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Gilford loses out on fire boat

GILFORD — A Portsmouth fire boat is likely not going to be cruising the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee any time soon.
At the selectmen's meeting Wednesday evening, Fire Chief Steve Carrier said the Portsmouth City Council reconsidered the offer and decided to send the boat to New Castle.
Selectmen's Chairman Richard Grenier did not take the news well, saying he was dismayed at the news and would like to go to the Portsmouth City Council to express his disappointment. Grenier also said he would like to address the New Castle officials and propose that if things don't work out as expected for them with the boat that they consider passing it along to Gilford.
The 30-foot boat was acquired by Portsmouth in 2006 through a Homeland Security grant, which restricts the use of the boat. It can be donated but not sold. It no longer meets the needs of Portsmouth and salt water is taking a toll on its condition.
Gilford's current fire boat is much smaller and 40 years old. It is called into action about 17 to 20 times a year, and was already on the town's capital improvement list for replacement.
– Gail Ober

LGBTQ club approved by Shaker Board


BELMONT — The Shaker School Board unanimously agreed to give a charter to the Equality Alliance Club, which gives formal recognition to a club that has provided support to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered and questioning students at the high school.

Proposed by school nurse Sue Ruppe, the chartered club is recommended by the National Association of School Nurses who have said that school nurses are in the best position to oversee and advocate for students who identify with the LGBTQ community.

Ruppe cited statistics that show that this is a segment of the student body that can be subjected greater level of bullying, harassment and violence, although she did not say this is the case at Belmont High School.

According to the National Association of School Nurses, transgendered students can fare worse than all of the others by missing more school, having lower grades and feeling they are often not a part of the school community as a whole.

The association's study, presented to the School Board Tuesday night, said that LGBTQ students are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience loneliness, lack of acceptance, sexually transmitted infections, anxiety, depression and suicide.

Ruppe said the rational behind sanctioning the club, which exists already according to some students but in a non-chartered form, is to provide for a student-led school group that promotes inclusiveness, understanding and a healthy school climate such that the well-being of all students can be safeguarded.

Shaker Regional School Board passed policy in August of 2015 that specifies how the district handles "transgender and gender nonconforming students."

Specifically, the policy states that a student can use whichever bathroom he or she identifies with and is also entitled to use a single-stall bathroom if requested. The use of locker rooms is done on a case-by-case basis.

The policy goes on to say that students are allowed to be called and identified by the name and gender they prefer and any violation of this is an infraction, whether committed by a student or a professional employee of the school district.

When contacting parents, school personnel will use the students given name and identity unless the child's parent has indicated something else. The school recognizes a student's right to keep one's status at school private and personal and it shall not disclose information to the contrary to others, including parents, unless the student has authorized them to do that.

Permanent school records will be kept with the original name and birth gender; however, the district is not required to use a student's legal name or gender on other school records. For testing purposes, staff and administrators shall adopt practices that will not inadvertently disclose confidential information.

'The Alt' partners with Downtown Gym for nontraditional high school program


LACONIA — The Laconia Alternative Education Program, known as "The Alt," has partnered with the Downtown Gym to provide physical education to its students for the first time since the program began a decade ago.

Janet Brough, marketing and training coordinator for the school district, said that program shares space with the Laconia Senior Center on Canal Street, just around the corner from the gym on Main Street.

"Janine Page reached out to us and we started a pilot program in May," she said.

On Wednesdays the students spend 45 minutes at the gym between 10:30 and 11:15 a.m.

"Since their regular program does not include physical education, this is an opportunity for them, " she said. "And they can work off some energy."

There are 28 students, from grades 9 through 12, enrolled in "The Alt" from Laconia and the other five districts that send students to the Huot Technical Center — Gilford, Belmont, Inter-Lakes, Winnisquam and Franklin.

Matt Dubois, who teaches mathematics, said that apart from occasional hikes and field trips, the students at "the Alt" spend their time in the classroom and the time at the gym is a welcome respite. He explained that science, mathematics, English and social studies are taught at "The Alt," but the focus is more on the students than subjects.

"We are teaching them how to be successful students," he said.

The students, he said, are not performing well in a conventional school setting and instruction at "The Alt" aims to prepare them to re-enter the school system or continue their education at night school or online.

At the gym, they split into two or three groups. A handful took to cycling. More tried the weight and strength training machines to test their upper bodies, while others joined Trish Tryon, one of the trainers at the gym, to use free weights to work their lower bodies.

Greg, a 16-year-old from Inter-Lakes who was working out on a treadmill, said he looks forward to returning to school and playing football in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. Pedaling a cycle, Hailee from Laconia High School said she enjoyed the time at the gym and away from from the classroom, but doubted that her experience in the gym would lead her to exercise regularly.

Nancy Hood, who teaches English exercised alongside the students.

"We are focused on the students," she said. "We work the kinks out and create students again."

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Matt Dubois (standing, center) of the Laconia Alternative Education Program joined his students at the Downtown Gym where they take time away from classes to exercise on Wednesday mornings.  (Michael Kitch photo/Laconia Daily Sun)


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Trish Tryon (right) introduces students from ther Laconia Alternative Education Program to doing squats with free weights at the Downtown Gym, whiere they spend an hour on Wednesday mornings working off energy.  (Michael Kitch photo/Laconia Daily Sun)