Spring Newsletter 2011

2011 St. Johnsbury Athenaeum High School Poetry Contest


In honor of National Poetry Month, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is hosting a statewide poetry competition for students in the eleventh and twelfth grades. The purpose is to encourage young writers in the spirit of the Athenaeum’s founder, Horace Fairbanks.

Reeve Lindbergh is serving as the judge for this year’s contest. She will be reading all submissions that meet contest criteria, and winners will be announced on June 1st.  There will be a First Prize of $150 and two $50 prizes for Honorable Mention. The first prize winner will be asked to read their winning poem in the Athenaeum’s summer poetry series, Readings at the Athenaeum.

All submissions must be postmarked by May 6.  For further information visit the Athenaeum’s website www.stjathenaeum.org or call the Athenaeum at 802-748-8291 and ask for Lisa von Kann.

The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is a National Historic Landmark Public Library and Art Gallery.

Skyping about a DCF Title

by Corinna Stanley

       A small group of 4th and 5th graders from Sheldon Elementary School and Hinesburg

Community School have been reading this year’s DCF title 11 Birthdays, by Wendy Mass. The students, with support from their librarians Lyn Lauffer and Corinna Stanley, prepared questions about the first 10 chapters of the book to ask each other in a Skype session.   On February 17th the two groups met via Skype to discuss their questions about the first half of the book. They plan to meet again using Skype to discuss the second half of the book.

Students discuss 11 Birthdays via Skype 

The Tournament of the DCF Books at Bristol Elementary

by Kyra Ginalski, Bristol Elementary Librarian

 On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, the following could be heard in the five fifth and sixth grade classrooms at Bristol Elementary School:

    Sir Selectsalot: “Give me Animals for 400 please”

    Queen: “Amelia’s first mode of transportation from Sonora on her way back to San                                  Francisco.”    

    “Teams, you have 45 second to show your questions.”

 The first annual Bristol Elementary School Tournament of the DCF Books was a fun-filled event celebrating reading, books, and team spirit – all with a medieval theme. Jointly organized by the Literacy and Library teams, the Jeopardy-style clues about fifteen of the 2010-2011 DCF nominee books were mostly contributed by students. Every fifth and sixth grade student was assigned to a team in November. Each team created a team name and coat of arms for a shield, and began preparing for the tournament by reading, submitting questions, delegating, and planning costumes for the big day. The library hosted team meetings. Classroom read-alouds and book group readings of the fifteen books helped students prepare. Grants enabled us to purchase multiple copies and playaways of the books, including funds from the Tari Shattuck Educational Foundation and the North Country Federal Credit Union. The local public library and other schools in the district also helped supply students with books.

 On the afternoon of the tournament, teams played valiantly. They showed remarkable team spirit, and the costumes were creative. Teachers (the noblewomen) and assistants added to the spirit of friendly competition and celebration. My hat’s off to all the people who worked together with dedication and flexibility to make the tournament possible.

 During an all school assembly a few days later, teams paraded in with their shields in full costume and face paint.  Members of the team with the most points were knighted by the Queens of the Tournament (Heidi Abbott, Reading Specialist; Catrina DiNapoli, Principal; Kyra Ginalski, Librarian; Cathy Jipner, Reading Specialist/Title I; and Priscilla McQuade, Library Assistant).

 Now that the tournament is over and the dust has settled, I notice that more students than ever are participating in the DCF voting. Of the top ten books which circulated during the week of the tournament, numbers 1, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 were all books on the 2010-11 DCF nominee list.  The new DCF nominee list is out, and I look forward to next year!

 Queen: “The correct question is: What is a Mule?”


Two of Bristol Elementary's Fourteen DCF tournament teams: The Flying Pizzas (had the most points) and the Ghostly Birthday Cheerleaders  (named in part for 11 Birthdays).

