Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Manchester families benefit from SNHU angel tree

Students and staff from Southern New Hampshire University purchased 369 gifts for eight community organizations. 70 of those generous gifts came to our school district to help Manchester's middle and high school students who could use a holiday boost. Our school district social workers picked up the gifts and some of the university's athletes, including memebrs of the womens' lacrosse team, were on hand to help load the vehicles.

​Bonnie Lorento, Office Manager at the ​Center for Community Engaged Learning
at ​Southern New Hampshire University has been coordinating this effort for the past several years, and we are so grateful!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2017/18 Manchester School of Technology enrollment

Manchester School of Technology is open for enrollment in next year's 2- and 4-year programs.
MST-HS uses competency-based education providing rigorous academics in combination with career and technical education (CTE) classes.  Current eighth graders can apply to MST-HS by February 17. Students for the class of 2021 will be chosen by lottery. 

Current high school sophomores interested in the Career and Technical Education program can register at the end of this school year for the courses they're interested in at their home schools. Transportation is provided for students spending part of their school day at MST. The CTE program serves juniors and seniors from Manchester and surrounding towns. 

Learn more at and watch the student-produced video below!

Friday, December 16, 2016

West students create new way for students to express themselves

There’s a community experiment going on at West High School that by all accounts seems to be successful. Now in its second week, the “Before I Die” project allows students and staff to anonymously reveal their deepest hopes, life goals, and dreams on chalkboard walls. Anyone can pick up a piece of chalk and complete the stenciled sentence, “Before I die I want to. . . .” with whatever their personal aspirations are.

A group of English learner students spearheaded the project at West, inspired by a New Orleans artist they learned about in class. Candy Chang created the very first “Before I Die” wall in her own neighborhood. Since 2011, more than 1,000 Before I Die walls have been created in at least 70 countries, in over 35 languages.

Most of those walls are community projects. We know of just one other Before I Die wall in New Hampshire -- created in Portsmouth -- but the ones at West are the first ever in a school. The EL students monitor the walls they created in a stairwell and in the cafeteria every day, erasing entries periodically to make room for others.

They worked for a couple of weeks to prep for the project. The chalk walls are made from big boxes cut to size, painted black and with chalkboard paint, then stenciled in white paint. The response from the West High School community was immediate.

Submissions include goals such as hiking Mount Everest, getting married, going on a safari, taking a trip to Hawaii, and becoming a doctor. Anything goes, as long as the language is appropriate.

“People can tell the wall what they want, and they don’t have to be afraid,” said 15-year-old freshman Jorgerid Torres, one of the student organizers who is originally from Puerto Rico.

Principal Rick Dichard approved the project to stay up for three weeks, until the start of December break. But the students are already talking about doing it again and getting Manchester’s other high schools to create their own walls. They’re also trying to get Candy Chang to notice and maybe even visit.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Breakthrough Manchester chooses high school student teachers

Eighteen outstanding high school juniors and seniors have been selected to teach in the school-year Super Saturday program at Breakthrough Manchester. Seven of those students are from Central and West high schools! Applicants were chosen after a review of their written application, a teacher recommendation, their transcript, a group collaborative exercise, and a mock teaching trial.

Congratulations to Andy Vo, Monericka Semeran, Lejla Hodzic, Arielys Liriano, Haley Nalen, Emma Nyngwara, and Carolina Patino.

The mission of Breakthrough Manchester is to launch promising Manchester middle school students, particularly those with limited opportunities, on the path to college while inspiring high school and college students to pursue careers in education. Sixth graders from Manchester middle schools apply and are selected for a tuition-free, three-year program that academic summers and school year supports.
All Breakthrough programming, including transportation and meals, is provided tuition-free to students and families, and is funded by foundations, businesses, and individuals.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

New technology collaboration lab unveiled at Parkside

The Boston Celtics​ and Southern New Hampshire University​ have done it again! For the third time since 2014, the two organizations have partnered to create a new space dedicated to enhanced learning through technology in a Manchester school. Like the labs at McLaughlin and Hillside middle schools, the classroom at Parkside was transformed with Celtics green paint and graphics on the walls, new furniture, 30 Chromebooks, and a wall-mounted TV monitor. The room is adjacent to the school's media center to make collaboration of special projects easy.

Joining Parkside students, administrators and teachers at today's unveiling were Dr. Vargas, Mayor Gatsas, as well as school board members Erika Connors and Rich Girard. Representing SNHU was Dr. Gwen Britton, executive director of online STEM programs for the university. She help facilitate a computer coding activity for the students who took part in the lab dedication event.

Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko and former player Leon Powe were the athlete VIPs. They took the time to speak to the Parkside students about future career goals and the dedication it takes to follow your dreams, even when they seem out of reach.
Manchester School District is fortunate to have community partners like SNHU and the Celtics, who understand that enhancing access to technology is critical to education in the 21st century. We are looking forward to seeing how our students and teachers will harness the power of the technology collaboration lab every day and for years to come!

