Get out and run

Virtual races and a couple of in-person events

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a chance to trot off your turkey or shuffle down the street dressed as Santa. Check out a few runs that are still happening — most virtually, or with a virtual option.

• Registration has closed to participate in person in the Fisher Cats Thanksgiving 5K, but you can still join virtually. Run wherever you are on Thanksgiving morning — or whatever day and time works for you before Nov. 30 — and submit your results online. Virtual registration will be open until 9 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 29. The cost is $30 for adults and $15 for kids 11 and younger. Adults will get a medal and a T-shirt with their registration. Visit

• The Greater Derry Track Club is hosting its 47th annual Turkey Trot 5K Road Race on Thanksgiving morning at Galliens Town Beach on Beaver Lake, with staggered start times beginning at 7:30 a.m. There will not be any race-day registrations, but a virtual option lets you run any time, anywhere, between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29. The cost for the in-person run is $25 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. The virtual run is $10 for everyone. Visit

• The 22nd annual Galloping Gobbler 4-Miler will be held in person on Thanksgiving morning starting at 9 a.m. at Bishop Brady High School in Concord. Race-day registration starts at 7 a.m., and masks need to be worn at all times until after crossing the start line, if you can maintain a distance of six feet from other runners. Other safety precautions include staying in your car until warm-up is announced. There is also a virtual option this year (if the in-person race is canceled, your registration will automatically be switched to virtual). Virtual runners can run any time, anywhere, from now until the end of the day on Friday, Nov. 27. The cost is $30 for either race. Visit

• The Amherst Junior Women’s Club 20th annual Trot Off Your Turkey 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run will be held virtually this year. Run any day in November and post times and photos when you’ve completed your race. The online registration deadline is Friday, Nov. 27, at 11:59 p.m. The cost for the 5K is $25, and the fun run is $10. Visit

• The Hampstead Turkey Trot 5K will be in person on Thanksgiving morning, starting at 8:30 a.m. at St. Anne’s Church in Hampstead. Online registration ends Nov. 25; race-day registration will take place between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m., but you will not get a T-shirt and the cost is the same. The cost is $20 for adults, $15 for ages 62 and older, and $12 for ages 17 and under. Non-perishable food for the St. Anne’s Food Bank will be collected. Pets on leashes are welcome. Visit

• The sixth annual Penmen for Patriots 5K will be virtual this year, which means you get to run or walk at any time and in any location. Registration is open until 6:59 p.m. on Nov. 30. The cost is $30, which gets you a Penmen for Patriots 5K runner’s bib in the mail; then, on Dec. 22, you’ll be able to pick up a race packet at Runner’s Alley in Manchester, which will include a long-sleeved Penmen for Patriots 5K shirt, a gift card from Able Ebenezer Brewing in Merrimack and other swag. After Nov. 22, the race packets will go out in the mail. All proceeds benefit Easterseals Veterans Count.

• Walk, jog or run the Santa Claus Shuffle in Manchester on Saturday, Dec. 5, and get samples at four sweet stops (chocolate, milk & cookies, candy and maple!) along the three-mile Elm Street route, which begins and ends at Veterans Park. The run will have a time trial start format, with start times staggered between 1 and 3 p.m. Early bib pickup will be available at Millennium Running in Bedford on Thursday, Dec. 3, and Friday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Race-day pickup will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. Masks are required at check-in, in the staging zone and corral zone, in the post-race area, and any time a distance of six feet cannot be maintained. Two runners will start every 10 seconds to allow for distancing. There’s also a virtual option that lets you run whatever day and time you want between Nov. 30 and Dec. 6. All runners will get a Santa suit with their registration. The cost is $25 for the virtual run. The in-person run is $30 for ages 21 and up, $25 for ages 12 to 20 and $10 for ages 11 and younger. If race-day registration is available, the cost is $5 more for ages 12 and up. Visit

Tree traditions

Virtual tree-lightings, festivals of trees and more

From virtual tree lightings to community-wide light displays, cities and towns all across New Hampshire are still finding ways to get you into the holiday spirit. Check out this list of places and times to enjoy a lit up holiday spectacle and find one near you.

• This year, the Feztival of Trees at Bektash Shrine Center in Concord is going virtual. While there will be no in-person attendance during the tree raffle show, you can enter in the raffle online to win now through Dec. 4 at noon. The winners will then be drawn that same day at 1 p.m. To enforce social distancing, winners can book a time slot from Dec. 4 through Dec. 6 to pick up their trees. Visit for more details.

• This year’s Exeter Festival of Trees has been reimagined as an online fundraiser for the Community Children’s Fund. Now through Thursday, Dec. 3, at noon, you can donate $25 to be entered to win a beautifully decorated artificial tree. Drawings will be conducted that evening. You can also stop in to Shooter’s Pub (6 Columbus Ave., Exeter) and Arjay Ace Hardware (55 Lincoln St., Exeter) to see the trees that are up for grabs. Visit

Concord’s annual Christmas tree lighting celebration will be held at the Statehouse Plaza (North Main Street) on Friday, Nov. 27, at 4 p.m. Visit

• The 12th annual Southern New Hampshire Festival of Trees, hosted by Pelham Community Spirit, is happening at Sherburne Hall in the municipal building (6 Village Green, Pelham), from Friday, Nov. 27, through Saturday, Dec. 5, at varying times, when participants will have a chance to win a decorated tree. Admission is $5 for adults and free for kids ages 12 and under (multiple-day passes are also available). Raffle tickets are $5 per sheet of 25 tickets. Visit

• Get your tickets now for a holiday tree lighting and family dinner at LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) on Sunday, Nov. 29, starting with a multi-course meal served at 5:30 p.m., and the lighting at 6:45 p.m., snow or shine. There will also be live holiday music and a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails available for purchase. After dinner, guests will be invited to get hot cocoa and cookies while walking over to the vineyard overlook for the tree lighting. The cost for the dinner is by table only (price breakdown is $49 for adults and $24 for kids ages 12 and under). Reservations are required. Visit

Auburn’s Tree Lighting will be held on Sunday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Auburn Village School (11 Eaton Hill Road, Auburn). Masks or face-coverings are required if you’re attending in person, or you can stream it on the town’s Parks & Recreation department Facebook page @auburnnhparksandrec.

