Pelham-Windham News

Expansion of Pelham High School Proposed

by Lynne Ober

A concerned group of Pelham residents wants to take action now to improve Pelham High School facilities.  They have been diligently working on their proposal which they presented this past week to both Pelham’s Budget Committee and Pelham’s School Board.

“We tried to address the needs,” said Darren Martin.  “There are all kinds of wants, but we just addressed the needs.”

“Students who are freshmen now could graduate from an expanded and improved new facility,” said Kevin Steele. 

Map of current land for the school campus showing all three Pelham schools.

Kicking off the presentation, Lorraine Dube stated, “We want to offer a more spacious, efficient environment for our high school students.  We are concerned by the lack of progress in this area.”

One of the commitments of the group is to provide backup data and sources for all of their statements.  “If you hear us say something, we want you to be able to find the source document,” said Steele when the petitioned warrant article was introduced.  That is a commitment that was kept during their recent presentations.

Voters will have an opportunity to see this presentation at the bond hearing on January 16, at Pelham Elementary School at 7:00 p.m., and to vote on the proposal in March.

According to Martin, the proposal is a “comprehensive plan for Pelham High School now and in the future.  The team who worked on this includes people with extensive experience in education, construction and a working knowledge of town finances.  This proposal includes an addition and some possible core area changes to the existing building.”  The group has also developed a look at how their proposal fits into the school board’s overall future plan for educational facilities in Pelham.

Beginning with an examination of the school campus land, the group identified that by using land on Willow Street that the school district owned 56 to 58 buildable acres.  The Willow Street property is approximately five to seven acres, and, no wetlands permitting, is needed to use this available land.

This shows the proposed addition to the existing high school.

Based on state standards 56.5 acres of buildable land is needed to house 2,650 students.  The group calculated school sizes of 1,000 students at Pelham Elementary School, 550 students at the middle school and 1,100 students at the high school.

According to Ed Murdough, State Building Aid Office of New Hampshire Department of Education, no waiver would be required for this addition because the state considers this land as one entire piece of contiguous property.  According to Martin, any dry land on this piece of property can be included, regardless of wetlands.  Martin passed out the confirming e-mail from Murdough at the end of the presentation.

The group is proposing a 60,000 square foot two-story addition connected across a courtyard.  Two connecting corridors would be developed.  The reason for the courtyard is to ensure that windows are present for safety egress.

The smallest classroom in the proposed addition would be 1,000 square feet.  State minimum standards are for 800 square feet.  According to the group, once the addition is completed, the majority of the classes could be held in the new addition which would allow for renovations of Pelham’s existing high school with little disruption to the educational process.

The project also addressed the core issues with the current high school.  “We don’t want to lose our accreditation,” said Martin, “so we looked at the issues in the current report.”  A number of areas were cited because the space was too small.  (See related story “Revealing the Issues,” on page ?)Each of these areas, chemistry lab and classroom, biology lab and classroom, science lab and classroom, art room, tech classroom, and computer lab, would not have adequate space.  The current computer lab is not rated to house the number of students who regularly use that space and the report found that there wasn’t enough ancillary space, but that would also be rectified.  

An expanded kitchen and cafeteria was discussed.  Under the proposal, these areas would increase to 3,300 square feet and it would be possible to hold only two lunches.

Under questioning from the Budget Committee, the group added that there was space to add a stage and turn the cafeteria into a cafetorium which would facilitate productions and shows.

As part of the renovations of the existing facility, the group included the costs of adding sprinklers.

Also addressed were the many handicapped-accessibility issues as mandated in the American Disability Act.  According to Martin, these would be addressed in the new addition and then money was allocated for correcting the issues found in the current high school building.

The proposal addressed the lack of adequate parking spaces.  The group showed one possible configuration that would provide 70 faculty parking spaces plus parking for an additional 550 vehicles.  They were careful to note that the school board is in charge of all final decisions, and they were only showing possibilities.

