Two local students to receive Sylvia Evans Young Leadership Awards

BERLIN — The Sylvia Evans Young Leadership Awards for 2017 are being presented to Tiffiney Poirier of Berlin High and Lauren Gralenski of Gorham Middle High School.

“These awards are presented to a young woman who displays both outstanding leadership and a strong dedication to community service, who captures the spirit of volunteering and motivates others,” said Ken Gordon, CEO of Coos County Family Health Services. This is the eighth year for the Young Leadership Awards, which are an offshoot of the Sylvia Evans Citizenship Award. The awards are presented at the Sylvia Evans Award Ceremony on April 7 at 7 p.m. at White Mountains Community College.

Tiffiney Poirier, Berlin High School

Tiffiney Poirier has excelled in high school in academics, sports and service work, and is a three-season athlete who has demonstrated strong leadership abilities. She has handled a rigorous course load, gaining a weighted grade point average of 95.66 on a 100 scale. As a sophomore, Poirier was inducted into the National Honor Society, earning a title of NH Scholar with a pathway in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

“I have always known I wanted to be a teacher,” Poirier said.

She has demonstrated her commitment with two years of career technical education in the field of early childhood education. She would like to attend college to continue in the field, and has currently been gaining hands-on experience working with the high school's on-site pre-school, a separate organization from the high school itself.

"Tiffiney is both caring and patient, and she is a responsible and mature young woman," said BHS School Guidance Counselor Jessica Russ. "Tiffiney goes above and beyond in her volunteer work between Key Club and National Honor Society," she said.

Throughout her high school years, Poirier has kept up with a number of extra-curricular activities. She has been a three-season athlete in varsity soccer, JV/varsity basketball and track and field. She held the position of team captain in both soccer and basketball freshman and sophomore year. She is also a part of the unified basketball team this year, which is a team made up of handicapped athletes and non-handicapped partners.

In her junior year, Poirier became the president of FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and Key Club editor. This year, she was nominated as president of Key Club, which is sponsored by a local Kiwanis group and requires 40 hours of volunteering from April to the following March.

The Key Club students made blankets for Boston Children’s Hospital and designed cards to distribute to people at local nursing homes. A major activity is the membership drive and fundraiser, which is held for a week in autumn. This year, the funds they raised for Key Club International went to provide tetanus shots for children overseas.

Some of Poirier’s other activities include the Youth Leadership Through Adventure program, which provides not only plentiful outdoor activities but also training in suicide prevention, so teens can develop the skills to intervene when friends or peers are in trouble.

She has attended the Merrowvista program for the past two years, which provides a weekend-long camp in southern New Hampshire that includes games promoting leadership skills. An example is a game where students wear a playing card that can only be seen by others, which is assigned a value. The game is designed to help students deal with the way others perceive them.

Poirier plans to attend White Mountains Community College in the fall, so she will stay local in the Berlin community. “I am confident that she will continue to excel not only in her academics, but also in her commitment to her community,” said Russ.

Lauren Gralenski, Gorham Middle /High School

Lauren Gralenski is a well-rounded contributor with enough options to make anyone’s head spin. An outstanding scholar, she has been president of the Gorham chapter of National Honor Society for the past two years and was accepted at all 10 of the colleges she applied for (she has narrowed it down to four).

The NHS is a community-service-led group that plans an event every month. Their varied activities have included cooking and serving a Veterans’ Day Supper one month and performing as elves at the Polar Express in North Conway. She has also been an active member of Future Business Leaders of America, which not only raises scholarship money but also manages it.

"Lauren is very passionate about all her causes and is never afraid to go 'the path less traveled,'" said Christine Lemoine, student counselor at Gorham High School.

Gralenski has also been captain of the soccer, basketball and softball teams for several years, and has been voted treasurer of the Student Council for four years and vice president this year. She has worked on homecoming floats, proms and winter carnival events annually, designing and helping construct decorations and handling music for the events.

Her events "get our students the most animated and excited to participate," said Lemoine. "It is a credit to her how many times she has been elected to the highest leadership positions that we have. She is not an impulsive leader — every decision she makes is very well calculated."

After her junior year, Gralenski attended the St. Paul’s School Advanced Studies program in Concord, a rigorous 5 ½-week program called "Data Driven," where she studied applied mathematics and statistics. Over the past four years, Gralenski has taken on a difficult course load in all types of disciplines. In her senior year, she has enrolled in at least three Running Start courses, an advanced placement biology course, has had two school-to-career internships, and is completing a senior project. As a student intern, she put in 65 hours with Androscoggin Valley Hospital Administration working with Brian O'Hearn, director of nursing, and James Patry in patient experience and marketing. She also spent a day shadowing a Northway Bank employee to learn marketing.