• Rivier University in Nashua will hold its campus Christmas tree lighting virtually this year, on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. The lighting will be shared live on the Rivier University Alumni Facebook page. Visit

Rochester’s holiday tree lighting will be held virtually this year, airing on Friday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m. on the City and Chamber of Commerce’s websites and Facebook pages. The event will feature special holiday dance performances from the Studio 109 dance school, and a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” by Rochester Mayor Caroline McCarley. Visit

• Bethany Church’s Greenland campus (500 Breakfast Hill Road) will hold a Christmas tree lighting on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 5:30 p.m. Participants can enjoy a live Nativity scene, sing festive Christmas carols and indulge in Christmas cookies and warm drinks. Visit

Windham’s annual tree lighting will be held on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 5 p.m. on the Windham Town Common. Attendees are invited to socially distance with masks or enjoy the lighting from the warmth of their cars. Visit

• There will be a brief tree lighting at Abbie Griffin Park (6 Baboosic Lake Road, Merrimack) on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 4 p.m. featuring Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, who will be travelling throughout town with the Merrimack Fire Department beginning at 2:45 p.m. Visit

• The annual Amherst Tree Lighting Festival will be held virtually on Friday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. You can also visit LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) on Sunday, Dec. 13, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and receive a complimentary mimosa if you mention the virtual tree lighting festival (be sure to make a reservation in advance). Visit

Family-friendly holiday fun

Kids’ storytimes, Santa visits and more

From storytimes and holiday movie screenings to visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, check out these events to get into the holiday spirit this season.

• The Pelham Parks & Recreation Department is inviting kids ages 10 and under to receive a special letter from Santa this holiday season. Forms can be picked up at the department’s office (6 Village Green, Pelham) and filled out and submitted by Friday, Dec. 4. Completing the forms with as much detail as possible is encouraged to further contribute to the personalization of the letters. Visit or call 635-2721.

• Now through Friday, Dec. 18, kids can mail their “wishlist” to Santa Claus by dropping it off in the “North Pole” express mailbox at the Bedford Town Office building (24 N. Amherst Road). All kids dropping off a letter will receive a return letter addressed to them. Visit for more details.• Visit Santa Claus at Bass Pro Shops (2 Commerce Drive, Hooksett) now through Dec. 24. Santa will have an acrylic “magic shield” barrier in place between families at all times this year. Free online reservations are required, as spots are limited to allow social distancing. Visit

• The Hudson Lions Club will present a drive-thru visit with Santa Claus, who will arrive by fire truck in the parking lot of Alvirne High School (200 Derry Road, Hudson) on Friday, Nov. 27, at 2 p.m. “Elves” will also be giving out goodie bags for kids. Visit

• Tickets are still available for a Frozen viewing party at select Chunky’s Cinema & Pub locations, including on Friday, Nov. 27, at 12:30 p.m. at the Manchester theater (707 Huse Road), and on Sunday, Nov. 29, at either 12:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., at the Pelham theater (150 Bridge St.). Tickets are $6.99 per person. Visit

• See a screening of the classic film The Wizard of Oz on either Friday, Nov. 27, or Saturday, Nov. 28, at The Flying Monkey Movie House & Performance Center (39 Main St., Plymouth). The doors open at 6 p.m., and the film begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors and students. Visit

• The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St., Dover) is offering holiday gift making kits that include five projects kids can make to give as gifts to loved ones. Kits cost $45 per child ($40 for members) and can be ordered online and picked up at the museum the week of Dec. 1. You’ll be emailed a list of pick-up time slots to choose from, which will be in the early evening. Projects include painting and arranging a centerpiece, making a static electricity ornament, designing a shrink art keychain or necklace, making a hanging barrier and more. Kits are best suitable for kids ages 3 ½ to 12. If any are remaining after Dec. 3, they will be available to purchase in the museum shop during its regular operating hours (Thursday to Saturday, 9 to 11:30 a.m., or 1 to 3:30 p.m.). Visit

• Take an online art class via Zoom with the Wild Salamander Creative Arts Center (30 Ash St., Hollis). The next available classes include painting with wool on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 5:45 p.m. (ages 11 and up; register by Nov. 27); felting a snowy owl on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 5:30 p.m. (ages 8 and up; register by Nov. 27); and felting holiday gnomes on Thursday, Dec. 3, at either 3:30 or 5:30 p.m. (ages 8 and up; register by Nov. 27). Visit

• Join The Music Hall (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth) for a screening of the classic holiday film A Christmas Story on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $15 per person. Visit

• Now through Dec. 3, you can see a showing of The Santa Clauseat any of the three Cinemagic locations in the Granite State (38 Cinemagic Way, Hooksett; 11 Executive Park Drive, Merrimack; 2454 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth). Tickets are $5 per person. Visit for showtimes.

• Charmingfare Farm (774 High St., Candia) has combined its Santa’s Big Party and Lighted Winter Wonderland events into one celebration, Santa’s Christmas. Individual tickets are not being sold; only packages are available, for $249 (one package is good for up to 10 people), with various times available to visit the farm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 4 through Dec. 6, Dec. 11 through Dec. 13 or Dec. 18 through Dec. 20. Horse-drawn wagons are divided into two sections of 10 passengers each. Attractions include a live animal nativity, visits with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and live “reindeer,” s’mores kits, hot cocoa and complimentary cookies. Visit to check available times.

• The Milford Recreation Department is hosting Miracle on Elm Street, a holiday drive-thru event happening on Saturday, Dec. 5, with multiple time slots beginning at 9 a.m. Starting at the west entrance of Keyes Memorial Park (127 Elm St., Milford), participants will drive through the event, and kids will receive free treats at several booths along the way. The cost is $5 per car and pre-registration is required (only 20 cars will be allowed for each time slot). Visit

• Join the Millyard Museum (200 Bedford St., Manchester) for a holiday open house on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which will feature children’s holiday crafts, raffles, locally made products for sale and more. All are welcome free with museum admission. Visit

• Legacy Lane Farm (217 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham) will host Christmas on the Farm on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. featuring visits with Santa Claus, holiday crafts, hot cocoa, Christmas carolers, a petting zoo and more. The cost is $10 per person. Visit

• See Santa Claus at Greeley Park (100 Concord St., Nashua) for a socially distanced visit on Saturday, Dec. 5, from noon to 2 p.m., featuring photo opportunities, free gifts and more. Visit

• Join the YMCA of Greater Londonderry (206 Rockingham Road, Londonderry) for its annual Great Candy Cane Hunt on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Santa Claus will hide hundreds of candy canes around the YMCA for you to look for during the event. Start by receiving your candy cane hunt bag at the check-in table, then venture to the field for the hunt. Santa will also be there for socially distanced photo opportunities. This year there will be groups of 32 people per 30-minute time slot to help with social distancing (bring your own flashlight). Masks or face coverings are required for all participants. Visit

• Chunky’s Cinema & Pub’s Manchester location (708 Huse Road) will convert a theater to an evening of family-friendly candy Bingo on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m., featuring movie theater-sized candy boxes as prizes and the big screen as a bingo board. Tickets of $4.99 per person will get you a box of Chunky’s theater candy that you’ll turn in to get your bingo cards. Once all the candy is collected, Chunky’s staff will divide it up and start playing the rounds. Visit for more details.

