Letters To The Editor – March 10, 2016

Embracing 21st-century curriculum for Souhegan HS

To the Editor:

At the Souhegan High School delib­erative session, I tried to address the issue of adding a more comprehensive STEM (science, technology, engineer­ing and mathematics) program to the program of studies.

I made the case that while we have a strong science and mathematics pro­grams, our technology (computers) and engineering programs need to be enhanced. The administration has added additional courses for the 2016- 17 school year, but we need to be more aggressive.

Emphasis on STEM curricula will help the United States maintain in­ternational leadership in science and technology. Computer programming is called out by President Obama as a need for all students and has made a commitment of $4 billion to help fund it.

Our recent graduates said they need­ed coding skills for competing in their classes. Leading local high schools in our area offer AP Computer Program­ming and other STEM courses. Jobs in STEM professions are regularly left unfilled, and the demand is great.

During the recent Souhegan delib­erative session, I tried to make this point, but I did not articulate well the complex trade-offs that must be ad­dressed to make this happen. When answering a question from the audi­ence about what I would cut from the curriculum in order to add technology and engineering courses, many people thought I was proposing that we elimi­nate all language instruction from the curriculum. So, let me clarify: I do not advocate eliminating languages or other electives from our high school curriculum. That would be foolish and do a disservice to our students. That said, we have to start making difficult choices that may require cutting back on some courses of study so that we can offer a broader curriculum.

So, how do these decisions get made? Some students will take a STEM curriculum, while others will make different curriculum choices. All students have the freedom to se­lect elective courses that will inter­est and enable them to enhance their skill set and prepare them for college.

To the best of my knowledge, there are few, if any, engineering or comput­er science universities that require languages for admission or gradua­tion. Souhegan HS does not require a language for graduation. By choos­ing a STEM curriculum, there will be a natural shift of students away from electives, like languages and arts, to higher-level STEM courses. The ad­ministration will employ the stan­dards and policies they have always used to reduce courses where the stu­dent minimum class size numbers are not met.

In addition, the administration has been proactive in encouraging dual certifications by staff so that teachers remain flexible as course loads shift. Thus, student course selection with the support of guidance, parents and their own interests will decide the course offerings over time.

Our students are facing a world that is constantly changing. The Internet, big data, the computer age and soft­ware are forces that rival or exceed the industrial revolution in terms of economic, international and societal impact. These will drive job creation for the next 50 years. We must adapt to this need for change in our educa­tional system.

David Chen

Amherst

100th birthday wish to highly respected friend

To the Editor:

As each of us travel along our road of life, it is not unusual to meet one or two people we never forget.

When I met Bill Rotch 56 years ago I knew you were one of these people. I know you never knew it but you gave me my first lesson in leadership and team building when I entered your broom closet sized office after I had passed through the much larger of­fices of your staff. I told you I had the urge to write and had written a column about my town of Wilton and asked if you would consider it for print.

After impressing upon me the foun­dation of a successful newspaper col­umnist was honesty in reporting, bring­ing reading enjoyment to the readers and knowledge of your subject, my first weekly column, called "Through the Keyhole," was published on Feb. 2, 1960. This started a wonderful hobby of 15 years writing a weekly column, feature stories and stories about local celebrities.

When I served two terms as a Wilton selectman, with one term being a time of absolute turmoil among the good people of Wilton, it became a time for more educational opportunities for me when I visited with you and learned from you common-sense perspectives on sensitive issues. I also will never forget visits with you fol­lowing my new career path tak­ing me out west to work on our Indian reservations because it was not a hometown vacation without a chat about my work, which you published in a wide variety of stories. You even liked my book on growing up in Wilton titled "A Small Town Hick and Proud Of It" so much, you published the entire book a chapter a week in The Cabinet.

Over the years my career took me to Washington, D.C., where I assumed full responsibility for disaster recovery on our 557 federally recognized Indian reservations, once again mak­ing hometown visits and chats with you a priority.

Although we have maintained our friendship through cor­respondence amidst my many career moves, my visit to New Hampshire and an opportunity to tour your apartment and chat about the old days in Milford and Wilton politics brought back a flood of wonderful mem­ories even though you chided me for leaving my wife in our car while we visited.

Now, as you celebrate your 100th birthday, it is a time to say thank you for a lifetime of writing enjoyment that also enhanced my career in the De­partment of HUD and give rec­ognition to the impact your com­mon sense, love for your town of Milford and dedication to pub­lishing a great hometown news­paper had on the good people of the Souhegan Valley.

Editor Bill … my friend … as you celebrate this 100th birth­day, I not only want to wish you the very best of health and happiness, but a huge personal thank you for the positive im­pact you had on my life.

Francis Gros Louis

Leesburg, Va.

Many ways to make a difference in Milford

To the Editor:

With our Town Meeting tak­ing place earlier this week, we should ask ourselves whether we are solely residents or mem­bers of our community.

By becoming more involved in our town, we develop social awareness, engage in discus­sions to better understand and help provide understanding on issues, and become active in the decision-making process.

It is easy to fall into the trap of complaining or blaming oth­ers about decisions that have been made when we choose not to get involved or are mis­informed. Instead, we should look to be part of the solution and move forward as a stron­ger community. As Henry Ford said, "Don’t find fault. Find a remedy." Our involvement may provide us with an appre­ciation of the difficult decisions that have to be made and an understanding of the dedica­tion put forth by others on our behalf. It is also a chance to of­fer our ideas to help make our town better.

There are many opportuni­ties to become involved if you feel an attachment to our com­munity. Maya Angelou once said, "When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and power­less. But when you get involved, you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better."

  • Interested in our town’s history? Look into the Milford Heritage Commission.
  • Good with managing mon­ey? Check out the Budget Advi­sory Committee.
  • Have good long-term vi­sion? You may have interest in the Capital Improvements Ad­visory Committee.
  • Want to have some input on our town’s economy? Try the Economic Development Advi­sory Council.
  • Have your sights set on a dif­ferent target? Ask about joining the Planning Board or the Zon­ing Board of Adjustment.
  • Want to dedicate your time aimed at a broader scope? Con­sider running for Board of Se­lectmen.

The only thing holding you back is yourself. It’s time to make a difference.

Jason Plourde

Milford

Thanks for the reminder of teen years, ice cream

To the Editor:

I must tell you how much I enjoyed your story on one of my all-time favorite ice cream stands!

It’s no wonder I was a little chubby when I was a teenager 70 years ago, and in fact the day I got my driver’s license, took Dad’s car, drove to the ice cream stand, and got myself a sundae and a date with the young lass who always gave me my order with a great smile! A highlight of those teen years!

It would be impossible for anyone who grew up in Mil­ford or Wilton to forget the ice cream stand. I can still re­call as a captain on the Wilton Fire Department responding to a fire at the plant one night and just about cried to have to throw away gallons and gallons of ice cream due to smoke.

Francis Gros Louis

Leesburg, Va.