Winter News

As longer and warmer days turn melt winter’s cold away, I’m feeling hopeful as Vermont’s COVID case counts decline and vaccinations rise. Here’s a look at a few of the photos I did for the Valley News in a winter like no other:

A painting of a student studying indoors is on display in the closed Hopkins Center entryway at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. According to the college’s COVID-19 dashboard, on March 1 there were 122 active cases amongst students, with 120 in isolation.

Elaine Perrault, 83, of Claremont, N.H., takes a cigarette break outside the Earl M. Bourdon Centre where Perrault has lived for the past eight years. Perrault tested negative for COVID-19 and is due to be tested again. In early January, 21 residents and 5 staff have the virus. Residents have been told by intercom to stay in their apartments and communal activities have been canceled. “It’s eery,” Perrault said of the empty halls. “I want to see these people back to smiling,” she said later.

Hunter Leveille waves to a fellow home energy delivery driver while passing each other on Route 14 in West Hartford, Vt., in February. Leveille, who delivers propane for Simple Energy, waved to the over half-dozen trucks delivering propane and heating oil that he passed on the road during his morning route.

While talking on the phone, Lebanon City Council candidate Al Patterson, right, elbow bumps with Bruce Johnstone, of Lebanon, N.H., while standing outside the Ward 1 polls at Kilton Public Library in West Lebanon. Standing with Patterson are Lebanon School Board candidate Barbara Patterson, who is also Al Patterson’s wife, and supporter and volunteer Ramzi Hraibi, of West Lebanon.

Clara Oren, 5, practices violin with her father and brother at their home in West Lebanon. Clara has been taking two lessons a week remotely – one a one-on-one lesson and the other in a group – with the Upper Valley Music Center for about a year.

Hanover High School senior Allison Whitmore places a plate of tea and cookies onto the miniature stage being filmed as part of Finegan Kruckemeyer’s play “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” at Hanover High School in Hanover, N.H. Whitmore is also an actor in the play, as well as sharing the duties of mini-stage operator with senior Johan Berendsen, in background, and others. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Footlighters theater group is producing the play to be seen online for their winter production. The school’s fall and spring performances have been and will be outdoors.

As cardboard cutouts take the place of spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mascoma’s Connor Thompson saves the ball from going out of bounds during the first half of their game against Lebanon in West Canaan, N.H.

Lebanon junior varsity Head Coach K.J. Matte acknowledges the referee’s 10-second backcourt violation call against Mascoma during their game in Lebanon. Matte, who is a senior at Bowdoin College, is leading the Lebanon squad while his college basketball team takes the season off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lebanon-Stevens-MRA’s Griffin Auch, in the foreground, reacts as Berlin-Gorham celebrates tying up their semifinal playoff at 3-3 in the third period in Concord, N.H. After trailing 3-0 at the beginning of the third period, Berlin-Gorham won, 5-3.

Windsor’s John Cook III looks for a teammate to pass to as Thetford’s Nick Gray defends during their playoff game in Windsor, Vt.

Lebanon’s Clara Smyrski, left, and Sally Rainey tie up Hanover’s Caroline Adams for a jump ball in the first half of their game in Lebanon.

Oxbow’s Ellyn Hart hugs teammate Emma Parkin (20) as their season draws to a close in their 62-30 semifinal loss to Lake Region in Orleans, Vt.

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May not be reprinted without permission

Our Towns

While it’s been a challenge to work during the pandemic, it’s still rewarding to report on the community we all love to be part of. Here are a few of my recent favorites from the pages of the Valley News:

As the sun sets towards the end of practice, Newport quarterback Marius Edwards hands off to running back Josh Sharron in Newport, N.H.

Matthew Slaughter, of Hanover, N.H., does work on his laptop in his front yard while accompanied by the family’s Bichon Frises Teddy, left, and Ollie. As Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Slaughter has been working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the dogs nearby. “This is their favorite office,” he said.

Kim Smith puts the final touches on a decorated tree to be put in the window of 37 Central, the downtown Woodstock, Vt., apparel store she owns. Smith said decorations are being put up a couple of weeks earlier. “This year, more than ever, we all need a little holiday spirit,” she said.

