Eilis O’Neil, 6, hops her way to the finish line during the Windham Town Day sack race. Other activities included a short dash race, a three-legged race, and a balloon toss. Parents had a chance to compete with one another in the activities, too. A “barbershop” was set up nearby to create wildly colorful Mohawks, patriotic red-white-and-blue spiked hairdos, and other crazy hairstyles for Town Day attendees.
The day began with a tennis tournament at 10 a.m. at Griffin Recreation Park’s tennis courts. The Recreation Department provided the tennis balls and bottled water. Registration was free and about thirty players showed up with their rackets, ready to face off. The wind proved no match for the intensity the players brought to the courts.
Recreation Committee members Lynn and Barry Goldman oversaw the tournament, setting up matches and keeping track of winners. Goldman said the tournament began four years ago when he and his wife became members of Windham’s Recreation Committee. When they arrived, the courts did not even exist. Now, the five courts gracing the park will be outfitted with a three-sided windscreen for use in future tournaments. Nearly all the materials for the courts have been donated. Some players asked if a dome could be built to keep the sun out of their eyes when playing. Goldman said that a dome has been donated but that the cost of installation would run about $20,000.
The rest of the day’s events began at 1 p.m. with a bicycle and wagon parade around the baseball field, led by Police Officer Rodgers. A short dash race followed, set up by age brackets. Parents were not left out as they too competed in the dash race, the sack race, the three-legged race, and the balloon toss. A police Special Operations vehicle was available for kids to pretend to drive and romp through. Officer Rodgers helped hoist children onto his police motorcycle and answer any questions kids had for him. The skate park was also alive with activity as kids practiced their skateboarding moves under parental supervision.
All the activities meant hungry folks, so volunteers cooked up a barbeque of hamburgers and hotdogs, all available at no charge. Volunteers served up about 400 hamburgers in the first hour. In total, they went through 525 burgers, 280 hotdogs, 15 cases of soda, 13 cases of water, and many juice boxes. Kids cooled off with flavored ice pops following their meal. A boy scout was on hand with his trusty pocketknife scissors to cut the tops off for the other children.
The 11-piece Windham Flute Ensemble drew a crowd with their melodious flute playing, as led by David Howard. Among the members of the WFE is all-state flutist Kait Geroski, who had the highest all-state scores in the state for both flute and piccolo. WFE member Michael Smith also made all-state this year.
Town Day Winners - Girls Bike/Wagon/Parade: Tessa S., Sarah H., Caitlyn H.
Brody W., Brandan M., Marshall P. Age two and under running race: Jacob M., Katie L, Erin P. Ages 3 and 4: Victor L., Ella P., Lauren B. Ages 5 and 6: Brianna C., Abby W., Leeten A., Brett S., Ezra P. Ages 7 and 8: Brianna L., Megan R., Liana L. Ages 9 and 10: Talia L., Fallon G., Joe F. Ages 11 and 12: Adam A., Jimmy M., Alex B. Sack Races: Trey G., Bella B., Caroline K., Samantha A., Tommy L., Connor L., Connor O., Jaquelyn S., Joseph F., Talia L., Fallon G., Jayce G., Adam A., Rachel B., Lizzie D. 3-Legged Races: Caroline and Kathleen, Tim and Dad H., Jack and Dad F., Mike and Lisa P., Michael and Kathleen K., Jaycie and Frannie G., Katie and Kathleen K., Rachel and Susan B., Colleen and Genevieve C. Balloon Toss: Zach and Jon H., Jimmy M. and Cameron S., Jimmy M. and Steve A.
Flutists Ashley Sherry, Laura DiSanto, and Leslie Woodard play with the Windham Flute Ensemble during this year’s annual Town Day. Ashley is a new member and plays the standard C flute. Laura is one of the original founding members from 9 years ago and plays a C flute. Leslie is a music teacher in the Londonderry schools, and she plays flute and piccolo.
Marshall Pesaturo, 8, grabs the crowd’s attention with his Americana Lone Ranger look. The outfit placed him among the winners in the Bike Parade Competition.
Officer Rodgers helps Brady, 3, get a view from a police motorcycle. A Special Operations vehicle was also on-site for kids and adults to explore.
On July 4, we all raise the United States flag in salute to our country. At Pelham’s annual Independence Day Celebration at Pelham Elementary School on July 3, Dan Gionet’s family also raised a banner in memory of the deceased American soldier.
