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Parents win; Gilford High reinstitutes grade weighting

GILFORD — The School Board has voted to re-institute grade weighting for Honors and Advanced Placement classes at the High School.

The 5-to-2 vote at Monday's nights board meeting, also made grade-weighting retroactive, meaning that the students who are in ninth grade this year, which doesn't have grade weighting, will have their grade point averages adjusted accordingly.

"I was on the fence," said Chair Karen Thurston, according to draft minutes of the meeting made available yesterday. "I think eventually, whether we like it or not, we are going to have to change this."

Last year, the board eliminated grade-weighting after a presentation by Principal Peter Sawyer in which he said that weighted grades are not factors when it comes to college acceptance because most colleges strip out the weights and apply their own standards.

Sawyer's research showed that the students who were in the top 10 and in the top 10-percent of their class were almost always the same students and not weighting grades would not significantly affect class rankings.

However, some of the parents pushed back and said that without weighted grades for more rigorous classes, many students would be inclined to take the easier class if they are going to earn the same grade-point value.

Parents also said that it takes away some of the leverage they have over their children to get them to take the more difficult class and challenge themselves.

About 35 of them came to a School Board meeting in early April and then attended a specially held Policy Committee meeting where they overwhelmingly supported re-instituting the weighted grade system.

According to the minutes, the vote was taken after considerable discussion.

Member Jack Landow, who is on the Policy Committee, said he felt the decision should be made based on facts and not emotion. He noted that while the letters and comments he received were "courteous, logical, coherent and persuasive," he felt those qualities didn't necessarily made the arguments for grade-weighting valid.

He noted the only facts he had heard were from Sawyer and from Gilmanton member Frank Weeks, whose brother is on an admission team at the University of Pennsylvania, both of whom did not support grade-weighting.

Weeks echoed Landow and said he never thought he should give a bonus to his children when they were doing well.

The other members felt that grade weighting, while not the end-all-and-be-all of college acceptance, still motivates students to try to push themselves a little harder than they otherwise would.

Thurston, Vice-Chair Rae Mello-Andrews, Chris McDonough and Sue Allen all said it seemed to be the will of the parents who made their voices heard. They said they felt that adding a carrot would encourage students to be more aggressive in their studies.

"The way I'm going to vote is for the people who voted for me to represent them on the School Board," McDonough said. He is the other member of the Policy Committee.

Gilmanton member Adam Mini said he saw and understood both sides of the issue — both as a parent and a former student. He noted that when he was in high school, he could have used some incentive to take harder classes.

Mini also noted that conversely, while competition is healthy and an important motivator, he didn't want to see competition over class rankings become destructive.

The new policy also mandates that school guidance counselors from the eighth grade forward work with students and parents to see that students are taking the most appropriate classes for their skill levels.

Last Updated on Saturday, 09 May 2015 12:28

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Clinton campaign organizing event in Meredith tonight

MEREDITH — Hillary for New Hampshire's supporters and volunteers will host a grassroots Open House this evening at 6:15 p.m. at 17 Birch Ledge Road.

Organizers said event is part of a series the campaign is holding in each of New Hampshire's 10 counties, building on Hillary Clinton's first trip back to New Hampshire.

At the open houses, Hillary for New Hampshire will ask volunteers to activate and organize friends and neighbors in their community to take part in the campaign.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 May 2015 12:36

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Belmont/Northfield 'swamp' fire spreads

BELMONT/NORTHFIELD — A five-alarm brush fire that has charred at least 30 acres was threatening homes in the Gardners Grove community last night as crews from as far away as Chichester, Bristol, and Meredith struggled to stop its spread.

According to Tilton-Northfield Fire District Capt. Dave Hall, the fire began in the middle of a huge swathe of swampy wetlands around noon yesterday and spread quickly toward the Northfield Business Park on Rte. 140.

Hall said helicopter crews were helping monitor the spread of the fire from the air while WMUR television reported Gov. Maggie hassan had mobilized four helicopters to assist with this fire as well as one in Ossipee and one in Merrimack.

Rte. 140 was closed to traffic around noon except for people and employees who live on the south-west side of Rte. 140 from Shaker Road in Northfield and Jamestown Road in Belmont. At 6 p.m., Jamestown Road was closed to traffic.

At 4 p.m. the fire went to a fifth alarm that brought fire teams from Concord and other communities in the capitol area. Hall estimated that between 30 and 40 acres of grasslands had burned by that time.