Charlene Truell, of Unity, N.H., shows her mother Beverly Whiting the deer Truell recently shot during their first in-person visit together since Whiting, 88, tested positive in mid-October for COVID-19 at the Woodlawn Care Center in Newport, N.H. In total the outbreak included 33 residents and 24 staff members.

Vermont State Police officers work at the scene where a chase of a single vehicle ended on Route 14 in Sharon, Vt.

The North Country Chordsmen and The VoxStars rehearse outdoors in West Lebanon, N.H. Singing through a sound system so they can hear themselves on headphones, they are able to sing at a safe distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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News Update

As the COVID pandemic continues, working for the Valley News at home or in the office with few co-workers is the new normal. Being out in the community to do photography is a nice relief, even while distancing and wearing a mask. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Jim Kibbe, of Greenwich, Conn., photographs a farm along Cloudland Road in Pomfret, Vt. Following COVID-19 protocols, Kibbe and his wife are on a week-long trip to see the leaves in Maine and Vermont as he is between jobs. “We’re trying to make the best of it,” he said.

A passing rain shower falls on Norwich Police Cadet Evan Burke’s face shield while waiting to direct the next voter in their car at the outdoor polls set up at the transfer station in Norwich, Vt.

Upper Valley’s Kobe Benoit, center, is mobbed by his teammates after his game-winning walk-off hit in the seventh inning defeated Nashua 9-8 to win their best-of-three semifinal series in the New Hampshire COVID Baseball League tournament in Lebanon, N.H.

The Windsor field hockey team finishes a warm-up lap around the athletic fields at the start of practice in Windsor, Vt. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, players are required to wear masks while on the field.

Linda Muri, of Hanover, N.H., works for the first time as a ballot clerk at the primary polls in Leverone Fieldhouse in Hanover. “I knew they would have a hard time getting volunteers,” she said of why she signed up.

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Back in the News

As soon as the coronavirus hit New England and drastically altered everyone’s lives, my work life also changed. The Valley News has had its struggles with losses of advertising and staff reductions. I’m proud to continue to work with a dedicated groups of journalists covering the Upper Valley. Here’s a few of my favorite photos I made over the past few months.

Weathersfield Elementary Principal JeanMarie Oakman waves goodbye to students leaving on four buses at the end of the school day in Ascutney, Vt., on March 16, 2020. Under the direction of the governor, students will be working from home through the end of the school year.

Hartford Selectboard member Alan Johnson raises his hand to be recognized in the chamber by chair Dan Fraser while meeting remotely as CATV Tech Coordinator Thomas Bishop watches in White River Junction, Vt., on March 25, 2020. Changes to the state’s Open Meeting Law allow for boards and commissions to meet from different locations due to COVID-19 concerns.

Instructor Lisa Dumont, of Rockingham, Vt., demonstrates an exercise for students during a Fit Body Boot Camp workout in the PowerHouse Mall parking lot in West Lebanon, N.H., on March 31, 2020. Dumont, who owns the business and another in Rockingham, said the response to the social-distancing workout in West Lebanon has been positive and she hopes to do the same soon at her other location.

As Enfield Police Chief Roy Holland, middle, and Officer Mike Crate load groceries into her car, Dorothy Braley, of Canaan, N.H., tells them it is her last time for weekly food at the police station in Enfield, N.H., on April 7, 2020. Braley is a dental assistant and her hours have been cut back to one day a week during the COVID crisis – her unemployment check had just started arriving. “This has been a massive help,” she said of the food for herself and her husband.

Quinn Thomashow, right, of Strafford, Vt., projects her camera-less film onto her family’s home as her relatives Julia and Rachel Norton, of New York City, watch while listening to the audio track Thomashow recorded on April 22, 2020. Originally intended to be part of an installation at Hampshire College for her senior thesis, Thomashow is instead sharing the project with friends and family in their cars due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Nortons temporarily moved to Strafford weeks earlier to shelter in place.

On the first day back in business on May 11, 2020, Colonial Barber Shop owner and barber Tracey Barber disinfects the shop’s door following a customer’s departure in West Lebanon, N.H. The shop and other New Hampshire hair salons were allowed to reopen, following restrictions due to the pandemic.

