News Archive
A welcoming message
Concord Monitor, 21.06.2012
Scholarship to benefit new American students

Inspired by two sad events in the community last year, a local couple has lit a flame to guide some of the region's newest students.

Jackie Winn, a tutor in the English Language Learners department at Concord High School, and her husband, Robert Friedlander, launched a $1,000 annual scholarship for new American students at NHTI.

When she first began tutoring students at Concord High, she and Friedlander also tried to connect older refugees and new Americans with NHTI, where they could continue learning after their high school years.

"My idea got kick-started by the incidents in Concord this fall, the graffiti on the houses," Winn said. "I knew the families whose houses were defaced and I just thought, that's just a sad reaction to having new people in the community. . . . I'm hoping that for people who want to send a welcoming message instead, this will be a vehicle.

"I can see from my perch at the high school, some of these kids are starting to have the opportunity to go to other colleges (like) Boston University, Colby-Sawyer and UNH, but for the foreseeable future, it seems like NHTI is a really good option for some of these students. A lot of them want to stay with their families, and a

lot of them are the working young adults helping their families," she said.

But there is no age or residency restriction on the scholarship; the only requirements are that the student is enrolled in a degree program and entered the country as a refugee.

"They could have already become a citizen or be new to the country completely. The point is to recognize the aspirations of people who arrived under very difficult circumstances, not of their own choice," Winn said. The scholarship is a way to show support for the city's newest refugee settlers, but also a way for Winn to pay tribute to her own ancestors, immigrants in their own time.

"They were not people who left letters behind, but I've done enough research to know they were very poor and they worked in very, very tough jobs and don't I wish somebody had given them a hand when they needed it. I've often thought I wish they could see what happened to their descendants, and I think education is the most productive way you can help people who are new to the country," she said.

The scholarship fund is named in honor of Devi Timsina, a resettled refugee who died last year after an illness.

"He was such a gentleman, and he had a lot of hopes pinned on him by his family and his community. This was a way to kind of hang onto his good influence," Winn said.

Applications for the first award of the scholarship will be accepted this summer, and the winner will be announced in the fall.

Turkish vacation

At least one Concord teacher will have a great answer to the "what I did with my summer vacation" question next year.

Jeremy Hall, a teacher at Bishop Brady High School, will spend 14 days in Turkey next month as part of the Teacher Study Tours program organized and sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Foundation, the World Affairs Council of America and the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire.

"It's hard to wrap my brain around the things I'm going to be seeing. For a world history teacher to say they are going to see a place like Istanbul, a place that was the site for so many shifts of history, the melding point of so many philosophies and empires and histories. I look at the list and I can't get my jaw off the floor," he said.

The group will also visit the ruins of Troy, a pre-historic excavation site and the Turkish capital of Ankura. As part of the application process, the teachers had to design an assignment for their students based on what they might see and learn in Turkey. Hall set up an archeology-based assignment but said he sees himself working the experience into the curriculum in more wide-ranging and subtle ways, too.

"I wanted to create a space in which they can move around and study archeological pieces like they would there, but I'm also thinking about cultural heroes to add to the world history curriculum, to get them out of the conditioned Western mindset. I'm also moderator and creator of the philosophy club at the school, so it will be really cool to come up with ideas of clashing concepts based on all of the histories and thinking that has happened there," he said.

The teachers attended a professional development workshop offered by the council before being selected to participate in the trip and after returning, the teachers will work with the council to develop cultural and educational programs that introduce Turkey to their local communities and classrooms.

It was humbling to look back on that group when he learned he had been chosen, Hall said.

"It would seem that history teachers would have a lock on this, but there were language teachers, English, science teachers in the mix. It was really great to see all of the different teachers with such different new approaches. . . . We're all fighting the good fight, trying to get the kids to think outside of their zone."

Healthy raffle

Encouraging flossing might be top on the list of healthy behaviors favored by dentists, but health is health, says local orthodontist Mike Vermette.

That's why he donated two bikes to be raffled at the Conant School health fair this spring.

And because a good deed is a good deed, however small, he called the Monitor to draw attention to the giving spirit of one of the raffle winners.

Nathan Doane, 11, has a good bike, a hand-me-down from his older brother. So when he got the phone call that he had won the raffle, he told the school to pull another.

He was hoping to ride off into the sunset, but Vermette had another idea. He called Nathan, Megan Garry, who won the girls bike, and Janvier Ahishakige, who won the second raffle for the boys bike, to his office for photos and a press conference.

Nathan didn't say much, but Janvier said he was excited to have a bike, and that he could see a healthy future on the road ahead.

"It's important to move, because on the bus you just sit, but if you ride to school you can move your legs," he said.

Room for growth

The Strong Foundations Charter School is going through a growth spurt this summer.

The school, on Riverwood Road in Pembroke, is adding six new classrooms to accommodate additional middle school students and a common area for lunches and class gatherings.

This year, the school served about 190 students in kindergarten through seventh grade, and the addition will allow it to grow to more than 200 students, and to add an eighth grade, said Executive Director Beth McClure.

The school has been looking for two years for a bigger space and had to use modular classrooms this year, she said.

After a quick investigation, school officials found that building onto their current building would be much less expensive than trying to find a new space.

Extra credit

Concord students: looking for some homework now that school is over?

The Concord School District is seeking student drawings of the new school buildings, which if chosen could appear on the banners for the opening celebration of the new Concord elementary schools.

To enter:

• You must attend Concord public schools.

• Your drawing must be on a 8½ x 11 inch sheet of paper.

• Your drawing should be in color, not black and white.

• Your drawing should reflect the theme of the school opening celebration.

Drop off or mail your drawing to Chris Rath, Superintendent, Concord School District, 38 Liberty St., Concord, 03301, by June 29.