ParentingNH September 2019

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Ready, set, go back to school

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Igniting innovation

Hello, middle school How NH schools are helping tweens make a successful transition out of the lower grades.

8 Young Writers Essay Contest winners Four talented writers talk about their favorite book.

Spark Academy is transforming the high school educational experience.

30 Don’t fear the FAFSA Part 1 of PNH ’s 2-part series on paying for college.

36 Fall festivals and events Fill your calendar with fall family fun.

departments 3 From the editor’s desk 4 The short list 6 I want that 38 Dad on board

39 Never a dull moment 40 House calls 42 Out & about 44 Time out

ON THE COVER: Gavin Villarante of Bedford, 10, and Leighton Riley of Goffstown, 10 (background, left to right) and Ella Allard of Bedford, 10, and Melody McCarthy of Bedford, 10 (foreground, left to right) at McKelvie Intermediate School in Bedford. Cover photographed on July 22, 2019, by Kendal J. Bush of Kendal J. Bush Photography (

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from the editor’s desk NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A GOOD BOOK For this year’s essay contest, we asked young writers to tell us all about their favorite book. As I was reading through the many wonderful essays about books that have made a difference in the writers’ lives, I thought back to my favorite. I couldn’t get enough books when I was a kid. I read in the car, after bedtime by flashlight, after school, when I woke up, so as you can imagine there were many trips to the library. Every time my mom and I left the library, with me carrying as many books as I could without the pile toppling over, I always worried I didn’t have enough. While I would read anything, including the back of cereal box if that’s all there was available, I had my favorites. In elementary school Judy Blume was everything. She had written many books by the early 1980s, including “Freckle Juice,” “Otherwise Known as Shelia the Great,” “Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing” and “Superfudge.” I read one right after the other, many of them more than a few times, enjoying them all. But my life changed when I read her book, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” The book is told from the point of view of Margaret, an 11-year old girl who is wrestling with questions about religion, crushes, growing up and fitting in. She has anxiety and uncertainty and deals with it by asking for guidance and answers in her nightly prayer to God — a relationship in which she often finds fault and confusion. HOW DOES SHE KNOW, I thought as I read the book, at least a dozen times. Like Margaret, I had so my questions. Without the Internet and social media, and not always wanting to talk to my mom about anything embarrassing, it was great that she could not only read my mind, but also be honest and direct about “girl stuff.” This was not a TV sitcom where everything was wrapped up neatly after 30 minutes; she respected her young readers by not providing easy answers, and sometimes there wasn’t an answer. In one of her nightly prayers, Margaret says, “Oh please God. I just want to be normal.” After reading the book you knew others felt just like you. I was not alone. As an introverted, shy, over-thinking kid, it was comforting. Blume’s book, ahead of its time for 1970, still remains controversial and is censored for its frank discussion of religion and sexuality. It’s clear after reading the contest essays, especially those written by tweens and teens, that books that take on difficult subjects still appeal, and make an impact. Many essayists talked about identifying with complex characters who struggled, but succeeded. Several said they learned something that changed how they looked at a topic, or even how they thought about themselves. I applaud parents, not only the ones who are encouraging their children to read, but especially the parents who allow their kids to read books that challenge how and what they think and books that might help them to learn more about themselves. You never know what book will turn out to be their life-changing experience.

contributors • SEPTEMBER KRYSTEN GODFREY MADDOCKS has worked as a journalist and in marketing roles throughout the Granite State. She writes regularly for NewEngland based higher education, business and technology organizations. Mom to preschooler Everett, she has enjoyed calling the Seacoast her home for more than 25 years. BILL BURKE has been writing the awardwinning Dad on Board column since 2008, and is the author of the Mousejunkies book series. Bill is also the managing editor for custom publications for McLean Communications in Manchester. MELANIE PLENDA is an award-winning freelance journalist and mom based in Keene. Her work has appeared in The, The Daily Beast, American Baby and Parents. com, among other media outlets. She’s also the project manager for the Granite State News Collaborative. KATHLEEN PALMER is ParentingNH ’s newest contributor. She is an awardwinning editor and journalist, marketing/ communications content writer, and occasional comedic actress. Nothing makes her happier than making people laugh. She is a single mom to a teenager, so naturally she enjoys a glass of wine, or two. Check out her column, Never a Dull Moment.


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the short list

GIRL SCOUTS OF THE USA LAUNCHES 42 NEW BADGES Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and Girl Scouts of the USA recently revealed 42 new badges for girls in kindergarten through grade 12 that allow them to make their own choices about how they want to experience and influence the world. The badges enhance the organization’s existing girl-led programming, offering girls everything from adventuring in the snow or mountains to learning how to use coding to solve problems they care about. In addition to existing badges, girls in grades 6 to 12 can now pursue nine different cybersecurity badges and three space science badges. Girls in kindergarten through grade 12 can earn multiple badges in topics like outdoor high adventure and coding for good. For more information, go to

for even more fun

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Check out the Old Farmers’ Almanac for Kids The newest edition of Yankee Publishing’s The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids will fill eager minds for hours at a time, with fascinating facts about Uranus and how it was almost named George; vegetables growing in outer space and peculiar plants here on Earth; poetry-writing skills and cat tricks to impress friends and family and instructions for how to grow rice and make raisins. Also find out what’s up with pink snow, graupel (chances are you’ve seen it), the “Snow Day Calculator” and more. Find it now at your local bookstore and at and COURTESY




The Fairy House Tour returns to Portsmouth The 15th annual Portsmouth Fairy House Tour, the long-standing charity event produced by Friends of the South End, is the world’s largest fairy house tour and features more than 250 handcrafted fairy houses made by local artists, florists, garden clubs club members, businesses, families and local school children. The event takes place on the grounds of Prescott Park, the Governor John Langdon House and Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth’s South End. Tracy Kane, the Fairy Houses Series® author and illustrator, will be on hand both days to greet ticket holders and sign autographs. In addition to the more than 250 fairy houses built by students, families and community organizations, the Fairy House Tour features a judged competition among 10 select houses built by creative professionals. The Fairy House tour, sponsored in part by ParentingNH, is Sept. 21 and 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, rain or shine. Here’s a chance for you to bring your family to see the tour for free. Enter to win a family pass, valued at $25, at by Sept. 14. For more information and tickets, go to

MORE EVENTS, MORE CHANCES TO WIN ParentingNH is giving away tickets to two more popular September events. The Richie McFarland Children’s Center Touch-A-Truck event is Saturday, Sept. 28, at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth. This annual event, featuring more than 40 vehicles, is a fundraiser for the Richie McFarland Children’s Center. Enter to win a family pass, valued at $20. Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm in Tamworth is hosting its annual Harvest Festival on Saturday, Sept. 21. Festivities include tractor-drawn wagon rides, meet and greet with the farm animals, games and a scavenger hunt, apple cider making and samples, corn grinding, wood sawing, music and touring historic buildings. Enter to win a family pass, valued up to $40. Go to by Saturday, Sept. 14, to enter for your chance to win.

THE SUN, EARTH, UNIVERSE EXHIBIT OPENS AT SEE In collaboration with NASA, the National Informal STEM Education Network awarded select institutions a copy of the “Sun, Earth, Universe” exhibition. SEE Science Center in Manchester is one of 52 science centers across the country that was awarded this exhibition, part of a nationwide effort designed to engage audiences in the awe-inspiring fields of Earth and space science. Sun, Earth, Universe includes fun and compelling exhibits for visitors of all ages. Packed with engaging, interactive exhibits and dazzling imagery, this 600-square-foot exhibition connects visitors with current NASA science research and launches them on a journey to explore the universe. This exhibition helps to answer questions including: How is Earth changing? What is it like on other planets? Does life exist beyond Earth? What’s happening on the sun, and how does it affect us? Sun, Earth, Universe encourages visitors to imagine what the future of Earth and space science might hold. For more information, go to

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I want that

Tradition with a twist


The durable and waterresistant Perry Mackin Charlie Backpack features a generously sized interior and two exterior bottle pockets. Belongings stay secure with a top zipper and easy-to-operate magnetic strap closures. Several colors to suit any style. For ages 6-11. FIND AT WWW.PERRYMACKIN.COM; $48

The clear solution The bold ones Make a statement with MadPax’s three-dimensional take on the book bag. With vibrant designs and origami-inspired forms, each pack will turn heads while keeping stuff organized and accessible. MadPax has seven styles of backpack; most available in different sizes. Pictured is a backpack from the “bubble” series. FIND AT WWW.MADPAX. COM; $39.50-$75

The ecofriendly option Garnet Hill’s Eco Backpack Jr. packs in all the musts — functionality, durability, comfort — along with the playfulness of exclusive prints. Its ergonomic design includes curved, adjustable shoulder straps and a sliding sternum strap. Crafted from poly made from recycled plastic bottles. Personalization available. For ages 4-7. FIND AT WWW.GARNETHILL.COM; $39.95

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SMARTY’s plastic backpacks, available in two sizes, are built to last with reinforced stitching and military-grade nylon bottom. Features large pockets with smooth zippers and a big water bottle holder. Available in colors including gray, blue and pink. Comfortable doublepadded shoulder straps. FIND AT WWW.THESMARTYCO.COM; $40-$50

The one with the wings Little ones can “fly” with the MINI Wings Backpack from 7AM Enfant. Complete with soft wings and vibrant colors, it’s the perfect mini backpack for carrying treats and toys or playing dress up. Features easy-grab handles, padded straps and it’s machine-washable. Available in four colors. FIND AT WWW.7AMENFANT. COM; $44

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ongratulations to Daniel, Mischka, Eesha and Ishaan, the winners of the 2019 Young Writers Essay Contest.

