Senior Center Hosts Successful Fall Fair

by Karen Plumley


Another great deal is made at the barn (also known as the “Penny Pincher”).  Geraldine Barrie of Pelham (r) purchases a tea set from Center volunteer Mary Lou Gostan.

Emilie Lessard of Pelham hovered about the children’s fish bowl prize table, with a jar of colorful folded paper by her side.  A member of Pelham’s Senior Center for nearly four years now, Lessard loves to volunteer at the Fall Fair.  This year it was her duty to assemble the little square papers, some with lucky numbers, for the fish bowl raffle.  She hand-folded 4,000 in all!  “I just worked a little bit on it every night, sometimes in front of the TV,” she noted proudly.  Lining the tables around her were dozens of prizes for children.  To her right could be found a long table of prizes for the adult fish bowl raffle.

The annual Senior Center Fall Fair always takes place on the last Saturday in October, and this year it fell on October 25.  Opening promptly at 9 a.m., the fair saw many visitors throughout the day.  In addition to the raffles that greeted guests at the door, there was also a lovely bake sale and a barn sale that was attracting crowds of customers looking for a good deal; it was easy to find one at this year’s fair, as Geraldine Barrie of Pelham can surely attest; after browsing the barn, she found a great tea set to purchase.

Senior Center volunteer Mary Lou Gostan was volunteering at the Fall Fair barn sale, but can often times be found working here during its weekly hours of operation.  “We always welcome visitors of all ages.  The more the merrier,” Gostan enthused.  The barn is open to the public from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. from Tuesday through Friday.  (It remains open during the winter months of January through March on Wednesdays only.)

“The main purpose of the fair is to defray the costs of our annual Harris Christmas party,” noted Senior Center director Sue Hovling.  The Fall Fair has been a tradition for the 33 years that Hovling has been involved with the center.  She hopes that this year the fair may raise a few dollars for the building fund, which, according to Hovling, has been a slow but steady fundraising effort.  “We are accepting donations for it all the time, but with the economy the way it is our final goal is always changing.” 

“But in line with the economy, our prices at the barn and at the fair are very good,” added Emily Hodge, an active member of the center who was helping out at the fish bowl raffle on Saturday.  Hodge volunteers time weekly for the center, and keeps up the center’s Website that now lists the many services the center provides to the community, including health screening, living will services, and flu shot clinics.  For more information on the Pelham Senior Center, visit their Website at www.pelhamweb.com/srcenter.

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Open House at Windham High School

by Lynne Ober


The two story open foyer was constantly filled with a stream of residents during the open house.

When Windham High School officially opens as an academic institution in August, 2009, it will house the graduating classes of 2012 and 2013, but last Saturday it hosted the entire community.  Windham’s School Board invited the public to come tour the high school and they did.  The school was open from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and during that time the parking lots were over-flowing with cars.

The school board, Superintendent, Dr. Frank Bass, high school administration as well as middle school administration were on hand to mingle with the public, answer questions and talk about the construction.

The school has a roof and windows.  Inside walls have been roughed out and many classrooms are beginning to look like classrooms.

A string of cars was constantly driving up the long driveway.  When you get to the top, the view is magnificent and the school is sited on a beautiful piece of property overlooking the town.

The front door of the school stood open.  You could see steel beams through the door, but you weren’t ready for the two story bright foyer.  The windows flooded the foyer with light.  Already the foyer was in use.  “It’s great to see the foyer being already used as we envisioned it,” said School Board member Bruce Anderson.  Spread throughout the foyer were a number of groups.  You could order a Windham High School windbreaker in the school’s blue and gold colors or talk to the athletic boosters or the Windham Musical Arts Association, a group of parents already supporting the middle school. 

“We plan to move into the high school and support choral, instrumental music as well as theater arts programs when the high school opens,” said Laurie Sacetser.  “We have an e-mail address now [wmaassoc@gmail.com] for interested parents to contact us.”

In front of the various doorways were signs with floor plans and information for each area.  There were carpet, paint and flooring samples on the signs which helped people envision what the school would look like when it was finished.

The Windham High School gymnasium, large enough to accommodate almost any school or town event, was open.

