Seeing Londonderry through fresh eyes
Eighth-graders Keira Bergeron and Nicole Briggs sketch their thoughts on their ideal Londonderry during a student workshop held in the media room at Londonderry High School on Thursday. The event, which officially kicked off Londonderry’s five-day “Planapalooza” series, drew around two-dozen people, including local high school and middle school students. (APRIL GUILMET)
On Thursday afternoon, around two-dozen Londonderry middle and high school students joined teachers, parents and town officials to share their thoughts on the town’s present and future.
The interactive student workshop was the first in a five-day series of events called “Planapalooza,” a collaboration between the town’s Planning and Community Development department and staff from Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative.
A cookout and introductory meeting for citizens of all ages followed the workshop.
Though only a relative handful of teens attended the student workshop, a significant portion of the high school’s student body had their chance to offer their thoughts over the past week when Social Studies teachers at Londonderry High School surveyed their students.
Civics teacher Susanne Johnson said the survey “definitely stimulated a lot of discussions in class.”
“We’re studying municipalities in my class right now and what’s happening in Londonderry is a living example, not only with (the pending development of) Woodmont Commons, but the whole ideas of what comprises a community,” said Johnson. “I’ve asked the students to consider whether we want to remain rural or would we rather become more like Salem or Derry.”
Opinions on the matter were as diverse as the student body, Johnson noted.
“I imagine it’s been discussed a lot at home, because everyone seems to have strong opinions,” she added, noting that some of her students had initial misconceptions when it came to Woodmont Commons, a large and controversial town-village development proposed on former Woodmont Orchards land.
“Some of the kids seemed to think this development would take up the entire town. Then I show them the town’s map,” said Johnson. “By giving them all the information we can, it’s going to help them practice good decision-making on their own terms.”
Junior Sarah Townsend-Phillips said she decided to attend Thursday’s workshop because she’s concerned for her town’s future.
“It think it’s really important to plan ahead. Many of us may want to come back here someday,” she said.
Her classmate Lizzy Vrettos agreed.
“Even right now, all of us need to have our say,” she said. On the topic of Woodmont Commons, her initial thoughts were, “If they do it right, it might be OK.”
Another junior, Taryn Caito, concurred.
“It may not be so bad; it could be a positive thing,” she said.
Nearby, eighth-graders Keira Bergeron and Nicole Briggs sat together jotting down their thoughts on what they felt should be important priorities when it comes to their town, both for now and tomorrow.
“I’d like to see more community service opportunities,” said Briggs, who also felt it’s important to preserve the environment by keeping plenty of green, natural spaces undeveloped around town.
“I agree,” Bergeron chimed in. “We’re both huge animal freaks.”
Planapalooza will continue through Tuesday, with a workshop for local senior citizens to take place at Town Hall on Saturday at 9 a.m. and an interim review meeting to take place at Town Hall on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
A design studio in the conference room at Town Hall will be open to the public through Tuesday evening.
A closing presentation will wrap things up on Tuesday at Lions Hall, 6:30 p.m.
For more information, including a complete list of events, visit the Londonderry Master Plan page on Facebook.
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