Essayists were asked to answer the following question: What is your favorite book and why? Writers age 7 and older wrote about books ranging from Harry Potter to Nancy Drew. Fantasy, dinosaurs and dragons were especially popular.

Thank you to all who submitted essays for the contest. I enjoyed reading about your children’s favorite books. I’m happy to not only see that so many parents are encouraging their kids to write, but that they are also fostering a love of reading. Reading and writing skills go hand in hand. Children who read more become better writers. Keep it up!

— Melanie Hitchcock, Editor


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Daniel Sixon Daniel, 13, of Milford, is an eighth-grade student at Milford Middle School. He has a brother, David, 16, and a sister Rachel, 8, whom he regularly entertains with a series of short stories he writes. In his spare time he loves being outside and participating in soccer, basketball and track at his middle school. As a three-year member of the MMS chorus, his mom says Daniel’s creativity has been nourished. He is the son of Jonathan Sixon and his wife, Kathy Kowalchyk.


hile I have read numerous incredible novels throughout my life, the book that stood out to me above the rest was “Love, Hate and Other Filters,” by Samira Ahmed. In this story 17 year old Maya Aziz is stuck between a rock and hard place. Her dream is to become a filmmaker at NYU, while her parents want her to be an obedient Indian premed student who attends college close to their home in Chicago. Throughout all of this, she is maintaining a near impossible balancing act of managing two relationships and handling the hate she receives after an Indian Muslim is accused of a terrorist attack. The book is my favorite because it opened my eyes to a real-life problem. Although our ethnicities differ, I found this novel meaningful due to the great attention being brought to Indian Muslim injustice in America. This subject is discussed infrequently in modern literature, and I am pleased it has been brought to the forefront. I enjoyed the wide range of unique characters, my favorite one being Kareem. He was Maya’s initial bachelor, having been set up by her parents. Although his debut made him seem pompous and arrogant, as the plot endured, Kareem showed his caring and understanding side. “Love, Hate and Other Filters” was a very captivating book to read from my standpoint. It presented me with an issue I knew little about and made me more aware of it. While I continue to read more novels this summer, “Love, Hate and Other Filters” will always have a lasting impact on me.

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love to dream! Books lift me from earth and take me to a world of dragons, dinosaurs, UFOs and aliens. My favorite world among them all is the world of dragons, which is painted in the book series, “Wings of Fire.” The series, “Wings of Fire” is written by Tui T. Sutherland. I live in New Hampshire and she lives nearby in Massachusetts! There are 16 book in Wings of Fire. I have read three books. Each book is filled with dragons and their adventures. Did you know that different dragons have different powers? Some can breathe underwater, glow in the dark and some can even control weather. My favorite dragon can make tsunamis. She even glows in the dark! My favorite book so far is “The Lost Heir.” It is a story of how Tsunami goes back to her home at the seawing palace and becomes a princess. Tsunami was captured by some dragons when she was still in her egg. So she never knew her family. But finally in “The Lost Heir” she gets to meet her sister Anemone and her mother Queen Coral. I felt very happy! I want to read all the books in the series. I can’t wait to read “The Dark Secret” and find out what happens.

Ishaan Nyaharkar


The writer just one book they just love. ll book-lovers have that For me that book up. el lev rks their interest ta does something that spa in a very simple way tha acio. This book tells you is “Wonder” by R.J. Pal go a long way. gie small act of kindness can year old boy named Aug book is. It’s about a 10 this que ng goi rts sta he I love how uni en wh nds has trouble making frie o wh s itie orm m def mo ial his fac with e-schooled by first time. He’d been hom e to a real school for the e book I’ve read becaus orit fav my far by is er” ond “W ng. you was he e sinc ons. of how it teaches you less between being right s, “If you have the choice r For example, Palacio say you that it doesn’t matte d.” This book also tells love I de. insi or being kind, choose kin the on are side, it matters how you how you look on the out always do. so many things you should you s che tea how this book Via. She’s indepener, this book is Auggie’s sist My favorite character in very understanding. ’s She . gie Aug h s are often wit dent because her parent blems with her pro ny high school she has ma When she starts going to is down and gie Aug en Wh ne. alo through those s is why I like social life. Via has to go Thi ng. goi best to get him up and life, she upset Via always does her own her in ms ble pro ny she has ma Via so much. Even though helps others. forgets about them and e books that are imposbook to people who lov this nd me om I highly rec the things I’ve said so you put together all of sible to put down. When ary, amazing book. rdin rao ext get a fabulous, far about “Wonder,” you

Ishaan Nyaharkar, 7, of Merrimack, is a second-grade student at MicroSociety Academy Charter School in Nashua. Ishaan loves eating ice cream and wrestling with his brother, Tejas, 8. He also loves to build with Legos, enjoys playing the piano and is fond of reading, swimming, biking and doing yoga with his grandmother. He is also a big fan of the Avenger movies and Ninjago. Ishaan is the son of Uday and Jayshree Nyaharkar.


Mishka Allam

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y favorite book, and arg uably one of the best books of all time, would “Percy Jackson and the be Olympians: The Lightn ing Thief” by Rick Riorda “The Lightning Thief” n. is about a trouble prone, 12 year old boy named whose life gets a little Percy, more complicated when he learns that he is the son Greek god Posiedon. of the At a summer camp for the children of the dei ties , he learns to control his and prepare for the adv powers enture of a lifetime: pre venting war between the rescuing his mother fro gods, and m the clutches of Had es, the god of the underworld This book is important . and meaningful to me because it shows that people may believe are what other disabilities actually can rep resent great strengths. book, Percy is not the In this best at school, and is said to have ADHD and uses these skills to hel dyslexia. But he p him overcome the cha llen ges that he is faced wit journey to rescue his mo h along his m, and save the world. What I like most about this book is how well it’s written. It ties Greek into a modern day boo mythology k. This book is also lika ble because of the cha a selfless hero who is ver racters. Percy is y relatable, and is hila riou s too. We see him use or completely ignore the his “flaws” m, which is hard for mo st people to do. It also action to keep you on has a lot of your toes, and a great and effective storyline. “The Lightning Thief” is definitely a book I wo uld recommend to any fantasy, Greek mytholog one who loves y, or action. It is flawless ly written, and is engagi people what kids with ng. It shows learning disabilities can overcome and accomplis giving readers a good h, all while laugh and amazing me mories.

Young Writers Essay Contest 2019


Eesha, 11, of Westford, Mass., is a sixth-grade student at Stony Brook Middle School. She is passionate about reading, writing and playing music. She takes great interest in playing the piano. She’s also a big Harry Potter fan, Expecto Patronum! Eesha enjoys playing with her younger brother Aashish and likes to help her parents, Mahesh and Savitha Patil, with chores at home. Mom says she is a friendly and fun-loving girl and loves going on vacation with family and friends.


Eesha Gowda






S •





• YO U

Mishka, 13, of Bedford is an eighth-grade student at Ross A. Lurgio Middle School. Her hobbies include reading, writing, biking, and playing basketball. She loves playing the clarinet and piano and enjoys acting in school plays. Her favorite music genre is pop. Mishka has one brother, Mahith, 9, and is the daughter of Mamatha Thumma and Lourdu Allam.


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Goodbye, elem e Hello, middle How NH schools are helping tweens make a successful transition to the middle grades, and how parents can help, too BY KRYSTEN GODFREY MADDOCKS


ore than 88% of American elementary school students move on to what is known as middle school, where they will learn to navigate a new building, meet new friends and teachers, and change classes independently.

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m entary school school

All of this happens at a time when they are going through their own social and developmental changes, which may heighten their anxiety levels — and their parents’. In New Hampshire last year, more than 30,000 students were enrolled in grades five through eight in the state’s public schools. While only 1,830 of the state’s 13,253 fifth-grade students moved up from an elementary school to a middle school, 8,693 of the state’s 13,367 sixth-grade students attended school in a separate middle school building, according to the New Hampshire Department of Education. Whether your child will enter middle school as a fifth- or sixth-grader this fall, most will adapt quickly thanks to the approaches many New Hampshire middle school teachers and administrators take to ensure a smooth transition.