Although she is undecided, Gralenski is considering a career in project management or business.

"I am certain she will quickly climb the ladder wherever the path leads her because she is not a follower," Lemoine said. "She is not afraid to strategize and problem-solve, and she always comes up with the best solutions."

A peak into Arctic Wednesdays on the summit of Mount Washington

By Rachael Brown

Arctic Wednesdays, the pilot professional development program which brings the remote landscape of the summit of Mount Washington down to the valleys of nearby classrooms, was launched in January 2017.

The Mount Washington Observatory, with the help of supporting partners and donors, hosted science teachers from different schools and varying grade levels to travel to the summit.

Twelve teachers from Berlin, Conway, Tamworth, Fryeburg and Lovell, got the experience of a lifetime, riding the snowcat to the summit in the winter, enjoying a meal at 6,288 feet, taking part in weather observations, shadowing the weather observers and trying to snap photos of Marty the Cat, the observatory's mascot.

The teachers’ findings and adventures were reported back to the students by video conferencing with the weather observers. Some teachers made their own videos and recorded the adventure through Facebook Live.

The highlight said the teachers, was being able to bring their trip and their knowledge right back to their classrooms.

“The best part was being able to connect with the kids. Their eyes were wide open,” said Heidi Belle-Isle, sixth grade teacher at Pine Tree Elementary School in Conway.

Brian Fitzgerald, director of education and Will Broussard, outreach coordinator were on hand at the observatory's Weather Discovery Center in North Conway to talk about the program earlier this month.

“The program began in January and will run through March 15, weather dependent, of course. Two teachers travel to the summit in coordination with the Wednesday shift change at the observatory, twice in January, in February and in March, leaving room for bad weather,” said Fitzgerald, adding the program is intending to support teachers in their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) efforts.

The program costs money, some of which comes out of professional development funds and with the help of this year’s sponsors: White Mountain Oil and Propane, The Kiwanis Club of Mount Washington Valley and Kestrel Weather Meters.

Speaking of weather meters, the Kestrel Company donated the Kestrel 5000, which measures 11 weather parameters; temperature, wind speed, humidity and barometric pressure.

Teachers met for orientation before the program began. Part of the project includes a community blog written by the teachers. The teachers work in teams to travel to the summit; one writes the pre-trip blog and the other the after-trip blog. Teachers who participated: Karl Nordlund, K.A. Brett School, fourth grade; Matt Krug, K.A. Brett School, fifth grade; Joel Rhymer, Fryeburg Academy; Dylan Harry, Fryeburg Academy; Kim Mathison, Conway Elementary sixth grade; Jaime Welch, Berlin Middle School; Joy Norkin, Fryeburg Academy; Scott Lajoie, Kennett High School; Heidi Belle-Isle, Pine Tree Elementary School, sixth grade; Kelley Brown, New Suncook Elementary School, K-1; and Becky Nason, New Suncook Elementary School, grades 4-5.

Why winter, why Arctic?

“It is all about the extremes. This is what interests people and the kids, too,” said Fitzgerald,

“It is powerful to establish a good connection with teachers and a great way to keep them involved to see what we are doing at the summit. It is a special caveat to see teachers bring what they learn to the classroom,” added Broussard.

The project allows for a variety of experiences from the different grade levels involved. The summit experience filtered into other disciplines.

“In Fryeburg at the Academy, with English Language Learners, one project was to translate discoveries into French. In Colleen Koroski’s third grade classroom at Conway Elementary, students wrote about and explained wind chill,” said Fitzgerald.

Then there was the human element, which seemed to be a common interest of students.

“So they really do clean all of them [weather stations] off by hand. It seems so unrealistic to think that guys are out there manually removing ice and snow on the side of Mount Washington for weather data collection. It is so cool. Just think, we look at that mountain all of the time heading to Walmart and stuff and there are really actual people up there working,” writes Joy Norkin in her post-trip blog about a student’s comment.

After the Arctic Wednesday program is completed, there will be a review by the participants, what did they learn, what did the students learn what would they do differently and recommendations for next year.

On Saturday, April 1, Fitzgerald and Broussard will present the program at the spring conference for the New Hampshire Science Teachers Association on at Pinkerton Academy in Derry.

Accessibility to the summit is part of the intrigue,” said Fitzgerald.

Here is the story of the ascent and arrival to the summit.

The first trip up was Jan. 11, after a snowfall the evening before. On board the shift change ride were Karl Nordlund and Matt Krug, along with two volunteer cooks, three weather observers, a researcher and Sharon Schilling, the president of MWOBS.

