WHS First Night 2009

Left to right Alexa Psareas, Hannah Peters and Coleen Cooney

Incoming Windham High School freshmen and sophomores experienced history in the making by attending a school-sponsored First Night Celebration on August 26.  This event was created to serve as a welcome to the students and to give them an opportunity to explore their new school.  School staff members, school board members, and a slew of parent volunteers were on hand to help organize and direct the students.  Richard Manley, Windham High School’s Principal, was pleased with the turn out.  When asked how many of the 330 students expected to attend WHS this fall were present for the event, Mr. Manley proudly stated, “We have about 300 students here tonight — that’s over 90 percent.”

The students began their evening of fun with some outdoor games including sack races, wheelbarrow races, dodge ball, and tug-of-war.  Next, they enjoyed a barbeque followed by a scavenger hunt.  The scavenger hunt sent students running from the gymnasium and into the school halls, classrooms, and locker rooms looking for clues and collecting beads and bracelets at every stop.  The prize at the end of the hunt, an ice cream smorgasbord, was followed by a dance and some indoor games.  The evening culminated to a slide show full of the highlights of that evening’s event.

The Athletic Booster’s Club had an array of Jaguar apparel available to purchase, from T-shirts to pajama pants and hats to sweatshirts with a “Tradition Starts Today” theme.  Many of the volunteers were wearing the their new Jaguar shirts that night.

Many local merchants donated items for the First Night Celebration, including BJ’s of Nashua, Coca-Cola of New England, CVS, the Donabedian Family, Gourmet Grill, Johnson’s Farm, Windham McDonald’s, Prime Butcher, Sam’s Club in Hudson, Shabby Chic Sweets Boutique, Shaw’s of Windham, The Drink Shoppe, The Tutoring Center of NH, Victorian Park, and Wal-Mart of Salem.

Windham High School opened its doors on September 2.

The main lobby taken from the second floor balcony

Colby Cameron was draped with beads

PHS Welcomes Class of 2013

by Karen Plumley

Incoming PHS freshman Jacob Wormald conquers the obstacle course at Freshmen Orientation.

Freshmen Orientation took place at PHS on Wednesday, August 26, for the class of 2013, a class that so far contains approximately 170 students.  The event had an impressive showing, with at least 120 new freshmen attending between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.  A group of 30 upperclassmen, known as the ‘Kids Core Leadership Group’, were selected by teachers in the spring to plan and run the event.  They received minimal direction from PHS health teacher Erin Gavin and guidance councilors Sara-Jean Caira and Heather Lagasse.       “The kids have been great.  They started planning the orientation back in May and put a lot of work into it,” explained Caira.

The freshmen were split into teams of 30 each, and two core group members (ambassadors) led each around a maze of games, school tours, and a question-and-answer session.

“The orientation is a way for incoming students to see the school first-hand before school actually begins.  In a way, the school becomes theirs and alleviates some of the anxiety,” described Lagasse.

An obstacle course, giant kickball games, and water balloon tosses were all part of the outdoor fun.

At the question-and-answer session, core group leaders discussed some of the high school rules and quirks (the no-backpack rule, hall passes, agenda books), what the new students might expect during their first year (lunch, teachers, classes, after-school programs), and offered up some valuable counsel.

During the school tours, art teacher and 2013 class advisor Casey Locke made himself available to meet his students.  In addition to the many returning upperclassmen and PHS staff in attendance offering their help, support, and advice, new freshmen were also treated to food, drinks, and prizes from generous local businesses.  Ron Hewson of Pepsi delivered sports drinks to the event, while Pepperidge Farm donated food.  The Lowell Spinners donated bags with the popular local baseball team logo.

Core leaders in charge of the ‘Pink Team’ organize their team of freshmen. Bethany Ricciardi (sophomore) and B. Diaz and Cortney Parece (juniors)

Governor Lynch Visits Pelham Kindergarten

by Gloria Sullivan

Governor John Lynch introduces himself to a Kindergarten student.

