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Pittsfield NH News

January 27, 2016

The Suncook Valley Sun News Archive is Maintained by Modern Concepts. We are NOT affliated in any way with the Suncook Valley Sun Newspaper.


The Pittsfield Area Senior Center invites you to join us for a live music performance by Bill Parker on Tuesday, February 9, at 10:30 AM. He sings a wide variety of music from the Great American songbook while playing the keyboard and harmonica.  Come, enjoy the free concert, and stay for lunch. If planning to stay for lunch, please call 435-8482 to RSVP so the meal can be planned accordingly.



Colby Clark of Pittsfield, a Freshman at American International College has been named to the Fall 2015 Dean’s List. Dean’s List students are full-time students with a grade point average between 3.3 and 4.0.



Letter To The Editor


During my morning walk I stopped to talk with Dan Schroth as he stood on Main Street with his signs supporting legalizing marijuana. While I wholeheartedly disagree with Dan on this subject (for numerous reasons) he said some things that got me thinking. He shared his sincere burden for friends who had been arrested for marijuana and are now convicted felons, removed from society. His desire, as I understood it, is to “help them get back into the fold” so he (and they) can enjoy life free from bondage. What a parallel to our separation from God (felons removed from His fold) and the freedom (from the bondage of sin) that Jesus Christ offers to those who put their trust in Him.


Scripture is clear that all have sinned and come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Everyone is guilty of breaking His Law, therefore eternally separated from Him. Like Dan, however, it grieves God to have sheep outside of His fold. In His burden for mankind, He provided us with a Remedy. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son… (John 3:16). Jesus Christ came to earth as a Man, lived a sinless life, was crucified on the cross as payment in full for our transgressions, and was raised from the dead, overcoming death (eternal separation from God). His purpose from the very beginning has been to reconcile those who believe back to our Heavenly Father (Colossians 1:19-20; II Corinthians 5:18). Do you believe this?


I appreciate Dan’s passion. If only we who do believe were so brazen to share the love of Jesus Christ with others! I pray the Lord will open the heart of understanding to those who, like Dan, want to enjoy freedom. Oh, for such enthusiasm to be used for spiritual matters!


In His fold,

Linda Small



The Dorcas Guild


The January meeting of the Dorcas Guild of the First Congregational Church of Pittsfield began with a call to order and welcome by President Mary Jo Powelson.


For devotions, Evelyn Sheehy Richard read a piece illustrating how one of God’s greatest gifts is for us to be a blessing to others. Paula Corriveau read a devotional “Wisdom in a Doughnut Shop” – concentrating on the doughnut and not the hole!


Updates were made on our shut-ins and the cards sent. Other correspondence, including various thank-yous, was read. The minutes were approved as written; the treasurer’s report provided by Bev Murdough was also accepted.


The food basket brought by Evelyn went to Nancy Fogg, who will bring it in February, next slated for Gailann Newton; the mystery package brought by Mary Jo was won by Linda Towle.


Nella Hobson reported on the purchase of new tablecloths for use at collations. There were several ideas proposed for our 2016 Service Project: “A Million Pillowcases” for local charities; care packages for the VA Home in Tilton; and blankets for veterans. Nancy made a motion to do a project concerning veterans of New Hampshire, which was approved. A motion was made and approved for a donation to the church’s Building Fund in memory of Sally Lewis, who passed away in December.


Discussion on our missions’ disbursements followed with donations going to the four local food pantries: Pittsfield, Barnstead, Chichester and Epsom; the Infant-Toddler Diaper Pantry; and the Community Action Program.


The group discussed replacing the older heavy wooden tables in the vestry and Pilgrim Room. Also discussed were the current meeting time of 7 p.m. and a possible change to 6:30 p.m. A motion was made and passed to move our monthly Tuesday evening meetings to 6:30 p.m.


The completed program guides for 2016 were distributed as we enjoyed our refreshments on the birthday theme. Our book exchange followed. We will continue to provide for the Fellowship Hour the week after our evening meetings.


The next evening meeting will be February 9 at 6:30 with “Banana Splits” as the theme. Please bring along an item or donation for the Diaper Pantry. Larger size diapers (5/6 or overnight) and wipes are needed. Wednesday workgroup meetings will begin February 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.



