Smile! School photos next week
MS & UE on Tuesday, 9/24
CH & LE on Wednesday, 9/25

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Mark Your Calendar

Saturday, September 21

  • Upper El soccer game West River Park, arrive 11:10am, game 11:30am

Monday, September 23

  • MS Soccer 3-4:30pm
  • Going Far Cross Country Running 3:10-4:10pm

Tuesday, September 24

  • CH Field Trip to Green Mountain Orchards, leaving 8:45am back by noon
  • MS & UE school photo day 
  • UE Soccer practice 3-4:15pm  
  • CH Spanish 3-4pm

Wednesday, September 25

  • CH & LE school photo day 
  • Mountain Biking 3-4:30pm  
  • LE Soccer 3-4pm
  • Going Far Cross Country Running at Academy School 3:10-4:10pm  

Thursday, September 26    

  • MS Soccer home game 4pm start time  
  • Gathering for Hilltop neighbors 5-7pm, parents welcome, please RSVP with Ann 

Friday, September 27  

  • Pizza Lunch   
  • UE Soccer practice 3-4:15pm

Looking Ahead...


Saturday, October 5, 10am 

Hilltop families "Hike for the Homeless". Let's make an impression at this year's hike up Mount Wantastiquet to benefit the Morningside Shelter. Wear your Hilltop gear and meet at the trail head at 10am. Email Amelia for more info. 


Thursday, October 17, 7pm
High School Alumni Night is a great way to learn how our students successfully transition to high school. A panel of alumni attending private and public schools will be in attendance to answer questions. All parents of current students are encouraged to attend. 


Helper needed for Children's House/Lower El Spanish class
There is a large group of young students in Spanish class on Tuesday afternoons from 3-4pm. We're looking for an older student to help out.  This would ideally be a student who speaks some Spanish, but not necessary. Whoever it is will learn some Spanish while helping.  If your child is interested, please email: [email protected]  or call 387-2522. Thanks!
Also, thank you for those families who filled out the questionnaire about after-school Spanish. It looks like there is not enough interest to offer a program until the winter. Please contact Hilltop if this is something you are interested in for the winter months.

Thank You Corner
Thank you's this week to:
  • Mark Mayer, Rebecca Fontaine, Megan Buchanan and Jen Betit-Engel for spreading wood chips on the playground.
  • Mel Kahn for mushrooming with the Middle School.
  • Roselle Garro for bringing in yummy chips for aftercare snack.
  • All the drivers for the Upper El Pinnacle trip.
  • Lynn Stewart for her continued care of our outdoor planters. 
Save the Date
You'll want to put this date on your calendar:
Friday, October 18th from 3-6:30pm
Hilltop Montessori Carnival Party to kick-off the 2013 Annual Fund!
Wood fired pizza, games, pie baking contest and more!

We need helpers, young, old and in-between. We're also looking for donations of small to medium sized stuffed animals to be used as game prizes, now might be your chance to clean out that closet! Email Amelia if you are interested in either of these opportunities.

Barn Update


The progress continues! The demolition is almost complete. Now we are designing the sprinkler system and its complex array of pumps, valves, and one huge water tank. Test pits will be dug around campus next week to determine where to place our 25,000 gallon water tank for the sprinkler system. Foundation work will begin soon and project materials will be arriving on campus. Work is continuing on the standing part of the barn to prep it for the project. Sub contractors are being finalized. Watch for the activity level to increase in the weeks to come. It's very exciting!

Math Trivia: How big is a 25,000 gallon water tank???
(Answer in next week's newsletter!)

