ROTC Military Ball
by Sue LaRoche
On a cool crisp Saturday evening, two yellow school buses pulled up in front of the Sheraton Tara in Nashua. Disembarking from those buses were not your typical high school athletes or band members. A striking sea of young ladies in gorgeous gowns, and young men in dress military uniforms, or suit coats and ties, excitedly exited the buses and entered the Tara.
The Alvirne High School Junior ROTC was the host school for the Military Ball attended by students from Alvirne, Salem, and Pinkerton. Nearly 180 people attended the ball, which included a buffet of chicken, rice, vegetables, salad, pasta, rolls, and soda.
The Alvirne Color Guard presented the flags at the beginning of the evening followed by a stirring rendition of the National Anthem sung by Alvirne’s Heather Rayne. The President of the New Hampshire Chapter of the Air Force Association, Mr. Louis Edmond make a short speech and then presented this year’s Air Force Association’s Leadership Award to Alvirne’s Megan DuPont-Brooks.
Following dinner, a competition for King and Queen was held with each school choosing one King and one Queen to be their representatives. They were required to submit a brief resume on their high school experience and association with Junior ROTC along with their plans for the future. Alvirne’s representatives were Nick Deneault and Steph Klement. Although they did not win the competition (Pinkerton’s Sach Pierog and Salem’s Jess Ward were the winners), they proved to be formidable competition.
Also taking place was a “Dancing with the Junior ROTC Stars” competition. Judges had many fantastic teams to watch and grade but in the end, Alvirne’s Brian Alley and Kori White won the evening’s competition.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with the students from the other schools, making this a memorable evening for all,” related Colonel Kevin Grady, who along with his wife Robbie chaperoned the event along with Senior Master Sergeant Michael Dubeau and his wife Mary Ellen. It goes without saying that a good time was had by all.
Sharon Eldridge: A Teacher with a Smile
by Maureen Gillum
There are some people you shouldn’t wear black for. Sharon Eldridge, a vibrant 60 year old Hudson teacher who always had a smile on her face, was such a person.
Sharon (Gambra) (Fournier) Eldridge died Tuesday night (April 3, 2007) after a brief stay at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Her death was related to Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH; www.phcentral.org), a lung disease that ultimately impacts the heart, as blood pressure in the pulmonary artery rises far above normal levels. “Sharon was diagnosed with PAH last January and her condition suddenly worsened the previous weekend,” reported her husband, Bob Eldridge.
Eldridge was a third grade teacher who taught 28 of her 38 years in Hudson, most recently at Hills Garrison Elementary School (HGS, since 2000), preceded by Nottingham West, Library Street and Webster Street schools.
“She was very dedicated to her teaching and students,” commented Bob, “Her biggest worry the day she died was getting a hold of Marilyn (Martellini, HGS Principal) to warn her she may not get her third grade class’ report cards out on time.” He also noted his wife’s growing concern of education today “being too focused on administration and not focused enough on teaching.” Ironically, Sharon was to retire in June.
Bob described his wife of 15 years as his “best friend” and “travel companion.” Through smiles and tears, he shared, “Sharon had a contagious little laugh and loved the sun, ocean and beach,” and required a “palm tree fix every year.” She loved Hawaii and the tropics best; most recently, the couple went to Aruba in 2006. “Six of us went and we had a lot of fun,” he stated, “She was the best 17 years of my life.”
Also a well-known civic contributor, Bob has been involved in coaching both Hudson recreational and travel basketball, Little League baseball, and Hudson softball teams for 29 years. “I started in ’78 with Hank Center in the early years of the Hudson Rec, and I’ve stuck with basketball five and a half months of every year since then,” explained Bob, who is finally hanging up his coaching whistle this year, “Basketball is my love and I always enjoyed coaching the kids.”
Despite the tragic shock, those who knew Sharon best among the 400-plus who attended her memorial service at Dumont Sullivan funeral home, were dressed in bright colors. “There was a district memo sent out to wear bright colors today to honor Sharon,” emotionally conveyed Randy Bell, SAU 81 Superintendent.
In talking to dozens of friends, family, and co-workers it was also apt that her memorial service was held on the sunny and glorious Saturday before Easter.
Wearing bright pink and the flip-flop necklace Sharon gave her, Linda Shunaman shared, “We worked together closely for almost 20 years and became the best of friends. Sharon was by my side for some of my saddest times and also right there for the happiest.” She detailed they planned lessons, discussed education, attended workshops, played golf, went shopping and out to eat, and just hung around together. “I feel so blessed to have had such a special friend in my life,” concluded Shunaman, “I will treasure all the memories forever.”
Always “including everyone,” Sharon started a group years ago that was branded the “flip-flop club.” Being “a life-long beach bum at heart, flip-flops became Sharon’s trade mark,” explained Bob with a laugh, “The flip-flop club (including Sharon, Shunaman, Diana Giuffrida, Mary Lavoie, Jacqui Sanford, Carol Poper, and Pam Ballingall, among others) used to go out to eat, hit the beach, or go away to Laconia or the Cape together just like family.” Bob relayed that several teachers went to Hampton beach last weekend and “knew Sharon was there when the sun brilliantly came out.”
“Webster School back then (1980s) was only third grade; we were a very small faculty and Sharon was a beloved member of our third grade community,” collectively responded Jane Fucci, Ann Groves and Laura Lind, Nottingham West’s veteran grade three team, “We fondly remember Sharon for her quiet and caring personality. She was a joy to work with and socialize with both in and out of school. Sharon will be sorely missed by all.”
