Spaulding Education Fund Hosts A Night of Stars

On Sunday November 23, A Night of Stars was hosted in the auditorium. This show is presented by The Spaulding Education Fund, which has been providing grants to boost student achievement in core subjects for twenty five years. There were two performances that showcased the talent from elementary school to high school students in the community.

As the audience was filing into the auditorium, a slideshow was playing in order to show what the Spaulding Education Fund has done for the Manchester Essex School District in the past twenty five years. In the science department, Spaulding has given three 3D printers that have opened up new creative possibilities for classes like robotics and industrial design. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
This year, the Master of Ceremonies was sophomore Robert Carter, who introduced each act with interesting facts about them. Carter also performed in both shows with the Soundwaves. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
The Soundwaves performed “That Lonesome Road” and “No Rain” in both shows. Many of the Soundwaves members helped English teacher Liz Edgerton out backstage and some even had an act in one of the shows. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Sixth graders Maddie Lawler and Sami Turner showed off their gymnastic skills in the second show to the song “Bounce.” Both girls take lessons at Iron Rail Gymnastics Academy in Wenham and have been there for a while. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Elementary student Luli Bartlett sang “Eleanor Rigby” while playing her guitar. Written by the Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby” was released in 1966 and won a Grammy for best contemporary performance in 1967. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Eighth graders Emma Lacey and Anna Bonaccorso, with Ava Glass on bongos, sang “Runaway” by Ed Sheeran in the second show. The acts were split up into two shows so that more students could perform. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Thespina Parianos, Abby Lantz, and Bella Pomeroy sang “Riptide” by Vance Joy along with Thad Fulmer on guitar and Kendall Hersey on drums. This is the first time that this group of eighth graders has performed together and they have been asked to be another fundraising show coming up soon. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Hersey, the bands drummer, has never been in A Night of Stars before but has been drumming since the age of three and wants to continue for as long as he can. He takes lessons in Essex with James Murphy at Stix Drum Instruction. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Seventh grade student Jenna Cirella sang “All Too Well” accompanied by chorus director Donna O’Neill on piano. O’Neill also played piano for sixth grader Aoife Dalton in the first show and has been accompanying singers in the performances for many years. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Catherine Garlitz and Molly Brady, both seventh graders, showcased their tap skills in a duet to “Barbapapa’s Groove.” “Barbapapa’s Groove,” written and performed by the Barbatuques, was released in 2002. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Garlitz and Brady take dance lessons at Liza’s Studio in Beverly and have been dancing together there. The girls compete in weekend dance competitions all around the country. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
Junior Chelsea Rose sings “Vienna” by Billy Joel, accompanied by junior Sara Rhuda. Rose dedicated her song in honor of her friend Andrew Rennie. Along with singing in the show like she does every year, Rose also participated in the backstage crew with her fellow drama members. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online
To close both shows, the Irish step dancing group from North Beverly danced a Treble Reel. A Treble Reel is a traditional dance done in hard shoes to 4/4 time. Every year these dancers showcase their skill in Irish step. Credit: Kara Hersey for Manchester Essex Multimedia Online


Memorial Elementary Hosts Empty Bowl Dinner

On Thursday March 6th, the Manchester Memorial Elementary School hosted a soup dinner and donated all the money to MERHS’s Global Issues class to provide meals for those in need.


District teachers join for collegiate volleyball

Teachers from the entire district came together for a night of collegiate volleyball. It helped to build a sense of community between the teachers.


District plans for ‘carry forward’ budget

With few major changes in the plans for the fiscal year 2014 budget, the district will continue with a “carry forward budget,” according to Superintendent Pamela Beaudoin.

  “We will continue to grow under this budget and carry everything forward. Our rate of growth will be determined by how much money we can free up within the existing budget, so it will be slower than we would like, but it won’t put us into jeopardy,” she said.

    Director of Finance and Operations Avi Urbas said some of the slight changes will have a more long-term impact, especially in the area of student enrollment.

  “There are updates that change from year to year related to three major variables. The largest is student population … enrollment has been slowly but noticeably increasing… The changes are not that significant, but the decimal places do tend to move large numbers, and they do have an impact,” Urbas said.

  According to Beaudoin, the continuing rise in residential or local student enrollment strains the ability of the school to fund programs like School Choice in the future, meaning that the budget must attempt to manage School Choice more tightly.

  “We haven’t had the luxury of being able to invite new students on board because we don’t have the money to invest in additional teachers to lighten the load on the already large classes that we have. School Choice will only become sustainable if local enrollment starts to go down. But, if the resident population continues to grow, it could eventually squeeze out School Choice,” Beaudoin said.

  One area in which the district saved some funds is in small cap investment, according to Beaudoin, where the initial request for $250,000 dropped to $53,000. According to her, small caps include investments outside the regular operational budget in the areas of technology, facilities, and personnel. Beaudoin said some proposed investments could include the addition of another guidance counselor.

  “If we want to make additional investments, we will have to find trade offs within the existing budget,” she said.

  According to Manchester Finance Council member Morgan Evans, many districts will be investing in security updates to school buildings in light of the Newtown shooting.

  “There has been talk about various schools changing buildings or entrance ways and looking for state money to do so,” he said.

  According to Beaudoin, the 2014 budget will not include funds for securities modifications because last year’s budget accounted for security updates in the form of buzzer systems for both elementary schools as well as the high school.

