STOPPING BY A COUPLE OF SCHOOLS
Senators happily get involved with many opportunities to participate in community events. Among the most enjoyable is to visit area schools. I recently visited schools in Newport and Claremont.
Steve Lizotte is a bus driver for the Claremont School District. In May, he drove the bus to bring a group of fourth graders from the Maple Avenue Elementary School to Concord so they could visit the State House and pick up information on New Hampshire state government and history.
While touring the State House, Steve inquired about the possibility of getting a new state flag for the school. That is a regular request from schools and Senators are always happy to secure a flag. I purchased a flag and it was flown over the State House in late May. Time passed too quickly for a presentation before school closed for the summer vacation.
Last week, I had the opportunity to finally present the flag. The students were brought together for an assembly. I have never been in a room with a couple hundred students so attentive and well behaved. The principal, Cathie Davignon, managed to hold the students’ attention through songs, recitations and the flag presentation. Student behavior management is a critical part of having a successful school and helping young people personally learn important skills that will help them succeed in life.
Congratulations to Principal Davignon and the faculty, staff and students at Maple Avenue Elementary School for their efforts. And special thanks to Steve Lizotte for suggesting the school could use a new state flag.
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On Saturday, I was off to the “grand opening” of the Richards School Addition in Newport . It took years for school official s to get voters’ support for the $8 million expansion and renovation project. And from my tour following the ribbon cutting I can say Richards School is a vastly improved building to house the learning process for Newport students in kindergarten through 4th grade.
I was lucky and had a personal tour led by Anastasia Marino, a fourth grade student at Richards. She took us through the building and out to the new playground. To see and learn about the renovations through the eyes of a fourth grader was very helpful.
The computer room, for example, will have 24 stations. For someone my age, that commitment of space reflects the vast changes in education from a pre-technology era that many of us are familiar with. But we all know the ability to use technology is fundamental to a good education.
The new multi-purpose room with basketball hoops at each end and a beautiful stage for plays and presentations emphasizes the importance of wisely using every foot of space. Likewise, the two tiered cafeteria seems to be a creative use of space, too. And an expanded music room is also a more welcoming space than the room was before the renovations.
Originally built in 1896, the Richards School has been the place for thousands of Newporters to get their early education. There were visitors on Saturday who had “graduated” from Richards in the 1940’s with plenty of stories of those old days. Now, a new generation of students will benefit from the investment of the community in the school. Bob Collins, Newport School Board Chair, summed it up saying that all involved “did well.”
What is the state’s role in the expansion and renovation? The state provides 60% reimbursement, in the case of the Richards School , of the costs of construction. I am one of two Senators currently serving on the Commission to Study Funding of School Building Aid. Representative Randy Foose (New London) is one of three House members serving on the seven member commission.
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