This week's reminder:
Re-enrollment contracts due Friday, February 14th.

And don't forget,
Friday the 14th is a noon dismissal.

Happy Valentine's Day!
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Mark Your Calendar

Friday, February 7 TONIGHT
  • Come by the River Garden and make a Valentine for a Farmer! Sound odd? Don't ask, just come! Hilltop will have a table there and we welcome any parents who would like to hang out for a spell and talk with people about Hilltop's programs. 5 - 8pm.  
Monday, February 10
  • Parent Ed talk "Navigating Social Media and Electronics Use" with Karen Blumberg 8:30 - 9:30 am and 7 - 8:30 pm Karen Blumberg, Lower El parent to Ben Berg and experienced Social Skills Counselor, will present and lead a discussion about how we as families can support our children in the new arena of social networking and accessible technologies. For many of us, our children are living in an electronic world less-familiar to us. How can we give them the tools to manage their behavior and reactions productively? Sign up at the front desk. Childcare available for the evening session, reserve a space at the front desk.      
  • Spanish (4+ and first grade): 3 - 4 pm 
  • MS Basketball: 3:15 - 4:45 pm 
Tuesday, February 11
  • Drum Circle: 3 - 4 pm  
Wednesday, February 12
  • Bagel Lunch
  • Upper El Poetry Performance: 1:30 pm 
  • Beginning French: 3 - 4 pm  
Thursday, February 13
  • Winter Sports (No All School Gathering)  
  • Development Committee Meeting: 8:30 am in the kitchen 
Friday, February 14
  • Noon dismissal!  

Monday, February 17 - Monday, February 24 WINTER BREAK.  

Back to school on Tuesday, February 25.


Coming Up...

Girls on the Run Sign Up:
If your 3rd-5th grade daughter would like to participate in this after school program, sign up for Hilltop's team on-line. This year, Girls on the Run will meet on Wednesdays and Fridays starting on March 12th from 3-4:30pm. The cost for the 12 week program is $80. Girls must bring a healthy snack, water bottle, shoes, and dress for the weather.To register: Go to at the bar at the top, click on "participant registration". Click on "HERE" for registration for locations attending the Brattleboro 5k. Choose Hilltop as the location.Contact GOTR directly to discuss financial aid.  Scholarships are available on a need basis Click here for more information about the Girls on the Run program. 

Tuesday, March 11 - Curriculum Night 6-8 pm What is this "Montessori Peace Curriculum" that we hear talked about? For many families, this component of a Montessori education is a mystery. Come hear what the Peace Curriculum is and how it is implemented at each age and stage of our programs. The evening will conclude with guest speaker, Karen Blumberg (see bio  below in Parent Ed article) speaking on how to reinforce this approach at home. Pizza and childcare for provided for kids.

Friday, March 28th - Hilltop Family Dinner and Contra Dance at the Dummerston Grange with very special musical hosts and Middle School parents, Keith Murphy and Becky Tracy. Join us celebrate going solar with song and dance.

REMEMBER: To see events further in the future go to the calendar on our website.

Pending the weather, MONDAY and TUESDAY will be the days when the trusses are added to the barn and the Morning Drop-Off and Afternoon Pick-Ups for Children's House will be different and we'll need your help and patience.

No need to park, Children's House will need to Drop-Off at the circle. We will have staff/teachers on hand to meet your child a the passenger side car door closest to the sidewalk. We will walk them into the building, where other staff will see that they get to their classroom (it is projected to be below 10 degrees at 9 a.m. on Monday and Tuesday, so the children will not start on the playground).

Children's House Pick-Up will also be at the circle. At noon, parents can park along the circle and walk in, as there are fewer children leaving at that time. For the afternoon Pick-Up, Children's House children will be at the circle ready to be picked up at 2:45. We hope to have their dismissal mostly completed before Elementary dismissal at 3:00. We would appreciate it if Elementary parents did not come up the driveway until 3 p.m. as it will be crowded with both CH and El parents at the same time.

Notes from Tamara

Parent Education Events:

We were sorry more parents weren't able to make it out to Moving-Up Night last Tuesday. The parents that did attend seemed to find the information valuable and the time well spent. 

These Parent Education nights are important opportunities to learn more about the experience your child is having, to be able to join their world and to better value what Hilltop Montessori School offers. The teachers put time into the evenings and we want to have these events be more enticing to our families.

We have heard a great level of interest in the Navigating Social Media and Electronics Use talks that we are having on Monday, February 10, at 8:30-9:30 a.m. and 7-8 p.m. We are looking forward to those!

We have a Curriculum Night scheduled for Tuesday, March 11th and we want to make this evening event convenient for all to attend! It is going to be a great opportunity to hear very useful and inspiring information and discussion. We've had some ideas for how to make it more accessible, but would like your feedback as well. This one is 2 hours, usually 6-8 p.m.

