Congrats 2009 SHS Graduates!

by Melissa Norton, Intern Reporter

Co-Validictorian Nicholas Letizio

As of June 12, the senior class of 2009 officially graduated from Salem High School, leaving with some laughs, many bittersweet moments and headed into their new world with tons of potential.  After a cold drowsy day, the sun finally came out to celebrate the graduation of a large group of students from Salem High School on SHS’s Grant Field.  As the Salem High band played the graduation song, students dressed in white and blue caps and gowns walked down onto the field as loved ones and friends waved to them from the bleachers and signs reading “you did it!” and “congratulations” were raised above the crowd.

School Principal, Mr. Bill Hagen, also a SHS alumni gave the opening remarks congratulating families for a job well done.  “If they are in a cap and gown this evening you have done a remarkable job,” he said.  He spoke about how from every class you can learn something and he believed that the class of 2009 knew the importance of friendship.  He encouraged them to always remember the people they had met walking through the halls of Salem High.  As Mr. Hagen spoke, the group of graduates broke out in excitement as beach balls and a shark float were thrown around the crowd for one last time; a typical end of the year senior game seen in the SHS lunchroom. 

Class valedictorian Kripa Patel spoke next, listing the accomplishments and events their class had seen in the past four years, such as the election of President Obama and the destruction that was Hurricane Katrina.  She then told her fellow classmates, “The rest of your life is being shaped right now,” explaining that it was up to them to determine their own futures.  Nick Letizio, also class valedictorian, spoke to the class of 2009 as well.

Mr. Hagen took the microphone to ask all students who had received scholarships and or grants to rise as the crowd applauded them.  Then he took a special moment to recognize the students who were going into the United States military, as the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

The 2009 class president Rob Nee made the class address beginning with “one final joke of the day,” which he and vice president Jharid Pratt gave to Salem High daily on the morning announcements.  After some fun, Nee stated that he wanted to talk about “potential.”  He shared with onlookers of the graduation how their class had always been labeled the slackers whether it came to placing during school spirit week or raising money for their prom.  He said that he always knew they had potential and that he believed that their senior year they chose greatness.  He told the crowd how they won spirit week and pulled off a great prom at Atkinson Country Club, even though sometimes people did not think they would be able to.  “We all have potential,” he said.

Finally Salem Superintendent Michael Delahanty closed the speeches by telling the graduated to “remember this feeling, this is a good feeling.”  As each student was called to receive their diploma the crowd filled with proud family and friends went wild, screaming their graduates name and blowing air horns.  It was truly an amazing night.  Congratulations SHS class of 2009!

Changes in Metal Recycling Proposed

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham Transfer Station Manager Dave Poulin is proposing changes to the way metal recycling is done.  He says the concept of having the metal hauled out of town at no cost will save taxpayers money in the long run.

During the selectmen’s meeting on June 8, Poulin recommended that metal brought to the transfer station be hauled away by Gateway Resources of Salem, NH.  Under this plan, Gateway Resources would take away the scrap metal for free and would then sell it, hopefully, for a profit.  Currently, Windham hauls the scrap metal out of town using its own trailer and driver.  The major problem with the current scenario, however, is that the existing trailer won’t pass state inspection next March and the cost of buying a new one would run between $65,000 and $70,000.  “The current trailer barely passed inspection last time,” Poulin said of the 1990 model.

Presently it costs Windham $120 per hour to transport scrap metal out of town.  The cost to go to Salem and back again (one and one-half hours) is $188 per week.  At current market value, the town is making about $231 per week through metal recycling.  Subtract the cost of transporting that metal, however, and the profit drops to $43 per week under the current scenario.  This does not take into account other related expenses incurred by the town.

Scrap metal is currently selling for $70 per long ton.  Under the proposal from Gateway Resources, if the value of metal rises to above $79 per ton, Windham will receive some revenue from the sale; if the value of metal drops below $70 per ton, however, Gateway will not charge Windham any money for continuing to haul the material.

Poulson also said that Windham could sell the old 1990 trailer for salvage, at a profit of $3,500.

Poulson said that he “strongly urges selectmen to approve” the proposal with Gateway Resources.

“It will save us money on avoided costs,” he told them.  “We’ll be further ahead, not making these pulls.  We’ll be less vulnerable to market fluctuations.”

Selectman Charles McMahon said he’s concerned about Windham losing revenue by not selling scrap metal directly.  Selectmen’s Chairman Galen Stearns said he’s “not sure the idea is totally beneficial.”

