Middle School students use art to highlight their STEM skills (388 w/3 cuts)


LACONIA — Thursday afternoon was STE(A)M Day at Laconia Middle School and provided an opportunity for students in sixth through eighth grades to use art, hence the capital A, to show they are applying science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, in their studies.
Sixth-grader Katrina Hanks set up a display showing how she uses science and math in baking cakes and cupcakes from scratch and how she would run a business which sells the cakes.
Her display featured photos of the cakes as well as a business card she had designed to help her sales.
Zoe Lehneman, another sixth-grader, designed a display showing the water cycle at Laconia Middle School which charted what happens to rainwater which falls on the school.
Natalie Johnson, also a sixth-grader, set up a display showing pictures of her visit to the city of Laconia's water treatment facility on Stark Street and explained how the water which comes from Paugus Bay is treated and distributed.
The students worked several weeks on their projects, some of which were part of their curriculum according to Middle School Principal Christopher Ennis, who said that about 60 students took part in the event, which was designed to link art with technology.
He said that some of the projects worked on by eighth-graders are year-long efforts in which students create portfolios on computers which track what they have learned during and how they have used that knowledge.

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Natalie Johnson, a sixth-grader at Laconia Middle School, stands next to a display which shows photos of her visit to the city of Laconia's water treatment facility (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Chantel Tabera, Memorial Middle School sixth-grader, listens as Katherine Hanks explains her display about how she uses science and math in baking cakes. Looking on is Zoe Lehneman, whose display describes the water cycle at Laconia Middle School. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Aarohn Dethvongsa, an eighth-grader at Memorial Middle School, has created a portfolio on a computer which tracks his use of science, technology, engineering and math skills over the course of a school year. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Inter-Lakes Top Ten high schoolers set their sights on success


MEREDITH— The top ten graduates of Inter-Lakes High School, divided evenly between men and women, are all bound for college knowing what academic path they intend to follow and most with the career they seek to pursue in sight.

Only Tyler Taggett, who will study mechanical engineering at the University of New Hampshire, has chosen to further his education in the state. And Taggett also stands out in another respect as the fourth generation of his family to serve as firefighters in various departments. Taggett already serves with the Meredith Fire Department, where he works alongside his father, Lt. Bill Taggett, and two brothers. Taggett said that he will apply his engineering degree to designing and manufacturing fire apparatus at Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wisconsin.

No one else was nearly so specific, but Ariana Lopez, Ben Jacques and Cameron Daly also chose to study engineering. Of the ten, none will go further afield than Lopez, who will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "I like the campus and I loved the mountains," she said, adding "and I'm a Mormon." Jacques, who appeared more apprehensive of the the prospect of a Trump presidency than the challenge of a college education, will study software engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York.. Daly will remain in New England at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island to study mechanical engineering and alone among the group continue as a middle-distance and cross-country runner at the next level.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jacques will be joined with his classmate Liam Donohoe, a student of computer science and mathematics, the first for a job and the second for fun. Despite their years together at Inter-Lakes High-School, neither has chosen to room with the other. "I took the first choice," Donohoe said, as the two swapped smiles.

Marena Neggers said that she knew she wanted to pursue a pre-med track and go to school in Boston. She chose Boston University where she will major in neuroscience.

The remaining four graduates stepped beyond the bounds of a STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — education. Bridie O'Connell aspires to a career in journalism and selected George Washington University in the nation's capital because "it's not like here." She said that journalists must appreciate and understand cultural diversity and "I forced myself to be somewhere different."

Although all ten students praised the teaching staff at Inter-Lakes High School, only Kaylee Converse chose to study education in college. She will attend St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, but remains unsure whether she will prepare to become a classroom teacher or an architect of educational policy.

Only Ambrose Bean was bitten by the political bug that swarms in New Hampshire every four years. He will study political science at Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida. Seeming to acknowledge that political science may well be an oxymoron, he seems to have a head start on his degree.

