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Superintendent gives pre-COVID highlights from local schools

September 10, 2020
Before the pandemic shut down the schools the 2019-2020 school year, students in Gilford had a number of successes and highlights, some of which are still ongoing and will pick up for the next school year.

Superintendent Kirk Beitler gave the board of selectmen an update during their Aug. 26 meeting on what was going on in the schools. In the spring, Beitler said they made a huge shift when they went to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Students and teachers were out of school for 12 weeks through the last trimester of school.

Beitler gave a number of highlights from the school year before the shutdown including theater productions, math competitions, sporting events and championships, and more.

One new program included a role model program that connected National Honor Society members with elementary school students.

The district was getting ready for a visit from representatives from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) for Gilford High School's accreditation review. The committee visits the school every 10 years and the district was preparing.

NEASC required all high schools to have a "Portrait of a Graduate" program prepared, but Beitler said the district decided to make this a "Portrait of a Learner" that extended into all three schools. Teachers from all three schools were involved in the process that identified attributes that students should have throughout their school experience.

"It's not just those four years in the high school, but we're taking children from kindergarten and we're working all the way through to graduation," Beitler said.

Gilford Middle School's Silver Hawk Award was connected to Portrait of a Learner, identifying students each trimester that exemplified these attributes.

All the ongoing projects fell by the wayside when schools were shut down, though plans are being made to keep these going.

The NEASC visit has been rescheduled to 2021 and representatives will review the school virtually instead of making an in person visitation.

Beitler said they will also continue the work of Portrait of a Learner.

One of the highlights of the school year was the Go, Baby, Go project where engineering students continued the program to modify motorized toy cars and made them into mobility devices for a few elementary school students with disabilities. Beitler said the program will be continuing and it received a donation over the summer.

This past year, a number of long serving educators retired including social studies teacher Mike Zulauf, math teacher Dick Dumais, kindergarten teacher Jill Coffey, high school physical education teacher Terry Wilson, middle school reading teacher Carol Barbour, elementary school art teacher Kim Valpey, high school special education teachers Jean Moreau and Mary McCall, Patti Hines who worked in administrative support for the elementary school, Irene Dami from the high school guidance office, high school paraeducator June Boutwell, district business administrator Scott Isabelle, Deb Wheeler from Personnel and Business for the district, and John Whitman from maintenance.

"We filled all their positions, but certainly a pretty large list of people who have been in the district for quite a while who retired this year," Beitler said.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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