the wrong place? Or the wrong time? What if it was the wrong day?  My father and I stood there for a few moments, awkwardly shifting in the thick silence. But soon a woman with short hair wearing a white Irish cable knit sweater went to unlock the door. I opened my mouth to speak, but she didn’t seem to notice me or my 6-foot-something father. But just as she turned the key, she also turned to me, and said welcomingly—

“Are you Madeleine Barrett?” and extended her hand as I said yes. She brought me down to the basement stage room and explained to me what would be happening. I was still a tad jumpy, but seeing that stage down there and feeling the atmosphere made me feel much more secure; and as the others filed in, I knew I was with my own ‘kind’ and I felt completely at ease. Some people as they walked in looked confused at my presence and my tiny briefcase. Some looked just plain surprised. Others rushed toward me and introduced themselves, asking about what brought me here. I met my e-mail buddies, along with seeing people I already knew. When we began, we sat and introduced ourselves. We were to state our name and what force had brought us here, or our occupation. The line slowly progressed toward me. Each person had fantastic feats under their belts— like being in medical school or producing a show professionally, and I wasn’t sure what to say to make me sound in the least bit impressive. Finally they all glanced toward me. And the words were coming out before I knew it.

“Madeleine Barrett; avid student playwright.” I said certainly. They all smiled— some seemed as if it was because I was ‘cute’, but most others looked almost proud at how well I was blending in. I was the only younger-than-adult person there. When they divided into groups of four and divvied up the plays, the real fun began. We’d go through a play, making it come to life as best we could, and then comment and rate it. Between plays, I’d glance at the treat bowl in the center of the table, which none had yet taken from. I must not give into my childish urge for sweets! I did not want to be the first to break, but I was. Oh, well.

Each play was unique. Some did need some clear editing work, but they all shined in their own light. One of the things I found was that the group much preferred the plays of the middle-school pupils than that of the high school students. We had some real fun with characters, and it is not because we’re all undiscovered stars that an agent was never lucky enough to pick up. Well, that too. But it was because each person really made their characters, and story, shine in one way or another.

I must admit, I was much impressed by the work of the students. Now, the last thing I wish to be sounding like is superior. I am most certainly not, or I at least do not think of myself as being this way. I make mistakes; have stiff dialogue in some places; and sometimes many too-dramatic-storylines, among other things. When my school selected Young Playwrights participants this Fall, I was not selected since I had already had the chance to participate last year.  I felt an unbelievable sadness about this. I was jealous of those who were lucky enough to have their name plucked by fate. For a long time I was bitter.   But now I know without my misfortune, I would have never have looked for another way to be involved and have this awe-inspiring experience. By reading the work of others, I gained insight into my own writing.

I grabbed my briefcase and the last bits of chocolate from the treat bowl, looking around the near-empty room. Our group was the last one there. My father came in, right on time, 7:00 pm, and waved. They greeted him as Madeleine’s father.  “You can call me Bob,” he said with a wry smile, “but my name’s David.” We all laughed.  “Now we know where she gets it from.” Joan said with a wink.

April 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm 4 comments

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Magic of the Big Top Awaits…

Sophia Gigliotti

 This past week was the Voyager production, “Clowns and Crooks”. The play was written and directed by Voyager teacher, Mr. Messer and Madeleine Barrett, a Voyager student. Students received their scripts before Winter break, and the students rehearsed from Winter break until the performance day. The performance was held on January 19th to an enthusiastic audience of parents and friends. It took a lot of effort, and every Voyager student had a part in the production. Big or small, every job was very important.

 In the play, a family, the Carr’s, are mugged on their return from a showing of “Breaking Dawn” by a seemingly common criminal. They soon discover that the criminal is much more dangerous than expected. The witness protection program moves the family to the circus, and the main character, Olive Carr, does not have an easy transition to her new life. She runs away, and finds out her family is in danger. Realizing the importance of family, she heads back to the circus to save the day.

 Before Winter Break started, Voyager held auditions for everyone interested in being onstage. Students could sign up for an acting role, stage crew, props, publicity, costumes, lights, sound, or an acting extra, which is a non-speaking role. For auditions, there was a reading for each character. Our directors, Mr. Messer and Madeleine Barrett, were in charge of casting for every Voyager student.

When I asked Voyager students if they had learned or gained anything from being in the play, Marlee Gunn, a stage manager of the play, said “I learned about being backstage and working together to get things done on time.” Being in a play can be very beneficial to students, because they learn important skills to work together, make friends, and gain confidence onstage. Maddie Collins, who played the youngest Carr, Sydney, answered “I think I have definitely gained confidence in myself because I needed to perform in front of a big audience, and in order to do that you need to be confident, especially when you’re dressed like a three year old!”

 A few stage crew members and Ms. Hill (a teacher in Voyager) painted our sets, which turned out fabulously! As Marlee mentioned, Voyager was pretty rushed on time since Winter break fell within our production time. We really had to work together and make sure everyone was helping, and we made it! The props, costumes, sets, and the actors all had to hurry to make the deadline, and everything came out great! Good job to the Voyager cast and crew for the wonderful production, “Clowns and Crooks!”

January 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm 11 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 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

Enrichment Garden Class Composts


Jessica Gagne

Compost is a nutrient rich soil that you get when you mix kitchen scraps and yard waste. When these things decompose, compost is created.


  • Brown stuff- for example, dried grass, leaves and shredded newspaper (carbon rich)
  • Green stuff-for example, vegetable peels and fruit rinds (nitrogen rich)
  • Dirt, water, compost turning tool like a pitchfork
  • Compost bin (or spot for a compost pile)


  1. First you need a compost bin.  You can buy or make your own bin.  See the links below for how to build your own bin.
  2. Layer your brown and green materials.  You need a mix of brown and green stuff.  See more information.
  3. Water it.  Compost needs to be damp like a squeezed out sponge.  It should be able to drain easily.
  4. Turn your compost to increase air flow.  To increase air flow, you can turn your compost with a shovel or pitchfork every few days or once a week.



Learn More About Composting

Shorya Malhotra, Tommy Zych, Skyler Blow, MattYakubik

The following links could help you with composting.  As part of our garden class, we learned about how to compost.  A few of us reviewed a bunch of websites for composting as a smaller group project.  We think these might be most helpful links.




November 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm 2 comments

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