Master carver - John Connors employs chainsaw with surgeon’s precision


MEREDITH — Shorter, warmer winters may have thinned the moose population, but nothing has stayed the skilled hands and sharp eyes of John Connors, who described his most recent rendering of the iconic beast as the best he has ever carved.

Connors has been carving wildlife sculptures with an arsenal of chainsaws for the past 18 years, with black bears in a variety of poses accounting for the majority of his menagerie. He said he enjoys carving fish as well, but is puzzled they are not more popular.

The moose, standing stolidly at Connors" outdoor studio on NH Route 14 took two months to complete. Sculpted to life, the moose stands some six feet at the shoulder and weighs about 1,500 pounds. Connors, who operates a sawmill at his home in Belmont, fashions his sculptures from native white pine. Apart from the hump, the body and head of the moose were carved from a single log while each of the legs are attached to the torso. He said that he roughed out the moose upside down, then attached the legs and righted the sculpture to finish the carving from its hooves to its nose. Once carved, the sculpture is finished with several costs of stain and polyurethane by Steve Edwards, who put the final touches to all his works.

Connors said that he has spoken with three prospective buyers and expects the moose will soon have a permanent home, but not, he added, until he has completed another one to peak the fancy of visitors flocking to the Lakes Region, some hoping to catch sight of a moose.

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John Connors of Sculptree LLC, known for his chainsaw sculptures and carvings as well as rustic furniture, stands aside his latest creation at his open air workshop on NH Route 104, where the lifelike moose all but stops passing traffic. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)

Middle School students use art to highlight their STEM skills (388 w/3 cuts)


LACONIA — Thursday afternoon was STE(A)M Day at Laconia Middle School and provided an opportunity for students in sixth through eighth grades to use art, hence the capital A, to show they are applying science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, in their studies.
Sixth-grader Katrina Hanks set up a display showing how she uses science and math in baking cakes and cupcakes from scratch and how she would run a business which sells the cakes.
Her display featured photos of the cakes as well as a business card she had designed to help her sales.
Zoe Lehneman, another sixth-grader, designed a display showing the water cycle at Laconia Middle School which charted what happens to rainwater which falls on the school.
Natalie Johnson, also a sixth-grader, set up a display showing pictures of her visit to the city of Laconia's water treatment facility on Stark Street and explained how the water which comes from Paugus Bay is treated and distributed.
The students worked several weeks on their projects, some of which were part of their curriculum according to Middle School Principal Christopher Ennis, who said that about 60 students took part in the event, which was designed to link art with technology.
He said that some of the projects worked on by eighth-graders are year-long efforts in which students create portfolios on computers which track what they have learned during and how they have used that knowledge.

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Natalie Johnson, a sixth-grader at Laconia Middle School, stands next to a display which shows photos of her visit to the city of Laconia's water treatment facility (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Chantel Tabera, Memorial Middle School sixth-grader, listens as Katherine Hanks explains her display about how she uses science and math in baking cakes. Looking on is Zoe Lehneman, whose display describes the water cycle at Laconia Middle School. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

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Aarohn Dethvongsa, an eighth-grader at Memorial Middle School, has created a portfolio on a computer which tracks his use of science, technology, engineering and math skills over the course of a school year. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Inter-Lakes Top Ten high schoolers set their sights on success


MEREDITH— The top ten graduates of Inter-Lakes High School, divided evenly between men and women, are all bound for college knowing what academic path they intend to follow and most with the career they seek to pursue in sight.

Only Tyler Taggett, who will study mechanical engineering at the University of New Hampshire, has chosen to further his education in the state. And Taggett also stands out in another respect as the fourth generation of his family to serve with the Meredith Fire Department, where he is a trainee alongside his father, Capt. Mike Taggett, and two brothers. Taggett said that he will apply his engineering degree to designing and manufacturing fire apparatus at Pierce Manufacturing of Appleton, Wisconsin.

No one else was nearly so specific, but Ariana Lopez, Ben Jacques and Cameron Daly also chose to study engineering. Of the ten, none will go further afield than Lopez, who will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "I like the campus and I loved the mountains," she said, adding "and I'm a Mormon." Jacques, who appeared more apprehensive of the the prospect of a Trump presidency than the challenge of a college education, will study software engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York.. Daly will remain in New England at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island to study mechanical engineering and alone among the group continue as a middle-distance and cross-country runner at the next level.

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jacques will be joined with his classmate Liam Donohoe, a student of computer science and mathematics, the first for a job and the second for fun. Despite their years together at Inter-Lakes High-School, neither has chosen to room with the other. "I took the first choice," Donohoe said, as the two swapped smiles.

Marena Neggers said that she knew she wanted to pursue a pre-med track and go to school in Boston. She chose Boston University where she will major in neuroscience.

The remaining four graduates stepped beyond the bounds of a STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — education. Bridie O'Connell aspires to a career in journalism and selected George Washington University in the nation's capital because "it's not like here." She said that journalists must appreciate and understand cultural diversity and "I forced myself to be somewhere different."

Although all ten students praised the teaching staff at Inter-Lakes High School, only Kaylee Converse chose to study education in college. She will attend St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, but remains unsure whether she will prepare to become a classroom teacher or an architect of educational policy.

Only Ambrose Bean was bitten by the political bug that swarms in New Hampshire every four years. He will study political science at Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida. Seeming to acknowledge that political science may well be an oxymoron, he seems to have a head start on his degree.

Julia Eifert, the co-president of the class who was in the forefront of the effort to change the venue of graduation, was the least specific but the most passionate about her plans at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Although unsure of her major, she was equally certain that she would immerse herself in literature with the aim of becoming a writer.

Taggett echoed Eifert, insisting that "you come to school to chase your passion. It's not the grades. It's what shapes and forms you."

These are not only intelligent but talented students. Most played more than one sport and many were members of the band and chorus. Eifert said "we missed some things, like family and sleep," but added "it was all worth it."

Of the ten, seven were admitted to their college of first choice. And all held fond memories of Inter-Lakes High School, though they agreed what they will remember will be what happened outside rather than inside the classroom. "I know what the outside of that book looks like," Day said pointing, "but the inside. . . "

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The top ten members of the Inter-Lakes High School class of 2016 are, from left, Marena Neggers, Ariana Lopez, Bridie O’Connell, Kaylee Converse, Ben Jacques, Julia Eifert, Tyler Taggett, Liam Donohoe, Ambrose Bean and Cameron Daly. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)