THE ‘TEAM’ MODEL Many middle schools follow a “teaming” structure to build cohesiveness among students and teachers. Your new middle school student will not be wandering the halls alone, nor will they be mixed in with students in upper grades. Instead, they will be on a “team” with the same group of kids and teachers. At one time, the middle school grades might have been referred to as “junior high.” Today’s middle schools aren’t trying to mirror the high school model, but instead aim to address the unique needs of students in grades five through eight, said Lindsay Dube, dean of students for grades five and six at Dover Middle School. “A middle school model focuses on the whole child and teaming. Every kid is part of a team that has the same four teachers. Those teachers are expected to be

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In elementary school it’s socially engineered so that no one is left out. In middle school, you walk into a cafeteria and pick out a seat. Even to adults, that’s overwhelming.


— Amber Chandler, Association for

Middle Level Education board member

working together and providing a common educational experience for their students,” she said. Kim Parsons, an English language arts teacher at Gilbert Hood Middle School in Derry with 18 years of teaching experience, said her middle school divides groups of students into specific areas of the building where they all take classes with the same group of students and teachers. “You have one set of teachers that you deal with and they are more familiar with you and build better relationships with you. We meet up to three times a week and talk about the kids,” she said. Adam Houghton, principal of Rochester Middle School, said that the team model at his school has been in place since it opened in 1992. With six elementary schools feeding into RMS, the team model takes a larger school environment and shrinks it a more manageable

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one. Instead of being one kid in a school of 950 students, you are a student on a team of 80 kids, he said. “We are also developing a ‘house’ program where we put kids on a team for all three years they are here. Three teams fall under one house, and when you join that house, you know this is who will be my math teacher in sixth, seventh, and eighth grade,’ he said. “Conversely, it allows an eighth- grade teacher to look at incoming sixth-graders and understand who they are socially and emotionally, as well as academically.”

CHANGING CLASSES The biggest change for most middle school students is switching classes for different subjects and building relationships with a few different teachers instead of just one, Dube said. DMS fifth-graders may change classes for English language arts and math, and then for

science and social studies, but they share the same two teachers for those two blocks of classes that take place at the beginning and end of the day. They move to their related arts classes (gym, art, band and chorus) in the middle of the day, Dube said. In the sixth grade, students move between four different teachers and take their related arts classes at the end of the day. At Gilbert Hood Middle School, sixth-graders change classes every 50 minutes and they don’t have the same class at the same time each day. That means if your middle-schooler isn’t a morning person, he or she won’t suffer in one subject because they have trouble learning at a specific time of day. Sixth-grade students at Rochester Middle School change classes, but the four classrooms they move to for their main subjects are next to one another. They leave the team area to take their related arts classes and have lunch.


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Friendships will evolve and change, and for some students that could open a whole new world.

LOCKERS Forgetting a locker combination can cause some middle school students’ anxiety to spiral. In fact, it’s such a common worry that practicing locker combinations is part of the sixthgrade orientation program at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, Parsons said. “We tell them we know it’s frustrating and new but believe me, by the end of the week you’ll have it,” she said. “I know they dwell on it a lot, but it’s usually not a problem after the first week.” Incoming middle school students “way over-obsess” about their lockers, Dube said, particularly about getting the combination right. In the end, teachers have a key to help them, if needed. And, teachers aid them in planning when they should visit their lockers. “The expectation is that every kid comes in and grabs the stuff they need for their first two classes and then they can go back to their locker before related arts,” she said.

NEW RELATIONSHIPS In some cases, middle school students for the first time are interacting with peers from different parts of town — or different towns entirely. They will also meet new teachers and be responsible for learning the expectations of each. For example, their first-period English teacher might not be there at the end of the day to remind them that an assignment is due the following morning. Friendships will evolve and change, and for some students that could open a whole new world. Houghton encourages parents to get their middle school student involved so that

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they can meet new friends and discover what they enjoy. RMS has several athletic and arts programs that are free and include a late bus that will bring students home after these activities end. “I find the students who are more involved in these things do better academically and socially. They navigate middle school and school in general much better and make better connections with people in the building.” Dube agrees that getting your middle-schooler involved in something is essential to helping them feeling like part of a group. At Dover Middle School, fifth- and sixth-graders don’t have the same opportunities to join sports teams as their older counterparts; however, any student can join track or cheerleading. For a small fee, students can even participate in eight- to 10-week STEAM programs that offer courses such as fly fishing, cooking, and martial arts. “The programs are right here so that if mom or dad is not out until 4 p.m., they can try different programs and meet others,” she said. Students also can meet kids outside of their teams every day at lunch and recess. At DMS, students can choose where they want to sit within the fifth grade. That way, if a best friend isn’t on their team, they can still catch up.

LOOK FOR A SPECIAL PROGRAM Amber Chandler is not only a middle school teacher with years of experience, but she also has a son entering middle school this fall. She serves as a board member for the Association for Middle Level Education, a membership organization dedicating to helping middle school

educators reach every student, grow professionally and create great schools. Now the coordinator for alternative education and interventions for the Frontier Central School District in Hamburg, N.Y, she began her career at Portsmouth High School in the 1990s. Since then, she’s been recognized as the 2018 AMLE Educator of the Year and is the author of The Flexible SEL Classroom: Practical Ways to Build Social Emotional Learning in Grades 4-8. Recognizing the need for programs that help students succeed in leaping from elementary school to middle school, Chandler began a voluntary pilot program called “Transitions.” Parents can send their incoming sixth-graders to a week-long, half-day program to get to know the middle school building through scavenger hunts, learning how to fill out passes, and trying their locker combinations, among other activities. Best of all, they get to meet their fellow students before school starts. “It’s a program that’s close to my heart. I have a daughter going into the ninth grade and she was thoroughly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people (in middle school). In her classes, she wasn’t with the same kids she went to elementary school with and ended up in a cohort of kids from other elementary schools,” Chandler said. “In elementary school it’s socially engineered so that no one is left out. In middle school, you walk into a cafeteria and pick out a seat. Even to adults, that’s overwhelming. Transitions brings kids together from the different buildings, gives them a strategy for the first day of school, and brings their nerves down a lot.”

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autism in a fun, supportive group setting. We Crotched Mountain’s Readyconsultations Set Connectand provides ABA therapy offer regular parent training to youngsessions. childrenReady with autism in a fun, supportive group setting. Set Connect accepts Medicaid We offer consultations and training sessions. andregular privateparent insurance. Ready Set Connect accepts Medicaid and private insurance.

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Maturity levels differ among incoming middle school students, she said, so parents should be prepared for varying responses to the new freedoms their children are afforded. For some the structure of elementary school is very comfortable, and middle school can feel overwhelming sometimes. Conversely, middle school kids are exposed to different subjects, like home economics, woodworking, and other electives — giving them a chance to grow and practice brand new skills. Middle school is often a fresh opportunity for some kids, Dube said. Parents can remind them that it’s a chance for a positive new beginning. “Some kids already feel stereotyped. Meeting a whole new bunch of students, you get a fresh chance to reinvent yourself,” she said. Check with your child’s middle school to see if they offer a similar program.


that teachers may have available to help support classwork, Chandler said. • Set boundaries on phone and social media use. Students have their own phones at younger ages now. They can be tempted to use them when they shouldn’t — and use them inappropriately. It also can be difficult for some kids to not have a phone when their friends do. Parents should talk to their kids about social media and stress that what you post online does not ever really go away, Dube said. “It’s a state law… if social media (outside of school) is having an adverse effect in the building, a student is held responsible for it. So, if you are making fun of someone on Facebook Messenger, and a student comes into school upset because of it, it becomes a school issue and you can be punished for that in school now,” she said.

• Stress communication at home and at school. Educators all agree that it’s important for parents to frequently touch base with their children about how things are going, particularly early in the school year. If parents have any concerns, they are encouraged to check in with the school guidance office or their student’s teacher. Parents should not be afraid to have those conversations, Houghton said, adding that addressing problems about a student’s anxiety about fitting in or challenges with the academic aspects of middle — Kim Parsons, teacher at school early on often deescalates issues beGilbert H. Hood Middle School fore they become a real problem. In middle school, students will need to also Phone use should be avoided as often as learn how to advocate for themselves and possible, Houghton said. Social media can talk to adults in their building, Chandler said. amplify conflict, he said, at a level of discusParents can help them become better comsion that most young students aren’t ready to municators by encouraging them to be their handle. In addition, parents should be mindown best advocates. ful of when and how often they text or com“I’ve had boys who don’t speak to me until municate to their child via the phone, too. three-quarters through the year. I could have “It’s a problem, in my opinion,” Parsons skipped giving them a paper, and they didn’t said. “There are consequences if they have tell me,” she said. them on. There are privacy issues if they are • Use the parent portal and other digicaught taking photos. They don’t need it. tal resources. Most schools use a parent A parent can call the school and there is a portal, which allows you to log on and view a phone in every classroom.” child’s grades and assignments. Parents need not check in every day, Dube said, but they • Sleep is still important. Many parents can use it to get a good perspective on how stop monitoring bedtimes once the middle their child is doing well before missing assignschool years hit, which can be a problem, ments and poor grades become a problem. Chandler said. Many kids stay up too late Parents should also be aware of resources playing video games or engaging with friends available to their children, such as study sites


We are all a community, we are all in this together, and we will figure it out.


