Pelham - Windham News July 29, 2011 - 5
In My Opinion...
by Matthew R. Haefner Unlike the golden days of the mid-to-late 20th century, the early 2000s have been the victim of a horrible virus. It is not H1N1 or the Avian Flu I am referring to. Nope. We have been struck with a problem much more severe: a bad case of political apathy. A socially contagious disease wherein many voters and citizens simply no longer care to take an active, involved role in their government and community.
As one of the most politically active generations ever seen, the
“baby boomer” generation will soon start fading away. In their place, they are leaving a new, changed nation in the hands of today’s youth—a nation dominated by a monstrous debt, an out-of-control deficit, high unemployment, and a backwards political culture filled with sex scandals, corruption, and backroom deals. Unfortunately, nowadays, you are often nothing short of hard-pressed to find a young person who is genuinely interested in taking an active role in their community. I mean, with XBox 360s, PlayStation 3s, and a sideways political culture, who can really blame them? So, parents—please show this to your children! Children—consider this your call to action! As a 19-year-old Hudson native and a sophomore at the
University of Montana, I know what it means to be involved with my community. I am an Eagle Scout, I spent two years as Alvirne’s Student Representative to the School Board, I am an active member of the Hudson Grange, and a dedicated member of the Hudson Republican Town Committee. In college, I serve my peers as one of 20 elected Student Senators; I am an officer and a Founding Father of my fraternity, the State Recruitment Chair of the Montana College Republican Federation, and a nationally published political blog contributor. Political ideals aside, I know what it means to get involved.
One of the things I can tell you with confidence is that your community needs you. A new age of society and government is coming, and as children of the 21st century, the ball is rapidly approaching our side of the court. As comfortable as today’s lifestyle of laziness and complacency may be, we can no longer afford to sit around not caring about what happens in Washington (or Concord, or even Hudson, for that matter). Every single vote that takes place in Washington will affect you.
Every single decision made by our representatives in Concord today will affect you and your children in the future. It is sad to see that
by Matthew R. Haefner The Apathy of Youth: A Call to Action
we have been drawn into a lifestyle that thinks otherwise. We are not invincible. In reality, we are more vulnerable than ever, and the only reason our situation is getting worse is because our generation constantly refuses to take a stance on the issues that matter. We refuse to get involved. So what should we do? Take it from me. It does not take much time or effort to get
involved. Frankly, I don’t care which party you belong to— Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, Ralph Nader—we may not agree with what each other have to say, but we are all in this together. This is our nation, our government, and our time to shine. I often hear my peers tell me that they don’t have the time to get
involved. Well, allow me to tell you otherwise. Unless you work 90 hours a week, everybody has the time to get involved in some form, and to say that you don’t would be a lie. It could be as simple as placing a sign in your yard during campaign season, or making phone calls for a candidate you believe should be elected to office. You could write your Congressman in regards to legislation you feel strongly on, or write a Letter to the Editor in your local paper once in a while. If you want to take the ultimate jump, you could even venture a run for office! There are dozens of locally elected positions that don’t require anything but a small amount of time, and a passion to make a difference. But in the end, if you don’t have the time to do anything here, then I just have one single suggestion: pay attention. That’s right, it’s as simple as that. An informed citizen is a responsible citizen, and by just watching the news, reading the newspaper, and talking about it with others, you become a more involved citizen with a more vested interest in our nation’s future. Personally, I will be heading down to Washington, DC, next
Friday to the College Republican National Convention, proudly representing the University of Montana in our nation’s capital. I’ve come a long way since I first began getting involved in 2008, and I don’t regret it one bit. I will admit that I have gotten more involved than most people, but there is nothing I enjoy more than seeing others take an active, informed role in their community. Get informed and get involved—that is my charge to you.
is a Political Science/History/Economics major. You can e-mail Matt with any questions or comments at email@example.com
, follow him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter at @matthaefner.
Save the Band Program- continued from front page
school officials. “This cut will affect three grades [third, fourth, and fifth] and will result in there being no sixth grade band [to move up to Windham Middle School],” he said. Approximately 150 Center School students would be affected by the loss of this program. Cicchitto said he and the other music teachers have worked long and hard to turn the band and orchestra at Center School into a very successful program; one that has been outstanding for the past nine years. Cicchitto said he was absolutely stunned when he heard school
administrators were considering doing away with the program, even for one year. Several people commented that they’re worried that if the program is put on hiatus for a year, it might never be brought back. Others said such a cut might be viewed as “a black mark” on Windham’s school system. Still others asked why music had been targeted and not other programs, such as athletics. “None of this is stuff we want to do,” School Board member Jeff Bostic said. School Board member Stephanie Wimmer asked if there “is a pay-
to-play option” for those who still want to participate in the Band and Orchestra Program; in other words, a fee to be paid by parents. Interim Superintendent Henry LaBranche said he feels it would be inappropriate to charge students to participate in such an activity. “We don’t want to go down that path,” LaBranche cautioned. Bostic said he views charging students to participate in a school program as being “defacto discrimination,” aimed toward those who can’t afford to pay the fee. Windham resident Glen Milner came to the podium and said he
felt school officials need to look at making cuts to the administration rather than programs for students. “Share the pain with the parents and teachers,” Milner stated. LaBranche replied that the administration is “already too lean.” LaBranche also commented that administrators would already be paying more toward their retirement, beginning with the new school year—a two-percent increase over the previous contribution. “Everyone is sharing the pain across the board,” LaBranche stated. Another outspoken proponent of the music program is Diane
DiPersio, who is President of the Windham Music and Arts Association. “My family has been a huge supporter of the band and chorus programs here in our schools,” she said. All three of DiPersio’s children are “band kids,” she said, and two of them participate in band and chorus, plus the theatre group. “Music plays a huge part in my children’s lives,” DiPersio continued.
