Monday, June 29, 2015

Wanted: FIRST Junior STEAM Ahead mentors

Manchester School District is looking for mentors who can help bring FIRST® Junior STEAM Ahead into our fourth grade classrooms! 
FIRST® Junior STEAM Ahead is a community partnership between Manchester School District and FIRST®, with the goal of sparking students’ interests in science, technology, engineering, art and math. During lessons that apply math and science concepts, teams of four students design, build, and program robots using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® and other elements. 
After a successful pilot year, FIRST® Junior STEAM Ahead will be in seven elementary schools for the 2015-16 school year.
Parents, members of our business community, retirees, and anyone else interested in being part of innovative education in Manchester qualify to become mentors -- no technical or FIRST LEGO League experience necessary! 
If you can provide 90 minutes of your time once a week, we want to hear from you! To start, please fill out our mentor registration form, and we will contact you with more details, including information about mentor training in August to get ready for the start of the school year.

Early Registration for Manchester Summer School

Parents and students can come early to register for Manchester Summer School at Central High School on Wednesday, 7/1/15 between 9-12. Central High School is located at 207 Lowell Street:

Classes begin July 6 - for more information please visit:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Manchester summer youth programs

Manchester has city-sponsored programs for kids this summer, and there's still time to register!

Fun In The Sun summer day camp for Manchester residents ages 6 - 12.

Registration Date and Requirements:

Registration Date:
Thursday, July 2, 2015 @ 8:00 AM

Registration will take place at the site your child will be attending.
Program Locations: JFK Memorial Coliseum, Livingston Park (Dorr's Pond House), Piscataquog River Park

  • Must have birth certificate to register.
  • MANCHESTER RESIDENTS ONLY, if there is a question you will have to prove residency
  • Youngsters MUST be 6 (Six) years of age to register.
  • Registration will continue throughout the six weeks provided space is available at each site

Program Start Date: Monday, July 6, 2015
Program Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM
Program End Date: Thursday, August 13, 2015

Participants enjoy:

  • playground activities
  • arts & crafts
  • swimming
  • local field trips
  • special events days such as MTV day or Christmas in July
  • sports days

For more information, please call Brenda Dwyer at (603) 665-6817

Summer Fun Runs will run every Thursday beginning Thursday, June 25, 2015 and run every Thursday in July ending Thursday, July 23, 2015 at the Gatsas Athletic Complex in Livingston Park. Registration begins at 5:15 PM, with events beginning at 6:00 PM.

For more information contact:

Brenda at Parks and Recreation at (603) 665-6817 email

Kelly at (603) 548-6802   email

Friday, June 12, 2015

Why the pomp and circumstance really matters

All of Manchester’s graduating seniors have much to be proud of when they look back on their high school accomplishments. We want members of our community to meet some of the students who have faced challenges that threatened their success were it not for personal fortitude, ambition and strength. These are the stories they were willing to share that we hope will inspire others. They’re the reason the pomp and circumstance really matters.
Nathan Temple.jpg
Nathan, front, at this year's Memorial Day
ceremony at school
Nathan Temple’s family will be watching proudly when he dons his cap and gown for Memorial High School’s commencement ceremony on Saturday. His mother won’t be there, though. She died in October 2013, the beginning of Nate’s junior year.

I loved her sense of humor and ability to always put a smile on my face,” Nathan said of his mom. “She always put me and my sister before herself, and I will always be grateful for that.”

About a month after his mom’s passing, Nate decided that living with his father wasn’t the best option.

“I realized, with my mom gone, how much she had been around for me and how much my dad was not,” Nate said.

With his father facing some personal challenges of his own, Nate moved in with his maternal grandparents.

“Their house feels like more of a home,” Nate said.

There were a lot of transitions in Nate’s life around that time. It would have been easy to use his circumstances as an excuse to fall behind in school. Instead, his mother’s memory was the motivating factor that pushed him through.

“My mom was always the one on me about homework and grades,” Nate said. “I thought, ‘Well, just because she’s gone doesn’t mean my grades can slip.’ She wouldn’t want that to happen.”

So through it all, Nate kept his grades up. And with his grandparents’ help, he got his driver’s license, bought his first car -- “A Mazda, but it’s already falling apart, so I think I need a new one.” -- and got a part-time job. Nate has been working at the Goldenrod Drive-In for the past year and a half.

“He is one of our most valued employees,” said Goldenrod owner Rich Webber. “Nate is hardworking, trustworthy, and punctual. He never hesitates to help a coworker. It really is rare for a person his age to juggle sports, school and work so well.”

Another big supporter Nate credits is his English teacher at Memorial, Danielle Foley. English is his strongest subject, he said, and he enjoyed her class during his sophomore and senior years. Ms. Foley noticed the change in Nate after the passing of his mother.

