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Opportunity Portfolio – Summer 2024

Proud Moments – Beech Street School Career Fair

Beech Street Elementary School hosted an exciting Career Fair on April 17, 2024, that had students buzzing with joy and enthusiasm. The event was designed to expose students to various career paths and give them an opportunity to interact with professionals from different fields. The fair featured a series of engaging classroom sessions and a lively “Career on Wheels” outdoor exhibit.

Classroom Presentations

Throughout the day, students rotated through classrooms where they were introduced to a diverse range of careers by industry professionals. The presenters offered insights into their respective fields and shared personal stories and experiences.

  • Rita McCabe, representing SubZero Ice Cream, captivated students with her innovative approach to making ice cream with liquid nitrogen, sparking curiosity about the science behind it.
  • Gustavo Guerrero, a bilingual liaison, singer, songwriter, and advocate, shared his experiences and encouraged students to embrace their talents and passions in their career pursuits.
  • Manchester Craft Market, a local market full of handmade items within the Mall of New Hampshire, presented on what it’s like to own a store front and make your own products.
  • Manchester Animal Hospital gave an engaging presentation about vet science and the responsibilities involved in caring for animals. Students were delighted to meet a bunny during the session, which made the experience even more memorable. Seeing a live animal up close gave them a firsthand glimpse of the world of veterinary care.
  • The Office of Youth Services introduced students to the important work they do in supporting and empowering young people. The Office of Youth Services ensures safety and positive growth for all youth and families by offering wrap-around services and connecting them to comprehensive resources. The program creates opportunities for youth to engage in positive activities and offers support to marginalized communities including LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and new Americans.

Career on Wheels

Outside the school, students explored the “Career on Wheels” exhibit, which showcased different professions that involved working with vehicles and equipment. This hands-on experience allowed students to see and interact with:

  • Tony Terragni, owner of Terragni Carpentry, demonstrated the tools and vehicles used in carpentry and construction, giving students a glimpse into the world of skilled trades.
  • Manchester Transit Authority provided a tour of a school bus, explaining how public transportation plays a crucial role in the community.
  • UPS brought a delivery vehicle and shared what it’s like to work in logistics and package delivery.
  • Manchester Public Works introduced students to the various trucks used in public works, such as a plow truck and garbage truck. 
  • The Manchester Fire Department students discussed with students the importance of fire safety as well as who to call on during an emergency, students were also able to view inside the fire truck.
  • The Manchester Police Department gave students an up-close look at a police cruiser and discussed the importance of public safety and community service.
  • B’s Tacos presented their food truck, which was a hit with the students. They allowed them to view inside the truck, explaining the different aspects of running a food truck business. Students were fascinated by the setup and the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship in the culinary industry.

The fair concluded with students expressing their gratitude for the opportunity to learn about so many careers. The exposure to different professions will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on these young minds as they consider their future paths. The event was a resounding success, fostering curiosity, creativity, and inspiration among the students of Beech Street Elementary School.

See the student’s exit tickets here:

Proud Moment – Gossler Park Elementary School’s Stephanie Emmons

Stephanie Emmons, Gossler Park Elementary School’s staff, was recognized as one of the WZID 20 Outstanding Women Award for 2024. Emmons was nominated for her exceptional work in the Manchester community and recognized for her commitment to her school and community and to supporting students and families.

Although Emmons is humble and doesn’t seek attention, she agreed to be featured because of her deep love for her school and the local community. Raised in Maine, she attended Saint Anselm College and earned a Bachelor’s in Sociology before obtaining her Master’s in Social Work from the University of New Hampshire.  Prior to joining the school district, Emmons worked with Waypoint and later became a part of the district working for Amoskeag Health as part of the Community Schools Grant. Following the grant, she transitioned to a full-time position within the district.

Aimee Kereage, Manchester Proud’s, Community Partnerships Director praised Emmons as an “amazing human,” expressing gratitude for the opportunity to work with her. Emmons herself acknowledges the uniqueness of the community, stating, “I’ve never worked at another school, but this community is so special…my goal and our goal is that people feel like a community—we are welcoming, we are not just a school.”

