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Volume 7 Number 43 May 7, 2010 14 Pages
Alex the Jester
by Robyn Hatch
The Nesmith Library in Windham recently presented an incredible program—“Alex the Jester.” This was a comedy and mime that featured amazing stunts fi lled with outrageous, offbeat, and silly surprises. Alex the Jester, a distinctive character, kept his audience laughing at a non-stop stream of surprises. Connecting all these escapades with a wild sounding, gibberish language called Grammelot, the humor was universal. Alex the Jester has been lucky enough to go to international comedy festivals in Quebec and France, and has also done frequent tours in Australia, Europe, New Zealand, Singapore, and Japan. He handles the crowd like a master and shows how brilliant foolery can be. Historians believe that jesters entertained prehistoric tribal society with their Wise Fool antics. What is certain, though, is that court jesters grew and fl ourished in the Middle Ages as well-paid attendants of Europe’s Royal Courts. Power was highly consolidated in medieval times, and social mobility was diffi cult. A child of peasants was likely to become a peasant, and stone masons gave the world more masons, just as royalty bred royalty. In contrast, jesters could move up the social ladder. They came from a wide range of backgrounds—from peasant farms and monasteries to universities. Quite a few had physical deformities and learned to bring laughs from what otherwise could have been an unfortunate situation. Usually, they climbed up the social ladder and were prized for their outsider’s humorous take on life.
Not all jesters were so lucky to do lunch with the royals. Most subsisted by performing in the marketplace or town square, showcasing their art on a simple stage. These resourceful jesters would gather an audience with clever, attention-grabbing techniques, and after enough curious bystanders gathered, they would begin their show, which readily climbed to a climax, and at which point they would solicit donations from the crowd. If an especially amusing jester was lucky enough to be seen by a royal court representative, he could get an invitation to audition as a court jester.
Most European royal courts hired jesters to perform at palace parties and celebrations. They were paid well and often wore elegant costumes inspired by the patchwork of their poorer brethren. Added to their wit, most had developed several additional performance skills—they played lutes and fl utes, danced, juggled, sang songs, and did vocal tricks.
As kings’ and queens’ confi dantes, jesters often developed
Victoria InDelicato, Julia McCarter, and Olivia McCarter
Alex the Jester
friendships with them. The royals often became tired of the fake compliments and praise from their many associates, and valued a connection with these offbeat performers who, between witty wisecracks, would share valuable insights. At the Nesmith Library, Alex the Jester entertained all who attended, as well as shared a signifi cant piece of history to the children.
Town Offi cials
to Borrow Money
by Barbara O’Brien
Explaining that it is not uncommon
for town coffers to run low on cash this time of year, Windham Assistant Town Administrator Dana Call said that there is a strong possibility that money may need to be borrowed in anticipation of tax revenue again this year. Tax Anticipation Notes, or TANs, as they are commonly known in fi nancial circles, help communities to get through brief periods of time; those couple of weeks shortly before real estate tax revenue begins to arrive at the local tax collector’s offi ce. The period of time during which cash traditionally becomes tight is from June 1, when tax bills are issued to residents, to July 1, when those bills are due. Last year, Call said, town offi cials had to borrow money for a period of 16 days; a similar amount of time to what is expected this year. The money borrowed in TANs during 2009 cost taxpayers about $1,500 in interest.
What complicates the fi nancial picture for the town, Call said, is that the Windham School District, which operates on a fi scal year (July
1 to June 30) needs to withdraw a substantial amount of money this time of year. Call said that a large balloon payroll allocation for the school district is due on June 3; a situation that will substantially deplete that account. “I’m relatively certain that we’re going to run out of cash,” Call said. Call said that she will do
everything she can to keep the number of days that any money in anticipation of taxes will need to be borrowed, thereby also keeping down the amount of interest to be paid. Call said she planned to get quotes from several banks in the area in an attempt to get the best deal. Selectman Roger Hohenberger asked if the need to borrow TANs could be avoided by changing the due date of tax bills to one month earlier. In other words, tax bills would be mailed to residents on May 1, with a due date of June 1 rather than July 1. Call said she would check with the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Assessment (DRA) to see “if there is any fl exibility” in setting the date that semi-annual tax payments are due.
for Conservation Commission Positions
by Lynne Ober
It’s that time of year again—board
vacancies need to be fi lled and Pelham selectmen have been busily interviewing applicants and making appointments. There are two vacant positions on the Conservation Commission and two applicants. Glennie Edwards and Heidi
Alex entertains the crowd
Enriching Students through
Creative Problem Solving
by Karen Plumley
Pelham Elementary School enrichment teacher Holly Doe
knows how to be creative. Finding a better role model for the over 900 elementary students she sees weekly would be a harder challenge than any of the enrichment projects currently underway in her classroom. Running an enrichment program for so many students, while keeping it on the cutting edge, fresh and interesting with very limited funds is a real world challenge that Doe has apparently overcome. Doe, who is in her fi rst year as the school’s enrichment teacher, wasted no time searching for money for a creative problem- solving program for her fi ve
Patrick Dunne uses the state-of- the-art Mimio – a smart white board – to solve the computerized
version of Rush Hour during enrichment
period, supervised by Pelham
Elementary teacher Holly Doe (not pictured)
Ramich were interviewed for the positions. Edwards was seeking re-appointment. Selectman Ed Gleason asked Edwards if there was something the selectmen could do to be more supportive or helpful to the commission and its work. However, Edwards didn’t feel the selectmen could do much more than they had for the commission. She noted that selectmen have always been supportive, and then discussed the high waters throughout the town. Edwards said that she had been visiting certain areas and speaking with the residents so that she could understand fl ooding issues and gather information that could be used by the commission. She said enjoyed
the contact. Selectman Hal Lynde asked
Ramich about www.350.org
, and she told him that said it was a concept that Pelham could consider, as it has benefi ts for conservation and emergency management. She explained the initiative behind 350. Ramich also said that she had Web expertise that could potentially add value for the Conservation Commission, as well as being useful to other boards.
When Selectman Gleason asked
Ramich about her reasons for volunteering for the Board, she said that she was looking to become more involved with the town, and because of her involvement with 350 and its principles, found the Conservation Commission to be interesting. When Gleason moved to appoint Edwards and Ramich to the Conservation Commission for a period of three years, Lynde seconded and the Board passed the motion unanimously.
Second in District
In one enrichment group, fourth-grade friends Amy Granfi eld, Dakota Cummings, and Caroline Joncas work to solve a challenging Rush Hour puzzle
grades of students. Her hunt was successful. She found a grant online offered to schools for creative projects by the LEGO Foundation (provided by the Lego Children’s Fund). She applied, writing a descriptive essay of her plan, and effectively explaining why Pelham Elementary should receive $2,507 for a state-of-the-art Mimio interactive whiteboard and Mensa Society select, award-winning mathematical games such as Rush Hour, Tic Tac Ku, and a puzzle game called 36 Cube. Her campaign was a
continued to page 10- Creative Problem Solving
submitted by Jim Curtin
Tiger Cub Curtis Shattuck from Windham Pack 263 took a second-place fi nish
overall out of 72 Scouts competing at the Nutfi eld District Pinewood Derby in Salem.
staff photos by Karen Plumley
staff photos by Robyn Hatch
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