Kegan spent his birthday getting us ready for Monday!

Quite the snow day!
Friday Newsletter / March 2, 2018
Upcoming Events...
March 5: After School Program Sign-ups Due
March 8: All School Gatherings Resume (coffee provided for parents who are welcome to stay for the gathering - aproximately 8:55-9:15)
March 8 & 9 at 7 p.m.: Middle School Performance!
March 15 & 16: Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences
Notes from the Head of School
Dear Hilltop Families,

The event in Florida on Feb 14th reminds us, yet again, of how precious our children are, and how important their safety is. Since moving up to this campus on the hill, we have continued to improve our emergency planning and our drills. As I’ve noted before, we are part of the “Town of Brattleboro and Brattleboro Schools Emergency Response Plan”. We meet regularly with first responders, and do emergency drills (of several types) at least monthly. We had one scheduled for this week, coincidentally, and we all (teachers, administrators and students) had a sense of seriousness and a strong desire to be as prepared as possible. The drill went very smoothly, and I sensed that teachers felt a bit of relief seeing again that they could quickly get their students to safety. Ellie discovered that she can keep all the toddlers very quiet by feeding them in the dark. The Lower Elementary students had more of a sense of urgency about the drill and were speculating about ways to be even more safe. Middle School had a parent visitor arrive during the drill. He came over to the main building after noting that “the Middle School is locked and the students are nowhere in sight.” That was the idea, and we will keep looking for ways to improve. Some things we’ve added to our security measures that you all as parents might notice is to post and consistently implement:

  • All visitors sign-in at the front desk
  • Visitor name tags provided for any non-staff folks who will be in the halls unaccompanied during school hours
  • Using the phone service at 211 to communicate with parents in an emergency. This service provides a conduit for communication in such circumstances and would be a first line of communication with parents.

A group of heads of school from throughout the Pioneer Valley have written a letter that is being sent to government representatives. I am one of the co-signers of this letter.

Many student groups are participating in marches to advocate for gun control. At this point, we do not have an organized group of students participating in an outside event, but the Middle School is expressing their feelings on this topic as part of their performance to be presented next Thursday and Friday (March 8th and 9th) at 7 p.m. Please join us to share in their expression of their learning and feelings from the year.

If you have any questions or comments about our emergency procedures, please reach out to me. - Tamara
Note from Admission/Enrollment/Business
Dear Current Families,

Thank you for getting all those re-enrollment contracts in! We were able to move forward with enrollment plans and financial aid applications over the break. The financial aid letters are going out today by regular mail (Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night . . . ) and agreements will need to be returned by March 16th. We have a strong pool of new applicants of many ages and will be moving forward with acceptances where space is available. We still have room in some programs, so encourage your friends to call in for a visit!

Some current families have asked about tuition payments, and having not received an invoice this month. For those on a monthly payment plan, there are 10 payments, with none in the months of March and April. The first payment for next school year will be May 1st. Let your checkbook enjoy the rest! If you have any questions about admissions/enrollment, please contact Lauren . For questions about billing, please contact David .
Parent Teacher Conference Sign Up!
The Parent Teacher Conference emails have been sent out from! You all should have received the email with the class sign up schedules. Please email the front desk if you have not received it! Childcare will be available at no charge during conference time(s). If you need additional care, please sign up at the front desk!
After School Programs
The After School forms went home before the break. Please sign up on Monday if you are interested in any of these. If we don't have enough enrollment, programs may be cancelled. Forms are available at the front desk and here !
Chili Cook-Off and
Board Meet and Greet!!
Come for the Announcement, Stay for the Chili!

The Hilltop Board of Trustees is currently comprised of  13 current and alumni parents  who work to support the mission of the school and ensure the school's fiscal stability. On Friday, March 23rd from 5:30-7:30pm , we invite you to join us for a special event. The Board will host the first ever Hilltop Chili Cook-Off, a competition in which you will judge the chili-making prowess of various Board members. There will also be a 'spicy' announcement at the event that you won't want to miss! 

5:30 - Gather and Mingle
5:45 - Spicy Announcement!
6:15 - Chili Competition Commences with stations for each Board Committee (Finance, Development, Buildings and Grounds, Committee on Trustees, Ad Hoc)

This is a great opportunity for parents and Hilltop supporters to learn about the current work of the Board and our vision for the future, and for us to gather your ideas on sustaining and advancing the school's mission. Several Board terms of service are up this year and we need new trustees. The Board is open to nomination for members from anyone in the community. If you might be interested in serving on the Board, please come and/or let us know (email Steve, Board Chair , or Tamara, Head of School ).

