Supporters Get into ‘Swing’ of Things as Nottingham West Playground Fundraiser Nets $23,000

by Maureen Gillum

Talk about a night to remember.  More than 250 enthusiastic supporters turned out for the Nottingham West Elementary School playground fundraiser on February 18.  Smiles and generosity were both in huge supply.

“It was a wonderful evening to long remember and be proud of,” smiled NWES Principal, Peter Durso, reflecting on NWES Dinner Dance and Silent Auction held at Alpine Grove on Saturday. 

Dancin’ at the Big NWES Event:  (from left):  Meg Williams, Peter Durso and Jane Fucci.

The “remarkable night,” which was sponsored by the NWES PTO to benefit the NWES Playground Fund, “worked well, thanks to the incredible generosity of our community and the great team effort of so many NWES volunteers,” conveyed exhilarated PTO event co-chair, Patty Regan.

The evening attracted a lively crowd of more than 250 parents, staff, family, and friends for dinner, fun, dancing, and the silent auction of more than 130 exciting items, ranging from restaurant gift certificates and sports tickets to home décor, hotel/B&B weekends, and lots more.  Superintendent Randy Bell and NWES Assistant Principal, Bonnie Jean Kuras, graciously hosted the exciting live auction, which included Patriots’ tickets, a catered BBQ (compliments of McNulty & Foley Caterers), NWES Playground plaque, and a lawn irrigation system (donated by Regis Landscaping). 

The intense bidding to be “NWES Principal for a Day” was won by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Haskell on behalf of their NWES students, Alan and Isabella Haskell.  Noting people were outbidding their own bids, Bell genuinely thanked the audience in his auction closing, “the NWES community has been most generous.”  Other highlights included the ‘Heads and Tails’ game, which Durso and Kuras ran with many laughs; the $10,000 raffle drawing; an Italian buffet; great music and dancing.

“Astoundingly, we raised nearly $23,000 on Saturday night,” according to Jill Rosier, PTO playground committee treasurer’s preliminary tally, “or close to half of our total playground goal of $50,000!”  The evening’s proceeds will go to repair and upgrade NWES’ worn out 20-year-old playground.  Playground plans include additional swings, a larger play structure, a climbing wall, seating benches, resurfacing the playground area, and bringing everything up to current safety code standards.  “The children of Nottingham have an incredible group of parents and staff that pulled together to support a great cause,” sincerely surmised Co-Chair Laura Bisson.  “It was an enormously successful and extremely fun community event; it was more than we ever could have dreamed!”

Every detail of the evening -- from the decorations including many playground wish list letters and colorful drawings made by NWES students, to the warm camaraderie between all who attended -- “clearly exemplified the true spirit of Nottingham West,” agreed Durso and Kuras proudly.  Huge kudos and thanks go out to the many NWES parent and staff volunteers; the 120+ magnanimous local businesses who donated more than $15,000 goods and services to auction; and all the staff, parents, SAU 81 leadership (including Bell and School Board Chairman, David Alukonis), and friends who came out to support and celebrate Nottingham West.  “We’ve got one very special elementary school that really shined tonight,” concluded Julie Roberts, NWES PTO President.  “We’re all so pleased and proud of our terrific staff, students, and parents!”

For more information on the NWES PTO playground project; or to donate, help or be a potential corporate sponsor, please contact co-chairs, Laura Bisson (595-4371, or Patty Regan (889-7522, 

What’s next?  “Get psyched for the annual NWES PTO Spring Walk-a-Thon and a big ice cream party in June,” warned Laura excitedly.  With these, the PTO hopes to reach its overall $50,000 playground fund goal.  “Then we’ll have a major groundbreaking ceremony and huge party for the kids with their new playground!” added Patty optimistically.

NWES Live Auction, from left:  Patty Regan, Superintendent Randy Bell, Assistant Principal Bonnie Jean Kuras and Laura Bisson.

In His Own Words: 

Alvirne High School Principal Gets Published

by Sue LaRoche

The Alvirne High School community is proud of its “patriarch,” Bryan K. Lane, for his recent accomplishment of being published in a book by David Cherry and Jeff Spiegel,“Leadership Myths & Metaphors:  Finding Common Ground to Guide Effective School Change.” 