18 | SEPTEMBER 2019

on social media. A good night’s sleep is important, particularly because some middle school start times begin earlier than elementary school. An exhausted student won’t perform as well as a well-rested one, she said. • Be aware of your child’s stress level. Just because your child received straight A’s in elementary school and seems to be doing well academically in middle school doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t still feel pressure to achieve. Chandler said she sees top students burning out all the time because they are recruited into everything — student council, honor societies, and other activities. “You can’t tell them to prioritize because they don’t know what they want,” she said. “There is pressure to please the adults in their lives, so it’s important to remember that they are still young developmentally.” To help reduce this type of stress, parents can help their child pick and choose activities and should emphasize to their children that you can’t do everything, and that perfection is not expected in every facet of their lives. • Let your kids know they are not alone. Every new middle-schooler is navigating through the same waters, no matter how confident they may appear to be, Parsons said. While they think it’s all about them, the person sitting next to them is new to the experience, too. “We are all a community, we are all in this together, and we will figure it out,” Parson tells her students. Teachers are ready to support them from day one, too, Dube said. Before school starts, DMS teachers have met with elementary school teachers to try to get an assessment on what students might need. Chandler reminds parents that kids are amazingly resilient, and many times are underestimated with the amount they are capable of — both emotionally and academically. “Kids today are far kinder and far better at understanding kids with disabilities,” she said. “They are very sophisticated about topics related to sexuality, race and inclusion, things that weren’t even in our heads at their ages.” Krysten Godfrey Maddocks has worked as a journalist and in marketing roles throughout the Granite State. She now regularly writes for New-England based higher education, business, and technology organizations.

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At a Spark Academy open house in July, John Larochelle shows off a robot that he built himself and takes to competitions. PHOTO BY KAREN BACHELDER

innovation Spark Academy, the state’s newest charter school, is transforming the high school education experience BY KRYSTEN GODFREY MADDOCKS


park Academy of Advanced Technology high school students can expect to receive much more than a diploma after four years.

This new charter school provides the opportunity for graduates to become certified for hard-to-fill jobs within growing advanced technology fields. And, if students want to take summer classes and complete additional coursework at Manchester Community College, they could potentially earn an associate’s degree while they are still in high school. The brainchild of a small group of educators aiming to help respond to the state’s advanced manufacturing employee shortage and prepare high school students for advanced manufacturing careers, Spark Academy will enroll its first class in September at its Manchester Community College site. Unlike other concurrent enrollment programs that allow New Hampshire high school students to earn both high school and college credits while they attend high school, Spark Academy embeds its college-level technology courses into the program from day one. Its curriculum and course sequencing were built with input

from employers and technology organizations and designed in concert with Manchester Community College instructors, who also teach Spark students in college classrooms. Spark Academy is creating technical pathways for students to be certified in advanced technologies fields such as manufacturing, robotics, mechatronics, cybersecurity, computer science, welding, and HVAC. Many parents are embracing this alternative, which offers a clearer pathway toward a career in “new collar” fields. After four years at tuition-free Spark Academy, the majority of students will earn both a high school diploma and a certificate or associate’s degree through CCSNH, according to the Spark Academy website.

WORKFORCE SHORTAGE Not just a New Hampshire problem, the shortage of qualified employees in the new-collar economy has reached a critical shortage level. As many as 2.4 million manufacturing jobs may go unfilled by 2028, putting $454 billion in production at risk, consulting company Deloitte stated in a recent report. Closer to home, manufacturing accounts for 10% of New Hampshire’s workforce and 11% of the total output of the state. The

| SEPTEMBER 2019 21

NH charter schools FAQ • In 1995, New Hampshire enacted public charter school legislation. In 2003, the New Hampshire Legislature adopted a “pilot” program for public charter schools. The pilot program allowed the State Board of Education to authorize up to 20 public charter schools in the next 10 years. • As of March 2019, there were 28 public charter schools operating in New Hampshire serving more than 3,800 families. (This does not include Spark Academy, which will open in September 2019.) • Charter schools are open-enrollment, public schools of choice. Students may attend any charter school in the state, no matter what district they reside in. • Charter schools are independent, tuition-free starting in first grade, and open to all students. Denis Mailloux, director of Spark Academy, makes a presentation to a group of parents and prospective students about the school’s curriculum during an open house on July 31. PHOTO BY KAREN BACHELDER

need for technicians with advanced problem-solving skills will increase, especially in the fields of mechatronics and advanced manufacturing, Spark Academy’s founders said. Sue Gilbert, of Concord, whose son Reece will enter Spark Academy this fall, said Reece’s older brother has greatly benefitted from Concord High School’s technology program, which granted him dual enrollment college credits he can use toward his degree. Spark should be a good fit for Reece, she said, because he’s shown an aptitude for hands-on learning and likes creating new things. Gilbert first learned about Spark on the radio and thought it would provide Reece a great opportunity to test the waters — and be able to both fail and succeed in a smaller environment with the support of encouraging teachers and like-minded peers. “Everyone is pushing kids into four-year degrees (that can carry with them) a ton of debt and steering them away from the blue-collar work that is still very much needed in our society,” Gilbert said. “We feel that Reece will be able to come out of this program with a better understanding of what he wants to be and potentially be prepared to go right into that career path immediately.”

THE VISION Denis Mailloux, director of Spark Academy and former principal of Trinity High School and St. Joseph’s Junior High School in Manchester, said he was approached to start a technology-based charter school by Patricia Humphrey, founder of the New Hampshire Center for Innovative School (NHCIS) and a founder of the Academy for Science and Design (ASD) in Nashua and now Spark Academy board member; and Dan Larochelle, Manchester Community College’s department chair for manufacturing and robotics and now Spark Academy’s director of technology. Borrowing upon a technology-focused charter school model in Connecticut, Spark Academy decided to embed itself within a community college. After speaking with several experts, Mailloux and the team — which included Larochelle; Humphrey; Joe Pouliot, former Trinity head of robotics and physics teacher and now Spark science teacher; Sarah Shakour Carter, who took charge of the charter-writing process; and Kim

22 | SEPTEMBER 2019

• Public charter schools are created and governed by an independent board of trustees. Charter schools operate independently from many of the rules and regulations that apply to local school districts. • Charter schools have specific missions. The school’s “charter” outlines the mission statement, educational program, student achievement goals and objectives, methods of assessment and measures of success • Like public schools, charter schools are accountable for meeting academic, financial, organizational and programmatic goals, and objectives as outlined in its charter. • State-authorized charter schools are funded directly by the state and do not receive local taxpayer support. Locally authorized charters schools receive funding from both the state and the district. • State authorized charter schools are funded directly by the state; they receive no local funding at approximately $7,100 per student. This is considerably less than the statewide average expenditure of $15,000-plus per student. (RSA 194-B:11 I.(b)(1)(A)) • Charters are granted for a period of five years in New Hampshire. SOURCE: New Hampshire Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the New Hampshire Department of Education

Lavallee of the Founders Academy Foundation — quickly assembled to develop a curriculum and get a charter for the school approved by the New Hampshire Department of Education in mid-April. Gary Thomas, president of Northpoint Construction Management Company, also joined in support of the school and its mission to help prepare a new generation of qualified tradespeople and technicians. The school is funded by state revenue, with state and federal start-up grants, fundraising revenue and philanthropic contributions responsible for making up the balance of its proposed $550,000 first-year budget, according to its charter. Mailloux agreed to sign on as Spark Academy’s director last spring. An educator with more than 30 years of school leadership experience,

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Mailloux said he’s excited about the possibilities Spark Academy will bring to New Hampshire students. The school, he said, answers a different call and fulfills a different need than others he’s worked for. It’s a mission Mailloux said he’s passionate about — both his father and grandfather were tradespeople, and he grew up working for them. Now, he’ll be able to help prepare the next generation of skilled tradespeople through Spark Academy’s mission. “I’m excited about the possibilities students will have in advanced manufacturing technology; that’s why we established this first pathway for them. In this state alone, more than 700 positions cannot be filled. These students will have with these technology certifications and can expect to earn a baseline salary over $40,000; and with overtime, a graduate could be earning $50,000 per year — without incurring college debt,” he said. The Spark Academy mission is to “empower our students with opportunities to master technical skills, both practical and theoretical, in the context of a high school and early college program that emphasizes the dignity and value of work.” Focused on problem solving, Spark Academy’s curriculum combines math, science, and technology field study with humanities classes (a focus on English and history standards) that stress both research and communication. The goal is to prepare students to enter the technical careers of their choice upon graduation or through further study. Humphrey, who has years of experience both in teaching and administration and has been working on charter school projects since 1995, said charter schools like Spark Academy provide amazing opportunities and experiences for New Hampshire children. She credits the talent and experience of Mailloux and Larochelle for helping get the school’s unique concept off the ground and Manchester Community College for making it a reality. “A trade high school used to be common in every state in the union. My husband graduated trade school in Bristol, Conn., We wanted to start one, but had no idea how you could do it,” she said. “The miracle that solved our program was Manchester Community College. We could use their equipment, staff, and incredibly knowledgeable people.”

