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8th graders building-site plan project wows Gilford School Board

GILFORD — There are some eight graders at the Middle School who just may be future planners.

As part of a three-month long project-based learning class, three of science teacher Nancy Allen's students — Gabby Podmore, Kaya Beland, and Jenna Galligan — have created a site plan for a real home building project in North Carolina.

As part of the project, the girls had to learn about permeable verses impermeable surfaces (or how the ground absorbs or repels water), what kinds of trees, shrubs and grasses are native to their spot in North Carolina, and how to rescale an engineering diagram to build a to-scale 3D replica of the proposed building site and it environs.

Last week they presented their project to the School Board, which was completely overwhelmed by the complexity of the task and the ability of the girls — working with some community partners like Town Planner John Ayer and Selectman Kevin Hayes (a civil engineer) — to create a sophisticated building site plan.

Allen told the School Board that the purpose of project-based learning was to integrate various skills into one project. In this exercise, the students were teamed in threes and randomly given a building project.

The job at hand, was to research the applicable zoning laws for that community — teaching reading for comprehension and government — to include calculating the measurements steep slopes — using math and trigonometry — and to rescale the project — again using math and engineering. Each project had to incorporate a landscape plan that required the students to know enough forestry and geology to know soil types, plant types, wetlands, and enough meteorology to understand weather patterns for storm water runoff and ground covers.

While determining where the house would go on the empty lot, the teams had to research fire codes.

At one point, because of the zoning laws, setback requirements and curb cuts, team Podmore-Beland-Galligan told the board they had to turn their house to face a different direction from the plans they were originally presented.

"Once we figured out where to build it, we had to design a silt fence," said one while another explained how they had to calculate the number of plants and trees they could remove and had to plant to stay within the requirements.

"Every area we cleared we had to add trees," said one.

Allen said all of the teams were making a final presentation to a mock Planning Board comprised of teachers and administrators.

She said one of the best things was how invested the students became in their plans. Allen said the students would walk down the halls talking about their projects.

Hayes said he sat in on four or five of the presentations last Friday as a judge.

"I was amazed at how the teacher was able to integrate reading, writing, presentations and technology into their projects," Hayes said, noting each team had a "techie" who created a PowerPoint presentation.

He said he was also impressed with the way Allen was able to sustain interest in the projects throughout the three-month project time.

Hayes said the students came away with an understanding of the task and how each piece of the puzzle was derived.

"They understood why and that's important," he said.


CAPTION (Gilford 8th grade project) Gabby Podmore, Kaya Beland, Jenna Galligan show their to-scale model of their building project to the Gilford School Board assigned as part of their project-based learning class. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)


Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 01:50

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Gilmanton board says school is full, portable classroom needed

GILMANTON — The School Board has recommended adding a 2014 warrant article that, if passed, would add a modular classroom to the elementary school campus.

Superintendent John Fauci said yesterday that the proposed cost for the modular unit is $95,448. He said it would be connected to the school by a corridor so the students wouldn't have to go outside.

Fauci said enrollment has gradually been rising at the elementary school, hovering this year at just over 400 students.

"We've had a high of 408 and a low of 400," said Fauci noting that children often leave a school district or move into a school district during the school year.

He said several years ago the Gilmanton Elementary School topped out at 420 students and then dropped to as low as 386. Over the past few years, he said the numbers have been steadily increasing with higher student counts concentrated into the lower grades.

Enrollment numbers presented at the November meeting showed 50 kindergarten students, 46, first graders, 51 second graders, 42 third graders, 39 fourth graders, 36 fifth graders, 46 sixth graders, 49 seventh graders, and 44 eighth graders for a total of 402.

Fauci said the recommended modular warrant article is a prelude to the creation of a space needs committee — that will likely be comprised of a variety of people in the community, including two school board members, one administrator from the SAU, one building-level administrator, one Planning Board member, one Budget Committee member, two teachers, two parents, one para-educator, and one member of the community at large.

Draft minutes of the November meeting said that the committee will be tasked with a historical analysis of the school through the last 10 years as well as demographic studies and a walk-through of the building.

He recalled specific plans that were developed about seven or eight years ago for an addition and recommended the committee be provided with copies of that study as well.

The School Board has adopted a proposed operating budget for 2014-2015 of $9,766,221 which represents a less than 1 percent increase over this year.

Of that operating budget, Fauci said 44 student freshman are expected to be enrolled at Gilford High School next year under a 20-year agreement signed in 2003. Thirty-six seniors will graduate in June, meaning a net gain of eight students will be tuitioned to Gilford in 2014-215. About 30 percent of Gilford's High School students are from Gilmanton, or about 140 students.

Fauci said that if the projected total number of students tuitioned to Gilford for 2014-2-15 remains the same and the estimated $18,407 per pupil cost provided by Gilford School District officials stays the same, the tuition portion of the Gilmanton operation budget will increase by $255,000.

The School Board will present the proposed budget to the Budget Committee at 6 p.m. tonight at the Gilmanton Academy building.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 01:38

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3 teens arrested for Boys & Girls Club vandalism

LACONIA — A day after the discovery that the Boys and Girls Club of the Lake Region had been vandalized over the weekend, police took three juveniles into custody yesterday morning in connection with the incident.

School Resource Officer Steve Orton, accompanied by detectives, arrested the trio, all boys from Laconia aged 14, 15 and 16. They were charged with burglary and criminal mischief and released to their parents pending prosecution in the juvenile division of the 4th Circuit Court — Laconia.

Police Chief Chris Adams, president of the club, said that staff arrived to open the club early Monday morning to find "significant damage throughout the building."
He said yesterday that much of the damage was caused by water from a sink on the ground-level floor that was blocked up and left running, which poured through the ceiling and down the walls to the floor below. Adams said that carpets, furniture, books, games and were soaked while drywall and ceiling tiles must be replaced. Fire extinguishers were discharged. Foodstuffs, including ketchup, were strewn about the inside of the club and kitchen utensils were stuck into the walls. Adams said that walls must be repainted and several doors and windows replaced.

After initially hoping to return to the building in a week, Adams expected that it will be two or three weeks before the club is able to reopen. In the meantime, the building will be closed until further notice and both the pre-school program and Hands Across the Table, the free evening meal offered at the club on Tuesdays, will be suspended. But, the after-school program will operate at Laconia Middle School during the interim.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region moved to the former St. James Episocpal Church on North Main Street in June and last month launched a capital campaign to acquire and remodel the building.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 01:34

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Vandals cause ‘significant’ damage to Boys & Girls Club

LACONIA — The new home of the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region was vandalized over the weekend, forcing the facility to be closed for at least a week. Police Chief Chris Adams, president of the club, said staff arrived yesterday morning to find "significant damage throughout the building."

According to police much of the damage was caused by water from a sink that was left running. Foodstuffs were also strewn about the inside of the club. Otherwise Adams declined to disclose the specific nature of the damage in order not to compromise the investigation of the incident.

The chief said that it is unknown how many people broke into the building — the former St. James Episcopal Church at 876 North Main St. — or precisely when the vandalism took place. However, he said that patrol officers and detectives gathered evidence at the scene and are pursuing several leads.

Adams said, "Cleaning services and contractors have been contacted and we're hopeful that the club will be up and running in a week." Meanwhile, Cheryl Avery, executive director of the club, said that the building will be closed until further notice and both the pre-school program and Hands Across the Table, the free evening meal offered at the club on Tuesdays, will be suspended until the damage is overcome. But, she stressed that the after-school program will operate at Laconia Middle School throughout this week, beginning today, Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 03:50

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