Scholastic Art Award Winners at Campbell High School

by Lynne Ober

Tiffany Hall stands before her large art exhibit.  Her self-portrait is shown behind her.

For 85 years the Scholastic Art Awards have honored students for their artistic achievements.  Maurice Robinson, founder of Scholastic Inc., the educational publishing company, established the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  Over the years the Awards have grown in recognition and in scholarship money offered to graduating seniors who will pursue an artistic education after high school.  Alumni of the Awards include some of the country’s leading artists and writers, including Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Joyce Carol Oates, Sylvia Plath, Philip Pearlstien, Paul Newman and Richard Avedon.  Some of Litchfield’s Campbell High School hope to follow in the steps of these alumni.

Students may submit work in nineteen visual art categories.  Over a quarter of a million submissions are expected this year and over 15,000 will compete in the final competition in March in New York. 

Campbell art teacher, Denise Freeman, was beaming at the Scholastic art show held at Campbell.  “We have more winners than ever before,” she proudly stated.  Freeman is an artist, herself, and a mentor, teacher, helper and cheerleader to all of her students.  She is delighted that her students are achieving recognition by local and national professionals in the arts.  “They win scholarship money if they pursue this field in post-secondary education so it is not only nice to win, but it helps with their future educational opportunities.”  She quickly rattled off the names of the students who had participated.  She had a positive story about each and every one.  “I put in my maximum number and Campbell was awarded a total of 8 gold keys, 4 Silver Keys and 5 Honorable Mentions. Four of the keys were portfolios which means our students will receive scholarship money. Also all the 8 golds go onto the Nationals for adjudication.”

The recognition students earn comes after a juried competition.  Students are awarded recognition in the following areas:

“Gold Awards — Most exceptional works in each category.

Silver Awards — High honors in each category.

American Visions & Voices Awards — Single works of art or writing representing each of the Regional Affiliate programs on the national level of The Awards.

Portfolio Gold Awards — Twelve cash grants of $10,000 presented in the names of leadership sponsors of the Alliance to graduating seniors—five artists, two photographers and five writers—for exemplary portfolios.

Portfolio Silver Awards and Notable Achievement Awards — Graduating seniors awarded with outstanding portfolios in art and photography are able to leverage an additional $1.5 million in financial aid through a network of eighty prestigious arts institutes, colleges and universities. As a result of Alliance donors, additional $1,000 Notable Achievement scholarships may become available and presented to Portfolio Silver Award recipients as recommended by jurors on the national level.”

Honorable Mention.

Freeman was thrilled with the overall placement of her students and with the number of awards that were won by Campbell students.

Tiffany Hall, 17, was awarded three gold awards, two silver awards and an honorable mention.  Tiffany plans to continue her art education in college and is busily applying to schools.  Her self portrait was done by tearing small pieces out of magazines and then making a mosaic.  Asked how much time the piece took to complete, she smiled and said, “Too many hours.”  Tiffany has been winning awards as long as she has been at Campbell High School and shows off her talents in a variety of media.  One of her gold award pieces was done with cold wax and oil paint.

Tosha Hall was awarded two gold awards and an honorable mention.

Lee Bolgatz and Tyler FitzGerald both were awarded god awards for their photography portfolios.

Dawn Krauslys, 17, plans to study optical engineering, but keep her fingers in art.  “I love it, but I don’t know if I’d feel that way if I did it all the time.”  She uses her art as both a medium for enjoyment and for observation about her world.  Her piece, High School Social Problem, shows the insecurities and cruelties that can occur in a high school.  “It’s a piece about social ostracism,” said Dawn. 

Freeman, who is enthusiastic about art, entertained visitors to the art show with stories about the art created and about her classes.  She urged everyone to go to the show at Pinkerton Academy.

High School Social Problem, artist Dawn Grauslys, a study in social ostracism.

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New Fire Station Affordable

by Lynne Ober

“If the new fire station, plus all the other warrant articles proposed by the town pass, the tax rate will remain exactly what it is this year.  The current tax rate for the town is $2.23 and if everything passes, next year’s tax rate will be $2.23.  That’s affordable,” declared Litchfield Budget Committee member Bill Spencer.  “Selectmen brought in an operating budget that is smaller this year than last year and that’s what makes the fire station very affordable.”

The total cost for the proposed fire station is $1.9 million.  Selectmen have proposed a 10-year bond.  “We added some green features to the fire station that will cut down heating costs and maintenance over the years,” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Raymond Peeples.

Peeples noted that the fire station would have a metal roof.  “That roof will preclude the ice dam problem that causes so many issues at town hall.”  Additionally the fire station is designed to be more energy efficient.