“Back in 2003, Jeff Spiegel, (Principal in Residence for NHSALT - School Administrators Leading with Technology project funded by a grant from the Gates Foundation), approached me with this idea he had for a book to describe leadership styles in metaphor, and he asked me to write on one of the concepts - so I did,” explained Lane.  “I didn’t think anything would come of it until he informed me that they would like to use my essay in the book.” 

When asked how he felt about being published, Lane humbly responded, “I was first of all flattered and eventually became excited with the idea.”

The book is broken down into three components of Leadership Styles:  advocate, touchstone, and parent.  Principal Lane wrote on the parent component.  The title of his essay is “I am the Father of 1,453 Children Plus 2, With a Large Extended Family” and he begins with a story of a trivia contest during Spirit Week where a sophomore class member correctly identified Lane as having 1,453 children.  His portion of the book is broken down into six pieces - Setting Limits, The World Is Bigger than the Student, Exposure to an Extended Family, Right & Wrong, Treating Each Person as an Individual, and finally Celebrating & Supporting.

“The real success to being a father to all of my children comes from taking the time to get to know them.”  As he emphatically stated at a recent orientation meeting for parents of the incoming freshman to AHS, “Your children are my children.  Every student here has something to offer.  It is our job collectively to find out what that is in each one of them … It may take us four years to determine what that is but we won’t quit until we find it.” 

As one veteran teacher readily states, “his goals for his Alvirne children are the same goals most parents have for their own kids; to be successful in life, make a positive contribution to society and finally to be a kind and caring individual.  Lane’s presence at AHS has been one of fairness, consistency, and kindness.”

Bryan Lane received his undergraduate degree from Springfield College and his master’s degree from Steven F. Austin University in Texas.  He also received his CAGS (Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study) from the University of New Hampshire.  His experiences included 10 years as a classroom science teacher and coach at a high school in Texas.  He then became an assistant principal in Texas and two schools in New Hampshire before taking over the top post at Alvirne eight years ago.  He has been married for 21 years (this coming July) to his wife Pam, a coordinator for Head Start and has two (the “Plus 2” in the title of his essay), children who attend Pinkerton Academy. 

He is on the Executive Board of the New Hampshire Partners in Education; he is the secondary school representative to the National Association for secondary schools for New Hampshire; he is on the executive board as state coordinator for New Hampshire of the Association of School Principals and he sits on the statewide competency committee (by 2008 every course at every high school must have a set of competencies that determines a student’s success in that class).

While seated in his office which is filled with pictures of him surrounded by current and former students, one notices the multiple awards Bryan has won.  Two of the more prominent distinctions are 1998 NHASP (New Hampshire Association of School Principals) Assistant Principal of the Year and 2004 NHASP Charles A. Napoli Secondary School Principal of the Year. 

A sense of family, community, safety, and pride are all instilled in students at Alvirne High School.  “My first statement to them as a group of freshmen is that it does not matter where they have come from; they are all Broncos now.”  Lane is very much a visual part of the students’ day at Alvirne High School.  “I almost always stand so that my students can see where I am.  I am in the parking lot every morning so that I can watch my students come in and see who is in a good mood, who is not with whom, or who seems troubled.  I am in the halls during passing time and the cafeteria whenever possible.  These are all times to get to know students and to let them get to know you.”

“The students in my school know that there are standards for their behavior at all times, and they are strictly held to these standards.  There are three basic rules that I have:  1. Students will respect themselves and others; 2. When a staff member tells a student to do something, the student will do what he or she is asked to do as long as it does not cause harm; 3. Students will go to class and try their best on any given day.”

He constantly strives to “find things that bring the school community together.”  Whether it is sitting in the dunking booth at Old Home Days, agreeing to be duct taped to the wall as a fund raiser, or being the “head cheerleader at pep rallies,” he wants the students and staff to “see the passion in what we do.”  “One needs to hire the right people and express an expectation for them that, while they are primarily responsible for teaching the students, they are also expected to look out for them.”  Proudly he states that “my goal is to have the students and staff realize that they all have a lot to give to each other and that they must be willing to receive it from each other.” 

