Pelham High School Graduates 147

“We Did It!” 

by Doug Robinson

Shannon O’Brien receives dipolma

While the thick gray clouds covered the skies above, threatening the chance of showers, mothers, fathers, guardians, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends filled the seemingly endless rows of blue folding chairs to capacity, as they came to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating seniors of Pelham High School.

Pelham High School’s graduation class of 147 seniors came together for their final time and marched in unison to the traditional fanfare processional of Pomp and Circumstance.  Marching down the center aisle of the athletic field, the girls, dressed in pure white cap and gown, were followed to their seats by the boys, dressed in matching blue cap and gown.  This was their final moment together as a group, as they celebrated their high school graduation.

Class president of four years, Christine Downs summed up the day for all to hear:  “We did it!”  And as the cheers rose from the graduating seniors, the clouds above separated and the Heavens opened to the majesty of the beautiful blue skies.

This graduating class is “clearly qualified to make the transition from student to high school graduate,” commented Pelham School Principal Dorothy Mohr, Ph.D.

“Young people of today are much more advanced...and I ask you…what you are going to do for the next generation.  Progress is the ability to make improvements and reach the next level.  The members of the Class of 2009 have made progress for themselves and for the next generation.”

Messages spoken of special bonds, sharing, and memories were addressed by Salutatorian Gina Guimond.  “Look at where we are today.  This is one ride I would not have changed for the world.  Soon we will begin to celebrate all that we have accomplished.  We owe many thanks to those who guided us along the way.  Our families and teachers who pushed us…all Pelham High staff and community members who helped…this would not have been possible.”

Class Essayist Dawn Ely spoke of “the big day, when we leave the high school behind us.  No more early morning wake-up and lockers.”  She spoke to her fellow classmates that the values of happiness and success come from family and friends.  “Remember to live a life of friendship, love, and caring.”

Pelham Superintendent of Schools Franklyn G. Bass, Ph.D. commented that he wished to be “the first to salute and commend you,” continuing to say, “You have an unwavering commitment to excellence.  As you boldly set forth, and as you go into life, pause and reflect on your time here…what you have learned and what you have taken away…sharing so much of your life with your classmates will define your life.  Those memories are enduring.  You are a class who cares.  Your class has logged thousands of hours of community service which reflects an outpouring source of caring for your fellow classmates.  You can have no greater gift than caring.”

“Congratulations on everything you have accomplished,” commented Christine Downs, class president.  “The 2009 class gift will be a new podium.  I have enjoyed almost every minute of it.  We rule.  We have been always looking ahead and what we plan to do in the future.  But for now, soak in the moment, live for the day.  We cannot change the past.  You only get to live each day once.”

Cassandra Costello, class valedictorian, reflected that “We are finally here.  This is the next big step in our lives.  It is time to move from this experience to a new experience.  Look at those who got us here today.  These people have been a positive influence.  As we move into the future, don’t forget your dreams.”

The graduating seniors were awarded $48,230 in scholarship moneys to further their education, stated Pelham High School Principal Dorothy Mohr, Ph.D.

Medieval Festival Held at Pelham Memorial

Last Friday, students and teachers at Pelham Memorial School traveled back in time to the Medieval Era.  Seen on campus were a number of lowly squires, knights in shining armor, ladies in waiting, pitiful peasants, and a few powerful kings and lovely queens.  Medieval hobbyists from the Kingdom of Stonemarsh educated the students in the fine art of medieval dance.  Students tested their ability in checkers, building and launching catapults, and their agility in jousting.  Their knowledge of the time was put to the test in a modern-day Medieval Bingo.  Finally, a Medieval Feast was served and relished by all, which included roasted chicken, fresh vegetables, crusty bread and cheese, and a tasty dessert of spiced cake.

A big thank you to all who helped and made this day a wonderful success!  It was a red-letter day!

