Monday, December 31, 2007

Pop video filmed at Barnes library

The Smittens filmed their new music video in the Barnes library this weekend, with plenty of Barnes kids as extras.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Old North End Nutcracker video

Or view on a larger screen at

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Old North End Nutcracker Goes on the Road

12/25 at 2pm: Multigenerational Center on N. Winooski (for the Center's Holiday Dinner)
12/26 at 2pm: Shelburne Bay Senior Residence
12/26 at 4pm: The Arbors in Shelburne
12/27 at 2pm: Starr Farm Nursing in the New North End

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Old North End Nutcracker on Channel 17

Catch a broadcast of the Old North End Nutcrackers on Channel 17 at any of these times:

Fri Dec 21, 7:00 PM
Sat Dec 22, 6:05 AM
Sat Dec 22, 12:05 PM
Sat Dec 22, 6:05 PM
Sun Dec 23, 5:45 AM
Sun Dec 23, 11:45 AM
Sun Dec 23, 5:45 PM
Mon Dec 24, 7:00 PM
Mon Dec 24, 10:00 PM
Tue Dec 25, 3:00 AM
Tue Dec 25, 9:00 AM
Tue Dec 25, 3:00 PM

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Old North End Nutcracker Packs the House

Barnes parents and Old North End community members packed the Barnes cafeteria this afternoon for a performance of the "Old North End Nutcracker." Based on the famously Tchaikovsky ballet, but adapted by the kids who performed it, the Old North End Nutcracker tells the story of how the girl Clara receives a magical Nutcracker as a gift while celebrating the winter season with friends and family. The Nutcracker comes to life, toy soldiers battle mice, but Clara makes the King of Mice and the Nutcracker stop fighting and become friends. The three are then entertained by dancers from around the world, including both the Spanish, Arabian and Russian dances from the ballet and Nepali, Somali Bantu and Turkish dances from the cultures of various Barnes families.

The Turkish dance (with Clara and the Nutcracker in the lower right):

The crowd:

The Spanish dancers take a bow:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Saturday: The Old North End Nutcracker

Don’t miss this great neighborhood production!

The Old North End Nutcracker
3 p.m.
Saturday, December 15
Lawrence Barnes Elementary
Admission: Free

(donations accepted)

The Barnes Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) will be selling hot chocolate, coffee, tea, popcorn and home-made baked goods.

Students from 6-11 years old have practiced all semester to bring you the Nutcracker as you’ve never seen it before!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hard at work preparing costumes for the Nutcracker

Stay tuned for "The Nutcracker: Like You've Never Seen It Before" at Barnes on Saturday, December 15, 3pm.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Barnes staff and parents receive "People's Choice" Awards

Five members of the Barnes community were honored last night by the Burlington Education Association at their annual "People's Choice Awards." Paraeducator Tamara Musgrove won an award for "Outstanding Advocate" for her leadership in bringing livable wages to school staff, Reading Coach Mary Weith won an "Outstanding Colleague" award, and "Outstanding Community Member for Education" awards were given to Barnes parents Vince Brennan (also Ward 3 school commissioner), Sara Osaba (also Barnes Parent Involvement Coordinator) and Heather Riemer (PTO co-president).

The Outstanding Community Members for Education, with kids:

Sara Osaba receiving her award from BEA president Rebecca Smith:

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A big thank-you for the successful pancake breakfast

A big thank you goes out especially to the more than 20 parent volunteers who did all the setup, pancake flipping, serving and cleanup. Also shout outs are due to the following:

Donations of food and paper goods:

City Market
Meghan O'Rourke & Dylan Zeitlin
Suki & Alan Rubin
Jess Hyman
Chapin's Orchard
Blue Cross/Blue Shield


Dawna Hammers
Tom Banjo and the Cranky Show
Jonathan Kissam

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pancake Breakfast Raises over $1000

The first annual Barnes Pancake Breakfast packed the school gym and raised over $1000 for sustainability programs at Barnes this morning.

The crowd was entertained by live music, including Dawna and the Dreamers (featuring Barnes kids) ...

... and the Cranky Show

More photos available at:


Friday, November 9, 2007

Pancake Breakfast, Saturday, November 10

Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes?
Who doesn't love pancakes?!
(Especially when they're made by somebody else...)

