Message for the Morning of the Pelham Prom

by Lynne Ober

Lieutenant Jack Tirrell checks a mock victim.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the mock accident with two dead teenagers was the final stark message to students before attending Pelham High School’s prom.

For those going to the prom the morning began with an assembly.  Police Chief Joseph Roark spoke about the police department’s “no questions asked campaign” introduced about six years ago.  The message is simple: don’t drink and drive, “remember your family and friends.  Think before you drink” and if you find yourself in need of a safe ride, call the Pelham Police Department which pledges that no questions will be asked and a safe ride will be provided.

PHS Peer Outreach students handed out bright pink flyers to every student.  The flyer included the police telephone number.  Roark said “no questions asked” is designed to encourage students to call police for a ride home if they find themselves in unsafe situations.  “This is designed for any student to contact the department and request a ride.  We will pick them up and return them to their families safely.”

Shannon Reis, 2007 PHS graduate also spoke to the students. 

The final speakers from Teen Challenge New England had a powerful message about what can happen with the first drink or taking the first drug.  The three young men who spoke had serious tales of bad decisions and damage done by those decisions.  All captured the students’ attention with personal tales as one speaker talked about being a football player before getting involved in drugs, barely getting out of high school, overdosing 22 times and having to be resuscitated four times.  Now clean for 2 1/2 years, his message hit home.

Then it was time for the main event, a staged two-car accident.  Members of Peer Outreach, drenched in “blood” were the crash victims in the cars donated by Jean Guy Bergeron.

The mock incident began when Sergeant Anne Perriello, holding a microphone to her police radio, contacted dispatch about a two-car accident with a pedestrian hit at the high school.  When Perriello asked that police and ambulance be called to respond to the accident, students could hear the dispatcher work the call.

The students could also hear the victims call for help and they watched as two of the victims never moved.

Students gather around the mock accident.

Police arrived first and began checking accident victims.  Pelham’s Fire Department sent an ambulance and then more equipment when police called for additional support to aid victims.

As the EMTs began to check victims, police dragged several bottles of liquor out of a car and put it on the roof.  The driver of one car was arrested and led away because she was drunk.

The pedestrian was completely covered as was the girl who had not worn a seatbelt and, as a result, had flown through the windshield and landed on the hood of the car – two young people whose lives were ended.  The message was think and don’t let this be you.  While this is a mock accident and the victims will all walk away, that is not the case in real life.

Police and EMTs worked to extract the victims who remained in the vehicles. 

Students watched intently as the crews worked.  The “Jaws of Life” was used to remove a car door so that crews could reach a badly injured passenger.  Crews worked just as intently as if this had been an actual accident and the students watched the care taken as their fellow students were treated, extracted and put onto stretchers. 

At the end of the mock accident Principal Dorothy Mohr spoke briefly before introducing a Peer Outreach member who read a poem about losing her life when the car in which she is riding was hit by a drunk driver.

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Windham’s Claim: Area’s Biggest and Best Plant Sale

by Lynne Ober

Twenty minutes before the opening of the Windham Garden Club plant sale, a long line of eager customers had formed.

“We’ve been holding our plant sale since 1991,” said Windham Garden Club member and publicity chairperson Linda German.  “I don’t like to brag, but I think this is the biggest and best plant sale in our area.  We have over 3,000 plants for sale this morning.”

The sale has been held on the grounds of Windham town hall since the Mother’s Day flooding of the green interrupted the sale several years ago.  Plants are divided by sun and shade, perennial and annual.  There’s even a large table of herbs and a table of TLC perennials where the plants cost $1 and will survive and thrive in a garden with a little TLC.

The sale is very well known and long before the opening hour, buyers with plant lists and little red wagons form a long line.  

“Whatever they have here grows really well,” said Corinna Gagnon.  “I think the plants are just loyal to Windham.”

Barbara Coish agreed that the stock at the plant sale grew very well in her garden too.  Coish said that standing in line was a good place to get some gardening advice.

“Rodents destroyed my garden over the winter,” said Loretta Cauthen.  “I’m looking to fill in several places.”

