Windham students show their pride in the colors green and gold prior to the school board meeting.
Despite the pleas of parents and students, Windham School Board members decided to stand by their prior decision designating blue and gold as the official colors for the new Windham High School now under construction and slated to open in September of 2009.
Approximately 60 residents attended the school board meeting on Tuesday, August 7, to plead their case for green and gold, saying that the initial balloting two years ago was flawed. At that time, students at all grade levels voted on three choices: green and gold, blue and gold, or green and black. Blue and gold came away with the highest tally at that time.
Most of the residents in attendance at the August 7 meeting were wearing bright green t-shirts imprinted on the front with "Windham High School" in gold letters and on the back with the words "Keep Windham Green and Growling.” Green and gold are the colors for Windham Middle School and some students and parents want to see that tradition continue onto the high school level.
Although school board members thought the issue had been settled back in the fall of 2005, they became aware of the growing discontent over the color choice during the meeting on Tuesday, July 17. During that meeting, a number of Windham Middle School students asked school board members to reconsider the color choice and allow students to re-vote when school re-opens in a few weeks. After listening to students present their arguments and petitions, board members voted 3 - 2 to stay with blue and gold and to not reconsider the original choice.
Despite the July 17 setback, these students and their parents decided to give it one more try on August 7. Chip Hastings, who will graduate from Windham High School in 2012, said he feels the school board meant well when it held the balloting two years ago, but believes the process was flawed because there were two choices for the color green (green and gold and green and black), thereby splitting the green vote and allowing blue and gold to come out on top. "It's about Windham pride," Hastings said. "There's still time to do the right thing."
Emma and Ben Vitolo, ages 15 and 10, sport their green and gold t-shirts, reading "Keep Windham Green and Growling" prior to meeting with school board members.
Camden Smith, who will graduate from Windham High School with the Class of 2014, presented board members with a sample ballot which could be distributed to students at the beginning of the new school year. Max Hastings, Windham Center School student, presented survey data from 388 residents. According to the data presented, 90 percent favor a re-vote, 80 percent favor green and gold, and 88 percent favor having the wildcat, not the jaguar, as Windham High School's mascot. The wildcat is the mascot for Windham Middle School and Center School. The jaguar has been selected as the mascot for the new high school.
Stephanie Wimmer, a member of the high school integration committee, said she feels the original voting was done fairly and clearly and was well advertised. “A decision was made,” Wimmer said, “and that decision should be adhered to.”
Resident Jim Curtin said it was "the kids" who recognized that the voting was flawed, not the adults. "The kids brought the problem to our attention," he said, "and the school board needs to recognize that."
"Everyone here admires what these children are doing by getting involved in the political process," school board chairman Al Letizio said, "but the school board has already voted not to reconsider the decision.” “The only way the school board could re-vote,” he said, “is if one of the members who voted against reconsideration asks that a new vote be taken.” None of the three members who voted against reconsideration chose to ask for a re-vote on the issue.
“Windham High School is not an extension of the middle school,” school board member Beverly Donovan said. “Students will be moving on to a new and exciting level of education,” she said. "The bottom line is that the vote was already decided," Donovan said, "and we need to honor that decision."
School board member Bruce Anderson commented that some people contest whether or not the younger students who voted knew what they were doing. Anderson said, after reviewing the results of the balloting from 2005, he found that voting in the elementary school was very similar to that at the middle school and among Windham students who currently attend Salem High School. He also said that less than 17 percent of students at the middle school voted for the wildcat, while less than 8 percent of high schoolers voted for the wildcat. Based on this information, Anderson said he would have a difficult time supporting a re-vote on the colors. "Whether the colors are green or blue," Anderson said, "it's going to be the best high school in the state."
School board member Barbara Coish also opposed authorizing a re-vote. She said her children went to Pinkerton for high school and learned to love red and white as their school colors, just as her grandchildren, who attend Salem High School, are proud of blue and white as their school colors.
Vice chairman Beth Valentine said she does believe the 2005 balloting was unintentionally flawed, but that she doesn't have the authority alone to change what has already been decided.
Superintendent Frank Bass complimented the students who worked so hard to bring their thoughts to the school board and for following their cause through to completion. "These students have shown tremendous dedication," Bass said. "They made a very compelling case for themselves."