INTEGRATED CURRICULUM Spark Academy students must enroll in ninth grade, as technology classes are embedded into their high school curriculum the very first semester they start. To miss these foundational classes would not allow an incoming 10th- or 11th-grader the time or opportunity to complete missed work. In its inaugural year, Mailloux said the school is on target to enroll 30 students. The target for next year’s first-year class will be 60, he said. In addition to technology field study courses, students progress through four levels of coursework in each of the areas of math, science, and the humanities. For example, level one of the math curriculum sequence includes algebra and geometry. Level two includes classes in statistics and entrepreneurship and economics. In levels three and four, students have the option to take additional math courses through Manchester Community College. These Running Start or Early College courses (see related sidebar) count toward their college certificate or associate’s degree. Technical field study, overseen by Larochelle, requires students in lev-

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More about the Running Start and Early College programs In 1999, the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) introduced the Running Start Program, a partnership between the Community Colleges of New Hampshire and high schools to give students an opportunity to take college courses for college credit while also completing the requirements for high school graduation. Running Start is taught by high school instructors at high schools. Manchester Community College’s Early College program allows NH high school students to take MCC credit-bearing courses. Early College courses are taught by college professors on the Manchester Community College campus. It is not a “dual” enrollment initiative. Students can accelr school, oviding afte nce 1974, pr e than 2,000 girls. si re hi ps Ham to mor Serving New outreach programs d d Nashua. summer, an anchester an in Centers M ols. over 50 scho Outreach to anchester M in s program Dinner Club rls daily. gi feeding 100 and Nashua,

erate their timeline toward a college degree. To qualify, students must be at least 16 years old and have a letter of recommendation from their high school teacher, guidance

• • •

counselor or administrator. Unlike Spark Academy’s proposed framework, high school

.org hampshire girlsincnew 705 (603) 606-1

students who take college courses for credit under the Early College or Running Start programs usually cannot enroll in college classes until their junior or senior years. And, they earn college credits rather than a technical certification or an associate’s degree. For more information about the Running Start and Early College programs: •


• For more information on Spark Academy: •



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el one to take courses in Computer Aided Design (CAD); participate in “makerspace workshops,” which include projects that delve into woodworking, laser cutting, 3D printing, electronics and other tools; and computer coding. In levels two through four, students take college-level courses in advanced manufacturing technology, which could lead to an advanced manufacturing degree, CAD certificate, mechatronics certificate, or robotics certificate. The result? Graduates can look forward to jobs as mechanical engineering technicians, robotics operators or technicians, manufacturing technicians, or research and design technicians. “Right now, CTE centers are doing a really good job at filling pathways to four-year schools. What we are seeing here is an acute need for filling jobs in the technician role. Currently employers like GE or Velcro are using engineers to do a technician’s work; you can’t find a technician with the right skill set to do the job,” he said. If students want to pursue a bachelor’s degree, their credits will transfer to a four-year program through the Mechanical Engineering

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Dan Larochelle, technology director at Spark Academy, demonstrates one of the robots to parents and prospective students. PHOTO BY KAREN BACHELDER

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Technology, Mechatronics, or Robotics pathways, according to Larochelle. Spark’s approach to learning aims to train technicians and provide an environment where students get plenty of hands-on time to apply their learning in a safe environment. By implementing a “cohort” model, in which groups of 15 students travel to their classes as a group throughout the year, Larochelle said students not only get to know one another well but can act as mentors or learn from other students. By developing close relationships, they are also developing “soft skills” employers are also looking for, he said.

NOT JUST FOR THE BOYS Spark Academy is open to any student who has an interest in a technology-oriented career, or who wants to explore the pathway further in a hands-on environment, Mailloux said. Girls are especially welcome and encouraged to apply. There are a few girls who will be in Spark Academy’s inaugural class. “I keep hearing repeatedly that employers cannot find enough women to fill positions. They are asking for that additional perspective that women can bring to the workforce,” he said. The cohort environment is one in which girls will particularly flourish, said Larochelle, adding that he and Pouliot have been participating in outreach to women in technology for more than 20 years. “The environment of the cohort reinforces that it is a safe area to grow and learn how to adapt to these new skills and show some of the boys what they can do,” he said. No matter what, all students are expected to work hard. Certifications and degrees must be earned, and students should be prepared to put forth their best effort. If they do, the rewards are great. “We want to encourage the development of a strong work ethic, develop in students the sense that if you persist, you will succeed,” Mailloux said. “We are dedicated to helping students to succeed. If you keep at it, we will keep at it, and get them across the finish line.” Krysten Godfrey Maddocks has worked as a journalist and in marketing roles throughout the Granite State. She now regularly writes for New-England based higher education, business, and technology organizations.

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Paying for college is a two-part series. This month, we provide tips and guidelines on how to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. In the October issue, the focus will be on alternatives to paying for college outside of financial aid programs.

Don’t It’s easy than ever to fill BY MELANIE PLENDA


t can be stressful enough thinking about sending your kids off to college — honestly, will they actually remember to clean their rooms and call their mothers? But paying for it these days adds a new level of anxiety. And the idea that federal aid is available to those who qualify doesn’t always ease the burden, because even the process of applying can seem daunting. But it’s worth trying, especially since the process has been streamlined and modernized to make it an easier lift, said Valerie R. Castonguay, with the NHHEAF Network. NHHEAF includes New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF), Granite State Management & Resources (GSM&R) and the New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corporation (NHHELCO). “We actually have many families who fill [out the FAFSA] and then call us and say, ‘was that all I had to do? I thought it was gonna be more painful because I’ve heard these horror stories,” Castonguay said.


can be completed online by current and prospective college students — undergraduate and graduate — to determine eligibility for student financial aid. File by October 1, 2019, at

30 | SEPTEMBER 2019

WHAT IS THE FAFSA? The FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an online form that determines eligibility for financial aid. The FAFSA can be completed by current and prospective college students, both undergraduate and

fear the FAFSA out the online federal student aid form

graduate, to determine eligibility for student financial aid. The deadline this year is Oct. 1 and is accessed at This isn’t the same thing as the College Scholarship Service profile or CSS. That application is maintained by the College Board and is an application for non-federal financial aid. When you fill out the FAFSA you are sharing your family’s financial information to determine which federal aid programs your student qualifies for. These include grants, work-study, loans and scholarships.

DON’T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE Some parents and students choose to not fill out the FAFSA thinking they make too much money to qualify for aid. While that is true for many families, Castonguay said it’s still worth filling out the form because it could lead to other financial assistance including grants and loans. For example, Castonguay said, families who may not qualify for grants, may qualify for the Student Direct Loan (formerly known as a Stafford Loan) that the government offers. If a student doesn’t have a FAFSA on file, the student can’t borrow through that program. “So essentially that’s leaving money on the table,” Castonguay said. She added that even if they don’t take or use the loan right away, the FAFSA application is good for one year, which means they have the option of taking that loan anytime that year, if they need it. Filling out the form allows students to apply to some private organizations for scholarships. Locally, that includes a scholarship offered by the NH Charitable Foundation. “In order to apply for them the students have to have FAFSA on file,” Castonguay said. “For many students, even if they might not all qualify for free money through the government, they may qualify for a scholarship somewhere else.”