Please email me to stop by to share any ideas. We welcome you suggestions!!!

Sign Up for Childcare on Parent Conference Day, March 28
Sign up now! Only a few spaces left for the BEEC nature program during March conferences; signup sheet at the front desk. 

We may not know what the weather will be, but we'll have hours of fun as we play and learn in the fields and forests of the Hilltop campus 
Friday March 28, 8:30 - 12:00, during teacher conference day.

Come investigate the natural world around us through games, activities and exploration lead by staff from the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center.

Birch Room

Life Sciences



Lessons that make a deep impression come from first hand experiences. When we go outside to observe and experience things in their natural environment, then bring those elements into our classroom environment, our connections become deeper. The children are invited to touch the collected items and are given the vocabulary for experiences and concepts such as brown, gray, small, long, smooth, rough, hard, and soft. This is classification where even the youngest child can be a participant. Exposure and deep curiosity lead to further interest, lively discussions, and a broader vocabulary enriching the experience.




Willow Room


The purpose of the sensorial area in the Children's House curriculum is "the education of the senses". Through sensory experiences children develop intelligence and an understanding of things, people and the events around them. The sensorial materials are designed to help children learn how to classify size, dimension, color, form, shape, texture, weight, sound and taste. The pink tower and the brown stair are two classic sensorial materials in our Montessori classroom.


Over the past two weeks, many of the children are busy in the sensorial area of the classroom building extensions with the brown stair and the pink tower. Senji and August took their work one step further creating these beautiful posters. The boys traced the bases on corresponding colored construction paper and then cut them out. Then they carefully arranged the pieces and glued them to the large white paper. They worked collaboratively over several days to complete these projects.


Go out and enjoy the snow!

Lower El

As of this writing, we have received ten permission slips and two offers to drive.  This means we still need transportation for 16 students to NEYT next Tuesday morning.  If you are able to drive, please let us know; we will not be able to see "Treasure Island" if we don't get enough drivers to take us there.  Feel free to email Kerstin and Patrick over the weekend if you can accompany us.  Thank you in advance for your help.  

Although the ( wonderful ) snow day gobbled up some of our work time, our study of the Timeline of Life marched on.  Time has a way of doing that!  We began in the Paleozoic Era ( "Old Life" ), when all life could be found  in the water, and looked closely at the three Ages of that Era: The Age of Invertebrates, the Age of Fishes and the Age of Amphibians.  We noticed that certain life forms that began in this Era are still with us today, such as the horseshoe crab and the jellyfish.  Others, like the trilobites, have become extinct.  The little worm-like Cephalochordate, the Pikaia, is believed to be the (surprising!) ancestor of all vertebrates.  A particularly exciting part of the story centered around the Tiktaalik, a recently-discovered lobe-finned fish.  Scientists believe it was the first creature to hoist itself out of the water - the link between fish and amphibians.  Click here to find out more in this short NPR interview:  The Mesozoic ('Middle Life") Era came next, and included those fascinating creatures, the dinosaurs ( or "terrible lizards!")  This Era also produced the ancestor to the birds, the feathery Archeopteryx.  Some of the children nicknamed it the "Birdosaur."    These and other discoveries filled our heads with questions and musings on life, both old and new.  Already the room is filled with talk of the projects to come, based on this study.  

Other highlights from our week include:
- making and reading large numbers on the bead frame
- using the subtraction strip board
- reading about different types of working homes, such as windmills
- creating a physical map of a continent
- learning where to put the apostrophe when using the plural possessive
- practicing how to use adverbs
- figuring out how to put lists of words in ABC order

VALENTINE'S DAY:  If children would like to exchange Valentine's Day cards, they may bring cards in for each classmate.  If candy is included in the cards, we will ask students to save it for home.  

Enjoy your weekend!
Kerstin and Patrick

Upper El

For the past few weeks all Upper El students, including sixth year students, have been reading Tuck Everlasting for literature group. We have never all read the same book, and usually sixth graders have their own reading group, but we decided to bring everyone together around this one book for a variety of reasons. First, the language in Tuck Everlasting is incredibly beautiful and very poetic at times. We used passages from the text and written assignments to extend the current poetry study. We are always looking for ways to create additional leadership opportunities for the sixths, so we brought them back into lit groups as models and mentors.  Finally, this is a book that asks big questions about how one should live his or her life. Nine to twelve-year olds are developing their moral reasoning and asking big questions about fairness, kindness, and our responsibilities to one another. Tuck created many opportunities to consider such questions individually and as a group. If you have never read Tuck Everlasting yourself, it is a great book for a cozy winter night!


