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Bridgewater students take top prize in state contest, again

BRIDGEWATER-For the second year in a row, Bridgewater's kindergarteners have taken the top prize in the Secretary of State's poster contest.

Not only that, so did Bridgewater's fourth graders.

"We had the individual winner and the runner-up," kindergarten teacher Deanne Fitzpatrick said. "It was a sweep for Bridgewater," she said. Adding "when the call came from the Secretary of State's office, I thought they were just confirming the address to send the posters back. I was in class and trying to shoo her off the phone. When she said we won, I said 'Get out of town!' I thought she was kidding."

The Vermont Secretary of State's office holds a poster contest for grades K-6 every year. This year, the theme for grades K-2 was official Vermont symbols, for grades 3-5 it was Vermont history, and students in grades 6-8 and 9-12 were asked to write an essay on amending Vermont's Constitution.

Winners got to go to Montpelier for the ceremony and tours of state institutions.

In a statement, Secretary of State Jim Condos said, "It was very difficult to select winners from the many fine essays and creative posters we received. This program is a great way to get younger students thinking about their state and its history, while encouraging older students to examine the nature of self-governance and its importance in a free society."

Not everything went quite as planned, but the students didn't mind.

"The ceremony had to be held outside because the House of Representatives was still in session," Fitzpatrick said, but it didn't affect the day negatively. "The kids loved it. They have fossils in the tiles on the first floor, and I have a photo of the kindergarteners crawling all over that floor, finding every fossil there is."

The students also got to go to the state House of Representatives' gallery to watch the legislators at work, Fitzpatrick said, and some students had the Vermont History Museum all to themselves for a self-guided tour. Others went to visit the state Supreme Court.

The winning kindergarten poster featured the lyrics of Vermont's state song, "These Green Mountains" painted on a turtle, thus making it a painted turtle.

"We did a little play on words there," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick credited her colleagues, fourth grade teacher Mercy Grinold and art teacher Finnie Trimpi, for motivating the students to do so well, adding that Bridgewater residents have a high sense of who they are as Vermonters.

"The students are all Vermont natives," Fitzpatrick said. "This town is very civic-minded. I've heard that the third-great granddaughter of the woman who brought Calvin Coolidge the telegram informing him he was about to become President came from Bridgewater," she said.

According to Secretary of State Jim Condos' office, a $100 prize was awarded to the first place winners in each of the four grade level groups to be used for purchasing materials or funding field trips related to civics education or the study of Vermont.

The contest winners are:
Grades K-2: Vermont Symbols Poster
Class Winner: Bridgewater Village School Kindergarten, Deanne Fitzpatrick, Teacher
Individual Winner: Braxton Benoit, Bridgewater Village School Kindergarten, Deanne Fitzpatrick, Teacher
Honorable Mention: DonnThaiyne True, Bridgewater Village School Kindergarten, Deanne Fitzpatrick, Teacher
Individual Winner: Karsyn Bellomo, Rutland City Public Schools, Bradley Bender, Teacher
Honorable Mention: Aiden Berry, Rutland City Public Schools, Bradley Bender, Teacher
Honorable Mention: Keira Van Dien, Rutland City Public Schools, Bradley Bender, Teacher

Grades 3-5: Vermont History Poster
Individual Winner: Taylor Strong, Bridgewater Village School Third Grade, Mercy Grinold, Teacher
Honorable Mention: Hailey Cannon, Bridgewater Village School Third Grade, Mercy Grinold, Teacher Class Winner: Bridgewater Village School Fourth Grade, Mercy Grinold, Teacher
Individual Winner: Tobin Calder, Bridgewater Village School Fourth Grade, Mercy Grinold, Teacher
Honorable Mention: Riley Earle, Bridgewater Village School Fourth Grade, Mercy Grinold, Teacher
Individual Winner: Alexandra Parr, South Royalton School Fourth Grade, Hope Yeager Teacher
Honorable Mention: Hannah White, South Royalton School Fourth Grade, Hope Yeager, Teacher
Individual Winner: Julia Bartlett, Cornwall Elementary School Third Grade, Janne Giles, Teacher
Honorable Mention: Jack Poppenga, Cornwall Elementary School Third Grade, Janne Giles, Teacher
Honorable Mention: Thomas Denton, Cornwall Elementary School Third Grade, Janne Giles, Teacher
Class Winner: Cornwall Elementary School Fourth Grade, Janne Giles, Teacher
Individual Winner: Clara Wolff, Cornwall Elementary School Fourth Grade, Janne Giles, Teacher
Honorable Mention: Ella McKhann, Cornwall Elementary School Fourth Grade, Janne Giles, Teacher

Grades 6-8 Essay Topic: Amendment of the Vermont Constitution Chapter II § 72
Individual Winner: Angela Kubicke, the Riverside School Seventh Grade, Peter Sahlin, Teacher