• Enjoy Christmas at the Farm, reimagined, at Forgotten Farm (23 Goffstown Road, Hooksett). Families can visit from 10 a.m. to noon on the first three Saturdays in December (Dec. 5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19) for cookies, cocoa, visits with the farm animals, and a free take-home craft. Visit

• The Derry Public Library will host a virtual holiday gift making workshop on Tuesday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 5 p.m. The library will post tutorials for Sharpie mugs, hot chocolate kits and gift bags on its Facebook and YouTube pages. Register in advance to pick up a Take It and Make It bag in the library’s lobby. If registration is full, you can still complete the projects with materials at home. Visit

• Join the Manchester City Library (405 Pine St., Manchester) for a virtual Polar Express bedtime event on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 6 to 7 p.m. Goodie bags with treats and crafts will be available for curbside pickup beginning Dec. 1. The virtual program will include Christmas carol sing-alongs and demonstrations on how to make the crafts. Visit

• See a showing of the 2013 animated children’s film Frozenat any one of the Cinemagic theatres in the Granite State (38 Cinemagic Way, Hooksett; 11 Executive Park Drive, Merrimack; 2454 Lafayette Road, Portsmouth) now through Thursday, Dec. 10. Tickets are $5 per person. Visit for available times.

Santa Claus will arrive by helicopter at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire (27 Navigator Road, Londonderry) on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 11 a.m., where he’ll greet families and take gift requests until 1 p.m. The outdoor event is free and open to the public. Hot chocolate will also be provided courtesy of the Airport Diner in Manchester. Visit

• Chunky’s Cinema & Pub (707 Huse Road, Manchester, 206-3888; 151 Coliseum Ave., Nashua, 880-8055; 150 Bridge St., Pelham, 635-7499) will host multiple Polar Express golden ticket screenings on Saturday, Dec. 12, and Sunday, Dec. 13. Showtimes vary depending on the location, but there are several each day at each theater. Kids will be given a special “golden ticket” to hole-punch prior to entering the theater. Visit

• The Music Hall (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth) will screen the family holiday film Elf on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $12 to $15. Visit

• Enjoy a Polar Express family brunch with LaBelle Winery (345 Route 101, Amherst) on either Sunday, Dec. 20, or Thursday, Dec. 24, from 10 a.m. to noon. The event will feature a multi-course brunch menu accompanied by a screening of the family holiday film The Polar Express. Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will be stopping by for a live reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Tickets to the brunch are by the table only, and there is a six guest limit per table (price breakdowns are $22.99 per person). Visit

Fresh air festive

If nothing else, 2020 seems to have inspired a lot of event innovation. Virtual tree-lightings, drive-thru holiday displays and socially distanced performances — New Hampshire is finding ways to celebrate even if those celebrations look a little different this year.
Here’s a look at holiday activities from Thanksgiving through the end of the year (all events are subject to change, of course). Whether it’s enjoying a light display from the comfort of your car (or from your house) or watching a performance in a reduced-capacity venue, find the holiday fun that fits your comfort level.

Holiday fun downtown and outdoors

Celebrate the holidays safely outside (or from your car) with these downtown strolls, light displays, modified parades and other social distance-conscious activities.

Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth is an ongoing citywide celebration of the holidays featuring a number of shows at The Music Hall (28 Chestnut St.,, 436-2400); shopping in Market Square; Candlelight Stroll Under the Stars, happening weekends from Dec. 11 through Dec. 20 at Strawbery Banke Museum (14 Hancock St., 433-1100,; Labrie Family Skate at Strawbery Banke’s Puddle Dock Pond; the 30th annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit at the Portsmouth Historical Society (10 Middle St., 436-8433, now through Dec. 22, and more throughout the holiday season. Visit

• The Gift of Lights opens on Thanksgiving Day and continues through Jan. 3 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1122 Route 106 North, Loudon). The drive-thru Christmas light park spans 2.5 miles and features 80 holiday scenes and 520 light displays. It’s open Sunday through Thursday from 4:30 to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 4:30 to 10 p.m. Purchase tickets online or at the gate. The cost is $25 per car. Visit

• The Town of Pelham and Pelham Community Spirit are presenting the first annual Festival of Lights on the town’s Village Green, where you can enjoy a spectacle of tree lighting displays from your car to ensure social distancing. The lights will be up from Thanksgiving until after the New Year. Visit

• Downtown Nashua hosts Plaid Friday, a shopping event alternative to Black Friday, on Nov. 27. Wear plaid to be eligible for giveaways, discounts and more at participating businesses. Stop at 201 Main St. first to pick up a swag bag with a map, coupons, discounts and offers. Registration is required. Visit

• Great American Downtown is hosting a holiday lights contest for Nashua families and business owners. Now through Dec. 3, photo submissions will be accepted for residential and downtown Nashua businesses with the best festive decorations. Online voting will take place between Dec. 5 and Jan. 3. To enter, email a jpg image of your festive lights, along with your home or business address, to A printable map of the contenders will be available online. Visit for details.

• The Celebrate Laconia Lights Festival is an ongoing citywide celebration of the holidays featuring special events throughout the season. It kicks off on Sunday, Nov. 29, with a downtown holiday parade led by Santa starting at 4:30 p.m. The parade will move through Lakeport and Weirs Beach before returning to downtown, where there will be a City on the Lakes Holiday Walk. There will be trees for sale to decorate and display in Rotary and Stewart parks, and Santa will light the trees around 6:30 p.m. The trees will remain up through the end of the year. Also starting on Sunday, Nov. 29, will be the Lights Festival Coloring Contest, with submissions accepted through Friday, Dec. 11, and the Light-Up Laconia Holiday Decorating Competition, which will run through Dec. 18. An online interactive map of Laconia homes and businesses with holiday displays will be available, and the public is invited to vote for their favorites online. Visit

• Concord’s Midnight Merriment has been reworked this year as a month-long celebration with holiday decorations, special promotions and refreshments at downtown shops and restaurants throughout December. Visit

• The Beaver Brook Association (Brown Lane Barn, 52 Brown Lane, Hollis) will host a greens gathering and wreath making event on Wednesday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Participants will go on a hike to gather mountain laurel, hemlock and white pine, pine cones and berries, then create a holiday wreath with those materials. The cost is $25, and registration is required. Visit

• Fright Kingdom (12 Simon St., Nashua) presents its holiday event, “The Fright Before Christmas,on Friday, Dec. 4, from 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 6, from 6 to 10 p.m. It features a scary winter wonderland, a creepy Christmas costume contest and food trucks on site. Tickets cost $29 and must be purchased in advance. Visit or call 809-1173.