Staff members, School Board members Debbie Ryan and Eleanor Burton, Superintendent Frank Bass and Pelham Elementary Principal Alicia LaFrance anxiously awaited the arrival of New Hampshire Governor John Lynch this morning at Pelham's first session of Kindergarten.

Governor Lynch arrived to tour the new portable classrooms and was greeted with smiles and questions from Mrs. Galpin's kindergarten class.  He listened to the friendly barrage of comments and laughed as he requested “One at a time.”  A curious student asked the Governor “Do you like roller coasters?” Another child shouted “I went to Storyland!” and yet another child chimed in “My dog is in Heaven!” The Governor showed a great sense of humor as he was swarmed by the five year old crowd of fifteen students who attend the morning session of Pelham's first ever public Kindergarten.

The Governor challenged the students to a guessing game and asked “Guess how many cats I have.”  A student guessed “Ten cats!” and the Governor replied “Close.  I have five cats!”

Mrs. Pengergast's class was next on the tour.  The children were sitting quietly having their snacks when the Governor arrived and they suddenly began to explore all their play areas, perhaps in an effort to show their guests all the great toys and play areas in their new classroom.

School Principal LaFrance said “I am so excited!  I have lived in Pelham since before there was even a High School.  We are now on the same playing field as the rest of the States in the Nation.  Now every state is in 100 percent compliance and that is what it's all about.”

The Governor was very impressed with the classrooms and remarked “The space is great.  The kids are so outgoing.”

Later that morning, the afternoon session's kids arrived with their siblings and parents to bid farewell after they marched in single file up the ramp with their teachers.  There were no tears as they made their ascent, however, some of the mothers looked a little sad to see their children become 'big kids'.

Upgrade to Cable TV Station Approved

by Barbara O’Brien

Windham Selectmen have approved a purchase request which will enable the local cable TV station to improve its broadcast services.

Cable Advisory Committee Chairman Margaret Case met with selectmen during their board meeting on August 24, requesting approval for the purchase of a tri-caster unit for the price of $9,295.

“It’s a lot of money,” Case said, “but this is a very good price, a really super deal.”

According to Case, the town is getting such a good deal on the equipment because it is going in with the school district to make the purchase.  A similar unit is being purchased for the new high school at the same time, she said, therefore the town is able to procure the “educational price”.

Cable TV Coordinator Stacy Sofronis said the tri-caster unit will provide everything the cable studio currently has in its control room (audio mixer, video component, switcher), but it will all be included “in one compact box,“ adding, “We’ll be able to plug in the camera and the microphones and go,” Sofronis said.  The tri-caster box is very portable, she added, so it can be used at remote sites outside the studio.

The equipment being purchased will allow a much more professional look to the shows produced by Windham’s Cable TV (Channel 21), Sofronis explained.  A number of virtual sets are available through the software programming, which will provide a varied look to productions.

“Our station is very busy,” she said, adding, “This will improve the quality greatly.”

Both live programming and online streaming of programs will be available to viewers.

Case asked selectmen to waive the required bid process, as there is only one company in New Hampshire that can provide the tri-caster unit.  The next closest firm, she said, is located in Connecticut, which could cause problems with servicing and maintenance of the unit.  Three software upgrades are provided for free with the package, as well as all training for use of the equipment.  Selectmen approved waiving the bid process by a vote of 4 to 0.  Voting in favor were Chairman Galen Stearns, Charles McMahon, Ross McLeod, and Bruce Breton.  Selectman Roger Hohenberger did not attend the August 24 meeting.

The tri-caster unit will be paid for out of money placed in a special cable fund by Comcast, as part of its franchise agreement with Windham.  There will be no associated cost to local taxpayers for the equipment purchase.

“This will not come out of the town budget,” Case said.

Selectmen voted 4 to 0 to approve the purchase of the tri-caster unit.  To receive the special price, the equipment had to be shipped by the company no later than Thursday, August 27, Case said.