Jacqueline Springwater, of Norwich, Vt., moves soil delivered to her home one bucket at a time on May 15, 2020. Springwater, 86, is growing a garden this summer for the first time because travel is limited due to the coronavirus pandemic. Springwater will be growing herbs and greens for dishes she likes to cook. “I’m not only prepping my garden but also prepping my body,” she said of the workout required for gardening.

Kacey Knight singes remaining hair from a pig slaughtered at Vermont Packinghouse in North Springfield, Vt., on May 19, 2020. Knight supervises an eight-man crew on the “kill floor” at the 30,000 square-foot meatpacking plant. Due to the demand for locally raised beef and pork because of COVID-19, the slaughterhouse is booked through the end of 2020.

Spaced at least six feet apart, Hanover High School sophomore Ian Hedgepeth, right, and his teammates stand at the ready to sprint on coach Rob Woodward’s signal during their first practice for the new summer New Hampshire COVID Baseball League in Lebanon, N.H., on June 1, 2020.

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The Year in Pictures

The past year has been one of change, which generally means more time for me to be behind the computer instead of the camera. I still love photography and my role in documenting life around me. Here are a few of my favorites from 2019, with notes:

It was a bittersweet moment to see the last issue of the VALLEY NEWS come off the press in West Lebanon, N.H., at the end of January. The press crew moved to a new facility in Penacook, N.H., which also meant a full redesign and the newspaper’s deadlines have been moved up by several hours.

When one of the reporters at the newspaper heard the Tunbridge Fairgrounds had flooded following a sudden January thaw, she was blown away. While it was amazing to see, fair officials accessed the situation with a big shrug. Happens every year, they said.

Finding a fresh angle on any assignment is always a challenge. In Northern New England, high school baseball season always starts indoors because the fields are too soggy. I’m sure the players thought I was nutty for laying on the floor, taking a picture of a ball.

With a huge field of Democratic presidential candidates this time around, we have been seeing them more often. On a Saturday in April, I covered Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign stop at a Lebanon, N.H., house party, where she did a video for Twitter before departing. The standard question for getting credentials these days is “what is your Twitter handle?”

My daughter played on Sharon Academy’s Ultimate team for the first time. Ultimate is a sport recently sanctioned by state officials and Sharon is the only school in the area with a team. I was there for Senior Day, one of our daughter’s last school activities I photographed over the years.

With fewer weddings to photograph, I spent a lot of my time off over the summer crawling under and around my project car, a 1979 Fiat 2000 convertible. While I felt overwhelmed at the prospect of rebuilding the whole brake system, I did it and the car is close to being fully roadworthy.

When our daughter graduated high school, she not only had a long ceremony to be part of, but then a party with family and an overnight excursion with her classmates at the school. Organizers didn’t want students driving themselves home, so I picked her and a friend up and we went out for breakfast at Eaton’s Sugarhouse. I can see why I was driving!

Our annual VALLEY NEWS Athlete of the Year portrait sessions were spread amongst the staff this year, a relief to me. Of those I did, one of my favorites was of Kiana Johnson, a senior at Thetford Academy. Kiana had to change schools for her last year after Chelsea Public School closed due to consolidation. She brought the ball she was given for scoring 1,000 points in her high school career, signed by her teammates.

Over the summer, Ben Canonica asked me to document the removal of a dam along the First Branch of the White River in Royalton, Vt. The first order of business was to push over a cinder block shed, creating an eerie photo as decades of flying dirt and debris went airborne. Greg Russ of the White River Partnership, shown, and I were amazed at Ben’s expertise in maneuvering his machines to return the river to its original state.

After covering Plainfield’s Fourth of July parade for the VALLEY NEWS, I added this photo of John Yacavone at the last minute because it grew on me (I love how the flag blends into his pants!). He is an enthusiastic Uncle Sam, leading the traditional parade for the past six years.

Protestors told the VALLEY NEWS they were planning to picket Gov. Chris Sununu’s appearance at a Lebanon, N.H., senior center due to the budget impasse between the Republican and the Democratic-majority legislature. As Sununu was leaving the event, he suddenly decided to speak with them and I was happy to document it.

