Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Middle and high school semester dates adjusted for snow days

Due to the number of snow days in the second quarter of the academic year, the first semester for middle and high school students will end on January 29, instead of January 25. High school mid-term exams will take place on January 24, 25, 26 and 29.

This change also affects the dates of the second semester. The third quarter will begin on January 30 and end on April 6. The fourth quarter will begin on April 9. Unless make-up days are added to the end of the school year because of more weather-related closures, high school final exam dates in June remain as scheduled.

The decision to adjust the calendar was made to account for the number of classroom days lost when school was canceled for snow in recent weeks. There are five "snow days" built into the academic calendar, and Manchester has used four since October.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New UNH program offers support and scholarships for Manchester's STEAM Ahead students

DURHAM, N.H. – A new program developed by the University of New Hampshire will help 30 students from Manchester West and Dover high schools with academic talent and financial need attend college to study in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math. The Finishers’ Program will provide up to four years of scholarships as well as ongoing academic support and job placement assistance. 

The program, which has received a five-year $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, grew out of a need to continue supporting students participating in Manchester’s STEAM Ahead program. It partners with Manchester West and Dover high schools, as they represent the largest and fastest growing urban areas respectively in New Hampshire.

“STEAM Ahead is a successful public school/private industry partnership – participating students are absent one-fifth as often and have almost a point higher GPA than those not participating in the program -- but when they graduate high school the support stops,” said David Mattingly, assistant professor of physics at UNH and the head of the program. “This new program helps students transition from high school to college and persist through a four-year college degree and STEM career by providing the financial and academic support they need.”

Mattingly noted that STEAM Ahead was founded to help businesses in the state meet their skilled workforce needs, and that need still exists. Dover High School also offers STEM opportunities through its career and technical education programs. At both schools, the training and support largely ends upon high school graduation. For students who may not have the resources to attend college, this often means an end to their education and a limit to STEM workforce development in the state.

“Manchester High School West is extremely excited to enter this partnership with UNH,” said Rick Dichard, principal of Manchester West. “It is a tremendous opportunity for our students to be part of a cutting-edge program while keeping the cost of college tuition at a more affordable rate via the scholarship that comes with it.”

The scholarship, averaging $24,000 per student over four years, is designed to meet the average unmet need for these students. In addition, students will receive continuous academic support from their senior year of high school through college as well as job/graduate school placement assistance and mentorship. Knowledge gained from studying each student’s progress and experiences will provide data needed to better support students in STEM across the country.

“By providing this unified system that addresses financial, academic, professional and social need we can support these 30 students and learn from them how to improve overall educational equity at UNH,” Mattingly said. “In this time of rising economic inequality, we have an obligation to keep higher education accessible and affordable for low-income and first-generation students. Because of this program at least 30 kids will go to college who might not have otherwise been able to.”

Interested students must apply to UNH by Feb. 1, 2018, and complete the FAFSA by March 1, 2018. Federal regulations require that eligibility is based on the FAFSA. For more information contact David Mattingly at 

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.

Media Contact
Erika Mantz | Communications and Public Affairs |

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holiday message from Dr. Vargas

Dear Manchester School District community:

The winter holiday season is a wonderful time for celebration and appreciation of the people around us.  I would like to thank our staff, students and families for their work, support and commitment to learning in Manchester. I am proud of your many accomplishments, and look forward to the new year ahead. Indeed, you are impacting on our children’s lives every day.

This also is the time of year for giving back and taking care of members of our community who need an extra hand. Thank you to all of our schools and community partners that hosted and contributed to food drives, toy drives, winter coat drives and other fundraisers to ensure that our children and their families experience the spirit of the season.

I wish you a very happy and peaceful holiday.

With respect and gratitude,

Bolgen Vargas, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Monday, December 18, 2017

MSD and Manchester City Library partner in holiday vacation reading initiative

Dear Parents/Guardians:

The Manchester School District is always looking for ways to encourage students to read outside the classroom. During the winter holiday vacation from school, your children might have some extra down time perfect for picking up a book. We are excited to tell you about a new Winter Reading Program for preschool, elementary and middle school students that we’ve created in partnership with the Manchester City Library.

If you have children in preschool or elementary grades, ask themto show you the reading record they brought home from school. It is set up as a game board. For every 15 minutes they read, students will color in or cross out a snowflake. A completed game board amounts to 5 hours of reading time. On the back of the elementary form we have listed all of the events that are happening at Manchester City Library locations during vacation week. We hope you have a chance to attend, and don’t forget to borrow some books to take home from the library, too!

Middle school students received a reading challenge form at school which asks them to read at least one book and write a brief review. Students can also rate the book. On the back of the form is a list of several popular titles. Students are welcome to choose one of those suggestions or any another book that interests them. If you need other ideas or something new, please visit the city library for inspiration and borrow one!

