Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In her own words: Central student explains the impact of Breakthrough Manchester

The mission of Breakthrough Manchester at the Derryfield School 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. The following is an excerpt from a speech by Angela Romilla, a Central High School junior, at Breakthrough Manchester's Back to Summer breakfast on April 20. She attended the program from 2010-2012. 

One of the fondest memories I have of Breakthrough was during a bus ride home after a long summer day. Since the bus dropped off students all over Manchester, these rides were often very long. Because of our fatigue and the blazing summer heat, my classmates and I would often get into very strange conversations. On one particularly hot afternoon, one of my classmates asked the entire bus: "Is air free? I mean, we don't have to pay to get it, but we have to work to breathe it in. So is it truly free?" 

That single question sparked an argument that went on for the full duration of the bus ride. For every philosophical conjecture there was about the value of air, there were ten demands to shut up and drop the subject entirely. If you were to bring up this subject today to Breakthrough student alumni from 2010, the argument would continue as if it never stopped because we were never able to reach a defined conclusion. 

The reason why I bring up this story is to highlight a side of Breakthrough that I often find to be lost in translation: the fun side, where friends are made and weird stuff happens that you never quite forget. I still have been asked many times by friends and family alike why I would want to go to school during the summer for three years. Why sacrifice eighteen weeks worth of summer vacation to work on homework? Why study in the summer when I already had good grades? Why bother coming back after the first year? 

To me, Breakthrough is more than just a program. It is a support system. I made one of my closest friends over an egg, some duct tape, and a garbage bag during an engineering project. It made up for the many friends I lost during my discussion about free air. 

Joking aside, the best way to get to a person is through their heart. The community at Breakthrough is extremely supportive, and it needs to be. Breakthrough targets high potential students, many of whom will be the first in their family to attend college or achieve a four-year degree. For example: a friend of mine who is now a senior qualifies as a "first generation" student and unfortunately, her family does not support her decision to continue her education. Without the support of her family she is left to fight for her education and navigate a complex system alone. This is a cycle that suffocates ambition and is very hard to break, especially when it feels like the only person who wants to commit is you. 

Breakthrough surrounds students with like-minded people who all advocate a college education. Not only that, Breakthrough teaches students to dream big. it is Breakthrough's supportive community that gives them the courage and confidence to strive for goals that seem beyond their reach. The reason why I came back to Breakthrough was because it changed me as a person. It helped me realize the full extent of my academic abilities, and to become more active in the community.

I have applied to multiple honors societies and other programs. Sometimes I get in, and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I reapply, and sometimes I'm given a second chance. The point is not getting accepted all the time; it's letting yourself take a risk, because every shot you don't take is an opportunity missed. Without Breakthrough's support, I would have never even bothered because I would have never believed that I would be capable of anything. 

Breakthrough becomes family to many students. I know it has to me. And it is the reason why I find it easier to breathe.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

FREE Summer food service program sites Open June 10 – September 2

Free breakfast, lunch and dinner will be available to anyone 18 years and younger at the following locations in Manchester.  The Summer Food Service Program is a community partnership between United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Education (D.O.E.) and Southern New Hampshire Services (SNHS).   
Breakfast Sites:
Elmwood Gardens Apartments             9:00 - 10:00am 

Lunch Sites:
Elmwood Gardens Apartments            12:00 – 12:30pm
Center Park Beech Hill Apartments     12:30 –   1:30pm
Hunts Pool                                             12:45 -    1:45pm
Rock Rimmon / DuPont Pool                12:45 –   1:45pm
Harriman Park                                      12:15 – 12:45pm

Dinner Sites:
Sweeney Park                                           3:30 – 4:00pm        
Maple St. Apartments                              3:30 – 4:00pm
Adventure / Skateboard Park                   4:30 – 5:15pm
Kelly Falls Apartments                            4:30 – 5:15pm
Beech Hill Apartments                             5:30 – 6:00pm
Beach Street School Park                         5:30 – 6:00pm

Monday, April 18, 2016

Central chemistry teacher honored for innovation and inspiration

Ask Central High School’s Jane Raymond the question she says is a common one she hears from some non-educators, “Are you teaching these kids anything they can use?,” and the answer is yes.

“Chemistry is everywhere!” said the teacher, pointing to an old road sign hanging on her classroom wall that warns of frost heaves. “What causes frost heaves? The physical reactions of freezing and thawing.”

Raymond, who has been at Central High School since 1999, likes to bring those kinds of everyday life examples into her lessons. She says chemistry also helps students learn lifelong problem-solving skills.

