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Pelham - Windham News March 4, 2011 - 7

Coming Home: New Teen Leader Ignites Ministry at St. Patrick’s

by Sue Krzeminski A weather-worn plaque above the entryway

invites all visitors into St. Patrick’s Church in Pelham. Its Welcome Home message seems personally directed at the parish’s new teen minister, Lisa Zolkos. After spending much of her childhood in the South, Lisa has returned to the town where she was born and where her family tree is firmly rooted three generations back. It was in Pelham as a second grader that she received her First Holy Communion on the altar at St. Patrick’s. In September, Lisa began a teen ministry

program at St. Patrick’s that she anticipates will take firm roots of its own over time. “I simply hope to create an atmosphere where kids feel welcome,” she explained. “I want these kids’ faith to build naturally and spill over into all aspects of their life.” The ninth through 12th graders in teen ministry,

who usually meet twice a month, have already sponsored several community service events; an upcoming 30-hour fast on March 26 will benefit the Pelham Food Pantry. On March 8, a Mardi Gras celebration will give children and young families a chance to dress up, play games, and eat traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras food before Lent begins the next day. Those who participate in teen ministry can earn confirmation and community service hours for their efforts. Some of

A stained-glass window in St. Patrick’s Church reminds Teen Minister Lisa Zolkos of her extended family. It was donated by her grandparents, Charles J. and Terese Zolkos, in honor of her great grandparents, Mary and John

the events are opportunities for the teens to bond with each other and fellow church members, such as game nights, a movie night at Chunky’s, and a

High Tea with adult parishioners. Youth ministry has been a big part of Lisa’s

own history. In 1979, her family moved from Pelham to Florida after she finished third grade. As a teenager, she became very involved in youth ministry at her parish of Saint Paul’s in Tampa. This carried over into her college years at Mercer University in Georgia. While studying pre-law, she participated in a college ministry touring troop that put on cultural skits for the poor areas of Macon. She and her classmates put on skits for elementary school children geared toward their Afro-centric culture and faith formation. “We’d sit and talk with them, and I felt so connected to those kids,” Lisa explained. “It was an amazing experience.” And so, her passion for teaching and ministering had been ignited. Deciding that law wasn’t the right path, Lisa left to pursue her theology degree, ultimately completing her graduate work at Loyola University in 2010. When Lisa, along with her four children, returned to New Hampshire in 2007, she once again became an active member of St. Patrick’s Parish. Surprised and disappointed to learn that no youth ministry existed at the church, she was determined to start one. This past summer, she brought up the idea at a Pastoral Council meeting, and St. Patrick’s newly arrived pastor, a “very supportive” Father Anthony Kuzia, was on

School Warrant Article Amended

by Barbara O’Brien A citizen-petitioned warrant article, that was intended to transfer money already allocated for school district expenditures and combine those funds into a single existing account, was judged not to serve its purpose and, therefore, amended during last month’s Windham School District Deliberative Session. The author of the proposed warrant article (#6), former Windham School Board member Barbara Coish came to the microphone during the deliberative session and explained the issue to those in attendance. Coish said that under her original proposal, the transferred money would go into the school district’s general fund and not into the School Building and Maintenance Fund as she and other signers of the petition wanted. The Building and Maintenance Fund was established by school district meeting vote in 2007. Under the original proposal, both capital reserve funds would have been closed.

According to information presented by Coish, there is approximately $28,000 remaining in

the existing Driveway/Parking Lot Paving Capital Reserve Fund. This fund was created for a specific use at Windham Middle School, and was established in March 2006. Another $1,500 also presently sits in the School Septic Capital Reserve Fund for a total in the two accounts of approximately $43,000. The parking lot at the Middle School has already been finished. Future septic improvements remain on the agenda. School District Attorney Dean Eggert said that

it would be illegal to change the purpose of the original warrant article, but that some rearranging of wording would be permissible. “It’s a close call,” Eggert said, then allowed School District Moderator Betty Dunn to make the decision on whether or not the proposed warrant article would be amended. Dunn told those in attendance that she would “allow the amendment to be considered.”

Based on the amendment put forth by Coish,

voters are now being asked to recommend that the Windham School Board submit a warrant article to the 2012 School District Meeting, re-purposing all

Reasons to Re-Elect Cindy Couture

As a long-time member of the School Board, I am proud of many accomplishments.

access to what the School Board was doing.