Poulin was asked to continue discussions with Gateway Resources regarding the possible length of a contract between that firm and Windham.  Town Administrator David Sullivan recommends a contract of about six years’ duration.  Poulin is expected to return to the board of selectmen when further information is available.

Pack 263 Tiger Cubs in Action

submitted by Jim Curtin

Pack 263 Tiger Cubs at the MyTV studios in Derry with meteorologist Al Kaprielian

Windham Pack 263 Tiger Cubs are working hard on their ‘Go-See-It’ requirements in the Cub Scout Tiger Cub Handbook.  Pack 263 Tiger Cubs did very well in the Pinewood Derby.

Tiger Cubs is an exciting introduction to the scouting program for first grade boys (or 7 years old) excited to get going!  Tiger Cubs do stuff - lots of stuff - with their adult partners.  This program is intended to open up the world to inquisitive minds, along with the caring guidance of adults.  The first steps along the Boy Scout Trail are laid here, and every rank advancement through the scouting program builds on the basic categories of activity done as Tigers.  The Tiger Cub program runs on two levels.  The scout and his adult partner meet weekly to do activities centered around the family.  Then the scout and adult partner meet with the rest of the Tiger den to fulfill Den Activity and ‘Go See It’ requirements.

Work Begins on Second Access Road to Windham High School

by Barbara O’Brien

A long-anticipated project pertaining to the new Windham High School is underway — the start of construction of a second access road.

Although voters said “no” to the money to build the paved Class V road on two separate occasions, selectmen decided to go forward with the construction anyway, stating that the high school could not open without the second access due to safety concerns.  Some residents who voted against building the paved road to town standards said they felt that a gravel road would have sufficed as a second access to the new building.  They felt a paved road with access to another part of town was overkill.

During the board’s meeting on Monday, June 8, selectmen voted 4 to 0 to waive a two-week waiting period requirement before being able to begin blasting at the site.  Selectman Ross McLeod was not in attendance at the June 8 meeting.  The two-week period is set aside as time to notify abutters and for all permits and licenses to be put in place.  Town Administrator David Sullivan said “time is of the essence,” due to the scheduled opening of school on September 2.  The blaster wanted to begin working the following day, Tuesday, June 9, Sullivan said.

Selectmen’s Chairman Galen Stearns said he had no problem waiving the waiting period as long as notices were delivered to the relevant abutters by hand the next day.

Fire Chief Tom McPherson said he brought the issue to the selectmen for review due to prior concerns in town as the result of blasting which was done at the Ledge Road development site, causing problems with residents’ well water, structural damages, and air quality issues.

McPherson said that all permits and licenses are already in place for the blasting to be done on the new access road, a stretch that is an extension of London Bridge Road.

“The access road is about to begin,” McPherson said.  “The necessary permits are complete, and by early September the road should be complete.  I’ll hold true to my word that as long as the completion of the road is within sixty days after school opening, I would accept that,” he added.

McPherson has said all along that he has no desire to delay the opening of Windham High School.

School Board Seeks “Conversation” with Residents

by Barbara O’Brien

The first of several forums intended to find out what Windham residents want to do about space constraints in local schools, as well as how to renovate facilities (with the exception of the new Windham High School, of course), was held on Tuesday, June 9 at Town Hall.

Windham School Board Chairman Bruce Anderson said he knows this is not the best time to be talking about a building plan for the school district, or, for that matter, any other major expense involving taxpayer money, in light of the poor economy.  However, Anderson said, it is important to make plans and to develop an intense communication plan to keep residents informed and, in turn, to receive their feedback on all options.

School board members and administrators have been reviewing data and prioritizing projects since this past March when voters failed to pass an $800,000 warrant article designated for building plans and design.

“The issues are not going to disappear, however,” Anderson said, adding that it is the school board’s job to come up with answers that public can afford to implement.

The majority of the information discussed during the June 9 forum was based on a Facilities Master Plan developed by Kyle Barker of Barker Associates.  Former School Board Chairman Barbara Coish commended Barker on the excellent job he has done, at a very reasonable cost to taxpayers.

“There’s still a lot of hard work to be done to narrow down the options,” Barker said.

Also attending the forum were all three principals of the Windham Schools that are currently in operation.  Debra Armfield, principal of Golden Brook Elementary School, said there are currently slightly less than 500 students in the building, a number which will expand to about 646 students next year as the school district’s first kindergarten program is implemented.

