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Parker Scholar writes that at Alvirne,monotony's been banished

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 09. 2012 10:37PM


HUDSON - Francis Wayland Parker ensured that students would not be subject to monotony, Dominique Kaempf, the November Francis Wayland Parker Scholar of the Month, wrote in her winning essay.

"Thanks to this man, I don't have to dread coming to school each day where facts will be thrown at me with no meaning," she wrote.

Kaempf, a sophomore at Alvirne High School, is at the top of her class, according to her application for the essay contest. She said she was surprised to find her essay had been selected.

"It's a really big honor, because I know so many kids worked really hard for this," she said.

Parker was a New Hampshire native who revolutionized education by introducing new teaching techniques throughout his career in Ohio, Massachusetts and Illinois in the late 1800s.

Kaempf wrote: "Attending school used to be considered simply one thing: a requirement. Teachers did their jobs by spitting the facts out and then it was up to the students whether they wanted to retain the information or not. This would go on day after monotonous day until students could finally 'escape' - graduate and get away from the torture."

In Kaempf's essay, she said Alvirne High School has done a good job at focusing on students, rather than curriculum.

"Our school is a more democratic society based on the needs of each individual student, not the pre-chosen curriculums that teachers monotonously chug through because it is what they are told to teach," she wrote.

She said that rather than assign each student an essay on a topic, one of her history teachers broke the class into groups. Once group papers were done, students in other groups either expanded each paper's thesis or used historical facts to dispute it.

She said she preferred this "silent conversation" because students weren't intimidated by a free-for-all debate in class.

The Francis Wayland Parker Scholar program is sponsored by the New Hampshire Association of School Principals, in cooperation with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Lifetouch Studios and the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Northern New England.

Other nominees for November were Amanda Simoneau from Campbell High School, Meredith Gilman from Exeter High School, Emily Calder from Hopkinton Middle High School, Riley Karp from Plymouth Regional High School, Heather Thompson from Mascoma Valley Regional High School and Frank Horne from Conant High School.

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