Hudson-Litchfield News

Thankful to Live in Litchfield

by Doug Robinson

“Neighbors I have never met, people I didn’t know just kept coming.  My front lawn was full of people falling out of the sky”, recollects Ken Langone of Tuesday, June 21.

When Kathy Langone, wife of Ken Langone, returned home from work on June 21, she was confronted with the unimaginable, unthinkable.  Her husband, Ken, told her their seven year old son, Stephan was missing.

Evidently, Stephan had told his dad he was going “out” for a while.  In the past, “out” meant that Stephan was “out” in his yard playing ball, catching frogs, doing what kids do… “out in the yard.”  On June 21, the word “out” took on a whole new meaning for the Langone family.

Ken and Stephen Langone
Ken and Stephen Langone

Ken, Stephan’s dad, went looking for Stephan a few minutes after he had been told by Stephan that he was going “out.”  Ken Langdon soon learned that today’s going “out” was not the normal routine for Stephan.  Stephan was not to be found playing ball in their back yard, or catching frogs in a pond, playing in his room, or even climbing a tree in his back yard.  Stephan is a “very responsible child who always had answered to his name being called” states Kathy Langone.  “He is very responsible.”  But on this day, there was no answer from Stephan.

Not finding Stephan, Ken had widened his search to include a second pond, the houses on his street, the nearby area playground, as well as the nearby school.  He also told his wife he had called the police for help.

Hearing the news, Kathy Langone went into, as she describes it, a “missing child mode”.  Kathy Langone works as a guidance counselor at the Beverly School for the Deaf.  Her first thoughts were for the safety of Stephan.  She first searched the house and then went to the two ponds near their house, thinking that Stephan could possible have been hurt, unable to call for help.

“His routine was broken”, state both Ken and Kathy Langone.  “We knew something was wrong.  He always tells us where he is going and he always calls us when he gets there.  His routine was broken.”

When both Ken and Kathy returned from their own searches, they found their front lawn full of volunteers, helping them search and find their missing son.  Evidently when Ken called the police, they, in conjunction with Fire Chief Scofield, “toned” the volunteer call force in efforts to obtain more help for their search.  As a result, police cruisers, fire engines, and “up to 50 people were helping…neighbors I have never met…and people on four- wheelers, were looking for our son.”  Ken Langone recalls thinking that “they fell from the sky… to help us out.”

Unknown to the Langone family, “Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or abducted…” states the Vanished Children’s Alliance.  Over 2000 children are reported missing each day.  Over 725,000 children are reported missing every year.  As Child Shield., USA states: “have you ever turned around and experienced the bone chilling realization that your child has disappeared?  It is even worse because you have no way of knowing if your child is safe, having wandered off, or if they need emergency assistance and the authorities need to be notified immediately.”

And these are just the reported cases.

Fortunately for the Langone family, their situation resulted in a happy outcome.  Would you know where to start, what to do?  The Langones did

They chose to live in a very supporting and caring community.  Having moved to Litchfield seven years ago, their moving  research told them that the Litchfield  community not only hosts the “finest police and fire departments” managed by true professionals, the community also is made up of people who are wonderful and really care about their neighbors.  The “police are wonderful...the people of this town are wonderful.” says Kathy Langone.

Next, they supported the National Ident-a-Kid program and have had their children registered with the Litchfield police department.  They had pictures of Stephan ready to distribute to the dozens of volunteers.  And most importantly, they knew not to hesitate and called the police. 

When researching Google.com for information on missing children, over 13 million references/sites became available.  Furthermore, on researching child safety, over 32 million references/sites became available.  Communities have Amber Alerts, Code Adams, National Sex Offenders Registry’s are in place to help parents and communities raise their children in safe environments. SafeKids.com, Missingkids.com, childcybersearch.org and crime.about.com are only a few of the resources available on line, help parents through the difficult discussion of a child safety.  Other areas for help are, Help-for –Parents.org. and your local police department.

So, where did Stephan go?  He went and visited a “friend”, directly across the street, approximately 100 yards from his house.  When the area houses were approached and questioned, Stephan’s friend’s house was skipped, as both parents were at work and there were no cars in the driveway.  Stephan “forgot” rule one, and to call home to say he was “ok”, I got here safely. 

But then again, he was only going “out”.

So, as Stephan looked out the front window of his friends house he could see that there are nearly 50 people on the his front lawn, police cruisers with flashing lights, fire trucks all over the place, all searching the nearby areas for something. 

So, what’s a seven year old boy to do?  Stephan, seeing all the hoop-lah, fanfare, and attention on his front lawn of his house, runs home to see what is going on.  Never in his wildest imagination did he anticipate that he was the center of attention.

”Incredibly grateful”, are the feelings of both Kathy and Ken Langone. Litchfield is a “good place to raise kids.  We are very thankful for the police and fire departments, as well as the great neighbors and volunteers we have in our neighborhood!  We thank God.”