In writing his essay, he took many examples from his daily routine and situations that arose at Alvirne High School, but he also reflected on lessons from three key people in his life.  First was the high school principal at the school where he taught in Texas who “gave me the foundation on what an administrator should be which is that the focus should be on the kids.”  Second was his immediate supervisor in Texas who told him to “understand the politics.”  And finally from John Moody, the Superintendent of the Derry school system that he worked under while at Salem High School as assistant principal.  “He showed me by example, what a principal should be.” 

“The successful principal fosters an environment where all staff members can develop relationships with the students, but it is important that the one who works the hardest of all is the principal.  I want to do this job the best I can.  When I lose the energy for the kids I’ll figure something else out.  But, I’m nowhere near retirement.”  That is truly fortunate for the Broncos of Alvirne High School.

Tsubaki Flowers: 

Committed to Quality and Service

by Doug Robinson

Their busiest day of the year has just come and gone.  For florists, Valentine’s Day is the Super Bowl of flower giving.  No problem for Tsubaki Flowers in Hudson.  They simply “rose” to the occasion.

“Tsubaki is the Japanese word meaning Camellia rose.  The Camellia rose is the first flower which brings spring,” stated Tsubaki Flowers co-owner Paul Weeks. 

Paul Weeks delivers flowers to Jan Conti,”child bride of 33 years.”

“Valentine’s Day is our busiest time of the year,” explained co-owner David Picard.  “We do as much in one day as we do the entire week before Christmas.  We have had to increase our sales staff from two to three employees to over a dozen employees during this very important day.  We normally deliver 10 to 12 arrangements with one truck per day, but today we will deliver nearly 60 arrangements.  We have added an additional truck so that we can take care of all of our customers.”

Tsubaki Flowers, 203 Central Street, Hudson, offers “100 percent satisfaction guarantee (and) our personal commitment to creating long-term relationships with our customers.  Your satisfaction is our number-one priority, not just because it's our job, but because we care,” said Picard.

“(We) choose only the freshest, highest quality flowers and our shop have a professional and caring staff to serve all your floral needs.  Your gift will arrive beautifully presented and personalized with your message.”

Arrangements for any occasion are available at Tsubaki Flowers.  Whether the occasion be birthday, anniversary, new baby, congratulations, get well, or even love and romance, Tsubaki’s provides arrangements for all occasions.

Tsubaki Flowers uses a state-of-the-art computer software program when delivering their flowers.  “We want to be on time and we want our flowers to look and be fresh for every delivery,” said Paul.  And, rule #1, is that we never know who sent the flowers!

Tsubaki Flowers opened their doors for business December 2002.  Since their grand opening, Tsubaki Flowers has created partnerships with the community of Hudson by providing free centerpieces for area organization raffles, flowers and arrangements for the Hudson Chamber of Commerce and Hudson House, as well as supporting the local fire and police departments with floral arrangements.  “We like to be involved with our community,” said Paul.

“We are here after the sale,” explained Picard.  “I would like to see more people shop local and support businesses in town.  We are all about service, before, during, and after the sale.  We offer a true value with the freshest flowers and have staffs who are dedicated to making the best arrangement personally for you.”

“I specialize in silk floral arrangements” stated Claire Denning of Tsubaki Flowers.  “I used to own my own shop in Vermont, but when I moved to Hudson, I just fell in love with Tsubaki Flowers.  We like to be creative in our arrangements by using materials such as Gerber Daisies, lilies, and of course, baby’s breath.  We also use curly willow, dragonfly, and well as bumblebee accents.”

Comments such as, “I guess he can stick around” and “he’s a great guy” were only a few of the comments made about the flowers as they were received on Valentine’s Day. 

However, the one comment which was most consistent with all the arrangements from Tsubaki’s Flowers was:  “They are beautiful.”

Claire makes the arrangements for Tsubaki Flowers.

More Questions Answered at Litchfield Deliberative Session

by Lynne Ober

For the past few years, the Litchfield School Board has proposed a new school, and each and every year there’s been an out cry from residents who found one or more major questions that needed to be answered. 