• In place of its holiday parade, Salem is having a “Christmas in Whoville” holiday display competition from Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6. All participating homes, schools, community centers and businesses will have their displays illuminated from 4:30 to 11 p.m. A list of addresses will be shared with the public, and residents can vote online for their favorite displays. Visit

• This year’s Salem Night of Lights will be a drive-thru holiday experience happening on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Salem High School (44 Geremonty Drive, Salem). Visit

• In place of its holiday parade, Exeter will host a Drive-Thru Holiday Celebration on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Exeter High School (1 Blue Hawk Drive, Exeter). The school will be decorated with holiday lights, displays, inflatables and scenes, and Santa will greet drivers from a safe distance. Visit

• Milford presents “Miracle on Elm Street,” a holiday drive-thru event, on Saturday, Dec. 5, with half-hour time slots from 9 to 10:30 a.m. The drive starts at the Keyes Memorial Park west entrance (127 Elm St.) and will have stops along the way with treats for kids. The cost is $5 per car. Registration is required. Visit

Santa’s Merrimack Holiday Tour will take place on Sunday, Dec. 6. Santa and Mrs. Claus will ride through town in a Fire Department vehicle, stopping at seven different locations between 2:45 and 3:45 p.m., to greet people at a safe distance. Visit or call 882-1046.

• Canterbury Shaker Village (228 Shaker Road, Canterbury) will host A Magic Journey through the North Shop Barn from Dec. 11 through Dec. 23, and from Dec. 27 through Dec. 30, daily, from 1 to 5 p.m. The North Shop Barn, which has been transformed into a winter wonderland, will feature art vignettes like a Shaker Christmas, a dollhouse, a skating panorama and snowy forest scenes; a Find-the-Elf treasure hunt; hot cocoa and cider; and shopping at the Village Store. Additionally, there will be a Christkindlmarkt-inspired artisan market of handcrafted holiday gifts on weekends; food trucks with sweet treats on Saturdays, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, and a live musical performance by Massimo Paparello and his Brass Quartet on Saturday, Dec. 12, from 3 to 4 p.m. Admission costs $10 for adults and is free for youth. Visit or call 783-9511.

• The Southern New Hampshire Tour of Lights will run from Dec. 11 through Dec. 27. A list of addresses will soon be released for the public to visit holiday light displays at homes throughout Amherst, Antrim, Fitzwilliam, Jaffrey, Merrimack, Milford, Peterborough and Rindge. Visit or call 882-1046.

• A modified Hampstead Christmas Parade will take place on Sunday, Dec. 13, starting at 2 p.m. at St. Anne Catholic Church (26 Emerson Ave.). Instead of its traditional march down Main Street, the parade will split into different parts of town, covering 19 miles of road. Visit

• Enjoy a Winter Solstice Luminary Walk at Beaver Brook Association (117 Ridge Road, Hollis) on Sunday, Dec. 20, with time slots from 2 to 4 p.m. There will be a self-guided marked trail with a nature story about the origins of the Winter Solstice and fun facts about New England wildlife and the tradition of the Yule log. The cost is $12. Visit

Featured photo: The Gift of Lights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Courtesy photo.

Lose yourself in fall fun

Corn mazes are a quintessential autumn activity

Whatever you want your corn maze experience to be — easy or complex, during the day or under the cover of darkness — local farms have plenty of options to choose from.

Beech Hill Farm in Hopkinton has two corn mazes within an eight-acre corn field, each with themed activities to do along the way.

“That’s what sets our mazes apart,” said Holly Kimball, one of the family owners of the farm. “Having an objective other than just ‘Can I find my out?’ makes the maze-navigating process more meaningful, and most people really enjoy having an activity to do inside the maze.”

“Animal Olympics,” which is shaped like Olympic rings, comes with an animal crossword puzzle activity sheet, and “Ocean Action,” which is shaped like a sea turtle, comes with a game board filled with trivia questions about the ocean and marine life. The answers are revealed on signs hidden throughout the mazes.

“They’re fun, and they have educational merit,” said Kimball, who uses her 20 years of experience as an educator to design the maze themes and activities. “Children can come to the farm, go through the maze and learn something.”

Each maze takes around 45 minutes to complete, and most participants go through both during their visit, Kimball said.

The corn maze at Elwood Orchards in Londonderry, which spans 15 acres, is more traditional, with the only objective being to find your way out.

“We design it ourselves — it changes every year — and we try to make it as difficult as possible,” farm owner Wayne Elwood said, adding that the farm has gotten a lot of positive feedback from corn maze enthusiasts who are seeking a challenge. “It’s not about just going in and following the path. You have to choose all the right paths and really figure it out.”

The time it takes to get through the maze, if you can get through it at all, is unpredictable and completely up to chance based on the choices you make. Elwood said if you make all the right turns, it could take as little as half an hour, but he has seen people spend up to three hours in the maze before reaching the end.

“There are people who go in and come right out, and there are people who never find the end and give up,” he said. “We’ve even had people who wear [pedometers or smart watches] that keep track of how many miles they walk tell us that they walked two or three miles trying to find their way out of the maze.”

There are six emergency/cheat exits in the maze for participants who want to call it a day or need to leave the maze for any reason.

On weekends in October, Elwood Orchards keeps the maze open after dark for bring-your-own-flashlight nights.

“Those have been a big attraction every year since we started doing them 10 years ago,” Elwood said. “It’s more of a challenge to do it in the dark, and I think people just like to go out at night and do something under the stars.”

Some of the farms with the busier or smaller mazes are requiring participants to wear masks while others, including Beech Hill and Elwood Orchards, are not, reasoning that it’s an outdoor activity with plenty of room to practice social distancing, and the number of participants inside the maze at one time is monitored.

