Grades 6-12
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No Country for Justice: A Dialogue with China’s Leading Human Rights Lawyer in Exile

Vermont Commons Chinese teacher Ben Wang is offering to provide transportation from VCS to St. Michael’s College to those interested in participating in a dialogue with Dr. Teng Biao on Wednesday, September 27th at 5pm. Below is a quick introduction to Dr. Biao’s work:

Dr. Teng Biao is currently a visiting scholar at NYU Law School. Before NYU, Dr. Teng had been a visiting scholar at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was named one of the “Persons of the Year in Asia” by Newsweek in 2005. The New York Review of Books calls him “one of China’s best-known civil rights lawyers.” A leader of China’s New Citizens Movement and founder of Open Constitution Initiative, he was banned from teaching in his own university — the University of Politics and Law in Beijing — because of his activism. Before he started his life in exile, he had served as a defense lawyer for many years on high-profile human rights cases in China. In consequence, he was kidnapped and tortured by the authorities. Dr. Teng’s research focuses on criminal justice, human rights, social movements, and democratic transition in China. He has testified at the United States Congressional Hearings and is a frequently sought-after commentator on major international news outlets such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Guardian. He is a recipient of various international human rights awards including Human Rights Prize of the French Republic (2007).

Please contact Ben at if you are interested in attending!

VCS Cross Country: Burlington Invitational Results

The VCS Cross Country team ran their first meet of the season on Saturday and it was a huge success! Over 1,000 runners from multiple states competed in the Burlington Invitation, which took place on a chilly day at North Beach.

Here are the top VCS finishers in each race:

MS Girls: Lily Isham (47th out of 127)
MS Boys: Ruslan Henry (22nd out of 170)
HS Girls: Zoe Greenhouse (45th out of 142)
HS Boys: Zane Faour (18th out of 150)

Full results can be found here.

Next up for the team is the U-32 Invitational this Saturday!

Our New Mission Statement

Over the last 18 months, the Board of Trustees and Faculty of Vermont Commons School undertook a major effort of revisiting and revising the School’s Mission and Guiding Principles with a goal of ensuring their relevance, focus, and utility for years to come. We arrived at a consensus around several essential ideas.

We are first and foremost a school, one of a unique nature: we strive to develop intrinsic motivation and commitment to intellectualism, and we value this over simple academic achievement.

We are intentionally a small community — a Commons — so that we can know each other’s needs, rely on each other’s strengths and support, and purposefully be both shapers of and accountable to the whole. If the end of knowledge is service, then we embrace our responsibility to use what and how we have learned in service of the Earth and its people everywhere.

And so we are pleased at this time to share with you the fruits of our labor The new Vermont Commons School Mission is:


We also worked to update the Guiding Principles that underlie and articulate that mission:

  1. Scholarship is engagement with an academically rigorous curriculum fostering independent thinking and intellectual curiosity.
  2. Through direct interaction and application of skills and knowledge, the world is our classroom, lab, and studio.
  3. Our community values respect for self and others, honesty and integrity, and diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
  4. Global responsibility emerges from the understanding that our choices and actions impact our communities and require a commitment to service.
  5. Environmental stewardship arises through experience and informed appreciation of the interdependence between oneself and the natural world.
  6. Health and wellness results from an intentional balance of one’s academics, activities, emotional needs, and social interactions.
  7. Leadership is cultivated through dedicated training and continuous opportunities.
  8. Collaboration between students and faculty forms the fabric of the Vermont Commons experience.

We look forward to the future of Vermont Commons with you!

Faisal Gill
Chair, Board of Trustees

Dexter P. Mahaffey
Head of School

Spin for a Cause

Join Rachel Bergstein (VCS ’21) and her family for 1 of 5 one hour spin classes at The Edge in Essex on Sunday, September 17th to raise money for Celiac Disease Research. Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disorder where your body treats gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt) like poison. Spin For Celiac was created by Rachel’s sister, Tori, for her graduation challenge since Rachel has Celiac Disease.

Join the spin team at and help raise $250 towards the total fundraising goal.

Reserve your bike by filling out this form and send a check for $25 to Spin For Celiac, 202 McNeil Cove Rd, Charlotte, VT 05445, or donate at All proceeds from Spin for Celiac go directly to the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, where pioneering, world-renowned research on Celiac Disease is spearheaded.

Questions? Email