Hall explained that the fire was burning dried grasses that have been exposed to sunlight and wind for about a week.

One Tilton-Northfield call firefighter said he's lived in Northfield his entire life and had never seen the "swamp" burn.

At 6 p.m., and according to the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid transmissions, two tankers were requested from neighboring communities to protect the homes in Gardners Grove on Silver Lake.

At 7:20 p.m., Belmont Fire Chief Dave Parenti confirmed a third command post had been set up at Gardners Grove.

A team from Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid as well as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) were assisting with water, power drinks, shade and food for the crews — some of whom had been fighting the fire for better than six hours.


CUTLINE: Acres of grassy swamp land burned yesterday in a five-alarm brush fire that brought 19 teams to Northfield and Belmont. Smoldering hot spots can be seen as crews from Meredith prepare to put them out with rakes, shovels, and portable water packs.

CUTLINE: A team of Meredith firefighters get ready to attack a grass fire that had charred about 30 acres in Northfield yesterday afternoon.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 May 2015 12:33

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DeVoys recuperating after dave donates kidney to wife wendy

SANBORNTON — ''Dave you don't have to do this,'' Wendy DeVoy told her husband as they walked up the steps to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon last week.
The couple had arrived before 6 o'clock in the morning for the long-anticipated kidney transplant surgery, one of the most common transplant operations in the country.

What was unusual was that it was going to be Dave DeVoy who was the kidney donor for his wife, a relatively rare procedure but one which he felt strongly needed to be done.

''I was scared, but I knew I was doing the right thing. I didn't believe there was another option,'' said DeVoy, who last December, after extensive tests, found out that he was a match to be a donor for his wife.

''It's pretty unusual for a husband to be a match. But once I found out that it was possible, the decision was easy to make,'' said DeVoy, a local business owner who is also chairman of the Belknap County Commission.

Wendy said that she had mixed feelings as they went into the hospital. ''I was so happy and grateful that he was going to be the donor , but I was so sad because knew it was causing him pain.''

DeVoy said that he was anxious abut the procedure and was hoping that he would be given medication which would help him relax. As it turned out, he only received that medication five minutes before he went into the operating room, where he placed under anesthesia and one of his kidneys removed.
The kidney was then placed in a cool water saline solution and it was Wendy's turn to be brought into the operating room after a wait of nearly eight hours since she had arrived at the hospital.

''It was nerve-wracking but they kept me in touch with what was happening,'' said Wendy, who received as a transplant a kidney much larger than the one it replaced and who had been on dialysis for eight years prior to the operation.

''We knew eight years ago that a transplant was probably going to be needed,'' says Dave, who said that at one point it was likely that Wendy's sister, who had tested out as a perfect match, would be he donor. But that changed last year and Dave, who had been tested as a possible donor eight years ago and never knew the results decided to have himself tested as a possible donor by Dartmouth-Hitchcock last fall.

Wendy was on home dialysis for four years but as of March last year had been undergoing the procedure at Concord Hospital. She was on a waiting list for a kidney transplant, but Dave said that the wait could have been several years during which her condition and quality of life would deteriorate.
DeVoy said that knowing that kidney donors actually outlive people who aren't kidney donors gave him confidence that there would be no long term impact on his health.

He said that when he woke up in the recovery room after his procedure Wendy was still in the operating room and he didn't get to see her until the next morning, when he was taken by wheelchair to her room, which was one floor up from where he was staying.

He said that when his 14-year-old daughter Maggie came to visit him after the operation he could see tears well up her in eyes because she was upset about the pain her mother was experiencing. But she was relieved to realize that the long ordeal was over and that her mother could lead a normal life once more.

DeVoy said that he was out of the hospital within a few days and his wife a few days later and have been receiving a lot of help from his mother, Evelyn, who lives in Dedham, Mass., and Wendy's mother, Jean Claridge, who lives in Sanbornton.

''We're both recovering and I'm still not at full speed,'' said DeVoy, who said he was pumped full of 25 pounds of fluid before the procedure and has shed most of that weight since coming home,

He owns convenience stores in Gilford and Barnstead, and is also chairman of the Belknap County Commission, which he said in recent months has also been a stressful situation.

Wendy says that her recovery period is expected to be four or five months and that she needs to make frequent follow-up visits to Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
But she is happy that the worst is behind her and is grateful for the support of friends and family since she has returned home.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 May 2015 11:56

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