Sofronis also said that some of the existing equipment at the cable studio will be taken over to the new high school, since it is better suited for educational purposes.  Broadcasting will be available in the high school auditorium, gymnasium, and on the athletic fields, she said.

Problems with Audio/Video Connections at New High School

by Barbara O’Brien

Just two weeks before the opening of the new Windham High School, school board members learned that there are problems with the connectivity of audio/visual systems intended for that building.

The issue came to light when John Herrholz, an independent consultant hired by the Windham Cable Advisory Board, took a recent tour of the new $50 million facility.  The Cable Advisory Board oversees Windham’s cable television station.  Windham High School opened its doors on Wednesday, September 2.

According to Herrholz, there are no conduits or audio/video connectivity in the new school building from the media center (library) to the space that has been designated as a studio.  There are conduits from the auditorium, gymnasium, and the cafeteria to the studio space, but no wiring has been installed in those conduits.  Furthermore, the conduits, which were installed between the auditorium, gym, cafeteria, and studio, are undersized, according to Herrholz.  The installed conduits measure 1.25 inches in diameter, while Herrholz says a four-inch diameter conduit should have been put in place to allow for future expansion.

Other deficiencies noted by Herrholz include the lack of equipment for the video and television production studio.  Only editing computers have been supplied thus far.  There is also no ability to feed the projection and sound system in the auditorium to any other room in the high school, should another room need to be used in the event of overflow crowds.  There is also no capacity for future expansion, such as to the athletic fields.

From the beginning of the planning process, it was intended that the auditorium at the new high school would be used for public meetings.  It is now the largest such facility in the Town of Windham.  Plans are, in fact, to hold next year’s town and school district meetings at that location.

Herrholz said he is uncertain of the cost of labor to install additional conduits and the required wiring post-construction, but estimated it could be between $27,000 and $28,000 for the equipment and the labor to get the job done now.

“The cost will be substantial to upgrade now,“ he said.  If all the conduits had been installed and the diameter increased to four inches pre-construction, he said, the cost would have been minimal.  Now, the process involves boring through approximately 12 feet of concrete to access the existing conduits, Herrholz explained.

School Board member Ed Gallagher asked why the work wasn’t done pre-construction.

“Was it part of the original specs?” he asked.

“These are questions that need to be investigated,” Superintendent Frank Bass replied.

Part of the problem might have been because the architectural firm was changed, due to budgetary concerns, prior to the actual construction getting underway.

“I’m miffed.  I’m very upset,” said School Board Chairman Bruce Anderson, who has been part of the building process since the very beginning.

“I’m upset because the construction team did not put these (conduits and wiring) in there,” Anderson said.  “We assumed they were on this.”

School board member Jeff Bostic said he wants to make sure that all parties involved in this issue connect with one another to resolve the problem.

“We need to do right by the taxpayers,” Gallagher said.

“We’re absolutely shocked by the size of the conduits (that were installed) and the lack of wiring,” Cable Board Advisory Chairman Margaret Case said.  Case emphasized the Cable Advisory Board’s desire to enable the coverage of events at the new high school.

What needs to be done now is to go back and talk to the contractors who were involved, Dr. Bass said.  “Obviously we expected something to occur that didn’t occur.”

“The auditorium was intended to be a community asset,” Dr. Anderson said.  “We’re going to get this fixed.”

Bass said that he will have the answers to the dilemma by September 15 and will then consult with school board members.

Herrholz was hired by members of the Cable Advisory Board after they had interviewed a total of four engineers.  Herrholz has nearly 30 years of experience in television production and engineering, including employment at WMUR Channel 9, WHDH, and the New England Cable Network (NECN).  He has also worked on numerous special projects, including most recently NBC’s production of Super Bowl XLIII (2009).

Herrholz said the majority of the work remaining to be done needs to be completed by December 1, to have the facility ready for the town and school district deliberative sessions that begin next January.

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