The Lawrence Barnes School PTO invites you to a Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser to be held in the Barnes cafeteria from 8:30 - 11:00 am on Saturday, November, 10th, 2007. The meal served will include homemade pancakes, local syrup and butter, as well as hot and cold beverages. Suggested donation: $6.00 adults and $3.00 children. Come to connect with friends and enjoy the live music!

All proceeds raised will support PTO initiatives as Barnes transitions towards becoming a more sustainable school. These initiatives include field trips, the school-wide promotion of principles of sustainability, as well as related enrichment projects, and community events pertaining to the arts, music, health & wellness, and literacy.

Please join us in supporting Barnes!

Contact Linnie Miller for general information:
Phone 658-0442

Contact Barb Prine if you'd like to volunteer:
Phone 864-5587

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Reverse-Trick-or-Treating: Lawrence Barnes Kids Give Back on Halloween to Their Neighborhoods and the World

This Halloween, the Lawrence Barnes PTO is partnering with international human-rights advocacy group Global Exchange to educate our community about Fair Trade in the cocoa industry.

Lawrence Barnes students will join thousands of children across the US in "reverse trick-or-treating," giving samples of Fair Trade Certified™ dark chocolate to the houses they trick or treat. Fair Trade, denoted by the "Fair Trade Certified" label, is a monitoring and certification process that guarantees a minimum price per pound for cocoa. Fair Trade prohibits forced or abusive child labor, enables farmers to earn enough to meet their families' basic needs, such as health care, education, and nutrition, and requires sustainable farming practices, which protect the environment.

More information about this activity is available at

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lawrence Barnes PTO elects new officers

At the PTO meeting on Wednesday, October 10, new officers for the coming school year were elected:

Co-Presidents: Heather Riemer, Andrew Tomczak
Vice-President: Dylan Zeitlin
Treasurer: Megan Peek
Secretary: Siobhan Donegan
PTO Council Representative: Kirsten Berggren

Also, the PTO has set the date of Saturday, November 10th for a pancake breakfast fundraiser to benefit the healthy food options at Barnes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Board votes to keep 6 schools open

Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Burlington Free Press
By Molly Walsh

The Burlington School Board on Tuesday continued to move away from controversial proposals to redistrict or consolidate the city's six neighborhood elementary schools in order to reduce high poverty rates at the two grade schools in the city's Old North End.

The board voted to keep open Burlington's six neighborhood elementary schools and tally up the costs of improvements needed at various schools for a "major bond" in 2008. The board also voted to spend about $35,000 in federal grant funds to hire a Colchester firm to survey Burlington parents on what constitutes excellence in the schools and what sort of specially themed school would appeal to them.

Tuesday's actions were the latest developments in a lengthy, emotional public conversation about socio-economic integration of students in Burlington. The new votes were not a surprise given that last month the board indicated in a straw poll that it was split on mandatory redistricting but strongly supported the creation of one or more magnet schools in the city, partly to attract middle and upper income students to the city's higher-poverty schools, Lawrence Barnes and H.O. Wheeler.

School Board member Chris Haessly, representing Ward 2, was happy to see the board take a step toward preservation of neighborhood schools. "That's an issue near and dear to me," he said. Haessly believes the board should try to spur economic integration with choice before it resorts to mandatory redistricting. "My personal feeling is, you can get more flies with honey than with vinegar."

Vincent Brennan, a Lawrence Barnes parent and School Board member representing Ward 3, was relieved that school closure appears to be off the table. He voted in favor of studying the costs for major school improvements, which he believes are needed to change enrollment patterns.

"We need to do something bold like this, but at the same time, I don't think we need to blow up our whole system" to achieve the goal of socio-economic integration, Brennan said.

Not everyone was happy to see redistricting move to the back burner. Before the key votes Tuesday, supporters of dramatic action such as changing neighborhood school boundaries made one last pitch.

Nancy Radley, a teacher at H.O. Wheeler School, read aloud a letter signed by almost 30 Wheeler staff members. It said Wheeler students need to be educated alongside peers of "other races, religions, cultures and economic means" and urged the board to reconsider consolidation or redistricting. The letter acknowledged that those proposals were unpopular at public forums, but asked: "How much of this was a knee-jerk reaction to any change within our schools versus a well-thought out response?"

The letter also cast doubt on the idea that the "carrot approach" would attract middle class families to high poverty schools. "In considering other proposals, including magnets, we believe none of them has the drawing power to change the public perception of the Old North End neighborhood schools," the letter read. "We believe they will fail to achieve the desired results."