Notes from Tamara
Peace Education

null "Peace Education" is one of the most important components of a good Montessori program, but it is also one of the more difficult integrated aspects to put your finger on and explain. Peace Education is teaching, modeling, and encouraging:
  • reflective listening and conflict resolution on a personal and global level (from the peace table to international treaties) 
  • respect of self and others
  • self-calming (anger management)
  • grace and courtesy
  • justice and human rights
  • interconnectedness of all things
  • environmental stewardship
  • befriending and caring for people who are "different" from you
The celebration of the International Day of Peace (established by the United Nations in 1982) at Hilltop Montessori School is a component of our peace education. We discuss, model and sing about being "peaceful." The day also marks the beginning of the relationships between the "Peace Buddies." This is certainly the most anticipated part of the day for the children. Each Middle School child is paired with a Lower Elementary child and Upper Elementary and Children's House children are matched. These relationships start on Peace Day and are cultivated further throughout the year, especially during the All School Gatherings.


Seeing these relationships begin was, as they say, "priceless"! The conversations were so precious:

Older: "So, what is your favorite color?"  (Always a good conversation starter.)
Younger: "Blue!"
Older: "Blue is a great color. I like blue too."

Younger: "Do you know, Sarah, the teacher?"
Older: "Yes, I had Sarah in my class when I was in the Birch Room."
Younger: "Isn't she nice?"

Older: "What do you think of when you think of peace?"
Younger: "I like playing with Legos."
Older: "I feel relaxed when I play with Legos too."

After meeting their Peace Buddy, the children made pinwheels together, coloring them beautifully, and writing words of peace on them. The children then shared a work or a book together in the classroom, walked outside for songs by the pond and a silent walk behind the "Peace Dove." We then gathered in a big circle and shared a poem about peace, and what peace meant to us. At this huge circle of more than 136 people, the first to speak up was a 3 year old, "I feel peaceful when I play with my sister, and come to school." 

It was a wonderful Peace Day.



Birch Room


Peace Day in the Birch Room




The children all enjoyed meeting their Peace Buddies for the first time and participated in a "pinwheels for peace" art project together. We then all gathered at the pond, followed the peace dove to the courtyard, sang songs and shared thoughts about what made us peaceful. It truly was a wonderful time spent together in a spectacular setting surrounded by friends!


    • Field Trip to Green Mountain Orchards, September 24: We will need all of our driver/chaperones - thanks in advance! Please provide a labeled car seat for the trip if you are not driving.
    • Picture/photo day is September 25.
    • Please bring indoor shoes if you haven't already.
    • Thank you for being on time for our 8:30 a.m. start time on the playground. It has been working beautifully!
    • Thank-you for attending Parent Orientation night. We were thrilled with the turn out of interested, engaged parents.
Willow Room

Thank you for joining us for the Parent Orientation night on Tuesday! We hope you found the hour informative and interesting. We enjoyed the opportunity to share a little more about the classroom and answer questions.


Thursday we celebrated Peace Day! The highlight for many children is meeting their Peace Buddies. Children's House students are matched up with buddies from Upper El. They meet regularly throughout the school year at weekly All School Gatherings and during all-school events like Peace Day, Stone Soup (in November), and Field Day (in June). Today Peace Buddies made pinwheels of peace together before gathering as a school community to sing, reflect on peace, and play!


Peace buddies Sheridan and Lydia
Peace buddies Huxley and Max
Peace buddies Hailey and Noelle
Peace buddies Owen and August
Peace buddies Alex and Senji
Peace buddies Aidan and Maeve
Peace buddies Emmy and Talia


Tuesday, September 24, field trip to Green Mountain Orchards

Thank you to all of the parents who were able and willing to help with chaperoning and driving. Children's parents who are not able to come, please remember to leave a labeled carseat in the front lobby at drop off.   All children should be dressed in boots (the orchard grass is very wet in the morning) and layers of clothing. We'll be going on a hayride, picking apples, and pressing cider!


Wednesday, September 25, picture day 


Inside shoes

If you haven't already, please provide an extra pair of shoes or slippers for your child to wear in the classroom. It is especially important now that children are starting their mornings on the playground where their shoes tend to get wet and dirty.


Friendly Reminder

School officially starts at 8:30. We've noticed children have been able to focus better and attend in the classroom when offered the opportunity to run and play outside before coming inside. Arriving between 8:15 and 8:30 ensures there will be time to connect with friends and teachers, get some exercise, and come inside ready to learn.


