To The Daily Sun,
After attending the most recent meeting of the Gilford School Board, I have three basic observations and a few other random thoughts.
1. What we have "hee..AH"..... is ah Failure ta, communicate!''
2. I would suggest that the School Board completely reject the book "Nineteen Minutes" from being included in any future curricula for any grade level in the Gilford public schools. Instead they should consider Mr Lambert's suggestion as to using subjects of valid English literature and substitute Keat's "Ode on Melancholy" and Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" into the curriculum in lieu of such distasteful to the community standards un-vetted, "contemporary" American/English literature. In addition the School Board might take note of Coleridge's "Epigram," and perhaps glean something from that.
3. I too, as Doug Lambert, have some favorite Bible passages. So the community, righteous in our indignation, might pause to read some of 1 Corinthians 7:7. The School Board members might want to contemplate Mr. Baer's situation in relation to 1 Timothy 5:8. We do wish, as did St, Paul, that the community have some patience and grant a bit of forbearance to those who are not fully committed to common decency, and may be less strong in the faith than ourselves, but that not withstanding. are well meaning.
Certainly the School Board must have been well meaning when fully apprised that they had a budding "soap opera" on their hands, they sought to handle such by suppressing the inevitable displays of indignation and outrage. Reactions by the School Board in admitting to some oversights certainly support the sense of outrage that some parents displayed at the meeting. School Board Chair Sue Allen is recently quoted as having used the term "ridiculous" to describe this statewide airing of a public "soap opera" turned into a public political scandal.
I have attended several Gilford School Board meetings over the years. I can remember one where the discussion of a Belmont football merger went on so long I deemed it not an appropriate time for the sake of not further lengthening the meeting to speak at that meeting to a different agenda item. So it was ridiculous to attempt to stifle and suppress the public comment at this meeting for the sole purpose of not wanting to take the full heat of the outraged on this curriculum issue.
While I'm widely regarded as a RINO and would have seen this text as possibly appropriate for juniors after the Christmas break or seniors in their last high school year, I agree it was wrong to make it part of the curriculum for high school freshmen. I agree with those who believe this book could be properly made available in the high school library and our public library.
I thank Mr. Wernig for his politically motivated remarks in support of his political allies of the government education industry and their empathizers. If not for his remarks suggesting book banning outside of the public school curriculum was at issue, which clearly rubbed salt into the wounds of Mr. Baer, Mr. Baer may not have gotten himself so further incensed and then arrested in front of the TV cameras of WMUR. Often times it is more valid to: "Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice."
In their attempt to save themselves some embarrassment, to limit the amount of proper rebuke they were due, and to limit the timeframe of the meeting for their own convenience, the Gilford School Board helped create and escalate this "ridiculous" situation to an airing of our dirty laundry "soap opera" across the entire state. There actually was film at 11 and on the television news again the next day. Many of us hope these "ridiculous" charges are dropped against Mr. Baer. Prosecuting him will just be more of the same in escalating the sense of outrage so many of the voters of Gilford are feeling on these issues.
Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 08:18
To The Daily Sun,
In this world where childhood obesity is on the rise, is cutting back on physical education and health education opportunities a good decision?
At Woodland Heights School, all the specialists' positions are being cut to four-fifths time employment. This is being done as a way to compensate for budgetary constraints. "They" say that this cutback will not have an impact of the specials opportunities that children receive, or will it?
My first concern I will raise is the fact that Pleasant Street School and Elm Street School students have physical education class two times per week while Woodland Heights School has it only once. In this day when the district is trying to get all of the elementary schools to be cohesive and run more uniformly, why this major discrepancy between schools? Do parents at WHS know that their child has PE only once a week while the other elementary schools have it twice? If they did, would this concern them? I can tell you that it concerns this parent.
My second concern is that the "powers-that-be" are just looking at a paper schedule and seeing a lot of open holes in the specialist schedules. They are not seeing the endless enrichment opportunities that the specialists are doing above and beyond the paper schedule. If the PE teacher's time gets cut, gone are the health education classes that are happening in conjunction with the UNH Cooperative Extension and the extra PE classes that some of the classes are receiving.
I love that my child is able to get exposure to music, art and library. The question I raise: Is there really a need for computer class at the elementary level? I had been thinking recently that I would love to see the district get rid of computer class, an ungraded class lasting 40 minutes per week, and replace it with a health class. Research has shown the positive impact that a consistent health curriculum can have at the elementary level. Obviously, with the cut-backs, this dream will not come to fruition. Is the Laconia School District blinded by the technology bug, this bug that is infecting our children, sucking the life out of them... literally. This heavy emphasis on technology is causing our children to be less physically active, less socially aware, less able to sit and hold their attention and reinforces the need for instant gratification.
In this day and age, computers are a way of life, I understand that they are here to stay. Think of it this way if you will. Computers are a tool that we use, similar to using a pencil. Do we have a specific class dedicated to using a pencil? No. Learning to use a pencil is integrated in daily classroom activities. Students' exposure to computers and technology can be handled at the main classroom level, as it is now, with classroom Netbooks and iPads allowing them to get a basic introduction. They will see and witness how technology can be used in life as their teachers use iPads, laptops, document cameras and smart boards. More in-depth computer education should then be started when they get to middle school and continuing in high school. It is no longer the 1990s and 2200s when the advancements in technology surpassed our knowledge and we needed to catch up. We are living it and learning it as part of everyday life.