This event is being held in concert with Kids Night Out, so fun childcare is provided! Feel free to join us for the announcement and then head out for an evening on the town. Or, come for whatever you can. We look forward to seeing you! 
Multi-Family Community
Tag Sale and Market

Saturday, April 28th

*7:30am - noon
In the Arts Barn & at the circle
*come when you want, but tag sale people are an eager bunch

The Nutmeg Food Truck will be on site selling their delicious breakfast sandwiches and rotisserie chicken lunches!
Why should I rent a table?

Spring Cleaning? Do you have some items at your house collecting dust? Do you know a friend that would also like to take part?

All are welcome!
Email Roselle  to reserve a table - only $10 per table
(You sell and keep the proceeds!)

Toddler Program
There is much for which we are grateful - this beautiful campus, our friends at school, and the weather - Sage noted, "It's like spring!" Indeed! With these warmer days we've been enjoying wearing much less gear, digging in the sandboxes, pulling out the warm weather equipment to make obstacle courses, and continuing our walks in the woods. There are so many new things to explore along the Haytown Highway - moss, decomposing logs, pine needle clusters and acorns galore. It's great to be a Toddler in the (almost) spring!

Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie, Amanda, Marco and Jessica
Willow Room
Welcome back from February break! We are grateful for the opportunity to ease back into school with a staff work day. Thank you for your patience! We were able to rotate materials and set-up the classroom to welcome two moving-up toddlers, Allie and Simone. Both children have settled nicely into the Willow Room, with lots of help from their very attentive new friends. 
We have begun to explore two new continents: South America, and Africa. New works include classifying rainforest birds, trees of the African Savannah, vertebrate and invertebrate, and the Ethiopian coffee story and ceremony (don't worry, only the teachers will be drinking coffee!).
On a more local note, we are also beginning our brief unit on Maple Sugaring. We are fortunate to have the expertise of Cheryl and Keegan to tap, boil and taste Maple Syrup right here on our campus. The Olders have already helped to tap a few trees and Keegan will be boiling when the buckets are full. We will be able to watch the boiling process as a class! 

Lastly, although the weather is mild, it is still March in Vermont. Keep an eye on daily temperature variations and continue to send in appropriate dress for cold and wet weather. Thank you! 

See you soon! 

-- Jonathan and Rebecca
Birch Room
Friendships and Conflict Resolution in the Children’s House

One of the wonderful things about young children is that they are intensely focused in the present moment. They feel things deeply, body and soul. When that moment is one of conflict with a friend, it’s huge, and can sometimes include tears, hands, or harsh words. Because children this age are very egocentric, when they talk about conflicts they often focus on what the other child did wrong, not understanding their own role in what happened. For example, a child might complain that someone was “mean” and scribbled on her paper, but completely forget the part where she herself pushed the other child because he was standing too close! Luckily, when there is a conflict children are usually more than ready to talk with each other and a teacher to figure out how to solve it. Practicing listening to one another and figuring out what they want to happen next is important work for children this age. 

Friendships for children aged 3-6 follows a predictable pattern. The youngest children in our classroom still often engage in “parallel play,” in which they play near one another and use similar materials, but do not actually work together. Swinging next to one another on the swing is an example of this kind of play. As they get older, children begin to spend more time in associative play, in which they work separately while talking and occasionally exchanging items. They may also do an activity together without actually cooperating. “Tag and run around the playground together” is a good example of this type of play. Children at this stage may be interested in and talk about friends, but those friendships are often based on proximity and convenience. Whom a child plays with may vary greatly from day to day. As children become “Middlers” they often begin to engage in true cooperative play by sharing materials and working together toward a shared goal. Collecting rocks, laying them out, and building a store together would be an example. Older children take this kind of play to the next level by using more elaborate roles and by playing in larger groups. At this point, their friendships are longer lasting and involve more give and take, though even 6 year olds can still struggle to take on another child’s perspective. 

If you want to know more about your child and their friendships at school, please feel free to ask. We love to talk about all the great things they do each day.

-Cheryl, Serina, Mariam

P. S. Children develop and utilize a host of social skills in their play. Check out these link to learn more about this important work your child does each day.

Scientists make observations of melting snow!
Lower Elementary
It was nice to have the Lower El gang back in the classroom this week! 

Our studies of Africa, fundamental needs, and poetry began. Amelia, just returned from Kenya, and shared stories from her travels with us. We had planned to have Mariam visit us and give a presentation on her recent trip to Africa on Friday, but the storm prevailed. We will reschedule this for next week! 

Ask your student about:

  • the special animal Amelia told us about, and what she did on her trip
  • what a "5W" poem is
  • can you tell me what some fundamental needs of humans are?

Mud Season is Here! Please make sure your child has an extra pair of shoes, along with extra clothes. Thank you.

