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Joyce Endee

New school year brings new faces to Gilford

January 04, 2012
The start of a new school year brought with it many new faces who joined the local school system during the closing months of 2011.

New teachers

The new school year brought new faces in the classroom behind the desks and in front of the class as new teachers began their orientation Tuesday, Aug. 23.

Aside from the new interim high school Principal, Bob Pederson, and new school Superintendent, Kent Hemingway, the Gilford school community welcomed six new teachers to the three schools.

Two new teachers headed to the elementary school. Kendra DeVivo set out to teach first grade, and Rebecca Higgins set out to each fourth grade. Both teachers are returning Gilford natives, and said they are excited to teach in their home town.

The middle school students saw three new faces in the seventh grade classrooms and the gym. Ashley Richardson from North Conway set off to teach seventh grade reading and language arts, while Billy Mclane of Plymouth set to teach seventh grade math. Kristian Bohn of Hollis was to teach physically education.

Thomas Raymond of St. Albans, Vt. was hired at the high school to teach math.

Pederson, the new interim principal, said he will stay with the high school for a year while they find another suitable candidate for the position. He previously was the principal at Dover High School and Spaulding High School. He retired in 2007, but decided to jump back into the field. Pederson learned of the position through the Principal's Association, and decided to apply.

First day of school

Thursday, Sept. 1 marked the first day of school for Gilford students, and a busy day for teachers and school administrators, especially for those new to their position.

As the school-day drew to a close and principals dismissed their students for the first time in the 2011/2012 school-year, administrators reflected on their day.

"It was a great first day," said GMS Principal Marcia Ross, describing it as smooth and successful. "We are looking forward to the upcoming school year. We are continuing to build a school culture and environment for student learning."

She and newly appointed Interim Assistant Principal, Anthony Sperazzo, stood positive after their first successful day as they awaited the arrival of the buses so they could dismiss students.

According to GHS Assistant Principal Peter Sawyer, the first day of school is usually one of the easier days of the school-year because most students are glad to see all their friends and happy to be back in the classroom; though he figured most students would never admit to this.

"It's business as usual for them," said Sawyer as students re-acclimated themselves to the classroom. "Everything is back to normal."

While students settled into their daily routines, Superintendent Kent Hemingway made his way through the three schools to get the full picture of his new district in motion.

"Spectacular," said Hemingway, describing his first day of school experience. "Exceeded all expectations."

New School Board member

School Board members appointed Karen Thurston during their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to fill in as fifth member of the board and serve the remainder of Derek Tomlinson's term.

After some deliberation, the four members of the board were evenly divided between two of their four candidates who applied to fill the vacant fifth seat.

"Everybody brings something different to the table," said Sue Allen, adding that she liked Thurston's focus on putting students first.

Allen pointed out that Thurston's extensive community involvement, which includes participating on the Old Home Day Committee, planning committee, building committees for the elementary school and imagination station playground gave her a good senses of community awareness. Thurston is also the founder and president of the Lakes Region chapter of Blue Star Mothers.

Allen said Thurston's dedication to the community could bring a fresh perspective to the board.

Allen's deliberation swayed Webber in favor of appointing Thurston. The motion passed three to one.

Thurston will serve on the school board until the next election in March, where she will have the option to seek election for the seat as Tomlinson's term expires in 2012, along with Allen's and Webber's terms.

Courtyard dedication

Members of the GHS Environmental Club gathered Wednesday, Sept. 28 and dedicated a new courtyard to the Class of 2008 which donated funds to the Club.

Environmental Club President Sarah Anderson, with Club Advisor Polly Rouhan, happily unveiled a memorial plaque mounted on a piece of granite in the center of a garden of perennial plants from Belknap Landscape Company.

On the plaque is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi — "Be the change that you wish to see in the world".

According to Anderson, the Class of 2008 set out to spread environmental awareness. They raised funds for a recycling program and recycling bins, along with educating fellow students of the importance of recycling.

"A number of students took an active interest in increasing the environmental awareness here at Gilford High School," said Anderson. "Thus, the Environmental Club was born."

For the past four years, the Club set out to complete the scenic courtyard from a bare area outside the high school cafeteria with about $3,000 left by the Class of 2008.

Teachers give back to offset retirement burden

Gilford School District teachers donated one non-instructional day's salary back to the district to help alleviate budget pressure from state legislation cuts in retirement funding.

"Teachers understand the budgetary woes that the District [and] everyone is currently facing," stated Scott Hutchison, Gilford Education Association (GEA) President and GHS English teacher. "This was a good faith effort by the teachers to give something back."

According to Hutchison, GEA and the Gilford School District agreed, at the end of the last school year, forfeit pay for one of their non-instructional days, such as teachers workshop days. They hope this would help ease anticipated budget deficit.

New Director of Food Services

Gilford School Food Service Director John Lash gave the school lunch program a complete make-over, serving locally grown and produced products and making specials from scratch instead of opening a can.

Lash came on board with the Gilford School District in May 2011, and spent the last few months of the school year observing and learning the strengths of each member of his kitchen staff. Over the summer, he formulated his plan to bring changes the lunch program.

Through his work, he realized eating habits are formed at a young age. Many children and teens eat school lunches, so Lash thought a healthier school lunch might help instil healthier eating habits at a young age.

"Nobody goes hungry," said Lash. "If we serve something they don't like, they can get something else every day."

Lash said he has high hopes for the department, and he takes pride in knowing they see students grow from kindergarten through high school, which is unlike any other department in the school system.

"The Sound of Music"

Gilford High School Preforming Arts Department presented Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" Friday, Nov. 11 to one of the largest opening-night crowds known to Director Matt Demko.

Demko and his cast and crew received much praise from the huge audience after the show Friday night as the hard work from members of the PAD through the fall paid off on stage as they mastered the complexities of the classic piece.

Lead actors Parker Ayer, as Captian von Trapp, and Grace McLaughlin, as Maria Rainer, said they were glad to be through opening night and excited to work through the remaining shows.

Audience members had a very positive reaction at intermission as they stretched their legs and enjoyed refreshments in the cafeteria. Many reminisced about their own experience with "The Sound of Music." Some told stories of their time playing a part in a production years ago, while others examined the differences between the live production and the movie.

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