logo hms
Our Mission is for students to attain responsible independence.

   The Tiny House Crew 

Like us on FacebookHilltop Montessori School                           January 11, 2013


Click heading to skip to section
Next week at Hilltop
Hoodies are back
Financial Aid
Notes from the Head of School
Hilltop Benefit Auction
Willow Room
Birch Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Illness Alert
As we're sure you have heard, this year's flu season is epidemic in scale. Your child must be fever free for at least 24 hours before returning to school. Thank you for your understanding.


Coming up...

Tuesday, January 15
Financial Aid Deadline
Thursday, January 17
Winter Sports! Pick up Mount Snow skiers/boarders at 4:30pm
Monday, January 21
Martin Luther King Day


Hoodies are BACK
If you missed out on ordering a Hilltop Hoodie last month, good news! We're placing another order. Either download an order form here, or pick one up at the front desk. We'll place the order on February 1.


Financial Aid


The deadline for submitting the Parent Financial Statement is this Tuesday,

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.


 Back to top



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! 


Come hear our very own Paul Dedell and Nora Gordon:

Morten Lauridsen's soaring Lux Aeterna, paired with the translucent Requiem of Bob Chilcott, will be sung by the Brattleboro Concert Choir on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 7:30  p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 13 at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in downtown Brattleboro. Choir, soloists Junko Watanabe and Peter Shea, and orchestra are directed by Susan Dedell.
The chorus sings this concert in memory of all who have come into our lives in ways that bring joy and help us to see a little more clearly.
Robot Camp at Hilltop!
February 18 - 22 / 9 am - 2 pm with Laura Pratt. This is a fun, creative camp for students in grades 1 -3.
laurapratt1952@gmail.com or call 802.254.3538 for information.

Winter Camp is a collaboration between the Brattleboro Food Co-op and the Boys & Girls Club.  Camp will run Mon.-Fri., Feb. 18-22, from 8:30-5pm.  

During the week we will embark on outdoor adventures and expand wilderness skills, make homemade candy and flavored popcorn for a movie outing, explore the Art Museum and excite the imagination with food art projects, learn kitchen skills while creating fun snacks for our field trips, including wild, messy fun at the Mad Science center and a taste of spring with a picnic at Smith Botanical Gardens in Northampton. 

Cost for the week is $100 for Club members or $150 for non-members.  Lunch and snacks are included.  Contact Ricky at the Club (802-254-5990,  ext.4) or Vicky and the Co-op (802-246-2842) for more details or to register.  




 Back to top


Notes from the Head of School 


Let it snow...more! 

It was spookily quiet here in the early afternoon on Thursday until 2:20 when the thunk thunk of boots, the swish of snowpants and the excited, proud chatter of the skaters resonated in the hallway. The fun of skating was equally matched by the post-skating treat of hot chocolate and graham crackers. Several hours later I watched the skiers return. Louder voices and a bigger thunk thunk/swish swish and yet there was the same positive energy and excited chatter. 

There is magnificent learning that happens while balancing on skates, skis or snowboards. First off there's the practical life aspect of remembering all the gear! Mittens. Check. Snowpants. Check. Boots. Check. It's a real lesson in planning and responsibility. Sometimes it's a painful one and requires a call home and a plea for a drop off of that vital piece of equipment.

Then there's overcoming the fear of something new that is physically challenging. To observe the kindergartener let go of the rink wall and teeter precariously on his skates and figure out how to move forward and to see the joy on his face as he pushes off is magical. The same can be said when that snowboarder makes it down the hill without falling the first time or when the X-country skier figures out how to stop. 

And of course there's the social aspect of being together in a different environment, riding in someone else's car to the rink, or taking the bus to Mt. Snow. It's winter. It's Vermont. It's a new kind of learning. Oh, yes, and it's fun!

Middle School parents: PLEASE drop off and pick up your child IN THE CIRCLE. The driveway is narrow and cars must be able to go both ways. This is impossible if you pull up in front of the Middle School. $20 tickets if caught! (Just kidding.)

Tonia is looking for a housesitter for the month of February in Dummerston. Suggestions are welcome!

Thank you to Dave Snyder, Matt and Chad Farnum for climbing on scaffolding and installing sound panels in the art and upper elementary rooms. What a difference!