As the years passed, fewer questions were asked because most had been answered.  Last year the primary question was what do you intend to do with Griffin Memorial School if you build a large elementary school.  This year even that question has been answered.  They plan to sell it.

The Litchfield School Board has presented a five warrant article ballot.  Two of the warrant articles (Warrant Article 1 and Warrant Article 5) cover the proposed new school.

At the Deliberative Session, School Board Chairman Cindy Couture moved to first discuss Warrant Article 5, which states “Shall the Litchfield School District vote to sell the Griffin Memorial School pursuant to a conditional purchase and sale agreement calling for the land’s transfer after a new grade 1 – 5 elementary school is completed and opened (projected January 2009) for the sum of $880,000.00 plus the prorated cost per square foot if the purchases uses additional portions of the Griffin Memorial School building in it development, up to an additional $325,000.00 …”

Details of the conditional purchase and sales agreement were printed in an earlier article in the Hudson~Litchfield News.

Andover Consulting Group plans to build a large adult apartment building.  According to Couture, it will have a smaller footprint than the current school’s footprint, but will be multi-story.  The proposal is for congregate care housing, which is for well elderly citizens who like the convenience of having two meals a day cooked for them, full house-keeping services, having transportation to and from shopping and appointments provided and who can live alone, but want the benefits of a community setting.

Andover Consulting Group partners with two developers are building housing projects like this.  All three groups were on hand to discuss and answer questions. 

The congregate care facility was described as 108 apartments ranging from studio to one- and two-bedroom units.  Developers said primarily single female with an average age of 82 live in these units.  “They are provided full housekeeping, concierge service, a full schedule of programs and events.  This is a very quiet development.”

Included in the purchase price is $180,000 that will be used to develop new athletic fields to replace those lost on the Griffin property.  According to information given by Couture and Business Administrator Steve Martin, the purchase price is above the real estate appraisal price that the board got last year.

Many residents spoke about the proposed sale.  Some for and some against.  Both sides drew applause.

Litchfield resident Phil Reed stood to applaud the school board for the “positive idea for GMS,” which he characterized as a distressed piece of property that needs a lot of work.

Doug Orlando stated that he thought this would be a good thing for the taxpayers and would give them a break. 

But it was former School Board Chairman Rich Lascelles who got the laughs when he said that he lived across the street from the school and was looking forward to being invited to the parties that the residents would have.

Martin had prepared a detailed handout showing the amount of tax dollars that this property would generate over the course of the bond for the new school.  Anyone who did not get a copy of this information, but would like to, can contact SAU 27.

Litchfield Fire Chief Tom Schofield said he thought the proposal made sense.  “It’s time we get a property in here to generate some tax dollars instead of having the home owners pay for everything.”

Warrant Article 1 is the $22 million dollar bond article for the new school.  This warrant will require a three-fifths ballot vote to pass, and for the first year is recommended by both the school board and the Budget Committee.

Architect Dan Cecil made a presentation on the school overview, the traffic flow, and floor plans.  Both school principals who would be affected made brief presentations.  At the middle school Principal Tom Lecklider talked about the lack of space for programming.  However, if the new school is built, he will gain space because the fifth graders will move to the elementary school.

Griffin Memorial Principal Bo Schlichter talked about the current lack of space at Griffin and the impact that has on school management issues.

A number of residents were concerned about the impact on an already high tax rate and mentioned that the revaluation was on-going, and no one knew what the new tax bills would look like.

Others supported the concept of a new school and said that it was a time that had come.

There are still a number of residents who would like to see a cheaper solution and would prefer to put fewer millions of dollars into upgrading Griffin Memorial School.  These residents expressed concern about the rising Litchfield tax rate.

Again applause was heard for comments on both sides of the issue.  It appeared that, at least for the people who attended the Deliberative Session, minds have been made up and people are ready to vote.