“We haven’t really had any issues [with safety],” Kimball said. “Since we’re open all day, people arrive at all different times, and things are just kind of staggered naturally.”

Corn mazes at Beech Hill Farm. Courtesy photo.

Find a corn maze

* Beans & Greens Farm
Where: 245 Intervale Road, Gilford
When: Now through Nov. 1; Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; additional haunted nighttime maze every Friday in October (times TBD)
Cost: $12 per person, $8 for kids age 9 and under, free for kids age 2 and under; tickets must be purchased online in advance.
More info: 293-2853,

Beech Hill Farm
Where: 107 Beech Hill Road, Hopkinton
When: Now through October; weekdays, 2 p.m. to dusk, and weekends, noon to dusk
Cost: $6 per person, free for children under age 3
More info: 223-0828,

* Coppal House Farm
Where: 118 N. River Road, Lee
When: Now through Nov. 1, Monday, Thursday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m. (Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; additional nighttime flashlight mazes on Saturdays, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24, 7 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $9 per person; $7 for kids ages 5 through 12, seniors age 65 and up, and military; and free for kids age 4 and under; flashlight mazes, $12 per person, for ages 5 and up
More info: 659-3572,

Elwood Orchards
Where: 54 Elwood Road, Londonderry
When: Now through Nov. 7; daily, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with nighttime mazes on Fridays and Saturdays starting Oct. 2, until 9 p.m.
Cost: $10 per person, free for kids age 5 and under
More info: 434-6017,

* Riverview Farm
Where: 141 River Road, Plainfield
When: Now through October; Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person, free for kids age 4 and under.
More info: Call 298-8519 or visit

Scamman Farm
Where: 69 Portsmouth Ave., Stratham
When: Now through October; September hours are Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; October hours are Monday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12), and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus nighttime flashlight mazes on Fridays, Oct. 9, Oct. 16, Oct. 23 and Oct. 30, from 6 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $9 per person, $7 for kids ages 5 through 12, and free for kids age 4 and under.
More info: Call 686-1258 or visit

* Sherman Farm
Where: 2679 E. Conway Road, Center Conway
When: Now through Oct. 25; Saturdays and Sundays, plus Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 12, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $10 to $13 per person, depending on the date, and free for kids age 2 and under; purchases tickets online in advance.
More info: 939-2412,

Trombly Gardens
Where: 150 N. River Road, Milford
When: Now through October; daily, 9 a.m. to dusk, plus nighttime flashlight mazes on Saturdays in October, until 10 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person, free for kids age 3 and under
More info: 673-0647,

Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard
Where: 66 Mason Road, Greenville
When: Now through October; Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: $5 per person, free for kids age 3 and under
More info: 878-2101,

* Masks required

Kiddie Pool 20/09/03

Music at the ballpark

Recycled Percussion will take to the field (well, technically, a stage on the field) at the Fisher Cats’Delta Dental Stadium in downtown Manchester this Saturday, Sept. 5, and Sunday, Sept. 6. The shows are at 8 p.m. on both nights, gates open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $35. Bring blankets and pillow for on-field viewing spots, the website said. The concession stand will be open. See

Day at the beach

The Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Classic, postponed from earlier in the summer, will run this weekend, Thursday, Sept. 3, through Saturday, Sept. 5, at Hampton Beach. Last week, 200 tons of sand was dropped at the sculpting site, according to Starting Thursday (and daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday), sculptors will work on their solo creations on this year’s theme, “Enchanted Land of the Sea.” Judging will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, when the public will also have a chance to vote for a people’s choice winner, the website said. All the winners will be announced on Saturday at a ceremony at 7 p.m. and the site will be available for viewing (with nighttime lighting) through Sunday, Sept. 13, the website said.

Kiddie Pool 20/08/27

Children’s Museum to reopen

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover;, 742-2002) is scheduled to reopen for a members weekend on Thursday, Sept. 3, through Sunday, Sept. 5. Membership levels include $90 for one adult and one child and $120 for two adults and children under 18 living in the same house. The next week (Sept. 10) the museum will open to the public with two timed-ticket entry sessions, Thursdays through Saturday, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m., according to an email from the museum. Pre-registration will be required for visits and can be done online starting a week in advance, the email said. In October, the museum plans to offer two-hour private rentals to groups of up to 50 people on Sundays, the email said.

At the Discovery Center

After you make those Children’s Museum reservations for next weekend, head to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (2 Institute Dr. in Concord;, 271-7827) this weekend. Summer hours at the center continue through Sunday, Aug. 30: Wednesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. See the website for all the covid-era protocols.

Ready, aim, throw

New axe throwing center opens in Hudson

By Angie Sykeny

The axe throwing trend is growing in New Hampshire, with its newest venue, Axe Play, now open in Hudson.

Axe Play features 16 throwing lanes, housed in a newly built facility. It’s open to both individual players and groups of players aged 18 and up and is BYOB for players of legal age.

Axe Play’s co-owners, husband and wife Matt and Maria Keller, tried axe throwing for the first time with a group of friends at another New Hampshire axe throwing center. After that, they were hooked.

“We all had an absolute blast,” Matt Keller said, “and any time a big group of people can get together and all enjoy the same activity, you know it must be pretty good.”

Keller was retiring and looking for a new venture that would “bring a smile to people’s face.” Knowing of only two axe throwing venues in the state, he and Maria decided to open their own.

If you’re new to axe throwing, here’s the gist: It’s like darts, but with an axe. The player stands in a lane, 12 to 15 feet away from a four-by-four-foot wooden target and tries to hit the bull’s-eye. The short, single-handed axe — more of a hatchet, really — typically has a wooden handle and may vary in weight, from one to two-and-a-half pounds, and in length, with a blade up to four-and-a-half inches and a handle between 16 and 18 inches.

In a standard game each player gets 10 throws and earns points based on where they hit the target. Each ring on the target is worth a different number of points, ranging from one point for the outermost ring to six points for the bull’s-eye. Additionally, there are two small blue dots on the target; if a player announces before their throw that they are aiming for one of the dots and they hit one, they earn eight points.

Axe Play’s trained instructors, or “axeperts,” will help you out if you’re new to the sport or having trouble getting the hang of it.

“We give people as much one-on-one instruction and attention as they need so that they can be able to hit the target and have fun,” Keller said.

Strategy-wise, there is no “right” way to throw an axe. Some people throw with one hand, and some throw with two. Some people take a step forward as they throw, while others keep their feet planted.