Where a normally boisterous, jubilant boy once sat was now a boy who must have felt like his world was lost,” she said. “I watched Nate pull himself back up, with the help of his excellent friends, and this year, when he walked into my mythology class as a senior, I knew the old, fun Nate was back.”

Ms. Foley added that a new change in Nate is his maturity.

“I think I’ve matured more than the average high schooler needs to, but it’s helped me in the long run,” Nate said.

Now Nate is about to graduate with a 3.25 GPA and plans to join the U.S. Army National Guard. He’ll spend about five months at basic training in Missouri starting in September. Then he will come home to work before enrolling in the fall of 2016 at Plymouth State University, where he’ll study criminal justice.

“The Army pays for 100% of my college tuition,” Nate explained. “When I graduate, I can join and train in the OCS.”  

Officer Candidate School is the Army’s training academy for prospective Army officers. Nate also has hopes of becoming an Army Ranger, one of an elite unit. After duty in the Army, Nate wants to be a police officer.

With the future wide open to fulfilling his goals, Nate is grateful to his grandparents for helping to provide the opportunity.

“There hasn’t been a point that I couldn’t go to them, and they haven’t been there for me,” Nate said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

As for advice that other students who are struggling can take with them: “No matter how hard life gets, it can always be worse, so take every day as it comes, good or bad, and never get too down on yourself.”

Ruben, center, with ELO coordinator Angela Bourassa
and guidance counselor Bill Cannon
Imagine moving to a country when you’re 18 years old and don’t speak the language. Imagine enrolling in school in your new country, and you have a deadline of three years to learn the language and graduate. It sounds like a lot of pressure, not to mention intimidating.

Ruben Chavez-Lopez was in just that situation in 2012 when he arrived in New Hampshire from Guatemala. He began his American education at Central High School taking basic English Learner classes.

“When Ruben got here, we started out talking with an interpreter between us,” said his guidance counselor Bill Cannon. “Now we can have a full conversation in English, without an interpreter.”

To complete all of the credits required for graduation, Ruben loaded his schedule with the necessary classes. Once he became proficient in English, he took additional classes online to help him catch up to his classmates.

Ruben worked at a part-time job, but eventually he quit. Living with two brothers -- one older, one younger -- means Ruben also has other responsibilities at home that typical high school students don’t have.

“I only worked 15 hours a week, but it was hard to do everything when I was in school and studying,” he said.

Another resource available to Ruben was the Access Academy at St. Anselm College, which refugee and immigrant high school students in Manchester attend every week. The Access Academy programs teach students like Ruben the process of applying for college and the skills that will help them flourish in a college setting.

Ruben does see college in his future. He wants to be a music teacher.

“When I was 14 years old, I started playing piano,” Ruben said.

Unfortunately, there was no room in his course schedule for music.

“I had no idea he could play or had interest in music,” Central’s extended learning opportunity coordinator, Angela Bourassa, said. “But when he told me, I took him to the music department, where he sat at a piano and played something. We were so impressed.”
For now, Ruben has a keyboard at home he practices on.

As for his academic success, Ruben says the key is reading.

“I like to read books in English,” he said. “Sometimes I just go to the library and read.”

He would tell any other student in similar circumstances to work hard on learning English, and to keep reading and writing.

Ruben’s motivation was simple and personal.

“I want to live a good life and be successful here.”

How hard do you think you’d have to work to complete four years of high school in one school year? Ask Abbi Benson, and she’ll tell you what it takes. She started her fifth year at West High School with just four credits. That meant she needed 16 more to graduate. Did she do it? Spoiler alert: Abbi will be marching with the rest of the Class of 2015 at commencement.

“She’s worked harder than any student I’ve seen in 12 years of teaching,” said English teacher Stephanie Silver. “Everybody at this school believes in her, and I’m so proud of what she’s accomplished.”

But how does a student find herself in the position of staying in high school for five years and almost not graduating?

“I didn’t take my first couple of years seriously,” Abbi explained. “I skipped school a lot, hung out with an older crowd who had more free time, and I thought I could do what they were doing.”

The problem was, Abbi should have been completing course requirements and earning at least half of her graduation credits as a freshman and sophomore. But she earned zero credits those first two years. During her third year, Abbi earned a half credit. ONE HALF of a credit, the whole year.

“After that, I didn’t know if I wanted to come back to school at all,” Abbi said. “I could have just gotten a GED, but my mother put the idea in my head that a GED wasn’t good enough. And then I didn’t want to settle for that.”

So Abbi went back to school and started her fourth year, during which she earned another three and a half credits. Still not even close to the number of credits she needed. September 2014, the start of year five, is when Abbi really cracked down and got serious about her graduation goal.