School Board members Barbara Crook (Ward 6) and Wally Elliott (Ward 4) said they were sympathetic to the teachers' viewpoint. Both voted against the resolution to maintain six schools, believing it could tie the board's hands in the future.

Other board members argued that at dozens of public meetings on the issue of socio-economic integration, parents overwhelmingly said they liked their neighborhood schools. "We need to listen to the parents," said Marrisa Caldwell, a Ward 3 School Board member.

The School Board voted to hire Fifth Element Associates of Colchester to conduct the study on magnet schools and school excellence. The survey will be funded with money from a grant that the district must spend by Dec. 30 or lose.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Update on threat of school closure

On Tuesday, October 2, the Agenda Committee of the School Board will vote whether or not to recommend to the whole school board a motion affirming that the District should keep open all six elementary schools. If this proposal is voted down, that would indicate a desire to close one or more schools, most likely Barnes and/or Wheeler

The full school board could vote on this proposal as early as Tuesday, October 9.

The Lawrence Barnes PTO is asking people to sign the open letter below, and also encouraging Barnes parents to attend the upcoming School Board and Committee meetings:

Tuesday, October 2nd

Tuesday, October 2nd

Tuesday, October 9th

All meetings are at Ira Allen Building, 150 Colchester Avenue (Map »)

For more information, or to get more involved, contact Heather Riemer 865 3048, Siobhan Donegan 864 0984, or Sara Osaba 363 1901

Open Letter to Burlington School Board: Reaffirm Commitment to Six Elementary Schools

Over the last two years hundreds of Burlington residents have spoken out for their vision for our city’s elementary schools. Throughout the debate it has been clear that community members, parents and voters have supported sustaining six neighborhood schools. In 2006 a referendum overwhelmingly passed supporting maintaining six neighborhood elementary schools.

Our understanding is that the Burlington School Board is considering a motion to affirm the School Board’s commitment to all of our neighborhood schools.

We hope that this is the first step in bringing our community together around improving our schools. We believe that any plan to close one or more schools would continue to divide our community.

We encourage the Agenda Committee and the full School Board to move forward by taking the threat of a school closure off the table and by voting to maintain our six neighborhood schools so that we can work together to make our schools better for all of Burlington’s children.

Betsy Allen-Pennebaker
Kit Andrews
Lindol M.Atkins Jr.
Joanne Beaubien, Parent, Edmunds Elementary & Edmunds Middle
Jen Berger
Donna Bister
Vince Brennan
Karen Bushey
Richey Bushey
Jessica Butts
Marrisa Caldwell
Maria Chomentowski
Kevin Corcoran
Julia Curry
Lillian Dean
Art Demarais
Haijma Deng
Siobhan Donegan
Carina Driscoll
Paul Fleckenstein
Jim Flint
Claire Gestner
Charles Goodnight
John Grimm
Rebecca Grimm
Robin and Steve Guillian
James Haslam
Brendan Hatch
Suzanne M. Hebeler
Jane Geffken Henderson
Nancy Hier
Paul Hobbs
Genevieve Jacobs
Ashley Jerome
Rachel Jolly
Kate Kandelstein
Bret Kernoff
Ariane Kissam
Brenda Kissam
Jonathan Kissam
David Kreindler
Tristram Kuniz
Cate Lamb
John Leddy
Ted and Winnie Looby
Jason P. Lorber, State Representative
Charley MacMartin
Cherie Marshall
Christine Massey
Nicole J. McMillan
Linnie Miller
Jessica Anne Morley
Rebecca Moseley
Emma Mulvaney-Stanak
Megan Munson-Warnken
Tamara Musgrove
Kathy Olwell
Meghan O'Rourke
Sara Osaba
Jodi Ouellette
Melissa Parker
Karen Paul, Burlington' Future
Christopher Pearson, State Representative
Megan Peek
Becky Rabin
Leslie C. Richards
Heather Riemer
Colin Robinson
Jennifer Shewmake
Rachel Siegel
Rebecca Smith, BEA President
Kate Spence
Justina Starr
Rebecca Taylor
Tiffany Tillman
Andrew Tomczak
Kathy Valloch
Wayne Warnken
Beth Wasmund
Rachel Weston, State Representative
Julie Winn
Meredith Woodward King
Carol Ann Wooster
Dylan Zeitlyn

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From this week's Seven Days

Meet the parents who are buying into the Old North End's schools features Barnes parents Barb Prine, Heather Riemer and Adoul Methiang.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Monday, September 3, 2007

Community meeting on National School Lunch Program September 17

The Lawrence Barnes School PTO invites you to a community meeting to discuss the Farm Bill (and its impact on school food) with John Tracy, Field Representative for Senator Patrick Leahy's Office.