My wife and I were fortunate to be invited to stay for a week in July with her cousin’s family at the Adirondacks camp where we spent our honeymoon. The original building has been around for over 100 years and we stayed in the smaller and newer cabin where her late grandmother spent many summers. It was so relaxing!

Daylight is long enough in the first week or two of the high school season that you’re able to mix in sunsets with the action, as I did at a Woodstock, Vt., game at the end of August. Peak light instead of peak action!

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May not be reprinted without permission

Past Time

Beginning today, I will have a larger role at the Valley News in producing the newspaper. While I’m still photo editor, I will be in the office full-time and my ability to help out with photography is going to be limited. This group of photos from this year’s baseball season reminds me what I love (and will miss) about photojournalism – there’s not constant action in front of you and it’s up to the photographer to stay a step ahead and to think about the story to be told.

From top, The sun made a brief-yet-striking appearance during the Division III matchup between Green Mountain and White River Valley in South Royalton, Vt.; Relief pitcher Alex Jenness looks for the sign from catcher Michael Evans while throwing to a Laconia batter in the fifth inning of their game in West Canaan, N.H.; Hartford’s Zack Butterfield takes batting practice with sunflower seeds while drenching rain falls and shortens their planned doubleheader with Mount Anthony to a single game in White River Junction, Vt.; As rain continues to fall before their doubleheader with Mount Anthony, Athletic Director Jeff Moreno, left, shows Hartford baseball coaches Jarrod, center, and Dick Grassi the sunny conditions the softball team is playing under in Bennington, Vt., where rain was predicted; White River Junction Post 84 senior’s Alex Emerson beats the tag at home by Bennington Post 13 catcher Owen King as Post 84’s Tom Bissaillon watches in the seventh inning of the first game of their doubleheader in White River Junction; Upper Valley Nighthawks infielders Cole Frederick, left, and Adam Smith turn a double-play on North Adams’ Brian Picone and his teammate in the fourth inning of their game in White River Junction; Lebanon Post 22 senior’s Ethan Brueckner swings at a high pitch and strikes out in the seventh inning with the bases loaded against Laconia Post 1 in Lebanon, N.H.; Nighthawks teammates John Hosmer, left, of Charlotte, N.C., and Kellen Spann, of Meridian, Miss., check out the Martha’s Vineyard neighborhoods in Oak Bluffs, Mass., during a bus ride to play the Sharks; The Nighthawks’ Devin Beckley pitches to the Sharks’ Nander De Sedas as Andrew Cossetti catches in the fifth inning of their game in Oak Bluffs, Mass. New to the New England Collegiate Baseball League, the Sharks hosted the Nighthawks for the first time; Midway through their 13 hours of traveling to play baseball, the Upper Valley Nighthawks board a fishing trawler, departing Martha’s Vineyard for Falmouth, Mass., and eventually returning to White River Junction.

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News Update

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post (partly because I’ve been spending my spare time on an old car – follow along with me on Instagram!), but I continue to do photography at the Valley News when extra help is needed. Here’s a few of my favorites from the past few months:

From top, Hanover High students, from left, Mae Candon, Olivia Evans, Kristov Bardales and Gail Morse cheer for the team as they are introduced before the start of the NHIAA Division II state championship against Kennett in Manchester, N.H.; From left, Thetford’s Eli Dunnet (12), Owen Deffner (22), Alex Emerson (15), Carter Blain (21) Jake Colby (30) huddle up before Emerson’s free throw attempt in the first quarter of their Division III state championship with Williamstown in Barre, Vt.; Young adult author Jo Knowles, of Hartland, Vt., is photographed in the town hall before leaving to promote her new book Where the Heart Is; A motorist stops to turn around on Falls Hill Road in Tunbridge, Vt., after an overnight storm caused the First Branch of the White River to overflow its banks. Route 110 from Howe Lane to Russell Road was closed after a section of the road was under a foot of water; Sharon’s Isabella Amodeo, right, intercepts a pass intended for Lyndon’s Lucas Patoine, left, with an assist from teammates Rory Livingston and Carl Groppe in the second half of their Ultimate game in Sharon, Vt. In the background is Sharon’s Claire Jenisch; Oxbow’s Emma DeGoosh leads the defending Division III champions in a cheer before they step up to bat in the first inning of their game with White River Valley in Bradford, Vt.; Windsor co-captain Ryland Richardson passes the time during a pitching change in the seventh inning of their game with Brattleboro in Windsor, Vt.; Richard Neugass, of Norwich, Vt., looks for migrating birds while carrying the communal trash bag along the Ompompanoosuc Flats in Norwich. Chris Rimmer has led a group of birders on Green Up Day for the past eight years to pick up litter and to keep eyes on the sky. “It’s just an excuse to go birding,” Rimmer said.