“Between the three of them, my kids play the piano, trumpet, percussion, saxophone, clarinet, flute, guitar, and mandolin,” she said. “We feel strongly that their passion for music started with Eric Graff at Golden Brook; was further fostered by Nancy Fothergill and Jack Cicchitto at Center School, where they were introduced to band and show chorus, and was brought to a whole new level at Windham Middle School, with the help of Jared Cassedy, Matt Szopa, and Sheila Cuneo.” “Anyone that’s ever heard the Windham High School Bands play,
knows how truly amazing they are,” DiPersio said. “Equally amazing is the Salem High School marching band program, under the direction of Marty Claussen, that my two sons were fortunate enough to be a part of,” she added. “All these musical performing experiences have made my children who they are today—driven, confident, and very talented—and I can’t wait to see where their music takes them in the future, but it all started when they were young kids,” she said. DiPersio said she understands that not all students discover this
level of passion for music or the arts, but also believes that every child should have the opportunity to do so. “It is my hope that the administration and our School Board will seek out every possible avenue to allow all of these music programs to continue, and that as a community we will all step up in anyway possible to help make this happen,” DiPersio said. Jessica MacKimm is a junior at Windham High School and has been
a student in the school district since first grade. MacKimm first started playing a musical instrument in the third grade through Windham Center School’s strings program. She then made a permanent switch to the flute in fourth grade. She has been an active member of the Windham High School Band, serving as band council secretary for the past three years. She has also been a member of the Windham Community Band for the past four years. “Through my experiences with music from the Windham School District music program, I’ve been inspired to pursue a major in music education and to, hopefully, continue to provide the high caliber of music education found in all tiers of the Windham school system,” McKimm said. McKimm said she and other students are extremely upset at the
prospect of losing a segment of the band program, even if only for one year. “Being so heavily involved in the band program in Windham, and knowing firsthand the excellence in music that is produced through the bands at every level, it really upsets me to think that after all of the dedication [that] people, such as Mr. Cicchitto, Mr. Cassedy, and the parents of Windham students, have given to the band program in our town, that [anyone] would so carelessly cut the program from
the Windham Center School,” McKimm said. “Not only does the Center School band
program provide students with an unbelievable and completely unforgettable opportunity, it also provides students with many more educational, social, and leadership experiences,” McKimm continued. “What many people do not realize is that the band is a team, just like any football or baseball team. Taking away the band program at the Center School would be as devastating to these students as taking away the opportunity to play sports would be for other young kids,” she said. “It would have a ripple effect on the entire music program for years to come and would take away some of the most memorable experiences of childhood for nearly a third of the students in the Windham Center School,” McKimm added, pleading with school administrators to reconsider and remove the band and orchestra program from their list of possible cuts. “Without the band program in this town, I would
never have been able to take advantage of so many wonderful opportunities, and by keeping the Windham Center School strings and band program in the curriculum, we can ensure all of Windham’s students have equal opportunities to accomplish their goals, as well,” McKimm concluded. Windham School Board Chairman Ed Gallagher
said, “None of us are happy about removing the band program.” “We need to watch [the budget] judiciously,” he said. “If one of these [proposed cuts] gets back in…this is it!” Dr. LaBranche said administrators would continue to re-evaluate what is a constantly changing situation and will return to the full School Board with its final recommendations on Tuesday, August 9.
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If you’re interested in finding ways to encourage kids and families to get outside and more involved with the natural world, plan to attend the New Hampshire Children in Nature conference “Where the Children Play: Discovering, Creating and Using Outdoor Spaces” on October 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Cody Outdoor and Conference Center in Freedom. The day will showcase the many ways we can reconnect children, youth, and families with nature in our communities. “We’re excited about bringing people together to exchange ideas and strengthen community efforts to reconnect children, youth, and families with nature here in New Hampshire,” said Marilyn Wyzga, convener of the NH Children in Nature Coalition (NHCiNC). Readers, you need to get this information to community leaders now. “We invite teachers, city planners, environmental educators, artists, recreation professionals, landscape designers, health practitioners, and others,” said Wyzga. “This conference offers such a broad range of workshops that no matter who you are or what your profession is, you’ll be able to take away ideas and tools for making positive change in your community.” The registration fee for the conference is $45, which includes
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