KidFest at the Salem-Derry Elks Lodge

by Robyn Hatch

Kidfest was once again held at the Salem-Derry Elks Lodge in Salem.  This is a free annual event for the children of the Elk Club members.  To a full crowd of little children running all over the place, there were many things to keep them active and happy: dancing with Minney and Mickey Mouse; handshakes with SpongeBob; a new character this year – Elroy – promoting drug awareness; a rock-climbing wall for the daredevils; cute little ponies from Londonderry, giving many of the children their first pony ride; inflated rubber climbing adventures for the littlest; many ball-tossing events for the oldest; a dunking machine, which was in full use all day; and a variety of food, from drinks to healthy snacks.

Thanks to the Elks and all of the people who helped; you made this a fun day for so many.


Dexter Martin-Heart likes these silly mice


Leanna Evans - climbing through the hole


Joey DeGaetano - in the bouncy ball


Makenah Myette - her first try at rock climbing


Tylor Arlitt - getting painted

Mother Hoped to See Daughter in First Kindergarten Class, Now One of First Kindergarten Teachers!

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz


Kristen Dacey (l) is thrilled to be teaching kindergarten at Barron School this year.  Gail Dacey (l), Kristen’s mom, had hoped Kristen would be in the first kindergarten class, which in essence, she is!

Gail Dacey remembers attending a public kindergarten as a child, but when she moved her family to New Hampshire over 20 years ago, she never even gave it a thought that the Salem School District did not have a public kindergarten program.

Around 1990 or 1991, the Town of Salem voters approved the school district to look into a kindergarten program for the public schools.  When her daughter, Kristen, was just about the age of attending kindergarten, Gail was ecstatic, thinking Kristen would be one of the first to attend a public kindergarten in Salem.  It simply didn’t happen.

Now, all these years later, Kristen Dacey, now 22, of Salem, is making her teaching debut — as a kindergarten teacher at the Barron School.

“I’m thrilled because she was hired.  Without kindergarten being mandated, there may not have been a teaching job available to her this year,” said Gail Dacey, Kristen’s mother.

Gail is also a teacher, having taught in Salem in the past, and currently teaches sixth grade special education for the Timberlane School District.

“It’s really exciting to have public kindergarten in Salem now.  In college, I had friends and teachers from all over the country who were just absolutely surprised that we didn’t have a public kindergarten program in place.  There are so many more educational opportunities and higher chances of educational success for these students who will have the kindergarten experience at their elementary school.  It’s a great transition for the students into their new school and a beneficial experience,” said Kristen.

Kristen is a graduate of Boston College, graduating Summa Cum Laude, with a BA in elementary education, and a focus in math.  She was number four of the top 10 percent of her graduating class.  The Barron School kindergarten class will be Kristen’s first teaching job, and she is ready to go.

“I’m thrilled.  It’s nice to come back home to teach.  I attended Lancaster School as an elementary student, and the Barron School is designed very similar to the Lancaster School.  It’s really nice to come back and give to the community what they gave to me.  Many families in town I know from my six years of working in the Children’s Room at Kelley Library,” Kristen said.

Kristen is very eager to begin teaching class.  She says she has an amazing opportunity to learn from her colleagues at Barron.  And specifically with kindergarten, she hopes that all members of the Salem community know that kindergarten in Salem is in its first year and will soon stand on its own and will be respected by the community for the achievement these students will make in life because of the kindergarten experience.

“I know the schools will reassure those who aren’t quite so sure about it just yet that so much effort and time has been put into this purposeful program, and I hope the community will see that this is really coming together for Salem.  Having a structured kindergarten program in the public schools is going to give the following year’s first grade class a great advantage.  I’m very excited to be a part of this new program and the advantage it gives to the students,” Kristen said.

Kristen had some wise words about kindergarten in general, whether public or private.

“A lot has changed over the last 10-15 years in kindergarten.  These students leave kindergarten for first grade much more prepared than they used to.  They are much more prepared to take on reading and math on the first grade level.  Many underestimate what a kindergarten student can do.  Kindergarten students are capable of critical thinking, everyday math problems, beginning to read.  For that to be more understood is why the state and the towns put money into this,” she said.

There is no doubt that kindergarten is important to this community.  Many have worked tirelessly for over 20 years to make it happen.  Now it is finally here.  Classes will begin on September 2, with first-day orientation held at 9 a.m. on September 1.

Rockingham Park President Receives Military Honor

Edward Callahan, president and general manager of Rockingham Park and the racetrack, was honored last Wednesday by a division of the United States Department of Defense, the Employer Support for the National Guard and all of the Military Reserve Components (ESGR), in a winner’s circle celebration.

Arthur Andrew, the regional chairman of ESGR for New Hampshire and a retired veteran of the United States Army, presented a citation and custom flag lapel pin to Callahan as he was honored with the Patriotic Employer award.  Andrew also presented the racetrack with the Five Star Statement of Support for the Guard and Reserve certificate.  Andrew praised Callahan and Rockingham Park for supporting our men and women in uniform as they defend the freedom of the United States of America.

Callahan and the track were nominated for the awards by William Duggan, who is a private first class in the Army National Guard and an employee with the track’s maintenance department.


William Duggan (U.S. Army National Guard, PFC), Arthur Andrew (regional chairman of ESGR for NH), Ed Callahan (president and general manager of Rockingham Park)

Twins Turn 70

submitted by Joan Hamel

Father Joseph Hamel, Maryknoll priest for most of his life, serves his mission in Japan and formerly in Peru.  He comes home to the United States on sabbatical leave to visit family every three years.

The family Horseshoe Tournament is a yearly summer event.  This year, Father Joe was here in time for it and was determined to win the trophy from his twin brother, Al Hamel, of Salem, and bring the prize back to his mission in Japan.  But the twins didn’t get off that easy.  In between rounds of horseshoes, their family joined in with a huge cake and a sentimental “twin roasting.”  With 10 siblings in all, and numerous offspring, it wasn’t too difficult to come up with some great stories.  Being fraternal twins, people they have met around town this summer would not realize they are twins at all, but to their family seeing them together at age 70, it is like they were still 10, and that they’ve never been apart.


Father Joe, Cooper Hamel, and Pepere Al Hamel

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