“If an experiment doesn’t go right the first time, they shouldn’t think ‘Oh, well,’ but instead ‘What can I do next?’” she said.

Raymond’s students respect and thank her for what she teaches.  Like the young man several years ago who was inspired to continue studying chemistry in college because she encouraged him to stick with her class and said he could do it.

“He invited me to his graduation from Vanderbilt University,” Raymond said. “I can’t believe he remembered me and thought I had such an impact.”

As it turns out, several of Raymond’s former students remember her, and they nominated her for the New England Institute of Chemists Secondary School Chemistry Teacher Award. Raymond will receive that award, given to one high school chemistry teacher from each New England state, during the NEIC awards dinner at Brandeis University on April 21.

Members of NEIC, many of whom teach in higher education, seek out nominations for the annual award from their undergraduate and advanced degree students.  The award honors teachers who have “encouraged an interest in the field of chemistry through innovative and inspirational teaching, improved the image of chemists and chemistry. . .and offered opportunities to students who might otherwise miss the ‘chemistry’ experience.”

Two University of New Hampshire chemical engineering students who graduated from Central High School thought Raymond was an obvious choice for the NEIC award.

“I think Mrs. Raymond was the reason I looked into chemical engineering because I enjoyed her class so much,” read one of the nomination submissions.  “She was always enthusiastic about teaching every day and presented the material in an interesting and enjoyable way,” wrote another.

Indeed, Raymond says enthusiasm is critical, and she’s always coming up with new ideas to illustrate classroom lessons or to conduct lab experiments.

“If you love your subject, the kids feel it and know it.”

But Raymond doesn’t want to take all the credit for her students’ successes.

“Our whole department is a team,” she said. “We all work hard together to design our lab lessons and make sure experiments work.”

Teaching since 1974, Raymond says she couldn’t be happier since arriving at Central 17 years ago. The dedicated and knowledgeable faculty, along with the diverse student population make teaching everything she wants it to be.

“I look forward to coming to school every single day.” 

Gossler Park goes to college!

Following one of the leadership principles they’ve been practicing this school year, third graders from Gossler Park Elementary School “began with the end in mind” as they toured the campus of Southern New Hampshire University. The field trip gave students the chance to start developing a better understanding about the opportunities going to college can provide. 

With support from Granite United Way, Gossler Park has implemented a program called “The Leader in Me,” which emphasizes skills and lifelong habits that are important for growing up to be proactive achievers. Among them, setting goals for higher education. 

When Gossler Park’s third grade team of teachers came up with the idea of introducing their students to college, SNHU wanted to make it happen. Representatives from the university’s admission office gave the children an experience close to what any other prospective student would receive, with the goal of inspiring them to strive for greater academic success and see themselves attending SNHU or any other college of their choice. 

The students started the day with a welcome from SNHU’s dean of the School of Education, Ray McNulty. He talked about campus buildings, living in dorms and the opportunities to study different subjects. Next on the agenda was the scavenger hunt campus tour. 

Led in groups by SNHU students, the third graders were given cards printed with photos of various locations around the university. As they walked the campus, in and out of different buildings, and heard facts about each one, the children checked off the photos they spotted. 

For one 8-year-old in Mrs. Whitmore’s class, there was one specific building she was most looking forward to while visiting SNHU. 

“Are we going to see the library?” Shelby asked as soon as she got off the bus from Gossler Park. The library was the last stop for Shelby’s tour group, and we just had to capture the look of excitement on her face! 

Back at the SNHU Dining Center, the children had a snack, then participated in an activity creating posters that illustrated what college means to them or why they want to go to college. 

Since Gossler Park conceptualized this field trip, we hear SNHU is looking to invite other schools to have their own "college discovery" field trip!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Community forum to meet Webster principal finalists

Parents, teachers and interested members of the public will have a chance to meet and hear from the finalists being considered for the top post at Webster Elementary School. The school district is hosting a forum to introduce the two candidates and offer an opportunity for the community to ask questions.

The invited candidates are Benjamin Loi, currently principal of Peterborough Elementary School in New Hampshire since 2010; and Sarah Lynch, currently a building administrator at the School for Exceptional Studies in Lawrence, MA.

Their experience includes curriculum development and working collaboratively with faculty and families. Both Loi and Lynch were classroom teachers earlier in their education careers and have extensive backgrounds at the elementary level. They have expressed a passion for the work they do and a strong desire to continue their careers in Manchester, where both have personal ties.

“Forums like this have proven to be a wonderful way to further involve our families and faculty in selecting the best leader for their school,” said Superintendent Debra Livingston. “It’s also a valuable part of the interview process for the two strongest candidates being considered to meet members of the school community.”