The huge theater was also available for viewing from the doorways.  It will have a dramatic rise of 600 seats and the concrete foundation for these seats was already in place, as was the ninety-foot stage with dual runways.  When finished it will have suspended catwalks, a green room, and a state-of-the art sound and light control room that will inspire performers of all ages.

Project Manager Glen Davis said that he had already had inquiries about renting the auditorium for productions and shows.  He anticipates that after the school is finished and the Board has the school open and functioning, the auditorium might provide a source of revenue by renting it for outside productions.

“The response has been remarkable,” said Superintendent, Dr. Frank Bass.  “People are telling me that it is more than they expected and they are very happy.”  Bass was constantly surrounded by residents who wanted to chat about the project and about the positive future of education in Windham.

Classrooms, art and music instructional areas were also open.  Students were staged in the various areas to answer questions.  Two of the art classrooms connect to an outdoor patio which students will be able to use.

The cafeteria had a signboard with the sample chips and on the reverse side had some photos of what the finished area will look like.  It will have both an indoor and an outdoor seating area.

“The kitchen is big enough to cook lunches for our entire school district,” said Davis.  He noted that the school was outfitted to also be an emergency shelter for residents in case of a disaster.

“It’s just a beautiful school,” said Josie Capppiello, whose children will one day attend the school.  “I’d love to work here.  I think the environment will be great for the students.”

Bass said that he was extremely pleased with the interest being shown by the community.  “We’ve just had a school full of residents since we first opened the doors at 9:00 a.m.  I think that we’ll need to hold a couple more of these open forums so that the public can watch the school come to life.”

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One-to-One Laptops for Students Endorsed by School Board

by Barbara O’Brien

Members of the Windham School Board are standing behind the concept of providing laptops to each student attending the new high school when it begins operations next year.

Following a presentation by Assistant School Superintendent Roxanne Wilson and Information Technology Director Terry Bullard, school board members voted unanimously (5 to 0) to approve the one-to-one initiative being proposed, with the stipulation being made that the cost for the first year of the program is to be covered by money remaining in the furniture, fixture and equipment budget set aside for the construction of Windham High School.

This initiative will enhance the education of all students who attend Windham High School, not only next year, but into the future, School Superintendent Frank Bass said.  We are seeking to make our high school more rigorous, meaningful and relevant, Wilson said, citing how much the world has changed in the last 30 years, moving from a largely industrial society to one which is much more service-oriented.  We need to prepare our students for this future, Wilson said.  This is our mission.

The challenge, Wilson continued, is to determine how best to assure that Windham High School becomes that exemplary community, producing students who can compete not only in a regional workplace, but in the global marketplace in which we now exist.  All instruction must be meaningful, she said.

Wilson cited a quote by John Dewey, made in 1930, during the Great Depression:  If we teach today, as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.  Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer.

If the one-to-one laptop initiative becomes reality, Wilson said, Windham will be the first public high school in New Hampshire to provide such a program to its entire student body.  There are only two private schools in the state which currently provide laptops for every student.

Wilson said the goals which staff and administrators will be striving to achieve at Windham High School include the development of life and career skills, creativity and innovative thought, literacy in both information and technology, and skillfulness in all core subjects, including English, mathematics, history, geography, global awareness and financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial endeavors.

A Twenty-First Century classroom must provide both abundant and readily accessible information to students, Wilson said.  It must also be ensured that students are actively engaged in the learning process and that individual course material needs to be integrated with other subjects being taught.  This new generation of students needs to be multi-lingual, cross-culturally competent, technologically fluent, economically engaged, artistically expressive, academic life-long learners and democratic citizens, Wilson said.

IT Director Bullard reiterated much of what Wilson said.  Students need to have 24-7 access to global information, Bullard said, and instituting a one-to-one laptop initiative is an excellent way of achieving this goal.  In researching other school districts nationwide that have used this idea, it has been shown that students who participate, show greater independence, are more engaged in learning, and are more highly motivated.  They also earn higher test scores in all core subjects, Bullard said.  The one-to-one laptop initiative is making a difference in student learning, she told school board members.  In the next five years, this will be the norm in most schools.