“This year, I was a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior.”

Abbi finished all the required classes, took classes online to recover the credits she lost her first four years, and earned additional credits through extended learning opportunities outside the classroom. She also held a part-time job at the mall.

“Every day was school, work, sleep,” said Abbi. “Sometimes not even sleep. I’ll sleep when I graduate.”

Abbi’s biggest supporters and cheerleaders were some of her teachers, who reminded her to stay focused and show up for class, and they tracked her down if she strayed.

“She’s a kind, good person,” Mrs. Silver said about Abbbi. “For all the mistakes she’s made, she’s always had a level of maturity to know you’re trying to help her, and she takes responsibility.”

Abbi does have aspirations for higher education, but she won’t go to college right away.

“I’ll get a full time job to work and save some money,” she said. “I want an artsy career. I want to learn how to produce music, or maybe go to art school and do something creative with drawing.”

Yes, doing four years’ worth of work in one year was difficult. But no matter what obstacle lies in your path, Abbi says anyone can do anything.

“Don’t say you can’t do it. Try to see yourself being successful. If you do that, you have a pretty good shot.”

Wilson Elementary School celebrates Leadership Day

Students at Henry Wilson Elementary School marked the end of a successful academic year with a celebration of learning and leadership.  

Wilson has implemented the internationally praised “Leader in Me” principles into its everyday culture. They are based on the more well-known “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Similarly, the Leader in Me program developed for educators by author Stephen Covey equips children with the confidence and skills they need to thrive:

Fifth grader Abang was Leadership Day's emcee
1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think win-win
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the Saw

A school assembly of music, speeches and recognitions began the Leadership Day program attended by parents and special guests, including superintendent Debra Livingston, Department of Education Commissioner Virginia Barry, and several members of the board of school committee.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Central High School Hall of Fame seeks nominations

Nominations for induction into the Central High School Hall of Fame are currently being accepted, according to Dr. Michael Murphy, chair of the committee that oversees the organization.

Anyone wishing to submit a nomination should send an e-mail to before September 15, 2015.  

The e-mail should set out in 500 words or fewer the nominee’s accomplishments and the reasons the writer believes the nominee should be inducted.  Any contact information for the nominee should also be included.

In order to be eligible for induction, nominees must have been graduated from Central before 2007.

A banquet celebrating the inductees will be held in the spring of 2016 at the Center of New Hampshire.

The Hall of Fame was founded in 1995.  Since its founding, more that 75 graduates have been inducted, including cartoonist Bob Montana, film star Adam Sandler, Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, and Dartmouth College hoop standout Cindy Vaios.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

MST High School inducts its first ever National Honor Society members

Eleven members of MST High School's Class of 2016 are the charter members of the school's National Honor Society chapter. 

NHS is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. 

After taking the NHS pledge, these 11 students received their medals and signed the chapter register:

Mandhira Chhetri
Angela Hamilton 
Matthew Nguyen
Ian Johnson 
Ali Long 
James Manning 
Michael Mears 
Lauren Michaud 
Depika Tamang 
Jayda Wentworth 
Aidan West

Congratulations to all of them for their achievement!

Monday, June 8, 2015

MSD Faculty & Staff Walking Works - Summer 2015 Fitness Challenge

Grab your walking boots, Manchester Schools’ Faculty and Staff! Manchester School District is kicking off their Walking Works challenge on Monday, June 15!

Teams will compete to cover the greatest amount of steps in 8 weeks. Sign ups are available starting at 4:00 pm on June 4, so grab a spot and get moving! The first 50 registrants will receive a Fitbit Zip to help them track activity throughout the challenge (those who have received a Fitbit in the past are not eligible).

This year will work a little differently than last; teams will be split into 3 groups: elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Each team will receive a weekly average step score based on the amount of participants on their team. The team with the greatest step score by the end of the 8-week challenge will earn a spot on The Walking Works Plaque of Fame. This will be updated and passed between winning schools in future challenges. Participants will still be eligible for random prize drawings individually.

The challenge will run through summer, ending on August 10. Summer is the perfect time to start increasing activity levels! All participants will receive bi-weekly email updates and may also check Manchester School District’s Fitbit page for discussion topics to stay motivated. All participants are required to register on the Walking Works website. Instructions for this can be found below.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Donation of instruments will rev up music education in Manchester

Maureen and Todd Berkowitz of Manchester Subaru;
Tim Russell, representing Manchester music educators;
Ernie Boch, Jr.; Mayor Ted Gatsas; and Debra Livingston at the Music Drives Us Foundation
presentation to Manchester School District 
Manchester schools have received 110 musical instruments worth more than $25,000 to enhance music education in the district. They are the gift of Music Drives Us and Manchester Subaru, which joined forces to provide the donation.