Schools support Bhutanese community after fire

When students and staff at Gossler Park Elementary School heard that an apartment fire affected some of the school district’s Bhutanese families, they wanted to help. The fire on Spruce Street in Manchester back in August forced about 20 people from their homes in the building, and they lost nearly everything. Most of the people who lived there are refugees from Bhutan, a country in South Asia.

The effort to help victims of the fire started with a class of second graders, who offered to save their popcorn money to donate. Then the Gossler Park parent-teacher group which sells the popcorn as a school fundraiser decided to donate two weeks’ worth of sales. The school also accepted contributions from parents who attended Gossler Park’s Harvest Fest this fall.

Word spread throughout the school district, and additional schools stepped up to make donations to the cause through their own fundraisers. Among them are Bakersville, Hallsville, Wilson, Parker-Varney, Weston, and McDonough elementary schools, as well as the school district central office.  Gossler Park students collected all the money and presented the total -- $1,722! -- to leaders of the local Bhutanese community at a school assembly.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fumes cause evacuation at West High SChool

Students were evacuated from West High School when a cleaner being used on the gymnasium floor caused strong fumes.  The floor was being prepped for the basketball season set to start next week. Even though the gym was closed to students during the process, the odor grew stronger and reached other parts of the building.

Principal Rick Dichard consulted with the Manchester Fire Department and Manchester Health Department and determined that the school should be evacuated. Students were brought to the football field at about 11:30 am.

“The safety plan worked exactly as it is intended to, and I’m very pleased with the way the staff and our city partners worked together to keep students safe,” said superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas.  “We’re thankful that no one was seriously injured.”

Approximately 30 students and teachers who reported having a mild headache or feeling dizzy were evaluated. One teacher and one student were transported to the hospital; they were treated and released.

The fire department ventilated the gym to eliminate any chemical irritants. Students and staff returned to the building at about 1:00 pm. Lunch was served and then school was dismissed for the day.

Youth community basketball program starts December 3

West Side schools combine efforts to benefit NH Food Bank

All five public schools on the West Side of Manchester -- West High School, Middle School at Parkside, and Gossler Park, Parker-Varney and Northwest elementary schools -- joined forces with St. Benedict Academy and Manchester School of Tae Kwon Do to collect non-perishable goods for the NH Food Bank.  

NH Food Bank thanks food drive participants for the donation
Together, they collected more than 6,000 items!

Teachers, principals, and students presented them to representatives from the food bank at a celebration held at Parkside.

Gossler Park first graders share how they worked to collect donations

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Special Showing of "Screenagers" on Monday, 11/28 - Parents: RSVP for this Free Event!


The 2016 Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference invites parents and teenagers to join them for a FREE showing of the award-winning documentary Screenagers, followed by questions and answers with a panel of educators and administrators.

Screenagers is an hour-long documentary by physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, who probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics, and internet addiction. The average kid spends 6.5 hours a day looking at screens. She wondered about the impact of all this time and about the friction occurring in homes and schools around negotiating screen time—friction she knew all too well.

Are you watching kids scroll through life, with their rapid-fire thumbs and a six-second attention span? Through poignant, and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, Screenagers reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.

Light refreshments will be served. Screenagers is appropriate for adults and teens.

Date: Monday, November 28, 2016
Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Salon A, Radisson Hotel, Manchester, NH

RSVP Direct Link:

Parents may also RSVP for this FREE event from the conference website at, responses are requested by Wednesday, November 23rd.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Superintendent schedules "coffee & conversation" dates

Please join Manchester School District superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas for a series of informal gatherings to talk about education in our city. 

A morning and afternoon session will be hosted each month at a different school. All are welcome, no matter where in Manchester you live, which school you work in, or where your children go to school. Choose the date, time, and location that is most convenient for you, or feel free to attend more than one session before the end of the school year. 

Dr. Vargas is eager to hear from faculty and staff, parents, and other members of the community who have questions or wish to offer thoughts on how to best meet the educational needs of all of our children.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

DEA partners with schools for dance program

There's a new effort in Manchester to fight against drug use. Fifth graders at Green Acres and Parker-Varney elementary schools will participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration's Youth Dance Program after school. It's a national project designed to educate students about drug prevention through the arts at no cost to the kids or their schools. The youth Dance Program is one more way community organizations can partner to promote a healthy lifestyle message to our children.

Classroom goals include incorporating positive themes such as:

  • Participating in positive alternatives to drugs and gang violence
  • Building of self-esteem, teamwork
  • Resisting negative peer pressure
  • Focusing on positive health and attitude

The professional dance team that will be teaching the weekly classes at each school for 18 weeks gave the students an entertaining preview of what the Youth Dance Program is all about. Since 2012, the DEA Youth Dance Program has been serving thousands of students in cities around the country.

