Principal’s Press Conference, 10/12/23

This article was written by the members of the Journalism class.


On Thursday, October 12th, Steven Dellinger-Pate sat down with the Journalism class to answer questions about the most up-and-coming topics around U-32. This is the second article in an ongoing series called, Principal’s Press. 


10/12 Topics:

  • Water problems
  • Phone policy update
  • Hate symbols at U-32
  • Raider name controversy 
  • The future of international learning at U-32
  • Nordic ski coach?


Water Problems by Anna Stoner


“Montpelier has a terrible water system,” said Steven Dellinger-Pate, on how Montpelier’s water main systems affect our school. Several times the student body here has had to go home early because of the water main failing.  It has become so common that we as a school have adopted a ‘no-big-deal’ attitude for these occasions. 


“[Montplier has] a high-pressure system. It’s easy for us to lose pressure [because] we’re one of the highest points in the whole system,” said Steven. This is one of the reasons we experience so many boil water notices while we’re at school. According to a VTDigger article from November 28, 2022, “Montpelier is shaped like a bathtub. In order for the water to ascend the hills on the city’s far side, it must maintain speed as it moves through downtown,” U-32 is at one of those ‘far sides’ of town, being at the top of Gallison Hill. “So if something breaks in town, it affects us,” said Steven. 


In the aforementioned VTDigger article about this topic, the water system of Montpelier has been scrutinized not just by the student body and staff here, but also by Montpelier officials and residents. The article noted, “In the two years since Sophie Lewis [a new Montpelier resident] moved to the neighborhood, pipes have broken in front of her home twice.”


In a request from state officials, Montpelier was asked to assess this touchy system. As reported by VTDigger, “City officials have been reluctant [to blame this on the pressure]… Dana Nagy, who supervises community operations at the Agency of Natural Resources’ Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division, [said that] ‘it’s going to be more costly for the water system to spend the next 50 years trying to replace all this pipe[s], [and] not actually fixing the problem.’” The problem with the system, it seems, is the overall health of the piping and how much pressure can be handled by those pipes. As a community here at U-32, it seems we will have to wish for a speedy remedy for this irksome problem.


Update: the Phone Policy by Isabel Moustakas 

Now that school has been in session for approximately two months, the phone policy is receiving mixed reviews. U-32 principal, Steven Dellinger-Pate said, “Kids are talking to each other in class and people are paying attention, which the teachers love.” 


Lots of schools across the country are also making the switch to phone-free classrooms. “There is a big push this year for a lot of schools to remove their cell phones from classrooms,” Steven said. U-32 is part of a country-wide initiative to increase productivity in the classroom. 


U-32 junior Madison Beaudoin said she has noticed how the phone policy has allowed for classes to run more smoothly. Madison said, “I think it’s helped classes go a lot smoother and less disruptions… it’s probably for the greater good that the phones are put away and taken rather than just warnings.” 


U-32 sophomore Alivia Stridsberg feels that students should be allowed to have phones on their person. For Alivia, who doesn’t have a calculator, the phones can be a useful tool in class. “It’s just easier,” said Alivia.  


However, some students have mixed feelings about the phone rules. U-32 junior Shiloh Weiss stated that the phone policy feels harsh. He said, “[I] sympathize with why the administration decided to create the policy. But [also] I think that it’s a little bit strict with the strikes.” Additionally, contacting parents during the school day has become a struggle. Shiloh said, “It’s kind of a lack of communication that I have with my parents.” 


Nevertheless, Steven hopes the new phone rules are here to stay, “Not just in Vermont but across the country as well.” 


U-32 principal Steven Dellinger-Pate working in his office.


Hate Symbols At U-32 by Jonah Edson

In a recent incident, hate symbols were displayed at U-32. During the hallway competition for Spirit Week, a swastika was allegedly drawn on the lockers in the Sophomore’s hallway. There was also the use of the n-word, which is against U-32’s policy around hate symbols.


Similar to other information the U-32 administrative team wants to be shared, TA is where talk about the hate symbols was introduced. With situations like this, Steven said, “Most of our work is going to be done in the TA circle time.”


Steven sent out emails sharing the details of what happened during Spirit Week. This is where the information on the incident–that can be shared–ends. Steven said, “It’s always hard to balance student rights to privacy with the need to communicate.” This makes it difficult for Steven to tell the student body much more about what happened.


In order to support the families of students who could be affected by these hate symbols, Steven plans to meet with the Families of Color Affinity group. He said, “[We want] to talk to them about what options we have to help support kids of color.”


A reason for students using these symbols is a lack of education about how they are and why they are harmful, according to Steven. He said, “Our job at school is to educate.” He wants them to understand the significance of these symbols to prevent them from being used again. Steven said, “I think that kids can be a little loose with the use of symbols and not realize how much they represent.”