Fire Chief Tom Schofield has often talked about the high heating costs of the old fire station.  With utility bills constantly rising, a newer, energy efficient fire station will save utility costs in the coming years.  Schofield noted that lights will be on timers so that they go on and off as people enter and exit rooms.  “Just another energy saving piece.”

The plan is to build the fire station on town-owned acreage at the Town Hall complex.  According to Peeples the site work will only cost $390,000 because of the sandy soils.  “When we looked to put this station at the Darrah Pond location, there were significant problems with the site and, as a result, the site work was much, much higher.”

The new fire station will become the central fire station.  All equipment will be moved to the new station and the old station will be closed.  “The old station could be repurposed for town storage, which we always need or for another town approved project,” said Schofield.

The proposed fire station will have five full-sized bays and all equipment will be able to reside inside.  Using the plans from the last vote, Peeples noted that the engineering/architect firm had been asked to flip the building.  “It is a mirror image with the trucks exiting directly onto Albuquerque Avenue.”  The line of sight at the Liberty Way and Albuquerque Avenue intersection has been poor and that grade will be lowered during construction making the area safer for all motorists.

Schofield also noted that the fire station had been situated far enough back so that no impact would be felt on the housing area across from Town Hall.  “Right now we have a town hall sign that is not lighted because it shines into those homes.  We made sure that we would not cause them any additional hardship and sited the fire station accordingly.  We want to be great neighbors.”

Budget Committee Chairman Brent Lemire pointed out that there had been a need for a new fire station since 1988.  “The time has come.  I fully support this.”  Lemire also pointed out that a fire station is basically a huge garage area with offices built along a wall of it.

Schofield said that the plans had originally been drawn to include one large room that would be locked off at night so that Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or any other community group could hold a meeting in the room.  “In case of an emergency, this would become our command center and we will use it as a training room, but we plan to make it available to the community as a resource.”

Asked by School Board Representative to the Budget Committee Dennis Miller how much new equipment would be purchased as a result of the money, Schofield again stated that no new equipment would be needed.  “We will move everything and use what we have.”

Peeples confirmed that computers would be moved and used.  “There is really nothing to purchase after the building is built.  We will move their existing phone system as well.”

After deliberations, the Budget Committee recommended the warrant article for the fire station bond by a 7 – 1 one.  Miller was the negative vote.

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Southern New Hampshire School Districts Prep for Public Kindergarten 

by Gina M. Votour

In the latter half of 2007, New Hampshire became the last state to mandate public kindergarten.  Currently eleven school districts, including Hudson, Litchfield, Pelham, Windham and Salem, do not offer it publicly.

September 2008 was established as the deadline for all districts to actively plan for public kindergarten.  However, some districts are now pushing for an extension on this deadline. 

An issue of major debate is where future kindergarten classrooms will reside.  Each district needs to determine if they will house kindergarten classrooms within existing school facilities, use portable classrooms, work with private establishments to outsource, or build entirely separate kindergarten facilities.

According to Windham School Board Chairman Al Letizio, there has been no specific direction from legislature on how public kindergarten will be set up within each district.  “There is currently no extra space in our schools right now,” Letizio said and that “re-locatable classrooms may be needed.”

In Pelham, it also has not been decided yet as to exactly what route will be taken but according to Roxanne Wilson, Assistant Superintendent of the Pelham and Windham School Districts, both districts have committees meeting in February to further study this proposal.  In Hudson, a kindergarten study committee will be established to examine similar issues.

Robert Bryant, Chairman of the Salem School Board, described the Facilities Master Plan which will occur on January 27th.  During this time, all available property in Salem will be examined in order to scope out what space may be available to house future kindergarten classrooms. 

Since public kindergarten in New Hampshire has been labeled as an unfunded mandate, another important issue is determining who will assume the costs of building, set up and the daily running of these new classrooms.  At this point, there has been no communication as to who will pay for public kindergarten and in what amount.

Before now, for districts that voluntarily housed public kindergarten, the state paid 75% of the costs of construction for new classrooms.  In addition, the state’s offer included 100% of the costs associated with using portable classrooms for the startup of public kindergarten programs. 

Many feel that the state should fully fund public kindergarten since it has been mandated.  Litchfield Interim Superintendent Elaine Cutler has stated previously that public kindergarten should be entirely state funded.  When asked what percent of public kindergarten should be funded by the state, Windham/Pelham Assistant Superintendent Wilson said she “would love it to be 100%.”  Most recently, at the Hudson School Board Meeting of January 7th, Superintendent Randy Bell discussed the Public Kindergarten Position Paper from which he stated that “many believe that this legislation could be a violation of Article 28A which prohibits [the state] from mandating without fully funding.  If the legislature does not modify its stance, a legal challenge may be forthcoming.” 

