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Inter-Lakes Elementary is 2009 School of Excellence

Posing with the new banner, Vice-Principal Kay Mulchay and Principal Steve Kelley at right. Sarah Schmidt. (click for larger version)

Kids who escorted the committee on a tour of ILES celebrate the news of their win. Sarah Schmidt. (click for larger version)
March 04, 2009
MEREDITH — With teacher Denise Dunlap winning a study sabbatical, there would have been more than enough reason for Inter-Lakes Elementary to cheer. Then students found out that their school was declared the best in New Hampshire in 2009.

The crowd went wild.

"They (the students) represented ILES so well, we left here saying, 'Oh, my goodness,'" said Brendan Minnihan, Superintendent of Sunapee School District, and a member of the Excellence in Education Committee. "So we thought that Inter-Lakes Elementary School should be the New Hampshire School of Excellence for 2009!"

Inter-Lakes Elementary became a finalist this year for New Hampshire's Excellence in Education Elementary School of the Year awards, after submitting a written application, and presenting a video presentation highlighting the benefits of an ILES education. The Excellence in Education Committee visited the school on March 12, taking tours of the school with teachers, administrators, and students.

Evidently, they liked what they saw. The students who escorted the committee around ILES were invited to stand up before their peers and hold up the banner designating ILES as the 2009 School of Excellence.

"With such a great honor, there's a lot of responsibility," Minnihan reminded them. "You have to continue for years to come to do well in school and behave. We're expecting a lot from you guys."

Members of the McDonald's corporation, the sponsor of the Excellence in Education Committee, also came by to congratulate the students. Students were already familiar with the faces of Larry Johnson, Bill Doyle, and John Switzer, who told the students they were proud of their accomplishments.

"I am incredibly proud of you and our school," said Principal Steve Kelley to the ILES student body. "We've got a great group of students and adults that work with you. We thought our school was the greatest elementary school anywhere, and right now, we are! We all share in this award."

Dillard Collins, principal of Hampstead Central School a prior New Hampshire School of Excellence, and Doris Buco, curriculum director at Hampstead, showed Kelley the bells they'd been presented with when their school won. Though Kelley and several others at Inter-Lakes will get bells of their own, Collins and Buco borrowed their bells to Kelley and Vice-Principal Kay Mulchay, who rang them enthusiastically.

Minnihan said that the committee had been impressed by "so many things" during their visit to ILES and the presentations they'd received prior to their visit. Minnihan said that he'd been impressed by how lessons in art and music tied into their other lessons that day, and how the school shared resources, especially with the Meredith Recreation Department.

This is Inter-Lakes Elementary's first nomination (and win) in the awards since their inception in 1994.

Since the identity of the winning school is traditionally a big secret, Kelley said that he'd had a hard time keeping the announcement secret, especially during a meeting of the Inter-Lakes School Board on the night prior to the announcement.

The students also applauded and cheered for fifth grade teacher Denise Dunlap, who won a sabbatical to work on a project to improve education throughout New Hampshire.

Dunlap is the one teacher in New Hampshire selected for the 2009 Christa McAuliffe Sabbatical, awarded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Her project, "Connecting the Generations," will keep her busy for the foreseeable months. The sabbatical is designed to provide an opportunity for a New Hampshire teacher to explore ways of enhancing classroom teaching through a self-designed project.

She will interview senior citizens about their lives on tape, stories that will be used to build a Wikipedia-like interactive Web site. The site will record interviews of seniors, asking them how they remembered historic events like World War II, the Depression, or the Civil Rights Movement, or what they remembered about their ordinary, day-to-day life and routine.

The hope is that, once launched, educators will be able to access Dunlap's site and use the interviews there to help augment their lessons, giving students a better idea of what life was like for the people who lived through history. The interactive Web site will give others the opportunity of uploading their own interviews with seniors, adding to the experiences on file.

Dunlap was presented with flowers and cheers from the ILES student body.

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