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Our Mission is for students to attain responsible independence.

Like us on Facebook  Hilltop Montessori School                           December 14, 2012 

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Next week at Hilltop
Financial Aid
Notes from the Head of School
Winter Auction
Snack Elves
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Coming up...
Monday, 12/17
Lower El Gift Making 
12:30 - 2:30
Tuesday, 12/18
Lower El Poetry Tea
Upper El Museum
2 until pick-up
Snowflake Boutique Auction Closes, Raffles Drawn  
3:00 pm. (Join us for mulled cider and treats too.) 
Middle School Poetry Cafe
Wednesday, 12/19
Upper El Museum
8:30 -9am
See you on Thursday, January 3, 2013!


Financial Aid


If you're thinking about applying for Financial Aid for next year, please start the process as soon as you can. 


The deadline for submitting the Parent Financial Statement is 

January 15, 2013.


You can apply now: 

Click HERE.

Each parent(s) or guardian(s) must submit a "Parents' Financial Statement" (PFS) and your most recent tax return online at Student Service for Financial Aid (SSS). To be considered for financial aid all forms must be submitted by January 15.   

Hilltop's school code that must go on the forms is: 1435.


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If you have an item, service or community event you would like to post in this space, email Amelia. Deadline for entries is Thursday afternoon. Entries will be posted for one week unless requested otherwise. Thanks! 


Putney House for Rent
3 bedrooms, 2 full baths; one half bath, finished basement with office, 3 decks, washer/dryer
open floor plan, Spectacular view!

$1,500/month plus utilities
Call Jenny or Randy Smith: 387-4560  


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Notes from the Head of School 


Thank you and Welcome!


If I were talented there would be a huge artistic banner that would mysteriously appear stretched between the barn across the driveway to the middle school with the words: THANK YOU ALLAN STEWART. What he has done for Hilltop since June is nothing short of miraculous. He has made sense of the myriad financial details that are necessary to keep the school going. Because the financial management has been fragmented over the past seven years different people had different pieces of information. Allan did endless detective work to pull together information about insurance, winter sports, capital campaigns, tuition, field trips, art supplies - you name it. Whatever money was being or had been spent, Allan tracked it down and made sense of it.


He has done all this as a volunteer and with unbelievable humor. I pester and interrupt him constantly with a question or, worse, a demand, and even in the middle of some vast spreadsheet he responds with a twinkle in his eyes and a comment so dry that I can't help but laugh.


His work has made it possible to hire a Business Manager who can come in and move forward. And so...


Welcome to Colleen Franciwiecz! She will be joining Hilltop in January and working with Allan, Tamara and me preparing next year's budget, and under Allan's tutelage, will take over the financial management of the school.


Colleen has extensive experience in accounting working for Pieciak and Co. She manages several business accounts and, best of all, understands our type of business. She has been Treasurer of Green Mountain Camp for the past 5 years and thus knows how enrollment, buildings and grounds, salaries, fundraising, and insurance must dovetail to result in a balanced budget.


The admin team is delighted to have Colleen join the Hilltop community and equally relieved and grateful that Allan will continue in his role as Treasurer of the Board.


Thank you Allan. Welcome Colleen. 


Email Tonia


 Winter Auction Closes Tuesday 12/18 at 3


There's still time to bid or buy raffle tickets. Hot items include the iPod shuffle, Groovy Girls dolls, knitted Golden Snitch and Mount Snow passes. Raffle tickets are just $1. Proceeds benefit Hilltop and Morningside Shelter (don't forget to bring in gently used winter clothes for Monrningside too, especially larger sizes). 


Auction and raffle winners will be announced Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 3 pm. Join us for mulled cider and treats as we celebrate a successful auction and the beginning of the holiday break!



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Project Feed the Thousand


A wonderful spontaneous project has sprung to life in the Middle School -- a Project Feed the Thousands food drive. 85,000 Vermonters live with food insecurity, and children are hardest hit. Please bring in non-perishable food items for this very important cause. Boxes are outside each classroom and at the Front Desk.  



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Snack Elves Needed


We need snack helpers for the new school term. It doesn't take much time and is a wonderful contribution to our school. We need someone to pick up food at the Brattleboro Co-op on Tuesday afternoon and we need at least one person to help Mariam prep food for the week on Wednesday mornings. Make a New Year's resolution you can keep! Please email Madeline Fan (madeline@artbarge.org).