Elementary school children do not need more encouragement to be on electronics, taking them further away from being physically and emotionally active and healthy. Please consider keeping physical education as a full-time position with the hope that we can even expand this and get the children moving more and more interested in health. I have offered up, in my mind, a viable option. Will Laconia School District consider it? I hope they do.
Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 08:13
To The Daily Sun,
I am a ninth-grade student at Gilford High School, who was assigned to read "Nineteen Minutes," by Jodi Picoult in my honors English class. As soon as I began reading the book, I was intrigued and could not put it down. I completed the book on Tuesday, and I have to say, it has impacted my life greatly.
I feel that a lot of schools in today's society try to pretend that school shootings do not happen, no one is bullied, and rape does not happen. In the real world, this is not reality. While this book may have depicted the extreme side of all three of these topics, I think that it is extremely important that high school students are taught about these issues in depth.
If I were a parent, flipping through my child's book and opened up to the page that describes sexual activity, I would most likely be shocked as well, especially seeing how no parents were notified beforehand. The page is more graphic than what you would normally find, but it does help to explain the story. I believe that the letters not being sent home before the assignment was indeed an accident, because permission slips were sent home before our class watched the movie, "Mississippi Burning."
However, the theme of this book is not about sex. It is about a school shooting that was caused by bullying. This one page that describes Josie and Matt's sexual activity gives readers insight into their relationship and gives a better understanding of their characters. It also explains parts of the main incident of "Nineteen Minutes," and ultimately, what happens to Matt and why. Some people may argue that this scene was too graphic and unnecessary, but the fact that that Josie was raped by Matt, is actually immensely important to the plot.
Overall, I do believe that reading this book actually has changed me for the better, and I do see people differently now. Teenagers in this day and age do not realize the impact that bullying has on the victim. I am sure that almost every person in a public school has been a bully, but also a victim, and this book makes readers think about their actions. I know I have. I don't believe that "Nineteen Minutes" is "garbage." I think that my teacher's choice of literature is very relevant to many lives of teenagers today.
Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 08:04
To The Daily Sun,
In response to state Rep. Burchell's letter from May 7, we would like the public to hear a different perspective.
The commissioner's did not attempt to make themselves custodians of any funds. They did insist on the Register of Deed's compliance with internal control issues reported by the auditors. These controls have since been implemented and the funds in question are properly in the hands of the treasurer, as the statute requires. Unfortunately, it required legal action. This is not a cost that the taxpayers should bear. This has been explained many times.
The commissioners have made great strides in maintaining the jail within the confines of the budget and are certainly planning for further repair and replacement. Rep. Burchell couldn't have missed the mark further on that issue. Every alternative that has been presented to the Jail Planning Committee has been considered, and a public meeting was held to report on each of them.
The Jail Planning Committee was appointed by the Board of Commissioners to follow the Facility Development Process recommended by the National Institute of Corrections. This was the first recommendation of David Bennett, who was hired by the Board of Commissioners. His report has been the basis for all the work that has been done in the past three years to plan for a new or renovated facility. The commissioners hired a programming consultant to work with the Belknap County Criminal Justice Committee to determine the best strategies for implementation in our particular county. We have implemented many of the recommendations from Mr. Bennett's report.
Unfortunately, Rep. Burchell has chosen to remain uninvolved and uninformed.
The Belknap County Commissioners
John Thomas, Chairman
Edward Philpot, Vice Chairman
Stephen Nedeau, Clerk
Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 08:00
To The Daily Sun,
In light of the recent negative press associated with Gilford High School, I would like to clarify that the GHS currently being depicted on the news is not the GHS I know.
GHS could not be further from the "poster child for why you should home-school your children" (Fox News). Thanks to the support, resources, and knowledge provided by the administrators and teachers of Gilford High School, the students at GHS have accomplished some remarkable feats.
The school Literary Magazine, Obsessive Image, has been named the Most Outstanding High School Literary and Artistic Magazine in America three years in a row. The play, "Almost Maine," made it to the prestigious New England Drama Festival. The athletes at Gilford High School won the 2013 Sportsmanship Award from the NHIAA. The Robotics team received national exposure at the 2013 World Competition. The Math Team finished third in Division M. The Art Department was recognized by the New Hampshire Scholastic Art Association for the outstanding work of over two dozen students. And the breadth of achievements and successes of GHS students spans far beyond only the few previously mentioned.
It saddens me that these examples of remarkable accomplishments by GHS students are not what is making national news. They attest to the remarkable work of the faculty and its affect on students. I'm not here to speak to the issue inundating news stations, except to say that I feel it has been blown out of proportion. What matters is that in the midst of all this negative attention, I acknowledge and appreciate that GHS has provided me and thousands of others with the tools and knowledge to succeed in all areas of life. I ask that as you witness the attacks on GHS, you take an objective view of the situation and remember all the outstanding accomplishments GHS has made possible for its students.
I would like to thank Gilford High School, the faculty, the administrators, the community, and the student body for fostering a community that has allowed me to grow and excel as a learner and leader.
GHS Class of 2014
Last Updated on Monday, 12 May 2014 07:56