The group did acknowledge that a small wetlands area would have to be mitigated to increase the parking, but directed attention to the Team Design report on this property and noted that Team Design felt this was possible.

Because athletic fields would have to be reconfigured if the addition is built where recommended, the group identified possible locations of fields.  They suggested using the Willow Street property and suggested that a 35-space parking lot be built as well as a foot bridge across the wetlands so that people could walk from the high school to the fields.

To close their presentation, the group presented the following financial figures.  All figures obtained from 2006 National Construction Estimator 54th Edition Commercial section, 030 zip code factor 3 percent.

High School Addition with 60,000 Sq. ft. $10,000,000
Renovation of Existing High School
Art Area 2,400 sq. ft.  $120,000
Café/Kitchen 7,520 sq. ft. $1,128,000
Weight/Music 9,600 sq. ft. $720,000
Sprinklers 87,745 sq. ft. $175,000
Upgrades to air quality/ADA code issues $300,000
Architect $150,000
Contingency funds $397,000
Total Renovation Costs $3,000,000
For Fields and Exterior Costs
8 Tennis Courts with lighting $288,000
Parking Lot with 15 light poles 200,000 sq. ft. $1,150,000
Field/grass adjustments including hydro-seed,
grading, loam, 200,000 sq. ft.
Multi-purpose field (Willow Street) with 8 light poles
Includes clearing, grading, drainage, loam,
hydro seed, lighting, 150,000 sq. ft.
Fire sprinkler water storage tank $200,000
Septic system - Size to be determined by perk test $200,000
Contingency funds $462,000
Total for Fields and Exterior $3,000,000

The group summarized by explaining that their petitioned warrant article was for a total of $16 million dollars, but that Pelham would be eligible for $3 million in state building aid so the cost to Pelham residents would be $13 million.

For more information, plan to attend the bond hearing on Monday, January 16.

Pelham Elementary School Students Wonder Why

What happens if a child is asked to develop a story, piece of art work, poem, or musical composition with the theme of “I Wonder Why…”?  The result is a wonderful, eclectic mix of creative outpouring.

I Wonder Why … is the theme of the National PTA 2006 Reflections Program.  According to the PTA, the Reflections Program is “designed to enhance rather than replace a quality arts education, the Reflections Program provides opportunities for students to express themselves and to receive positive recognition for their artistic efforts.”

I wonder why a woodpecker is driving a car.

The Reflections Program was started in 1969 by then Colorado State PTA President Mary Lou Anderson, and in the ensuing decades has encouraged millions of students across America to create works of art.  Every year the program offers students the opportunity to create works of art for fun and recognition.  Students in preschool through grade 12 are encouraged to create and submit works of art in four areas:  literature, musical composition, photography, and the visual arts (which includes art forms such as drawing, painting, print making, and collage) under a general theme umbrella.

This year the Pelham Elementary School PTA decided to participate.  “It’s our first year,” said Andrea Dube.  “I was a bit concerned with the schedule, but things worked out fine.”

The first step of the program is for students to choose their medium and to create their original piece of work, which is submitted to the PTA.  A submission form is filled out that tells a bit about the media used by the student, gives the overall theme, and is attached to the artwork. 

After the submissions are received, Dube labeled the back of each one because the entries are judged in a blind judging mode. 

“The quality of work presented was excellent” said Library Director Sue Hoadley, who was one of the judges.

Barbara Sobol, who also judged, agreed with that.  “Submissions ranged from poems to stories to photos to original artwork.  The kids were very inventive and creative.”

The creative scope of the submissions was broad.  “I was amazed at the wide spectrum of ideas that these youngsters developed,” said State Representative Lynne Ober, who helped judge the competition.  “The entries ranged from light hearted to serious.  One of them wondered why there are so many homeless people.”

All three judges agreed that it was difficult to choose one piece in each category to go on to the regional competition.

