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SMS Important Updates & News

Back to School Means "Back Home"



An exciting time for parents, students , SMS administrators and teachers. A time that brings challenges,concerns and opportunities for each group. For some it means a new pair of Air Jordans; for others a new pretty dress; or several new notebooks,binders and magic markers. For Principal Dana Hilliard and his staff at Somersworth Middle School it means creating a new theme, new imperatives, and new objectives.

"SMS is more than a place of learning; it is a HOME where every student is treated with dignity and respect. A HOME which cultivates the body, mind and soul. A HOME where students are excited to enter and look forward to returning," stated Mr. Hilliard. He continued," many of our students come from a less than ideal home environment. It is imperative that SMS becomes a real home for these students."

The HOME environment begins when a student enters the front door and is greeted with the melodic notes from Mr. Lagarde's trumpet followed by cheerful "good morning" from teachers and paras. This congeniality continues until they exit the front door with cheerful good byes from "door openers" Mr. Burrill and 'Mrs. McKenney with back up from Mr.Hilliard or Devin McNelly, Assistant pPincipal.

The message espoused by Mr. Hilliard begins at "Back To School" orientation and continues throughout the year. It began 6 years ago when he was named principal of SMS. "The word "community " did not exist. We turned a failing community into a NELMS Spotlight school and a Title 1 school," he said.

Mr. Hilliard begins everyday with a motivating message to the students sometimes from Curious George other times possibly from a Chinese philosopher, i.e. "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time to plant one is now."

He is constantly encouraging his staff to promote literacy and creativity while urging the students to be: SAFE...COOPERATIVE....RESPONSIBLE....RESPECTFUL.

The message is clear, concise and consistent. It is a way of life at SMS. It is the beacon that guides staff and students throughout the year and beyond. It doesn't end with the SMS message. Superintendent Jeni Mosca reinforces and builds on the goals through out the school system. In her "welcome back to school" address, she stressed the theme of: " EMPATHY and COMPASSION".

Our Advisory instructors are carrying these words to the students with portions of classes being dedicated to explaining the meaning of "empathy and compassion". The result is that these words become more than "words", they become action. They become a natural way to treat their classmates who need " EMPATHY and COMPASSION" to help cope with their problems.

When students exhibit these qualities it helps create a : stronger community; a loving community; a compassionate community. All the qualities that are part of a good HOME life.

So, it's not only "back to school", but back to being in a vibrant HOME within the walls of


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