Fitness is Fun at Pelham Elementary

by Karen Plumley

The girls are ready for a challenging obstacle course run at the PES Fun Fitness event.  Second graders from left: Mackenzie Lever, Meghan O’Neill and Fallon Vigeant.  In back is second grader Daisy Kenney.

It was a sunny but frigid Friday that ushered in the third annual Pelham Elementary PTA Fun Fitness event, and the weather slowly deteriorated as the day wore on.  No matter.  First through fifth graders enjoyed their time outside, riding bikes, running on the track, and participating in an obstacle course that contained many more elements this year than last.  In fact, for the first time in three years the bike event was not the most popular.  That top honor was given to the obstacle course, thanks to the ingenious design of physical education teacher Anthony Bolduc. 

The course contained three sections through which the children rotated.  This kept the event flowing smoothly and the wait lines from getting too long.  One of the children’s favorite segments was the “Spider Web,” a tangle of colored ropes tied to poles that they had to sneak through one at a time without touching.  Additionally, there were beanbag tosses, hula-hoops, crawl spaces, tires and many other obstacles to keep the kids challenged.

In the meantime, the bike event was going strong.  Children raced on the route around the school, with volunteer “spotters” in various locations.  Art teacher Peter Tselios rode his own bike around the course innumerable times, keeping pace with the children from each grade seemingly without an ounce of fatigue.  Although in the early afternoon hours, he surrendered his bike and helmet briefly to fifth grade teacher Kerry Struth, who rode with her students for a couple of laps.

On the track, the second graders ran vigorously to earn their lap checkmarks.  When they got tired, they popped off over to the water station for a quick drink.  Reenergized, they raced around the track yet again.  Encouraging them to “stay the course,” second grade teacher Mrs. Patricia Zube ran around right along with them.

With a record 93 percent participation rate, the event was staffed by PTA organizers and a huge number of parent volunteers who came and went throughout the day, hoping to cheer on their little ones.  There was even a volunteer medical team stationed at the center of it all.  Lisa Labrecque, an occupational therapist and mother of fifth grade twins Alex and Samantha, was on hand to encourage the children to drink water and help with medical needs.  Accompanying her was Gina McManus, a nurse and mother of second grader Devon.  McManus, who also volunteered last year, commented that much less water would be needed for this year’s event.  Considering that the temperature was more than 30 degrees cooler this year, that fact is understandable. 

Overall, the event was another huge success, thanks to the volunteers and the unparalleled enthusiasm of the children.  Any money earned during the PTA’s most significant fundraiser of the year will go toward enhancing the students’ educational experience.  The funds will help to offset costs for field trips, special guest speakers, equipment upgrades and other school necessities.

Fifth graders head for the sharp curve in the bike course, with physical education teacher Anthony Bolduc leading the way.

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Technology at PES Sees Many Benefits

by Karen Plumley

Third-grader Hannah Valencourt of Pelham opens her laptop during a technology lesson led by her teacher, Donna Carr, and community volunteers.

Third graders in Mrs. Donna Carr’s class had reason to be energized on the afternoon of Friday, September 19.  However, the excitement was not in the form one might expect in a class of more than 20 eight-year-olds.  Recess was just barely over, and yet the students were silent as mice and still in their chairs.  Listening with rapt attention to Mrs. Carr’s instructions, the students opened brand new laptops, switched them on and logged on to the network with their passwords.  Thus began their first elementary technology lesson.

In March 2008, Pelham School Warrant Article 13 to complete the final phase of a technology refresh program was approved narrowly (Yes - 1969, No - 1838).  It was one of only three school articles requiring funding to receive a positive nod from voters.  School District Technology Director Adam Steel implemented this last installment of the plan over the summer at the elementary school.  The technological improvements are already providing students and teachers with a host of benefits.

Fifteen new computers have been installed in the school’s library.  The technology lab now plays host to several rows of thin client computers with no moving parts that might break, replacing the barely functioning Macintosh computers.  Additionally, there are now three mobile labs being used in the classrooms.  Portable laptops are wheeled to their assigned destinations on carts containing wireless routers so students have access to Websites.  Steel explained that at the elementary level, access to all Internet sites is blocked except for those the teacher specifies in the lesson plan.

Behind the scenes, Steel maintains 14 electricity efficient servers, virtualized to act as one.  “At night the servers are set up to rebalance and those that are not needed automatically shut down to save electricity,” noted Steel.  Only five servers stay on between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Meanwhile in Mrs. Carr’s class, students continued typing away.  Technology volunteers including Shelly White of Pelham were in the classroom offering assistance.  “We have 10 wonderful volunteers who spend one day every two weeks providing technical support to the teachers and students.  They have been a phenomenal help,” Steel said.

