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Our Mission is for students to attain responsible independence.

Like us on Facebook                    Hilltop Montessori School                   October 5, 2012 

New Phone System

If you've called the school lately, you may have noticed our brand new phone system.


The menu is slightly different, so you may want to "listen carefully because some options may have changed". 


One tip: to reach Amelia, dial "0".


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New Phones!
Next week at Hilltop
Alumni Night
Notes from the Head of School
Annual Fund Week
Soup is back!
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Community Events
Hilltop Classifieds
Next week at Hilltop


Sunday, 10/7
Putney Harvest Festival!
Support our Middle School
Buy Good Soup. 
Starts at 9am, goes all day. 

Monday, 10/8

No School
Fall Foliage Day
Tuesday, 10/9
Upper El Trip to 
Sturbridge Village
Spanish Lower El 
3 - 4:10


Upper El soccer 
MS Soccer GAME vs.
Compass School AWAY



Wednesday, 10/10
Bagel Lunch 


Spanish Upper El
3:00 - 4:10pm


MS Soccer
3 - 4:30



Thursday, 10/11
All School Gathering 
8:45 am


Spanish MS
3 - 4:10pm


Upper El soccer
3 - 4:30pm
Alumni Night



Friday, 10/12
LE Soccer 3-4:15pm
MS Soccer Game vs. The Grammar School AWAY



Alumni Night


Alumni Night

Thursday, October 11 7pm


Where do our graduates go after Hilltop? How did their education at Hilltop prepare them for high school?


High school students who graduated from HMS return to reflect on their experiences here and in high school. Alumni Night is a great way to learn how our students successfully transition to high schools.


Our student panel this year represents the following schools:

  • Brattleboro Union High School
  • Northfield Mount Hermon
  • The Putney School
  • Vermont Academy


All parents of our current students as well as prospective parents are encouraged to attend this event. Join us for a panel discussion followed by an audience Q&A. Middle school faculty will also be in attendance to answer questions about the process.


Notes from the Head of School 


All School Gathering


Becoming part of a community is a subtle process. Yesterday morning I watched the role that All School Gathering plays in developing Hilltop's community.


There are the Youngers who started their school experience a few short weeks ago. Just getting them to ASG took time and a lot of reassurance. Mostly they huddled closely to Melissa, Ellie, Cheryl and Sarah and watched wide-eyed. All those very big kids. A new space. No protective parent, only a teacher they sort of know. There's singing. And clapping. And maybe someone up front talking about something.


Now it's week 5. Most of the Youngers attach themselves to their older student peace buddies whom they met on Peace Day a couple of weeks ago and walk, hand in hand, to the Upper El.


They sit in their peace buddy's lap and not with a teacher. Jay is now a familiar face, and they even know some of the words to the songs. They are gradually becoming part of the community.


Then there are those who have joined the Elementary group or the Middle School this year. They, too, are watching. How are they supposed to behave? They note that everyone listens respectfully to the 5 year old who reads from the story he wrote and everyone applauds at the end. Teachers and students sing the "pizza" song with vim and vigor. The assembled community says "thank-you" to whichever student has opened ASG and now wishes everyone a good rest of the week.


ASG is run by the students. It is informal. It is safe. Classes take turns running ASG. Early on Thursday morning someone from the class in charge checks to see if a student, faculty member or group of students has something to share - a story, an experiment, a song. ASG offers an opportunity to get up in front of the entire school even if at first it is only to hold the words to the song that are written on chart paper.


I know that the younger I observed on Thursday who watched with mouth open, and who didn't sing a word will soon be sharing his favorite story and clapping away because he knows that ASG and the Hilltop community are synonymous.


Email Tonia


Annual Fund Update, Final Tally and Thanks


Thank you wonderful parents, staff and board for making this the most successful Annual Fund Week ever! You raised $25,068 (even more than the picture above shows), and with 70% participating, we can all feel really proud of our amazing community.


Your generosity is inspiring and appreciated, because your gifts help every student and every program at Hilltop.


On a personal note, it was wonderful to meet so many parents this week and to have a chance to chat over coffee and treats. Thank you all for supporting this school - now and in the future.


Sarah Armour-Jones 


Soup News




For eight Fridays before winter break, the Middle School will be making and selling vegetarian, 

vegan, gluten free soup! It will be made fresh with a commitment to local ingredients. 


Soup can be pre-ordered for 4 weeks at a time for $30.00. It can also be bought at pickup for $8.00 a quart. We urge you to return your soup jars at marked bins in the main lobby.  All proceeds from the soup will go toward funding the Middle School odyssey to Alabama.


