ROSES to Bennington Elementary School fifth-grade students, who recently held a penny drop to raise money for Filipinos affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Students presented a check for $155.13 raised for tsunami relief to the American Red Cross. Teacher Rachel Kipp told the Banner that students "connected with it because of their own experiences with Hurricane Irene" and a desire to do the right thing. Well done.

ROSES to the collaboration between Bennington College and the Village School of North Bennington that is helping college students get teaching skills and young students to learn a foreign language. Since October, some Spanish and French majors have been fulfilling their field study requirements by sharing knowledge with kindergarten through sixth-grade students at the elementary school. "With all languages in general, the earlier you start, the better it always is," said Jackson Sutton, a junior at Bennington College and a Spanish major. Es bueno! C’est bon! ROSES and early congratulations to longtime Burr and Burton Academy teacher and coach Dan DeForest, who has announced he will retire at the end of this year. "...This is my 36th year and I just thought it was a good time to consider stepping away from the classroom and do some traveling while my wife and I are healthy and young enough to do that," DeForest, 62, told the Manchester Journal this week.


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DeForest has coached girls soccer and softball at BBA for his entire 36-year career. He will be a tough act to follow!

ROSES to the Town of Bennington’s long-running business loan program that has enabled businesses including Off The Wall Fitness Center to obtain loans that originate from federal grants and provide applicants with flexible payback options and low interest rates. Off The Wall was recently awarded a $35,000 loan from the program and owner Huff Templeton told the Banner he plans to use the funds to invest in new equipment. Michael Harrington, Bennington’s economic and community development director, said the program "identifies business that are new or growing, who may not have the equity yet, or the financing to grow their businesses." Helping local businesses is an investment in the future of our town.

ROSES to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for encouraging innovative, affordable measures in health care in Vermont. On Tuesday, Sanders made stops at or near four health care related sites, including two in Bennington County. He visited Mack Molding in Arlington in support of the new federally qualified health center soon to open nearby, the Battenkill Valley Health Center, saying "I believe that this model can revolutionize primary health care in America. It can save taxpayers and the health care system huge amounts of money." Later in the day Sanders stopped at the VA Clinic in Bennington, praising the care given to veterans there.

ROSES to Bennington resident Mary Muckle for her one-woman crusade to support members of the military stationed overseas via "Wear Blue Fridays." Muckle, part owner of Rehm-Brandt’s Design, 431 Main St., Bennington, said she plans to stand at the Four Corners intersection every Friday at noon, dressed in blue, of course, for the cause and encourages others to stand with her each week until all the troops are home. Muckle, whose son served in the Navy for more than two decades, said she got the idea from www.wearbluefridays.com.

~Michelle Karas