Compare and Contrast: Reflections On Student Life’s Visit To CVU High School

When Student Life committee visited Champlain Valley Union High School last week, we were struck by the school’s sense of community and uniquely formatted schedule. Many CVU seniors are applying to universities of a similar caliber to those of HHS students; however, our infamously stressed atmosphere was far from present. The halls were layden with students waving cheerfully at each or congregating around sprinklings of benches and tables. One hallway even featured a snack cart. It’s common practice to have pep rallies in which the football team dances wildly to blaring music and the enthusiastic cheers of the entire school. On a regular day, the cafeteria is packed with an array of snacks, a salad bar, caffeine from the Vermont Coffee Company, and at least two dozen tables for students to occupy. On this particular day, all the proceeds from cafeteria sales would be donated to a charity as part of CVU’s annual Cafe for a Cause fundraiser. A karaoke machine was rolled out into the cafeteria to celebrate the school’s mission. Soon enough, the students present were practically transformed into dancing extras on High School Musical. Overall, we were amazed by CVUs light, communal atmosphere so saturated with school pride.

A couple installations were especially striking to our committee in regards to curriculum and schedule. First of all, there was CVU’s Nexus Program. Nexus is essentially an independent study where students dedicate class periods to working on projects of interest with the help of teachers and peers. One girl is making a documentary on the dangers of sexual assault on college campuses, specifically for LGBTQ+ students. As a gay woman, the project allows her not only to explore an area of interest, but one that has taught her more about her own identity in the process. All of CVU’s class periods are 120 minutes long plus 15 minutes of Advisory daily- their version of Common Ground. The longer classes instill a sense of calm as students and teachers alike know there is enough time to dive deeply into class content and even get a head start on the day’s homework. Hanover could take a leaf of out CVU’s book when it comes to developing programs that encourage independent, creative thought and cultivate an atmosphere of joy and curiosity.

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