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Elementary Art


Lower and Upper El worked on relief prints, which were made into seasonal cards. Come see the lower El display outside the classroom!



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Birch Room

The Importance of Ritual and Celebration!


"A people's celebrations are what gives them a sense of self, in relation to the movement of the earth, and in relation to one another."

There are many important things in life... learning, growing, loving and exploring are all things that each person should take time for. Celebration is another thing that everyone should take time for. Celebration can grow from a simple rhythm of meals and family gatherings, to a grander, wider circle of festivals that involve a larger community. During the months of December and January the Birch and Willow classrooms will be sharing stories, songs, dances, and traditional foods emphasizing how different cultures and ethnicities share their traditions, which strengthens our appreciation of others... This is the thread of community.    


The artist we are studying this month is Grandma Moses. We have also been learning about the variety of textures used in art. Grandma Moses first worked in embroidery, then later in paint on pieces of old wood because arthritis made it painful to "wield a needle." Grandma Moses painted her first work when she was in her 70's.   



                     Lily works on her reindeer                Ian works on a Christmas Tree



 Kaya works on St. Nicholas picture           Ian works on Grandma Moses work



Circle book of Celebrations  


Thank you to the Stewarts for the extra whiteboard/chalkboard easel for our classroom. The children will truly enjoy it. 


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Willow Room


It has been a busy and exciting week in our classroom as we continue to learn about the many different holidays celebrated at this time of the year. On Tuesday everyone was engaged in making latkes for our study of Hanukkah. The children were busy scrubbing potatoes, grating potatoes, grating onions (many eyes watered), cracking eggs, measuring flour and mixing the batter. Then as we spooned the batter into the hot oil the room became very quiet as we listened for the sound of the oil popping in the pan just like in the story we read, Grandma's Latkes by Malka Drucker.


We also learned about St. Lucia day, a holiday celebrated in Sweden on December 13th. Many of the children have made St. Lucia crowns and colored pictures representing her. This holiday is observed on one of the longest and darkest winter nights and leads us to learn about the Winter Solstice.


Even with all the holiday spirit buzzing throughout the classroom, the children continue to be engaged with the curriculum and learning!








Enjoy the weekend together!



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Lower El


Writing is what the students of Lower El have been centering their mornings around these days. We begin with the basics of how to write a coherent sentence, complete with end marks and capitals in all the right places; we move on to creating more interesting sentences, filled with adjectives to enhance our writing. Perhaps the most difficult piece of writing these days is the Fundamental Needs report, which requires Middlers and Olders to read something and then put it in their own words.



 by Raina  



Transportation is a fundamental need. Solomon's sculpture of a cobble stone road for driving, walking or riding animals  in the mountains of Europe



Food is important to survive, by Ellie 


 Julian's rendition of a train and track for transportation


In addition to the Fundamental Needs writing, Lower Elers are writing "My Story About Me" (for Youngers and Middlers) or their autobiography (for Olders). 'What do I put in?' and 'what should I leave out?' are some of the questions that arise. The Middlers have begun to work with the idea of a paragraph, while the Olders are putting it into practice in their writing pieces.


While we emphasize the mechanics of writing in prose, we are at the same time composing poems - a genre with its own rules. For the student who is still learning how to formulate a good sentence, the freedom to write in a more lyrical style is unsettling - I DON'T have to write in complete sentences now? And so we weave in and out of these writing pieces, all the while doing lots of independent reading and listening to stories on circle - strengthening our ear for language, and our ability to create our own stories.


In amongst the many poems we are reading on circle is our new chapter book The Wheel on the School by Dutch author, Meindert Dejong. Although written in 1954, its themes are timeless: loneliness, acceptance and rejection, friendship, and what it means to be a community.


We will end with some original poems by a few Lower El students:


The Earth, by Annelise



I see a river

Flowing merrily


The animals

Run past me




Santa, by Siri


Quite chubby

And I don't know why

But really jolly, for his age

Santa is definitely nice

'Cause he brings presents

on Christmas Eve

Every year

I put out milk and cookies

For him

And of course,

A few carrots

For his reindeer.