Have a good weekend!

Melissa & Ellie


* Good news

If you've seen Brattleboro police officer Penny Witherbee around Hilltop, rest assured all is fine.  She's mother to Ciana, a middler in Willow Room.






Lower Elementary
Thank you to all who attended our Parent Orientation Night this past Tuesday.  It was wonderful to have such a large group of interested and engaged parents.  Your commitment to your child, and to their Montessori education, is inspiring. 

Several topics came from that gathering, among them the possibility of forming a monthly parent discussion group.  Emilie Kornheiser proposed certain topics for this meeting, such as  "reading and what that means at home" and "the issue of privilege and private schools."   If you are interested in this possibility, please let Emilie or either of the Lower El teachers know.  
In addition, we discussed reading and how important it is that each child do this at home for at least 20 minutes a day.  Reading to you, and being read to, is so important to the development of your child as a reader, and as a learner in general.  Consider it the Essential Homework of the Lower El student.


Our Lower El schedule is now firmly in place.  Here are important days for you to know, in order to help your child be prepared for them:

 P.E. is on Wednesdays and Thursdays; sneakers are the best footwear for this class!

 3rd Grade music class is on Thursdays; bring ukeleles and recorders on this day

 Friday is our sharing day; this is an opportunity for your child to share something from his/her other life, away from school: origami they made, an item from nature, a souvenir from a vacation...anything that means something to them, and that will help their friends learn more about them.  

Picture Day is Wednesday, September 25th for Lower El; photo information packets were sent home this week.  Please check your child's backpack if you haven't received yours.

Lastly, ask your child about these classroom topics/school events:

Peace Day (Who is their Peace Buddy?)
What must you do when you count up to ten golden beads? (ask your 1st grader)
How far is the Earth from the Sun?
What does the "deca" in decanomial mean? ( ask your 3rd grader)
What is a "Who Am I?" card, and did they make their own?

Have a good weekend!  - Kerstin and Patrick

Upper Elementary

Thank you to everyone who attended Parent Orientation this past Tuesday. We enjoyed sharing with you our plans for the year and appreciated your questions and comments. For families that were not able to attend, please know that an important topic that we discussed was communication between families and teachers. We encourage you to contact your child's advisor as soon as any questions or concerns arise so that a time can be scheduled to meet or to talk by phone. Open communication between families and teachers helps to create the learning environment necessary for a child to grow and learn to her full potential. We also discussed homework in the Upper El. We are compiling a list of useful websites families and children can use at home to practice math facts. If you know of such a site, please send it along to Tom or Jennifer via email so that we can include it in the list that we will be sending out.
Sixths graders this week were introduced to the story of the Mayflower. They will be reading the Mayflower Compact to learn how early colonists governed themselves. As they continued to research their chosen biome, the sixths learned how to read and create a climograph. As part of our Work of Water study, fourth and fifth year students were very busy this week working on maps highlighting the major river systems of a continent. Students hand-drew their maps and tried different techniques for coloring their maps. As part of their Egypt study, students began to examine artifacts to learn how the ancient Egyptians met their fundamental needs.

Naomi working on her map.


                  Talia sharing the map she is creating  
                with her partners.

Ben is researching ancient Egyptian architecture 

Bailey and the early morning view from
the Pinnacle.

Huxley and Alex take in the view of the sunset from atop the Pinnacle.

We had perfect weather and a full moon for our overnight trip to the Pinnacle. A special thanks to Ernie for making moon cakes for the class and sharing the stories of the woman and/or bunny in the moon. We ate moon cakes under the full moon to celebrate the Chinese Autumn Moon festival.

Finally, thank you to the families that transported students for our Pinnacle Trip. Thank you also to Anna Berry and Ben James for spending the night with us. Enjoy the weekend!