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The Year in Pictures

As usual, it’s been a busy year for me and my photography. I enjoy the variety of the work, whether it’s the unpredictability of newspaper photography, documenting important family events like weddings and other gatherings, or aiming the lens to tell the story of my community. Here’s a few of my favorites, with a bit of commentary:

Since photographing their wedding ten years ago, Cara and Dean have had me to their Barnard, Vt., home several times to document their growing family. As things were winding down this summer, Baiah and her siblings were exploring the nearby pond and she showed me her sweet and beautiful creation.

When the phone rings at home later in the evening, it’s usually an editor at the VALLEY NEWS. There was a lightning strike at a Vershire, Vt., home, which is a couple of towns away from me. After negotiating with a reluctant home owner, I got access, photographed the investigation and uploaded the photo into the system via. my cell phone close to midnight. Technology is amazing!

I’ve known Logan since her younger sister and my daughter entered kindergarten 13 years ago. Logan and Nick were married in a beautiful hilltop ceremony in Tunbridge, Vt., then had a reception at the fairgrounds in town. When their wedding party — who are also rec league softball teammates — toasted the couple by shotgunning cans of beer, I held the camera over my head and hoped I got the photo.

When the largest schools in Vermont are puny compared with others in the Northeast, the state’s smallest Division IV basketball teams are scrappy and play with tons of heart. In the championship game, Sharon Academy held on to win 60-56 over Danville and coach Blake Fabrikant was as happy as the players were. It was the school’s first championship win and I was there for the VALLEY NEWS to capture it.

In an exchange for partial CSA payment, I have been doing photography and maintaining Tunbridge Hill Farm’s website for the past several years. When I look back at my photos in the middle of winter, I can vividly recall the warm soil under my bare feet and the sweet taste of the peas plucked from their dewey pods.

Driving to cover a Claremont, N.H., City Council meeting for the VALLEY NEWS, I was not expecting much. As part of a school project, 10-year-old boy was to present a petition to lower the speed limit near his house. But once I saw his mother tear up with pride while seeing her self-assured son confidently reading his speech, I was hooked!

The newspaper has been naming the best male and female athlete for the 18 high schools it covers for the past several years, marked with portraits and a special publication. Oxbow High running sensation Izzy Giesing has won it four times, and I think I’ve done her portrait each time. Wanting to change it up, I had the thought to photograph Izzy’s spiked shoes flying through the air. With help from her twin sister, we did several attempts and laughed a lot at the shoes poking both of them while they landed.

Another victim of changing times, the venerable local office supply business Twin State Typewriter was closing its doors in White River Junction, Vt. While working in the store with VALLEY NEWS reporter John Lippman, I was happy to photograph customer Becca White’s reaction to the news from Donald and Wanda Nalette.

I have tagged along with my daughter to the July 4 birthday celebration for her friend’s brother for several years. It’s held at the Woodstock, Vt., community fireworks display and his parents are fully equipped with not only cake but party favors. The kids’ creative uses of glow sticks and their reaction to the display made me happy I brought my camera and its good lens!

Sometimes portraits just fall in your lap — I had an assignment to photograph property management owner Melissa Allen at her office in Grantham, N.H., for ENTERPRISE, the VALLEY NEWS’ business magazine. I was greeted by Penelope, Melissa’s sweet basset hound, and asked if Penelope could be in the photo on her desk, where there was nice morning light. Melissa relaxed, having her dog in the picture.