Hudson Rec Summer Youth Program

The Hudson Rec Summer Youth Program is off to another great start.  This year we have close to 400 registered children all excited to come and play in the newly renovated Hudson Community Center.  The Community Center formerly known as Lions Hall is now updated with athletic equipment and games for all children to enjoy.  The Summer Program runs for eight weeks until August 19 and operates daily 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The program features various local and teen adventures, state park trips, and daily contests.  We also offer sport clinics and daily arts and crafts activities.  Stop by at anytime to meet our 22 wonderful staff members and experience a fun filled day in the sun!  So don’t worry if you missed sign ups; there is plenty of room for more kids!  Come and join the fun!  For more details call (603) 594-1155.


SAU 81’s Vision Map

by Maureen Gillum

Without a map, you can’t get far.  Hudson School Superintendent, Randy Bell, and Hudson School Board Chairman, David Alukonis, shared their collective vision and key objectives -- or District map -- over a cup of coffee last Friday morning.  The “work in progress” is the first formal plan for School Administrative Unit (SAU) 81, since its formation July 1, 2003.  Recently voted on and accepted by the 5-member Hudson School Board, the vision plan is expected to be fully developed with more field input and a detailed action plan over the summer.  “We started from scratch,” declares David, now in his second board term (expires 3/06), “while loose plans previously existed, they were typically stand-a-lone by department and not well connected.”  “Without a plan, we had a series of good intentions,” quips Randy, District Superintendent since 1999, “we’ve now created an interconnected, top-down vision and working framework for our District.”

The succinct one-page vision statement, “Dedicated to Educational Excellence,” outlines the core values, missions, and key objectives for SAU 81.  “If anyone wants to know what we’re about, and what we believe in, this is it,” says Alukonis, a third generation Hudson resident, Alvirne graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Boston College.  “While the School Board makes policy, the superintendent’s office implements policy,” explains Bell, who holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) and Masters of Education in School Administration from UNH. He continues, “through our integrated partnership, we seek to build trust and communication within the community.”  In preface, “the Hudson School District will provide a respected educational program focused on student achievement, preparedness for post secondary opportunities and for civic and social responsibility.”  Three primary missions and subsets of key goals include:

I. Mission: Academic Rigor and High Expectations:

Goals:

  1. Each child will be well prepared to succeed at their next level of education, including post secondary endeavors.
  2. The District will establish a plan that addresses the weaknesses in the continuity of the elementary academic program.
  3. The District will recruit and retain highly qualified staff, who possess high expectations for students and themselves.
  4. The District will engage parents and community members in the educational programs and aspirations of our students.

II.    Mission: A Safe and Secure Learning Environment:

Goals:

  1. No child will be afraid to come to school.
  2. All children and staff will attend school in facilities that are safe, up-to-date, and educationally appropriate.
  3. All children and staff will attend schools in an environment that fosters continuous learning.
  4. Administration and staff will engage the community in fostering and encouraging a safe and secure learning environment for our students.

III. Mission: Sound Fiscal Management and Integrity:

Goals:

  1. The District will develop and implement an annual ten year financial plan.
  2. The financial plans will be linked to clearly stated goals and objectives for academic programs and facilities.
  3. Each budget will be developed as an annual expression of the ten-year financial plan and be administered efficiently and effectively.
  4. The District will build integrity through communication with the community and through the proper management of budgeted resources.

While critics may consider some District goals unattainable at this broad level, the plan encompass goals SAU 81 strives for, and will drive a detailed action plan to fulfill prime objectives.  Delving into the three-part vision map, under student preparedness (section I. A.), “we’re looking to achieve literacy by the 3rd grade,” states Chairman Alukonis.  With programs and tools such as Thinking Maps, the John Collins Writing Program, Storyboarding, Battle of the Books, reading tutors and incentives, literacy is being emphasized throughout Hudson’s elementary curriculum.  “Next, in concert with administrators and staff, we’ll assess what specific action items are needed to achieve such stated goals, in all three critical mission areas,” says Alukonis. 

In upper K-12, “we’re seeking ways to reduce our High School drop out rate (3% annual; about 12% over 4 years),” Mr. Bell notes, “though below the New Hampshire average, we’re still loosing 45-50 kids per year and that’s too many.”  A cooperative exchange program, between Alvirne High School (AHS), Londonderry and Daniel Webster College, is under development to offer alternative accredited programs to at-risk high school students, or those in quest of a GED for their High School Equivalency.  The District is also assessing how to strengthen the current percentages of Hudson graduates going onto 4 year colleges (55%) and 2 year programs (27%), and actually completing post-secondary programs.