In her role at Gossler Park Elementary School, Emmons supports the entire student population of around 360 students, handling various tasks such as community and family outreach, attendance check-ins, individual counseling, and group kindergarten classes focusing on social-emotional learning skills. Additionally, Emmons plays an integral part in organizing the Parent-Teacher Association. During our interview, Emmons was organizing Popcorn Fridays where students receive a bag of popcorn and parent volunteers make the popcorn. 

Emmons also takes on extensive community outreach efforts, including establishing the school’s food pantry, providing Thanksgiving baskets, arranging Christmas assistance programs, Earn a Bike, Leadership Day, and so much more. She works to establish community partnerships, an example of this she collaborates with The Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester to offer trauma support groups, facilitating stronger support for students and families. Emmons emphasizes the importance of connecting families with resources and building relationships to foster a sense of community. 

Despite her many responsibilities, Emmons says, “I will never say no to an opportunity to support our school”. She truly embraces all opportunities to support the school and the community. She shares her excitement about having a new staff member join through the Federal Community School Grant, which will allow for greater community engagement and collaboration. Emmons envisions hosting more parent and family nights to strengthen connections with families.

While visiting with Emmons, the morning announcements came on which Emmons worked with three other staff members to create. This is a video message from students including the Pledge of Allegiance, weather, birthdays, lunch specials, and any other announcements. The editing of these videos was impressive with graphics and text overlay. Emmons shared that she and the three staff take turns in filming the announcements and editing them. 

As our interview concluded, Emmons’s passion for the school and community was evident but she shared her recognition with the school community, “I want to give a shoutout to everyone in the school; everyone here cares and works hard”.  

In recognition of her tireless efforts and unwavering commitment, Stephanie Emmons continues to make a lasting impact on the lives of students and families at Gossler Park Elementary School. Her pride in her work and the community is undeniable, as she proudly wears a “west side pride” button on her lanyard. As we walked out of her room together, she was greeted with smiles and hugs from students demonstrating her work in establishing relationships with her students. 


Interested in donating to the Gossler Park Elementary School food pantry? Reach out to semmons@mansd.org

Proud Moments – Boys & Girls Club on Manchester Foundation of Friends Breakfast

Empowering the Next Generation: Reflections from the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester Foundation of Friends Breakfast

The Boys & Girls Club of Manchester Foundation of Friends Breakfast showcased the profound impact the club has had on the youth in the community. The event began with opening remarks from Diane Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester, who set the tone for the morning by highlighting the club’s commitment to fostering growth and opportunity for the children of the city.

Loren, the Torch Club President, and an eighth-grade student, shared her journey from a quiet and shy first-grader to a strong leader with dreams of owning her own business. Loren credited her transformation to the support she received at the club, particularly from Antonio Feliciano, Director of Operations, one of Manchester Proud’s Champion’s Council members, who helped guide her on her path.

Mayor Jay Ruais spoke about the club’s vital role in providing hope and opportunity for Manchester’s youth. He praised the club for being a beacon of light, ensuring that children in the city have a place where they can grow and thrive.

Two youth members also shared their personal experiences at the club. Junior Youth of the Year Alondra, a seventh-grader at Hillside, expressed her gratitude for the club, stating, “I walk into the Club every day and immediately feel safe and accepted. I know I can be me.” Youth of the Year, 17-year-old junior Olivia, discussed how the club played a significant role in helping her overcome personal challenges and steer her life back on the right path. “I’m stronger than my past self. I am on my way to success,” she proudly stated.

A video was presented featuring interviews with various club members, highlighting the unwavering support they received from the club and the broader community. Business partner Fidelity provided fellowship opportunities that led to long-term employment for Central High School alum Doro Koita. Additionally, the video showcased a bike club led by the Teen/Tween Director, Zack Clark and a volunteer, fostering a newfound love for biking among the group.