Raising Chickens: The Basics (free)

Monday, February 1, 2016 at 6:30 PM


At the Boscawen Municipal Complex, 116 North Main Street, 4th floor, Boscawen Dot Perkins, UNH Cooperative Extension Livestock Field Specialist, will present information about breeds, housing, and seasonal care of chickens. This talk will not cover butchering or broilers. Come listen to all the facts and many practical tips pertaining to raising chickens for eggs. Sponsored by the Boscawen Agricultural Commission. Register on-line at: Or contact Mary West at 796-2151 or email: [email protected]



Ash Wednesday Services


The First Congregational Church, 24 Main Street, Pittsfield, will observe the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday service, February 10, 7 p.m. As part of the service, there will be a time of prayer and reflection, the imposition of ashes and Holy Communion. The Rev. David Stasiak will lead the service with the addition of special music by the Chancel Choir and the JuBellation Handbell Choir. Everyone is welcome to attend.


Lent is the beginning of the 40-day season of repentance and preparation for the remembrance of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It culminates on Easter Sunday, March 27. Parking and wheelchair accessible entry are available at the rear of the church building at Chestnut Street. For more information, call the church office at 435-7471.



How Many Birds in Your Backyard?

N.H. Audubon Needs Your Help on Statewide Bird Survey!


Concord – Fill up those bird feeders and dig out your binoculars for New Hampshire Audubon’s Backyard Winter Bird Survey. This annual statewide survey will take place on Saturday, February 13, and Sunday, February 14. Biologists need assistance from citizens all over the Granite State to get a clear picture of what’s really happening with our winter birds.


Anyone can participate in the Backyard Winter Bird Survey by counting the birds in their own backyard on the survey weekend and reporting on-line or sending the results on a special reporting form to NH Audubon. To receive a copy of the reporting form and complete instructions on how to participate, send a self-addressed, stamped, long envelope to:


New Hampshire Audubon, Winter Bird Survey

84 Silk Farm Road,

Concord, NH 03301


Forms are also available at NH Audubon centers in Auburn, Concord and Manchester, and on-line. Find more information about the survey at under Birding.


Data from the Backyard Winter Bird Survey is used to track changes in the distribution and abundance of many species. Each year about 1,400 observers across the state count the birds coming to their feeders. “The strength of the survey is that we can look at trends over the long term,” says Survey Coordinator, Rebecca Suomala. “We now have almost 30 years of data and we can see the patterns of ups and downs in different bird species.”


Last winter, for the second winter in a row, new record high counts were recorded for several of our more common winter birds, including Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, and Northern Cardinal. For the cardinal and titmouse, these increases were more evident in southern regions than in the north. According to Dr. Pamela Hunt, Senior Biologist at NH Audubon, “These two species have been increasing for decades, and the reasons probably have something to do with climate change, suburbanization, bird feeders, or some combination.” Red-bellied Woodpecker set another record last year as the Backyard Winter Bird Survey documents their gradual move north. This species was recorded in Coos County for the first time in 2015.


Reports of a lack of birds are just as valuable as reports of many birds. “If everyone reported only when they have a lot of birds, we wouldn’t be able to see the declines,” says Suomala. The most important thing is to participate each year regardless of how many or how few birds you have. This provides a consistent long-term set of data that shows both the ups and downs.


All New Hampshire residents are encouraged to take part. Results from past years are on the NH Audubon web site. For more information about the Backyard Winter Bird Survey, please call NH Audubon at 224-9909 or go to the web site at and click on Birding.


Note: There are two bird surveys in February. NH Audubon’s Backyard Winter Bird Survey that takes place in New Hampshire only, and the Great Backyard Bird Count, a nation-wide web-based survey;


About New Hampshire Audubon

New Hampshire Audubon is a nonprofit statewide membership organization dedicated to the protection of New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. Independent of the National Audubon Society, New Hampshire Audubon has offered programs in wildlife conservation, land protection, environmental policy, and environmental education since 1914. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults in schools and at four nature centers throughout the state. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. New Hampshire Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on New Hampshire Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit



