JROTC:  Building Better Citizens at Alvirne

by Maureen Gillum

Senior Cadet Ryan Broza, center, is one of the nearly 100 cadets taking part in the JROTC program at Alvirne High School.  At the helm of the program, which emphasizes integrity and service, are JROTC Chief Mark Smith, left, and Air Force Colonel Kevin Grady.

As expected, retired Air Force Colonel Kevin Grady who leads the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Alvirne High School has a commanding presence.  What is surprising is his warmth and approachability.  Colonel Grady shared with a broad smile, “Every JROTC student instantly inherits two more personal guidance counselors and advocates here at Alvirne – Chief (Mark) Smith and myself.” 

Encouraged by Hudson resident John Lavoie, Colonel Grady launched the JROTC program at Alvirne about two years ago.  Hired in January 2004, Grady recalled, “I was very interested in the curriculum material and creating something from square one.” 

The program currently has 87 cadets and close to 200 young Alvirne men and women (70 percent and 30 percent, respectively) have entered or explored JROTC to date.  Each of the eight accredited JROTC courses supports AHS’s core curriculum through a blend of aerospace science and leadership education courses.  The program also offers participation in the JROTC Honor Guard, drill team, and field trips, like this year’s trip to Washington, D.C. for second-year cadets.

“JROTC’s goals are simple,” Colonel Grady shared at last week’s AHS freshman orientation.  “Our mission is to help produce good citizens.”  As such, it emphasizes the core values of the U.S. Air Force:  “Integrity First, Service before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.”  “We also help prepare our cadets for their futures,” Alvirne JROTC’s Chief Mark Smith added, “The life skills we teach and promote are the kinds of things every employer and college looks for.”

Contrary to a common misunderstanding and unlike college-level ROTC, “Junior ROTC does not recruit for the military, or have any service obligations,” Smith emphasized, “It’s another Alvirne elective – one that offers unique hands-on experience and a chance to explore a career in aerospace.”  JROTC cadets at Alvirne are required to wear uniforms every Wednesday, which are provided by the Air Force.  About 30 cadets participate on the JROTC Honor Guard drill team, which practices before school.  The drill team has marched in various local parades, trained at Hanscom Air Force Base and earned five drill trophies in competitions throughout New England this year.

Like most cadets, Spencer Prescott, an AHS Freshman who started with JROTC last September, took it as an elective because he was curious.  “I was interested in becoming a police officer after graduation,” revealed Spencer, “I thought JROTC would provide a good base.”  Since joining the program, he is also considering a career in the Air Force, partly because of JROTC’s impressive role models. 

“Colonel Grady and Chief Smith are both exceptional teachers,” reported Spencer.  “They’re all about kids and what’s best for us.”  He describes Chief Smith, who leads his JROTC drill team, as “really patient” and “very kind.”  “This is a wonderful program!” commented Spencer’s Mom, Karen.  “It’s not meant to recruit students into the Air Force, but to make them better citizens and to teach discipline, organization, and respect.”

For some, JROTC turns lives around.  “I was a terrible student two years ago,” AHS Senior, Ryan Broza, readily admits, “I didn’t care much about anything and had little direction.”  He joined JROTC two years ago and is now a solid student assessing a career in journalism.  Proudly posing in dress uniform before the new JROTC insignia he helped create for AHS, Broza shared, “I really like and needed the structure of the program; it taught me self-discipline and self-respect.” 

Ryan’s parents, Corinne and Kenny, proudly disclose, “We’ve watched him transform from an angry, confused boy to an honorable young adult.”  They thankfully give “kudos to the JROTC program” and credit the colonel and chief as “pivotal in Ryan’s metamorphosis!”

Junior ROTC also has its share of critics.  Some, like CCCO (Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, www.objector.org), oppose the program citing it as too expensive, too discriminatory and too limiting in both critical thinking and career options.  CCCO also claims JROTC promotes violence and guns and calls it the military’s “Trojan Horse” to access schools and potential recruits.

Still, from its official beginning (20 units in 1966), Air Force JROTC has grown to 794 units worldwide with 102,000 cadets, and 200 more units planned by 2009 (www.afoats.af.mil/AFJROTC).  Collective JROTC programs, running through the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, are now taught as elective courses at almost 3,000 high schools nationwide involving some 300,000 uniformed cadets.  Typically, JROTC courses are led by retired military personnel and universally teach good citizenship, personal responsibility, and service to country.

