The Riverside School, seeking to build more relationships with the people and organizations of the Northeast Kingdom, recently announced the creation of its Community Engagement Board. The board is a committee made up of community leaders who work in and around Lyndonville and St. Johnsbury, and who can help the school identify new ties and strengthen existing connections with the community.

The first meeting of Riverside's CEB was held last month in the school's library and included five volunteers in addition to three trustees, Head of School Laurie Boswell, and Community Service coordinator Nelia Dwyer. The meeting was led by trustee Carol Moore, who is the former president of Lyndon State College. During the meeting board members offered their impressions of the school, learned some of its history and enrollment statistics, and shared numerous ideas for future collaboration.

Riverside's mission is to develop active learners, patient leaders, and engaged citizens in a supportive community. These are the school's four core values and an intention to enhance Riverside's image as an "engaged citizen" and a resource for the NEK community are major goals of the Community Engagement Board. The school also wants to embrace opportunities for local individuals and organizations to enhance student learning.

"We want to build two-way relationships," said Moore, "where Riverside can benefit from working with our local resources, and where our local community can benefit from the students and the school."

Rep. Marty Feltus was present and described a need that she has identified as part of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. Vermont's new universal recycling law, Act 148, goes into effect this spring and still requires a great deal of public education and support for the towns who have to implement it. Feltus suggested that Riverside students work together to learn about the law and develop a video that will aid in public understanding about its local application.

Riverside teachers decided to take on the challenge and will be working with a group of students in a recycling elective to read and consider the law, visit local town recycling centers, interview Feltus and other experts, and develop an educational video that could be used with a variety of audiences, such as Rotary clubs, town meetings and online.

Other ideas will be followed up by the school over the course of the year. For example, Amy Bona, owner of Shear Sensations Salon and organizer of the Darling Inn Thanksgiving, a free holiday dinner, looks forward to working with Riverside students to prepare some parts of that meal during the school's annual Community Service Day in November.

Riverside's Community Engagement Board will meet again in January.

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