“There’s a base to work from, but you can modify it to do what works best for you,” Keller said. “It’s really just about finding your sweet spot.”

Axe throwing is not only a fun pastime, Keller said, but also comes with physical benefits, like building arm and shoulder strength and flexibility, as well as mental benefits.

“There are people who come in who have had a stressful day, and half an hour later they are laughing,” Keller said. “They leave here feeling so much better than when they came in.”

Featured photo: Axe throwing at Axe Play in Hudson. Courtesy photo.

Axe Play
142 Lowell Road, Unit 19, Hudson
Hours: Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m.; Friday from 1 to 11 p.m.; Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. The venue is also available for private parties and corporate events.
Cost: $25 per person. Groups of 10 or more receive a 20-percent discount. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are preferred. Reservations can be made on the website.
Rules: Players must be 18+. BYOB permitted for players 21+. Closed-toe shoes are required.
Leagues: League for individuals will run Mondays from 7 to 9 p.m., from Sept. 14 through Oct. 26. League for teams will run Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m., from Sept. 16 through Oct. 28. Entry costs $125 to join, then $25 per week. The deadline to sign up is Sept. 10.
More info: Call 809-9081 or visit

Back to school?

Experts talk about the new school year and what parents and students can expect

Students in New Hampshire are heading back to school — sort of.

As districts kick off the 2020-2021 year (some this week, some after Labor Day), New Hampshire schools are operating with a mix of strategies and schedules: some districts are returning to fully remote learning, some have returned to all (or most) students being in a school building and some are operating on a hybrid system.

Over the last couple of weeks, we reached out via email and phone to school officials at several southern New Hampshire school districts looking for administrators and teachers to comment on their plans. We didn’t receive a response from many districts, including Nashua, Manchester and Concord. Some that did respond declined to comment, a few citing lack of time.

We spoke to New Hampshire Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut as well as some educators and a school nurse (who all responded to emailed questions) about how they’re planning for next year.

Frank Edelblut

Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education

What are some of the approaches schools are taking to reopening this fall?

We put a survey out and got 56,000-plus [responses] from families, teachers, administrators and wellness providers, so we got a good sense of what the field was thinking as we began to approach the fall. … The primary focus was on how we can safely bring our students and our staff back into the buildings for in-person instruction, and we realized right away that we could probably do it safely, but maybe not for everyone. There are going to be individuals, whether those are staff or children or members of families, who have underlying health conditions that would prevent them from re-engaging in that in-person instructional model. There is still going to be a lot of uncertainty around the coronavirus and how it might present itself in our communities. So, we recognize that we need to have a certain amount of flexibility and nimbleness in the system so that we can provide a continuity of instruction for the students, whatever the circumstances are. … It’s not likely that we’re going to open in September with one [education model] that stays the same as we go forward. It’s more likely that the circumstances are going to be dynamic, and that we will have to pivot from in-person, to hybrid, to remote, and back again.

Are many families shifting to home schooling or transferring to different schools because of their current school’s reopening approach?

There are many different reasons that a school district’s particular plans may not work for certain families. Some families may have [a person with] an underlying health condition. Some families may have two parents who work and need child care for their young children. … We have seen an increase in the number of families that are applying to home-school their children, but it’s not a significant number. … More often, we are seeing families working with their school district to say, “How can we work together to come up with something that’s going to meet the needs of our family?”

What will in-person learning look like now?

It’s going to be a little bit different at each school, depending on their individual strategies, but generally, you’re going to see social distancing, face masks, cleaning protocols and screening individuals before they enter the building. As [State Epidemiologist] Dr. Chan says, there’s not one mitigating strategy that’s going to be 100 percent foolproof, but if we layer various mitigating strategies on top of one another, hopefully we’ll be able to efficiently and effectively mitigate the spread of coronavirus so that our staff and our students are in a safe environment.

What did you learn from doing remote education last spring, and how will it be improved this academic year?

We learned a lot. … No. 1, we learned that the remote instruction model isn’t able to meet the needs of some of our students. That includes some of our most vulnerable students who have individualized education plans and need some in-person instruction and support around that. … Along those same lines, there is a need for students in career and technical education programs like auto mechanics and welding, who rely on hands-on instruction, to be in a laboratory environment. … The last group this applies to is some English learners, who had a little bit more difficulty accessing the [remote] instruction. … The second thing we learned is the importance of making sure districts have the [remote learning] technology and are able to use that technology to create a more consistent, higher-quality learning experience. In the spring there was a lot of variation in quality from one [class] to the next. You could have one instructor who had a high degree of capacity to pivot to that remote learning and another instructor who struggled with it. We were also offering a very inconsistent product. Students could have one class on Zoom and another class on Google Meet. … This fall we’re looking to really homogenize [remote learning] around a much better standard of delivery so that everyone gets a high-quality, enriching educational experience.

How are you supporting students who have fallen behind as a result of the sudden and major changes last spring?

The first way is to make sure they can have that in-person instructional experience [within a] system where it isn’t difficult for them to access their education. … The second thing we’re doing is working with our educators and families to bring those students in and do assessments to see, what do they know? What don’t they know? Was there any learning loss? If so, what was that learning loss? Then, we can look at how we can mitigate that learning loss … A lot of folks are really concerned about that learning loss. I don’t want to downplay the significance of that, but I’m not as worried about it, because I have a lot of confidence in our education system to fill in those learning gaps. That’s what our system does already. Every day of every year, when students arrive at school, they lack knowledge, and it’s our job to fill in those learning gaps. It’s what we do best.

How are you addressing students’ social and emotional needs?

[The pandemic] has been a traumatic experience for many adults as well as many of our children. We’ve talked a lot about the importance of making sure our students are socially and emotionally grounded. We can provide support for those children, particularly when we get back to in-person instruction, through relationship-building, so that they know us and we know them. Having that trusting relationship will allow us to more effectively engage with them.

What can parents do to help students thrive this year?

