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.”

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Presentation on the Benefits of School Breakfast

Eating breakfast can have a positive impact on a student’s success in school. New Hampshire is one of ten states in the country with the lowest participation in the National School Breakfast Program. Please Join the Manchester School District Wellness Council and help make sure all kids get a strong start to their day and a solid academic foundation.

WHEN: November 14, 2017 at 3:15 PM
WHERE: Manchester School of Technology, 530 So. Porter St.
WHO: Parents, Teachers, Administrators...everyone!
QUESTIONS? Please contact Sue Sheehy at

school breakfast presentation

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Manchester students get hands-on experience at the STEM Discovery Lab

High school students in the Agnes Lindsay STEM Fellowship Program through UNH Manchester are getting a chance to see what the STEM fields have to offer, while receiving high school credits toward graduation.

Read about how the STEM Fellowship Program is making a big impact on our students!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Crew of the USS Manchester visits Queen City

The naval ship USS Manchester, named after New Hampshire’s largest city, will officially be commissioned next April. In preparation, some of the crew of the navy’s newest Littoral Combat Ship (LCS-14), visited the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC) program at West High School.

NJROTC cadets, under the leadership of Captain Arthur Stauff and Master Gunnery Sergeant Ronald Slagle, gave a presentation on their unit. During the school-wide assembly, West High School students showcased a history of Manchester and of the school. Performances by the West High School band added to the event’s pomp and circumstance.

This is the second ship in the U.S. Navy to be named after Manchester, New Hampshire. The first USS Manchester, a light cruiser that primarily operated in the Pacific during the Korean War, was commissioned in 1946. It was decommissioned in 1956.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Grant will fund innovation plan for West High School

West High School principal Rick Dichard; Diane Fitzpatrick, CEO Boys & Girls Club of Manchester;
Mike Skelton, president & CEO, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce;
Susan Huard, president, Manchester Community College; Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bolgen Vargas;
Mayor Ted Gatsas; Alex Walker, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Medical Center

Manchester School District (MSD) has received $300,000 from the Barr Foundation to support plans to transform West High School into a competency-based, student-centered learning model of education.

Based in Boston, the Barr Foundation directs its investments to nonprofit organizations, the public sector, and civic and business leaders to connect all students to success in high school and beyond.

The funds from this grant will help MSD and its partners, including the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester and other local agencies and businesses, develop a plan to transform five key areas of the West High School experience: out of school learning; personalization; college and career preparation; student support and family engagement; and school culture. These components will provide all students the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for post-secondary success.

“Educators across the country recognize the need for new approaches to instruction in the 21st century,” said Dr. Bolgen Vargas, superintendent of schools. “We have seen the benefits of student-centered learning, and West High School provides us a great opportunity to replicate that success, for the first time, on a large scale school-wide.”

This initiative will engage every West student by enhancing existing programs, such as STEAM Ahead NH, access to college courses, and internships for extended learning opportunities beyond the traditional classroom.  Because of early discussions about applying for the Barr Foundation grant, teachers and students are actively pursuing a career-shadowing collaboration with Catholic Medical Center.

As the primary community partner, the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester will coordinate all local partnership activities through a Community Advisory group.

Redesigning an educational model takes careful planning, time, and resources. MSD will be working with two widely recognized organizations, Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) and Big Picture Learning (BPL), to support this planning phase. Both have significant experience in facilitating the kind of transformation Manchester hopes to accomplish.

CCE and BPL will bring their collective resources and assistance to every aspect of the planning phase, including coordinating design and solution team meetings, conducting focus groups, and helping to write the redesign implementation plan.  Their advisement will provide the school district with the guidance and capacity to successfully achieve its vision for West High School.

Manchester School District anticipates completing the plan by the end of December 2018 and will devote the subsequent six months to piloting select redesign components. Full redesign implementation will take place in September 2019.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A message from Dr. Vargas on the decision to close school

Dear Manchester School District families and staff,

We recognize that the timing of this morning’s announcement to close Manchester public schools was inconvenient for many families who were on their way to school or work.  The results of last night’s storm and the time to collect and assess information complicated some of the coordination that takes place when we decide to close or delay school.

Unlike during a winter storm when the impact on the city is sometimes easier to evaluate all at once, reports about power outages at several schools today came in at different times. The outage at Beech Street Elementary School had the most serious effect, because that is where all of the meals for 13 out of 14 elementary school are prepared. The decision to cancel school came when we determined the district-wide impact.

We understand that some students were waiting at bus stops or had already been picked up. Manchester Transportation Authority successfully implemented our emergency plan to ensure students’ safety in a situation like this. Every child was returned home and never in danger of being left alone. For high school students whose bus cards were punched today, tomorrow morning’s ride to school will be free of charge.

As we always do after an emergency situation, our administrative team will review internal procedures and look at ways we can improve.

Dr. Bolgen Vargas
Superintendent of Schools

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Amy Allen named assistant superintendent of elementary education & innovation

Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has named Amy Allen as the new Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education & Innovation in Manchester. The Board of School Committee approved the appointment at Monday night’s meeting.

Allen began working in the district in 2009. She was assistant principal of student services at Hillside Middle School before moving to her most recent position of principal at Parker-Varney Elementary School in 2013.  During her time at Parker-Varney, Allen focused on raising achievement for all students, closing the achievement gap, preparing students for college and career, and providing supports for her faculty and staff to accomplish those goals.

Parker-Varney received the 2015 Elementary School of Excellence EDie Award from the New Hampshire Excellence in Education committee. In 2016, the school was recognized by the National Principals Leadership Institute with the School Innovation and Change Award. Parker-Varney has received national attention this year for establishing multi-grade classrooms for effective instruction.

“Ms. Allen has an excellent reputation for collaboration and for using innovative and transformative approaches to education to help students succeed,” said Dr. Vargas. “That’s the kind of 21st century leadership we want in Manchester to continue the progress we’re making. With community-wide support, she will help us to achieve our goal of becoming the best urban district in New England and the nation.”

As the Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education & Innovation, Allen will work to help all of Manchester’s grades K-12 schools enhance project-based, personalized learning.

“My passion is working with people, especially those who are committed to educating children,” said Allen. “I am excited for the opportunity to use my strengths in the areas of innovation and deeper learning to benefit students across the district.”

Parker-Varney’s assistant principal will serve as acting principal of the school until a permanent principal is named.