Windham High Hosts Dedication Ceremony

by Gloria Sullivan

Dr. Anderson shows a series of ariel views of the high school building presented to the school by the acrhitects

On a rainy Saturday afternoon the public was invited to the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony and dedication of Windham’s brand new high school.  Windham’s school board members, administration members, the construction team, and Governor John Lynch were all in attendance to celebrate the culmination of over five years of hard work, planning, courageousness, and endless perseverance.  Also in attendance in the gleaming gymnasium were many parents, students, and state representatives, along with Windham’s Board of Selectmen, Fire Department, Women’s Club, American Legion, High School Committee, and Air Force ROTC junior cadets.

Dr. Bruce Anderson, Windham School Board Chair, welcomed the crowd and introduced the guests and began the dedication with the simple thought “We did it!”

The crowd rose to their feet for the presentation of the flag by the ROTC cadets and was treated to a spectacular rendition of the Star Spangled Banner performed by the school’s band and sung by the school’s chorus which was conducted by Karen Sayward.  Anderson spoke of the many challenges that were faced throughout the building process.

“To simply say that I and the members of the School Board, High School Committee, and the Board of Selectmen are happy to see this day arrive would be an understatement.  As we gather in Windham High School for this dedication, we’re drawn to its beautiful design, its panoramic views, and clear days.”

Anderson remarked on the level of courage that was needed throughout the building process.

“For me, remembering the long and difficult road we traveled makes me appreciate our accomplishment even more.  When the idea of Windham building its own high school was first proposed and discussed, I’m not sure anyone truly understood all of the challenges we would face.  Ultimately, it’s probably good that we didn’t know or understand because had we known the level of courage needed to undertake, this project may not have existed and we might not be standing here today.”

He explained how the curriculum committee was given a blank piece of paper and charged with developing a world-class high school curriculum, an innovative curriculum that would provide the students that pass through these halls with an education that would take them into the twenty-first century.  He described the school design as one of the newest and most complex high schools in the country and a place to provide the first true digital learning environment in New Hampshire.

Hundreds of individuals are responsible for bringing their commitment to the school, which led to the completion and success of Windham’s state-of-the-art facility.  Groups such as WISE (Windham Initiative to Support Education) had the tough task of communicating with parents and bringing voters to the polls.  The Windham PTA promoted the high school every step of the way, the Windham Endowment for Community Development continues to recruit donations to further enhance the school, WIRE (Windham Initiative for Renewable Energy) is working to obtain the equipment to make renewable energy part of the curriculum as well as someday offset the reliance of the school on fossil fuels.

Anderson said, “Of this I am sure, their commitment to bring this project to completion will be a model for others to follow.  And to all those individuals, we owe a deep debt of gratitude.”

The audience applauded in agreement.

The Offical Ribbon cutting, Student Christine Carpenter, School Board Members Ed Gallagher, Michael Hatem and Dr. Daphne Kenyon, Dr. Franklyn Bass, Govemor John Lynch, School Board Chairman Dr. Bruce Anderson and Dr. Virgina Barry, Commissioner of Education.

Anderson shared his thoughts on why building the high school was so important, saying “Every day, citizens of every town face the daunting task of educating their children.  There is no larger responsibility any community has to ensure that their children receive an education which gives them the opportunity to have success in their lives and perhaps make a difference in the lives of others.”

He stressed how we need to “get it right” the first time, adding, “The consequences of failure can last a lifetime.”

He wants the children who sit in these classrooms to receive a simple message, “You are important.  Your education is important, and as a community we are committed to you.”

He spoke of the frustration, disappointment, surprises, anger and happiness the town had to endure throughout the process but stressed that when the guests leave the building they should know one thing, “We have done the right thing.”

Superintendent of Schools Frank Bass said that the school is more than bricks and mortar.  He remarked how, in just a few short weeks, the school has created a life of its own with identity and spirit.  He described the school as an epicenter of vibrant activity and exchange, a dynamic process of growth and maturity.  He stated, “It has been a long time coming.  The synergy of many people who dedicated themselves to this project is the force that brought this school to life.”

Bass mentioned how the classes of 2012 and 2013 have already created a series of moments in time that will forever be etched in our minds as the students begin their journey in their new school.  Regarding his almost daily visits, Bass stated, “I continually see, whether it’s in the classrooms or on the playing field, pride, ownership, a feeling of belonging of the first of many classes that will pass through these halls.”