Boosting Happiness Through Emotional Wellness


The Pittsfield Area Senior Center is hosting a Concord Regional Visiting Nurses Association program called, “Boosting Happiness Through Emotional Wellness” on Tuesday, February 16, at 10:30 AM.  Much like the seasons, people constantly experience changes in their lives. Emotional wellness is having ability to understand ourselves and cope with the challenges that life can bring. As an individual ages the opportunity to encounter, a major challenge increases. This can include having to leave one’s home, loss of a loved one, diagnoses of a disease, or a case of winter blues. All of these factors can have a strong impact not only on our bodies, but on our minds as well. Despite the obstacles, your emotional well-being is a crucial factor of your overall health and this workshop will discuss different strategies to manage our emotional health in the face of change and a challenge. Please call the Pittsfield Senior Center at 435-8482 by February 11th if planning on attending so that the workshop will not be cancelled.



Personal Transformation Intensive Free Introductory Experience

A Wellness Institute trademarked program, offered in several states in the US and several countries worldwide.


P.T.I. is a powerful Heart-Centered Personal Program. Come learn how this program can transform you. In this program one will experience heart-centered community and these powerful techniques: HeartCentered, Hypnotherapy, Breath Therapy, Energetic trance induced psychodrama, subtle body energy work and meditation.


The free introductory experience will be February 7, 3-4:15pm at Sage Welleness Center & Spa, LLC, 175 Barnstead Road, Pittsfield.


This program is co-facilitated by Linda Tremblay, LCMHC, MLADC, ACHT and Jerome Croan, LICSW, ACHT.



What Happens When Instead Of Suspensions, Kids Talk Out Their Mistakes?


New Hampshire high school asks students to talk, listen and make amends By Emily Richmond This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. © 2015 Emily Richmond, as first published by The Atlantic.


When freshman Hope Parent left her cellphone unattended at Pittsfield Middle High School, last year, her classmate Brandon Bojarsky saw his chance for a little fun.


Grabbing the device off a windowsill in their Spanish class, he quickly shot off a few obnoxious text messages to people in her contact list — including one to Hope’s mother.


By the time Hope figured out what Brandon had done, her phone battery had died. She couldn’t immediately follow up with people to tell them the unkind words hadn’t originated with her.


But even worse, her mother — who lives out of state — was deeply upset. Brandon had texted “I hate you” to her, particularly hurtful language at the time.


“The relationship with my mother wasn’t that great so [the message] seemed believable,” Hope said.


At home after school, Hope had to convince her father she had nothing to do with the prank message to her mother. In the following days, having to encounter an apparently unremorseful Brandon at school made it impossible to forget the incident had happened, Hope said. She took her complaint to a teacher who had a suggestion: What if the school’s new justice committee heard the case?




In traditional school discipline programs, students face an escalating scale of punishments for infractions that can ultimately lead to expulsion. But there is now strong research that shows pulling students out of class as punishment can hurt their long-term academic prospects. What’s more, data show that punishments are often unequal. Nationally, more black students are suspended than white students, for example.


As a result, alternative programs like restorative justice are gaining popularity in public schools from Maine to Oregon. Early adopters of the practice report dramatic declines in school discipline problems, as well as improved climates on campuses and even gains in student achievement.


In 2009, Pittsfield was rated one of New Hampshire’s weakest campuses. A massive influx of federal aid and private grants (including the New England-based Nellie Mae Education Foundation) has since been poured into the rural school, located in a former mill town in the state’s Suncook Valley.


For the past year, The Hechinger Report has been following Pittsfield’s transformation into a “student-centered learning” environment. The 260 students at Pittsfield are given more choices of how and when they learn, and they are encouraged to pursue their interests through project-based learning and internships.


The student-centered learning approach now also extends to campus discipline. Lower-level offenses can be redirected to the justice committee, which is made up of student mediators, with school administrators and teachers serving as advisors. The goal is to provide a nonconfrontational forum for students to talk through their problems, address their underlying reasons for their own behaviors, and make amends both to individuals who have been affected as well as to the larger school community.


In addition to the growing body of research supporting the benefits of alternative campus discipline programs, there is now federal pressure for districts to rethink their practices: schools may face sanctions if discipline policies are found to unfairly target minority students. That is a significant milestone, said attorney Thena Robinson-Mock of the Advancement Project, a national civil rights organization.


