Letters

Carl Benevides is An Asset to the Community

To the editor: 

      I am a 2004 graduate of Souhegan High School currently residing in Nashua. 

I am writing today to voice my disapproval of the recent  dismissal of Souhegan’s band teacher and music director Carl Benevides. In my four years at Souhegan I was involved in the choir and theatre department and worked with  Carl on the musicals where he directed the pit band. As an alumni I come back year after year to see concerts and plays and am constantly impressed by the talent of the current student body.  The school board is being so underhanded in their decision to let Carl go from his position which he has had for twenty one years.  He is a fabulous asset to this community.  This decision to let him go over trivial issues has negatively impacted the theatre department as Kim Whitehead and Jen Stover have both left their positions. Kim, Carl and Jen were an amazing team and I have really enjoyed every show I have seen in the past couple of years including this spring’s production of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  Letting Carl  go is a huge blow to the arts department at Souhegan.

      It is also my personal opinion that the arts get the short end of the stick when it comes to school budgets. If this was part of the reason why Carl was let go it is very unfair. The arts should get equal respect and budget monies given to it as athletics do. 

I look to the trips to out of state competitions such as to Disney World and New York City as examples. As a performer myself in the Amherst PTA Plays and in past years Souhegan Valley Chorus I can attest to the fact that we put just as much work preparing for our shows & concerts as athletes put in to preparing for their games. The school budgets have never reflected this over the years which is quite frustrating  and they most certainly should.

      Current students including the graduating seniors deserve so much better after being in a pandemic for fifteen months. If Carl’s job is not reinstated then future students will be put at a disservice for not being able to work with such a great teacher.  

      I highly recommend that the school board reconsider their decision to fire Carl and reverse it. He deserves respect for how dedicated he has been to this community over the years and the impact he has had on current times students and alumni.

 

Sincerely,

Janine Leffler 

Nashua

Pay the Bus Drivers More

To the editor: 

      I am a 9th grade student at Souhegan High School who has encountered many issues with the bus situation this year. I have had 2 soccer games cancelled, 1 soccer game postponed, and 1 where parents had to drive us due to the bus driver shortage. I also have friends who consistently come to school late because their bus has a longer route than usual. I have other friends whose bus driver simply quit right in front of them. I believe that we can fix this by paying our bus drivers more money. The average bus driver hourly rate in New Hampshire is $18.56. If we could just add another $3 I believe it could make a world of a difference. We could offer an incentive of like $20 for an away game that's under an hour away. And then we just make it $25 an hour for 2 hours and up. I believe that we can pay for this by hosting multiple fundraisers a year including, school dances, marathons around Amherst, movie nights at the high school theatre, raffle events etc. So what do you say? Will you help take control of our bus situation?

                                                             

Sincerely, 

Noah Daily 9th grade

Questions About Our Schools’ Leadership

To the editor: 

      Recent personnel actions at Souhegan HS have raised serious questions about SAU 39 leadership. In particular, band instructor Carl Benevides has been absent from the class room since early October. A group of concerned parents have been asking questions about the timeline for resolution of this tragic loss of a well-respected musical mentor for our children. At the SAU 39 board meeting 11/18 I made the following statement which members of these communities might wish to follow up on:

  • On 10/29 the SAU39 community received an email that a music instructor in SHS resigned due to personal issues. This message was also conveyed in person to music students by the SHS Principal, in a way that seemed to ignore that this would be an extremely heart-felt blow to many of those students, not least of which because it implied abandonment by their beloved teacher.

  • However, on 11/9, in a public Q&A involving only band parents we learned that this teacher is still employed by SHS. Thus, it appears that the earlier communication was flatly not true.

  • Given that the community has this wildly inaccurate information, why hasn’t there been a correcting email/communication with the wider community which received the “resigned” email?

  • Is this Board, as well as the SCSB Board, concerned that this matter has dramatically impaired the trust and future effectiveness of our new High School principal by putting him in the position of not being truthful to the school community in some of his earliest public wide-spread communications?

  • This is not the only personnel matter across the SAU in recent years that has raised unanswered questions. Many in the community are asking about the rash of turnover in teaching and non-teaching positions in the schools and the SAU itself.

  • I urge the SAU 39 Board, together with the various Amherst / Mont Vernon school Boards, to launch a formal, joint, independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding this and every other personnel separation of the last 3 years. We urge you to do so with citizen participation and oversight, and we ask this investigation to consider whether these separations have been handled consistent with federal and state law & regulations, as well as SAU39 policies, procedures and principles. In particular, we would like you to address the extent to which these separations have been conducted consistent with the Board-Superintendent relationship document published on the SAU website…in particular

  • #5 To deal always in an ethical, honest, straight-forward, open- and-above board manner with the Board, staff, students, and comm· unity.

  • #13 To remember that schools exist for the benefit of the students and the community.

  • In the case of SHS personnel matters it is also useful to evaluate them in the context of the Souhegan Six, especially

  • …Demonstrate behavior that is considerate of the community…

  • Be truthful. Communicate honestly.

Martin Goulet

Amherst

DECEMBER 2021