I think one of the most important things parents can do is be a calming influence in the lives of their children. Children respond to the demeanor and temperament of the adults around them, so if parents can remain calm and confident that we’re going to work through this, that’s going to help keep their children safe and not create any additional anxiety. … Then, I would ask parents to work with their children, especially young children, on the mitigation protocols. … Talk with them about washing their hands and what social distancing is. They may have an impulse to run over and hug their friends who they haven’t seen in a while; talk with them about how they can greet their friends in an appropriate way. Explain to them that things are going to be a little bit different this year so that they know what to expect when they show up to school. … In terms of academics, show a strong interest in your child’s learning. When parents show an interest and are engaged in their child’s academic studies, it becomes more important to the child, and they perform better. … I would also encourage parents to have a good line of communication with teachers and principals. Reach out and say, ‘How are things going? How can I help? What are the things I need to work on?’ Teachers will be able to give a lot of good feedback to parents to help them better support their child in this new environment. — Angie Sykeny

Linda Gosselin

Teacher and reading interventionist, Center Woods Elementary School in Weare, which will begin the school year on Sept. 9 with a phased-in approach until Sept. 22, during which time about a third of the student population will be in school buildings while the others will work remotely.

How are you planning to approach the start of this year?

I am looking forward to seeing the students again — it’s been a while. I plan on being positive and flexible this year, as there are a lot of unknowns. I hope to make any transitions that come our way as seamless as possible for the students. I think we have to approach this school year one day at a time, as we adjust to all the changes in what we do and what we have done.

How much back-tracking do you plan to do to catch kids up on last year?

For 28 years I have been a classroom teacher. I have taught kindergarten as well as first, second and third grade. This year I will be assuming a new position as a reading interventionist. The reading interventionists will begin the year, as they always do, assessing students to determine their strengths and weaknesses. We will then take that data to come up with a plan to work with students who have the greatest need for reading support and intervention. We will work with them on their weaknesses, build on their strengths, monitor their growth and adjust as needed.

What did you learn about remote teaching from last year and how are you going to apply that this year?

Last year, I spent a lot of time researching and learning about new technologies and ways to make remote learning engaging and fun. For example, one of the math lessons I assigned involved the students using a virtual flashlight to search a darkened room for hidden math facts. When the light of the flashlight revealed the math fact, the student recorded themselves reading the math problem and their solution. It was fun for the students, and it gave me a lot of information about the students’ number fact fluency. … I also learned that setting expectations and holding students accountable was important, especially once the novelty of remote learning wore off. This year, I would expand on that by setting a virtual positive reinforcement reward system to help keep my students motivated.

What do you think are the most important things for your students (skills to learn, emotional development, etc.) going into this year, and how are you addressing them?

I think as we begin this school year, social-emotional development is by far the most important thing. For me, that means being positive and upbeat in front of the students [and] letting them know … that we can get through this different way of doing things together while having fun and learning. Next, I think establishing routines is very important. Children do better when they know what is expected of them, and with all of the changes in routines this year, they will benefit from a lot of modeling and practice. Once day-to-day routines are well-established, the students will be better able to focus on learning.

What are the most important things parents can do to help kids with remote learning this year?

My advice to parents would be to present remote learning in a positive way to your child, regardless of how you feel about it. Remote learning will go a lot more smoothly if it is presented to children in a positive light. Also, whenever possible, try to establish some sort of structure and routine for your child. For example, establish a specific area in your house for schoolwork. That may be a little table and chair with good lighting in a quiet spot, or a certain spot at the kitchen table. If they are bringing home schoolwork, as in a hybrid model, they could have their learning “tools” in a zip-lock bag that is used just for schoolwork. Another suggestion would be to post a schedule, similar to a typical school day, making sure to include outside time as well as snack breaks. Parent involvement is key in remote learning. Checking your child’s work or asking a few questions about what they are working on not only shows them that their education is important to you, but it keeps them accountable. As a reading interventionist, I also have to add that reading to your young child every day is a routine that should be ongoing, whether remote or in school.

Karen Merill-Antle & Victoria Brown

School counselors, John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will begin the school year on Sept. 9 on an alternating day hybrid schedule.

What do you say to parents who are worried about how the impacts from the pandemic are going to affect their kids’ ability to get into and succeed in college? How might your advice be different for freshmen versus seniors?

Colleges are going through parallel crises to that of the students and families. Some good news is that colleges are becoming ever better at their virtual options for students to learn about their school. However, it is not business as usual for admission offices and this may be the most important thing for students and families to understand. How one college is responding may look very different to another, and things may continue to change. NHHEAF [New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation] is a reliable and up-to-date resource for students and families. … We want students to know that there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Student decisions now are about where to apply, and those decisions can definitely be made virtually. … When it comes time for students to decide where to attend, there will be other options. What students must know also is that while some has changed, much is still the same. Colleges still want to see students taking a full load of the most appropriately rigorous courses. … While there are limitations to our current circumstance, it actually gives us a different way to view the student and help answer the following questions — How does a student respond to adversity? Is the student self-motivated and independent? Does the student have time management skills in place and can the student effectively self-advocate to have their needs met? These are all characteristics of a successful college student and our current circumstances gives our students the opportunity to practice and refine these skills. … As far as the freshmen, our message will be the same. They only have four years to build a beautiful transcript, reflective of their passions, tenacity and work ethic. For as we have learned, the future is unknown and so we simply do the best we can with what we have each day.

Michele Leclerc

School nurse at The Derryfield School in Manchester, which will reopen for in-person instruction, with the option for students to learn virtually.

What has your school been doing to get ready for the year?

The Derryfield School has been preparing for the 2020-2021 restart of school since last spring. We are reopening in the fall with the ability for all of our students to be physically on campus, and we have an excellent option for students to learn synchronously but virtually. We used the advice of consultants, who are public health experts with training in epidemiology, and guidelines from the State of New Hampshire and CDC to create health and safety protocols in our reopening plan. Our teachers have participated in professional development and updated curriculum to allow for an easy transition between in-class and online learning.

Are there specific common areas, like buses or the cafeteria, that are cause for the most concern? How are you addressing that?

At The Derryfield School buses will be at half capacity; students will have assigned seats and be prescreened, masked, and as distanced as they can be. Since that distance might not be six feet on some buses and ventilation on buses isn’t to the standard of the classroom environment, if a student or driver is positive for Covid-19, the whole bus group will be quarantined for 14 days.

What is the protocol if there is a coronavirus case at your school?

An extremely important part of our plan is the ability to keep students at home if there is any question about their health. If students are feeling well but need to quarantine, they are able to virtually participate in instruction using in-classroom technology. In the event our school needs to close the physical campus, we are prepared to switch all of our students to virtual learning.

How will you differentiate between influenza cases or normal colds and coronavirus?