Others take a very different standpoint on this issue.  “I think it’s unreasonable to ask the state,” [to pay] said Windham School Board Chairman Letizio.  Letizio believes that public kindergarten funding should come from the individual communities that offer it and that these communities should “take individual responsibility for education.”  Letizio pointed out that in viewing the issue of public kindergarten, it is also important to remember that grades 1-12 are mandated yet not fully funded by the state.

Up to this point, private kindergartens have immensely aided these districts.  Letizio said that the school district has always worked closely with private kindergartens.  Wilson added that there are currently “very high percentages” of children in the first grade who have attended kindergarten.

This trend will almost certainly continue for future kindergarten enrollment numbers.  Therefore, the mandate is likely to affect the futures of individual private schools offering kindergarten since it is probable that parents will choose public over private kindergartens.  According to Joan MacSweeney, Owner and Operator of Sesame World Kindergarten in Hudson, it may be difficult for private facilities such as hers to keep operating since she only offers half-day sessions and does not provide daycare. 

Others working within private kindergartens are a bit more optimistic, such as Joan O’Connell at Pelham Kindergarten and Daycare.  Although O’Connell said that public kindergarten would “definitely affect us” she also said that she has “no problem at all” with the coming of public kindergarten.  Exploring the option of serving children younger than kindergarten age at her facility may be a viable alternative if a percentage of business is lost once public kindergarten is established.

Also hopeful is Nancy D’Agostino, Director of Windham Cooperative Kindergarten.  Although it is a given that her facility will lose some of the half-day class numbers once public kindergarten is offered, she said that “we will adapt to meet the changing needs of families.”  D’Agostino feels that her facility will remain competitive by offering full-day kindergarten classes, since only half-day sessions have been publicly mandated.  Her facility also offers the Kindergarten Extended Enrichment Program (KEEP), a half-day multi-age program to facilitate early childhood learning.

The school districts are now looking ahead and trying to plan accordingly for kindergarten.  “I’m very supportive of public kindergarten,” proclaimed Assistant Superintendent Wilson.  Said Letizio, “The reality is that kindergarten is coming.  Our community does not want to be the last district to offer [kindergarten].  We’ll be ready for it.”  At the Hudson School Board Meeting of January 7th, Superintendent Randy Bell explained that the board is not against kindergarten itself but that they were against the approach taken to mandate it. 

At this time, the primary stumbling block is how to accommodate public kindergarten in terms of physical location and cost allocation all within the specified time limits.  Litchfield and Hudson are currently seeking deadline extensions.  Hudson’s Public Kindergarten Position Paper clearly states that, “We will not be able to implement kindergarten this fall.”  For Salem, School Board Chairman Bryant said that kindergarten is not in the budget for the next two years.

The next legislative session to be held in March will explore specific areas of kindergarten costs to each district.  Towns such as Hudson, Windham, and Pelham do not plan to include warrant articles for kindergarten on their ballots during this time.

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Pact on Hudson’s Homelessness Deferred

by Tom Tollefson

The Hudson Board of Selectmen has put off a decision on a request to sign an agreement dealing with homelessness in the area.

The board has deferred the request by the Greater Nashua Continuum of Care to sign a Good Neighbor Agreement to a later date.

The agreement, valid through 2012, calls for Hudson to share information, cooperate and promote community-wide efforts to end homelessness and participate with the Greater Nashua Continuum of Care (COC) in completing an inventory of homeless individuals and families and evaluate services.

According to Mary Febonio, Neighborhood Housing Services Homeownership director, COC is not looking for money.  Its just saying we believe in these services and want to work towards permanent housing.  Its not asking for any specific financial support.  We just want to know that everybody is on the same page with us, and that we are doing the right thing.

Selectman Doug Robinson said Hudson already cooperates with COC in three of the four requests, that the only new request is for a board member or its designated person to attend COC meetings.

Febonio said a written agreement with Hudson would help COC in getting federal funding.

Were not always talking about images of people on the street.  Were talking about families.  Were talking about the elderly.  Were talking about children, she said.  

The COC membership includes the American Red Cross, Southern New Hampshire Services, Salvation Army of Nashua and Harbor Homes.  The COC was founded in 1994 to deal with homelessness in Hudson, Nashua, Merrimack, Amherst, Brookline, Hollis, Litchfield, Mason, Milford and Mount Vernon. 

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