We look forward to seeing everyone next Wednesday at 1:30 for our Poetry Performance.


Middle School

It has been a profound week of learning and community. On Monday, Anna from the Women's Freedom Center continued our series on conflict. She focused on gender inequality, perceptions of gender in our society, domestic abuse, and healthy dating relationships.   Her approach was very interactive and our students were laser focused. Here are some student reflections:


            "Anna was focused on gender equality, not a reversal of the roles we see in our society today. I learned a lot about abusive relationships and their relation to gender roles in our society." Izzy


            "The most surprising thing I learned was how the gender stereotypes can range from childhood bullying to a popular music video. It is clear that pop culture is not helping." Emmanuel


            "The most revelatory subject was about gender equality. I think that people completely overlook it. I especially think that when someone says, "man up", or "that's not lady like" they do not realize that it is a harmful statement." Sarah


            "I was nervous going into today. I was thinking Anna would be one of the people who would only talk about women's rights and how men beat women. It really surprised me how many teens are in abusive relationships." Ian


            "Everyone believes that gender equality would make a better world, but no one is willing to take action." Greta


We continued this depth of conversation and engagement in a very different environment on Tuesday morning when five local veterans from the Brattleboro American Legion joined us to talk about their experiences and beliefs. The breadth of their experience spanned living in Brattleboro during World War II to a recent deployment in Afghanistan. We also hosted a veteran of the Cold War who was stationed on nuclear submarines during the Cuban Missile Crisis and two veterans of the conflict in Vietnam. It was a profoundly moving morning. Again student reflections:


            "I found myself scratching my head when the Afghanistan veteran talked about how nobody wanted to go to war but he went because he felt like he needed to protect his country. It was just mind boggling." Sophie


            "The veterans had been through it all, they just had to reach into the outer layers of their memories and remove something they usually locked away. Memories of loss and friendships, leaving and coming home." Isabella


            "Getting to hear the veteran's stories and experiences was very saddening and heroic." Jazmin


            "Where should I begin? Well for starters, the whole thing was unsettlingly inspiring. Here are five perfectly sane human beings sitting in front of me, arms and legs still intact, cheerfully promoting the things my parents and teachers have convinced me to hate. As much as I'd like to write off war as an evil thing done by evil people, I can't." Colin


            "When the veterans were talking I could see how much they have been through. I was feeling a little confused because I didn't know what to think. I saw how much they sacrificed but I had really mixed thoughts about is war right or not." Bella


            "I loved the perspective of Richard being home during the Second World War. It really got me in the heart. I don't really know how to describe it." Aidan


We are now approaching the end of our study of conflict. Students are redrafting specific outlines, writing final papers, and finishing the films on their personal understanding of peace. On Monday we begin the creative process of Performance. Performance is a way we can reflect on our collective learning from through the year and give it voice through music, drama, film, and poetry. Performances are on March 7th and 8th at 7pm.



Community News

Divine Biology of Love: Best Self Practices:
Saturday, February 8, 1 - 3 pm Education Conference Room, Brattleboro Retreat On Saturday, February 8, 1-3 p.m., a presentation and experiential workshop will be offered at the Brattleboro Retreat by Dr. Lesley Fishelman exploring the nature, biology, and practical application of a variety of practices intended to improve or expand the ability of the brain in a variety of life-altering ways.
Practices such as self-reflection, mindfulness, and focused concentration have
ancient origins. Doing them on a regular basis makes maximum use of the human
brain's amazing capacity to develop higher levels of awareness, understanding,
love, faith and compassion. All are welcome to attend. For more information 348-7735.

Songs of Divine Chemistry: Sunday, February 16, 4 pm, Centre Congregational Church, Brattleboro, VT Music and libretto by Paul Dedell, Music direction by Susan Dedell

Where does love come from?  Is it wholly a construct of the human mind?  A mixture of neurochemicals triggered by environmental and genetic factors? Or does it emanate from the ineffable spheres of spirit? Composer Paul Dedell explores these questions in his spectacular choral work, Songs of Divine Chemistry. Alternating the insights of the worlds great mystics with scientific writings on neuroplasticity, Songs of Divine Chemistry probes the realms of human and divine love -- finding an intersection of ideas that are both surprising and revelatory.

Music Director Susan Dedell leads Winged Voices, the Jubilee Girl's Choir, the Limbic System Percussion Ensemble, and Matt Hensrud, tenor, in a highly charged performance of this stunning piece on Sunday, February 16, at 4 p.m. The performance will take place at Centre Congregational Church, Brattlboro, VT.  For more information, call 348-7735.


Harris Hill Ski Jump Volunteers Needed! Kathryn only needs THREE more adult volunteers for Sunday, February 16th  from 12:30 to 3 pm (at the latest). If you can help, email Kathryn

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