Students collaborate with VAE to learn more about their community


NORTH BENNINGTON >> Students at the Village School of North Bennington gathered for a Fantastic Friday this week, and showed off some of the things they've been working on this month.

The kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes have both been learning about their village, and, with the help of Kristen Blaker and Matthew Perry of the Vermont Arts Exchange, they created a mural decorated with buildings from throughout the community. Kindergarten teacher Lori Elwell said that the students have been working on the project for about six weeks, and that lessons about the village are incorporated into all of their subjects. "They learn so much about the community," she said, "I've done it for a few years now, it's fantastic, and it gets better every time."

This year, the students visited a number of buildings across the village, and got to meet the people working there. "We've taken a lot of travels throughout the community," said Elwell, "We've been inside buildings and learned how they work. We've met lots of people who work in them, and we learned that they are all very important to our community."

Blaker had interviewed each of the students about their favorite things about the village, and she read their answers aloud before the assembled students and parents. The answers included "Chasing the fish at Lake Paran," "playing baseball at the park," "planting things in the garden," and "the cookies at Powers Market." They also worked with music teacher Leslie Koelker to perform a song about the various professions it takes to make up a community.

A group of students from the sixth grade announced that their own project with the VAE, creating a checkerboard to sit on a concrete structure outside the school, that will be able to be used by anyone in the community, is expected to be completed this summer.

The rest of the program included music, including a performance of "Senor Don Gato," the story of a cat who, after receiving a love letter, falls off a roof and dies, only to be revived by the smell of fish from the marketplace, and learning, as another class read off facts related to Earth Day, such as "It takes approximately one million years for a glass bottle to break down in a landfill," and that on average there are 46,000 pieces of floating plastic per square mile of ocean, or over 5 trillion pieces of plastic total.

To learn more about the independent Village School, visit

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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