FILLING IT OUT There are some changes this year aimed at making the application process a little easier, Castonguay said. Castonguay said it’s now possible to connect to tax forms electronically while filling out the FAFSA. “It’s the IRS data retrieval system and it will just go in as long as all the information is correct. It will retrieve the taxes and fill in a whole bunch of the FAFSA for families so that they don’t have to… struggle with, ‘what line do I find that on?’ and that sort of thing,” Castonguay said. “That’s definitely made it a lot easier in that regard for many families, not all, but for many families.” Also, it’s now possible to fill out the FAFSA with an app. That said, for those using the app, there are some things you need to do first to make it work properly. According to the FAFSA website, here are some things you need to know when using the app: • Customers who are using an Apple device (mobile and/or desktop) may encounter errors on some FAFSA fields if the “smart punctuation” feature is enabled. This feature changes apostrophes and quotation marks to invalid characters that the FAFSA form cannot recognize. • To get the best experience, make sure your browser’s pop-up blocker allows pop-ups from before logging in to the FAFSA form. • The FAFSA form will be unavailable due to scheduled maintenance every Sunday from 3–11 a.m. As you prepare to fill out the FAFSA, which Castonguay said usually only takes about 30 minutes, you should have a general sense of any assets you hold that are non-retirement assets. This includes things like checking and savings accounts, bonds, CDs, and money market accounts. She also recommended having social security cards at the ready to reference.

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“That’s because sometimes there’s a misspelling on the card... that could kick them out of the system or prolong the process,” she said. The rest of the process is just a matter of filling out the financial information not included in the tax forms.



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Castonguay said in addition to presentations her organization gives on this topic, they also are available to answer questions by phone as you fill out the form or will even meet with you in person to fill it out with you. “I would say the question we kind of get the most is a lot of parents are the ones filling the form out,” she said. “I know it’s supposed to be the kid, but a lot of parents are filling the form out and a lot of parents mistakenly put their child as married and that changes the whole form… it’s silly little things like that that you just don’t even think about but that can obviously change the whole structure of the form.” The other frequently asked question has to do with who gets listed on the forms if the parents have never been married or are divorced. “That one kind of gets a little tricky,” she said. For a dependent student — the category most students are in — a parent needs to be listed.” There are certain criteria, she said, that would allow a student to be listed as independent and thus wouldn’t have to list a parent on the form. “They would have to be things like the student is over the age of 24, that the child would have to be married, they would have to have their own child or a child they support more than 50 percent of the time,” she said. “In the case of a divorce, it’s whichever parent the student lives with 51 percent of the time or more, that would file the FAFSA. And if that parent is married, they do need to include their spouse’s information because it goes by household income.” Once the application is done, Castonguay said, you get a confirmation as soon as you hit submit that tells you what the government feels your family can afford and what aid, if any, your student qualifies for based on the information provided. It takes about three days for the information to be processed by the government, then any colleges listed on the FAFSA will have access to that information. Castonguay said it is not uncommon for additional information to be requested. “They could be asked to verify some information, like if siblings are attending college or if they weren’t able to connect to their taxes, they might have to do an extra step,” she said, “That’s very common that they would have to do that. And then it’s really just waiting for the college to come back and say, ‘this is what we can offer you in aid.’” As for how long that process takes, Castonguay said it varies and it has a lot to do with when the student is accepted to the school. “Sometimes they’re applying for their FAFSA before they’ve actually applied to the college,” she said, “so it really does vary. Sometimes it could be as quick as a couple of weeks if the student has already been accepted and sometimes it is a few months.” For more information, the FAFSA website ( has resources, information and videos about financing college as does the NHHEAF website: Melanie Plenda is an award-winning freelance journalist and mom based in Keene. Her work has appeared in The, The Daily Beast, American Baby, and among other media outlets. She’s also the project manager for the Granite State News Collaborative.


MONEY MATTERS: FINANCIAL LITERACY If grandparents want to contribute to a college fund for their grandchildren, is it better for them to set up a 529 Plan themselves or give money to the parents and let them put it in a 529 Plan?

Developing financial literacy is important for children and families alike, and local banks and credit unions can play an important role in helping with that education — all while keeping them secure. We reached out to a trio of experts to learn how to begin that process and how they can help. OUR EXPERTS:

• Abigail Shaine of Shaine Law. • Kim Fontaine, Assistant Treasurer and Financial Education Officer, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. • Polly Saltmarsh, Vice President, Financial Education & Business Development, NH Federal Credit Union

When should I start to help my child establish financial literacy? Fontaine: “You should start helping your child establish financial literacy as early as possible. The younger they are when they begin to learn about mon-

ey, how it works and the role it plays in your daily life, the more they will be able to develop good habits and carry those good habits with them as they grow older and have to make their own financial decisions. You can start early by taking advantage of everyday teachable moments, such as when they witness you handling your own money or when they receive a monetary gift for a special occasion. It is also important to make sure that you have established your own smart money habits so that you can set an example for your child. Children are like sponges — they model everything a parent does and incorporate what they see into their own lives.”

Shaine: “529 Plans are flexible savings plans designed specifically for educational purposes. Earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis, and withdrawals are free of federal income tax and certain New Hampshire state taxes. If the grandparents set up an account, they remain the owner of the account. They determine when to make a withdrawal and how much money to withdraw. While contributions are treated as completed gifts and are subject to the gift tax rules, these tax rules have some additional flexibility that other kinds of gifts may not have. Of course, withdrawals are only tax-free if they make the withdrawal for ‘qualified educational expenses.’ “There are reasons why it may be more helpful to the student’s eligibility for financial aid for the 529 Plan to be established in the parents’ name rather than the grandparents. For a parent-owned 529 Plan, as much as 5.6 percent of the saved assets are treated as part of the expected family contribution. A grandparent’s 529 assets are only counted in the year following a distribution to the grandchildren, but at that point, 20 percent of the asset value is treated as funds available to help pay for college. This can reduce college financial aid by 20 percent. It is also better for the money to be contributed to a 529 account than

| SEPTEMBER 2019 33


to put it in a custodial account for the child where earnings will be taxed and the money will also reduce eligibility for financial aid more.”

How can I best educate my family about the possibility of financial fraud attempts? Shaine: “One critical source of vulnerability of families to financial fraud stems from their use of the internet. Make your family aware of the risks of people trying to gain access to the information on the family’s computers. Warn them not to open messages or emails from people whom they do not know, as communications by strangers masquerading their true identity is one way in which fraudsters will try to gain access to data on the computer. This technique is called ‘phishing.’ Also warn them against opening attachments to messages from people they don’t know as such attachments may contain malware that enable a fraudster to gain access to the

data on the computer. Make sure that your family understands the importance of protecting computer passwords, PIN numbers for ATM cards, and the numbers on credit cards that a parent may share with their children.”

What types of safeguards can be put in place to protect my child as he/she begins to earn money? Fontaine: “At Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, our members’ security and trust is of upmost importance to us. We go to great measures to ensure that our members’ account and personal information is protected. Your credit union is a great place to learn the different ways you can protect yourself from identify theft and other types of fraud, but it’s also an important place to turn to in the event you do become a victim. We can provide you with the right steps to take to get your identity theft incident resolved.

It’s also crucial for us to know when you have become a victim so that we can keep a close eye on your accounts and alert you of any suspicious activity. Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union’s Member Perks program offers an Identity Theft Restoration service, among several other benefits. If you do become a victim, the program will provide you with a licensed team of attorneys that will help you get your identity back. Your child is also protected under this program.”

How can a bank/credit union help me to get an accurate snapshot of my family’s financial health or manage my budget? Fontaine: “Not many people think to turn to their banking institution to learn how they can better understand their current financial state, but there are many ways your bank/credit union can help you with your family’s financial






Jeanne D’Arc C R E D I T









102 Spit Brook Road Nashua, NH 03062 | 877-604-5328 Federally insured by NCUA up to $250,000 | Shares and Deposits in excess of NCUA limits are fully insured by MSIC. | Equal Housing Opportunity | NMLS#: 406108 Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union is a federally registered trademarks owned by Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union.

34 | SEPTEMBER 2019


wellness. At Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, our mission is to help our members make smart financial choices, and this extends itself well beyond simply providing checking and savings accounts. Our Member Service team is always willing to counsel families in learning how to set and stick to a budget. They will also make sure your accounts are meeting your needs and paying you the most interest, as well as identify opportunities where you can enhance your financial health. We also offer an online financial management tool called Money Compass. Money Compass allows you to set a budget for each of your accounts within online banking and allows you to categorize transactions as you spend your money throughout the month. This automatically updates your budget for you, so you can keep track of where you stand on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, you can see a spending analysis for each of your accounts, so you’ll be aware of the categories in which you’re overspending. This will give you

a snapshot of your spending and savings habits, and will allow you to establish and follow patterns that will lead to smarter financial decisions over time.”