Monday, October 31, 2016

MSD Messages

The latest edition of MSD Messages is now available. Click HERE or below.

Call for entries: Logo contest

Manchester students are invited to enter the logo contest for the Manchester FAFSA Challenge. 
Our school district is proud to be participating in the 2017 FAFSA Challenge, encouraging Manchester's high school seniors to complete and submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and the new web site needs a logo!

There's still time to submit your entry. The deadline is November 14.

Community event welcomes refugee families to Manchester

The International Institute of New England recently hosted a potluck welcome event in Manchester. It was a chance for recently arrived refugee families to meet members of the community and celebrate cultural traditions, including food, music, dance and story-telling.

Dr. Vargas offered welcoming remarks, while Beech Street School principal Christine Brennan, English Learner teacher Tina Proulx, and EL director Wendy Perron attended the crowded event to represent Manchester School District. Many other community agencies also took part.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Anonymous donation provides weekend food security to Manchester kids

Every Friday, dozens of children at McDonough Elementary School go home with backpacks full of food, thanks to the Tennesee-based Blessings in Backpack program. A donor who wishes to remain anonymous chose McDonough as the recipient of his (or her, or their) financial contribution to Blessings in a Backpack, which facilitates the purchase and weekly delivery of non-perishable food items directly to the school.

The program started last month at McDonough, where about 50 children benefit. They are students who principal Ken DiBenedetto and his staff know face food insecurity at home. Blessings in a Backpack provides one way to help families on a regular basis, especially on weekends when school meals are unavailable.

A truck arrives at school every Wednesday, and boxes of food -- including cereal, soup, fruit, crackers, pasta, and canned proteins -- are unloaded into a storage area. On Thursdays, staff sort the food for each student, filling bags of the items so that they are ready to be discreetly placed in children's backpacks the next day.

We thank Blessings in a Backpack and the anonymous donor who are making such a difference!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A message from Dr. Vargas

Courtesy: David Lane/Union  Leader
This has been an exciting and motivating start to my tenure as Superintendent of the Manchester School District. As you can imagine, there are many people to meet and places to go in order to familiarize myself with the city and our schools. This month, I have witnessed many wonderful examples of teaching and learning at every level -- from our youngest students in elementary school to the students who are preparing to graduate next June. 

The conversations I’ve had and the classrooms I’ve seen so far confirm what I already knew: there are great things happening every day in Manchester schools. I’m very proud to be part of this district and have the opportunity to help every student reach his or her aspirations in education and career.

My role in this city is not only as an educational leader, but a support to the team of administrators, teachers and staff in every position across the district to accomplish the goal of helping every student succeed. We want every child to be a priority. We want every school to excel in educating our students. We want all of our families to be proud to live in Manchester with access to quality education.

I look forward to getting to know you and to work with you as we strive to make this school district a top choice for all families to meet the needs and aspirations of their children.  It is my belief that the District has the ultimate responsibility to educate our children but we can’t do it alone. Therefore, I am eager to collaborate with all citizens of Manchester, including parents, business, civic, college and university leaders, as well as all of the community organizations which make youth a priority, to achieve the best on behalf of our students.  

I welcome the opportunity to meet you in the near future to address any of your questions or concerns. Please also feel free to email me with any feedback you would like to offer on how to best begin this journey of making Manchester public schools the best in New Hampshire and the nation.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

MST Salon is open to the community

The MST Student Salon & Spa is open for members of the public to make appointments for various services. 

Please email to schedule:
hair color
manicures, plain & spa
gel polish manicure

The salon is open at Manchester School of Technology on South Porter Street.

Wednesdays 8 am to 2:15 pm
Thursdays 8 am to 5 pm
Fridays 8 am to 2:15 pm

2016 SpeakUp survey open through December 16

Speak Up, a national online research project facilitated by Project Tomorrow®, gives individuals the opportunity to share their viewpoints about key educational issues, particularly concerning 21st century education and technology for learning. 

WHO TAKES THE SURVEY? EVERYONE! Students, Staff, Parents, Administrators and Community Members are invited to participate.   

Take the survey any time, through December 16:

Choose a survey. Look up your school by state and then school.
The secret word for students is: speakup

If you would like to preview survey questions prior to taking the live survey please visit

Join the FAFSA Challenge

Manchester School District is proud to be participating in the 2017 FAFSA Challenge, encouraging Manchester's high school seniors to complete and submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

A new web site dedicated to the effort offers support and resources for families, including in-school appointments with FAFSA advisors who will be available in each high school's guidance offices every week to help students and families complete their applications.