Sarah Pacheco, catapulting

Justin Jozokos, Nick Lauren, Matthew Szyszko, and the unidentified “Masked Man”

Kingdom of Stonemarsh dancers
, Avery Goss and Erica Long with instructor

Upgrades to New High School Approved

by Barbara O’Brien

With only two months remaining before the opening of Windham High School, and with finishing touches being applied as the weeks dwindle down, school board members have approved several upgrades to the new facility.  Only three of the five school board members attended the Tuesday, June 9 meeting.  In attendance were Vice Chairman Mike Hatem, Chairman Bruce Anderson, and Ed Gallagher; Mark Brockmeier and Jeff Bostic did not attend the meeting.

The money to pay for these changes will come from the Harvey Construction Company contingency fund.  The most expensive of these upgrades is the construction of a field house that will be used as a multi-purpose building for the physical education/athletic program at Windham High.

According to Glenn Davis, owners’ representative for the $50 million-plus high school construction project, the “guesstimate” for the construction of the 30-foot by 50-foot block field house is in the neighborhood of $125,000.

“We’re trying to keep the cost low,” Davis said, adding that the interior of the field house won’t be finished at this point.  Eventually, however, it is anticipated that the field house will include a concession stand and two bathrooms.  At least for the time being, the building will be used for storing athletic equipment as well as parking the food service delivery vehicle when it’s not in use.

Davis said plans are to put the field house project out to bid and that he hopes to attract smaller, local construction companies that might be in need of work and willing to charge less than larger firms.  Davis said he anticipates the job will take two to three weeks to complete.

Second on the upgrade list is the conversion of a room, previously intended for storage, into a cardio room for the physical education program.  Davis said he anticipates the cost will be about $35,000 to get the job done.  School board members unanimously (3 to 0) approved up to $40,000 for the project.  The cardio program is already included in the new high school curriculum.  The room to house the workout equipment will allow 12 to 15 students to use the space at one time.  Davis said the former storage room is conveniently located to the school gym and he is “confident that it will work well” to fulfill its purpose.

Also unanimously approved (3 to 0) was a total amount of $8,089 for an audio-video security camera monitoring system.

Upgrades to the high school auditorium, again, all unanimously approved, include an audio playback system ($10,762), an audio shell ($13,064), and a portable recording system ($1,362).

One final upgrade item unanimously approved by school board members is a number of fume hoods for the science lab, at a total cost of $42,379.

Food Services Contract Approved for School District

by Barbara O’Brien

Three out of five Windham School Board members who attended the meeting on Tuesday, June 9 unanimously approved a food service contract with a Vermont firm.  In attendance at the work session were Chairman Bruce Anderson, Vice Chairman Mike Hatem, and Ed Gallagher.  Missing that evening were Mark Brockmeier and Jeff Bostic.

After two consecutive weeks of discussion and additional weeks of background investigation by school administrators, a one-year contract was signed with Abbey Food Services of Sheldon, Vermont.  Abbey Food Services Company is owned by David and Sherry Underwood of Enosburg, Vermont.  The firm is licensed to serve food in both Vermont and New Hampshire.  It currently employs approximately 260 workers.  According to its website, “Abbey Food Service is a diverse group offering local Vermont dining, great food, catering, and food service management.”  The Underwood’s also operate a local establishment — Abbey Pub and Restaurant — in Sheldon, Vermont.

Originally, school administrators solicited six proposals from area food service companies.  Only two responses were received, including Abbey Food Services and Café Management of Londonderry, New Hampshire.  While both companies promised a profit margin at the end of the school year, administrators for Windham, including business administrator Donna Clairmont and Windham/Pelham Food Services Director Megan Bizzarro, felt that Abbey Food Services has more to offer.  In other schools where Abbey has taken on the program, hot lunch participation by students has seen a dramatic increase.

The food service program instituted in public schools is intended to be self-supporting and its annual budget is separate from the overall general school budget.  According to Clairmont, Abbey Food Service is guaranteeing a minimum $10,000 profit margin at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, even if the company takes a loss in doing so.  Any profit earned by the school district would be used to carry over to the next year to further support the schools’ food service program.  The contract with Abbey Food Services will take effect on July 1.  The food service program being instituted through Abbey Food will be available in all four Windham schools, not just the new high school.  In the past, school lunches have been prepared in Pelham and transported to Windham schools.  Pelham and Windham are in the same SAU (#28).

