Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Southside Spartans give back!

Student government reps at Southside Middle School
The Southside Middle School student council representing 6th, 7th and 8th graders led a program to recognize the efforts of the entire student body to support three worthy causes.
In just the last two weeks, Southside Middle School raised $500 and collected 52 toys for Felicity's Closet, a local organization which helps families who have been displaced by fire or domestic violence.
Last month, students donated 1,693 items to New Horizons for New Hampshire. They were included in the 1,200 food baskets delivered to hungry families for Thanksgiving.
Finally, Make-A-Wish New Hampshire received a check from Southside today in the amount of $658.13.
What a wonderful way to celebrate the season!

Transformer malfunction interrupts power to Hillside

UPDATE: POWER HAS BEEN RESTORED

An electrical transformer outside of Hillside Middle School malfunctioned and temporarily ignited at about 8:15 this morning. The fire was quickly extinguished, but power is out in some of the school's classrooms and the kitchen. All students were inside and safe at the time of the incident. Manchester Fire Department, the city's facilities division, and Eversource Utilities responded and are working to restore 100% power to Hillside. The school is safe, and the normally scheduled day will continue.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Jewett Street School assistant principal named MSD director of federal projects

Sharon DeVincent has been named Manchester School District’s director of federal projects. She will be responsible for developing and supervising federal funding opportunities to enhance education for all students across the city.

DeVincent was assistant principal at Jewett Street School, a position she’d held since 2013. Prior to that, she arrived in Manchester as the Title I reading supervisor at Hallsville Elementary School. From 2005-2011, DeVincent was a classroom teacher in Florida at the elementary and high school levels. She holds Master of Science degrees in reading education and instructional technology and has several professional certifications. DeVincent is working toward a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership.

As director of federal projects, DeVincent will seek out and recommend opportunities for Manchester to participate in educational grants, entitlements, and funding allocations. She will work closely with schools, administrators and faculty in planning the use of funds available through various federal programs. Another responsibility will be to supervising professional development opportunities for faculty related to federal projects.

DeVincent replaces Polly Golden, who became principal at Wilson Elementary School in September.The assistant principal position at Jewett Street School will be filled shortly. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

West High School teen honored for heroic act

Mayor Ted Gatsas and the Board of School Committee honored a senior from West High School for his efforts to prevent a stranger from taking his own life.

The Manchester Monarchs had just won their game against the Norfolk Admirals, and the weather was mild enough that 17-year-old Desmond Powell didn’t mind walking home from the Verizon Wireless Arena. The short walk to the West side on November 21 around 9:00 pm would have been uneventful, as it had been countless other times, until Desmond saw the man on the Granite Street Bridge.

“He was sitting on the railing with his legs on the water side,” Desmond said. “I heard him muttering to himself, ‘I’m gonna jump, I’m gonna jump.’”

Desmond was compelled to stop. Once the teenager got the suicidal man’s attention, he kept talking to try to keep him from following through with his intent.

“I told him a decision like that doesn’t just affect him, that it affects his family and friends and everyone who cares about him,” Desmond said. “Even if he’s going through a rough time, I told him he needs to keep pushing through. Something positive will happen.”

The man explained that he was a heroin user and he had gotten high earlier that day. He said he was afraid his parole officer would find out, and he was overwhelmed with the troubles he was facing in life.

Another passerby also had stopped, and with her help, Desmond coaxed the man off the railing. He was hungry, he said, so they went to the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts where Desmond gave him ten dollars to buy coffee and a sandwich. When the man went to use the restroom, Desmond called the police to come pick the man up. The distraught man overheard the conversation and left.

That might have been the end of the story if the man hadn’t left his cell phone charging in the outlet at Dunkin’ Donuts.

“I saw him run up Dubuque Street, so that gave police an idea of the area he was in,” Desmond said. “I told them they could come get his phone to give it back to him when they found him.”

While Desmond waited, the man returned on his own, with a message of thanks for Desmond.

“He said, ‘People like you make me want to stay in this world. Thanks for believing in me. You saved my life. You’re a hero.’”

Anyone who knows Desmond isn’t surprised to hear how he reacted in this situation.

“Desmond is a leader, and I believe he will continue to shape the lives of others around him,” said West High School principal Chris Motika. “His courage and strong moral compass will guide him to a lifetime of success.”