Another critical mission one issue is to “recruit and retain highly qualified staff.”  “Unfortunately, we’re going into next year (2007/2008 budget year) without a (teacher’s) contract,” admits Mr. Alokonis, which means contracts and salaries, remain frozen.  As AHS science teacher, Phyllis Appler, warned in her public input (June 6th School Board meeting), “Alvirne has 7 retirees this year, but we’re loosing another 8-10 excellent staff members who are going to other local districts to make $8,000 to $10,000 or more for similar positions.”  Mrs. Appler cited that with ‘non-competitive salaries,’ Hudson is un-enviably the ‘local training ground’ and will likely face more staff attrition as new high schools soon open in Windham and Bedford.  Left unchecked, many fear a growing teacher exodus, which may ultimately cost SAU 81 far more in the long run.  “The good news is contract negotiations are on-going,” Superintendent Bell says, “and the working conditions and sense of community within our schools remain strong.”

Two key pieces for a safe and secure learning environment are: 1) security and emergency planning, and 2) eliminating bullying and harassment, or what Bell calls, “intolerance of local terrorists.”  Emergency preparedness drills, guidance, peer mediation and mentoring programs help ensure safekeeping.  “Our relationships with the Hudson Fire and Police Departments are also excellent,” shares Randy, “we’re also fortunate to have three terrific on-site SROs (School Resource Officers: AHS’ retiring Chuck Gilbert, Bill Emmons at Hudson Memorial and elementary ‘Officer Paul’ Balukonis), which fall under the town budget.”  

The District will also develop and implement an annual ten year financial plan, as outlined in mission three.  “Within that long-range plan, we’ll revise and simplify our budget format to make it more meaningful and understandable, without sacrificing integrity,” states David.  In essence, the vision plan is about focusing and improving SAU 81’s educational framework and making it more reportable and accountable. 

Last, but not least, the vision plan is also a call to action, not only for the Hudson School District and staff, but also for the community, including town officials (selectmen, budget committee, representatives, public servants), citizens, and, most especially, parents.  “We’re looking to improve communications, build trust and engage the community in a variety of ways, such as developing a SAU 81 web site (roll-out slated for 9/05), parent forums, and monthly breakfast meetings,” concludes Mr. Bell. Hudson School Board meetings, posted at all schools, are also open for all to attend or conveniently view via Hudson Community Television (HcTV, Channel 22). 

As Chairman Alukonis stressed in his 2004 Annual Report, “The Hudson School District is owned by the citizens of this town, and your school board actively looks to hear from you.”  Questions, comments and suggestions regarding SAU 81’s vision plan are encouraged from Hudson parents, students, taxpayers, and district staff.  Selected questions will be addressed by Mr. Alukonis and Mr. Bell, in a follow-on feature article in the Hudson Litchfield News (HLN).  Please contact the HLN (phone: 880-1516 or e-mail: news@areanewsgroup.com) with your submissions by July 8th.


Hudson Fire Department Responds to Single Car Motor Vehicle Accident

On Monday, June 27, Hudson Fire Department responded to a single car motor vehicle accident on Webster Street.  Upon arrival, the fire department found one car in the roadway and a very unstable telephone pole snapped off at the base.  PSNH was requested to secure the power to 300 and 301 Webster Street.  The roadway was shut down by Hudson Police while Hudson Fire assisted in maintaining a safe area until PSNH secured the pole and CP Patrol assisted in traffic control. 


New Sign for Hudson Community Center

by Lynne Ober

Boy Scout Eagle Scout Candidate Justin McKeeney from Boy Scout Troop 20 received approval from Selectmen for his Eagle Scout project.

McKeeney approached Recreation Director Dave Yates about replacing the sign on Lions Hall with a sign that said Hudson Community Center; Yates reported that the Recreation Committee felt that the project should be expanded a bit.  After successful discussions, it was agreed that the project would encompass the following tasks:

  • Remove old Lions Hall Sign
  • Replace sign with new Community Center Sign.  McKeeney showed Selectmen a possible sign configuration during the meeting.
  • Scrape all loose and chipped paint
  • Paint all trim
  • Paint or stain the gables.

McKeeney will serve as project manager for the painting project, but the actual painting will be done by adult volunteers and no children will be allowed on ladders, staging or on the roof.

The Boy Scouts have liability insurance and will provide a copy to the Town.  The Town will provide the paint for the project.  Yates told Selectmen that he was in agreement with the revised project and that it would save the Town the cost of hiring a painter.  Yates estimated it would cost $9,000 to paint the gables and noted that only $6,000 was in the budget so this project would not only help McKeeney complete his Eagle, but would save the Town considerable money.

Selectmen agreed to allow him to do the project and concurred that no children should be on the ladders, staging or roof.