When and how should a teen start establishing a credit history? Saltmarsh: “1. First, we need to be clear — a person must be 18 to legally sign a contract. Once 18, your child can begin establishing credit. “2. Before age 18, teach your teen the concept of living within your means. Perhaps begin with an allowance and a checking account with a debit card. Have your teen manage specific expenses through the account. These accounts typically have no additional costs based on student status or age. (At NHFCU, those under age 26 receive checking accounts with debit cards with no out-of-pocket costs. Parents can

also set up automatic transfers into the accounts). “Make sure teens understand what credit is and how to use it responsibly. While credit or borrowing is often necessary when buying big-ticket items, borrowing money comes with a cost and a monthly payment! Be sure to discuss affordability and good and bad uses of credit with your teenagers before embarking on building credit. “3. We live in a society where the generations born after 1970 or so have been raised in a ‘buy now/pay later’ environment. We focus on monthly payments so items seem more affordable than they really are. How many college grads can really afford a high-end car with a $500 car payment right out of the gate? Teens may be easily lured into buying items that are not as affordable as they appear. Talk about this with your child. Did you make mistakes? Talk about them.”

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Fall festival fun Autumn comes alive with events for families that celebrate apples, pumpkins and foliage


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dad on board GUITARS, ALLERGIES AND WEIRDNESS WHAT I’M LEAVING TO MY DAUGHTER WHEN I DEPART THIS EARTH (SORRY) BY BILL BURKE It sounds morbid, but I often think about what I will leave my daughter when I’m gone. Not “her mom and I went to Florida without her” gone, though that seems to happen more often than the Awesome Dad Handbook would recommend. I mean “the ninjas and alligators finally caught up to me” gone. There’s the obvious — a sense of right and wrong, how to treat people and a strong set of morals and ideals. But there are also the more immediate things, like my Fender Telecaster, which her mom bought me in 1999. And the mid-life-crisis-era convertible with the Allman Brother’s Greatest Hits jammed into the CD player — even if it means she really won’t appreciate it until 2052. There’s more, of course, so after a bit of thought, I came up with a list of things to bequeath to my daughter, whether she wants them or not: Annoying allergies Sorry. My bad. My daughter has food allergies (egg, nuts, fish) and environmental allergies (birch, pet dander). Some of them are inconvenient, while others can be life-threatening. I can only assume she gets them from me, since I’ve got walnuts, honey, pollen and shoveling the driveway on my allergy list. Being irrationally, maddeningly, weirdly early for everything I’m that guy that’s sitting in his car and you can’t figure out why he’s there. I’ll tell you why: It’s because I have a meeting with you. It’s just not for a while yet. The way I see it, it’s a matter of being considerate of everyone else’s schedule. I’ve hammered that into my child’s psyche. You’re welcome to everyone else who has an appointment with her someday. Sentimentality I like sad songs and depressing movies, but she loves them. There are exceptions, though. She won’t watch movies where the dog dies (which is a lot of them). Another time I made her watch the Inner Light episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” I think she still harbors resentment toward me about this absolutely heartbreaking hour of TV. If you know the series, you get it. If you’ve never seen it, please continue thinking I am an excellent father. Good taste in music I took my daughter to see Queen in concert, and it was a transformative experience. For me. She loved it, but to hear her screaming the words to “I’m in Love With My Car” a few seats away was the fulfillment of every father’s dream. Or, this father’s dream, at least. To my child: I wish I could leave you more, but this is what’s available. Remember to be early, treat people with respect, work hard and don’t listen to your mother when it comes to the Allmans. They’re awesome. In the end (ahem), I’ll be comfortable when the ninjas arrive because along with all that other weird stuff, that Tele is pretty great. Bill Burke is a writer who lives in southern New Hampshire with his wife and daughter, who will never know the joys of a Fluffernutter. He is also the Managing Editor of Custom Publications for McLean Communications.


For the money I have spent trying to get rid of superfluous body fat, my daughter and I could be enjoying our fantasy house on Newfound Lake. Instead, I continue to possess enough stored energy to get me through whatever apocalyptic event my heartwarmingly protective metabolism is worried about. As the mom of a female child, however, I would prefer I was able to display a healthy body and lifestyle that reflect solid nutrition and fitness choices — instead of “how cavemen survived long winters when the sabertooth tiger burgers ran out.” I’m caught in a trap. We all are, if we’re trying to lose weight in front of our children. Because though we want to instill good, healthy habits that prevent illness and myriad other problems, we’re also sometimes berated for our efforts. How so? Well, perhaps a friend shares an article on social media with topics like “moms should never ever comment on their daughters’ bodies — good or bad” or how “fat-shaming is an epidemic worse than obesity itself” or “are you setting your child up for an eating disorder with your own negative self-talk about your body/ weight?” Gain or lose, you’re a loser either way, in one camp of thought or another. My mom was fat when I was growing up. I didn’t think much about it. I didn’t have social media breathing down my neck as a teen, telling me all the latest shoulds and should nots, and widening my shocked and naive eyes with filtered and edited photos and videos of perfect women who have had more work done on them than my old Ford Granada. But my kid does. When I had her, I vowed to break the obesity cycle of my female relatives. I nursed for 18 months; I made all her baby food, cooking organic fruits and vegetables; I have never given her soda or fast food. I wanted so much for her to not become trapped in miserable, exhausting, time-consuming and expensive decades of weightloss attempts her mother and grandmother are still enduring. I won’t know if that cycle will be broken until it is. In the meantime, I have to keep showing my daughter that a) it’s probably easier to stay a healthy weight than to get back to one; and b) I love her — and myself — enough to try and fail, and try and fail, again and again, until I find a healthy lifestyle that I can maintain. I will continue my own self-improvement strides and I hope she someday admires me for it. In the meantime… sabertooth tiger burger, anyone?

Experience the

2019 Portsmouth Fairy House Tour


2019 Fairy House: Rebecca Romanoski Photo: Barry Kane

More than 250 magical fairy houses on display on three historic properties. Meet Fairy Houses author/ illustrator, Tracy Kane!

SEPT. 21 & 22 10 am – 3 pm

Tickets now available online at

Kathleen Palmer is an award-winning editor and journalist, marketing/ communications content writer and occasional comedic actress. Nothing makes her happier than making people laugh. She is a single mom to a teenager, so naturally she enjoys a glass of wine, or two.

or at select Portsmouth retailers. proceeds benefit local non-profits & schools FOR MORE DETAILS VISIT:

| SEPTEMBER 2019 39

house calls ParentingNH, a national award-winning publication, is New Hampshire’s first and only statewide magazine for

parents of children and teens. For over 25 years, readers have turned to ParentingNH for information on issues that are important

to New Hampshire’s families.

Pick up your free copy at 500+ locations in New Hampshire each month.

Online at www.

IS YOUR CHILD’S BACKPACK SAFE? WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW BEFORE THEY GO SCHOOL SHOPPING WITH JIM ESDON Backpacks are a popular purchase for students, especially at the start of the school year. But what type of backpack is best? Each year, tens of millions of students in the United States wear backpacks, but how do you know if your child’s backpack is safe? Jim Esdon is the program coordinator at the Injury Prevention Center at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). “Falls with a backpack on seem to be how kids get injured while wearing a backpack. That’s why a lower-weight backpack can help avoid your child being hurt,” Esdon said. “Contrary to what some people believe, the use of a backpack will not cause scoliosis, but can strain neck, shoulder and back muscles.” Esdon also said falls from tripping over backpacks can also cause injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides the following guidelines when selecting a backpack: • Backpacks should have padded straps and a padded back. Avoid backpacks with very narrow or string straps. • Try to pack your backpacks as lightly as possible. • Keep in mind that backpacks should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child’s body weight. • Always use both straps — otherwise you run the risk of straining muscles. • There is the option of using a rolling backpack, but keep in mind, these still may need to be carried up stairs, can be difficult to roll outside and may not fit standard school-sized lockers. Also, many schools do not allow rolling backpacks because of the potential to trip over them. • Teach your child how to properly lift a backpack, just as they should with any heavy object. “I have not been able to find any studies that demonstrate the long-term effects of backpack use, although there is much evidence for the short-term effects,” Esdon said. “Most of the Emergency Department visits, according to the AAP, from backpack injuries do not involve the back [89 percent] but are from falls and other issues.” This year, the American Occupational Therapy Association will be hosting National School Backpack Awareness Day on Sept. 18, 2019. This is a day to spread awareness about backpack safety by organizing local events to educate people in your community. Contact your school system to see if there are any activities planned, or find resources to start your own at Learn more about the Injury Prevention Center at CHaD at SPONSORED BY

40 | SEPTEMBER 2019

Once again, ParentingNH will honor those dedicated and talented teachers who ignite students’ passions for learning. Nominate your favorite educator to be recognized in our Top Teacher issue in December.