Shelly Joncas, Sharleen Shea, Diane Druding and (left to right) Donna Butler enjoying an evening of music during Pelham’s Concert on the Green.
The lawn was sprinkled with babies on blankets, children tossing footballs and flipping the frisbees, moms, dads, and families enjoying the music from the mound, and grandmas and grandpas tapping their toes during Pelham’s Parks and Recreation Department’s Concert on the Green.
During the summer months, the Pelham Recreation Department will host six separate concert events for the community to enjoy. The events are pulled together as “another year of great music that family and friends can gather at the Pelham Village Green to listen and relax with each other.”
During the summer, Jazz music by Pelham Memorial Jazz Band, Irish Music by Kevin Farley, Rock Music by Take Two, Swing Music by East Coast Jazz Band, 50’s and 60’s Music by Annie and the Orphans, and Plish Music by the Sound-A-Bouts will be featured.
The events are sponsored by the gracious and generous donations from their advertisers. Charlene Takesian, chairman of the 2007 concerts stated, “We are very grateful for the support from the entire community. We are especially thankful to the Pelham Police Department, especially the Pelham Explorers. They have been at every concert cooking hot dogs and grilling hamburgers for the folks to eat.”
The concert series also offers their sponsors the opportunity to sponsor a booth during the concert. Mom’s Club of Pelham sponsored an informational booth during the July 25 concert. “Mom’s Club is a great way to meet other moms with young children,” states their brochure. “Raising children offers both rewards and challenges and sharing them with others offers many benefits. You and your children are sure to make great friends.”
Sovereign Bank, a major sponsor of the Concerts on the Green series was also present during the performance. “We are very involved with community service and we like to be involved with the communities,” commented Susan Baker, Customer Service Manager for Sovereign Bank.
The Pelham Library was promoting tee shirts in an effort to raise monies. Special Pelham tee shirts were created for those attending the event by Litchfield resident Pete Duquette. “They call me T-Shirt Pete as I specialize in making the design of tee shirts by using trees. I spell out the name of the town using trees to design the lettering of the towns. I have made special tee shirts for other towns as well as for Pelham,” commented Duquette.
While hundreds of spectators slumped in their lawn chairs listening to the wonderful music, footballs flew in the distance as the children did what children do - they ran, jumped, and played. Girls were performing cartwheels and boys simply ran in circles. Babies continued to sleep in carriages while moms relaxed and enjoyed the music. The cloudless sky went from daylight blue to moonlit black, and the stars shone brightly while family and friends gathered at the Pelham Village Green to listen and relax together while enjoying the Pelham Concert Series on the Green.
Jennifer works on a series of thin client setups in one of the Pelham High School labs.
Computer upgrades are on-going in Pelham schools. Technology Coordinator Adam Steel developed a technology upgrade plan for the district, and improvements were again funded in this year’s budget.
Once money is available on July 1, Steel does everything that he can to ensure that the upgrades will be completely in place when school opens in the fall.
“Adam is absolutely great to us,” said Pelham High School (PHS) Principal, Dr. Dorothy Mohr, with a wide smile. “He listens and he ensures that our students have a good computing environment. The staff is happy too. It’s not an easy job, and he really makes it look easier than it is.”
According to Steel, the technology plan calls for the replacement of most of the computer technology at Pelham High School this year. Also, as part of a revision to the technology plan, many of the computers being replaced at PHS are being transferred to Pelham Memorial School (PMS), and this allows for a second computer to be installed in each classroom. The PMS computer lab was also upgraded as a result of the upgrades at PHS.
Over 200 computer stations were replaced with new computers or thin clients. Steel said he proposed using thin clients because “thin clients are computer stations without hard drives, fans, or CD-drives. The thin client is much smaller than a typical computer, requires less power, has no moving parts, and can be expected to last ten years or longer,” said Steel. “Yet, the end user experience is almost exactly the same on a thin client computer as in a traditional desktop. All of the computing power is provided by centralized servers that can balance the workload of the thin clients.”
Steel originally proposed the use of thin clients in an effort to lengthen the replacement cycle and thus save money for taxpayers while still providing an excellent computing environment for staff and students.