The FAFSA is a critical step toward accessing post-secondary education opportunities because it can provide the financial aid needed to make school more affordable. Through this initiative, Manchester School District is committed to increasing the likelihood that students will attend technical, and two- or four-year colleges and universities by making FAFSA completion easier than ever. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Manchester celebrates Lights On Afterschool

The 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool program sponsored two Lights On Afterschool rallies on October 19 and 20 at Hillside Middle School and Bakersville Elementary School respectively. The Manchester events were among more than 8,000 around the nation, organized annually by the Afterschool Alliance. 

Lights On Afterschool brings attention to the efforts to expand afterschool opportunities so that every child who needs a program has access to one. The yearly celebration also highlight the benefits of afterschool programs, including inspiring children to learn, keeping them safe in the afternoon hours, and relieving working families of worries about their children’s activities in the afternoon.

Participants of Manchester's Lights On Afterschool rallies included students, parents, supporters, and community members from all over Manchester. Superintendent Dr. Vargas and several school board members were able to attend as well. 

For the first time, our middle school programs collaborated with the Granite United Way Bring It! program to showcase the unique opportunities brought to students in the extended afterschool hours. Some activities included experimenting with aerodynamics in a wind tunnel, LEGOs, dance, cookie decorating, soccer, basketball, and much more. 

Thank you to everyone who made these events such a success, especially Pasquale’s Ristorante, Puritan Backroom, Domino's, and Dunkin' Donuts on Elm Street for their delicious food donations!

Southside Middle School honors

Congratulations to Southside Middle School's Parent Support Group for winning its second Blue Ribbon Award from NH Partners in Education, recognizing the PSG's countless volunteer hours to support students and staff at Southside.

NH Partners in Education also celebrates valuable collaborations between schools and local organizations. The City of Manchester, NH Fire Department received its first Gold Circle Award for the hours and resources provided to enhance education at Southside.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Grant to fund nutrition and physical activity programs at Wilson Elementary School

Succeeding academically isn’t simply due to studying: Good grades also rely on adequate levels of physical activity and healthy eating – a relationship that is consistently backed by research. 

To further support Henry Wilson Elementary School’s efforts to promote the health of its students, the school has been awarded $3,520 to fund two programs. The Grab ‘N Go program will provide students with healthful snacks in between meals, including yogurt, smoothies, and fresh produce. The school also plans to purchase physical education equipment to help implement bursts of physical activity throughout the school day. Also known as “brain breaks,” the activities will improve student attendance, behavior, and concentration. Funding for these programs is provided by New England Dairy & Food Council and the dairy farmers of New Hampshire.

“The grant is going to allow our students to be more active in the classroom and eat healthier throughout the day,” said the school’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program advisor and physical education teacher, Kendzie Wohleben. “We have a great group of students who are a part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 team, and our team continues to grow! I think the program has afforded tremendous opportunities for Wilson Elementary and I am very excited to see what this year has in store."

Wilson Elementary School participates in the nationwide Fuel Up To Play 60 program, which is a student-led, in-school physical activity and nutrition program. Participation in the program is free and is what made the school eligible for the funding.

Miss Wohleben, fellow teacher Alex Simo, assistant principal Brandon French, and 5th grade students Nina, Eric, and Yahya also attended this past summer’s New England Fuel Up to Play 60 Student Summit, which brought together students and program advisors for a day of physical activity, leadership activities, program brainstorming sessions, and a student-led, ultimate smoothie challenge.

“My favorite part of the summit was the smoothie challenge,” said Nina. “We were able to synergize with our team to create our own smoothie for the judges. I like the choices Fuel Up to Play 60 offers me to stay active in and out of school.”

Former New England Patriots Tight End and Super Bowl XXXVI Champion Jermaine Wiggins also attended the Summit. “Fuel Up to Play 60 works because it focuses on students – not adults – to be the drivers of change. As an athlete, I know how powerful combining healthy eating with exercising can be. This program teaches and reinforces these beneficial behaviors that will have a lifelong impact on the students’ health.”

“Henry Wilson Elementary School is making student wellness a priority and we’re glad this funding exists to promote their initiatives,” said Becca Story, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition Specialist with New England Dairy & Food Council. “Nutrition and physical activity help students reach their full potential, and Fuel Up to Play 60 is the vehicle that helps schools reach their goals.”

Students, schools, and parents can learn more about funding eligibility in the “Funding” section at There are several application windows each year, including an upcoming deadline on November 2, 2016.  Each funding cycle can provide up to $4,000 per school. For more information about Fuel Up to Play 60 in New England, follow New England Dairy & Food Council on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and visit

Nearly 74,000 schools across the United States, including more than 1,600 here in New England, are participating in Fuel Up to Play 60. Developed by National Dairy Council, local Dairy Councils, and National Football League, in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture, the program empowers students to drive change and work closely with educators to find creative ways to make their school a healthier place.