A West football player and Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, Desmond says he was raised to care for others and do the right thing.

“If I hadn’t stopped on the bridge and found out the next day there had been a suicide, I would have felt very guilty,” Desmond said. “It would be awful to know I was there and could have done something.”
 
At Monday night’s Board of School Committee meeting, Mayor Gatsas read a proclamation commending Desmond for his act of courage and caring.

“Desmond is a role model for all of us,” said Mayor Gatsas. “When someone in our community is in trouble, we should think about the ways we can help.”  

As for that man who was in so much distress he wanted to end his life, Desmond doesn’t know what happened to him after the police and an ambulance arrived on Granite Street to attend to him.


“I didn’t even get the guy’s name, but I hope he’s doing all right.”

Friday, December 11, 2015

Smarter Balanced assessment individual results available next week

Parents and guardians will receive student reports starting next week that show how their children scored on last spring’s Smarter Balanced assessment. While state and district-wide results were released in November, technical challenges related to the interface between the assessment’s score reporting system and school rosters delayed the printing of individual reports in New Hampshire’s largest school district.

New Hampshire is part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), a group of states which worked together to develop a new tool to assess English language arts/literacy and mathematics. The Smarter Balanced assessment replaces the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) in the same subject areas.  Students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 took the SBAC assessment, which establishes a new baseline for academic progress.

“Assessments are like academic check-ups,” said Superintendent Debra Livingston. “Smarter Balanced results provide a picture of where a student is excelling and where a student needs some extra help. Over time, a student’s success and progress can be measured against the previous year’s results.”

Along with the student score reports for each subject, families will receive a guide produced by the school district to describe the SBAC, explain what the results mean, and offer additional resources for information. A sample score report also is included in the parent packet to provide more detail on how to read the scores.

Individual reports for students include a breakdown of their performance in categories within each subject, along with comparisons to school, district and state averages. Parents can use the information to better understand where their child needs additional practice or to be further challenged. The results can help parents work with teachers to identify strategies that support student progress.

SBAC scores are provided in levels:
·         Level 4 = thorough understanding
·         Level 3 = adequate understanding
·         Level 2 = partial understanding
·         Level 1 = minimal understanding

While scores of level 1 or level 2 indicate a need for further development of skills in a subject, they do not mean a student did not improve or learned less. The Smarter Balanced results also should not be compared to scores from previous assessments because SBAC measures different skills based on higher goals in college- and career-ready standards.

“Like New Hampshire, our Manchester Academic Standards reflect different expectations to ensure students’ success,” said Dr. Livingston. “Assessment scores are just one tool that can inform teachers about how to adjust instruction and make sure their students meet the new standards. Teachers continue to use classroom assignments, daily observations, and grades to help evaluate overall academic achievement.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mystery Location Calls offer unique learning opportunity

Access to computers, software, and creating web-based classroom projects is expanding in all of our schools, giving teachers across Manchester School District the opportunity to use technology during every day lessons. Recently, one of our teachers jumped at the chance to integrate technology in a way he never had before.


Mr. Coulon signed up his fourth graders at Highland-Goffe's Falls Elementary School for a Mystery Location Call. They connected with a class in another state via Google Hangout, and the children asked each other yes/no questions to figure out where the other class was. With each answer, the kids marked off a map to narrow down the states and ultimately make a guess about the other class's location. 

Highland's mystery callers were in Mississippi! Hattiesburg, to be exact.

"Students today are part of the digital world, and we as educators have to change and find new and creative ways to teach them," said Mr. Coulon. "I wanted my students to experience things outside Manchester and New Hampshire. This allowed us to do that, and it helped the students practice communication skills and forming questions, as well as sharpen mapping skills." 

The reactions from Mr. Coulon's students show they enjoyed the Mystery Location Call experience:
"I thought it was cool because no worksheet could describe how they talked or how they felt about living in Mississippi."

"My favorite part about the mystery call was figuring out what state they were in."

"I liked that we could talk to people that have different accents."

They're looking forward to participating in another one soon! 

Any teacher who is interested to being matched with a Mystery Location Call classroom can check out the Google+ community that will help make the connection. Give it a try! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Young Writers' Conference set for May

High school students are cordially invited to attend a weekend of writing workshops, craft sessions, and open mic at the Champlain College Young Writers' Conference, May 27-29. Now in its sixteenth year, the conference attracts high school students who wish to share their passion for story, drama, and song with their writerly brothers and sisters—and with celebrated New England authors. It offers three days of readings, improv, Moth storytelling, poetry slams, literary jazz/blues fusion, and extended friendship on the hillside campus of Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.

