Tree Lighting Ceremony Shines Brightly in Windham

by Karen Plumley

Young Windham residents Madison, 5, and Payton, 4, get their picture taken with Santa at Windham Town Hall on Saturday at the tree lighting ceremony.

On Saturday afternoon, another well-attended tree lighting ceremony hosted by the Windham Recreation Department went off without a hitch.  Beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 9, visitors began trickling in for the fun and festivities located at Windham Town Hall.  Little did anyone know, that only one hour prior to the event, Recreation Director Cheryl Haas was trying to figure out why the tree lights were not lighting and the hot cocoa was not exactly hot.  Amazingly, however, by the time everyone started arriving, all of those glitches were ironed out.

A jolly Santa played by “Woof Woof” owner Ralph Sinclair brought smiles to the faces of all the youngsters who stopped by.  Children and their parents waited in a line that wrapped around the length of the meeting hall and continued down the stairs to the front door, all in order to share their Christmas wish lists with Santa and have their pictures taken.  Santa’s elves kept the kids occupied by applying festive tattoos onto faces and hands.

Meanwhile, outside there was plenty more to do.  Last year, the children had a snowball fight and slid around on the slippery walkways.  This year, children rolled in the grass and played “Red Rover.”  But regardless, the spirit of the holidays was in the air.  A huge bon fire was alight, and hot chocolate was available to those who needed to ward off the chills.  Another way to get warm was to pop inside the heated tent and enjoy the wonderful holiday music performed by the Windham Community Band.  The band’s CD, Holiday Dreams was available for purchase and at a mere $10 it would make a perfect stocking stuffer.

Cadette Girl Scout Troop 2440 set up the “mitten tree” for the needy, and it was loaded with mittens, hats, and other winter apparel donated by many generous guests.  Then, at 5:00 p.m., the trees across the street were magically lighted (by Santa), and the Windham Women’s Club led the crowd in song.  A crowd then headed over to the Windham Presbyterian Church for a deliciously warm spaghetti supper.  After their bellies were full, some children headed straight over to the cookie decorating table and created yummy Christmas tree cookies, while still others went down the hallway to work on a wonderful holiday wreath craft.  It was another successful and festive community celebration.

As the sun begins to descend, folks enjoy the warmth of the bonfire on Saturday afternoon at the tree lighting ceremony in Windham.

The Windham Community Band performs holiday melodies for the crowd at the tree lighting ceremony on Saturday afternoon near Windham Town Hall.

Switching Architectural Firms for New High School

by Lynne Ober

After months of seemingly endless bad news about the new Windham High School, things appeared to turn around with state approval of a stop light on Route 111.  However, much work still needed to be done in order for the school to open in September 2009.

After weeks of negotiation with Team Design, Inc., the school board has decided to switch to a different architectural firm.  “The Windham School Board has completed negotiations to terminate its architectural contract for Windham High School with Team Design Incorporated,” announced a SAU spokesman. 

“The Windham School Board and Team Design Inc. could not come to a mutually acceptable fee agreement for Team Design to do the design work necessary to re-bid the original design with value engineering changes as well as a design for a smaller expandable building within the budget currently available,” said Superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler.

The re-design was necessary in order for the school to stay within the approved budget.  According to Dr. Cutler, the school board negotiated with Team Design and held numerous consultations with Harvey Construction, legal counsel and others before determining that it  was in their best interest to terminate their relationship.

“The change of direction had everything to do with the fees for redesign,” Cutler stated.  “The site engineers, Appledore Engineering, are wonderful.  We will continue to work with them on this project.  All the permits for the road, etc., have been approved.”

The school board will hold a public meeting on December 19 at Windham Town Hall to share with the community the future course of Windham High School.  They hope that everyone will come and participate in the discussions.  At that time plans will be fully discussed.

In the meantime, contract negotiations with the architectural firm of Lavalee/Brensinger are underway, and the board hopes to sign a contract for the completion of Windham High School.  Lavalee/Brensinger has built many area high schools such as Nashua High School, Bow High School, and Sanborn High School.