“I wonder why there are different kinds of fish for different kinds of water,” was one submission that was accompanied by an acrylic on canvas original art work that represented the different kinds of water.

Another student wondered why different people on other continents are different.

One student had taken an autumn landscape with a perfect reflection of autumn trees reflected in a standing body of water.  “That photo was very well done,” said Ober.  “The composition was good as was the color.”

“The story about oranges making your lips burn and wondering why that happened, was very well plotted,” smiled Hoadley.

There will be a ribbon presentation on January 19 and the category winners will go onto the regional competition.  Dube is already planning for next year’s event.

I wonder why dinosaurs are extinct.

A Successful Medical Journey for Boy Suffering from Rare Cancer

Back in March of 2005, 3–year-old Ethan Smith, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Neuroblastoma.  Throughout the past year, the family has depended largely on the help and support from others so that they could help care for both Ethan and his 6-year-old sister, Sierra. 

It’s been a long and difficult year.  However, Ethan remained stronger than anyone could have imagined.  He has been through six rounds of high-dose chemotherapy; abdominal surgery to remove the tumor; and a stem cell transplant with dangerously high levels of chemotherapy, causing him to be in isolation.  All of this was then followed by 12 rounds of radiation. 

On October 21, the doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York, informed his parents that they could not find any evidence of cancer in his body.  The bone scan, MIBG scan, CT scan and the bone marrow biopsy results all came back negative.  This was the official day that they declared Ethan to be NED, which stands for No Evidence of Disease.  It is a term given, rather than remission, due to the reason that this is a form of cancer that usually returns quickly.  The doctors are left to assume that there must be residual cancer cells that can not be detected, so they call this NED. 

Ethan continues on an experimental study at Sloan Kettering for the next two years.  The therapy that he is receiving, called 3F8 Antibody Treatment, is a mouse cell that is coated with a protein that is attracted to Neuroblastoma cells.  It attaches itself to the cancerous cell and attacks it.  The phase I study of this clinical trial has shown to increase not only the time between the average reoccurrence, but has also increased the survival rate to 40 percent instead of the 25 percent Ethan was originally given.

Amazingly, the trips to New York cost the family next to nothing.  With 100 percent health insurance coverage, the free at the Ronald McDonald House was free, thanks to Sloan Kettering and Flight Angels, the non-profit organization that flies patients round trip for no charge.  The only expenses are gas, for those who drive, and food, which is needed anyway.

After the fourth round of antibody treatments in February, Ethan’s trips to New York become less frequent.  The schedule, at that time, will allow Ethan to spend eight weeks at home before returning to New York for two weeks.  His parents are planning on taking turns with these trips, which results in taking time out of work every 16 weeks.  It is a thrilling time for the family, as they can finally start to live life with the freedom of being able to return to the work force again.  It’s a small part of normalcy, but a big achievement, on Ethan‘s behalf. 

The family would like to take this time to say thank you to everyone who has helped with their prayers, donations and fundraising to support Ethan through his battle.  This support has allowed the family to stay at Ethan’s side while he encountered every phase of his journey.  He has come a long way and couldn’t have done it without all the help.  Keep updated on Ethan’s website at

Windham School District Budget Incurs Steep Increase Due to Building of New High School

by Tom Tollefson

It’s that time of year and, once again, the school district’s budget has been approved.  The amount of $28,950,071 was requested for the school district’s budget.  That is a 16.45 percent increase over last year with 11.46 percent of the increase coming from debt service costs of principal and interest on bonds for Windham High School at $2,848,180.

The construction of the Windham High School is scheduled to begin this year.  This project is the most important and costly venture for the school district.  The total estimated cost for the new high school is set at $43 million with Windham’s cost one-half of the 20-year bond payment after 4 percent state building aid.

Currently, Windham students pay tuition to attend Salem High School.  The addition of a new high school will give students a public-funded option for the final step in their secondary education.  The new high school should open in the fall of 2008.  At that time, all Windham students, with the exception of the senior class, must attend the Windham High School.

