Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Steampunk meets Circus

     "Twas cool." (Student)
     "The experience was fantastic. The kids absolutely loved it and were fully engaged.  We're very excited to return for another performance." (Teacher)
     "I liked it all.  It was cool." (Student)
     "There were people free falling from, like, 15 feet to the trampoline." (Student)
     "It was interesting how it was based on wheels." (Student)
     "The performance brought to life a new understanding of practice, dedication and passion." (Teacher)
     In a sleek melding of people and machines, the Cirque Mechanic descended upon Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts to awe and entertain.  Students from Laraway School were able to experience a professional theatrical spectacle in Vermont's cultural hub.
     Members of the circus troupe entertained by twirling and swirling in close synchronicity with mechanical staging, both elaborate and simple.  The show featured acrobatics, storytelling, highly precise maneuvers and genuine, knee-slapping, clowning around.
     Being able to take Laraway School students to cultural venues like the Flynn teaches them lessons that extend far beyond the classroom.  Circus performers must show utmost dedication to their craft. Like the acrobats on stage, we encourage our students to delve deeply to tease out those things to which they may dedicate their creative gifts and talents.
     We are grateful to the Flynn Center for Performing Arts and the Vermont Arts Council Cultural Routes Grant Program.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May is Foster Care Awareness Month

     I think what people should know about foster children is that they're incredibly resilient.  They've had to overcome massive obstacles in their lives, many of which nobody should ever have to deal with.  Children who come into foster care are usually not there by choice, (i.e., their folks are struggling with issues that have put their children at risk).
     These children are removed from their home and, in many cases, placed with foster families if no placements are possible with extended family and friends.  They're asked to adapt to totally new environments---new home, new family, and often a new school where they might not know a single person.  They're asked to trust a system that is designed to help keep them safe when all they want is to be home with their family. 
     Over the years, I've had youth say to me, "Why was I removed?  I didn't do anything wrong."
     For these reasons and many more, I hope people can appreciate how complicated it is for foster children to have to deal with everyday issues that are challenging enough for teenagers---without typical supports that many youth have in their bio homes---and try to sometimes cut them a little slack if they overreact to life events.  I've often said, if I was dealing with their circumstances, I might not trust others or always make good decisions.
-Rich Farrell, LICSW, is Laraway's Assistant Director of Substitute Care

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Laraway School student wins Judge's Choice Award in Congressional Art Competition

     Kristen Murphy, Laraway School's art teacher, accompanied two of her students on the trek to Montpelier to attend the awards ceremony for "An Artistic Discovery," the 34th Annual Congressional Art Competition.  Both young artists had work featured in the show.  One Laraway youth won a Judge's Choice Award for his painting, "Monet Inspiration," which appears above. The other youth, an avid cartoonist, was recently featured in a solo show in Laraway's Gallery Space in our Administrative Offices.  
     Former Vermont Senator James Jeffords started the Congressional Art Show in 1981.  State competitions are held and one painting is selected from each of the fifty states to hang in the Capital Building in Washington, D.C.  
     Congressman Peter Welch---who visited Laraway last fall---has carried forward the tradition of promoting art in education. He was present at the event to meet, greet and snap photos with student artists representing high schools across the Green Mountain State.
     "It was a fun and exciting day," Kristen said.
     Supporting our students in arts activities is just one way that Laraway helps kids find and pursue their passions. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Thru My Eyes" Photography Show: Opening Reception on May 12th at Laraway


     Kids and cameras are a powerful combination.  Placing a camera in the hands of young person and giving him or her the freedom to choose what images to capture provides lessons in independence...and creativity.  Laraway youth submitted images of plants, people, animals and even some interesting graffiti along the Lamoille River.  Youth submissions are complemented by photos from staff and board members.  Judges from the Bryan Memorial Gallery, the Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery and the Helen Day Arts Center will judge the photos as part of an agency-wide contest.
     We invite members of the community to attend the Opening Reception for "The World Thru My Eyes" on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Laraway Administration Building at 275 Vermont Route 15 West in Johnson.  For questions or to RSVP, please contact Katherine Stamper at 635-2805 x 106 or
     Thank you to the Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery in Stowe for sponsoring Laraway's Photography Club.