According to Cutler, the school board has chosen to go with Lavalee/Brensinger because they have a proven reputation for successfully designing high schools.  “The have experience building high schools in New Hampshire.  They have built the new Sanborn Regional High School, Nashua High Schools, and Bow High School to name just a few.  They have recently worked collaboratively with Harvey Construction on Sanborn Regional High School,” noted Cutler. 

Harvey Construction will be responsible for approving cost estimates at every phase of the design.  Since they recently worked with Lavalee/Brensinger, there is belief that this collaboration will make the re-design for Windham High School successful.

President Fred Urtz and representatives fromHarvey Construction will be present December 19 to share with the public the plan to complete the high school by September 2009.

The meeting will be held immediately after a public hearing in town hall at 7:00 p.m.

Toys Magically Appear at Free Magic Show

by Karen Plumley

Glenn Riel, of Riel Magic has a mouth full while entertaining Pack 610 and others at Pelham Elementary School on December 8th. Patrick Barry, and Taylor Kudalis join in on the fun.

It was pure magic on Friday night, December 8 at Pelham Elementary School, when many local residents stopped by to drop off toys for children in need, and then stayed for a while to enjoy a wonderful magic show sponsored by Pelham Pack 610 Boy Scouts. 

“We wanted to raise awareness for the Toys for Tots program,” stated Scoutmaster Dave Owens.  Their wish surely came true.  In the corner of the student dining area stood a sparkling Christmas tree with dozens of toys beneath, and it was a feat of magic to find an empty chair at the crowded venue.

Before the show got underway, however, an awards ceremony was held for the Cub Scouts.  Many were honored with patches and awards for their hard work.  New Cub Scouts received the bobcat patch, the very first rank of the Cub Scouts signifying that they have mastered the motto, law, and meaning of being a Cub Scout.  Some scouts also received patches for their visit to the USS Salem naval ship (the world’s only preserved Heavy Cruiser) in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Impressive sales records during the fall popcorn sale were also rewarded.  The top seller was the Tiger Den, who sold an astounding $2,208 worth of popcorn.

U. S. Marine Lance Corporal Jean-Jacques from Bravo Company 1/25 of Londonderry was present to introduce the Toys for Tots program, and to thank everyone for stopping by.  “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he stated sincerely.  Furthermore, he noted how proud he was to be a part of this wonderful charity.  According to Jean-Jacques, since its inception as a nationwide campaign in 1948, the Toys for Tots program has collected more than 315 million toys for the needy.  “We hope to collect as many toys as possible tonight, and to get as much support as we possibly can,” he explained.  His duty consists of promoting the cause, as well as loading and transporting all of the toys to various nonprofit organizations.

Finally, the small ones in the audience were able to gather around the makeshift stage to watch Glenn Riel of Pelham perform his magic show.  The owner of “Riel Magic,” the magician was a delight for all in attendance, as he made scarves disappear into thin air, and then turned thin air into magic wands.  The show was a “Riel” treat for everyone.

Glenn Riel, of Riel Magic has fun with members of Pack 610 and others while performing at Pelham Elementary School on December 8th.

Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel ...

by Diane Chubb

Jason and Rachel contemplate their artwork.

Hanukkah was celebrated a bit early at Pelham Library this year.  During the story hour, Pelham’s Children's Librarian, Debbie Laffond, taught the children about Hanukkah. 

First, Miss Debbie read a story about Hanukkah and the lighting of the menorah.  Then she talked about Dreidel, which is a game that that children play at Hanukkah.  A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top with one of these letters on each side.  The four letters which appear on the four corners of a dreidel allude to the miracle of Hanukkah.  They spell out:  Nes (N-miracle), Gadol (G-great), Haya (H-happened) and Sham (S-there, meaning in Israel).

Everyone sang the Dreidel song.  Miss Debbie even brought a dreidel for everyone to try spinning. 

For craft time, children made dreidels of their own from paper, stamping them with blue-and-white painted stars. 

Miss Debbie hosts story time every Tuesday and Wednesday.  Children ages 4 and up are welcome to attend the 10:00 a.m. session, and the session for children ages 2 - 3 is at 11:00 a.m.  For more information, contact the Pelham Library at 635-7581. 

Miss Debbie and the children sing at story time.

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