The 60 members of the club begin getting ready almost as soon as the plant sale closes.  Several members have greenhouses used extensively as time for the sale nears.  “By the night before the sale, several of us are filling our vehicles with plants,” said German.  “Then early in the morning we bring them over to town hall and go back and get more plants.  It takes a caravan to move and set up over 3,000 plants.”

When the opening bell rings, eager gardeners and their wagons flood into the sales area.  “You have to be organized,” said Judy, “if you want to get exactly what you want.  I do my list by shade and sun and figure out what the priorities are.”

Rick agreed.  He checked his list and quickly loaded his wagon with shade perennials.  “I have a complete list of what I hope to find,” he said.  “Did you see any astillbes?”

The Boy Scouts, meanwhile, were on hand to sell their terrific sub sandwiches.  

“What more can you ask for,” Judy said.  “New plants at a reasonable cost and lunch.  It’s perfect.”

Once the sale starts, people concentrate on filling their wagons with wanted the plants.

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Special Windham Town Meeting Urged on Second Access Road to New High School

by Barbara O’Brien

A second access to the new Windham High School must be in place before the opening of the school in September of 2009.

However, a warrant article that would have raised the money for that project was defeated at the March school district election.  The proposal asked voters to allocate up to $1.25 million to complete London Bridge Road Extension to Castle Hill Road. 

Originally, selectmen had proposed a similar warrant article, although for less money, on the town election. That proposal was withdrawn, however, when school board members began discussing a warrant article of their own for the second access roadway.  School district officials hoped they could apply for 30 percent funding from the state.  Before the school board submitted such a warrant article, however, state Representative Charles McMahon submitted a citizen-petitioned article, which voters turned down. 

The need for that second access has not disappeared, however, and Fire Chief Tom McPherson stands by his previous decision that the road must be completed before students attend their first day at Windham High School.  Selectmen discussed that dilemma during their board meeting on Monday, May 12.

State laws and National Fire Protection Association standards must be met regarding the second access road, McPherson told selectmen.  “I will not waive any requirement for a second access,” he said, noting that his No. 1 priority is the safety of those inside the school.  McPherson did say, though, he is willing to work with selectmen on how that road is implemented.

McMahon, elected as a selectman in March, urged other board members to plan for a special town meeting, either to be held in conjunction with the state primary election in September or at the same time as the November election.  If neither option work out, McMahon said he would push for a separate special town meeting on appropriating money for the second access road.  “We need to do this now, rather than later,” McMahon said, adding that he would like to see road construction get underway by the end of this year.  If a special town meeting isn’t held, the issue couldn’t be put on the warrant until next March.

Selectman Roger Hohenberger said the cost of the road and land on which to build the road must be resolved.  The section of London Bridge Road that needs to be acquired by the town was discontinued about 45 years ago.  As a result, the old road reverted to abutting property owners.  To rebuild the road would require acquiring that land from those property owners, with whom negotiations began in the past year in anticipation of last March’s warrant article.  Selectmen said five or six landowners are involved in the proposed property transfer.

Windham resident and area engineer Peter Zohdi, who has been planning with town and school district officials on the second access, said it would cost about $800,000 for a gravel and $1.2 million for a paved road.  In either case, the road would be 24 feet wide and about 3,850 long, Zohdi said.

Zohdi explained that London Bridge Road is divided into three sections: the new portion, which runs from Route 111 to Windham High School; an existing paved section that runs to Castle Hill Road; and the abandoned section.  Zohdi said the question is whether or not only the linking section should be built now, or the existing older section also should be improved at the same time.  Before making that recommendation, selectmen will walk the area and follow with a public hearing, probably on Monday, July 21 or Monday, July 28.  Selectmen will decide what type of road to build after the hearing.

“What if a warrant article doesn’t pass?” at a special town meeting, School Board Chairperson Barbara Coish asked selectmen.  “Will the high school still be allowed to open in September of 2009?”

“We need to make the safety of the children our priority,” Selectman Bruce Breton replied.  “This is not a blue and gold or green and gold issue,” he added, in reference to the drawn-out discussions on what the official colors of Windham High School should be.  That decision, made earlier this year, was that the official colors will be navy blue, metallic gold, with green as an accent.

