First-Grade Orientation in Pelham

First-grade orientation took place Tuesday afternoon, August 26, at Pelham Elementary School.  Visitors overflowed the parking lot and some resorted to parking their cars near the entrance sign and hoofing it.  In this hour-long open house the day before classes officially begin, the school staff and teachers welcomed their youngest students.  The little ones got a chance to check out their classrooms, lockers and common areas such as the gymnasium and student dining.  They also enjoyed riding a bus with special guest Sergeant Anne Perriello of the Pelham Police Department, who instructed them about bus safety as they made the loop between the police station and school.  At the end of the short ride, students were given a Laidlaw cardboard cutout school bus listing safety rules.

New first-grader Eddie Shlimon smiles as he leaves the bus during orientation Tuesday afternoon.  His big sister, who will be entering fourth grade, stood by him during the ride and when he met his teacher, Mrs. Amanda Galpin.

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School Starts in Windham

Hannah and Curtis Calcasi wait with Jillian and Hannah Perlberg

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Highflying Action at Pelham Skateboard Park

by Karen Plumley

Winners in the 13-and-older category:  EJ Martin and Dan Foley, both of Pelham, and grabbing first place was lone female contestant Nora Vasconcellos of Pembroke.

Tweens and teens found a great way to spend their last Saturday of summer vacation — at a highflying skateboarding contest hosted by Eastern Boarder and the Pelham Parks and Recreation Department.  In their first ever “X Games” event, the crew saw a great audience turnout and lots of skateboarding registrants from all over the state and beyond who made their way to Pelham in the beautiful pre-autumn sunshine.

Kelly Ciampa, a member of the Pelham Parks and Recreation department, moved about enthusiastically selling X Games T-shirts, taking pictures, and directing contestants to where they needed to go.  “The younger kids have been wanting this [contest] for a long time.  Even before the vandalism, they were talking about doing something to help maintain the park, and between them and Brian [Johnson, Pelham Parks and Recreation Director] they came up with this idea,” described Ciampa.  They contacted Eastern Boarder who agreed to sponsor the event.  They also provided the speakers and music and an entertaining announcer to give play-by-play action to the audience as the competition ensued.

Contestants were split into two age groups.  The 12-and-under group performed first, followed by the 13-and-older group.  Each had 1.5 minutes to accomplish a freestyle run using the entire course, and then another minute to do a half-pipe run.  Helmets were required for the event. 

Despite the safety gear, however, one minor injury occurred.  A boy from the 13-and-older group sustained a possible broken arm during a practice run and had to be taken away in an ambulance.  His spirits were still high and he seemed almost blasé, as he explained to the EMT that he had broken his arm “several times” in the past.

The glitch did not seem to dampen enthusiasm much.  The crowd cheered on as participants performed grabs, grinds, indies and ollies, among other impressive tricks.  After his run, Joey, a twelve-year-old from Danville, was energized.  “I love the excitement of landing the tricks, and its great hanging out with my friends,” he described of the sport.  Joey performed impressively for having only learned how to skate one year ago.  But the winner for this age group was Ben Hayes of Newton who summed up his love of the sport in three simple words, “learning new tricks.”  Second and third place winners were Ralphie Tejada of Nashua and Anthony Bovitz of Duxbury, Massachusetts.

The lone female in the contest was Nora Vasconcellos of Pembroke.  Competing in the 13-and-older category, she handily defeated her male competition to take first place.  Standing out in the crowd of somber colors, she proudly stood up with her purple sneakers and pink helmet and accepted her award.  Following on her “wheels” were second and third place winners EJ Martin and Dan Foley, both of Pelham.

A modest entrance fee of $5 was charged per contestant.  All proceeds from the contest and T-shirt sales will be invested back into the maintenance of the park.  Part two of the X Games, the bicycle competition, will be held at the park on Saturday, September 20.  For more information, contact the Pelham Parks and Recreation Department at 635-2721.

Joey, 12, of Danville attained some air at the Pelham X Games on Saturday, August 23.

Ben Johnson of Newton took first place in the 12-and-under category at the Pelham X Games on Saturday.  Simply describing his love of the sport, he answered that he likes “learning new tricks.

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School Budget is Tight but Volunteers Step Up to the Plate

by Karen Plumley

With money as tight as ever and the economy unsettled, many schools are cutting corners on special programs and activities.  In times such as these, it is inspiring to see a community step up and offer its help in whatever form it can.  At Pelham Elementary School (PES), a group of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers are doing just that.  A three-pronged volunteer program has been developed to broaden educational opportunities in a year where special opportunities are scarce.  The program includes reading, technology, and enrichment, and is being run for the most part by generous volunteers who have found a way to contribute a very precious commodity — time — for this worthy endeavor.

The reading portion, headed by PES Reading Specialist Michelle Viger, is entering its third year as a very successful program for third and fourth graders to reinforce basic reading skills and enhance reading fluency.  Volunteers in this area work with small groups of children in a safe and nurturing setting and are fully trained in the Brody Reading Program before they begin.  They are expected to commit only a couple of hours per week of tutoring, but the positive experience for the volunteers and especially for the children could very well last a lifetime.