 Principal finalists community forum
WHERE: Webster Elementary School
                  2519 Elm Street, Manchester
WHEN: Thursday, April 21, 2016
               6:00-7:30 p.m.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fourth graders experience the magic of music

Elementary school music teachers across the city have been working to inspire fourth grade students to participate in band and orchestra. To do that, they partnered with Symphony NH’s "Picture This" program, designed to teach students how to identify themes, characters, locations and events while listening to music – and thus develop a deeper appreciation for what they hear. 

Components of Picture This include a string or wind quartet performance by Symphony NH musicians in Manchester schools. The culmination of these music lessons for fourth graders was a field trip to Central High School to hear a full Symphony NH concert. More than 1,000 students – all of Manchester’s fourth graders – attended the performance on April 11.

“It gave all of our fourth graders an experience they won't soon forget, while enriching their learning in a way that is not possible in the classroom,” said Jessica Makris Welch, music teacher at Wilson Elementary School.  “We hope they will be inspired to create music of their own!”

Central High School music teacher Ed Doyle was instrumental in coordinating Manchester schools’ participation in Picture This. He also teaches in several elementary schools and initiated the program here, as well as arranging for Central to host the Symphony NH concert.

Picture This and its related performances are supported through the Frederick Smyth Institute of Music, NH Charitable Foundation, Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation, Cogswell Benevolent Trust, McIninch Foundation, Madelaine von Weber Trust, and Samuel P. Hunt Foundation. The Frederick Smyth Institute of Music increased its funding to Symphony NH in order to provide Manchester schools the opportunity to participate.

In addition, Makris Welch set up a project page to fund the transportation costs for the fourth grader classes from all 14 elementary schools to attend the concert at Central. Along with attracting several individual donations, Makris Welch’s appeal was the fortunate recipient of the fundraising site’s “flash funding” day last month when a generous donor, Tim Ferris, completed the $2,500 goal with one large contribution.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Hillside is Manchester's third school to be honored by the USDA

Hillside Middle School cafeteria staff: Head cook Dianna Gosselin, Lisa Voisine, manager Diane Cormier, Judi Jordan, Ruthanne MacDonald, Joanne Allard, Helen Gamelin and Catherine Dupuis
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that Hillside Middle School has earned a bronze HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms award. Hillside joins the ranks of an elite group of schools across the country recognized for excellence in their integration of health, nutrition and fitness education. Only about 7% of the nation’s schools have achieved bronze, silver, gold, or gold of distinction HealthierUS status. About 30 schools in New Hampshire have been recognized; three of them in Manchester.

The HealthierUS challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Schools participating in the challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education, and provide opportunities for physical activity.

Hillside Middle School demonstrates the award criteria in all areas that promote healthy lifestyle habits. The physical education curriculum emphasizes lifelong fitness and why physical activity is important. The middle school life skills class includes nutrition education and food science in every unit. Students learn to make healthy eating choices at school and at home. Hillside's cafeteria offers a variety of fruits, vegetables, snacks and milk along with daily meal choices. Food services staff continually look for creative ways to make healthy food presentations appealing, including involving the students in meal preparation.

"We are proud of all of our schools for the healthy meals they provide to students," said Manchester School District school food and nutrition director Jim Connors. "This award recognizes the efforts that go above and beyond to enhance the integration of the smarter lunchroom with everyday education."

To celebrate Hillside Middle School's accomplishment, a representative from the USDA presented Connors, school administrators and staff with a banner and plaque during a school assembly. Mayor Ted Gatsas and school district superintendent Debra Livingston were there to offer their congratulations, and the audience watched a “Healthy Hillside Happenings” video showcasing Hillside’s various exercise and nutrition initiatives. The celebration wrapped up with three abbreviated student-faculty basketball games; the staff team won two of them.

Hillside is Manchester’s third school to receive the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms award. McLaughlin Middle School also achieved bronze status late last fall, and Beech Street Elementary School was recognized with a silver award in February.

Patriots partner with Manchester Parks and Rec to offer FREE football clinic

Manchester Parks and Recreation,
New England Patriots & the New England Patriots Alumni Club present
Football For You
a free, one-day non-contact football clinic on
Saturday, April 23
at Gill Stadium!
This clinic is open to boys and girls ages 9-14 of all skill levels and
they will be coached by former Patriots players with a focus on leadership, teamwork, and commitment.
To register online visit
Registration on the day of the event starts at 11:30am
with camp starting at 12:30pm.
Lunch is at 3pm and camp  ends at 3:30pm