“This arrangement will effectively break the three to five year replacement cycle for computers in our schools,” stated Steel. “Breaking the replacement cycle was a major initiative of the technology plan as it will give tax payers a break since the expected life cycle of end-user computer stations will be extended to at least ten years, maybe longer.”
For the first time, there will be a “drop-in lab” for high school students. With this phase of the technology plan, Steel was able to create this lab near the PHS library to allow students and classes to “drop-in” and use a computer lab when other labs are already in use.
“The Drop-In lab will be a great new addition for our students,” said Mohr. “It offers a place to work on homework when other computer labs are filled with students.”
At PMS, over 60 new computer stations created by re-deploying used computers from PHS will be in place when school starts.
“These computers represent new locations for student use,” said Steel. “Everything will be completed by the time school starts. Most of it is already completed.”
Steel again made use of knowledgeable students when setting up the different computer equipment over the summer.
“There are two students working for me presently- Jennifer Gray and Ethan Neskey,” said Steel. “They have done an unbelievable job this summer. They have done network wiring, computer setup, and some advanced tasks as well.”
As a result of this on-going work, Pelham students will have more computing options when school starts.
Budgets are that six-letter word which we all dislike. Whether it be our own finances, the finances of our business, or the finances of a large corporation, proper budgeting is the key to any successful arrangement or operation.
Each year, local governments are challenged to provide their communities with more and more programs without the added burden of additional tax dollars, additional manpower, or additional resources.
Windham’s Recreation Department is no exception to budgets, budget constraints, and the limitations that budgets can bring. Each year, as more residents decide to call Windham “home sweet home,” Recreation Director Cheryl Haas has had to become more inventive, savvier, and much more prudent in effort to provide the residents of Windham with on-going quality programs for all ages.
“When I first got here, all the programs offered for the residents in the Town of Windham involved sports and three individual town events. Each year the town sponsored the annual Tree Lighting event at Christmas, the Easter Egg Hunt, and Town Day. That was it,” commented Haas.
During Haas’ tenure as the Recreation Director, the department has added a full plate of both spring and fall events, and many events have a waiting list. Haas has developed a program whereby she not only partners with the local businesses to provide wonderful recreational programs for the community, she has mastered the technique of adding these programs without adding a single tax dollar to the Windham tax base, nor has she had to increase her staff above the authorized level of one member of Anne Kelsey, as she teaches a class in creative writing called “Dare to Write.”
“I have the flexibility to add programs without cost as we are budgeted with what is called a Revolving Account. All the monies received for a specific event go back into the specific event. Thus, each year I am not required to budget line items, other than the three annual events, as all the monies we receive will be used for the event should we choose to run it again. Because of the Revolving Account, I can receive a phone call one week, and as long as they have the insurance and proper documentation, set the event to run the following week,” commented Haas.
All the events offered by the Windham Recreation Department are offered at no profit to the Recreation Department. “If they charge me $50, that is what I charge the resident. We are not like other towns where we jack up the price to $75 for an event. We are all about providing programs to the community by establishing long term relationships with the partnerships we create.
While most towns and communities offer the traditional soccer, baseball, and basketball programs, Windham’s Recreation Department offers programs such as their most popular Archery, Ladies Night Out, Kayaking, Daddy/Daughter Dance, Seniors Citizen Day, Town Day, and a family concert by Judy Pancoast. Partnerships with the Massabesic Audubon Society teach area children about frogs while a partnership with Red Cross offer a program on swimming.
The Golden Crane Tai Chi Studio, Windham, has partnered with the recreation department in an effort to provide seniors with special Tai Chi classes. “Today, we offer over a dozen different programs from which the residents of Windham can choose,” stated Haas.
As the summer recreational events wind down and the fall programs begin, the Windham Recreation Department list over a dozen events already scheduled for all age groups. Events, such as Chair Yoga for Seniors, The Beat Goes On-Music and Movement for kids 1 - 4, Toddler Hike-n-Seek, Kiddie Crafts, Foxwoods Trip for Adults, and the Annual Harvest Fest and Pumpkin Decorating Contest are offered either free of charge or for a small fee.
For those wishing more information on the Windham Recreation Department, visit www.recreation@windhamNewhampshire.com, or call 965-1208.