“She was a friend to all,” expressed Leslie Liakos, who also worked with her for more than 20 years, “I will miss her beautiful smile, but know that she will always be alive in our hearts.”
“Together, we shared the opening of two elementary schools (Nottingham West, 1989; and Hills Garrison, 2000) in Hudson!” remarked Marilyn Martellini, HGS Principal, “She added laughter to learning that put children at ease and reflected her pleasure in teaching.” The principal fondly remembered “Wacky Olympics,” classroom luaus, and planting trees, with “Mrs. Eldridge.” She was also “never too busy to lend a helping hand,” had a knack at “making others feel special,” and “put her heart into making a difference in the lives of so many.” With heartfelt appreciation, Martellini called working with her “both an honor and a pleasure.”
Lois Connors, HGS Assistant Principal, recalled memories of building HGS’ playground six years ago. “Sharon and Bob spent the better part of a weekend hauling sand, raking it under the equipment, assembling equipment and feeding volunteers in the cafeteria.” Dedicated, kind, generous, courageous, fun-loving, gentle, and nature-lover, were among the words Connors and many others used to describe Sharon Eldridge.
Mary Ellen Ormond, Hudson’s Assistant Superintendent, commented, “Sharon worked on third grade report card committee and has always stayed involved to support the district. She had 300-plus hours of staff accreditations, where 75 are required.” She added, “You have to respect a teacher that always seeks to improve her craft, especially after three decades of service.”
Ormond also cited she was barraged with offers from administrators, guidance, and staff throughout the district to help their compatriot HGS teachers and students. She added proudly, “The Hudson district really pulled together in this crisis” – just as Sharon would have done.
“Sharon loved animals, nature, gardening, and her home,” recalled Patty Langlais, a close friend and neighbor for 15 years, “She kept her bird feeders stocked winter, spring, summer, and fall.” She added remorsefully, “She and Bob were really looking forward to her retirement in June to spend more time together in their yard and at their family home in Wellfleet.”
While the kids in her class are “naturally devastated” about their loss, many have also taken Mrs. Eldridge’s primary life lesson to heart. One mom asked her daughter, “What came to mind when she thought of Mrs. Eldridge?” The nine year old thought sadly for a moment but suddenly shouted with a laugh, “Flip-flops!” A few dozen flip-flops tokens were bought and given away as a small and bright remembrance of their teacher.
Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, February 10, 1947, Sharon was the daughter of Lucinda A. (Figueiredo) (Gambra) Whelan of Nashua and the late Francis L. Gambra. Besides her mother, survivors include her husband, Robert Eldridge of Hudson, a step-son Corey and his wife Diane Eldridge of Ludlow, Massachusetts; two step-daughters, Hollie and her husband Michael Kelley of Center Barnstead, and Kristy Eldridge of Concord, along with eight grandchildren and numerous cousins.
“While Sharon was technically step-mother to my three children,” shared Bob, “All are quick to correct anyone that she was really considered ‘mom’.”
In respect for her love of birds and nature, the family requests anyone interested in making a donation in Sharon’s memory, send a contribution to the New Hampshire Audubon, 3 Silk Farm Road, Concord, NH 03301.
“I wrote more than a dozen things, but this brief poem seems most appropriate as a tribute to Sharon,” wrote Ballingall, a dear friend of 14 years and Sharon’s former student teacher:
A hot sunny day.
Flowers blossoming in the spring.
The smell of the ocean.
The simple things that Sharon loved will be reminders that she is forever with us.”
The next time you hear the ocean roar, see a third grader smile, or see a lovely sunset, you might also want to think of Sharon Eldridge for a moment. It is a worthy legacy she leaves.
Sharon – Our Colleague, Our Friend
There was always something about that welcoming smile.
It was an open invitation, without hesitation, to be included in Sharon’s
caring and fun-filled world.
Sharon was more than a hard-working and dedicated teacher.
She was a “true” friend to one and all.
Even with her hectic schedule she would take the time to ask,
“How are things with you?”
And she really did want to know.
Staff member, student, neighbor, or friend –
We are truly blessed to have had Sharon in our lives.
Forever in our hearts and prayers, our dear Friend.
Cold Easter Sunrise Service
Selectmen Pass Skate Park Rules
by Tom Kuegler
At the April 10 Hudson Board of Selectmen’s meeting, an ordinance was passed that establishes rules for the Hudson Skate Park. The ordinance motion passed unanimously and will be up for review at the two mandatory public hearings on April 24 and May 5.
The new rules for the skate park are as follows:
During the BOS meeting, Selectman Maddox raised the question of penalties and repercussions for offenders of the rules. Steve Malizia, Hudson Town Administrator, pointed out that those issues will be covered at the public hearing, but by creating the ordinance it gave the police the ability to enforce the rules.
“I went out and visited the park today,” stated Selectman Doug Robinson during a phone interview prior to the BOS meeting. “We need this ordinance so that the skate park is not a burden on the recreation department and the police force. This gives clear guidelines and rules of use.”
In the past, the skate park has been both a high use facility by youths of Hudson as well as a location for vandalism and maintenance needs by the town. The BOS hope that this ordinance is a step to making the skate park the safe, often-used facility it was always intended to be. As Selectman Robinson clearly stated, “We have not been talking to the kids that use the park. We have just been yelling at them. This ordinance is meant to be a way of making the communication clear.”