DATE: Monday, September 17, 2007
TIME: 6:00 pm
PLACE: Lawrence Barnes School Community Room

In late September or early October, the Farm Bill will be debated and voted on in the Senate. Senator Leahy's vote is critical to improving the nutritional health of all Americans, strengthening the food assistance programs, and developing farm and food policy that promotes healthy eating.

We hope to convey to the Senator that Vermonters want food assistance programs (like the National School Lunch Program - NSLP) to provide foods that ultimately promote good health and prevent disease. Greater representation of (and therefore increased federal funding for) fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be the NSLP's absolute top priority.

Why should we care?

The foods served on our children's school lunch trays are enormously affected by the Farm Bill. Under current legislation, fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies, in spite of ample nutrition research demonstrating that these foods are vital for lifelong health promotion.

Children across the US (as well as across Vermont) simply do not consume enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and yet we know these foods are key in preventing long-term chronic disease. While meat and full-fat dairy products have continued to be heavily subsidized and provided in school lunches nationwide, we have witnessed a skyrocketing increase in diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and other diet-related illnesses, often starting at a younger and younger age. Serving truly health promoting foods through the NSLP would make a HUGE difference in countering this trend.

Please join us for this important opportunity to share our concerns.

You need not be an expert on the Farm Bill to attend. Feel free to come and just "listen and learn." Simply showing up will demonstrate that the issue is important to you as a Vermonter. There definitely is "strength in numbers," so if we do have a strong showing we can better ensure that our message will be solidly conveyed back to Senator Leahy, and that hopefully his vote (and others) will result in improved nutrition for Vermont children and families.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Barnes Beautification Project, Day 4

The woodchips arrive!

Barnes Beautification Project, Day 3

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Barnes Beautification Project, Day 2

On day 2 of the Beautification project, gardening took center stage. Focusing on the "reuse" part of "reduce, reuse, recycle," we made a small terraced garden in one corner of the grounds using bricks and rocks from the pile of debris from Burlington Telecom putting in a transfer station:

The mural project continues to get filled in as well:

And, of course, the bobcat continues its work getting ready for the delivery of woodchips tomorrow:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Barnes Beautification Project, Day 1

In the spring of 2006, the kids at Barnes presented the PTO with a petition asking us to replace the pea stone under the play equipment in the front playground with something less abrasive. This summer, with support from Lowe's, CEDO and Alderson Environmental Contractor, we have taken this on as part of our summer beautification project, using all-volunteer labor. In addition to re-surfacing the front playground, we are increasing our garden space and muralizing the back entrance.

Thanks to the generous loan of a bobcat from Alderson Environmental Contractor, removing the pea stone from the playground won't be quite as labor-intensive as it would be by hand:

Our resident parent-artists Rebecca Hartwick and Maria Chomentowski are designing and organizing the painting of murals on the columns and ceiling of the back entrance to the school, with a sustainability theme:

(those are windmills, painted by one of the non-artist parent volunteers)

Of course, it wasn't all work, and there's nothing like working while surrounded by playing children:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

First year of Barnes World Summer Academy concludes

On Wednesday, August 1st, the Barnes World Summer Academy, a joint project of the Sara Holbrook Community Center and Burlington Parks and Recreation, held its closing ceremony. The Academy, held at Barnes, provided low-cost summer childcare and education for kids from the Old North End and as far away as Colchester and Winooski. It emphasized "place-based learning," and different groups of kids took on projects such as identifying strengths and challenges in their neighborhood, researching and making proposals for community improvement.

The assembled crowd of kids, parents, and community leaders including Mayor Bob Kiss and representatives from Parks and Rec and CCTA heard how kids had spent the summer surveying each other, their families and the general public to identify areas in which Burlington could better serve their neighborhoods. Their proposals include:

* Reduce car traffic in the neighborhood;
* A community pool for Burlington, so Burlington families wouldn't have to travel to Winooski to swim in the summer;
* A free CCTA shuttle to North Beach, to reduce greenhouse emissions and allow families without cars to access this public beach; and
* Recycling bins at North Beach, to help reduce both littering and landfill.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Barnes on Channel 17!