Steven plans to “prevent this from happening in the future.” He wants to make sure that there is education about why we don’t use these hate symbols. The administration has not planned to have an assembly to educate students, but Steven said, “[It is] certainly something we can explore.”


Raider Name Controversy by Stella Stoufer

Disagreements happen over a variety of topics, but why the name Raiders? “Our school board received a letter from the NAACP and an indigenous peoples group,” said Steven. 


“That was about removing symbols that were indigenous,” said Steven. Because the letter raised concerns about removing symbols that were indigenous, “Our school board would have to hold a hearing,” said Steven. 


However, the group never followed through and scheduled a hearing. Instead “There were some surveys or some questions that came out,” said Steven. He also mentioned that these surveys went to the students at U-32. 


Steven said, “What we saw overall is our students didn’t feel like the term Raiders was overall terrible [and] our mascot was kind of like nobody.” However, Steven believed that wasn’t quite enough, so “last year [the board] had a vote about whether or not to keep the Raiders name.” 


When the votes were counted, “The vote was to keep it,” said Steven. However, that wasn’t the end, “There was a lot of discussion about whether or not [Raiders] was appropriate [and] some characterize it as a kind of barbarian or something that was negative.” 


Because of this concern, the board held another. “I know it’s kind of a stretch, but they had a lot of debate about [the name Raiders] and it really came down to a very, very close vote,” said Steven.  


“It was just above the slight majority that said let’s keep the Raiders name for now,” said Steven. He believes that the board is still interested in exploring the name, but they will do this larger dive into the topic in the future. 


“For now the name is gonna stay,” said Steven. He thinks that leaving the topic untouched for a bit gives the board room to think about what the mascot even looks like. “The image versus the name,” said Steven. 


“What we found is people didn’t really even know what [Raiders] are,” said Steven. The extra room will give the board time to process the name and the mascot. “I think those are discussions that we’ll have again in the future, I just don’t know when.”


The Future of International Learning at U-32 by Samara Davis

U-32 has recently taken a handful of foreign exchange students from Germany. Steven said, “An organization reached out to us and said, ‘Hey, we have some German students that are coming to the US and they would like to come visit our school. Is that possible?’”


What would U-32’s interest in accepting foreign exchange students be? Steven said, “Their school has a Model UN program that is reasonably well developed. So they actually host an international Model UN conference in May…It’s done in English as well.”


For Steven, this is just the first step in a much more international path for U-32. Especially for the students. He said, “One of my goals is for us to have more opportunities to connect internationally.” Steven pointed out how limited the current foreign connections at U-32 are, mentioning that the only out-of-country experiences U-32 students may have are if they take either French or Spanish.


As Steven said, one of the main objectives of this relatively new foreign involvement is opportunity. More international connections will open many doors for the students both of U-32 and of other countries. Having a broader option for language choices could excite more students to take languages and it could offer more unique travel opportunities. 


U-32 is planning to implement a program that could broaden students’ international horizons. Steven said, “I asked for faculty members to step up and do a Chinese club…the Chinese club can possibly have a chance for some kind of travel in the future as well as part of the program.” Travel would not be the only option the Chinese club could offer, “The Chinese club also can work with [us] to see about either an Arabic or Chinese teacher coming to the school next year and possibly the year after.” 


Overall, having a more diverse, international school could offer room for more unique connections and learning. Steven said, “We were trying to expand so that we’re not just Central Vermont so that we can see nationally, internationally what’s going on.” 


Nordic Ski Coach? by Rheia Schall

What is the status of finding a Nordic coach? Are we going to have a team? The short answer, yes. 


Andrew Tripp informed everyone last year that he wasn’t going to be coaching Nordic skiing anymore. Without a head coach, there would be no team. 


Natalie Cartwright, a parent and former Nordic skier, stepped up. She was hired as the new head coach for the U-32 Nordic ski team. 


The hunt for a second coach is still up and running. “It’s very hard to find coaches right now. It’s one of the hardest parts of my job,” said Derek Dunning, Athletic Director. The hiring process to find a coach is very difficult. “It’s just not an attractive thing right now for people, and I really hope we can change that because without coaches, we can’t have teams and it’s been super difficult to try to find coaches for a lot of our sports,” said Derek.


The shortage of coaches is an ongoing problem for several other sports at our school. The demanding schedule and level of pay that U-32 can offer, do not incentivize many people to apply for a coaching position. The athletic department continues to try and find more Nordic ski coaches. 


As Derek said, “It’s a very deep-rooted history and success here. It’s one of our most successful programs, and we’ve had a lot of talented skiers come through here and a lot of talented skiers currently still here. And we’re excited to support them and continue that tradition.”

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