“Students are learning what conflict resolution really means, as well as critical social-emotional skills,” Robinson-Mock said. “They’re developing empathy for their peers, and building trust and understanding. Those are essential skills that everybody needs.”


That being said, “you can’t crash-course your way through restorative justice,” Robinson-Mock added. “One PowerPoint training won’t produce a transformation in school culture. It really has to be something that everyone inside of the school building is a part of, and really buys into and supports.”




Brandon wasn’t sure at first that he wanted his case heard by his peers at Pittsfield.


He’d been in trouble before and the punishments, usually in-school suspension or having to show up for an all-day study hall on the weekend, were bearable. But this time things were different. Not only was Hope mad at him, but so was her father.


“Whenever I saw him I was thinking about what I did,” Brandon said. “It was hanging over me all the time.”


(When asked just how often he crossed paths with his classmate’s father in Pittsfield — a town where the population hovers around 4,500 — Brandon laughed: “Like, every day. He’s my mailman.”) Pittsfield’s justice committee meetings are held in a circle. It’s expected that only one person has the floor at a time, and interruptions are discouraged. Early in the planning process, the Pittsfield students opted to write a loose outline for each meeting, including a list of questions that all parties would be expected to answer. The idea for a more formal script was dropped when the committee began its actual work and students realized it was limiting eye contact among the participants.


When the committee reviewed Brandon’s cellphone prank, Hope, as the affected party, was asked to speak first to describe the incident and how it impacted her. Sitting across from Hope, Brandon was then given an opportunity to respond. The peer mediators questioned him: What were you thinking when you took Hope’s phone? How do you feel about what’s happened? Who do you think has been affected by your actions?


Those were tough questions to answer, Brandon said. It also wasn’t easy to hear Hope’s side of things.


“I felt like crap,” Brandon said. “I thought I was doing something funny, and then I realized how badly it affected her and her family and I felt really bad. I thought what I was doing was a joke but it went too far.”


In addition to deciding that Brandon needed to make amends, the committee also determined that Hope had broken a school rule by having her cellphone out in class, and that she needed to take responsibility for that.


“That astonished Brandon,” recalled Jenny Wellington, who is in her fifth year teaching English at Pittsfield and advises the justice committee. “I think it also made the kids see that the process was more deliberate and thoughtful than just handing out punishments.”


To be sure, restorative justice isn’t an easy fix. It took time to convince Pittsfield’s broader community that the investment of resources would be worthwhile. There were multiple meetings with students and staff over the course of several years, as well as community forums to help parents prepare for the change.


“People were afraid this was going to be a ‘hippy-dippy granola, nobody’s going to get into trouble’ concept,” said Wellington. “This wouldn’t have been successful if we didn’t start slowly and make sure everyone was really on board.”


Pittsfield’s students and staff underwent training through the Center for School Climate and Learning in Henniker, New Hampshire, and researched restorative justice programs in other school districts, including Chicago. The justice committee officially launched in 2014.


Anyone at Pittsfield, student or staff, can fill out a community concern form and submit it for possible referral to the committee. (Major infractions or ones that involve potential criminal offenses are not eligible.) If all parties don’t agree to participate, the school’s more traditional discipline structure is followed.


Since last fall, Pittsfield’s committee has handled a dozen mediations stemming from interpersonal disputes among students, as well as five cases involving students and teachers. In cases in which students raise concerns about teachers, the staff member can opt to either participate in the full committee (as most of them have) or talk with the student in a more private meeting.


Students who serve on the committee say participating in the discussion circles has made them better listeners and more thoughtful about their own behavior both in and out of school.


“You definitely think twice about how you’re going to handle a situation,” said Raquel Sheridan, a junior at Pittsfield. “If there’s somebody I’m not getting along with, before I might have freaked out and said things I shouldn’t have said. Now I ask, ‘What would I do in a JC [justice committee] situation?’ You wouldn’t lash out at them. You would stop and think about what you’re going to say.”


Restorative justice programs are not without risk, particularly in school settings, and poor implementation can actually make problems worse, according to some experts. In Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, it’s been a bumpy two years since suspensions for classroom misbehavior were banned in favor of a restorative justice model.


