Community Gathers for Two Special Nights

by Karen Plumley

Pelham High School junior Alex LaPierre poses next to her magnificent oil painting.

This year’s annual Pelham Community Night celebration took place over two days.  Guests attended the first offering at Pelham Elementary School on the night of Wednesday, March 4, and many returned for the Fine Arts showcase at Pelham High School on Thursday evening.

After many years, Community Night has become a well-attended and very popular tradition, and this year was certainly no exception.  In fact, when the town-wide celebration began busting at the seams two years ago with crowded hallways and lack of adequate parking, it was decided that it would be best to split up the event into two parts.

On Wednesday, Pelham Elementary was the location for parents and guests interested in seeing the amazing displays of school projects, meeting with teachers, and chatting with friends, classmates, and fellow community members.  But academic interests and achievements were not all that that was going on.  Once inside, hoards of people gathered around displays in the hallways.  Visitors stopped here and there to observe and learn at the many informative tables loaded with community information on Scouting for boys and girls, the Police and Fire departments, Parks and Recreation, Destination Imagination, and the Pelham Elementary PTA.

The highlight of the evening, however, was undeniably the project displays.  One of the most impressive was located on the first floor common room area.  It was the dinosaur exhibit, with models and artwork created by the very talented and enthusiastic first graders.  Dinosaur and jungle sounds emitted from a CD player, and all manners of dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures were creatively positioned.  Some floated in the air above, while others rested in their grassy or rocky habitats.

Meanwhile, one of the second floor common areas was taken over by the fourth graders for their Native American exhibit.  A life-size teepee kept the little ones busy, while parents stared in awe at the amazing hogans, longhouses, and pueblos that were molded out of clay, sticks, and paper mache.  Additionally, there were posters, handmade Native American jewelry, dream-catchers, and owner sticks.  There was even a carved totem pole!

Thursday night played host to the most incredible art display that the town of Pelham has probably ever seen at its high school.  Artists from all grade levels were chosen by the various art teachers to display their work.  Pelham High School junior Alex LaPierre offered one of the most striking painted pieces — a gorgeous, brightly colored bird looking like it nonchalantly floated out of a Harry Potter novel and picked her painting to grace us with its presence.

Music could be heard emanating out of the gymnasium.  One peek and guests knew where they needed to go next.  Pelham students from the music departments spanning all three schools performed on Thursday evening, showcasing their singing and musical talents.  And thus, another successful Community Night in Pelham wows the crowd as it reached its conclusion.

Pelham Reads

by Karen Plumley

Special guest reader, Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark, reads to Mrs. Foster’s first grade classroom to spread the joy of reading in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ 105th birthday.  The book he chose:  I am NOT going to get up today!

Pelham Elementary School Reading Specialist Michelle Viger organized the annual celebration of the beloved children’s author known as Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), who turned 105 on March 2.  The much-anticipated school-wide ‘Read Across America’ event took place on Friday, March 6, and required the recruitment of well-known and respected community members to read their favorite Dr. Seuss stories to the classrooms.  Fifth grade volunteers were charged to escort their special guests to each class throughout the exciting day.  School board member Eleanor Burton, police chief Joe Roark, St. Patrick’s pastor Father Paul, selectman Doug Viger, and budget committee member Joe Puddister were just some of the familiar faces who volunteered to share their passion of reading with the elementary children.

Guests met in the PES Media Center for coffee and chatted with one another while awaiting their classroom assignments.  A display table was set up with all manners of Dr. Seuss stories and colorful birthday balloons.  One young guest, William Shea, was a former student of Mrs. Viger’s.

“He is in eighth grade now, home-schooled, and extremely bright,” Viger proudly described.  According to the teacher, she happened to run into him and asked him immediately if he would be interested in taking part in the event.  To which he affirmatively and enthusiastically replied.

“I wanted to invite community leaders and show the kids how important reading is for their jobs.  I especially wanted the kids to see positive male role models,” Viger noted.  It did seem as though there were more men attending the event this year than in the past, and apparently this is a really good thing.  Indeed, statistics have shown that when fathers get “caught” reading books in lieu of watching TV or playing video games, the positive impact on children, and especially boys, is undeniable — it sends a clear signal to kids that reading is also a worthwhile endeavor.

William Shea, 13, who had Mrs. Viger as a second grader, was thrilled to be asked to read for the annual ‘Read Across America’ event.  Pictured here is Shea, now in eighth grade, holding his favorite Dr. Seuss tale alongside his fifth grade escorts, Devon Greenhalgh and John Wrobel.

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