Dan graduated from Pelham High School in 2001, and married his wife Katrina in 2005. He was killed serving his country in Iraq in 2006.
Dan’s banner, which read, “A tribute to our troops, God Bless America” was displayed over the stage where the adult choir, children’s choir, stage band, and praise band called, The Edge from Crossroads Baptist Church, displayed their talents.
The Manchester and Auburn Fire Departments gave the banner to the Gionet family in memory of Dan.
Katelyn, 1, and Tyler, 3, in the bike and doll carriage parade.
In addition to the banner, a picture of Dan along with several other local soldiers was placed at the table in front of the stage.
“It was a nice celebration, and the support of the people around was great,” Dan’s mother, Denise Gionet, said about the evening.
Dan was not the only soldier recognized. Crossroads Baptist Church Pastor Matt Kyzer recognized veterans, currently enlisted, and families of those in the military. He asked members of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Marines, and Air Force to stand up and be recognized for their service one branch at a time. He gave flowers to those enlisted and those who have family members serving in the armed forces. As the soldiers were recognized, second grader Angela Hur sang a solo entitled “I Salute You.”
The Children’s choir sang “Words to Live By,” and both the children and adult choirs sang “Let Freedom Reign” to continue with the evening’s patriotic theme. Praise and worship was not the only musical genre of the evening. In addition to the patriotic songs, The Edge performed covers of mainstream hits such as “American Soldier” by Toby Keith. Vanessa Alicea finished out the music for the evening by singing the National Anthem just before the fireworks kicked off at 9:30 p.m.
“It’s a good blend of music. Its not all Christian Rock,” Erik Fehmel, a member of the audience said about the music.
In addition to the musical entertainment, there was food, a bounce house, and a bike and doll carriage parade for the young children. The children were all dressed in their patriotic best with red, white, and blue colors, face paint, and miniature American flags in hand.
“I love the kids. Every kid is dressed in patriotic clothes. This is what America is all about,” Donna Warren, a Salem resident, who came up for the festivities, said.
Members of the Pelham Fire Department showed up to cook hot dogs, hamburgers, and even let the kids hold the hose to one of their tankers.
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Pelham, Medical Reserve Corps, the Pelham Garden Group, and the Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary had tables for food and fundraisers.
Pelham Community Spirit coordinated and sponsored Pelham’s Independence Day Celebration.
“It’s nice we have it on the 3rd because many people have connections to other towns and are still able to do things with their families, and so are we as a committee,” Joyce McDevitt, President of Pelham Community Spirit Inc., said.
Windham is far from a tropical island, but on the night of the Teen Summer Reading Program Kick-off Party, Nesmith Library was a Hawaiian paradise. Librarians from the young adult and children’s section teamed up to put on a library luau, complete with island-themed activities.
Lori Morse, the young adult librarian, usually begins planning the summer program while the snow is still falling in March. Morse came up with an island theme entitled “Get LOST at the library, Can you ‘Survive’ the Summer?” and built the kick-up party around the idea. Last year’s theme was entitled “H.O.T.” for Hooked On Teens.
On the day of the luau, it took several hours to set up the food, decorations, and music. Children’s librarians Jane McCue and Karen Frey helped along with assistance from student intern, MaryKate Conboy.
“The whole staff at the library are a huge help in making the Teen Summer Reading come together,” Morse said.
Linahan Limousine of Windham donated a free limo ride that will be raffled off at the end of the summer. The ride will bring one winner and three friends home after the first day of school. Although the children’s section of the library receives many donations, the young adult section gets little attention. Morse said she hopes more donors will help provide prizes to encourage teenagers to read.
“The teen summer reading program is funded through the library's programming budget,” Morse said. “I am always looking for sponsors to donate fun prizes as incentives for teens to keep reading throughout the summer.”
To give the kids a taste of what a limo ride would be like, Linahan Limousine owner Eric Schoneberger brought a limousine monster truck for them to explore. A group of giggling girls filled the 14-seater, admiring the mirrored ceiling and curvy seats.
More activities were to follow, including a limbo competition, a hula-hoop contest, karaoke, and a prize drawing. The night also featured a vote of which coconut-flavored dessert was the best, providing the items for the partygoers to taste test. The Mounds candy bars beat out macaroon cookies, chocolate coconut puffs, and coconut crème rolls.
The teens hesitated a bit at the idea of karaoke, but within minutes, a long line formed for those wishing to perform. Soon everyone was crooning along to such songs as “Stop in the Name of Love” and “These Boots Were Made for Walking”. Some singers, including April Dolfe and David McInnis, gave solo performances.