St. Johnsbury Academy Library Hosts

Program on Japanese Translation

by Linda Wooster

 On March 24, Alexander O. Smith and Elye J. Alexander (who met as grade school students in Vermont) gave an enthusiastic presentation on Japanese translation to a group of ST J Academy students.  The two speakers demonstrated how they used the software program Dragonspeak to provide a rough translation of Japanese text which serves as the starting point for their team translation work.  They described their team technique for translating Japanese video and online games for an American audience, as well as manga series such as Fullmetal Alchemist and their most recent work translating Keigo Higashino's award-winning detective mystery, The Devotion of Suspect X, which was a bestseller in Japan.   Alex Smith 

and  Elye Alexander discussed choices they make in an author’s original phrasing and pacing, and how they convey meaning when the cultures of the original and translated languages are so different.   Several of our students are currently taking Japanese language courses at the Academy and the presentation gave them great ideas for future careers.  For enthusiasts of the fantasy-based card game Magic: the Gathering, it was exciting to meet two of the game designers who had created several of the game’s characters.  The speakers also patiently signed collector’s individual Magic cards and stayed for a long Q & A session following their presentation.

Poem in Your Pocket Day at St. Johnsbury Academy

by Linda Wooster


It was announced at the school’s morning assembly the day before, and there was a display in the library to advertise “Poem in Your Pocket Day” – an annual event sponsored  by the Academy of American Poets to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.  We had both faculty and students come to the library during the day to declaim their poem at the circ desk!


Johnson Resident and Author William Jaspersohn

Visits St. Francis Xavier School

by Kathleen Finn


Young writers and readers at St. Francis Xavier School were recently treated to a visit from Vermont author William Jaspersohn, author of more than 25 books for elementary school age students. 


Mr. Jaspersohn’s book The Scrimshaw Ring was the springboard for a narrative writing project undertaken by Grades 3-8 called “The Great Heirloom Writing Adventure.” The Scrimshaw Ring is a true story based on a family heirloom and published by the Vermont Folklife Center.  

 In preparation for Mr. Jaspersohn’s visit, students asked their families about a treasured heirloom handed down through generations of their own relatives, and then interviewed a relative about the heirloom.    Each student also drew a picture of his or her family heirloom, which varied widely and represented many different cultures.  Some examples included photographs, furniture, jewelry, hats, clothing, holiday ornaments, family recipes and a dance.  These drawings were made into a giant collage on the library bulletin board for student and family viewing.

On the day of his visit, Mr. Jaspersohn spoke to the students about how he approached the task of writing a true family story inspired by an heirloom, and why he thinks these stories are so critically important to tell.  Emphasizing the importance of the interview process between the writer and the family relative, he also gave the students tips on how to organize one’s notes to shape the beginning, middle, and end of their heirloom story.  He also underscored the role of the imagination to enliven the story’s characters and setting.    Many students brought their heirlooms in to discuss with Mr. Jaspersohn.   

Fortified by advice from a professional writer, the St. Francis students are now polishing their family heirloom stories, destined to become treasures themselves. 

The visit was o

rganized by Kathleen Finn, Librarian, and Virginia Yandow, Director of Student Support Services, and 

sponsored by the St. Francis Xavier Home and School Association.

Family Reading Night at the Ottauquechee School

by Marcia Peterson, Librarian


Our first ever Family Reading Night on March 18 brought together parents, teachers, and kids at the PreK-Grade 5 Ottauquechee School in Quechee Village (Town of Hartford).  First we gathered in the library so that everyone could preview the evening’s schedule and select their 2 favorite venues.  What to choose?  Would it be: Get a Clue with Miss Scarlet in the Library (mysteries with public librarian Marieke Sperry), Ghost Stories with parent volunteer Craig Bee, Sports Stories with our principal Amos Kornfeld, Poetry Café with 1st grade teacher Madeline Carlock, Electronic Books with librarian Marcia Peterson, or Vermont Stories with 4th grade teacher Ross McGee?  At the sound of the bell, we were off to our separate rooms to enjoy an evening of storytelling.  A wonderful time was had by all, and we hope to do something similar next year.  The evening concluded with hot chocolate to go in the Cafeteria.


As an added bonus, a photographer from one of our local newspapers was on hand, and in the following week’s paper we enjoyed seeing a very nice spread of   color photos from our Family                                                                    Reading Night.