“We broke a record — over six hours to get to the top and had lots of conversations getting to know one another. We took weather readings at 4,100 feet with the Kestrel and arrived around 5 o’clock. We couldn’t do a live feed, but we spent about one half hour at the summit. We drove down in the dark, the wind was howling, it was snowing, so neat, ” said Nordlund, adding that Tom Padham, a weather observer and education specialist, connected with Nordlund’s classroom.

“The video feed was broadcast on a big screen in the classroom and when the kids had questions, they sat at an individual computer to ask. They had really good questions,” said Nordlund.

Some of the questions were: What is the coldest temperature? What is the highest wind speed? How many days do you stay up there? What do you eat? What was the worst weather? What was the hottest day?

Nordlund and Krug did weather units prior to their trip to prepare the class.

This has been so great to share with the kids. Fourth graders love science it is real to them,” said Nordlund.

Jamie Welch and Joy Norkin made the ascent on Feb. 14. Their trip had been rescheduled because of weather.

“Our trip was last minute, it had snowed the day before when we were supposed to go. Another storm was coming in on Wednesday, the 15th. There was no guarantee we were going to get there,” said Welch.

But they did get to the summit — the trip took four and one half hours, sometimes traveling over 15 to 20 feet of snow.

“It was hard going — up an down. The state park snowcat was in front of us. The operator was phenomenal. He made a pathway for us but we still had to work hard traveling above the drifts. The road is not really plowed you work to create a level surface. There are snow stakes to mark the edge of the road, but you can barely see the tops of the stakes,” explained Welch.

They still stopped along the way.

“There are a series of stations along the way up the mountain. We stopped so the observers could get out to clear the snow from the stations and take readings. It was incredibly deep snow. It was like swimming and crawling to get to the stations,” said Welch, adding the snowcat traveled at a walking pace.

When they reached the summit they spent about 40 minutes and were able to make the connection to his classroom.

“We had a good chat. The kids were surprised to see what it is like inside. They see pictures of the summit all the ice, rime ice and totally encrusted, but where the weather observers are, they can see it is warm. People live there, eat and sleep all the while there are crazy weather events going on,” added Welch.

Before Welch’s trip to the summit, he and team teacher, Anthony Mullins, and 16 students rode the Mt. Washington SnowCoach to tree line.

“The students don’t really understand what it is like to be out in extreme weather. We were greeted by 45 mile per hour winds. We were out for 10 minutes and that was enough. At times the wind was pushing so hard you couldn’t walk,” said Welch.

Pre-trip classroom work included discussions about search and rescue and a viewing of the movie Everest.

“The search and rescue is intriguing for seventh graders. Mount Washington is a crazy place for weather, and it can catch people off guard. They like the details of the rescues,” said Welch.

Students also like Welch’s enthusiasm.

“This was an amazing opportunity, a special development experience. I was excited about this and the students get excited, too,” said Welch, adding Arctic Wednesdays was especially important north of the Notch to utilize opportunities.

Colleen Koroski and Kim Mathison traveled to the summit on Feb. 28. Their trip was postponed three times because of weather.

On this trip, the teachers were able to sit in on the observers’ meetings.

“We toured the weather instrument room, saw what they were recording like the registered wind speed. On that day it was low, I think about 20 miles per hour. Then we sat in on the transition meeting for shift change,” said Mathison.

Mathison and Koroski got to climb the tower 6,310 feet up to what seems like a 90 degree angle stairway to the observation tower.

“You couldn’t have a fear of heights. One of the observers took a crow bar with him to knock ice off the supporting poles so the ice doesn’t interfere with instruments,” explained Mathison. The observers go up the tower to collect the precipitation canister, which they carry down the stairway and bring inside to melt the snow to get precipitation measurements.

Because of rescheduling, both Mathison and Koroski’s classes were on the slopes for Eastern Slopes Ski Club Ski Day. Padham was able to conduct a video conference for them.

“The next day, Tom did a video conference for 45 minutes for our classes. One of the student’s fathers, Jake Odell, a computer technician came into our class. He had spent two and half years on the summit. He converted the paper readings to computer recordings and files when he workers there,” said Mathison.

The students gained an understanding of life atop Mount Washington.

“With Mount Washington being right in our backyard and so many didn’t know much about it. I think this was a fabulous program, I would love to go up again,” said Koroski.