“I thought it went very well - we have been listening to peoples concerns, were ready for the questions, and had the answers people were looking for,” commented Couture.  “I think this has to be the most well researched proposal ever.  Going all the way back to the forums run by the space needs committee, to surveying the registered voters, to all the studies done on the buildings and site.  This is a 10-year plan to relieve all school needs but also looks far out to build-out.  Litchfield is predominately a ‘young’ town with more moving in so this takes all demographics into account including HOPS and compliments that with the congregate care proposal (although people are still confused about what that is - it's not a nursing home or even what's typically thought of as assisted living) It lowers the initial per year cost to the taxpayer with different funding than last year even though construction costs rose.  And helps the tax base expand to relieve homeowners even if only by a little - at least that's something.”

Warrant Article 2 is for $17,044,919.00 for the operating budget.  Four new special education staff, two and a half new teachers for Campbell, a full-time athletic director and more hours for the guidance director are in the budget.  The half time teacher will teach the classes currently taught by the athletic director when he no longer teaches classes and only manages the athletic programs.  No raises for teaching staff are in the budget because the union contract is in Warrant Article 3.

Martin also talked about the impact that rising utility costs had had on the school budget.

Budget Committee member Bill Spencer asked Martin if the district would still hire the new teachers if they got a default budget and noted that in the passed this had occurred.

Martin said he hadn’t calculated what would need to be done if a default budget was voted in but was worried about the impact.  However, Superintendent Cathy Hamblett said that at least one of the two new teachers proposed for Campbell High School would have to be hired.

Warrant Article 3 is for the new teachers’ contract.  The contract provides a 7.46 percent raise in the first year of the contract; in the second year of the contract the salary raise will average 6.82 percent and 5.9 percent in the third year.

Warrant Article 4 asks voters to allow the school board to call a special meeting to address the teachers’ contract should Warrant Article 3 fail at the polls.

Tree Stops Fleeing Speeder

Master Patrol Officer Scott MacDonald initiated a motor vehicle stop on a silver 2002 Honda Accord that got a little complicated.  What began as a routine stop on February 15 led to a chase and subsequent accident in which the driver hit a tree.

The driver had been traveling 50 mph in a posted 30 mph zone on Ferry Street in Hudson.  The driver had turned first onto Buswell Street, then onto Highland Street, where it came to a stop.  Before Officer MacDonald could exit his vehicle and make contact with the driver, the vehicle left the area at a high rate of speed.  MacDonald followed after the vehicle in an attempt to stop it.  As he was advising dispatch that the vehicle had fled the scene, he observed the vehicle lose control on Highland Street in the area of George Street.  The vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree, which caused the driver to be ejected from the vehicle.

As Officer MacDonald arrived at the scene of the crash, the driver got to his feet and began to walk away.  After repeated commands from MacDonald, the driver stopped and, with the assistance of Sergeant Tad Dionne, the driver was taken into custody.

The driver was identified as Donte Okowuga, 26, of Hudson.  Okowuga was transported to the Southern NH Regional Medical Center to be treated for non-life threatening injuries sustained in the crash.  Okowuga has been charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated, disobeying a police officer, and speeding.  Okowuga was released on personal recognizance bail.  The incident remains under investigation.

Crossing Over to Boy Scouts

by Lynne Ober

Seven Webelos II Cub Scouts in Pack 11, in Litchfield, crossed over into Boy Scouts at a ceremony at the recently held Blue and Gold Banquet.

Each boy walked across the bridge, had his Cub Scout neckerchief removed and replaced with a Boy Scout neckerchief and Boy Scout neckerchief slide.  Their shirt epaulets were also replaced.

Each of the seven boys had earned the Arrow of Light.  To earn this, the Webelos had to work on a variety of skills, show that they understand what Scouting is about, and complete a series of requirements.

Each was given a handmade arrow with a mounting plaque to recognize their achievement.

Webelos Scouts who crossed over to Boy Scouts are Cameron Jordan, Riley Walters, Nick Forroness, Chris Dale, Bradley Johnson, Joshua Rand, and Chris Forronee.

Rafferty’s Service on School Board Recognized

by Lynne Ober

Dick Rafferty, completing his second term on the Litchfield School Board, is not running for re-election because his work commitments have changed.  “I’m no longer able to attend meetings,” said Rafferty.  “So it’s time for someone else to fill my chair.”

At Saturday’s School Deliberative Session, the school board presented Rafferty with a plaque honoring him for his six years of service to Litchfield children.