The Winter Reading Program will run during the holiday break, December 23-January 2.  Once your child has completed his or her reading record, it can be dropped off at Manchester City Library locations or at school libraries up until January 10. Each student who submits a reading record will receive a reading incentive prize from a local business. 

Thank you in advance for your support and participation in the Winter Reading Program. We hope that you and your family enjoy the holiday break. 


Dr. Bolgen Vargas                                          Denise M. van Zanten
Superintendent of Schools                             Director

Manchester School District                            Manchester City Library

Monday, November 27, 2017

Opt-in for SchoolMessenger notification texts

Dear Manchester School District families:
The Manchester School District is committed to effective communication between our schools and families. As part of our efforts, we are using an automated notification system called SchoolMessenger. This system allows us to call, text and email thousands of parents and guardians quickly for emergency situations and weather-related school closures.

SchoolMessenger is dependent on the accuracy of the contact information you provide.  It is important to keep all of your phone numbers and email addresses up-to-date.  Any adjustments to your contact information can be made any time, directly to your child(ren)’s school(s).  SchoolMessenger continually syncs with our contacts on file; all new phone numbers and email addresses will be included in notifications after they are added.

When you answer a phone call from SchoolMessenger, you will hear a recorded message.
  • The caller ID will be Manchester School District's main number: (603) 624-6300.
  • If you are unavailable to answer the phone, SchoolMessenger will leave a voicemail. Please listen to the entire message.
  • Do not call the school or the school district office. If it is an emergency notification, the message will include instructions.
  • If SchoolMessenger encounters a busy signal, no answer or a failed call (such as a disconnected number or downed lines), the system will retry that number three times in 15-minute increments.

If you have provided a cell phone number as one or more of your contact numbers, that phone number is eligible to receive text messages in addition to the phone call. SchoolMessenger is a free service, but you must opt in to receive text notifications, because standard message and data rates charged by your mobile provider may apply.
  • If your cell phone number is in our database as an emergency contact number, you may request text notifications from SchoolMessenger by texting YES to 67587.
  • If your cell phone number is in our database and you have not already opted in from your device, SchoolMessenger will send you a text on Friday, December 1 at 10:00 am.
    • To OPT-IN, respond to the text from 67587 with either Y or YES.
    • To OPT-OUT, respond to the text from 67587 with STOP or ignore the text.

If you decline to receive text messages, you will receive only phone call notifications from SchoolMessenger to your cell phone. Any new cell phone number that is added to our SchoolMessenger contacts database will automatically receive the opt-in text, even after December 1.

SchoolMessenger is one more valuable communication tool and does not replace any of the Manchester School District’s current methods of communicating. We will continue to report critical information -- including school closings due to weather -- on radio and TV stations, on the MSD web site, our social media pages, and through Nixle.

Thank you in advance for your participation.


Bolgen Vargas, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Friday, November 17, 2017

New Gossler Park Elementary School playground complete

The City of Manchester Parks and Recreation Department, Manchester Health Department, and the
Gossler Park Elementary School are excited to announce that the new Gossler Park School’s
Neighborhood Playground has finally become a reality. As part of the Manchester Community Schools Project and the Manchester Neighborhood Health Improvement Strategy, the Manchester Health Department started working on this project several years ago in partnership with the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission who crafted a health impact assessment. The assessment, which was funded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, aims to redesign the Gossler Park School campus to support health, recreation, and safety.

Subsequently, to support the campus redesign, the Health Department received an anonymous donation of $35,000 that was also funded through the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. This donation was further matched by funding from the Manchester School District, and an additional $15,000 was awarded by the Cogswell Benevolent Trust. With this funding in place, the plans began to take shape.

The Health Department then partnered with the Parks, Recreation & Cemeteries Department. Through this collaboration, the playground project was selected to receive a $35,000 play space grant from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and The Walt Disney Company. Known as the Meet Me at the Park initiative, this investment supports NRPA and Disney’s combined goal of
providing one million kids and families with greater access to play.

“NRPA is proud to collaborate with The Walt Disney Company to help more children and families experience the benefits of play,” said Kellie May, NRPA director of health and wellness. “By increasing access to play spaces, this program will also provide new activities that support healthy lifestyles in local communities.”

The new playground includes many innovative play structures designed specifically for inclusion and a broad range of ages from early childhood to upper elementary.

“We were looking for a few signature pieces where all kids could be excited about playing on the playground,” said Don Pinard, Chief of Parks.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous donations that have made this project possible,” said Lori
Upham, principal of Gossler Park Elementary School. “The children and families of the neighborhood deserve a safe place that supports play for everyone, and as a Community School, Gossler Park is excited to be known as a neighborhood destination for all families.”