The other two programs are brand new: technology and enrichment.  They will be completely organized and staffed by trained volunteers.  Shelly White, an avid volunteer and stay-at-home mother of three will be coordinating the technology piece.  “I have been volunteering to help out with the computer lab for three years now.  Prior to this year, the lab was full of dead and dying macs and it was really hard to get things going.  Sometimes there would be one working machine for every four,” White described.  Now that the equipment in the old lab has been replaced and three mobile labs have been added (as part of the final warrant article of a three phase technology refresh program passed by voters in March 2008), teachers will be able to incorporate more technology into the classrooms on a regular basis. 

“Some teachers are very comfortable with computers but most are not, and that’s where we come in,” White noted.  White and her group of nine volunteers, who range from stay-at-home mothers to working dads to grandparents, will be available to help with any technical issues that might arise.  The team, who recently completed a training meeting on August 19 with the school district’s technology director Adam Steel, will work in the classrooms once every other week so that, according to White, “Teachers won’t get bogged down with technical glitches and can actually do what they are supposed to do — teach.”

Volunteer Melanie Holden, who is the mother of three children from Pelham, will head the third program, enrichment, designed to help students stay challenged and deepen their understanding of concepts that they learn daily in their classrooms.  These special enrichment sessions will be piloted at the fifth grade level in three of the six classes.  Volunteers will bring with them their particular expertise in such areas as math, writing, or science to small groups of children who have demonstrated a mastery of the current topics being covered.  Frequency will be approximately two hours weekly. 

According to Holden, some children understand new concepts so quickly, even within a day or two.  Consequently, they are in serious danger of becoming bored during a unit lasting another two to three excruciating weeks.  “We don’t want to lose these children and hopefully we can provide them with some challenging things to work on with this new program,” she said.  For the enrichment program, Holden is looking for volunteers in many subject areas.  “Math, creative writing, history, science, pretty much across the board.  And you don’t need to be a parent to volunteer either.  Anyone who can spare an hour or two here or there to share their expertise would be great,” Holden remarked.  Holden’s goal is to keep the children fully engaged at school and maintain their love of learning.  She hopes to have a rotating team of volunteers to help her do so.  For more information or to volunteer for any of the three programs, contact Pelham Elementary School at 635-8875.

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Windham’s Bartley House Renovation Bid Awarded

by Barbara O’Brien

After several sessions of extensive discussion on whether to proceed with renovations to the second floor of Windhams historic Bartley House, the location of the towns administrative offices, selectmen decided by a vote of 3 to 2 to move forward.  The latest proposed renovations were approved by voters in March, not to exceed $50,000.  Renovations to the first floor of the building were completed previously. 

Voting in favor of proceeding with the project were Selectmen Roger Hohenberger, Galen Stearns and Dennis Senibaldi.  Selectmen Bruce Breton and Charles McMahon voted in opposition.

On Monday, August 18, following significant debate, selectmen awarded the job to Kingwood Construction for $53,450, with $3,450 of that money coming from the towns maintenance budget, as the approved warrant article had appropriated only $50,000.  The added cost was due to selectmens decision to have the windows in the building replaced with a more energy-efficient style.  Kingwood Construction submitted the lowest bid.

Hohenberger had wanted to split the bid between two contractors and have one firm do the windows, while another company would do all other renovations.  Hohenbergers motion failed to garner enough support, however.  Breton expressed great concern about the building having appropriate handicapped access to the second floor.  Town Administrator David Sullivan explained that if the cost of handicapped access exceeds 20 percent of the total budgeted amount for the project the town is in compliance.  Sullivan said the conference room will need to remain downstairs and an intercom system must be in place for communications between the two floors.  He also said there only needs to be one unisex bathroom on the second floor. 

In response to requests for quotes on the project, five bids were received from area businesses.

All were over the $50,000 budget approved by voters.  All bid packages received, however, did include the additional cost of installing new windows. According to Sullivan, the following companies submitted bids:

  • Kingwood of Windham for $53,450
  • Black Dog of Salem for $88,566
  • Englewood of Manchester for $57,453
  • Dave House of Windham for $54.300
  • Fraser of Hudson for $57,500.
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Windham High Band Director Hired

by Barbara O’Brien

A full year before Windham High School starts classes, school administrators have hired the person who will teach music and directing the band. 

Im hiring the very best people I can to stand up in front of our students, Windham Superintendent Frank Bass said, on Tuesday, August 19, before introducing Jared Cassedy, who has worked at the Windham Middle School as its band and music director for the past three years.  He will continue in that position until the new high school opens in September of 2009.  During the interim, Cassedy will work at formulating programs for the high school. 

During the first year, Windham High School will offer classes only to freshmen and sophomores.  Juniors and seniors will continue going to Salem High School under an extended tuition agreement.

This is like a dream come true for me, Cassedy told school board members, thanking them for what he said is an incredible opportunity. I am thrilled to be part of the Windham High School team, he said, describing Windham students as exceptional children with whom to work and watch grow. He described Windham as a culturally rich and diverse community.

Cassedy grew up in Salem.  He is entering his fourth year of teaching music and band. 

School Board Chairman Barbara Coish, referring to Cassedy leaving Windham Middle School next year to take on the new job at Windham High School, said, Dont worry, we wont leave the middle school without another talented person to teach music and band to the students there.

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