A pre-order form will be available in both the Middle School and Elementary School lobbies.


Please pay in cash or with a check written to the Hilltop Montessori Middle School and drop money at the front desk in an envelope. 




Sarah and Lili say "Soup is GOOD for you!"


Our First Soup will be Potato Leek made with our very own Hilltop-grown potatoes and leeks.


Other soups may include:

Black Bean

Apricot and Red Lentil

White Bean and Walnut

Butternut Squash Soup



Thank You, 

Hilltop Montessori Middle School




Birch Room


What is Montessori Nomenclature?


Do you know the parts of an apple? Nomenclature cards and booklets identify and name the various parts of the object or animal you are learning about. Each part is isolated in color, which draws your attention to that particular part and not to other details.


Why do we use it?  Children gain a much clearer and deeper understanding our world when they have vocabulary to put with movements and images. From a very young age children ask what things are called. Nomenclature cards are used to name "parts of" things. Once a child has learned the vocabulary for a set of nomenclature, they are free to practice it using 3-part cards. They can match the picture with the labels, and then use the labeled picture as a 'control card' to check their own work. When the child has a good understanding of all the parts they can then use printed copies to create a booklet. 


Booklets are great extension lesson that call for an understanding of:

  • the vocabulary of each part
  • the concept of each part
  • precision with colored pencils
  • neatness of printing/writing
  • presentation of the completed work


Apple book nomenclature


This past Tuesday both Children's House classrooms ventured to Green Mountain Orchard for our annual apple-picking trip. Great fun was had by all!!!






Thank you to all chaperones for driving and assisting with our trip and to Rebecca, our organizer for the trip.  Thanks to Lynn Stewart for our cloth leaf mats scatted throughout our classroom on our shelves. Lovely!!! 



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Willow Room


The highlight of our week was the field trip to Green Mountain Orchard. The children had the opportunity to press cider, take a hayride around the orchard, go for hike, and pick some blueberries (!) and apples. Afterwards we snacked on cider donuts and the fruits of their labor - fresh apple cider.


Many thanks to the parents who joined us: Rebecca Fontaine, Amanda Rupard and Hazel, Kathryn Einig, Tara Davis, Jennifer Betit-Engel, Jessica Gould, Eden Terrell, Liz Richards, Mike Harrington and Tristan, and Hannah Parker and Peyton. We appreciated your help and enjoyed your company!



Making some new friends



Walking to the blueberry bushes



Pressing cider is hard work!




Fun on the hayride 


* If your child stays for quiet time, please remember to return the bedding sent home to be washed on Tuesday.


Enjoy the long weekend.

Melissa & Ellie




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Lower El


Our classroom has exploded with math work this week! We can observe the transition from the concrete to the abstract as the students move up through Lower El. First comes a review of the Bank Game, in which children can actually feel and see what "9" or "40" are. Then it's onto the stamp game, where "100" is represented by one red stamp with "100" printed on it. And finally, the bead frame, in which numbers are represented by the place value colors: green for the units, blue for the tens, red for the hundreds, and back to green for the thousands. Right now, Youngers and Middlers are focusing on addition, and the Olders are working on multiplication.



Julian uses the beadframe to add into the thousands


 In our History studies, we passed through the Proterozoic Eon this week. This eon of "Earlier Life" saw the formation of the first complex cells on Earth. The Youngers have sculpted scenes from different time periods to compliment their Timeline of Life study. Everyone has been enjoying the third book in our series of how life on Earth came to be, Animals Who Morph: The Universe Tells Our Evolution Story.



Leo sculpts his volcano scene


Our new science experiment this week is on the attraction of particles. After adding sugar to a test tube filled with water, students must shake it to find out what happens to the sugar. Unlike the mixture of sand and iron filings that is also on the science table, the sugar cannot be separated from the water! The water and sugar are attracted to each other.


Emmy observes the sugar particles in water 



Susannah performs the experiment 


Reminder: Our field trip to the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center will take place on Monday, October 15th, from 10-11:30. Our focus while there will be on insects, and we hope to enjoy a picnic lunch on the grounds afterwards - if the sun decides to show itself!


Speaking of the lack of sun, we have many Lower El students who have been coming to school without suitable wet weather gear. Please send your child to school with both indoor and outdoor shoes, rain boots, and a jacket. Like the post office, neither snow nor sleet nor rain will keep us from getting fresh air (most of the time).



