I want to thank The Banner for excellent coverage of the Harvest Festival event at Mount Anthony Union Middle School on Nov. 1. Needless to say the event was a collaborative effort by a dedicated team of teachers and administrators within the school and was made possible by the generous support of numerous community members.

On behalf of the school we would like to express our gratitude to those who contributed to the success of our first school-wide Harvest Festival. In particular we would like to mention school board member Dave Durphy for the loan of his cider press along with Christy Nevius of Shaftsbury for her cider press and hard work making cider for 575 middle school students.

We would also like to thank: Rob LaPort of Terry’s Orchard for his generous donation of apples, Keith Armstrong of Pownal for the pumpkins that were used to make scarecrows, Rick Heyniger and Deena Chapelle for providing the music that had children dancing in the halls, the employees of Abbey Foods who worked both in the kitchen and in the classroom to provide a fabulous lunch, Pastor Robin Greene for hours of leg work and outreach and finally all of the parent volunteers who helped make the event happen.

The feedback that we have received from within the school and by the participants has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. The primary duty of any school is to provide a strong academic program and a positive learning environment for its students. A celebration of this nature provides a welcome opportunity for teachers and students to learn and interact in new and non-traditional ways, which fosters positive relationships and builds a stronger community for all.

STEPHEN GREENE

Sustaionable Living teacher, MAUMS Quality child care is key

I am writing this letter in support of the early educators’ right to organize. I encourage my legislators (Sen. Sears, Sen. Hartwell, Rep. Mook and Rep. Morrissey) to support that right also. Being at the table will help early educators to have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

The provision of quality child care and early education for every child is the key to fighting the cycle of generational poverty. Vermont’s early educators provide quality child care so that Vermont families can work and earn a living.

I’m glad that Vermont Early Educators United is working on the bill and encourage visiting www.kidscountonme.org for more information.

CHARLIE MURPHY

Bennington

Need a budget that puts people first

I am retired and I am a member of the Vermont Workers’ Center and the American Legion Jay Peak Post 28. I attended the budget forums on Vermont Interactive Technologies on Nov. 5 because I am concerned about people. Many people are less fortunate than myself. I shared that I see many struggles in the community.

My neighbors struggle to balance heating fuel, food, health care, pay their electric bill, put gas in their car to get to work. You should take all these into account while creating the budget. Education is important but we also need to invest in making sure families can meet their basic needs so children can succeed. Last year was the first time the governor’s administration held hearings early but then we just saw more of the same.

We heard that there were going to be no broad-based taxes last year then again this year, but last year the Legislature passed a gas tax. That seems like a pretty broad-based tax to me -- one that hits working poor really hard.

There are no free lunches -- everyone has to pay according to their ability to pay which means the more fortunate among us need to contribute more. We can’t just keep hitting the vulnerable again and again. We need to raise money in a progressive way so we can create a budget that puts people first and doesn’t just put the money first. After attending the hearings I really am left with the fear we are going to see more of the same this year again.

We, the people, must continue raising our voices so we can have a system that is truly participatory.

CLIFF FORSTER

North Troy, Vt.