Erica and Ryan, foreground, play an impromptu trombone concert with Chris backing them up.
Think you’d like to play a musical instrument, but you don’t know which one? If you were a fifth grader in Hudson, you could visit the Instrument Petting Zoo and try them out under the guidance of Alvirne High School Tri-M Music Honor Society members.
“The commitment to play an instrument can be a big decision. Along with the costs of mouthpieces, lessons, and other necessities, the decision is made more complex by the variety of instruments to choose from, combined with many children’s lack of hands-on exposure to the instruments,” said Tri-M President Jackie Lewis. Tri-M members decided that they would help fifth graders, who will be eligible to play in the middle school band next year, “meet” some instruments.
“Unlike a traditional petting zoo, the “instrument petting zoo” offered fifth grade students potentially interested in entering the music program at the middle school an opportunity to hold and hear a large variety of instruments, as well as a chance to listen to and learn about different singing styles and vocal ranges,” said Lewis.
“The kids did this themselves and I think it is great,” ginned Hudson School District Music Director, Gerry Bastien. “I helped them get the instruments, but they did everything else. Tri-M is the international honor society recognizing secondary music students for their musical ability, academic excellence, school involvement, and community service and if you look around the room, these are the kids that you want your kid to hang out with.”
Tri-M students made posters about their instruments. They played their instruments and then talked interested students into trying out the various instruments.
“This is fun,” said Ryan. “I think I’m interested in percussion.” He was looking around the gym at Hudson Memorial School, eyeing all the different places he could go.
The members of the Tri-M chapter represented a wide range of instrument and vocal groups; students were able to experience first-hand the sound, weight, feel, and characteristics of instruments they may be interested in learning at the middle school. There were also plenty of opportunities for asking questions about the instruments themselves, the music program, or details of getting an instrument for a student.
The focus of the night was on students who will be attending Hudson Memorial School as sixth graders in the fall and their parents.
The goal of the AHS Tri-M was to help younger students and their parents make informed decisions about participating in the music program, especially since they all know how daunting the choice can be., said Lewis. “By providing first-hand exposure to the options available in the middle school music program, we hope to enable students to select an instrument that they will enjoy, ultimately allowing for the best possible lifetime experience.”
Bastien happily looked around the room. “This is great for the younger students to be able to interact with the Alvirne students. Anywhere you look, I can point out a musician who is leaving Alvirne and headed for college. They will be studying many different subjects, but they all share a love of music.”
The Alvirne Friends of Music, a parents group that supports the students, hopes to start a parent’s support group at the middle school according to Bob Guessford. They had a table set up at the back of the gym. Their poster had photos from all the events that the music students participate in from music concerts to pool parties to marching in parades. At the top of the poster, was a saying for all the fifth graders, “The next Disney trip is your senior year.”
Parents and students walked from group to group. Some students such as Sarah had already made up their minds. “I want to play the clarinet. It’s cool,” she chirped.
Bastien said that the elementary students had already participated in what he called a dog and pony show at each elementary school. “This gives the parents a chance to come in and preview the various instruments and learn a bit about the program.”
Sarah has already decided that she wants to play the clarinet next year.
Rain didn’t detour Hudson’s fifth annual Career Day hosted at Nottingham West Elementary School (NWES) last Friday, May 18. For the second year, the exhilarating Hudson guidance team event was extended to all 345 fifth-graders across the district. Former Boston Red Sox player and Nashua Pride general manager, Butch Hobson, kicked off Career Day as the key note stressing “good choices.”
Career Day 2007 also featured 30 guest presenters offering glimpses into a spectrum of professions, including web design, engineering, police, culinary arts, physical therapy, journalism, law, forestry, health, digital special effects, firefighting and Karate. Hudson fifth-graders from Hills Garrison, Dr. H. O. Smith, Library Street, and NWES declared the event “awesome” and “fun!”
“Our fifth grade Career Day isn’t meant to launch careers, but to emphasize the tie to education and choices they make in shaping everyone’s life and future,” stated NWES Principal, Peter Durso.
Hudson fifth graders visit AHS calves at Career Day.
After the opening morning session, the kids broke into small interactive groups to meet with up to seven presenters. Among this year’s favorites were a forensic scientist, the college adventure team, a musician and Alvirne’s ROTC team. A mechanical designer from GSI Group, Bob Davis, demonstrated laser and robotics equipment and had “the best handouts.” Artist and teacher, Elizabeth Costa, shared, “I love doing this because of the kids and their enthusiasm,” and she finds it rewarding to “help students explore their passions.”
One of the best new features of Career Day 2007 was the addition of nearly 40 Alvirne High School (AHS) students, primarily from the Wilbur Palmer Vocational-Technical Center. “The Alvirne students really stepped up today to help us and the fifth graders,” shared Meg Williams, NWES guidance counselor and Career Day’s principal architect, “They were so knowledgeable in each of their vocational areas and their behavior was exemplary.” She also thanked AHS’ Vocational Director, Richard Lutz, and AHS’ Principal, Bryan Lane for their cooperation and said they should be proud.
