Gilford does well compared to state on smarter Balanced Assessments

GILFORD – After taking their first ever Smarter Balanced Tests last fall, students across the board, with very few exceptions, performed at higher levels than did the average students in New Hampshire, according to the recently released results.

This year's third-graders did exceptionally well, with math scores showing 69 percent of the students performed at a proficient or above proficient rate. The state average was 53 percent.

In English language arts, third-grade students rocked with 73 percent of them performing at or above proficiency levels compared to 55 percent in the state.

Superintendent Kent Hemingway said the students worked very hard preparing for the Smarter Balanced tests that not only measure basic math and English language skills but also measure comprehension and the ability to apply their skills to everyday situations. Also, this is the first time students took a computer-based test, as opposed to the former NECAP, done on paper.

He added that, for the first time taking the test, he was very pleased with the overall scores but noted, as always, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Students from grades 3 through 8 were tested, as were high school juniors. Fourth-grade math students outperformed the state average of 49 percent proficient and above with a score of 58. Conversely, in English/language arts, Gilford performed exactly as did the balance of the state students with 56 percent at proficient or above.

Throughout middle school, Gilford's scores remained on a par or slightly above the state average. At 43 percent proficient or above, only the seventh-grade math scores were below the state average of 51 percent proficient or above. In English/language arts, seventh-grade students scored at 64 while the state average was at 62.

By 11th grade, Gilford students surpassed the rest of the state with math scores of 41 percent proficient or above as compared to 36 percent for the state average. In English/language arts, the score of 67 percent proficient or above exceeded the state average of 59 percent.

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Over $33,000 given to local charities by dancers

LACONIA — "Dancing With the Stars" is popular on TV, but here in the Lakes Region, it's also a way for local dancers to help charities – and did they ever help. Lakes Region Dancing With the Stars raised more than $33,000 for many charities during their show in November, along with showcasing local talent.

Receiving checks on Wednesday were The Cure Starts Now NH, given $16,697; The Greater Career Partnership, given $8,348; and six other groups splitting $1,391.

First-prize winner Jesse Thompson was thrilled to receive the check on behalf of The Cure Starts Now, as the group is searching for a cure for DIPG, a rare form of brain cancer that killed his son, John Bradley Thompson, at the age of 7, just a year and a half ago.

Laura L. Brusseau, co-founder of the local nonprofit Faith, Hope and Love Foundation  and Ashley May Halsey, a dance and Zumba instructor in the Lakes Region, teamed up in 2010 to create the first local Dancing with the Community Stars charity event. That effort raised more than $4,500 for the Inter-Lakes High School Habitat for Humanity Club. They have since organized six more events, raising more than $75,000 for more than 40 Lakes Region nonprofits, said Brusseau. Each, year, the event features six to eight local stars and dance professionals who compete for the mirror ball trophy. The winners choose their favorite charity for half the money raised.  Second runners-up choose the next charity, which gets a quarter of the money, and the remaining charities split the final quarter.

Starring this year were:

1. Liane Clairmont of LRGH, dancing for LRGH's Family Birthplace with proceeds going to educate others on Baby Safe Sleeping. She danced with Martha Nicols of the Sandwich Players.

2. Andrea Condodemetraky of CG Engineering, dancing for the Santa Fund of the Greater Lakes Region. Her partner was Katie LaRoche of Dancing Feet Studios in Bristol.

3. Robert Cormier, the Tilton Police Chief, danced for the Special Olympics of NH with partner is Ashley Walley, owner of The Studio at Meredith Bay.

4. Rebekah Gonzalez, a physical education teacher at Pleasant Street School and co-founder of Camp Van Gogh, danced for the Pleasant Street School Walking Path Fund. Her partner was Plymouth State Dance Team Member Ashley Marsh.

5. Lauren Lyons of Lyons Den and Tavern danced for Make A Wish New Hampshire with Shevly Parker, a dancer from Nashua.

6. Nancy Stetson, a world languages yeacher at Inter-Lakes High School, danced for Autism Speaks with Ashley Halsey, co-founder of Lakes Region Dancing With the Stars and dance instructor at Lakes Region Dance.

7. Jesse Thompson of Northern Design danced for The Cure Starts Now NH. He danced with his friend Natalie Lyons of Gilford.

8. Chris Kelly of REMAX Bayside danced for the Greater Meredith Career Partnership Program, with Sue Nicholas, a tumbling coach at Lakes Region Dance, who won the competition.

The show was emceed by Fred and Amy of Mix 94.1 FM. There was a canned food drive to support Meredith Food Pantry as part of the Cash N Cans Program. The judges this year were Sarah Gray, owner of Body Covers; Lea King, owner of Lakes Region Dance; Lenore Sousa, Plymouth State University dance professor; and James Abreau, Lakes Region Dancing With the Stars Season 4 champion.



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Downtown Concord welcomes holiday shoppers this weekend

CONCORD — This season, wrap up holiday shopping while enjoying the lights and sounds of the season in downtown Concord.
On Friday, Dec. 11, the Concord Community Music School's Songweavers, a women's a cappella chorus, will stroll and carol throughout the downtown area from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Main Street will come alive with holiday music, piped along Main Street, courtesy of WNHN-LP 94.7, on Friday, Dec. 11, from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 2 to 5 p.m.

The winners of the holiday window decoration contest have been announced. Viking House won best in show; the best use of theme winner was Mark Knipe Goldsmith; Chickadee Lane Interiors won most sparkle; Things are Cooking had the most creative use of merchandise; Little River Oriental Rugs had the best holiday spirit; honorable mention went to Thorne's of Concord; and the judges' choice awards went to Rowland Studio, Bravo Boutique and Taylored Interiors.

More than 50 downtown merchants will stay open late and offer a variety of specials for shoppers. Shop Late dates are Dec. 10, 11, 17, and 18. The Shop Late nights, along with great service and hassle-free shopping in a charming downtown, will bring enjoyment as well as a chance to find just the right holiday gifts before Santa arrives.
There is still time to participate in the Win the Window Passport to Winning contest. Shoppers are invited to visit dozens of downtown stores to complete their passport and to be entered into the raffle to "Win the Window." The fabulous raffle packages, featuring donated gift cards and items from downtown businesses, are on display at NH Federal Credit Union on North Main Street. Winners will be drawn on Dec. 16.

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