Julia Eifert, the co-president of the class who was in the forefront of the effort to change the venue of graduation, was the least specific but the most passionate about her plans at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Although unsure of her major, she was equally certain that she would immerse herself in literature with the aim of becoming a writer.

Taggett echoed Eifert, insisting that "you come to school to chase your passion. It's not the grades. It's what shapes and forms you."

These are not only intelligent but talented students. Most played more than one sport and many were members of the band and chorus. Eifert said "we missed some things, like family and sleep," but added "it was all worth it."

Of the ten, seven were admitted to their college of first choice. And all held fond memories of Inter-Lakes High School, though they agreed what they will remember will be what happened outside rather than inside the classroom. "I know what the outside of that book looks like," Day said pointing, "but the inside... "

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The top ten members of the Inter-Lakes High School class of 2016 are, from left, Marena Neggers, Ariana Lopez, Bridie O’Connell, Kaylee Converse, Ben Jacques, Julia Eifert, Tyler Taggett, Liam Donohoe, Ambrose Bean and Cameron Daly. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Gilford student graduates early to join Peace Corps


GILFORD — The world is Clara Jude’s oyster and beginning in August, the soon-to-be high school graduate will begin exploring it through the eyes of a Junior Peace Corps volunteer.
She said she always wanted to go into the Peace Corps, so much so that she accelerated her education through VLACS online programs and is graduating a year early.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was little,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to help other people.”
Jude said she got the travel bug early when her parents packed her and her four siblings into a motor home and went on “two-month classic road trip.”
The family has visited 27 states, Canada and Mexico. Jude said some of her most loved places were in the National Parks.
“I got to experience and see what’s outside of Gilford,” she said. “She said the trip, especially to Tijuana, made her understand how lucky she is.”
Jude will embark on two separate assignment, the first of which will take her to Guatemala to work with elderly homeless people. She said she will be staying with a host family.
Twenty-four weeks later, she goes to Colombia to work with children and will stay in a volunteers apartment.
Jude took Spanish classes through her three years in high school and said her father was a Spanish teacher.
“We use to watch soap operas together,” she said.
An experienced scuba diver, she said the Peace Corps initially wanted to send her to New Zealand to work on some conservation projects but declined because it would be too much like a vacation. Over the summer, she will work as an assistant to her father removing milfoil from the nearly by lakes and rivers.
“This gap year will help me decide what I want to do,” she said, adding she has not yet applied to any colleges but is strongly looking at one in Germany.
During her three years at Gilford High School, Clara founded a American Sign Language Club. She said her and her younger sister Lucy both began learning it on their own when she was in sixth grade.
“We’re both dancers and we chose sign language because it has a lot of movement and expression,” she said, adding they would ask for special books for their birthdays and Christmas.
Clara said there were times when the two of them would frustrate their parents because they would sign to each other as opposed to having a verbal conversation.
“Once we got into a fight in public and my mother said, ‘You know, you can talk,’”she said.
She started the club because she thought there would be one in Gilford and was surprised to see there was not. She started it and last year had 15 members. This year she said there are 13 members and the current vice chairman of the club, Kelli Vieten, will continue it next year. She said her sister Lucy will be in high school next year and will likely join.
Stemming from her involvement with the Sign Language Club, this year they took a special trip to Perkins School – the school for the blind and hearing impaired started by Helen Keller in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
To work on sign language from other countries, Clara Skypes weekly with a friend from Croatia and one from Chicago.
She said one of her possible goals is to work in languages and perhaps become a sign language translator. She said all sign languages are different and she has learned some English and since American Sign Language is based on the French sign language, she can often translate the English to the French.
But for now, Clara is gearing up for her Junior Peace Corps experience in Central and South America, completing her finals for graduation, and earning some money while assisting her father over the summer.


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Clara Jude is graduating a year early from Gilford High School so she can become a Junior Peace Corps volunteer. A Spanish speaker, she will spend 24 weeks in Guatamala and 24 weeks in Colombia during her gap year between high school and college. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)