I have always tried to make sure the community had In 1994 before I was a Board

member, I was invited by another parent to help record School Board meetings to create a video library for the public to borrow and view their elected officials at work.

I continued that effort and in 2001, I became

a member of the Cable Committee and still continue as a liaison to the school district. Through my work on the Cable Committee, I made sure School Board meetings were recorded and broadcast over the local access channels so citizens could see firsthand their elected officials in action.


worked to provide additional community access to the schools by helping students develop the original school district Website. Upon election as chair of the School Board in 2004, I began the practice

of requiring all Board members to sign and acknowledge the School Board ethics policy and code of conduct; as well as practice of annual Board member training and legal review of Board responsibilities.

I also

instituted monthly policy meetings to bring district policy that was as much as 20 years out of date up to current standards. These actions encouraged the Board to act as professionals focused on their core responsibilities. I have pushed to increase educational standards in our schools, with

increased passing grades at the high school from 60 percent to 65 percent; increased high school graduation credit requirements; required middle school students to pass the majority of core courses or go to summer school or repeat a grade before being promoted to the next grade; and adopting a curriculum review cycle to be sure curriculum was updated and improved on a consistent schedule. We have seen test scores climb, and graduation rates as well as college acceptance rate increase dramatically. Our high school has received numerous awards and is considered a leader in grading and standards that the NH Department of Education encourages other New Hampshire schools to follow. Fiscal responsibility is making sure budgets are reasonable and quality

education is supported. Since my time on the Budget Committee, I have kept a database of historical school spending and use it as a tool to analyze school budgets for areas that can be reduced. As Board Chair, I pushed Board members to bring line-by-line reductions to budget work sessions for discussion.

table while making sure the integrity of important educational programs is maintained.

but $1 in the School Septic System Capital Reserve Fund and all except $1 in the Middle School Driveway/Parking Lot Paving Capital Reserve Fund and transferring the remaining accumulated funds to the School Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Fund. On a voice vote at the

deliberative session, those who attended approved replacing the original warrant article with the amendment. It was noted, however, that even if passed by voters, it would only be advisory to the Windham School Board. School Board Vice Chairman Ed Gallagher said he believes the accumulated money will be needed for its original intended purposes and feels that Board members “will make proper use of these funds” when the

appropriate time arises.

In order to pass a citizen-petitioned warrant article, a two-thirds majority is required.

Lucia’s Bodega Help Wanted

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30 Indian Rock Rd. Windham,NH next to Dunkin Donuts Opening Soon!

board right away. Lisa was thrilled and, without hesitation, accepted his offer to undertake a new teen ministry program. “I went with my gut,” she said. “If I believe in something, I’ll find a way to get it done.”

In addition to her work with teen ministry, Lisa teaches theology at the Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro. After filling in for a teacher who was on maternity leave, she “fell head-over- heels in love” with teaching. She encourages her students to express their faiths in ways that they find comfortable. All the homework she assigns is subjective and experience-based because she wants them to relate to what they are learning. For someone who has a deep-seeded need to soak up knowledge and explore her faith, Lisa has found her ideal path as a teacher and a spiritual leader. For her, leading the teen ministry at St. Patrick’s is a dream come true. “My hope is that these kids’ faith becomes an intimate and intricate part of who they are,” she said. “We want our youth to grow to accept their faith in their hearts, and not because mom or dad or grandma told them that’s what they’re supposed to believe. Our faith journey is never more necessary or vital to our lives as when we’re struggling through adolescence; I hope the youth of Saint Patrick’s find a path that leads them to self-discovery of their own faith here in Teen Ministry.”

I have always brought the most reductions to the I wrote a successful grant to build the climbing wall at the

high school because seeking other sources of revenue to supplement the budget helps keep costs down. When state initiatives impact local communities, I have gone to the

statehouse and testified on Litchfield’s behalf and stay in contact with local legislators about education. As the president of the NH School Board’s Association, I have met on several occasions with our Federal representatives and been able to bring Litchfield’s story and New Hampshire’s educational needs to Washington, DC. I am proud of Litchfield’s schools and would like to continue to work for the children and citizens of Litchfield. I ask you to re-elect me to the Litchfield School Board on Tuesday, March 8.

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