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Curriculum Planning at Windham High School

by Barbara O’Brien

When the doors open to students for the first time at the new Windham High School, about 16 months from now, the person holding the title of principal will be Richard Manley.  In anticipation, Manley and other members of the Windham School District administration already are putting considerable time into making plans for those students. Manley officially assumes the job of principal July 1.

During its first year, Windham High School, set to open in  September of 2009, will house only freshmen and sophomores.  Juniors and seniors will continue to attend Salem High School, based on a recently signed tuition agreement.

According to Manley, the hiring of high school “deans” is underway.  It is anticipated that these new positions, billed as “the planning team,” will be filled soon and the people occupying these slots will come on board in July of 2008.

“What is this high school all about?” Manley asked rhetorically, during the school board’s meeting on Tuesday, May 6.  His first charge will be getting to know what the community wants. Looking into what Salem offers its students will be an important part of the picture for Windham, he said.

Another of the initial tasks assigned to the planning team will be looking into accreditation, a multi-year undertaking.  “We need to make sure our planning is consistent with what’s required for accreditation,” Manley said. Planners also will look into technological issues regarding equipment needs.

Many classes will be taught through inter-disciplinary instruction, using team teaching techniques.  A “single-model” approach to instruction is more common in the United States, Manley said, adding that an “interdisciplinary approach is more difficult to implement.”

Scheduling of classes will involve about 80-minute blocks of time, curriculum coordinator Amanda Lacaroz said.  Eight daily periods will be scheduled for the entire school year, but each student will not have every class every day.  A team teaching approach will be used for English and social studies, which will be taught simultaneously with two teachers, using a humanities approach to learning.  Freshmen will be offered “Foundations of Society,” sophomores “American Studies”; and eventually juniors will expand their learning to “Global Studies.”  There will be teacher collaboration in mathematics and science. 

An Applied Science and Technology Center will be included with programs eventually offered to all four grades.  The center will offer a hands-on approach to learning and will focus on engineering studies, according to Lacaroz.  “Learning centers,” rather than traditional study halls, will be available to students.  There also are plans to provide greater flexibility in selecting elective classes, she said, such as art, music, wellness, theater and dance.

Manley also spoke briefly about his recent trip to China, where he “shadowed” a high school principal.  Academically, Manley said, the Chinese students he met were very advanced and achieving at a high level, despite meager spending as compared to what is spent on students in the United States.  However, Chinese students are not “as well-rounded as American students,” he said.  “That will continue to be our advantage,” he said, referring to the diverse types of education and extracurricular activities provided in the United States.

Looking forward to the coming school year, which begins on July 1, Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson said, “It’s going to be a very busy fall” for all members of the administration, as they work toward having Windham High School ready for its “classes of 2011 and 2012.”

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Pelham Paper Facts and Rumors

by Lynne Ober

On Sunday, May 18 a parent posted on the Pelham message board that his child came home from school and was told to have her parents to send in a pack of paper.  According to the post she also told her parent that she didn’t have math homework because the school had no paper.  The post ends by saying that a neighbor confirmed the situation.

That started a lengthy string on the lack of paper in Pelham schools.

Selectman and parent Victor Danevich had the good sense to smile at the thread and posted, “When I read this thread, I got a good chuckle.  The reason they have no paper is the massive amount of paper they send home with the kids.  One-half my paper recycling is from school flyers, fundraisers, sports programs, news letters, announcements, endless other paperwork, and even a duplicate PHS report card this year that (1) came home with my daughter, and (2) one was mailed and had other flyers in it.”

The truth is that Pelham schools do indeed have paper and they are giving it to teachers.

According to Pelham Elementary School Principal Alicia LaFrance, one shipment of paper was delayed before the April vacation and there was a bit of a shortage, but that shipment arrived.  “Rumor mill, which I thought was old news by now.  No, we did not run out,” said LaFrance, who confirmed that the schools have enough paper to get to the end of the year.  “As with every year, by this time in the fiscal year we need to make sure that we manage our supplies to get to June 20.  We start fresh July 1.  Teachers are being given whatever paper they need to ensure there is no impact to educational programs for students.”

Pelham High School Principal Dorothy Mohr said, “PHS had a brief paper crunch.  Paper had been ordered but it took a while to have it delivered to PHS from the SAU building.  I have sufficient paper (for all uses) to get us to the end of the school year.”

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