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Remains of Berlin soldier who died in Korean POW camp to be buried at Arlington

By Barbara Tetreault

BERLIN — Army Cpl. Joseph Norman Pelletier will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday, more than 65 years after the Berlin man died in a North Korean POW camp.
Raymond Pelletier said he was shocked late last year when he received a call from the Army’s Repatriation Unit reporting that his brother’s remains had been identified.
“It was unbelievable,” Pelletier said.
Just last September he had a tombstone commemorating his brother dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.
At the time, Pelletier said he hoped to recover the remains of the brother he knew as Norman but said he feared it was unlikely.
"Work continues to try to make that happen even though its likelihood seems relatively impossible at the time,” he wrote at the time. He added, however, that he remained optimistic that “maybe chance will strike a favorable note again."
In fact, his brother’s remains have been at the Joint Base in Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii since 1992. The Defense Departments POW/MIA Accounting Agency said between 1990 and 1994, North Korea returned 208 boxes of commingled human remains to the United States that contained the remains of at least 400 U.S. servicemen. Norman Pelletier’s remains were in a group of 15 boxes from the North Hwanghae Province, where he was believed to have died.
Using advances in technology, the defense department said it continues to identify the remains of Americans missing in action while serving their country. There are 7,757 Americans still unaccounted for from the Korean War.
The call from the defense department came while Pelletier was flying to California to spend Christmas with his daughter. He arrived to find a message on his cell phone that his brother’s remains had been identified.
“I was shocked,” he said.
In February, a member of the U.S. Army repatriation branch visited Pelletier’s house in Hampton, Maine, and spent four hours briefing the family on Norman Pelletier’s service in Korea as well as the retrieval and identification of his remains.
Pelletier said he and two other brothers, Gary and Robert, had given DNA samples years ago and the DNA from the remains matched all three brothers. Dental and anthropological analysis also matched his brother’s records. Finally, found among the remains, was Norman Pelletier’s dog tag, an eyeglass lens, and part of an eyeglass frame.
Pelletier said the dog tag was a pleasant surprise for him. He said his brother’s name is clearly visible on it and he plans to put it in a special display case.
His family has chosen to have Norman Pelletier buried at Arlington National Cemetery where he already has a memorial headstone. That headstone will be replaced with a new one in a different section of the national cemetery. His three surviving siblings; Raymond, Robert and Gary, will attend Tuesday’s burial, which will include full military honors.
Pelletier said he is comforted to have his brother’s remains at Arlington where family members, now scattered across the country, can visit.
“I’m so pleased for him. He deserved it so much,” said Raymond Pelletier.
Norman was the oldest of seven children born to Alfred and Sadie Pelletier. The family lived on Burgess Street.
Norman Pelletier enlisted in the Army just after graduating from high school. He had wanted to drop out of high school to enlist but his parents insisted he graduate first. Raymond Pelletier said it was a decision that haunted his parents all their lives.
The following August, Norman Pelletier was sent to Korea as a radio operator in the 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.
Within a month of landing in Korea, Pelletier’s actions had earned him a bronze star for valor at the Battle of Yongsan. In early February 1951, his unit was supporting Republic of Korea Army against units of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces in an area known as the Central Corridor in North Korea. The CPVF attacked the Americans on Feb. 12, causing them to withdraw south to Hoengsong. Pelletier never reported in and he was declared missing in action. He was just 20 years old.
After the war, Pelletier's name appeared on a list provided by the CPVF and Korean People's Army as a prisoner of war. Returning American prisoners reported that Pelletier died sometime in April 1951 at the "Bean Camp” from malnutrition.
A retired professor of French and former associate director of the Canadian-American Center at the University of Maine, Raymond Pelletier has spearheaded the effort to recognize his brother’s heroics and recover his remains. Pelletier said he was not quite 8 years old when his oldest brother enlisted, and his memories are few. As the years went by, he said he grew to feel not enough had been done to recognize his brother’s sacrifice. After he retired, Pelletier said he realized there was a gap in his life that he needed to fill. While he has learned much about his brother’s service, Pelletier said he is not done. He is currently reading David Halberstam’s book on the Korean War, “The Coldest Winter” and hopes to contact a former prisoner who was with his brother. He also plans to provide copies of documents and material on his brother to the Berlin and Coos Historical Society.

Detecting possible underground leaks

Berlin Water Works is asking for residents' help in detecting any possible underground leaks that have not surfaced.

It is not normal to hear constant water running in a household unless someone is using the water.

If you notice a sound in your home of constant water running when you or someone in your household is not using water, contact the water works office at (603) 752-1677. The sound you hear may represent a leak in the water main or your service line. Once Berlin Water Works was contacted it will investigate the sound of water and determine what is causing the running water noise.

Leaks do not always show up on the surface, so Berlin Water Works is enlisting customers help.

If any questions, call (603) 752-1677.