“We really enjoy what we do,” concluded Chief Smith, “I think we’re making a difference here at Alvirne.”  Colonel Grady stressed, “We don't care whether any of our students join the military or not; we’re very proud of all our students and we just want to see all of them reach their full potential.” 

As an AHS student ambassador surmised, “It (JROTC) is a great option to know about and explore at Alvirne.”  For more information on AHS’s Air Force JROTC, contact Colonel Grady (886-1260, x 2678 or kgrady@alvirnehs.org) or Chief Smith (886-1260, x 2613 or masmith@alvirnehs.org).

Hudson Voter Registration:  Are We Looking at Another Florida Debacle?

by Doug Robinson

The supervisors of the checklist for Hudson have been working diligently, updating the town’s 13,000 voter registrations in an effort to comply with Help America Vote Act’s implementation timeline.

Hudson’s two supervisors of the checklist have been devoting up to 40 hours a week in excess of a month to complete the project, in time for the March primaries.  “I don’t want to be here until doomsday,” said Checklist Supervisor Karen Knox.  “I am tired of calling people and this is not my idea of fun.”

Knox’s wish may have been granted.  The supervisors recently received a call from the State Attorney General’s office telling them that they may stop the arduous undertaking, as the project had received many complaints. 

Evidently, according to the Office of the Attorney General, the state of New Hampshire has not, as President George W. Bush stated back in 2002, “maintained a clean and current and accurate statewide list of registered voters.” 

Unfortunately, according to the Supervisor of the Checklists, Joyce Cloutier, Chairman, “The process of updating the current voter registrations has been flawed as the data between the state and the town does not match.” 

Coultier explained the discrepancy.  “We sent to the state a voter list of 13,000 people and they say we have 15,000.  We received back from the state changes to our voter registration cards which are different from the data we imputed.  We were told not to have people come in and fill out new voter registration cards and we were told that we were not to send out the 30-day notices because the New Hampshire state government is receiving a lot of complaints from citizens who are being inconvenienced.  These notices were to inform the voters that if their registrations were not updated with the correct information that they would not be allowed to vote.”

According to DEMO, A Network for Ideas and Action, “The Help America Vote Act of 2002 is the broadest voting reform effort of the past generation.  Created in response to the deeply flawed 2000 election, HAVA impacts every part of the voting process from voting machines to provisional ballots, from the voter registration to poll worker training.  The law may significantly improve the way America runs elections, or it may be corrupted by disenfranchised voters.”

HAVA legislation requires that “all the files have to be updated and validated into the new system,” stated Cloutier.  “People who registered to vote prior to 1996 in the town of Hudson have a lot of missing information on their registration cards, which is now required.  We now need the last four numbers of the voter’s social security number as well s the voter’s driver’s license number.  It comes down that those who have registered to vote can prove that they are American citizens.  Those who have become naturalized must also provide us with the proper documentation so that we can process their registration properly.”

According to HAVA legislation:

  • Each state is required to maintain a current and accurate list of registered voters;
  • People registering to vote are required to prove who they are with appropriate identification;
  • First-time voters who register by mail will be asked to provide ID when they cast their ballots;
  • Each polling place must have at least one voting machine accessible to people with disabilities;
  • People who show up with their voting registration in doubt should not be turned away but allowed to cast a provisional ballot.  Verification then can be done later;
  • Every state must have a fair procedure for hearing and resolving voter complaints; and
  • Training and education must be provided to poll workers and voters, reducing the possibility of confusion and effort at the polls.

“Americans are a self-governing people, and the central commitment of self-government is free and fair elections,“ said President Bush, back in 2002.  “The Help America Vote Act of 2002 is a bipartisan measure to help states and localities update their systems of voting and ensure the integrity of elections in America.  

“When problems arise in the administration of elections we have a responsibility to fix them.  Every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair and elections are honest, that every vote is recorded, and that the rules are consistently applied.

“Along with the resources come high standards for the integrity of elections.  States must ensure that voting systems have minimal rates of error and allow voters a reasonable opportunity to review their ballots and correct any mistakes before a vote is cast.

“The administration of elections is primarily a state and local responsibility.  The fairness of all elections, however, is a national priority.  And through these reforms, the federal government will help state and local officials to conduct elections that have the confidence of all Americans.  We're counting on these officials to meet their responsibilities, to protect the sanctity of the vote and to encourage Americans to exercise the right to vote…Citizens of every political viewpoint can be proud of this important law.  This legislation reflects the judgments of a distinguished bipartisan commission.”