Sammy Goldsmith, who won first place in the limbo game, is a big fan of the library’s teen program.
“It’s kind of nice that they have something like this,” Goldsmith said. Her stepsister Stephanie Symolon agreed, adding, “They bring the community together.”
Kaela Gallo, Erica Gallo, Maddie Smith, and Maddie Northcutt took center stage singing a variety of hits, including the Backstreet Boys chart-topper “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.”
The Pelham-Windham School District recently had a change to the top of their administration. Four-year superintendent Dr. Elaine Cutler and three-year business administrator Brian Gallagher retired from their posts.
Gallagher has had a successful and interesting career in budgeting and finance. His background includes a dozen years with the State Budget and Finance Office, eight years at the New Hampshire Supreme Court Administrative Office of the Courts, and three years with the Newfound Area School District in Bristol.
Cutler’s career has included thirty years in Florida, where she started as a teacher and ended as an assistant superintendent for elementary education and student services.
“We accomplished good things in both districts,” Gallagher said. “Dr. Cutler was instrumental in leading the district and at the same time allowed me to do my job. We enjoyed a great relationship.”
From the business administration perspective, Gallagher feels some great successes include a state of the art financial system for both districts and a new budgeting process for the Windham School District. This will aid the board in their decision-making. Some efficiency achieved in the past few years includes the entire reorganization of the Pelham School District maintenance program and getting a better maintenance organization in place in Windham.
“I think we’ve accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time,” Cutler said of the achievements in the past few years. On the curriculum side for both districts, Cutler felt the most exciting program instituted was the Power School Parent Portal. In the program, every parent has a password and can go in on a daily basis to look at their child’s record. “It’s a great form of communication,” said Cutler.
The district office has worked diligently with a curriculum mapping program called ‘Tech Pass’. Pelham piloted a program this year which will implement next year called ‘Alert Now’ – an emergency notification system for parents. Also a success during Cutler’s four years was having both the Windham and Pelham school boards updating their entire school board policy.
Gallagher enjoyed being a part of the start of the Windham High School project and working to secure the issuance of $42 million in bonds. He’s quite proud of the string of good audit reviews during his tenure and the district’s budgeting ability, which allowed funds to be returned to each town to help offset taxes.
The Pelham and Windham communities are different in needs and values, yet know their education priorities. The Windham School Board passed a bond for their first high school. They are a bit behind schedule, but the school will see completion within the next two years. Pelham continues to study school facility options and is poised to have a warrant item next spring, relating to consideration of a new high school. A warrant item passed this year is allowing Marinace Architects to conduct a study on whether to renovate or upgrade the current size of PHS, or to build a new facility on a new piece of land while reusing the current high school with fewer students.
As business administrator, Gallagher enjoyed the diversity of his role. He noted there were not many quiet moments, and the position presented its challenges, but he enjoyed the freedom to be able to do his job. In his partnership with the superintendent, he felt he could accomplish what needed to be done. “And that’s important,” he said, “to be able to do your job and to think that you’ve done it well.”
As superintendent, Cutler said, “I have very much enjoyed working with the districts. They are different, but very appreciative and open to new ideas, and thoughtful in deliberations. It’s been a good place to work.”
“Balancing two districts was a personal challenge for me,” Gallagher said. “I think both boards were wise to take the position and to dedicate a person for each one of the districts. The needs for both communities in the school area are growing, and it’s the right decision to make the split so that one person can concentrate on Windham’s needs and one person can concentrate on Pelham’s.”
Gallagher noted that Pelham and Windham have great school board members. He hopes that voters and taxpayers appreciate them. “These folks make very difficult decisions for both communities and they put in tremendous amounts of personal hours, which takes time away from their families.” Board members are driven by community service and must continually look at the larger view of the community in which they serve. “They deserve a lot of credit because they make a lot of tough calls.,” he said.
Another success during the past few years for both Gallagher and Cutler is the SAU staff. “We’ve got a good group of people who know their jobs,” Gallagher said. “They work hard and they’ll provide the bridge to the new leaders coming in. I think it’s an accomplishment to have good people in your organization. We’ve got a great group here.”
Superintendent Dr. Frank Bass, Windham Business Administrator Toby Eaton, and Pelham Business Administrator Kathleen Sargent step into their roles at SAU #28, effective July 1.