Alvirne students, who hauled demonstration equipment ranging from forestry to culinary arts as well as a few calves, also seemed to enjoy the day. AHS culinary arts student, Sarah Buxton commented, “Career Day was a lot of fun,” and “fifth graders were surprisingly attentive.” Culinary comrade, Marina Belanger, added smiling, “They also loved the chocolate chip cookies we made.”
NWES’ guidance counselor, Gloria Eno stated, “Everyone was so impressed with the young people from Alvirne. They did a fine job and it created a good sense of community.” Eno also mentioned the fifth graders enthusiastically embraced the AHS students as “effective career bridges” as they were close in age, some were also siblings, and most were alumnae.
Career Day also brings together the entire fifth grade before they enter Hudson Memorial next year. Melanie Curren, guidance counselor from Dr. H. O. Smith and Library Street, shared “Meeting at Career Day helps ease the transition to middle school.” She also said the event “opened a lot of doors” and gave the kids the chance “to see and explore many new opportunities.”
Well orchestrated by Hudson’s entire elementary guidance team, Career Day 2007 has been in the works for months. Guidance counselors from NWES (Williams and Eno); Dr. H.O. Smith and Library Street (Curren and Marcia Blutstein); and Hills Garrison (Mr. V or Eric Vallecillo) have collectively stressed the “importance of making healthy decisions,” to fifth graders throughout the year.
The guidance team also openly credits Williams as Career Day’s “visionary.” “Meg puts an incredible amount of work into this project,” shared Eno. “She has unbelievable dreams and aspirations for these kids and her vision allows them to access opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have,” Curren added.
Deflecting the praise, Williams quickly attributes the day’s success to “an incredible team effort,” and “good SAU 81 support.” In addition to dozens of “amazing outside presenters,” she also thanked Carla Anger and the district’s food service team, who generously provided lunch for everyone, and NWES PTO for their tireless help.
While getting on board her bus at the end of the day, one smiling Library Street student summed up, “It was really fun, and we got to check out lots.” Several other 5th graders from Hills Garrison simply shouted, “It was awesome!”
Admittedly exhausted but also elated at the close of the event, Hudson’s guidance team was already busy planning Career Day 2008. “Next year, Mr. Lutz invited us all to do Career Day up at the Alvirne Voc Center, which will be amazing,” Williams shared excitedly.
Butch Hobson delivers key note at Hudson’s Fifth Grade Career Day.
On Memorial Day, Wednesday, May 30, at 9 a.m., there will be a gathering at the Blodgett Cemetery in Hudson to honor Joseph Blodgett (born 1760) as a Revolutionary War soldier. His gravesite is not recognized with a Revolutionary War marker. One might ask how and why this came about.
It started a few years ago when a letter from Ruth Baldwin Williams of Oak Forest, Illinois, was forwarded to me as a member of the Hudson Historical Society. Mrs. Williams was researching her family history and requested information on her Hudson ancestors. One of her goals was to apply for membership in the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR).
Much correspondence and many e-mails have since passed between Mrs. Williams and me of the Hudson Historical Society and William Hayes of the Pelham Historical Society. Some of the early settlers of Nottingham West (now Hudson) lived in that section which has since become part of Pelham. Copies of records, deeds, family histories, and photographs were sent to her from the Hudson and Pelham societies. Mrs. Williams has proven her family lineage to Joseph Blodgett as well as to some 10 other grandparents; all of whom are buried in Blodgett Cemetery.
When her NSDAR application was approved, Mrs. Williams knew that Joseph Blodgett was recognized by the NSDAR for the first time by her research. She did not realize that his Revolutionary service had gone unrecognized by his hometown of Hudson for 164 years until she received cemetery photos of his gravesite in Blodgett Cemetery. Joseph’s gravesite lacks the Revolutionary Soldier grave marker and flag holder that the other soldiers have. She has taken steps to remedy this situation. A marker and flag will be installed this Memorial Day.
Joseph Blodgett served in the American Revolution in Captain James Ford’s Company which was part of Colonel Nichol’s Regiment of the New Hampshire Militia at the Battle of Bennington. He was 17 years old at the time. The History of Hudson documents that Joseph Blodgett was provided to service at Bennington by his father Joseph (born 1718) in his stead. Joseph Blodgett, the father, does have a Revolutionary Soldiers marker at his gravesite for other activities he did in support of the Revolution. But Joseph, the son, was the actual soldier at Bennington. On May 30, some 164 years after his death in 1841, his gravesite will be recognized the same as other Revolutionary Soldiers.
The service on May 30 will honor Joseph Blodgett as a Revolutionary Soldier and also to give honor to all veterans. The American Legion volley team will give a military salute. Members of the Swallow Cliff Chapter, Illinois; Matthew Thornton Chapter, New Hampshire; Pelham Historic Society, Cemetery Trustees, American Legion, Hudson Historical Society, and other descendents of Joseph Blodgett will also participate.