THE 2016 KEYNOTE SPEAKER, AWARD-WINNING POET AND ESSAYIST ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT, is the author of Claiming KinThe Forces of PlentyThe Lotus FlowersTwo TreesKyrieShadow of HeavenMessenger: New and Selected Poems, and Headwaters. A former Vermont State Poet, Ellen’s work has appeared in The American Poetry ReviewThe New YorkerThe AtlanticThe New England Review, and elsewhere. She designed and directed the nation's first low-residency MFA Writing Program, served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and in 2015 received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “genius grant.”


The postmark DEADLINE OF FEBRUARY 22 to register is fast approaching. If you have a tale to spin, or a story to share, please download an application and learn more: http://www.champlain.edu/write

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Central High School safe after evacuation

A report of a possible threat against the school prompted an evacuation of Manchester High School Central this morning. While the threat did not appear to be credible, administrators and police took it seriously. Students and staff were able to re-enter the building after it was determined to be safe to do so. 
Families who have questions may contact principal John Vaccarezza's office: 624-6363.

Furniture donation transforms media center

Before
The Middle School at Parkside media center looks almost nothing like it did just a couple of weeks ago, after a generous donation from Brady Sullivan Properties helped give the space a much needed update. The real estate company was moving office furniture out of a building to make room for a new tenant when Arthur Sullivan had an idea.

“Instead of storing the tables and chairs or selling them, we wanted to offer them to the school district,” Mr. Sullivan said. “I was born and raised in Manchester, and I appreciate the education I received here. Giving back to our community is very important, and this was an opportunity for us to do that.”

When Parkside principal Forrest Ransdell heard about the available furniture, he jumped at the chance to take it for the school’s library. The room was furnished with old wooden chairs, which were difficult to move around on the carpeted floor, and tables repurposed to hold desktop computers. Within a few days, plans were made to deliver the Brady Sullivan furniture to Parkside, and Mr. Ransdell spent a couple of weekend days bolting down the long office tables.

The transition was complete last week. Today, all of the library’s round tables have comfortable rolling chairs, and the computers are arranged on one end of the large room – also with accompanying rolling chairs – in the newly named “Brady Sullivan Media Information Technology Lab.” A permanent plaque soon will hang on the wall to memorialize the donation.

“The kids are wowed,” said Robin Tafe, Parkside library media specialist. “The room has a professional vibe, and that makes such a difference to learning environments.”


Middle School at Parkside principal Forrest Ransdell,
library media specialist Robin Tafe, and teacher
Jennifer Harrises thanked Arthur Sullivan, far right.
More improvements to the media center are still to come. A Parkside graduate now working on his Eagle Scout application will refurbish the round tables with new paint and surfaces, as well as build a presentation stage and podium.

“We still have work to do to make our library what we envision,” said Mr. Ransdell. “But none of it is possible without the start Brady Sullivan has given us.”

Parkside hosted a short dedication ceremony to thank Mr. Sullivan and his company. The Middle School at Parkside chamber orchestra provided entertainment.


MMHS inducts new Hall of Fame class

The Class of 2015 was inducted into the Manchester Memorial High School Hall of Fame on November 28. Thirty-eight athletes, coaches, alumni and volunteers join the classes of 1994, 2000 and 2006, who have been recognized for their contributions to the school and/or achievements in their fields.

