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For the love of being a Sachem, let's stick together during these tough times & be proud

To The Daily Sun,

As Laconia grapples with the reality of a very difficult budget situation, I feel it is important to offer some perspective and recognition to those who have been instrumental in supporting the community-wide process that ensured improvements to Laconia High School and the Fitzgerald Field at Bank of New Hampshire Stadium. I would also like to once again thoughtfully and respectfully thank all of those who worked so diligently to make that project a reality for our community, region and state. It took the better part of a year, a year filled with meetings, logistical planning, constant community fundraising, and significant financial commitment from individuals, agencies and local businesses to make the athletic stadium at Laconia High School the best school stadium in the state for athletics and extra-curricular events.

Former Laconia mayor (and proud alumnus) Matt Lahey and (former) superintendent Bob Champlin took on the initiative that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to make this project come to fruition. Fellow City Council member Bob Hamel oversaw each detail through its entirety with pride and passion. Former School Board chair Joe Cormier and current school board member Malcolm Murray were pivotal in making the science wing and athletic field a reality.

The football field is actually a multipurpose athletic facility that hosts the following: boys and girls' soccer, unified soccer, field hockey, football, boys and girls lacrosse, occasional baseball and softball preseason practices, physical education classes, band classes, graduation, freshman orientation, homecoming, and numerous youth organizations and events throughout the entire calendar year. The NHIAA has held New Hampshire's state championship soccer and lacrosse tournaments at the stadium. These events bring thousands of visitors into our city each year. Not only is this stadium utilized far more than the old stadium, its multi-purpose functionality takes a lot of stress off of the other athletic fields in the city and as a result, they are in the best shape AND more accessible to community leagues than they have been in for some time.

The stadium was a component of an overall project that was priced at $5 million. Parking lots, road and sewer construction, two practice fields, a much needed renovation to the LHS science wing, and a roof replacement were part of that package as well. Through this extensive project, hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised to support the beautiful, finished educational campus that serves our community, its learners and athletes both here and across the state. The Dearborn Family, owners of Eptam Plastics, specifically supported a state of the art, brand new science wing to Laconia High School. This wing supports all learners throughout the day and in our adult education programs as well. As we seek to engage students in aspiring toward STEM post-secondary opportunities, this support represents excellence in our community's commitment to education in Laconia.

In the area specific to the beautiful athletic stadium, our lead sponsor, Bank of New Hampshire, led the huge support we received for this initiative with a $250,000 donation. The "Fitzy Silver Sachems" (a group of alumni who took on a challenge of naming rights for the field in honor of their beloved coach) raised over $150,000. We were privileged to have Mas-Con Corporation (led by the Bartlett and Brewer family alumni) build the press box and concession stand that was over $100,000 in kind services. Gilford Well (led by alumni Trevor and Norm Harris) completed (in-kind) all of the irrigation on Bobotas Field above the turf facility and the lower practice field by the parking lot. The Irwin Automotive Group (led by alumnus Chris Irwin) donated $50,000 for the naming rights to the Press Box. Irwin Marine (led by alumnus Jack Irwin) served as a committee member in researching the field as well as a $25,000 donor. Laconia Youth Football and Cheer committed $10,000 to the construction of the concession stand. Drew's Affordable Roofing (owned by proud LHS alumnus Blaine Drew) completed the roof on the concession stand. These proud Laconia businesses and alumni gave unselfishly to this wonderful facility that is used by many, many youth throughout this region. Not mentioned are the hundreds of proud, supportive community members who have bought "bricks and pavers" to support the initiative. I would be remiss if I did not remind the community of these gracious donors, folks who MADE this community resource happen, and once again thank them.

With great pride and love of being a Sachem, let's stick together through these tough times and be proud of what we have. While financial struggles will continually challenge our character at times, let's persevere through challenges together and united. We are ALWAYS stronger together than when we are apart.

Go Sachem Nation!

Craig Kozens

Athletic Director/Dean of Students

Laconia High School

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LHS Spelling Bee on April 7 will benefit Laconia Got Lunch!

To The Daily Sun,

Laconia High School's English Department is partnering with our local Got Lunch! program to host its first annual Spelling Bee on Thursday, April 7, at 6:30 p.m.

Amid our city's recent budget crisis and ongoing drug epidemic, our goal is to provide our community's residents with a necessary dose of hope.

Price of admission is an unopened jar of peanut butter or jelly. This donation will help "Got Lunch!" volunteers feed hungry children during their summer vacations.

Mayor Ed Engler and local business leaders will serve as our official pronouncers, and WEMJ will broadcast the event live.

Forty-eight students have signed up to participate.

Plenty of communities in the Lakes Region host similar academic competitions. And although their students' achievements are comparable to ours, the daily obstacles impeding their students are not. This Spelling Bee's goal is not to simply celebrate the successes of our young learners but to provide a context for those successes.

Please join us, on Thursday, April 7, at 6:30 in the Laconia High School auditorium. Let's restore a shared vision of success in our great city.

Tate Aldrich
English Department Chair
Laconia High School

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