Find details and the online nomination form in October at

| SEPTEMBER 2019 41

out & about


Don’t miss the thrill of Scottish heavy athletics at the Highland Games. PHOTO COURTESY OF NHSCOT.ORG

NH Highland Games and Festival 20-22 FRIDAY-SUNDAY LINCOLN – Loon Mountain Resort. A three-day celebration of Scottish music, food and drink, athletics, dance, heritage and more. You don’t have to be Scottish to enjoy the pageantry and excitement of piping and drumming performances and competitions, highland dancing, fiddle, harp, sheep dog trials, and heavy Scottish athletic competitions. Scotland’s cultural history comes to life in living history encampments and the clan village, where more than 60 clans wear their tartans and share their traditions. Also, enjoy activities, games and storytelling designed for sharing our rich Scottish culture with our younger visitors — ages 14 and younger. Rain or shine. Weekend tickets are $65; single-day tickets available. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. For full schedule of events and activities, go to

30TH ANNUAL HAMPTON BEACH SEAFOOD FESTIVAL 6-8 FRIDAY-SUNDAY HAMPTON BEACH – Ocean Boulevard. Sample world-famous seafood at New England’s largest beach party. Fifty-plus of the Seacoast’s top restaurants will serve an abundance of mouthwatering seafood (and non-seafood items, too). Arts and crafts vendors, beverage tent with beer and wine, entertainment on two stages, Lobster Roll Eating Contest at 2 p.m. on Saturday;

fireworks at 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and more. Free shuttle service. Admission: Friday, $5; Saturday, $10; Sunday, $8; children under 12 free. Friday, 1 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

AUBURN DAY AND 27TH ANNUAL DUCK RACE 7 SATURDAY AUBURN -- Auburn Village, 22 Hooksett Road. Each September, thousands of people

42 | SEPTEMBER 2019

descend to beautiful Auburn to enjoy a family-friendly and fun-filled day to benefit the Auburn Historical Association. The cornerstone for this annual event is the famous duck race, which awards cash prizes for the 10 fastest ducks, including $1,000 for first place. Other event highlights include Salmon Falls Apple Pie Baking Contest, Pretty Chicken Contest, Duckling Dash 5k road race, New Hampshire artisans and vendors, music by Peabody’s Coal Train, food and more. Free admission. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Auburn Day and the Annual Duck Race is a family-friendly, fun-filled day and a celebration of the town of Auburn. COURTESY PHOTO

Hogwarts Homecoming

A young attendee at Hogwarts Homecoming in 2018.

21 SATURDAY GRANITE STATE COMICON 14-15 SATURDAYSUNDAY MANCHESTER – Doubletree by Hilton Manchester Downtown, 700 Elm St. Granite State Comicon returns for two days of comic book and pop culture fun. This family-friendly event features guest artists, celebrities, cosplay, vendors, workshops, panels, after-hours events and more. Admission: Saturday, $25; Sunday, $20; $40 for a weekend pass. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. www.

24TH ANNUAL PMA FALL FEST 21 SATURDAY HUDSON – Presentation of Mary Academy, 182 Lowell Road. This year’s Fall Fest is bigger than ever. For the first time, the event will feature several food trucks including Walking Gourmet NH Food Truck. A fun day for the whole family! There are plenty of activities for all ages including a large variety of inflatables, bungee jump station, mechanical bull, face painting, pumpkin painting, tie-dye station, petting zoo and more. Try your luck at the Super Raffle to win a $500 prize, classroom theme baskets and the Yankee Raffle with more than 250 prizes. Cool off with Kona Ice or satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade apple crisp or visit the bake sale. Free admission. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

KIDS FALL CONSIGNMENT SALE 21-22 SATURDAYSUNDAY DOVER – Hellenic Center, 219 Long Hill Road. The semi-annual Dover Kids Consignment Sale is a huge children’s clothing and

HAVERHILL — Court Street Arts at Alumni Hall, 75 Court St. Hogwarts Homecoming is a celebration of magical fun and merriment for wizards and muggles alike. Offerings include Owls 101 (get up close and personal with live owls), flying lessons with New England Circus Arts, the snakes of Slytherin, Quidditch, a horcrux scavenger hunt and more. Take a stroll down Diagon Alley and sample treats from Honeydukes, try out new wands, experiment with potions, joke around at Weasley’s and hobnob with Hogwarts professors. Don’t forget to wear your house colors. Tickets: $10 per person for wizards and muggles; age 4 and younger get in free. 1-4 p.m.

gear sale typically with around 21-23,000 items available including gently used, good quality children’s clothes, baby clothes and gear, toys, shoes, sports equipment, nursery furniture and décor, music and videos, costumes and books. There is no cost to shop the sale. All proceeds benefit area consignors and the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. www.childrens

THE GREAT NH PIE FESTIVAL 22 SUNDAY MILTON – NH Farm Museum, 1305 White Mountain Highway. This 11th annual event will be the biggest ever. Eat and help judge commercial pies from around the state to pick the People’s Choice Award as judged pies are ranked before the judged pies are opened up to eat, too. There will be big prizes for the top three of each category, and even more for the grand prize winner. Take a wagon ride and bid on one of the auctioned pies. Admission: $10. Noon to 2 p.m. Find on Facebook.


CONCORD MULTICULTURAL FESTIVAL 22 SUNDAY CONCORD – New Hampshire State House, 107 North Main St. A celebration of all cultures, featuring entertainment by local performers, ethnic food vendors, crafts by local artists, traditional arts demonstrations, activities for all ages, an international flag parade and more. The exceptional diversity of more than 50 different cultures represented at this festival through music, dance, food, art, and activities is a testimony to the positive impacts that culture, inclusion, and empowerment can have on creating a thriving community. Free. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

15TH ANNUAL TOUCH-A-TRUCK FUNDRAISER 28 SATURDAY PORTSMOUTH – Pease International Tradeport. Construction equipment, trucks, coach buses, oil delivery trucks, landscaping equipment, limousines, and emergency vehicles will be on hand for children and adults to get a close look at, and

when appropriate, be able to sit in, climb on and explore. All proceeds will support the Richie McFarland Children’s Center. RMCC is an early childhood program dedicated to helping children from birth to age six reach their full developmental potential. Tickets: $5 per person, not to exceed $20 per family, and can be purchased at the event. 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. www.

PORCHFEST 29 SUNDAY ROCHESTER – Downtown Rochester. PorchFest is a free outdoor music and food truck festival featuring more than 30 bands of all genres. Bands will be on outdoor stages throughout the downtown and attendees can walk around and hear a little bit of everything. Food trucks and vendors will be at the Union Street parking lot. Participating restaurants and shops will offer specials and discounts to attendees with all-access bracelets. All-access bracelets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the main booth on Union Street. The pass also gives access to the after party. Noon to 5 p.m.

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time out



he kids are back in school and the pool is closed, but summer is definitely not over. Be sure to grab a date or group of friends and head to one of these four outdoor events where you can eat great food and listen to talented local bands, all while enjoying September’s warm weather. This is an excellent time of year to take an afternoon or a day for yourself.

Dance the day away

Grab your passport

Street eats

The Bedford Village Inn is launching its first-ever Fall Music Festival and you’re invited. The event that will be held in BVI’s Back Barn Gardens will feature food, drinks, and of course live entertainment. While you dine on barbecue, head to the whiskey or margarita bar, or the beer station. The Dan Morgan Band (bluegrass, country) Fred Ellsworth (country, rock) and Whiskey Tango (dance rock band) will get you on your feet.

If your trip around the world was postponed this summer, head to Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth for the Passport Craft Beer & Food Pairing Tour. Take in the beautiful surroundings while trying out more than 20 craft beers that have been paired with appetizers prepared by local chefs. Martin England and the Reconstructed, a folk rock band from Southern Maine, will provide the entertainment. And you can feel good about having a good time. Passport is a fundraiser for Strawbery Banke and NHPBS.

This event gives “street food” new meaning. Nashua restaurants and the Nashua Farmers Market are teaming up to bring a six-course farm-to-table meal to the middle of Main Street. Dinner on Main Street: A Harvest Celebration will also feature live music. Wine and beer pairings available. Presented by Great American Downtown.

Bedford Village Inn 25 Olde Village Way, Bedford Sunday, Sept. 8, 2-6 p.m. • 21+ Tickets: $25, or Eventbrite

Strawbery Banke 14 Hancock St., Portsmouth Saturday, Sept. 14, 5-7:30 p.m. • 21+ Tickets: $75 (designated driver, $35);

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Blues on the Beach Five great blues acts, 12 hours, 1 day. It’s all happening at the Laconia Blues Festival at Weirs Beach. Check out Amanda Fish, Willie J Laws, the Michael Vincent Band, Tyler Morris and Downtown Dave and the Deep Pockets while enjoying the best scenery the Lakes Region has to offer. Weirs Beach in Laconia Saturday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. to 11p.m. Tickets: $10 at Eventbrite

Main Street in Nashua Sunday, Sept. 22 • seating starts at 3:30 p.m. Tickets: $89-$115; or Eventbrite

We’re always here for those can’t wait moments. Open 7 Days a Week | 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.



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