A Backpack Lesson at St. Patrick School

Kay Barretto is asking the students how much the average backpack weighs.

When asked what your spine does, at the beginning of a Backpack Safety presentation for third graders, the answer that it keeps your body from being a “Flipper Flopper” was an acceptable answer.  Kay Barretto, an education specialist from Dr. Holly Rucco’s chiropractic office, visited the students in grades K-4 at St. Patrick School in Pelham.  The real answer was that the spine protects the spinal cord, which is responsible for sending many important messages throughout your body (like the stomach, the heart, the lungs, etc.).  With an inactive slideshow the students were exposed to information with fun facts on how to wear the backpack, and with simple math, by the time the average student leaves high school they would have lifted the accumulative weight of 96 cars.  If amazed, the math is as follows:  the average backpack weighs 12 pounds and it is lifted an average of 10 times a day for 180 days a year — that is 21,600 pounds a school year, or the weight of six full-sized cars.  So in 12 years, that is 259,000 pounds, or 96 full-sized cars.

After all the fun, the students were instructed on how to keep their backs healthy by observing some basic steps for good backpack usage.  The Wellness Foundation Center for Family Health and Wellness/Chiropractic First offers this program to groups and schools.  To schedule this fun and educational workshop, call Kay Barretto at 327-4125 or e-mail kbarretto@comcast.net.

Matthew Ferrara watched with concern with his backpack in place.

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Lakeside Insurance Ribbon Cutting

Lakeside Insurance of Windham hosted the Salem Chamber for a Ribbon Cutting to celebrate the addition of C&G Insurance to their group, making it the largest Family owned Agency in New England, with over 15 offices in New Hampshire. From Left Donna Morris of the Salem Chamber, Dave Anderson of Dingo Design, Nanci Carney of Pentucket Bank, Joe Rossetti of Lakeside Insurance, Ed Duvall of Lakeside Insurance, Mike Caruso of Lakeside Insurance, Judy George of Lakeside Insurance, Stacy Bruzzese of the Salem Chamber, Denise Dolloff of The Pelham Windham News, Judi Coish of Lakeside Insurance Donna Velt of Pentucket Bamk and Pauline Proulx of Lakeside Insurance.

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Program of Studies for Windham High Approved

by Barbara O’Brien

After reviewing recommended changes to “the program of studies” for Windham High School, school board members voted 4 to 0 to approve the fifth and final draft of that document.  Windham High will begin operations this coming August.  The program of studies recently approved by board members pertains only to freshmen and sophomores for the 2009-2010 school year.  During the initial year, only ninth and tenth graders will attend the new high school.  Junior and seniors will continue attending Salem High School through a tuition agreement with that town.

Voting in favor of the program of studies were Chairman Barbara Coish, Mike Hatem, Bruce Anderson and Beverly Donovan.  Board member Mark Brockmeier was not in attendance at the time the vote was taken.

One major change included in the final draft was to reduce social studies requirements from the previously recommended four credits down to only three credits.  High School Principal Richard Manley said the reason for the reduction is that a four-credit social studies requirement is far above the norm.  The State of New Hampshire Department of Education requires 2.5 social studies credits for graduation.  “Three credits is the minimum recommendation,” Manley said.  “I would encourage students to take four (credits).”

Also added to the program of studies for the first year is an introductory theatre studies course.  During the second year, when there are more students in attendance, an acting class will be added, Manley said.

In the area of science, a meteorology course has been added to the program of studies.  An astronomy course will then be added during the second year of operation.  Manley said he doesn’t want to offer both astronomy and meteorology during the first year, as he fears there will be too few students to fill both classes.

School board member Bruce Anderson asked Manley about the status of a senior honors project (senior seminar).  Manley said he feels the project needs to be worked on further to assure it will be something that will truly engage seniors when the time comes.  Manley said he wants to prevent students from having a case of “senioritis” and therefore losing interest as graduation day approaches.  It will be two years before there are any seniors at Windham High School, Manley noted, so there is still sufficient time to spend developing an exceptional senior honors project.

Superintendent Frank Bass said he feels that the basic details of the senior seminar need to be provided in advance, “so students can look forward to it.”  “It needs to be on the radar screen,” Bass said, while at the same time, planners need to take the time “to flesh it out.”  “I want every kid to look forward to the capstone of their education at Windham High School,” he added.

School board member Mike Hatem questioned Manley as to the size of individual classes.  “How small is too small?”  Hatem asked.  While Manley said he’s not planning to offer classes for which only five or less students register, he would need to weigh the size of the class versus the commitment to provide certain courses.  Especially in the first year, Dr. Bass added, “we want to make sure every kid’s interest is honored.”