Email Tonia



Thanks to Dave Snyder, Matthew Hall, Jesse Wagner and Chad Farnum for installing acoustic tiles in Upper El and the Art Room. Good thing they're not afraid of heights!



Hilltop Benefit Auction - Volunteers Needed! 
Our Spring auction is set for March 9 at BMAC and it will be a great evening in support of Hilltop. To pull off a terrific event and raise $20,000 for our school we need everyone to help out.

Please consider volunteering to serve on an auction committee - Check out, Decoration, Marketing/ PR, Soliciting, and Thank you.

And of course, we need fantastic items to bid on in order to raise a lot of money. Do you or your family have a vacation house you'd be willing to offer for a weekend or a week? Do you have big ticket items (canoe, plane tickets, etc) you can help secure?

Please contact Leslie Myette (former Hilltop parent, Chair of the Auction at leslieoam@gmail.com if you have ideas. We want to ensure we have a good mix of items, so please check with her before soliciting any items.


Willow Room 
Welcome back and Happy New Year. We have had a wonderful first full week back at school in the Willow Room. Practical Life is stocked with exciting new works with colors reflecting the season. The children have been busily engaged with the physical skills of tweezing, pouring, spooning and twisting. The sewing works on the care of the person shelf are hot new items in the classroom, especially the headband work. The children are busy designing and sewing beads on fabric to create their own one of a kind headband.

In Cultural we are studying the continent Antarctica. We are learning about the climate and the animal life. For instance, did you know Antarctica is considered a desert region because it receives so little precipitation? Or did you know the Emperor penguin can grow up to 4 feet tall? That's taller than some of the children in our classroom! While some of the children are choosing works about Antarctica, others have returned to materials they were striving to master before the holiday break. In the photo below Talia is just steps away from successfully completing the Cube of the Trinomial for the first time!

Enjoy your weekend together.

Melissa and Ellie


Birch Room 

This week we have been learning about Polar Regions. In the cold far south (Antarctica) live Emperor penguins, Weddell seals, Adelie penguins, Leopard seals and Skuas. In the north (Arctic) live Polar bears, walrus, narwhales, Beluga Whales, Harp and Northern Fur seals to name a few. Contrary to common misconception, there are no penguins at the North Pole!


In our Cultural area of the classroom children have been busy labeling nomenclature books - parts of a penguin, parts of a polar bear. They are also labeling oceans and seas on the map of Antarctica and making books of animals that live in the Polar Regions. 





In our classroom library many books by author/ illustrator Jan Brett are available for enjoyment. The Older group has been drawing pictures, using borders that give hints as to what will happen on the next page similar to Jan Brett.


Reminders: Older's skating on Thursdays

No P.E. with Ben on Thurs. due to Winter sports

Music on Tuesdays with Jay during Winter Sports

No A.S.G. during Winter Sports



Lower Elementary 

We spent our first full week back at school, leaving the classroom.  On Wednesday, we visited the Montshire Museum of Science for a workshop on fossils.  Fossilized tree cross-sections, vertebrates, shells, leaves, and skulls were all part of the guessing game we played there.  The curiosity and enthusiasm of our students impressed us throughout the lesson.  Many thanks to our wonderful chaperones Anna Berry, Alix Barstow, Judy Robinson, and Stephanie Nichols who helped get us there and enjoy the exhibits.  Look for the plaster-of-paris "fossils" that your child created, both in the classroom and at the museum, when they arrive home today.  Making them was a fun experience, especially when they pulled off their paper cups to reveal the "old life" inside.  





Our first winter sports day had plenty of snow for all, including the cross-country skiers, who really missed the white stuff last year.  Thank you for helping your student come to school prepared with all that they needed on that day.


As usual, many subjects occupy our time inside the classroom.  The Youngers have been playing with verbs this week, having been introduced to the big red sphere that is the Montessori symbol for the verb.  Unlike the sturdy black pyramid that is our symbol for the noun, the verb is round and rarely stays put if touched, demonstrating that verbs themselves are action words. Like the sun, whose heat and light is the energy we need to live, the verb symbol is red to denote that verbs are pure energy words.   


