Belmont High School returns from Florida competition with 1st place finish

BELMONT – The high school music room is filled with music stands, drums, instruments and in the middle of it all sat Lauren Fountain at her teaching desks accompanied by three of her senior students and the awards, plaques and trophy the band won in a high school competition in Orlando, Fla.

After four days of playing at Universal Studios, the Belmont High School wind instrument band won first place in the A Division.

"We beat out schools that had 1,300 kids in school," she said beaming at piccolo player Makayla Donovan, first clarinetist Zoe Zeller, and clarinetist Ashley Fenemore.

While Belmont High School has about 500 students and A Division is for smaller schools, Fountain said she wasn't sure how the divisions were created but knew for sure that they were number 1.

The band performed "Cajun Folk Songs" by composer Frank Ticheli and "A Movement for Rosa" by Mark Camphouse – a piece near to Fountain's heart written to commemorate the life of Rosa Parks.

All of the musicians said they think the choice of "Rosa" - the affectionate term they use for the piece – was one of the reasons they won.

"It's a level 6 piece and they just rocked it," said Fountain. Level 6 is the greatest difficulty a band can choose.

"Some of the judges said they just enjoyed it so much," Fountain said. "We were very well prepared."

The band enjoyed a clinic with one of the judges, the band director from the University of Central Florida along with some time at Universal Studios. He said the judge commended the band on balancing the piece in spite of the fact the band lacks low bass and are high in treble.

"There's not a lot of room for error in either piece and we were very exposed," Fountain said.

Donovan said she felt very confident when playing in Florida because she also loves "Rosa" and that, along with the rest of the band, it was meaningful.

The seniors also said the freshmen and sophomores really stepped up and performed amazingly. Fountain explained that high school bands have musicians of all talent levels and it's her job to try and find a balance.

"The growth this year has been tremendous, especially among our younger band members," said Fountain.

Forty-five students made the trip to Orlando.

Zeller and Fenemore are all attending the University of New Hampshire next year, but none of them expects to major in music, however said they had no desire to give it up either. Donovan is attending La Salle University.

When asked what their dream music job would be Donavan and Zeller said they'd both like to play in the band that backs singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran whose song "Thinking Out Loud" is one of their favorites.

Fenemore said she would most like to play the banjo with Steve Martin's band. "I'm really not the classical music type," she said.

But she does love banjo picking.

The band's final concert of the year is Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Belmont High School auditorium.

Huot center construction students repair deck at bolduc park

GILFORD — Students in the construction program at the Huot Center have been working on a project to replace worn deck boards at Bolduc Park, a project which provides them with the real-world kind of challenges which help them hone their construction skills.

Instructor Matt Towle, now in his fourth year at the Huot Center, says that it's the kind of project that he wishes he had more of for the 12 students in his Building Construction II course.

''We did another deck just down the road from here,'' says Towle, who says other projects the students have worked on this year include lockers for the Gunstock Ski Club, a chicken coop and a 12 by 20 shed.

He says that Bob Bolduc approached him about the project as an opportunity for his students to help the non-profit park, which provides golf during the summer months and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Towle says that the deck boards and steps are being replaced with a composite board which is stronger and lasts longer than wood. The boards stand up to ultraviolet light and moisture and will easily outlast the existing wooden deck frame, says Towle.

Colin Horton of Laconia, one of the students, says that he's learning a lot in the construction course and will be putting it to good use after he graduates.

''My dad's in construction and I'll be working with him,'' says Horton.

Also planning on a future in the construction field is Christopher Spooner-Bishop of Belmont, who intends to go to college and major in construction management.

''This is a great course and we learn lots of things we'll be able to use, whether in it's the construction field or as a homeowner,'' he says.

Presidential candidate participation creating buzz for annual GOP cruise

LACONIA — With six declared or potential Republican presidential candidates saying they will be on board for Belknap County Republican Committee's  dinner cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, party activists are optimistic that the committee's one major annual fund-raiser will be a sell-out.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is the latest candidate to confirm, County Republican Chairman Alan Glassman reported yesterday. Others who have promised to attend are Wisconsin Gov., Scott Walker, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Glassman said 200 tickets for the cruise on Friday, May 29, on the MS Mount Washington have been sold so far. The ticket sales will be capped at 450, a goal which he strongly felt will be attained.

Glassman said Walker's strong showing in recent polls should build interest in the cruise. Walker finished way ahead of other Republican candidates in a poll of likely Iowa voters conducted earlier this month. In that poll Walker got the support of 21 percent of likely Hawkeye State voters. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul were tied for second with 13 percent, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz got 12 percent.

A couple other candidates, who Glassman declined to identify, are looking to see if they could fit an appearance on the cruise into their schedules. He said that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who made a brief campaign stop in Tilton yesterday, would not be able to attend because of another commitment.

While each candidate will have a chance to make a brief speech, Glassman said the candidates needed see the cruise as a change to make the most of meeting potential supporters one-on-one. "This is really a grass-roots event," he said.

Glassman also said he was happy that the candidates who will be attending are diverse, both in terms of their backgrounds and political ideology. For example, he noted that Walker stresses conservative themes, while Pataki takes more moderate positions.

Because New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is an open primary, where Independent voters can choose either a Republican or Democratic party ballot, the candidates must be able to appeal to more than just Republican voters. "They've got to appeal more than just Republicans if they want to win the Republican primary."

Glassman said that party supporters from as far away of New Jersey are planning to make the cruise.

Cruise tickets cost $50. Proceeds will help to fund Republican campaigns, in both major and more local races. "The money we make at this year's and next year's cruises will be the money that we will be able to put into this effort," said Glassman.