“It’s been fun,” smiled Rafferty, who acknowledged that there had been some arguments and disagreements along the way.  “It’s been a real privilege to work with the school board.  I hope that the people of Litchfield will continue to support the school board.  I wanted to help Litchfield be a better community and I hope that I did.”

‘Barbiscle’ and Hills Garrison Support Special Olympics NH in 2006 Penguin Plunge

by Maureen Gillum

While Turin’s Winter Olympics has captured many imaginations, Special Olympics New Hampshire’s recent 2006 Penguin Plunge has taken many hearts.  

Among the 745 hearty souls, ages 16 to 75, who braved the icy waters of Hampton Beach on February 5 was Hudson resident and Occupational Therapist Barbara Bailey.  “As an O.T., I have been involved with Special Olympics athletes for a long time and have seen that it’s a real self-esteem booster for SONH athletes,” explained Bailey.  “A winter plunge has also been a lifetime dream for me, since my grandfather used to take me to Southie to see the L Street Brownies as a child.”

The first time “Barbsicle” took the Penguin Plunge was in 2004 with Hills Garrison’s “Chillin’ Gorillas” team.  This year, she plunged with her best friend, Wendy Zarella, and plans to do the event every other year.  “When it was 7 below zero with 32-degree water in 2004, it was tough,” laughed the fifty-something mom.  “This year, with the water at almost 40 degrees, it was a piece of cake!” 

Bailey was “very excited” and thankful to her “wonderful group of friends,” as she garnered $1,005 to date in 2006 pledges that she designated to go to Hudson’s Special Olympics team.  This well exceeded her goal of $700 and was more than 40 percent over her 2004 pledges.  She also welcomes additional pledges at “Barbicle’s Frozen Plunge Page” web page on SONH (, as donations are being collected through late March.  On shore, Bailey also volunteers as publicity chairperson for Alvirne High School’s Friends of Music, even though her daughter graduated from band and from Alvirne three years ago.

Hills Garrison School also got into the Penguin Plunge again this year.  HGS Physical Education Teacher and Special Olympics coach for Hudson, Stacey Sheldon, and HGS guidance counselor, Eric Vallecillo (with his Bishop Guertin Lady Cards varsity basketball team) took their brisk dives.  “Our elementary school also held its annual Penguin Pizza night with Professor Pizza,” Principal Marilyn Martellini reported, “HGS staff were very busy delivering pizzas all over Hudson to raise money for New Hampshire Special Olympics.”  Thanks to the dedication of HGS and generosity of many, it was a big success for SONH and a great community builder for all to be proud of. 

Among other local participants, “The Peerless Flock” award went to the Nashua SO team, The Frozen Sections, as the group raised more than $18,500.  Mark Messina of Nashua raised almost $15,900 alone and was cited as this year’s top “Peerless Plunger.”  Among this year’s “Biggest Chickens” (those who watch) was SONH Nashua athlete, Chris O’Neil, who raised more than $880.  The Chillie Willies captured the “Leader of the Flock” award for the fourth consecutive year.  The Panther Popsicles, a team of 11 teachers from Nashua High School South, also took their second plunge.

“The seventh Plunge was our most successful and we expect to finish up at around $425,000 (or $570 average per participant) in gifts this year,” the thrilled SONH President, Mike Quinn, offered. “The weather also cooperated and our Plungers were enthusiastic!”  This year’s event was hosted by WMUR-TV Channel 9 meteorologists, Mike Haddad and Kevin Skarupa, and WOKQ FM’s Danielle Carrier and Mark Ericson.  Since the event’s inception in 2000, the Penguin Plunge has raised more than $1.5 million for Special Olympics athletes.

Special Olympics New Hampshire (603-624-1250; is a non-profit organization providing sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with mental challenges.  Currently 3,000 participants take part in SONH activities.  In addition to the Penguin Plunge, Waterville Valley recently hosted the 29th SONH Winter Games (2/12-2/14) and Portsmouth will host the SONH State Basketball Tournament on April 1-2

Best Buddies, Barbara Bailey and Wendy Zarella, “TaDa” after their 2006 SONH’s Penguin Plunge – Brrrrrr!

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