Some of the symptoms of Covid-19 (temperature of 100 F or greater, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, nasal congestion, runny nose, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea) can be confused with colds or the flu. I highly recommend everyone get a flu vaccine this year, especially considering it may be hard to tell the difference between Covid-19 and the flu based on symptoms alone. Although policies may differ slightly between schools in the state, NH Grade K-12 Back-to-School Guidance says any person with any new or unexplained Covid-19 symptoms (even if only mild symptoms) should not be allowed to enter a school facility. The individual should contact their health care provider for a Covid-19 test and self-quarantine for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. Symptoms must also be improved and the student must be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication before returning to school. If there is a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a school, extra cleaning and disinfecting should be done in all areas used by the person who is sick, such as classrooms, offices, bathrooms and common areas. If a member of a school community tests positive for Covid-19, New Hampshire Public Health will work with the school to begin contact tracing.

Are you getting the PPE that you need?

We needed to check with multiple vendors to order the quantity of supplies we anticipate needing, but we were able to order hand sanitizer, wipes, masks, gloves, thermometers and additional PPE. It was helpful that we started the process of ordering early in the summer. Many of these supplies are now backordered.

How will you handle Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks?

At The Derryfield School, classes will be taught virtually from Thanksgiving until mid-January. This will allow for family travel and visiting and also to quarantine before and after visits to keep loved ones and school community members safe. New Hampshire Grade K-12 Back-to-School Guidance says any person who has traveled in the prior 14 days outside of New England should not be allowed to enter a school facility and should self-quarantine for 14 days from the last day of travel. If a student has to travel at other times of the year, we will work with the family to transition the student to remote learning during their quarantine period.

What advice would you give to families about planning for this school year? What should we expect this fall and winter?

What to expect this fall and winter is somewhat unpredictable. It is likely there will be waves of increased Covid-19 infections in New Hampshire. I recommend being prepared for the worst-case scenario.

1. Prepare back-up plans now in case your child needs to be home because their school needs to go remote or your child needs to quarantine for up to 14 days due to possible exposure to someone with Covid-19.

2. Families should have a working thermometer as many schools will require temperature checks each morning before school.

3. Get hand sanitizer for your child to keep in their backpack at school.

4. Check with your child’s school regarding face mask policies. If you need to provide your own cloth masks, be sure the masks you get meet your school’s standards (WHO recommends cloth masks be three-layer).

5. Prepare your child by practicing mask wearing and social distancing (six feet recommended) in public spaces.

6. Prepare your child by practicing good hand hygiene. Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If hand washing is not ideal, use hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol).

7. Be sure your child has a flu vaccine.

Maureen Colby

English teacher, John Stark Regional High School in Weare, which will begin the school year on Sept. 9 on an alternating day hybrid schedule.

How did remote learning go for you and your students last year? What did you learn from it?

I definitely think that it went pretty well, even though it was a super-challenging experience for teachers and families. I’ve got 18 years of teaching under my belt and this was, by far, the most difficult time in my professional career. At first we weren’t sure how long we’d be remote for, so it was definitely hard to have that unknown hanging out there for much of the semester. … Not being able to see my students every day in person felt like a tremendous loss; however, I think that we — teachers and students — learned a lot about the importance of the relationships that we build with each other. One of the best things to come out of remote learning was being able to have virtual individual and small group conferences with students. Obviously, it’s not the same thing as in-person conversation, but being able to provide this attention really helped me to partner with my students so that I could help them to reflect on their progress, set meaningful goals, solve problems and talk about their learning. Time and again, I was blown away by my students’ honesty and insight. … I also think that we gained a better understanding of who we were as people. Sometimes it is easy for teachers to forget that a student comes to their classroom with an entire background that affects how they respond — for better or worse — in any given moment. Our backgrounds were there for all to see during this experience. … I have a five-year-old and there were many times [when] he would interrupt a virtual lesson or meeting. My students were so patient, kind and understanding whenever this happened. … Finally, I think that remote learning really highlighted how everyone learns differently, and how important it is for teachers to continue to use creativity to meet the needs of their learners. Obviously we know this … but it was a powerful reminder that we owe … to our students to provide relevant, rigorous and meaningful learning opportunities that appeal to a variety of interests and needs.

How are you doing things differently for the fall?

We will be using a hybrid model this fall. This will mean that students will participate in remote instruction for three days of the week and will meet for in-person instruction for at least two days a week, depending upon what letter of the alphabet their name begins with.

What do you say to parents who are worried about how all of this is going to affect their kids’ ability to get into and succeed in college? And how is your advice different for freshmen versus seniors?

First of all, I want parents to know that I understand this concern — and that we’re going to work really hard at helping students to develop the skills that they need to succeed in college and their careers. Obviously, we are facing a really challenging time in our country and our world, but I think that this circumstance is providing a lot of opportunities for personal growth. We are all in this together, but our success really depends upon everyone stepping up, taking responsibility and becoming engaged members of their communities. I know that I’m going to have to work really hard at helping my students to practice increased independence and accountability this year. When they are learning from home, I am going to have to trust them to work independently and to use their resources. … Our students have shown a lot of resilience and this is something that we are going to continue to work on. If we view this experience as an opportunity to develop independence, responsibility, resilience and communication skills, I believe that our students will be ready to tackle the challenges of college or their chosen career.

How can parents best help high school-level students with remote learning?

Making sure that students have a place to do school work is a great first step. I usually recommend that this isn’t in the student’s bedroom. Reviewing and posting a daily schedule with class meeting times, lunch and meal breaks, and time for exercise and recreation is helpful. A lot of high school students need support with executive function skills, so communicating the daily plan is a great way to reinforce these skills and to help students stay on track. Using a planner or a checklist also helps students to identify and manage what needs to be done. Lastly, encourage your students to reach out to teachers if they need help, have questions or are struggling. This really helps teachers to better serve their students — and it helps to build a trusting, supportive relationship between your student and their teachers.

Angie Sykeny and Matt Ingersoll

Kiddie Pool 20/08/20

Walk the village

Take a walk through the Canterbury Shaker Village (288 Shaker Road in Canterbury;, 783-9511) on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The walks are free; masks are mandatory and social distancing will be in place, according to the website. No reservations are needed; arrive five minutes early.

Walk in the galleries

The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester;, 669-6144) opens to the public on Thursday, Aug. 20. The current exhibits include “Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art” and “Richard Haynes: Whisper Quilts.” The museum will be open Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and closed Monday through Wednesday); for the rest of August, 10 to 11 a.m. will be reserved for members and seniors, according to the website. The museum will have timed tickets, which will be available for purchase online or via phone two weeks in advance. Admission costs $15 for adults, $10 for students, $5 for youth (age 13 to 17) and free for children under 13.

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