As for the brand of laptop computer being considered, Bullard said several companies were investigated, but she found that the best system is offered by Apple Computers, specifically the MacBook, which can also use Microsoft Windows programs.  Apple is the leader and innovator in educational technology, Bullard said.  I feel Apple will meet the one-to-one initiative of Windham High School the best. 

Bullard also said that the high quality hardware produced by Apple is designed for student use and if the Windham School District decides to make that purchase, it will be an investment that will last long-term.  It’s a one-stop-shop, she said, where you can buy all equipment and services from just one vendor.

Bullard said a total of 506 laptops will be required for the first year of the program (teachers and students) for a cost of $642,157.  Only freshmen and sophomores will be attending Windham High for the 2009-2010 school year.  In years two and three, as more students enter the high school, an additional 455 laptops will be needed to implement the one-to-one program.  The total cost of the initiative for the first three years of its operation will be $1,142,556.

The first year, the money for the initiative will come from the high school construction budget (furniture, fixtures and equipment).  In subsequent years, the money will either need to be included in the annual operating budget or a lease-purchase agreement will need to be enacted.

School board member Beverly Donovan, who said she is currently working on her own Master’s Degree, remarked on how necessary it is now for students to have adequate technological equipment.  School board member Bruce Anderson said it’s been demonstrated that most students tend to take very good care of laptops.  This is their life, he said.  In today’s world, information can be obtained in a matter of minutes.  Students must be able to process this information and evaluate it, Anderson said.

Bullard said she will continue investigating the best methods by which to achieve the one-to-one laptop initiative endorsed by school board members, and will be providing them with regular updates on the progress being made.

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Good News for Pelham Tax Payers

by Lynne Ober

The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration [DRA] has set the 2008 tax rate for Pelham and according to Town Administrator, Tom Gaydos, there’s some good news for Pelham taxpayers.

Gaydos pointed out that Pelham voters supported annual updates to Pelham’s real estate appraisal during the last election and that updating resulted in a drop in the value of residential property.

“The annual updating accounted for the 11.4% average drop in residential property values, 30% increase in commercial and 14% in industrial values,” stated Gaydos.  “The overall town wide valuation decreased about 10% from $1.711 billion to $1.547 billion. “

According to DRA, “Local property taxes, based upon assessed valuation, are assessed, levied and collected by municipalities.”  The lower the property tax assessment, the higher the per thousand tax rate as actual expenditures remain steady even as property values fluctuate.  So if property assessment rates are high, the per thousand tax rate is lower and vice versa.

This fluctuation, of course, makes it difficult to compare apples to apples.  For each individual taxpayer, the proof will come with the tax bill.  Is it lower or higher?  According to Gaydos, many will pay less.

Although the tax rate has increased by 9.7 percent over the 2007 level, the lowering of the real estate property evaluations will have a positive impact on many taxpayers.  “Based on these re-adjustments of property values, we anticipate the average residential taxpayer to experience a reduction in their tax bill by over 2.5 percent or about $200.00 per year,” stated Gaydos.  That will be especially good news during times of increased costs.

“The Selectmen were able to establish this rate with the State by utilizing some fund reserves while maintaining a healthy reserve of $1.2 million which is about 4 percent of all appropriations,” said Gaydos.  “This reserve allows the town to avoid borrowing money and greatly reduces interest costs.”

The comparison of 2007 and 2008 tax rates is below:

Category

2008

2007

Town Property Tax

4.46

3.89

Local School Property Tax

9.46

8.85

State School Property Tax

2.36

2.11

County Property Tax

1.07

.96

Total per $1000.00

17.35

15.81

Overall, this is an increase of 9.7 percent however; it should be viewed in light of the annual updates supported by the voters at the last election.

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Hidden Jewel Winners


First Annual Hidden Jewel Award Winners, from left, Pat Good, Blue Sapphire Award; Bonnie Breen, Emerald Award; Freda Smith, Mother of Pearl Award; Louise Peltz, Topaz Award; Tiffany Eddy, Keynote Speaker, WMUR Channel 9; Mary Graffeo, Pink Diamond; Holly DeCarteret, Diamond in the Rough; Kathy Davis, Ruby Award. The event held at the Atkinson County Club was hosted by the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce and Salem Co-operative Bank. It highlighted the achievement of these outstanding citizens on Wednesday, October 29. Congratulations to all the recipients.

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