Next week, we will launch into our lesson on representing time, introducing "unit" measures of time and the year and its parts.  


Enjoy your weekend!  

Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie



Upper Elementary 
It was a fast but busy week in the Upper El. The fourths and fifths began exploring the vital functions of animals, part of the zoology study. This week students focused on nutrition and learned why we should be so thankful for the evolution of worms (don't ask at the dinner table!). Students compared the digestive systems of a non-chordate and a chordate. Students also learned more about what North America looked like when humans first traveled here. The sixths began a study of the cell as part of the human body study. This week they 'dissected' an animal cell and began to learn the nomenclature of the cell parts. Sixth years also worked on a reading of primary documents supporting and opposing the Louisiana Purchase as part of our study of western expansion. 

Literature and seminar groups are gathering steam as students move past the initial chapters of their new books. Students reading Island of the Blue Dolphin were very engaged in a discussion about whether one character trusted another. Rather than simply stating their opinions, students quickly went to the text to find and share evidence supporting their own reading of the characters. Students reading Day of the Pelican have been building their background knowledge of the Balkans war, the context of the book's plot. In sixth grade seminar students are reading Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. This week in seminar a student chose to read aloud a sentence because she liked it so much. The sentence, written by Gary Schmidt, is so beautiful it needs to be shared, "They (the raindrops) played across the coast all through the night, until the soft new day shrugged itself awake, tried on amethyst and lavender for a while, and finally decided on a pale yellow." And the book only gets better.

Fourth and fifth year families, please be aware that a new packet of math games went home today.

We need to extend a huge thank you to Dave Snyder and Chad Farnum who spent this past weekend installing sound panels in the Upper El and the art room. The difference in volume and sound quality is dramatic. We are very grateful. Thank you.

Remember to mark you calendars for our Poetry Performance on Wednesday, February 13 at 1:30.

Middle School  

We always feel that the second term of school is much too short. In the blink of an eye we go from chilly skating on the pond to the pond serving as a backdrop on a warm June graduation night. This is good. The seeming brevity of the semester reflects immersion, commitment, and just a whole lot going on. Today is a good example. We started the day singing from our growing repertory of music from and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and then discussing and digesting the inspired writing of James Baldwin in his essay, "My Dungeon Shook". The songbooks were put away and the eighth graders enthusiastically went off to health class with Jessica and the sevenths joined Finn in the kitchen for the creation of another delectable soup (this week - Tuscan White Bean with Hilltop grown garlic). Our soup sales have been excellent and our bank account is slowly but steadily growing in support of our upcoming odyssey to Alabama in April. An hour flies by, the sevenths move from the kitchen to health and the eighths join the deepening aromas emanating from the kitchen. After a time for pizza the afternoon promises math classes and project time.


Project time is all about choice. At this point in the semester, students already have a number of choices to make in regards to their use of project time. For the conclusion of our poetry study (although poetry never goes away), students are creating a film inspired by one of their poems. Visualizing a poem that goes beyond mere illustration is an exciting challenge. Add in the learning of the technology that supports their creation, along with creating an original soundtrack, and you have a powerful means of discovery.





As another way to explore identity, students are also building masks taken directly from their individual faces. Art Costa (Colin's dad), a professional mask maker, paid us a visit and shared a number of the extraordinary and inspiring masks he has made throughout his career. It was a terrific way to send us off. Plaster molds have been made and students are presently rendering their vision and adding clay to their positive plaster casts in preparation for layers of papier-mâché. We have been invited to display these finished extensions of self on the walls of Amy's Bakery in February.




Students are also preparing their first collaborative presentation project about topics that prepare the way for our intensive study of the Civil Rights Movement. Students will be teaching the rest of their class (who will be taking notes) subjects such as the Jim Crow laws, Booker T. Washington, Plessy versus Ferguson, and the history of minstrel shows. The mandate is clear: know your subject, practice your presentation and above all inspire us towards understanding.


There is a palpable buzz in the classroom today for tonight is the first Middle School dance. The dance is a student-initiated fundraiser for the odyssey and an important social event. Thanks to our parent chaperones.



This was our day - full of choice and practicing the skills of the hand, heart, and head.





Hilltop Montessori School