Enjoy your weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Photos from Mariam's visit to the classroom to talk about her homeland of Mali will be available next week, after it happens!
Upper Elementary
We are pleased to welcome Chrissy Rogers, a teacher at Hollis Montessori, to our classroom for two weeks. She is working on an AMI certification in 6-12 teaching from the Montessori Training Center Northeast in Hartford, Ct. She will be observing our classroom and giving some Montessori lessons. Welcome, Chrissy!
A group skit for fun and community building. More to come during the play in April!
Morgon digs into some research.
Ally shows off her quadrinomial square.
Pete and Corbin take on a Native American layout.
Abby and Diana enjoy a geometry lesson given by our intern, Chrissy Rogers from Hollis Montessori.
Middle School
Upon return from February break, the middle school jumped right back into Performance. This is a time when we reflect on the big ideas we have been exploring through the year and collaborate to craft a theatrical presentation. It is interesting that the theme for this year’s performance, The Field, was greatly inspired by an essay that the students read by the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and a poem by the Sufi poet, Rumi, that he includes in his essay. Students are striving to understand the complicated and divisive world we live in and are putting their thoughts and words into action in this community centered work of theater and music.

Performances of The Field are on Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9 at 7:00pm in the Arts Barn Theater. There will also be a performance for the school on Friday, March 9 at 10:00am.  All are invited and we hope you can join us for this provocative, humorous, tuneful, and thoughtful show.
Confluence Project Collaboration!
Spring is in the air, water is rushing downhill, and my mind is consumed by rivers. A fortuitous series of events has brought the middle school into collaboration with Vermont Performance Lab and Windham Regional Commission through The Confluence Project , a project that links VPL’s artist residency program with WRC’s community development efforts. Hilltop’s participation in The Confluence Project  will enable our students to work with Abenaki teaching artist and activist Judy Dow and river scientists, conservationists and regional planners to explore our local waterways this spring. Hilltop’s focus is on an 8-acre parcel of land, known as “Sawdust Alley”, along the lower Whetstone River, which was recently purchased for conservation by the Vermont River Conservancy. The students will spend the next several weeks gathering relevant information from visiting experts, modeling river dynamics using a stream table, and digging into current and historical maps of the site. All this work leads up to a week-long residency with Judy Dow (May 14th-18th). Students will work with Judy to interview community members, create maps and art projects and will share their research and recommendations through presentations on how to transform the Sawdust Alley site into an ecological and cultural asset for the community.

This is an exciting opportunity for our students to engage in citizen science in our own watershed and to extend their downtown studies from last fall. Stay tuned for more information as the project develops! Here is a press release about this great collaboration!

For more information about other local partnerships and community events happening through the Confluence Project this spring, visit the Vermont Performance Lab web site.

For a sneak peak of the work we’ll be doing with the stream table, check out this video from the American Precision Museum.
Winter Sports
After Care
Hilltop Helpers
Hilltop Wish List!

A big thank you to Carol Landa, grandmother to toddler Sage! She stepped up and enthusiastically donated the gender identity books we were looking for. They are now available for students and teachers!

We still have a few things on our wish list. If you’ve wanted to do something extra for Hilltop, please see if one of these fits your interest and budget: 
Defibrillator  - We are hoping for a heart health focused family that might want to gift Hilltop with an AED to help us be prepared for a possible heart emergency with our students, staff, or visiting parents and grandparents. Perhaps the “Tom Griffith AED Fund”, as Tom has a family history of heart issues and wants to keep teaching for a long time! The unit we’ve found that fits our needs is $2,000 including a “trainer unit”. If you are interested in supporting this purchase, please contact Kegan .
New Rectangular Tables  - Our folding tables get a lot of use for both school events and outside rentals. It is time to upgrade the 6 ft rectangular tables. Costco has an economic option: Alera Brand with 8 tables at $86.99 each ($695.92) or Lifetime Brand with 4-packs at $349.99 each. If you have a Costco membership and a fondness for smooth topped tables, consider gifting Hilltop with 8 new tables and contact Kegan.
Speaker for Arts Barn Performances  - Throughout the year we use our beautiful theatre for many Hilltop events that feature our students work, parent education series, and community performances. We are also proud to provide it as a resource to the local community for events and performances that bring new faces to our campus. With so much use, we need to replace a broken speaker. Finn has identified the   Mackie Thump15A   as the ideal choice for our sound system and recommends that we have a balanced pair; they are $350 each ($700). Give the gift of a set of speakers, so we don't miss a single syllable of student performances or All School Gathering shares. For more information on this gift, contact Kegan or Finn.
Thank you to Martin Humfeldt and Green Mountain Creamery for donations of yogurt!
BIG thanks to Brattleboro Tire for donating our Hilltop van's winter snow tires and for rotating them each year!
Thank you to Nathan Rupard and Hazel restaurant for delivering our pizza each week and providing our staff with delicious pies!
Community Events
Girls On The Run is off and Running!
Thank you to Jennifer Griffith and all the coaches!