“As the population grows, space decreases,” Armfield said.  She also described many aspects of the aging building which are in disrepair, limited storage space, and almost non-existent space for staff to prepare lessons.  For the 2009-2010 school year, the Music Program is expected to be a floating program, going from classroom to classroom.  The school’s Enrichment Program is also expected to be traveling from room-to-room.  Certain other programs are forced to meet in hallways due to a lack of space.  The capacity of the main building comprising Golden Brook is 550 students, Armfield said.  This does not include the new portable classrooms being brought in to house the kindergarten program.

Center School Principal Andrew Derosiers said that facility will definitely need additional space as larger classes move up from Golden Brook.  The upcoming school year will be the last year the present facility will suffice as is, he said.  Already, Desrosiers explained, there are four teachers occupying one Resource Room.  The capacity at Center School totals 632 students.  It is expected that there will be an enrollment of 619 students in grades three through five for the upcoming school year.

Windham Middle School Principal Corey Becht said there will be a definite need for more space in the next few years.  Already there are three programs (Health, Art, French/Spanish) “on carts” and there are no extra rooms for classroom instruction.  Programs “on a cart” definitely impacts instruction, Becht said.  There is also already a lack of teacher planning space.  Windham Middle School has a current capacity of 658 students.  The enrollment for 2009-2010 is presently anticipated to be a total of 608 students in grades six through eight.

“In-migration has been strong in Windham since 1994,” Superintendent Frank Bass said.  “And the new high school is likely to attract more residents.”  Bass described the new Windham High School, slated to open this coming September, as falling into the “build it and they will come” concept popularized in the movie Field of Dreams.

School District Business Administrator Donna Clairmont said the space issue is not going to vanish if it is ignored.  “The problem doesn’t go away.  It just becomes more pronounced,” Clairmont said.

Under the current proposed Facilities Master Plan there are four options being presented:

The first, designated as “Option 0 (zero)”, would provide for minimum code and program compliance but would not add to the capacity of any of the existing buildings.  The “pros” for this concept is listed as being “less cost.”  The “cons” are described as not providing any additional capacity over current enrollments, nor does it meet future needs.  Based on site constraints at the Golden Brook site, it will be difficult to add permanent kindergarten space.

“Option A” would increase building size to accommodate for up to 250 students per grade and up to 750 students per school.  There are no “pros” listed for this option.  The “cons” are described as being a lack of space at Golden Brook (a kindergarten program cannot be located in a multi-story facility due to code restrictions; there is a lack of play and parking space; traffic problems would increase; and it would be difficult to house students during construction.

“Option B” involves building a new middle school for grades six through eight and abandoning the existing Golden Brook School.  This option also involves converting both Center School and the current middle school into elementary schools.  There are no “cons” listed for this option.  The “pros” include locating a new middle school on the site of the new high school, which will provide advantages involving the use of shared facilities.  Also, separate elementary schools will support neighborhood enrollment and is considered as the best option for enhanced (team teaching) programs.

“Option C”  would renovate Golden Brook as a kindergarten facility; Center School and the former middle school would house students in grades one through five; and a new middle school would be built on the site of Windham High School.  The “con” for this option would be that the administration for the elementary school level would be split due to a separate facility for kindergarten.  The listed “pros” include shared facilities between the high school and new middle school, separate elementary schools support specific neighborhoods, and opening the option of the SAU moving from its present site to space at Golden Brook School.

The “rough” estimated cost of “Option 0” would be $15.7 million.  “Option A” would be approximately $33.3 million.  “Option B” would cost approximately $33.9 million, and “Option C” would cost about $29.9 million.

“This is an update on the work that’s being done,” said School Board Chairman Anderson.  “It’s not the be-all and end-all.”

“This is not a proposal,” said School Board member Ed Gallagher.  “It is long-term planning.  The more heads we have, the better solution we can create.  We are asking for public input,” continued Gallagher.

“This is the beginning of a conversation,” Dr. Bass added.  “It will unfold over the months ahead.  What we really want over the next six months is community input.  We want to give people time to discuss and consider the options.  The only urgency is that there is a time-line.”

School Board Vice Chairman Mike Hatem said board members and administrators have been brainstorming numerous ideas over the past 15 months and feel that these four currently suggested options are the best.  Hatem said he expects a warrant article regarding facilities will be put forth to voters in either March of 2010 or 2011.

Plans are to hold similar facility master plan forums every eight weeks or so, to gain as much public input as possible.  During the forum on June 9, there was no one from the public in attendance.  The session was not broadcast live but a video recording was made and will be appearing on the local cable access channel in Windham.  School officials are hopeful that residents will begin attending these forums in the future.

“We want as much community input as we can possibly get,” Dr. Bass emphasized.

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