Cats, by Emmett











Cats kittens cats!


Untitled, by Julia


My dear air balloon

Before you go up to the moon

Remember me,

The loon.



Have a lovely weekend together!

Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie





Upper El



Upper El students were very busy this week wrapping up project work. Students were measuring wind speed, building hurricanes, sculpting worms, wiring quiz boards, and revising written reports. Fourths and fifths also completed experiments to learn about the Bernoulli effect (fast moving air has lower pressure). The sixths read over Supreme Court decisions to determine which amendment in the Bill of Rights each decision was addressing. The sixths also began their final ecology work, an examination of the changes in the North American landscape caused by early European settlers. This work ties together the students' study of early American history and ecology.



Measuring wind speed    




 Ben, Ernie, and Alex preparing a timeline of early modern human cultures



As part of the early human study, fourth and fifth year students were very engaged in a discussion of the possible evolutionary advantages of having spiritual beliefs. Students came up with a variety of possible ways spiritual beliefs may have helped early humans gain an evolutionary edge:


ˇ    shared beliefs might reduce violence within a group or between groups

ˇ    shared beliefs make cooperation easier

ˇ    believing in a power(s) greater than oneself may help a person or a group not          give up on a hard task

ˇ    shared beliefs builds community and helps a community survive because people        will care for the sick, be less selfish, and try to do the right thing


To learn more about our discussion, ask your fourth or fifth grader about the invisible magic princess and a person's willingness to cheat. 


On Thursday morning, just before lunch, two sixth years asked to speak with me about something. They were concerned about their group's behavior in music class last week and didn't want this week to be a repeat performance (no pun intended). I asked them to speak to their group and they agreed. Very respectfully they expressed their concerns to their peers. The rest of the group listened, a few students shared their perspectives, and a few students took responsibility for their own behavior. When I asked Jay after school how his music class went he said it was fantastic. This is the beauty of a multi-age classroom.



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Middle School



There is a very real hustle bustle in the middle school these waning days of the semester as projects, presentations, specific outlines, research papers and poems are being completed. For some this is a more hair-raising experience than for others as what might have felt like endless weeks of the term all of a sudden come to an abrupt halt. It is as if formerly full plates are being cleaned in preparation for a new table setting where students are invited to dine - or as the song says - the new "welcome table" of next term.










But just to mix things up a bit, Finn introduced a brand new project in the art room this week - mask making. This is the perfect bridge to take us into our new term. Students have been exploring their family roots in this country through our study of immigration and the project, "Where Do I Come From?" This project is a mixture of research, imagination, and creativity that culminates with diary excerpts and an interpretive project. This is a study of self as much as a look at the past. In January, we are setting our sights on an intensive look at the role of race in the complex tapestry of our lives through a study of the Civil Rights Movement and a exciting new study that Nora is creating titled: "Are All Humans Created Equal? The Science of Race". As we ponder identity, students will be building masks that are sculpted from their own faces and in the month of January, our colleague and dear friend, Jessica Turner, will be looking at identity through her health classes. We will be sending a letter from Jessica and a curriculum overview for the study in the very near future.


Today marks our final Elderly Companion visit for the eighth graders. A number of the students have begun to forge meaningful relationships with their companion. Just because we will no longer be visiting every Friday does not mean that students cannot continue to visit at other times. Please do not hesitate to drop by either Holton Home or Pine Heights - the visit will always be appreciated. As a way to reflect on their experience, the eighth graders wrote a poem. Some chose to write about their companion, others about their impressions of living in a nursing facility, and others about growing old. The poems are often raw and insightful:


                        "We spoke for an hour

                        in sixty minutes I heard a life

                        retold in its final weeks

                        laced with bittersweet finality"

                                                                        ~Ira Richardson


                        "The Fridays come quick

                        When I go and see

                        A companion who's seen many years

                        Building puzzles and watching TV

                        Very aware of the date and time

                        The dog that is dead stares back at me

                        From his everlasting frame."

                                                                        ~Terran Williams


Speaking of poetry, we look forward to seeing all of you at the poetry event of the year, our very own Poetry Café next Tuesday, December 18 at 7:00 pm.



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Hilltop Montessori School