The Music Drives Us Foundation was established in 2006 to help support music programs for the underserved and to prevent music education in schools from being cut due to budget reductions and other obstacles.

“Music can be used as a tool to better the lives of people everywhere, especially children,” said Ernie Boch Jr., founder of Music Drives Us and president & CEO of Subaru of New England.  “I’m honored to be here today with the schoolchildren of Manchester and bring them so many wonderful instruments.”

Every Manchester school will receive a plaque
commemorating today's donation
Music Drives Us has made similar contributions to music programs in schools all over New England, but this one for Manchester is the organization’s largest single donation to date.

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of this generous gift,” said Manchester School District superintendent Debra Livingston. “The new instruments will increase students’ access to music, which research shows is an important part of any education.”

Manchester Subaru was a critical partner and contributor to the funding that benefited schools in the Queen City.

“Music has been my biggest passion since childhood,” said Todd Berkowitz, Manchester Subaru owner. “I’m thrilled to share this great love of mine and of Ernie Boch Jr.’s, with the students of Manchester.”

Middle School at Parkside 6th grade orchestra 
Manchester School District music teachers across the city came up with a wish list of instruments, which they will share and distribute to music students in grades four through 12.

To showcase some of the talent for Boch and Berkowitz, bands and orchestras from Weston Elementary School, Middle School at Parkside and Memorial High School performed several pieces with the new instruments.

Monday, June 1, 2015

NH School of Excellence Community Celebration

Parker-Varney Elementary School continues to celebrate its 2015 award as the state’s Elementary School of Excellence by the New Hampshire Excellence in Education committee. The “ED”ie Awards recognize New Hampshire public schools that meet high standards of excellence and can serve as representatives of the many excellent schools throughout the state.

On June 1, students and staff hosted a community event to showcase some of what makes Parker-Varney worthy of statewide recognition. Much of the school's success can be attributed to project-based learning, in which students are encouraged to design and manage hands-on community service and research projects. Other highlights of Parker-Varney are the Innovation Learning Lab, which provides students with daily individual instruction in literacy and math, and enhanced professional development opportunities for the teachers to learn from each other and try new things. Family and community involvement have been crucial components to the success at Parker-Varney. School volunteers have quadrupled from 25 to 100 participants in the past couple of years.

All of New Hampshire’s Schools of Excellence and other category awardees will be honored at the 22nd annual “ED”ies award celebration on June 6. 
The West High School band and NJROTC welcomed the celebration guests

Mayor Ted Gatsas and superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston offered congratulations 

Parker-Varney's NH Teacher of the Year semi-finalist talked about why she loves the school
PTG president and parent Amy Richards thanks families and staff for their participation and involvement 

Assistant principal Mike Beaulac wishes everyone could see the enthusiasm and learning that happens in all the classrooms.

What you don't know about STEAM Ahead NH

If you want to learn more about STEAM Ahead NH for high school students, hear what students, teachers, business leaders and our university partners have to say about it. Interested incoming freshman can register now for STEAM Ahead NH!

STEAM Ahead from MPTS - Channel 16 on Vimeo.

FREE professional development for high school teachers

With support from Google CS4HS, NH-CS4HS offers a six-week free online summer workshop for the Mobile CS Principles course, June 29 – August 7, with the option for scheduled face-to-face sessions. The program supports the creation of a community of practice with year-round peer-to-peer professional learning for participating teachers.  
Teachers have the option to register for any of the following 4-day face-to-face sessions:
June 29-July 2
July 13 - 16 August 3 – 6 Time: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday (lunch included)
UNH STEM Discovery Lab, UNH Manchester at 88 Commercial Street

Application Deadline:  June 19, 2015 
Program description at
Online application at 
Need more information? Email Mihaela Sabin at

Culinary students' excellence recognized by city health department

MST's Intro to Culinary Arts
The Manchester School of Technology Intro to Culinary Arts class has earned a Public Health Excellence Award for Food Safety.  The award from the Manchester Health Department honors food establishments which achieve the highest sanitary standards when it comes to food preparation. Fewer than 10% of the Manchester’s commercial kitchens receive the award.

“MST’s Intro to Culinary Arts class deserves to be among this year’s award recipients,” said Tim Soucy, Manchester Public Health Director. “The instructors and students have demonstrated a commitment to training a highly skilled food service workforce and maintaining safe food handling practices to prevent food borne illnesses in the community.”

Phil Alexakos, left, of the Manchester Health Department,
presents the award certificate to Chef Mike Holfelder

The Culinary Arts kitchen at MST is inspected twice a year, just like any other restaurant in the city. MST met the rigorous criteria for the award, which includes compliance with all applicable laws and regulations with no critical violations and average inspection scores of 90 or higher.