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Register for rain barrel workshop

rainbarrelA Build-Your-Own Rain Barrel Workshop will be offered on April 20 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Bibbens Ace Hardware, 713 West Lakeshore Drive in Colchester.

The cost is $30 (payable by cash or check at the workshop), which covers all supplies and instruction to make and install a 55-gallon rain barrel. Although there’s a limit of one barrel per household, couples or families may work on the project together.

Preregistration is required. If interested, contact Pam Loranger at 846-7313 or If registering by e-mail, put “Rain Barrel Workshop Registration” in the subject line. Space is limited to the first 15 people to sign up, so early registration is advised.

The workshop is sponsored by the Colchester Conservation Commission in collaboration with the Colchester Department of Public Works. In addition to constructing a rain barrel to take home, participants will learn how capturing rainwater to use in landscapes and gardens will help save money, conserve water and reduce runoff of stormwater into nearby streams and rivers.

Q & A with Tyler Mast

MBS music teacher and band director

Tyler Mast

Tyler Mast

Q: This is your first year at MBS as music teacher and band director, what did you do before coming to MBS?

A: After graduating with a jazz performance degree from UVM, I spent four years composing and performing with several rock, jazz and funk groups all over New England while teaching private lessons on the side. I then pursued teaching music as a career and took my first public school position in Crested Butte, Colo. It wasn’t long before the Green Mountains were calling me back, so when I was offered the position at Malletts Bay School I gladly accepted.


Q: Where did you grow up? What is your background with music and instruments?

A: I grew up outside of Chicago and began taking piano lessons at age five. There is not much family history of musically inclined relatives, so I’m not sure where my predisposition towards music came from. Music is one of the few things that throughout my life has always made sense.


Q: When did you decide to pursue a career in music?

A: When I was a sophomore in college I made the decision to pursue music, despite many societal pressures warning that it may not be the smartest move. I’ve learned that investing heavily in a “back-up plan” really means not jumping in to your passion with both feet. I had to fully commit before I could begin to move forward. I’m lucky to have a supportive wife and many supportive family members and friends, all of whom believe in me.


Q: What instruments do you play? What is your favorite instrument to play and why?

A: I primarily play piano and organ, though I know my way around many woodwind, brass, percussion and string instruments. The Hammond B3 organ is by far my favorite instrument to play. It offers an incredible number of tone configurations, which opens up a world of endless creativity. Also it is probably the only instrument that can truly match the ferocity of an electric guitar.


Q: Do you think music/band is important to a child’s educational experience? Why? How does playing an instrument or learning to read music help a child?

A: It is now regarded as scientific fact that even a small exposure to music education has significant impacts on children’s brain development – studying music makes us smarter. On an emotional level music can be an adventure, an escape, a healer, a muse, and a friend all at the same time. What child doesn’t need all these things?

Q: What surprised you most about the band/music programs in Colchester?

A: I love that all the district music teachers collaborate regularly. Teachers, parents, students, and groups like Friends of Colchester Music all show genuine interest in what my third, fourth and fifth graders are learning. From K-12, each grade level is of equal importance because we are all on the same team.


Q: What are your goals/mission for the band program at MBS? What do you hope to accomplish? What do you hope the children will accomplish?

A: I want the children to dissolve the frequent disconnect between music and music class. When a student says “I don’t like music,” they usually mean “I don’t like music class,” which means I need to try something different. The elements: melody, harmony, form, rhythm, etc., that we learn about in class are found in all music, from Mozart to Miles to – ahem – Miley Cyrus.

Q: How many MBS fifth graders are participating in band this year?

A: I have 64 band students this year, each playing trumpet, trombone, alto saxophone, clarinet, flute or percussion.


Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: When I’m not teaching I’m spending time with my wife and dogs, being active in the outdoors, or composing and performing music. Most weekends I can be found on local stages playing the keys. My new band is Tyler Mast & Paradise Divide (


— Submitted by Friends of Colchester Music


Essex Junction resident receives NEA Human and Civil Rights award

By Ellyn Gaydos
For The Colchester Sun

Aftaba Mezetovic began working for the Winooski school district 17 years ago as a cultural liaison for the incoming Bosnian refugee population, which she and her family were a part of. Since then, students have come to Winooski from Nepal, Bhutan and Somalia, and an estimated 42 different languages and dialects are spoken in Winooski schools. Mezetovic can’t work as an interpreter for all these students and their families, but is committed to the principle, “we have one unique language as human beings, doesn’t matter what country you’re from, our needs are the same.”

Mezetovic lives in logistics, helping new American students navigate the English language bureaucracy to obtain driver’s licenses, find jobs, write college applications, sign up for health care, join sports teams, take the citizenship test and obtain transportation. “I just want our students to know there is always someone there for them since not many of them have aunts, uncles, they can come to me as their extended family member and ask for help.”

Mezetovic has also facilitated events that foster community relationships for new American students. She recently put on an international lunch with her students for senior citizens. Students cooked food from their native countries and performed a Nepalese dance. In the future she hopes to connect students with Winooski residents living with disabilities by providing help with everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning. She wants to “give them opportunities to face the real life realities, they only know the world of high school, they need to be prepared.”

Many refugee students have parents working multiple minimum wage jobs, meanwhile, they’re adapting to a new culture. She can’t stress enough the need for simple attention and encouragement. To her, students are like a puzzle, academics are one piece of that, but kids need mental support and caring relationships to get there. Mezetovic sees firsthand, “the past has a big impact on people’s perspective and future. A lot of people carry a lot of shame and blame.”

Ann Myers, former city manager of Winooski says, “the kids are learning the language…but I think a lot of parents aren’t there, that makes it difficult but that’s what makes her so important in the community because she acts as an interpreter.”

According to 2013 census data, 15 percent of Winooski residents speak a language other than English at home.

Myers met Mezetovic’s family 19 years ago when they first came to Vermont, they’ve been like family since. After helping them to find a car, she says, “they just took off from there” and Mezetovic hasn’t stopped advocating for other refugees. Even before relocating to Vermont from Bosnia, Mezetovic worked for the U.N. as a logistical manager and received an award for her work at the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) Refugee Congress. She also works as a medical translator for Bosnian patients in the area.

“When you’re selfish so much in life, when you go through challenges you wonder how can you help others,” Mezetovic said. She got the call last Wednesday informing her she was the recipient of a 2015 Vermont National Education Association Human and Civil Rights Award for work with K-12 Winooski students and the following Saturday she attended the ceremony with her family.