Former club member and former employee Shirley Tomlinson shared her heartfelt story of how the club became her home away from home. She spoke about the club’s support during her junior year of high school when she lost her father. Antonio, who arrived with a bus of club members and provided comfort as she began to grieve her loss. The club rallied around her that day, giving her the support and love she needed.

The Boys & Girls Club of Manchester has created a nurturing environment where young people can discover their potential and cultivate their passions. The club’s ability to uplift a generation of leaders is evident through the heartfelt testimonials shared during the event. The support from the staff, volunteers, and community partners like Fidelity empowers the youth of Manchester to excel and become strong, confident individuals.

As the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester continues its work, it remains clear that it plays a pivotal role in shaping the future leaders of the city. Through dedicated efforts, the club provides a safe space where young people can learn, grow, and aspire to reach their dreams.

Amy’s Go Live Testing Event

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Proud Moments – Central High School’s Jazz Band

We met with Central High School’s Jazz Band on Wheel Wednesday! Wheel Wednesday is different from the student’s traditionally daily improvisation as they sit in a circle moving around the circle clockwise to allow for each student to improvise. Central High School Band Director and Manchester School District’s Fine Arts Director, Ed Doyle directs the band but the students are skilled and trained to move around the circle on their own without direction. This skill is remarkable to see in a high school band as many professional musicians can not improvise as these students were able to. 

Video of Wheel Wednesday Improv: https://www.tiktok.com/@mhtproud/video/7354044428627053866 

About being a part of the Jazz Band, Central High School Senior, Colleen says, “The best part is that it is smaller than Concert Band, we work off each other so much”. Watching their performance, the group truly feeds off each other. Central High School Sophomore, Nick says, “Jazz allows for more opportunity to be creative and try new things”. About the group, Ed Doyle says, “This is a real supportive group…they can make mistakes but expand and recover from them”. Expanding on this, Central High School Senior, Patrick says, “I started on piano but moved to guitar for Jazz Band, it’s been a really good opportunity to fool around and experiment with this new instrument”. 

The Jazz Band has a whole has 19 students and there are three combos within this group. On March 16, 2024, the UNH Clark Terry Jazz Festival took place in Durham, NH. This festival featured over 30 schools from all across New England. The whole Jazz Band performed and later that day a combo of seven students performed. The combo performed three songs. Agua de Beber, Black Nile, and Cienfuegos.

They received an Outstanding Performance Plaque as well as four individual awards for piano, drums, bass, and trombone. About the judgment, Central High School Junior, Tommy says, “The judges worked with us, they gave us ideas of ‘how about this?’” and Colleen added, “It was more than just critiques but suggestions”. About their recognition, students talked about the pride that they have in the music program as many other schools performing at this event typically have more funding. When asked what they were most proud of, the students agreed that they were proud of all three pieces equally.

See the Students with the award here: 

See a video of students performing Agua de Beber here: https://www.tiktok.com/@mhtproud/video/7354047771701185835

We were able to chat with the students in depth about their inspiration, they listed over 40 Jazz musicians from Duke Ellington to Al Green to Ella Fitzgerald to J.J. Johnson. Their music education here in Manchester is rich both with the skill to play their instrument and with other musicians but also their exploration of music history and music theory. 

Congratulations to the group on their accomplishments! 

Ed Doyle, Central High School Band Director and Manchester School District Fine Arts Director 

Patrick DeFelice, Guitar, 12

Oliver Jaquez, Alto Saxophone, 12

Serenity Newton, Bass, 12

Colleen Stankiewicz, Flute, 12

Tommy Martineau, Trombone, 11

Jonah Therrien, Drums, 10

Nicholas Valiton, Piano, 10

Mark your calendars to hear this group as well as other jazz programs in the Manchester School District for April 30, 2024 at 6 pm at the REX Theatre. 

Information here: A Night of Jazz at the Rex Theatre

Manchester Proud Update – March 2024

In the heart of Manchester, New Hampshire, at Beech Street Elementary School, community collaboration and commitment to student success took center stage at the recent Manchester Proud Spring into Summer Resource Fair. Organized jointly by Manchester Proud and the Manchester School District, this event emerged as a resounding success!  Nearly 40 community partners showed up to demonstrate the power of collective effort in fostering educational opportunities and supporting the holistic development of our city’s youth. 