The replacement of the septic system in Golden Brook’s Middle School will be another one of the primary projects funded by the school district’s budget.  The 30-year old septic system will cost an estimated $156,056 to be replaced.  An amount of $200,000 has been requested from the school district’s budget to cover the expense.

There is also a large increase in the operational budget.  This increase is the result of $ 2,848,180 in new debt service costs for principal and interest on the large bond issue approved last March, otherwise the budget shows a 5 percent increase which includes a larger than normal increase in the cost of sending Windham students to Salem High School.

The Windham Middle School budget presentation was made to the board by Principal Stephen Plocharczyk.  In his presentation, Plocharczyk noted the projected population for school year 2006 - 2007 along with a staffing breakdown.  He stated that the textbook account was up due to the ever increasing cost of books and the cycle of replacement of books.  His request to increase the textbook budget and guidance budget was noted.

The Windham Center School budget presentation was given to the board by Interim Principal Andrew Desrosiers.  Desrosiers noted that enrollment had been steady and that Center School was not looking for any new staff members.  Increases in the budget for musical instruments; math supplies, including game kits and calculators for NECAP testing; along with textbooks and language arts programs was duly noted.  Barbara Coish will be inquiring about a calculator grant for Windham Center School.

Golden Brook School budget presentation was presented to the board by Principal Beth McGuire.  Principal McGuire gave an overview of her school’s goals and programs.  Of particular concern was the need for facility maintenance at Golden Brook School.  McGuire noted a slight increase in library and health purchases along with a request for a part-time assistant to aid the full-time nurse.  Also noted, was the need for additional personnel during the three-day testing that is held each spring for incoming first graders.

Business Administrator Brian Gallagher stated that he met with Business Administrator Linda McDonald and Jack Messenheimer, Director of Maintenance of Salem, regarding removal and transfer of modular classroom buildings during the summer of 2008 from Salem to Windham.  Gallagher outlined the necessary steps for the board to take before this project can occur.  These include, but are not limited to, site review, potential site locations, septic system upgrades, operational costs, and utilization of facilities along with prior approval by appropriate town regulatory departments.  Galen Stearns put forth that perhaps one of the modular units could be used as an outbuilding at the new high school to house sports equipment.

The school board agreed to not place Article 3 on the Town Ballot for this year.  Article 3 referred to raising funds for athletic field improvements district-wide.  The board will obtain more bids for landscaping/field repair in the spring of 2006.  It was agreed that there would be a placeholder in future budgets for field maintenance.

The proposed budget was closely looked at, with the board recommending reductions by the principals from all three schools.  Included in the budget are items that cannot be reduced such as rising costs of health insurance for district employees, along with out-of-district spending for special needs students.

The school board agreed unanimously to keep a line item for two additional school buses to help accommodate the number of children being transported every day.  This is an apparent safety issue.

Windham Knights Fill Food Baskets without Corporate Sponsor

submitted by Wayne Griffin

The Knights of Columbus Council #7572 in Windham had for many years a corporate sponsor for purchasing the necessary items for food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This year that funding was not available.  The event chairpeople, (Sue and Dave Kling of 74 Meetinghouse Road, got the idea to have the Knights in the council each contribute to some items for the baskets.  This idea worked!

At Thanksgiving this year the Knights of Columbus distributed 13 baskets to the needy in Windham and on December 17 distributed another 14 baskets.  These baskets were funded entirely by the Knights and their families of Council #7572 St. Matthew's in Windham.

This year the Knights of Columbus Council #7572 were able to fill their food baskets without a corporate sponsor.  Pictured from left are Grand Knight Wayne Griffin, Kathleen Griffin, Past Grand Knight Ken Bricault and Past Deputy Grand Knight Jim Mack.  Taking the photo was Financial Secretary Larry Wheeler.  

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