According to Clairmont, Abbey Food Service will maintain lunch prices at the current level, so as not to impact student/family finances, particularly in this time of economic recession.  Free and reduced price lunches will also be available to those who qualify.

Clairmont commended the quality of the food served by Abbey, saying that much of it is “made from scratch.”  Local agricultural products are also used whenever possible.  As for those who will be working in the Windham schools, Clairmont said first choice will go to those who already are employed in the Pelham/Windham food services program.

“Abbey has excellent references,” Clairmont said.  “They become personally invested in the community to assure that students are well-served.  Abbey will provide a better fit for the Windham School District,” she added.

Plans are to either lease or purchase any needed kitchen or food service equipment, rather than acquiring it through the food services company as part of the contract.  Clairmont said the district will get a better deal by buying it outright.

All data from the first year of the food service program will be reviewed at the end of the 2009-2010 school year, and any future decisions on extending the contract will be made from there, Clairmont said.

Windham Depot Project May Receive Stimulus Money

by Barbara O’Brien

The ongoing restoration and renovations taking place at Windham’s historic Depot might get a boost and move forward more quickly with money being made available through federal stimulus funds, officially known as ‘The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’ (ARRA).

The subject was raised during a recent selectmen’s meeting, as the result of a meeting by members of the Depot Advisory Committee with Nancy Melville, municipal highways engineer at the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), and William Rose, senior planner overseeing Windham’s Depot project.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss certain issues that will allow the Depot endeavor to move forward as well as to ascertain if any federal ARRA money might be applicable to this undertaking.

A couple of years ago, Windham was awarded an 80 percent state/20 percent local funded Transportation Enhancement Grant in the amount of $210,000 to complete repairs and renovations to the Depot buildings.  The grant requires that the town pay all expenses up front, then to seek reimbursement from state coffers for 80 percent of the total cost.

During their visit to Concord, Depot Advisory Committee members learned that ARRA stimulus money is available for the Depot project, an opportunity which would reduce the financial outlay currently being required of the town.  There are certain stipulations to accepting the federal money, however.  If Windham accepts the ARRA money, it would be required that a professional engineer be on site during any periods of significant construction.  This would, therefore, increase the number of hours a professional engineer would need to be on-site and paid, a cost that would need to be absorbed by the town.  This cost is estimated at approximately $26,000.  There would, however, be offsetting savings in other portions of the ARRA funding.  Also, no volunteer labor would be allowed on the project if ARRA federal money is accepted, since one of the reasons the stimulus money is being provided nationwide is to provide jobs.  Volunteers could, however, still be used for such tasks as site cleanup and such.

After reviewing the statistics presented by Town Administrator David Sullivan and members of the Depot Advisory Committee, selectmen voted unanimously (4 to 0) to seek the ARRA stimulus money, based on the legality of doing so.  Voting in favor of the decision were Chairman Galen Stearns, Bruce Breton, Charles McMahon, and Roger Hohenberger.  Selectman Ross McLeod did not attend the meeting.  Members of the Depot Advisory Committee also unanimously support accepting ARRA money to complete the Depot restoration project.  By accepting the federal stimulus money, Windham could save between $30,971 and $34,620 in local taxpayer money over what it would have to expend through the State Transportation Enhancement Grant.  Under the Transportation Enhancement Grant, the town would spend $44,120.  Under the ARRA federal package, the town would spend between $9,500 and $13,249 (20 percent of engineering costs only).

One of the questions that remain, however, is if the issue of accepting the federal ARRA money needs to be taken back to Town Meeting as it was through that venue that Windham accepted the original Transportation Enhancement Grant money for Depot renovations.  Selectmen have asked Town Counsel Bernie Campbell to check with the State Department of Revenue Administration for advice.

If all goes as town officials hope, construction bids will be solicited and awarded by this coming November and all work will be done within a period of 18 months of the starting date.

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