Manchester Proud, a community-based organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of public school education in the city, has been a driving force behind initiatives aimed at empowering students and enriching their learning experiences. The Spring into Summer Resource Fair served as a tangible manifestation of this mission, bringing together educators, community leaders, businesses, and families to provide a diverse array of resources and opportunities for students in the upcoming summer months. From academic enrichment programs to recreational activities to career exploration workshops, the fair offered something for every student, regardless of their interests, background, or age. 

By providing access to summer learning programs, tutoring services, and extracurricular activities, the fair aimed to connect families with opportunities outside the traditional school year through summer camps, internships, jobs, and more. Beyond academic enrichment, the fair also fostered community engagement and collaboration. Local businesses and organizations came together to offer their support and resources, forging partnerships that will continue to benefit the city’s youth long after the event ended. By uniting stakeholders from across the community, the fair reinforced the notion that student success is a collective responsibility—one that requires the active involvement of educators, families, and the broader community.

As the sun set on Spring into Summer,  300 families were better informed on the options for their children to enjoy an enriching summer. By championing student success through career-connected learning and expanded learning time, the event exemplified the transformative impact that collaborative efforts can have on educational outcomes. Moving forward, Manchester Proud remains steadfast in its commitment to providing opportunities to champion student success through collaboration and partnerships, ONWARD!

Proud Moments – Webster Elementary School Girl’s Basketball Team

Webster Elementary School’s 4th and 5th grade girls’ basketball team just wrapped up their undefeated season, led by Coach Katie LaBranche. Katie LaBranche is a Title I Reading Supervisor at Webster Elementary and a mother to one of the girls on the team. She also chairs Manchester Proud’s Council.  This year’s championship is particularly notable, since only four of the team’s players returned from last year.

Asking the girls about their favorite part of being on the team, they all echoed the same feelings of enjoying being together. 5th grader, Liah says, “spending time with my friends and learning new skills”. 5th grader, Quinn added, “We have built a family around the team”. Not only were the girls like family, but they truly felt encouraged and uplifted by their coach. About Coach Katie, 4th grader, Isla says, “She is practically my idol”. 5th grader, Gloria adds, “She’s the best coach I’ve ever had”.

Eight girls on the team had never been on a team before. About this, 5th grader, Else says, “There are so many rules in basketball and they’re always changing”. To overcome this, the girls practiced three times a week and they calculated that they practiced for over 50 hours throughout the season. Coach Katie highlighted their dedication by noting that the students spent recess time creating new plays for the team. She says, “They worked hard this season”. 

About winning the championship, 4th grader, Aniya says, “It was like getting a new cat or dog and having a birthday party at the same time”. Webster Elementary School completed their undefeated season in a Championship game against McDonough Elementary School.About this 4th grader, Isla says, “McDonough is a great team so we weren’t sure that we would be able to win”. 4th grader, Anola added to this saying, “We didn’t even make the playoffs last year”! 

Coach Katie explained, “It’s like a little community” with all the alumni, students, and families coming together to encourage and celebrate the team. She told a story of Leah who arrived here from the Dominican Republic when she was in 1st grade; her father had played basketball during his time in the Dominican Republic and he came to give the girls pointers and stretches to utilize. Webster PTO also helped raise funds to purchase hoodies for the entire team, that they all wore during our interview. 

This group of students is highly involved. When asked who participates in another club or team at school, every single student raised their hand. Some examples of this are: French club, chess club, strings, 21st Century, YMCA, band, Girls Scout, BringIt!, and Boys and Girls Club. In addition to these extracurriculars, they also participate in various sports, moving into new seasons in baseball, lacrosse, girls on the run, and archery.

When saying goodbye, the girls were excited to show their team cheer. They stood together in a circle with their hands stacked together in the center and yelled, “I, 2, 3, Webster”. Congratulations to the Webster Elementary School’s 4th and 5th grade basketball team on your championship and undefeated season!