The benefits are many in the fifth grade as well.  “Without the support of the voters, my students would not have access to the experiences they currently have,” said fifth grade teacher Kerry Struth, who has used the mobile lab to its full potential for her class, teaching math and language lessons with online textbooks and other educational resources.  “We currently use the mobile lab at least once per week for math instruction,” said Struth.  With the technology now available Struth is able to evaluate students’ strengths and weaknesses quickly.  Immediate feedback with online assessments has allowed Struth to gear lessons to each student.  “During the computer time, the students are so engaged in their individual tasks, you could hear a pin drop,” Struth said.  Some of the tasks Struth plans for her students this year include creating digital storybooks using Word, Paint, and PowerPoint, graphing for science labs using Excel, and creating a student blog (short for Web log, this tool will help students keep track of what they learned throughout the year and can be used as a study guide).

The benefits don’t stop there.  “Given my large class size of 28 students, meeting the needs of all learners can be a difficult task.  By using the technology I am able to better support those students who need additional help and challenge those students who need further enrichment.  I am also able to present lessons to meet the needs of all the different learning styles,” said Struth.  “Most importantly, the technology makes learning for my students new and exciting.”

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Pelham Road Changes Requested

By Lynne Ober

If you live on Stonepost Road in Pelham, the time you have feared is drawing closer.  Stonepost Road is a quiet cul-de-sac that dead ends at town land.  However, to accommodate traffic from the Bayberry Woods subdivision, selectmen have granted a road easement across the town land and connecting to Stonepost Road.  Residents fear that traffic will speed through their once-quiet neighborhood.

Selectmen walked on the property and were joined by Peter Zohdi from Hebert Associates.  At the end of the site walk, they reconvened at their meeting room.

Town Administrator Tom Gaydos commented that several people attended the site walk and there had been a lively conversation about traffic.  Stonepost Road is a long straight road up a hill.

Police Chief Joseph Roark said firmly the concerns of the neighborhood were superseded by the need to provide road connectivity.  While Roark spoke in favor of building what he called “traffic-calming” features into the road, he made it clear he prefers the connectivity.  “People speed.  It’s a chronic problem,” said Roark.

Selectman Hal Lynde expressed concern about the straightaway on town land and wondered if a round-a-bout could be put in to slow traffic.

Selectmen also had a petition from residents on Lannan Road.  “How do I make one neighborhood worse to make another one better?” wondered Selectman Bill McDevitt

Fire Chief Michael Walker noted that the fire department must carry water to fires and tankers must leave the area to re-fill during a fire.  “We have to have a clear pathway to make that work.”

Lynde also requested that the Conservation Commission be involved in the plan and said parking areas should be included so that people could access the conservation land for passive recreation.  He asked about having two round-a-bouts – one at each end of the road.

Planning Director Jeff Gowan said adding round-a-bouts was not a difficult design plan and Hebert Associates could be asked to do that.

Shane Gendron of Hebert Associates showed a potential change to the plans.

Selectmen agreed to ask for changes and to post a public hearing on the plans for October 21.

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Delay on Sewer Expansion

by Barbara O'Brien

The decision by Salem’s town officials to not move forward this coming March with a warrant article to expand existing sewer facilities will give Windham more time to investigate what it might need to do in the future.

Windham selectmen had discussed future needs for public septic during a board meeting last month.  It was after that meeting that they learned Salem was delaying a proposed $5 million sewer expansion for that town.  Windham Selectman Charles McMahon said that Salem was putting off the proposed warrant article due to the current economic situation.  Windham selectmen had discussed the potential for some day hooking into the septic system in Salem, which is linked to the Lawrence, Massachusetts facility.

During the Monday, September 29 Windham selectmen’s meeting, the consensus of board members was to still move forward with a study of the issue.  The topic of debate was raised recently because of the Route 93 expansion.  State Department of Transportation (DOT) officials are looking for input from Windham in regard to laying conduits under the highway while construction is still in progress.  DOT officials have suggested that the pipes be laid north of Exit 3 near the Weigh Station, while Windham officials are leaning toward putting a conduit further south on Route 93.

Windham selectmen are checking the possibility of getting a state grant to pay for a study of future sewer needs.  Selectman Galen Stearns suggested that Windham ask Salem to participate in a joint study of future sewer needs for the area, thereby doubling the amount of state money that might be available to pay for the investigation.

Selectman Bruce Breton emphasized the first thing that needs to be accomplished is to let the State DOT know where Windham might want a conduit located.  The study should be conducted after that, he said.

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Donations from Local Businesses

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham selectmen have expressed their gratitude to a number of area businesses for their generous donations of various gift certificates and other products to the annual Senior Picnic and the recent Windham Tennis Open.  These donations totaled approximately $2,000.

The following businesses participated in the contribution: Coffee Roasters, Lobster Tail Restaurant, Shaw’s Supermarket, Howie Glynn’s, Mobil on the Run, The Meat House in Salem, Prime Butcher, Blue House Pizza in Salem, Klemm’s Bakery, Infinite Fitness, Bella Viaggio, Cyr Lumber, Rockingham Toyota in Salem, New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Nashua Pride Baseball Team, Windham Junction, and Charley’s Pizza and Kabob.

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