Transitions at Hudson Memorial School - Part II - Evolutions

by Maureen Gillum

With recent graduations and schools closings, the last thing most people think of is returning to school next fall.  However, plans are already in place, or well underway, for Hudson school’s opening on Tuesday, August 30.  Last week’s part one of Hudson Memorial School’s Transitions, Reflections, focused on the five HMS retirees, including outgoing Principal, Lee Richard.  This follow-up article, Transitions at Hudson Memorial School (HMS) – Evolutions, takes a peek at the school’s new administration and imminent changes to student divisions.

As always, Hudson Memorial’s administration will warn new incoming sixth grade parents at its annual orientation night (Monday, August 29, 6:30 p.m., at the HMS Gym), ‘the kids coming into HMS in sixth grade, simply won’t be the same when they go out in eighth grade.’  “The differences from sixth to eighth grade are dramatic – our middle school students evolve physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially and developmentally,” states retiring Principal, Lee Richard.  Of course, one of the biggest differences at Hudson Memorial is that Mr. Richard, retiring after 25 years at HMS at the end of June 2005, will not be leading the next orientation.  That honor will fall to Principal Elect, Mrs. Sue Nadeau, who replaces Richard next week after being under his tutelage for the past eight years, most recently as Assistant Principal for Academics.

In addition to her on-site job training, Mrs. Nadeau comes to her new position with impressive academic credentials and experience.  “I earned my B.A. in Education at the University of New Hampshire.  While I was working as a speech and language pathologist for 10 years in Lowell (Massachusetts), I got my Master’s degree in Developmental Disabilities at UNH as well,” states Nadeau.  Not one to rest on her laurels, Mrs. Nadeau received her second Masters, with a major in Learning Disabilities and two new certificates (for special education and elementary education), at Rivier College in Nashua.  After being a Resource Room teacher, she went back to ‘Riv’ to gain her certificate in Administration.  “Between my education and training under Lee, I’m ready to lead HMS’ administration,” Mrs. Nadeau says with a smile, “and fulfill my new job description – handling anything and everything anybody else won’t do.”  More seriously, Mr. Richard adds, “HMS couldn’t be left in better hands than Sue and her team.”

Fortunately, Mrs. Nadeau has excellent support for both academic development and student management within her new regime.  Leveraging internal resources, Mr. Keith Bowen continues on as Assistant Principal for Administration, along with Mrs. Lori Robicheau, as Administrator for Student Management.  Armed with his undergraduate from Plymouth State (Major in Elementary Education and a Computer Science Minor), five years teaching experience, and a Masters in School Administration from Rivier College, Keith returns for his third year at Hudson Memorial.  Himself a 1987 HMS graduate, Bowen sadly admitted at Eighth Grade Class Day, “we’re all really going to miss Lee tremendously; he’s a big piece of the machinery around here.  But looking ahead, I’m really excited about working with Sue and our team next year.”  A new chief player on that team is Ms. Jane Weber, coming in as HMS’ Assistant Principal for Academics.  Most recently, Ms. Weber was a Curriculum Coordinator and Social Studies Department Head within Nashua Public Schools.  “Jane is an incredible person and will be a major asset to Hudson Memorial,” Mr. Bowen states with awe, “she has more than 25 years experience in the field and is a Fulbright Scholar twice over.”

Assessing the traditional ‘middle school model’ and trying to better address student transformations, Mrs. Nadeau’s team also began developing what she calls “a more flexible model to fit each student as best we can.”  As such, next year Hudson Memorial will eliminate their long-standing large divisions or clusters (red, white and blue) of 125 - 150 students for each grade. “We’ll be moving away from large clusters into transparent mini-groups or pods of just 3 - 5 kids to allow us greater flexibility in scheduling and enable our students greater access to all programs,” explains Sue.  Current HMS programs and offerings, such as collaborative classes, special needs and AAP (advanced academic placement) will remain stable under the new pod approach.  The new administration is also developing a new Hudson Memorial student handbook, which will more fully outline the pod system and other policy and procedure changes for next year. 

While some things changes, much remains the same.  “What makes students successful at Hudson Memorial or Alvirne, wherever and whenever, are motivation and organization,” says Sue.  More than anything else, she believes that making one’s own dreams come true are choices in self-discipline and a positive and persistent attitude.  One of the constants she respects most about the HMS staff is their “ability to adapt to change,” like the No Child Left Behind Act.  “Our staff bands together and takes a lot of pride in Hudson Memorial,” states Mrs. Nadeau with admiration, “they are truly here for the love of the kids – to laugh and to learn with them.”  Just prior to Eighth Grade Class Day, Sue fondly shares, “he (Lee) keeps saying to us, ‘next year we’ll do this,’ so I don’t think it’s really hit him yet, or many of us, that he’s really leaving after 25 years.”  Mrs. Nadeau closes with assurance, “we’ve developed a wonderful team at Hudson Memorial.  We’re in excellent shape for a smooth transition and some exciting changes heading into next year.”

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