Bass continued his speech at the podium by congratulating the first-ever athletic teams at Windham High School on their recent victories, stating, “Five freshmen and sophomore girls competing in their first meet captured the Sanborn Invitational Cross Country Championship.  The boys football team won its first home game.  And who could forget Scott Priestly’s breakaway run for 70 yards and the first touchdown for the Windham Jaguars?  Not to mention both the boys and girls soccer teams also emerged victorious on that day.”

Dr. Virginia Barry, Commissioner of Education, State of New Hampshire, spoke next and shared what elements of the building need to be in place after all the infrastructure pieces are put together, saying “It needs to be a place where students look forward to entering every day.  Most important, it needs to be a place of character, a place that stays in the minds of every member of the community and the students that are able to graduate from its important programs.”  She then shared her hope for Windham High, saying, “My hope is that this new high school will embody all that is important to our high schools in the State of New Hampshire.  It will embody a sense of future.”

Governor John Lynch applauded the school for their mission statement.  He shared his thoughts about education, saying, “I really believe strongly, and I think this building reflects that belief, that education is all about opportunity.  The opportunity that we offer our students to ultimately have better lives to get good jobs, to go on to higher education, if that’s what they choose to do, to be able to provide for their families, to be able to give back to the community and to be contributing members of society.”  The governor remarked that he has been spending a lot of time in Windham recently and, although he does not live in Windham, at least for today, he considers himself a member of the Jaguars.

Mike Hatem, school board vice chair, mentioned some impressive facts, saying, “You’ve created a sports program which has over 60 percent participation, which is twice the state average.”  He continued, “The success of the work of all the committees can best be seen by the enrollment numbers.”

Currently the school has over 320 students, which means that less than 10 percent of students went to private schools.

Hatem said, “That is a remarkable vote of confidence from the parents.  They have appreciated the work you have done and they have trusted us with their children.  We all thank you for that.”

He believes that this high school will bring families to Windham, and encouraged voters to support the town as they moved forward with other expansion plans because many schools are at capacity.

A plaque was then presented by Harvey Construction.  It is a replica of the plaque that will be affixed to the building’s exterior.  Students Christine Carpenter and Colby Putnam had the honor of holding the ribbon while Bruce Anderson wielded a huge pair of scissors.  The crowd cheered and the band began to play a ceremonious tune as the public was invited to tour the school and enjoy some cake and refreshments to celebrate a very big day for Windham, New Hampshire.

Although the trophy display case seems stark, showcasing only an antique ballot box, it will soon likely be filled with an abundance of team trophies and awards and further proof that the students are liking their new school and that they are filled with Jaguar pride.

Remembering 9/11 in Windham

by Len Lathrop

Amidst overcast skies, members of the community gathered together to salute, reflect and remember those who lost their lives eight years ago that day.  Honorary fire department member Chris Spitalere led the firefighters to form in front of the ladder truck that is painted to remember the acts of the 9/11 events.  With greetings by Assistant Chief Robert Leuci, the service paid homage to the firefighters, police officers, and civilians who were taken by this act of terror on our country.  Krylyn Mounce sang the National Anthem while members of the Windham Fire Department stood at attention.  Following remarks by Chief Tom McPherson, Lieutenant Bill Brown lowered the flag, which flies proudly each day at the fire station, to half-staff, and retired Fire Lieutenant James Brown provided a bell salute.  Chief McPherson offered closing remarks and thanked those who attended.

Windham Fire Department members salute as the Flag is lowered to half mast during the Memorial Service, behind the members is the special painted ladder truck which comemerates the 9-11 tragedy.

Rain Didn’t Dampen Spirits at Pelham Old Home Day

by Lynne Ober

Lauren and Nicole Airey shop for bargains under the dry tent with their mom (Michelle).

This year Mother Nature brought gloomy, wet weather to the 103rd Pelham Old Home Day, but people who attended still had a wonderful time.

For nine years the road race and walk have kicked off the event.  Sponsored for the first time by Special Olympics, the event still had the gently rolling course that brings both runners and walkers out.  Umbrellas were carried by many of the walkers, but runners found the weather just to their liking — not too hot to run as fast as possible and not so wet that runners worried about slipping and falling.  With over 200 people participating, it was a successful beginning to Old Home Day.

On the grounds, exhibitors with tents came, and those without didn’t.  Some goods were covered with plastic covering and others were tucked inside the tents.  As always, there was a full slate of entertainment, but as the morning began no chairs were set up because of the persistent but light rain.  That didn’t stop interested spectators from standing in front of the stage to enjoy the events.