The red division honors athletes who displayed outstanding skill in their sports and graduated from Memorial:
WILLIAM LUCCI - CLASS OF 1964
THEOHARRIS “HARRY” LAZOS - CLASS OF 1970
SCOTT THOMPSON - CLASS OF 1971
CRYSTAL FINEFROCK GAFF - CLASS OF 1984
PAUL JONES - CLASS OF 1986
PETER FAVREAU - CLASS OF 1987
MICHAEL ASTARITA - CLASS OF 1990
RICHARD CAPLETTE - CLASS OF 1990
MARK McMAHON - CLASS OF 1990
MOLLY DAVENPORT GUILFOYLE - CLASS OF 1991
KELLY CROSSMAN OLSEN - CLASS OF 1993
ADAM LAWRENCE - CLASS OF 1995
CHRISTOPHER LAMBERT - CLASS OF 2001
KINDYLL DORSEY - CLASS OF 2002
DAVID IRVING - CLASS OF 2007
CHRISTOPHER LEMIEUX - CLASS OF 2008
KALEIGH ROBERGE - CLASS OF 2009
Memorial coaches Richard Provencher,
Diane Dryer and Peter Perich
Also included in the red division are coaches who demonstrated outstanding leadership during their years of service:
DIANE LAUGHLIN McMILLAN DRYER - CHEERLEADING
PETER PERICH - SOCCER
RICHARD “NIP” PROVENCHER - TRACK
The white division highlights MMHS graduates who have attained outstanding levels of prominence in their chosen professions or contributions to society:
BRADFORD SMITH - CLASS OF 1961
NICHOLAS LAZOS - CLASS OF 1971
PETER PERICH - CLASS OF 1971
PAUL HOUGHTON JR - CLASS OF 1978
JENNIFER SIMARD - CLASS OF 1988
STERGIOS LAZOS - CLASS OF 1980
MOIRA DAVENPORT - CLASS OF 1990
MICHELE TOLSON - CLASS OF 1991
The blue division salutes individuals who offered outstanding commitments of time and effort on behalf of Memorial High School. This group includes booster club members, parents, volunteers, administrators, staff and students:
BETSY COLL
WILLIAM HOUGHTON
PETER PERICH
BRUCE PERREAULT
All six principals in the school's history were chosen for the Class of 2015 and inducted into the blue division:
JOSEPH E. BRONSTEIN
LEONARD FOLEY
BERNICE KRAUZER
RAY DOWNTON
JAMES HAMMOND
ARTHUR ADAMAKOS


Current Memorial cheerleaders helped decorate and
serve the meal for this year's Hall of Fame induction event.
The next Hall of Fame class will be selected in 2021.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Shoes for Schools will benefit Manchester children

The Currier Museum of Art and Webster Elementary School are teaming up to host a shoe drive timed with the Currier’s upcoming exhibition, Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe

All donations of NEW, closed-toe shoes, sneakers or boots will be distributed to elementary- and middle school-age children in need across Manchester. Sizes requested range from toddler 10 to adult men's 12. Community members may bring shoes to the Currier Museum of Art at 150 Ash Street between December 1, 2015 and January 15, 2016.

Special thanks to the student council members at Webster for representing Manchester School District in the effort and for helping to make sure all of our schools benefit. 

If you have any questions, please visit CURRIER.ORG/shoes-schools-campaign-2015/ or contact Lynn Thomson, manager of family and community engagement at the Currier at lthomson@currier.org. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Middle school cross country recap: Two Manchester teams reign supreme

The three best middle school runners in Manchester: 
Hillside's Katelyn and Keegan Pepin, 

followed by Morgan Nault of McLaughlin 
Hillside girls are the 2015
Division I Tri-County
Cross Country champs...
This year, two of Manchester's middle school cross country teams excelled at the biggest meets of the year. Hillside coach Michelle Leonard led her Hillside Hawks girls team to an undefeated season, bringing the program back to the top, where it once was for decades.  

...and the 2015 state middle school champions!
After a great early part of the season, the Hawks finished off their tremendous year with titles at the Division 1 Tri-County League meet and another title in the Large School Division of the Middle School XC State Championships. While the entire Hillside team was outstanding all season, special recognition goes out to her "A" team consisting of twins Katelyn and Keegan Pepin, Ella Tartsa, Erin Flurey, Emma Krantz, Alexandra Topic, and Fiona Doherty.  

McLaughlin girls are the 2015
Division II Tri-County
Cross Country champs...
McLaughlin Middle School's girl's cross-country team took home the Division 2 title at the Tri-County League meet, helping Manchester to a sweep of the events in the top 2 divisions. McLaughlin also came in 2nd place at the State Championships, giving Manchester a solid 1-2 punch in the Large School Division. 
...and the 2015 state middle school runners up!

These two teams have had some great battles over the season, including at the Manchester City Championship, when Hillside edged McLaughlin by two points in one of the best city events in the past 20 years. McLaughlin was led by Morgan Nault (who challenged the Pepin twins all season) Jessica Carrier, Ryan Moran, Kelsey Comire, Maddy Petersen, Keeley Francis, and Asia Mercier.