Hudson’s Joyce Coultier offered, “At this point in time, the State of New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office is telling the towns to stop and wait.  Some of the things will change.  The towns and the state are not in sync with each other.”

Their Reason for ‘No’ Votes Regarding New School in Litchfield

by Lynne Ober

Although there wasn’t any change at the Litchfield School Deliberative Session, there were a lot of questions.

New Litchfield resident John Larcher asked the three Litchfield Budget Committee members who voted not to recommend the new school to tell him and others in the audience why they voted “no.”

Longtime Litchfield resident and Budget Committee member Bill Spencer was the first to take the microphone.  He gave a lengthy explanation citing declining student enrollment.  “I wasn’t going to talk about this [no vote] this soon, but I had intended to speak about it,” he began.  Spencer, who is an acknowledged numbers wizard, had prepared a written statement about his vote.  His statement was, “Enrollment projections for FY 05/06 were 151 first grade students.  Actually 103 were enrolled or 48 less [than the projection].  For FY 06/07 167 first grade students were projected.  That was changed and now 141 are projected.  Actually pre-enrolled are 122 or 45 less from last year’s projections and 19 from this year’s projections.

“In 2008 when the school is scheduled to open the projections were 599 students at Griffin Memorial School  and 595 at Litchfield Middle School.  This year the projections (for 2008) are 478 students at GME and 592 at LMS or 124 less students.  In 2014 the projections were 598 students at GMS and 601 at LMS.  This year the projections have been changed to 470 students at GMS and 483 at LMS or 246 less students.

“Looking at total student enrollment, in 2004 1,644 students were actually enrolled.  In 2005 1633 students were actually enrolled, a drop of 11 students.  In 2008 1,631 students are projected to be enrolled and in 2,014 1,499 students are projected to be enrolled.  That’s a drop of 145 students.

“It appears in the short term, the enrollment at GMS will be significantly less than what we thought it would be last year and will drop below 500 in 2008 and stay there.  The period 1988 to 1991 were the only years that we have ever been below 500 at GMS.  All other years we have been in the mid-500s to a high of 678 in 1998.  It also appears that after 2008 the enrollment at LMS will steadily decline and in 2015 will be below its physical capacity of 475 students.”

In conclusion, Spencer stated:  “Although there may be a need for something, I didn’t feel that the school board’s current projections of declining enrollment supported the 22 million dollar proposal and that’s why I could not vote to recommend it to the voters.”

Next to step to the mike was Selectman Ray Peeples who is the Selectmen’s Representative to the Planning Board and the Alternate to the Budget Committee.  “I voted ‘no’ because I knew that the GMS sale proposal needed a significant zoning variance.  I didn’t think that putting light commercial and an elderly apartment complex in a residential area was the best idea for Litchfield.  I am also very concerned about the overall tax rate and the ability of people in town to pay their taxes and so I voted no.”

The last to speak was Budget Committee member John Caynon, who said that he was very concerned about the tax rate and the affordability of living in Litchfield after a $22 million bond passed.

Orlando Family Creates Timeline Outlining Litchfield’s Growth

by Lynne Ober

One of the buttons made by the Orlando family.

Litchfield resident Doug Orlando and his two sons, Luke, 8, and Jake, 11, made an information timeline showing the growth of Litchfield that was on display at the School Deliberative Session.

Do you know what planet was discovered in the year that Griffin Memorial School was built or which selectman was born in 1928 or who was president of the United States when Griffin Memorial School opened its doors?  Those questions and answers were displayed on the timeline.  (The answers are:  Pluto, Pat Jewett, and President Herbert Hoover).

Orlando and his sons also made buttons supporting the new school. 

“I just wanted to do something positive,” said Orlando.

If you didn’t see the timeline or get a button, you will have another chance when the Breakfast Club again offers breakfast and tours at Griffin Memorial School on February 19.

“We plan to have materials so that kids can color their own buttons and then make them right there,” smiled Orlando, who asks for donations to cover the costs of the buttons.

Doug Orlando and Pat Jewett with the timeline that the Orlandos made.

Alvirne Music Students Thank VFW and Kiwanis

by Lynne Ober

Alvirne’s music program benefits from community support.

On November 4, The Friends of Music held a Pasta Palooza night.  Funds raised at this event will be used by the concert band, marching band, stage band and colorguard and chorus music groups, who will be able to participate in events that are beyond the scope of the regular music program.