Upper El


This week the sixths prepared for Tuesday's sixth grade trip to Old Sturbridge Village. Students studied reports generated by the 1821 Quincy Committee in Massachusetts. This committee was charged by the Massachusetts legislature to examine how towns were handling relief for the poor. By examining excerpts from the Committee's report, plus reports sent to the Committee by individual towns, the sixths considered three different ways local municipalities were taking care of the poor. This work created two important opportunities for the sixths. First, this work continued their exploration of self-governance in early American history. Second, this work met an important developmental need. Nine to twelve year olds are very interested in exploring issues of justice; it's a hallmark of the age. By examining and discussing how towns decided to support the poor and the reasons for doing so, the sixths are exploring an important moral issue. Next week at Old Sturbridge Village the sixths will continue exploring this issue by asking villagers for their opinion on the treatment of the poor.



The fourths and fifths concluded their study of the properties of air and moved onto the study of global wind patterns. The first lesson on global winds connects the properties of air to the global wind patterns. The fourths also worked this week on organizing information into paragraphs. Students worked together to organize large note cards into well-organized paragraphs. Students did a great job explaining their organizational choices.




           Upper El'ers doing math works



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Middle School


We had a really wonderful and fascinating visit to Harrisville, New Hampshire on Tuesday. We started the day with Linda Willet, the director of Historic Harrisville. Historic Harrisville has purchased most of the original buildings including the woolen mills, boardinghouses, tenements, mill owners' houses, and the general store. They are charged with the restoration, re-use, and maintenance of the buildings. After extensive stabilization and restoration, the buildings are being leased to various manufacturing companies (Harrisville Designs being the largest) and artist's studios. Linda took us through the Cheshire Granite Mill and told us about the challenges of authentic and functional restoration. We then utilized the perspective lesson Finn gave to students on Monday and everyone went off to draw and paint one of the spare but beautiful examples of Harrisville architecture.






At noon we met with Pat Colony of Harrisville Designs who took us down to their carding and spinning mill while the employees were on lunch break. Working at a cotton mill is still a dangerous and noisy occupation so we took advantage of the shut down machinery. It was interesting to compare Nora's hand spinner and cards she shared with us to these massive machines built in the early 20th century. We were fortunate to be present when the machines were turned back on and could see the spinners in action and get an explanation by a doffer about her job.





Many of the laborers who began working in the Harrisville mills over the years were the exact age of our students. As a way to reflect on their experience and learning, students were asked to imagine themselves at those machines, away from home, living alone in the boardinghouses, perhaps newly arrived from Ireland or Quebec, and working 12 to 14 hours a day; a situation, that many thought was a wonderful opportunity at the time. We discussed how expectations of what constitutes a good life have changed. After they immersed into this reverie, students were asked to write a fictional letter to a loved one. They are quite lovely. We want to thank Annie (Lily's mom), Barbara (Terran's mom), and Art (Colin's dad) for driving.


Here are some calendar reminders:


Sunday, October 7 - Harvest Festival


Thursday, October 11 - High School Information night with HMMS alumni.


Thursday, October 18 and Friday, October 19 - Student/parent conferences. Sign up schedule sheets are in the middle school lobby.


Thursday, October 25 - trip to Concord, Massachusetts. This is a one-day journey (we will return at 6:00pm) to further explore our study of Transcendentalism. We are looking for two drivers. Please let me know if you can join us.


See you at Harvest Festival!




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Physical Education


As the new Physical Education teacher, I have been thoroughly enjoying my days at Hilltop. In our first month, we have enjoyed a combination of activities. We've learned and practiced how humans ran before relying on shoes. We have played soccer, handball, and various non-competitive games. Two indoor days have allowed us to examine just how much sugar really is in soda and juice and get in some balloon games, too. Hikes in the woods around Hilltop's property and the Memorial Park trails have turned into spontaneous fun runs and students have found wood frogs, red efts, chrysalises, lightening-struck trees, and which direction is South. The Upper El and Middle School after school soccer teams are looking solid and have winning records. The National Walk to School Day attendance included students from every classroom and several parents, too. I am looking forward to more adventures in PE and feel very fortunate to be involved in the Hilltop Community. Thank you!




Walking to school through the woods 


This Saturday, Oct. 6, is the Hike for the Homeless fundraiser for Morningside Shelter. Hilltop has been promoting the hike and families have been signing up to attend. I'll be there at 10:00 a.m. If you are unable to attend and want to make a donation, click here http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/bjames/hikeforthehomeless2012  

to donate online in Hilltop's name. 



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Community Events

Hilltop Classifieds and Wish List
  • Anyone know where we could find a really good used dishwasher? Drop a note off at the front desk if you've got a lead.
See this week's Hilltop Classifieds! Submissions to Amelia by noon on Thursday.    

Hilltop Montessori School