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Mark Hayward's City Matters: Southside Middle School, where nary a gripe will be heard

Southside Middle School, it seems, has an attitude problem.

According to the YouTube video posted on southsidemiddleiscomplaintfree.com, the school is overcome by negativity. It just barely escaped redistricting, which would have made it the only kindergarten-grade 8 school in Manchester. Teachers are working without a contract. And there’s no telling what the city budget will mean.

Everyone, including parents and students, are in a funk.

The solution? School Principal Kimberly Organek has used $10,700 in federal grant money to hire a consultant — Will Bowen — who promises to make the school a complaint-free zone.

First up, Bowen had teachers write their gripes on a teachers lounge wall. He and some teachers then painted them over in purple.

The school has distributed 850 copies of Bowen’s book — “A Complaint Free World” — to staff and parents.

The school has also distributed purple “a complaint free world.org” wristbands to teachers and kids.

The goal: the Southside Spartans are to stop griping for 21 days, consecutive no less.

“It’s going very well, actually,” Organek said Tuesday.

Some teachers wear the purple bands, others appreciate the effort, and the school plans to renew the push in September.

Bowen’s well-produced video — it has a soundtrack and he smiles a lot at the camera — was made in April. He promises to return in the fall to film part two.


So in the spirit of positivity, I present:


A Southside Purple

To paint, to paint you naysayers,

Abate your words of gloom;

We’re happy here at Southside.

We’ve purple in our room.



Our teachers have no contract.

The school invites despair.

They almost brought in little kids

To fill our empty chairs.



Each year we lose more teachers,

And lessons get dumbed down.

Oh stop, am I complaining?

No, no. Turn it around.



Complaints no more at Southside;

No nos in Spartan land.

We donned our walls with purple,

Our wrists with purple bands.



We hired this Will Bowen —

Big biceps, jeans and all —

He’s here to change our attitude.

He’s here to catch our fall.



No longer will we air a gripe,

Or fuss, or moan, or bitch.

To paint, to paint you naysayers,

Our school we will enrich.



Our walls are brilliant lavender,

Our lips a lilac smile.

I feel happier already;

I’ll walk that extra mile.



I don’t fault the mayor,

His heart was just redone.

I won’t slam the union,

They’ll fight until they’ve won.



I can’t blame my alderman,

He seems so darn sincere.

He got my kid a city job,

So I’ll vote for him next year.



The school board seems so earnest,

They do the best they can.

Sure they fight and squabble;

Can’t they get purple bands?



I don’t fault the children,

We do it for the kids.

Nor do I blame the parents

(It’s with their brats they live.)



So now my world is purple.

I’m happy as can be.

My shirt is stained with paint,

But I still clock out at 3.


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Mark Hayward’s City Matters appears Thursdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader and UnionLeader.com. He can be reached at mhayward@unionleader.com.


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