A reception will follow the event at the Hills House on Derry Road. This will provide time for all to meet and greet each other.
Those interested are invited to attend. The Blodgett Cemetery is located on Pelham Road, Hudson, just off Lowell Road.
The Internet allows a predator to enter your home in a non-threatening way. They are anonymous, can be anyone - the man that lives next door, the person in the parking lot, the security guard at the mall.
On May 15 the Hudson Police Department offered a class in Internet safety. Chief Gendron and members from the department along with New Hampshire State Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, presented information for over two hours on how predators are talking to children on line. Kids today are instant messaging, sending text messages, going into chat rooms, and setting up blogs. This creates a new challenge for parents today.
In a poll of seventh and eighth graders, at least half of them had communicated on line with someone that they didn’t know. There are 80 million users on myspace.com. You are required to be fourteen years old in order to get on the site, but there is no age verification system in place. There are at least 800 registered sex offenders that were found on myspace. Concerned yet? A statistic quoted in a handbook given out at the meeting stated, “A justice department survey of youths ages 10 to 17 explains that one in seven children have received a sexual solicitation while on the Internet and over half of those children chose not to tell anyone about it.”
The Attorney General explained, “The town of Hudson was the first town in the state to spearhead a task force to fight abusers on the Internet. They do a terrific job on behalf of Hudson and our state.” The task force, formed in August 2006, is composed of police from various towns in our area including Nashua, Hollis, Litchfield, Brookline, and Pelham to name a few. This group has made 24 arrests since September, of which, the Hudson police made 14.
Gendron stated, “As parents we need to supervise our children and find out what they are doing. Be a snoop. Know where they are and what they are doing. Your computer may be safe but what about the computer at their friend’s house? Maybe they are seeing things that they shouldn’t while visiting friends.” Detective Sergeant Charles Dyac continued, “The computer should be in a room in the house where it is visible. Don’t be afraid to go on the kids’ computer and find out where they have been. If you find something disturbing, you, as parents, need to contact the police.” Dyac also stated to the crowd in the room, “The fact that you are here shows your dedication to your children.”
During the meeting, Detective Mike Niven, a member of the Criminal Investigative Division and the Southern Hillsborough County Cybersafe Task Force, demonstrated to parents how he poses as a 14-year-old girl from Hudson while on line in chat rooms in hopes of luring predators. Nevins stated, “There are two types of offenders. One is the situational offender. He is looking for casual sex on line. He thinks that it might be ok even though she is young; I will just talk to her. The other offender is preferential predators, they are seeking children out.” While on line, it only took nine minutes for a person the officer was chatting with, to start to make sexual connotations and ask questions that he shouldn’t have. Dateline NBC has brought this subject to light recently, but the police in our town have been aware of it for years. The police have to be more careful and diligent because they are governed under other laws than that of Dateline.
Is the Internet good to have in your home? Sure, if properly used. Children can learn from it. It can help them with their homework and can be used as a communication tool. The disadvantage is that it can be used for bullying; a person pretending to be someone that they are not and telling lies about a person, creating friction with others at school. It can lead to Internet scams and fraud or worse, pornography, prostitution and sexual solicitation.
Another subject approached by the police was that of kids posting pictures of themselves on the Internet; a horrible situation that not only puts a child in danger but may ruin their future. It can lead to pictures getting in the hands of bad people and those people using the pictures to get further information about the kids. We have all seen kids taking pictures with their phones and laughing and joking around. Well, those pictures, when posted on the Internet, can be viewed by too many people including sexual predators. The Hudson police had recently done an Internet Safety Class at the Presentation of Mary Academy. They explained how dangerous this was. After the class approximately six of the kids approached them explaining that they had already posted pictures on the Internet and how can they get them removed? A similar situation also happened at Hudson’s Memorial School.
More than 30 million children use the Internet; a lot of which use it after school or at night. How can you tell if your child is in trouble? Some of the signs to watch for are as follows:
Kids are setting up Web Blogs today, too. Are you familiar with these? Kids go on line and set up accounts for themselves. They may think that they are not giving out too much information, when in fact they are. They might not list what town they are from but if they include pictures of themselves wearing sports jerseys with their team names that could be a hint. A predator could find out who their friends are; what period that they might have English; what hour of the day they home alone and much more. These predators don’t have to work too hard to find out information on children. A lot of the kids today have two accounts set up also; one that a parent might have access to, and one that their friends can access.
“Parents need to be aware of what kids are doing,” stated Dyac. He continued, “Put spyware on your computer and tell your kids that you are going to do it. You are to provide food/shelter/safety for your kids. Something given is never respected.” In closing, Chief Gendron stated, “Don’t be afraid, be vigilant.”
Even if you are not very good with the computer, as a parent today, you need to be at least aware of what is going on in society and check out what your kids are doing on line. Check out the Website www.connectwithyourkids.org. This is a Website set up by the Attorney General’s office. It may serve as a starting point for parents and children to protect themselves from predators.