Middle School
Between 1851 and 1858, Henry David Thoreau spent a part of every day walking and observing the natural phenomena of his native Concord, Massachusetts.  The extensive notations in his journals included the life cycles of over 300 plant species and notated the first arrivals of the many migrating birds.  Today these observations are invaluable to scientists tracking the timing of the same plants and animals and how climate change is altering these patterns.  We, too, are entering the realm of phenology and have decided to create our own almanac that will continue with successive middle school classes.  We plan to take daily observations noting the temperature, air pressure, and overall weather, as well as the visual phenomena of leaf budding, color changing, and falling, ice in and out of the pond and any and every thing else that strikes us on any given day.  To do this we need some equipment and are wondering if you have any of the following not being used in your household that you would be willing to donate to our efforts:

1)    Minimum/maximum thermometer

2)    Any outdoor thermometer

3)    Barometer

4)    Humidity sensor (psychrometer or hygrometer)

5)    Hand clippers


We are also looking for a PC laptop computer that has perhaps been relegated to a closet for an entirely different purpose.  For those of you who could attend the recent Orientation Night, we spoke about the increasing student responsibilities in our entrepreneurial enterprises.  To that end it has been suggested we use the Quick Books program, which we currently own.  It is the PC laptop that we don't.  We now have student managers and assistant managers who have begun the process of building business plans and you will soon be hearing from these young entrepreneurs.  Many thanks if you have an older laptop that you can send our way.


As you probably know, we recently completed the wonderful book, The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.  In the spirit of reviving our own forest, Martin Webster, a local tree expert and landscape artist, donated and helped plant two blight resistant American chestnut trees behind the middle school.  At one time American chestnuts accounted for about a quarter of our local forests and were an important part of the forest ecosystem.  A blight introduced in the early 20th century eventually devastated this beautiful and useful tree.  We are helping to turn that around.  They are beautiful young trees and emanate hope.


We had glorious days in the woods this week with extended periods of time dedicated to students visiting their plots, finding a sunny spot, settling in and writing and painting their observations.  Here are two excerpts from this week:


"I am in the middle of my plot today; it is where the sun is.  It is very cold and the wind is not on my side, although the sun makes me warm and makes me forget where I am.  The leaves are already turning brown, and every time I look up, they look like green jelly fish, spotted with brown and swimming for the sun's rays.  It is amazing how many shades of green there are.... An ant, a little thicker than a string of my air, has crawled onto my watercolor pallet.  He seems to be saying, "what is this new creature that is beneath my many legs?"

      ~ Lexi Larsen


"The leaves layer the ground like records of each year.  The stones split into separate stories.  I hear the birds having a conversation, a low inquiry to a cackling response, then silence.  All that can be heard is the rushing sound of the trees waiting to listen."

      ~ Archer Parks


Have a lovely weekend.


Eighth grader, Zach James and his band "The Snaz" featured on Vermont Public Radio. Way to go, Zach!

Marlboro College
is now accepting applications from nonprofit organizations and young professionals to participate in the 2013-2014 Get on Board Windham County program. Get on Board places young professionals in the community to serve as non-voting fellows for local nonprofit boards. The program begins with a retreat on Saturday, October 19 led by national consultant Andy Robinson, author of Selling Social Change (Without Selling Out)How to Raise $500 to $5000 from Almost Anyone, and Easier than You Think: Financial Management for Nonprofit Trustees. The deadline for applications is September 25. Learn more and find the online application.

Cooking Close to the Earth: Traditional Outdoor Food Preparation with Bob Etzweiler
How did we cook before modern stoves, ovens, and pans?  Come and learn traditional outdoor cooking techniques with experienced wilderness guide Bob Etzweiler of Vermont Wilderness School.  We'll cover pit steaming, coal baking, spit roasting, rock griddles, earthen stoves, and other ways of preparing food in the wild in this hands-on, outdoor family workshop.
Cost: $40-65 sliding scale for adults; $20-35 for youth (ages 8+, must be accompanied by parent or guardian if under 13).  Time: 1-5pm on Sunday, October 20th at Hilltop Montessori School.  Please pre-register with Vermont Wilderness School by calling 802-257-8570 or emailing [email protected]



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