I was interested to see how competitive go-karting works as I spent the morning with Matthew Winter and his family at the Canaan Motor Club for a VALLEY NEWS story. There was a lot of time spent preparing the kart, attending the drivers’ meeting and doing qualifying races before the feature. When there was a bit of tension about adjusting the kart between Matthew’s father and an official, I was glad to be there to document it.

On the same day as the karting assignment, I had to run down the road to the annual Abenaki and Indigenous People’s Honoring Day in White River Junction, Vt. As I arrived, the organizers were speaking and I saw that Martha Knapp, one of the founders who recently retired, was in the audience. She was presented with a dream catcher and I was lucky to be there to photograph her reaction.

My daughter is in her final year of high school at Sharon Academy and she’s loved every minute of it. The school has an annual tradition of putting on an all-school play where every student is involved in the process. Many are on stage but there are others who do the lighting, play music, sell tickets or produce the program. I enjoyed seeing students who I have known since kindergarten flourish in their roles!

For the seventh year, I volunteered to photograph Santa’s appearance at the Tunbridge Public Library. Euclid Farnham has been doing the gig much longer — since 1979. It’s not only wonderful to see his interaction with the children (his wife Priscilla is usually there as Mrs. Claus but was under the weather), but as president of the Tunbridge Historical Society, Euclid has also put my work into their archives for others to enjoy years from now.

On another VALLEY NEWS assignment, I spent the morning with Mount Lebanon Elementary School Principal Eloise Ginty for a story about her decision to leave the job at the end of the school year. Fourth-grader Leigha Hopwood gave her a big hug during a break in school work. It went so well with the quote I got from Eloise: “I enjoyed every minute of being here,” she said. “It’s a great school.”

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May not be reprinted without permission

In the News

It’s a tumultuous time to be in the newspaper industry, but it’s still a thrill to be a part of daily news reporting. Here’s a few of my favorite photos that I did over the past few months for the Valley News.

From top, With help from carpenter Mike Gross, of Tunbridge, Vt., (not pictured) Peter Klinck attaches a rake overhang with screws to the porch of his Tunbridge home. The porch is the last of the house’s framing to be done, rebuilt after a Nov. 2014 fire caused $250,000 in damages. Klink used insurance funds, donations, recycled materials and sweat equity to bring the building back into shape; South Royalton teammates, from left, George Carr, Logan Martin and Zeb Perrault celebrate after Martin scored on a bunt by Jacob Barry in the sixth inning of their Division IV semifinal game with Rivendell in South Royalton, Vt. South Royalton won, 4-2; State Sen. Alison Clarkson, of Woodstock, Vt., gives Jane Curtis, also of Woodstock, a kiss after about 50 people sang “Happy Birthday” to Curtis at the start of a rally at Tribou Park in Woodstock. Curtis, who turned 100 earlier in the month, was the inspiration for the new group Women For A Change, who organized the demonstration against the Trump administration’s policy to separate immigrant children from their parents while they are seeking asylum; Becca White, middle, of White River Junction, Vt., reacts to the news that Donald and and Wanda Nalette are to be selling their South Main Street building in downtown White River Junction to Northern Stage at the end of July. Wanda Nalette, who owns Twin State Typewriter, will be closing the business and joining her husband in retirement; While waiting to line up for commencement, Jackie Balch takes a silly photo of herself with her classmates Elizabeth Coverdale and Lawrence Roessel in Sunapee, N.H. Twenty-nine graduates received their diplomas; After cutting away an area of cedar shake siding with a chainsaw firefighters examine where lightning was suspected to have traveled down the side of Donna Goldberg’s house on Taylor Valley Road in Vershire, Vt. The early 1970s-era house was unoccupied, undergoing renovations and is insured.

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Top Honors

As the school year winds down, the Valley News celebrates the accomplishments of 36 students from the 18 schools it covers with its Athlete of the Year award. It’s a bit stressful to reach everyone and schedule portraits in two weeks, but well worth it! Here’s a few of my favorites:

From top, Oxbow’s Izzy Giesing, Mount Royal’s Alex Normandin, Stevens’ Jenna Pond, South Royalton’s Connor Lambert and Iris Hudson, Lebanon’s Nate Chickering, Thetford’s Meagan Balch, Oxbow’s Ben Emerson and Newport’s Lacey McNeel.

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