Vermont Year of Water

Vermont Year of Water: 2008-2009

On March 24, 2009, in honor of World Water Day, students from six leading Vermont schools brought a breathtaking dance performance, a student's original musical composition, a variety of science projects, creative writings and art, and many other school-led projects--all inspired by water--to the Vermont State House in Montpelier. The well-attended event was held in honor of those schools' commitment to the wise stewardship of water throughout the 2008-2009 school year. The State House participants included students, staff, and teachers from the southernmost Newfane Elementary School, from Lyndon Institute in the Northeast Kingdom, from Randolph Elementary School in the center of the state, and from Lamoille Middle School, Craftsbury Academy and Underhill Central School. All the schools were participants in the Vermont Year of Water and had dedicated that school year to the study of water across the disciplines.

Throughout the year, the students in those participating schools learned about the importance and impact of water throughout the world and in their own lives.The State House capstone event for the year of multi-disciplinary studies about water was held from 4:30-6:00 p.m. that Tuesday afternoon. It featured approximately 120 Vermont school children who shared portions of their schools’ water-focused curriculum projects. Live performances that afternoon included a “Water Dance” by 13 Lyndon Institute dance students and a professional performance of a string trio titled “Shadows on the Water” composed by Randolph student, Holly Mugford.


Student composer Holly Mudford (seated) listens to the live performance of her composition, "Shadows on the Water" in the State House cafeteria, March 24. Other students and family members listen behind her.

Other students presented their art and writings inspired by water, the results of various science water projects, and other water-focused activities that their schools have done. Some schools have “adopted” a local river this year as part of their activities to learn about water. Ben & Jerry's Homemade supplied free Phish Food ice cream. topped with a "river" of chocolate, for all students, teachers, members of the public, and legislators who attended the event. 

Nearly 100 Lyndon Institute students helped to create the water dance that the 13 dancers performed. Institute students read numerous books about water and its impacts on the earth and the human body. They wrote and shared creative writing about water, made silk scarves with one of the art teachers that look like and represent water, listened to and chose music for the water dance choreography, had presentations by physics, chemistry, and freshman science classes about various properties, states, and qualities of water as well as about the water cycle and took a field trip to watch and discuss the movie “Flow.” The dance students then designed their dance-movement phrases on the readings, presentations, and science studies about water that all the other students did.

Lyndon Institute dance students rehearse their Water Dance.




At Randolph Elementary School, its full year of water curriculum featured a wealth of different water activities and events, including an opening Water Week last October. In that week, the students in all three kindergarten classes (nearly 60 students) signed a pledge to protect and care for water for the rest of their lives. Those kindergartners have been saying the pledge to water every school morning since then. All of Newfane Elementary School students in all grades said the pledge to water together in a large ceremony. Other schools have worked with local watershed organizations and have walked rivers in waders, learning from naturalists.






The Vermont Year of Water was assembled over the past two years by Water Music, Inc.'s executive director, Marjorie Ryerson. “I want Vermont to once again lead the nation, this time in establishing a school curriculum that embraces the topic of water across all disciplines,” Ryerson said. “In coming years, the Water Music project will be working to spread the ideas and inspiration from these six model schools to all Vermont schools, as well as to schools beyond our borders. We have already had inquiries from as far away as northern Michigan from teachers wishing to follow Vermont’s lead in a water curriculum.”

Three Vermont filmmakers--Joe DeFelice, Gloria Cristelli and Anne Dillon--filmed various activities from the Vermont Year of Water in participating schools as well as at the final presentation in the Vermont State House. The three filmmakers' work was an essential contribution toward the making of the documentary film that is available at the top of this page as well as on YouTube. This film was edited by Bill Finnegan (Tamarack Media).

During an assembly about water held at Randolph Elementary School, students perform an original play about the building of a reservoir and the human and community costs associated with it. They are guided by fifth/sixth-grade teacher Lindsay Meyer.
Randolph music students sing “There is Only One Water,” composed by Water Music contributor, composer Mary Elizabeth and an Australian musical colleague. The students are accompanied by their music teacher Marta Borgstrom.