Policy analyst Andrew Rotherham of Bellwether Education Partners in Washington, D.C., said that while he’s seen strong school-based restorative justice programs in action, he has concerns about the sudden popularity of — and political pressure for — alternative programs.


“We have a proven track record in the American education system of taking things that are working, replicating them quickly and badly and consequently discrediting the otherwise good idea,” said Rotherham, who was a policy advisor to the Clinton White House. “Restorative justice has become a hot issue and everyone wants to do it — but it may not be what every school needs.”


Kathy Evans, an assistant professor at Eastern Mennonite University, which offers a graduate certification program in restorative justice for educators, shares Rotherham’s concerns. Restorative justice can’t exist in a vacuum, Evans said. Schools also have to address the campus climate issues that contribute to student behavior.


Quantifying the number of schools using restorative justice is difficult. In addition to the large-scale district programs that have been well-documented, many teachers are opting to use the model in their individual classrooms. That’s one of the reasons why a group of restorative justice advocates and educators met last summer to begin outlining plans for a national association, according to Evans. The goal is to support grassroots efforts and to ensure that there’s both consistency and accountability for restorative justice programs in schools.


Evans said she observed a restorative justice circle at a school recently in which the students were still looking to the teacher for permission to speak. That’s a red flag, she said.


“Educators do this quick-and-dirty one-day training and they think they’re qualified to do restorative justice work — they’re doing the best they can with what they do know,” she said. “But the circles are supposed to equalize the power and give students the right to speak. That didn’t happen.”


To be sure, it takes time to build trust among students and adults for alternative discipline programs to bear fruit. A school like Pittsfield where student-centered learning is the norm has a head start, said Evans, but restorative justice can — and does — work in many different kinds of campus settings.


“We often assume adolescents aren’t capable of these kinds of thoughtful interactions, but they just need to be given the opportunity to develop that capacity,” Evans said. “We need to stop underestimating students and trying to motivate and regulate them with carrots and sticks.”




After hearing from both Hope and Brandon, Pittsfield’s student mediators asked Hope what she needed to resolve the situation from her perspective, and she said she wanted Brandon to apologize. The peer mediators suggested he write letters to the people who had received the prank texts.


That would work for her mother who lives out of state, Hope told the committee. But her father would want something more.


The student mediators agreed that a face-to-face apology was in order. Brandon admitted that he was nervous to face Hope’s dad, but when the time came “he was actually really nice about it. He accepted my apology and we had a good talk.”


Additionally, the mediators decided Brandon should talk to students in younger grades about what he had done and use the experience as a life lesson.


As he completed each of the obligations, Brandon found it easier to meet Hope’s gaze when he saw her at school. He also said he realized something else — he didn’t want to be in trouble anymore. (In fact, that incident was his last serious infraction, said committee advisor Jenny Wellington.) Hope was impressed with how seriously Brandon took his duties — and her dad was, as well. “A lot of kids would have just taken the suspension and not owned up to what they did,” she said.


Taking part in the restorative justice process has also left them on better terms. Now both in 10th-grade, they say “hi” when passing in the hallway between classes, and Hope said she’s no longer angry. Those feelings probably would still be lingering if Brandon had only been given a more traditional punishment like detention, Hope said.


Brandon agreed.


“When you’re mad at another person and you’re walking down the hallway, you don’t even want to look at them,” Brandon said. “So when you talk it out in JC, it’s like the good relationship you had with the other person is restored.”



Letter To The Editor


On Wednesday February 3rd the Pittsfield Municipal Budget Committee will hold its annual public hearing on the municipal and school budgets.  Department heads, Selectmen, School Board members and members of the Budget Committee have been working hard on putting together budgets to present at the Town and School meetings in March.  After much hard work by both the School and the Town, the Budget Committee is still concerned about increases in both the Town and School Budgets that could ultimately increase your tax bill.


We are working hard on additional adjustments to both budgets but, truly want to hear from you the public as what you think of the budgets as they stand now.  So please attend the budget hearings on February 3rd (snow date February 4th), starting at 7:00 PM in the Lecture hall at Pittsfield Middle High School.  After we have heard your comments, we will be making our final recommendations at our next meeting(s). We hope you can attend.


The Town of Pittsfield Budget Committee








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