As for co-curricular activities, the following are proposed for the 2009-2010 school year: yearbook, newspaper, pep band, A capella club, dance team, literary magazine, speech/debate, chess club, math team, intramural sports, Robotics/FIRST, TV production, computer club, art club, student government, orchestra, outing club, key club, mock trial, Destination Imagination, Spanish Club, French Club, theatre and theatre technical crew.  Some of these activities are subject to change depending upon student interest.  Students will be encouraged to join multiple activities.

Windham High School will also offer a comprehensive athletic program for the 2009-2010 school year.  The following sports will be offered, based on student interest: Fall (Boys) cross-country, football, golf and soccer; (Girls) cheerleading, cross-country, field hockey, golf, soccer and volleyball; Winter (Boys) alpine skiing, basketball, gymnastics, co-ed ice hockey, indoor track, swimming and wrestling; (Girls) alpine skiing, basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, co-ed ice hockey, indoor track and swimming; Spring (Boys) baseball, lacrosse, tennis and track and field; (Girls) lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track and field.

Manley said he and other members of the Windham High School planning team will continue “fine-tuning and editing” the program of studies in the weeks ahead.  “I’m only asking for an endorsement of the program of studies for the first year,” he said.  “I will come back next year with any updates.”

The program of studies recently adopted by the school board was originally generated by the high school curriculum committee in June of 2004.  Manley said much of that original document was incorporated into the current program of studies.  Some changes were made, Manley noted, due to changes in state mandates.

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High School Honor Roll Discussed

by Barbara O’Brien

School administrators continue to put together academic parameters for students who will be attending Windham High School.  The new facility, Windham’s very first high school, will commence operation this coming August.  During its first year, only freshmen and sophomores will attend Windham High.  Juniors and seniors will continue their education at Salem High School.  The first school year that all four grade levels will attend Windham High School will be 2011-2012.

Windham High School principal Richard Manley has been keeping school board members up to speed since he assumed the job last July.  His most recent presentation to board members centered on the future school’s honor roll and what level of achievement will be required to achieve that distinction.

Manley said plans are to have the honor roll include students with A’s and B’s only and not to have it be reflective of their overall grade point averages (GPA).  “This will extend accolades to a larger percentage of students,” Manley said.

When asked about including students with one C to their credit, Superintendent Franklyn Bass said, “A C+ is not academic distinction.”

School board member Bruce Anderson said he’s concerned that not basing honor roll inclusion on a student’s GPA might deter some students from taking more difficult classes.  “This will make it tougher to get on the honor roll,” Anderson said.  “Students should take courses because of interest, not just to get on the honor roll,” Bass replied.

School board member Mike Hatem suggested giving students with the top 10 percent highest grade point averages “high honors” recognition, and giving students with the top 25 percent highest grade point averages “basic honors” acclaim.

Manley thanked members of the high school planning team and administrators for their input on honor roll stipulations.  “I’m sure this won’t be the last discussion we have on the topic,” Manley said.

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Credit Card Ordinance on Town Warrant

by Barbara O’Brien

One of the warrant articles to be voted on by Windham residents next month would allow town officials to set up a program allowing those paying for certain town services to be able to use a credit card.  However, according to assistant town administrator Dana Call, even if voters give the go-ahead to establish such a program, it does not mean that the acceptance of credit cards will automatically go into effect.  Voter approval would merely allow the acceptance of credit cards (not debit cards) should town officials choose to proceed in that direction.

According to information provided by Call, the intent of this proposed warrant article (16) is to adopt an ordinance that will authorize the Board of Selectmen to allow the use of credit cards for certain transactions conducted with town departments, such as for building permits or recreation department activity fees.

The types of payments that might be accepted would be determined by the Board.  Selectmen would also set the maximum amount of any individual credit card transaction that would be allowable.  Having such an ordinance in place is required by state statute.

Also pursuant to state statute, should the proposed warrant article pass voter scrutiny, the selectmen will include, within the town’s internal control policies, procedures governing the collection, handling and retention of receipts, statements, and any other documentation generated from each credit card payment, whether the transaction is conducted over the counter or via the internet, to ensure all information collected from customers is safe-guarded.

This proposed warrant article, as well as all other warrant articles to be voted on in March, will be discussed at the town’s deliberative session on Saturday, February 7 beginning at 9 a.m. at Golden Brook School.

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