Lawrence Barnes parents will be hosting "Live @ 5:25" this Friday, June 8th, on Burlington's Channel 17: Town Meeting Television, talking about the school district's proposals for "Socio-Economic Integration" (SEI), the Unity Plan put forward by the Barnes community, and the work of the Sustainable Schools Project and the PTO at Lawrence Barnes elementary.

Unity Plan for Burlington Schools

This Unity Plan was developed by members of the Barnes community, as a proposal for how the Burlington school district can move forward on the issue of elementary schools.

The goals of the Unity Plan are:

* A long-term economically sustainable school district
* A move toward greater socio-economic integration in the Burlington elementary schools without disrupting existing school communities and pitting neighborhood against neighborhood.
* Neighborhood elementary schools that allow families to walk to school and maintain community.

We propose the following:

1. The three existing downtown elementary schools remain as K-5 elementary schools. Two become Magnet Schools:

* Barnes becomes a Sustainable School Magnet
* Wheeler becomes an Arts and Drama Magnet

2. Common registration for new families for the downtown elementary schools. All current families would be allowed to attend their current school. New families would register for the downtown elementary schools and assignments would be based on:

* proximity
* preference
* socio-economic integration

3. In order to keep the district financially sustainable, sell the Ira Allen building. The administration that is currently located there could move to Edmunds. The EEE program that is currently there could move to Wheeler.

4. Invest in the district's current infrastructure to make much needed improvements and make the buildings energy efficient. On-Top and Horizons programs remain at Taft where long overdue improvements will result in significant long term energy savings. At Barnes and Wheeler improvements are needed to make the schools more attractive, better suited to carrying out their roles as Magnets and to achieve long-term savings from energy efficiency. The funding for these improvements could come from:

a. Grants specifically designed for Magnet Schools
b. Grants specifically designed for districts to gain energy efficiency
c. The proceeds from the sale of the Ira Allen building.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

If Burlington closes a school, would it have room for universal Pre-K?

This past year, the Vermont state legislature held hearings on the possibility of the state funding universal pre-K education in the public schools. It is widely accepted that pre-K education is one of the most effective ways to improve academic performance for children from low-income families.

As the chart below shows, if universal pre-K were instituted, Burlington's current elementary schools would be just at capacity. If schools are closed and buildings are sold, we would not.

ElementaryCapacity2006pre-ktotal with pre-k 
Barnes18014925174under by 6
Champlain32029449343over by 23
Edmunds34028748335under by 5
Flynn36033155386over by 16
Smith32027947326over by 6
Wheeler32022838266under by 54

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Barnes parents' principles about "socio-economic integration"

A large group of Barnes parents (representative and socio-economically integrated) met the morning of May 16 to discuss Superintendent Collins' recent proposals for "socio-economic integration". There had been a lot of focus on the Ward 1 parents who are upset. What no one seems to be focusing on is that under all of the superintendent's proposals, Barnes is essentially closed as an elementary school for people in our neighborhood, and those of us who live on the West side of the ONE would be redistricted to either Edmunds or Champlain Schools (although which one is difficult to tell as the administration keeps changing the maps).

We agreed on a set of principles, listed below:

1. Barnes, and the other Elementary Schools should remain K-5 schools
2. We should preserve the concept of Neighborhood Schools that children and their parents can walk to
3. We should work to make the three downtown schools attractive to all parents
-possible ideas: Themed Schools (Sustainable, Arts & Music, etc) that build on what are schools are already doing.
-invest in infrastructure (maintain and green-up our schools)
4. We should carefully examine the costs and benefits of selling any current school property (Ira Allen and Taft)

We know that many people have very positive ideas that could fit into the above. We are very concerned that the current proposal alienates parents while selling district property that will result in a net short-term cost to the district.

We are holding a press conference at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22 at Barnes to share the above concerns and principles. We will then be meeting at 4 p.m. to walk from Barnes to Ira Allen for the 5 p.m School Board meeting (1.5 miles—a shorter distance than Barnes to Champlain Elementary).

Friday, April 6, 2007

2nd grade classes visit JDK design studio

More about this trip on the "vlog" it's from, Stuck In Vermont