Chairman of the Pasta Palooza night was Barbara Almeida, who, along with Alvirne music students, presented beautiful color plaques at a recent Kiwanis meeting to both Kiwanis and VFW for their tremendous support and generosity in helping fund the spaghetti dinner.

Members of Alvirne’s band with plaques presented to Hudson VFW and Hudson Kiwanis.

Accepting the plaque for the Kiwanis was Dan Ross and for the VFW was John Cesana.  “It was a worthwhile project for us,” said Ross, who noted that the Kiwanis liked to support the community.

Cesana agreed.  “What better way to help the community than to support our young people.  Alvirne has a wonderful music program.”

Almeida said that the Alvirne Bronco Marching Band and Colorguard would be marching down Main Street in Disney World in April 2006 thanks in part to the support of both groups.  “We are aware of the good works of both of these organizations, and we appreciated that they took the time to give to the music program,” she concluded with a wide smile.

Time to Make the  Homemade Donuts

(and Lots More) at The Kozy Kitchen

by Maureen Gillum

Have you tried The Kozy Kitchen restaurant in Hudson yet?  

Dedicated co-owner and chief chef, Wendy Lambert, typically puts in a 60- to 100-hour work week at her non-smoking family restaurant and bakery in Brooks Plaza.  “I love being my own boss and cooking good food for people!” shared Wendy beaming in her kitchen.  She and her husband, Scott, bought the restaurant and catering business at 28 Lowell Road last March.  “It’s a lot of work, but we really enjoy it and it’s going pretty well,” she confided. 

Co-owner/Chef of The Kozy Kitchen, Wendy Lambert, advises her 5-year-old son, Trevor, “to push and wiggle” while cutting out donut holes.

Part-time server, Donna Medas, added with coffee pot in hand, “I like all the people around here -- we’ve got great customers!”

In addition to “delicious food, fair prices, and fast, friendly service,” as a recent 5-star customer post on Yahoo.com touts, The Kozy Kitchen is also known for its fresh, homemade donuts.  There’s nothing quite like a donut right out of the fryer; still hot and just sprinkled with cinnamon or powdered sugar or even plain.  These aren’t donuts that are simply made fresh daily.  These donuts are made to order while customers wait – all in just a few minutes.  Lambert makes the dough every morning and keeps it chilled and ready.  With each order, she rolls the donuts out by hand, cuts them out, lets the dough relax a bit, and deep fries them to perfection.  Her donuts are piping hot, yummy beyond compare, and their smell alone draws customers back for more.

With a little luck, regular patrons may get to meet one of Lambert’s best customers -- her four-year-old preschooler, Trevor.  While “Mom’s helper” happily assists in the critical “push and wiggle” step (cutting out donut holes), Trevor admitted, “I like my Mom’s eggs in a basket with ketchup best!”  She also gets some occasional help from her older two children, 15 year-old Veronica and 14 year-old Justin.  As Veronica is studying culinary arts at Alvirne High, she’s apt to follow in Mom’s footsteps. 

The Kozy Kitchen is also looking to expand their made-to-order bakery line, including custom wedding cakes and homemade baked goods for nearly any occasion.  “Its fun to sit down with a customer and design the perfect wedding or birthday cake for their special event to whatever design, colors, or themes they’re looking for,” confessed Lambert as she cleans up her kitchen after a busy afternoon.  With nearly 30 years of baking experience, a dozen years in cake decorating and food service, and armed with her Culinary Arts degree (Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, 2000), Wendy and crew are ready for just about any order.

Currently, The Kozy Kitchen primarily does catering for corporations and small businesses; however, they welcome orders from residential customers for all kinds of special events and private parties.  “We can make practically anything,” Lambert explained.  “We just need 24 hours’ notice on catering orders to make sure we can get all of the necessary ingredients fresh.”  After hours, the up to 50-seat restaurant is also available to rent out on weekends.  For those seeking fortune as a side dish, The Kozy Kitchen also plans to offer Power Ball and Lottery tickets by late March.

Specializing in making everything from donuts to soups “homemade and from scratch,” The Kozy Kitchen serves breakfast (all day) and lunch weekdays from 7:30 am to 2 p.m.; as well as Saturdays (7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.) and Sundays (7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.).  It’s a great place to drop in for breakfast or lunch or order a quick take out.  Next time you’re planning a party, wedding, or any special event, give The Kozy Kitchen a call (889-6482) and see what homemade baked items or delectable platters they can prepare.

17 Executive Drive, Suite One, Hudson, NH 03051 Phone: (603)880-1516 Fax: (603)879-9707
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