  Beaudoin said she does expect to see state chapter 70 funds to help balance out the limitations in town funding but not necessarily in the area of securities.

  “We have no state numbers officially. What we do have is an indicator from the governor’s office of where he wants to go with the budget… under one scenario, the chapter 70 funds will go up $25 per student and that would be the best-case scenario,” she said.



Manchester Essex Regional High School hosts A Night of Stars

The community gathered in the MERHS Auditorium for a show filled with the talents of the two communities students. The performances were a benefit for The Spaulding Trust which gives grants to MERSD projects.


District’s strategic plan sets goals for student achievement

By Fiona Davis

  Before the school year began, parents, faculty, and district staff members were hard at work formulating a new strategic plan, according to Superintendent Pamela Beaudoin.

  The plan consists of a unified approach to school improvement that combines community partnerships, resources and school climate to achieve core values of whole child and student achievement, she said.

  “It’s all interwoven…if one piece isn’t really working, then the other pieces can’t work,” Beaudoin said.

  According to both Beaudoin and director of student services Allison Collins, the plan is a team approach.

  “In terms of student services, our contribution to the strategic plan is that we work in partnership with general education… we work together to support the students,” Collins said.

  In order to facilitate achievement for all students, Collins said she has been working to implement programs for students with learning challenges, physical disabilities, economic hardships, and social difficulties across the district.

  “We have some programs that have been implemented to help students who otherwise might have a hard time remaining in the district…and also trying to bring students back who might need a specialized placement,” she said.

  Curriculum director Scott Morrison said the new plan emphasizes meeting the needs of all students.

  “If you handed out medium T-shirts to an auditorium full of people, they would fit some people perfectly, but for others they would be too large or too small.  It is the same idea when instructing students.  It is a tall order trying to make sure we form instruction to fit everyone,” he said.

  According to Beaudoin, improving the school climate is an important part of the plan that will develop the student achievement aspect.

  Collins said she hopes to create a welcoming environment for all students.  According to her, students can help in accomplishing this goal.

  “I do think students have a responsibility…I would like to see students…work with some of the students who have learning and social challenges by being welcoming and supportive and taking peer leadership roles,” she said.

  According to Collins, developing community involvement in the district will also aid the staff in promoting the strategic plan.

  “Community partnerships is having the community develop a better understanding of what is happening in the schools so that we can better work towards our goals for children in the community,” she said.

  Finance director Avi Urbas said the school must be thoughtful in investments in people and resources in order to capitalize on contributions from taxpayers in the community.

  “Resources are a big part of public education, and we have one of the best school systems in the state.  We want it to continue to improve, but there is a lot of funding that goes into making the school system work.  We have to balance improvement with fiscal responsibility,” he said.



Elementary students show off their music talents

On Tuesday night May 1st, both the Essex Elementary and the Memorial Elementary performed their chorus and band concert together. The schools combined into one band or one chorus for certain parts of the performance.


Superintendent proposes 2.9 percent budget increase for fiscal year 2013

By Fiona Davis

Independent Staff

Representatives from the School Committee, Board of Selectmen, town residents, and school district management met Jan. 24 to discuss the fiscal year 2013 district budget, originally proposed as a 4.9 percent increase over the 2012 budget but dropped to 2.9 percent after the meeting.

According to Superintendent Pamela Beaudoin, the new budget emphasizes the need for fiscal responsibility and strategic planning for future capital improvements.

Beaudoin said she advocates for a more feasible 2.9 percent budget increase for 2013 because the plan would allow the district to cover the most pressing budget items while maintaining reserve funds for future spending needs.

Parent Eli Boling said he is gravely concerned, along with several other parents present at the meeting, that the budget will not allow for the hiring of more teachers to address large class sizes.

“We were able to hire some additional staff last year, which made things a little bit better. We would look for the same thing this year if the money is there,” high school Principal James Lee said.

Director of Finance and Operations Avi Urbas said the School Committee hesitates to add new staff to the high school if the towns will be unable to sustain new staff members in the long term.

“We thought this year we would try to put two teachers back into the [district] budget. They were in the tentative budget, but it looks very unlikely that we are going to be able to keep them into the final budget this year to address rising enrollment,” Urbas said.

According to Lee, enrollment in the high school has risen from 470 students to 490 students in a one year period.

Besides not being able to add staff, Beaudoin said many other items on the list of district priorities will have to be left out of the final 2013 budget, such as new supplies, technology, and school improvements.

“Every year we have a to-do list…the more we put off things, the list just grows longer and longer every year, so at some point there is going to have to be a correction year where we can clean off the list and get a clean slate,” Beaudoin said.


Friendship tree lighting features performances from the high school, middle school, and elementary school.

On Dec. 14 the annual Community Friendship Tree Lighting, hosted by the Manchester Woman’s Club, featured performances from local school chorus’s and bands. At the conclusion of the ceremony, patrons were served hot chocolate and viewed the tree lighting.


Halloween celebrated at Manchester Memorial School

On October 31, 2011 the Manchester Memorial Elementary School held a Halloween event in which Trick-or-treaters and parents were welcome to come to the school and have some refreshments and glow sticks. Face painting was offered to children. The Manchester Halloween Committee organized the event and there were many volunteers.