At 9 a.m. the Women’s Fellowship Country Store opened.  The Penny Sale, tucked under a long, protective tent, was doing a steady business as participants sought a dry place to stand.  Although the Victor Spaulding Memorial Auction began on time at 9:30, the crowd didn’t make a dash across the street as they seemed to be waiting for the always enjoyable doll carriage and bike parade on the stage.  Unfortunately the rain dampened the enthusiasm for contestants and no one was there to participate.  Although this was not held, kids of all ages who wanted to enter their bikes or doll carriages were urged to join the Grand Parade in the afternoon.  Thankfully, Karate International stepped into the breach as they came ready to entertain and provided a lively Karate and kick boxing demonstration.  Warmly received by the audience, it was easy to see that this great community event was going to be successful in spite of the damp weather.

As always, there were fantastic raffles.  This year, participants could choose trying to win one of the 31 raffle day prizes (given hourly and at 5:00 p.m.) or the beautiful handmade quilt donated by the Old Home Day quilters.  This year nine quilters worked on the Old Home Day quilt and they produced a beautiful heirloom quilt.  Quilting this year were Sharon Baron, Kathi Caisse, Glennie Edwards, Alma Healey, Claire Morris, Sheryl Noceira, Jean Robarge, Marilyn Schweida, and Nancy Vachon.

The theme for the Grand Parade was ‘Putting Unity in Community’.  Every year a Parade Marshall is chosen.  With the theme in mind, it was no surprise to know that Eleanor Burton was chosen Parade Marshall.

Eleanor is always visible in the community.  She currently chairs the School Board, was the May, 2009 Champions of Children award recipient (given by the New Hampshire Association of School Administrators), is an active member of First Congregational Church of Pelham, has been a Girl Scout for over 55 years, and has served the town in numerous capacities over the years, including the Municipal Building Committee, the Pelham Elementary School Building Committee, the Sherburne Hall Committee, has helped with flu clinics, the 250th Pelham Anniversary Committee, and volunteers in any place where a pair of helping hands is needed.  She was a wonderful choice for the 2009 Parade Marshall.

The best Chicken Barbeque Dinner that you may have ever eaten began at 4:30.  If you were too tired to stay for dinner, they offered take-out.  This was the perfect way to end a wonderful, community day.

Despite the on-and-off-again rain, the full slate of entertainment was enjoyed by all.  This year’s co-chairs, Ron and Debbie Schnieder, had urged one and all to come to Old Home Day to see old friends and meet new ones.  Kudos to all the groups that came and participated despite the weather.

Old Home Day is held the first Saturday following Labor Day and is always a reminder of the warmth found in Pelham.

Casey and Kylie, from O’Halloran Irish Step Dancers, had to test the puddle before they began, but once they began the rain was of no concern.

New Ballistic Vests Approved for Police

by Barbara O’Brien

 In keeping with recommendations by the United States Department of Justice, Windham Police Chief Gerald Lewis has asked for the approval of selectmen to purchase a new ballistic vest for each officer.  Ballistic vests are designed to protect a person’s torso against gunfire, Wagoner explained.  Police officers are required to wear a ballistic vest every day when on patrol, he added.

In 2006, due to the serious injury of a Pennsylvania police officer whose vest was penetrated by a bullet, new national standards were developed.  Police Sergeant Carl Wagoner said that Department of Justice guidelines recommend that ballistic vests be replaced every five years, due to deterioration caused by the wear-and-tear to which vests are subjected on a regular basis.  The last time Windham purchased ballistic vests was in 2004.

Selectmen debated very little before giving Lewis the approval he needed to go forth with purchasing the life-saving equipment.  Based on a federal grant, Windham is eligible for a 50 percent reimbursement, up to a maximum of $7,700.  In addition, there is $5,610 already in the 2009 police department budget to cover a portion of the expense.  There are a total of 19 officers approved for the Windham Police Department, although only 17 officers are now on board.

Selectmen voted 4 to 0 to authorize an expenditure of up to $14,926 for the purchase of vests, based on the contingency that Windham receives the partial federal grant.  Voting in favor of the motion were Galen Stearns, Roger Hohenberger, Bruce Breton and Charles McMahon.  Selectman Ross McLeod did not attend the meeting.

Selectmen also waived the bid process for procuring quotes on ballistic vests.  Wagoner said that the only area firm, Triple Nickel Tactical Supply, is in New Ipswich, NH.  Lewis said he has had excellent dealings with this company in the past.  The cost per vest, plus an extra carrier, which will allow more efficient use of the equipment, totals $878.

The new vests to be ordered will be upgraded to a more stringent threat level, thereby offering officers additional protection from bodily injuries due to gunfire.  Lewis said he will only be ordering 17 vests initially, but will need to order two additional vests when the two current vacancies in the department are filled.  The Chief said he hopes to have those two new officers on board before the end of this year.

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