It’s elementary – no more – for graduating Bakersville 4th-graders

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Above: Firefighter Easton Dubois does the dousing honors at Bakersville Elementary’s fourth-grade graduation fling.

MANCHESTER, NH – Celebrating the last day of elementary school is always a good time for a kid. It means summer is just around the bend. Class of 2022 fourth-graders at Bakersville Elementary were definitely feeling it Tuesday, hunkered down in their happy place for a last hurrah as Bakersville Bulldogs.

It was all fun and games, as it should be for kids teetering on the edge of 10. Still, there was a hint of sadness in their eyes when asked if they were ready for next year, which means stepping up to middle school at Southside.

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From left, Nickolina Carignan, David Bellamare, City Year NH corps member Rachel Berets and Misturh Badmos, finishing up their picnic lunch. Photo/Carol Robidoux

“I do feel sad, and a little nervous,” said Misturh Badmos, whose best subject is math and who already knows she wants to join City Year when she’s old enough. “I want to help other kids,” she says. Bakersville has been the only school she’s ever attended, arriving in Manchester with her family from Nigeria when she was “just a little kid.” So leaving Bakersville means stepping into the unknown for her.

She circles back to a picnic table to pick at the rest of her lunch, sliding in close to Rachel Berets, one of six City Year NH corps members who were assigned to Bakersville. Their year of service concludes in August when Berets, of Massachusetts, will return to school to earn her master’s in education. Her time at Bakersville has solidified her future goals, as well.

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Firefighter Easton Dubois, right, sends an arc of water seemingly into the clouds, as it rains down to cool off Bakersville fourth-graders, who celebrated their final day at the school on June 14. They will move on to Southside Middle School in the fall. Photo/Carol Robidoux

The graduation celebration for fourth-graders also included a visit from Manchester Fire Department, there to christen them with the refreshing waters of accomplishment from the ceremonial fire hose of infinite joy.

Firefighter Easton Dubois did the honors, first from ground level sending an arc of spray into the air that rained down on the kids, who clamored for more when the hose went dry. He obliged, from atop Engine 9 this time, giving the impeller a twist and delivering more water to the kids on a hot summer day.

He acknowledged that seeing them having so much fun took him right back to his own elementary school days.

“We’ll do anything we can for the community,” he said.

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Besties Sara Diaz, left, and Karen Borrentos-Flores, sharing a beach towel. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Karen Borrentos-Flores and Sara Diaz, who agreed that they are “besties for life,” took turns jumping in the lingering puddles and moving their bodies like tiny steamrollers, across the asphalt which generated giggles in the same way a bubble machine sends soapy spheres into the atmosphere.

“Fun!,” said Karen.

“Yeah, so much fun,” said Sara, jumping up and opening her blue-striped beach towel like a terry-cloth wing to let Karen in.

Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry assisted by helping out with grill duties, along with Derek Manfra, board vice president for school district partner HOPE NH (Helping our Pupils Excel), providing a bottomless supply of burgers and dogs, plus chips and cookies.

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From left, Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry on grill duty with an assist from HOPE NH Executive Director Matt Courchesne, and HOPE board vice president Derek Manfra. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Matt Courchesne, Executive Director of HOPE NH, has been working with the students from Bakersville, an extension of the work he does at Elmwood Gardens and also with MyTurn teen drop-in center. Standing on the playground, under a big blue sky, Courchesne can see the future.

“We’re going to be here for these kids all the way through high school and beyond,” he says. His HOPE program, which already has a dozen years of success working with students at-risk of falling through the cracks, is grounded in the formation of positive relationships, making use of community resources and creating opportunities.

“Relationships, resources and opportunities, that’s what it’s all about,” Courchesne said, pressing pause long enough to open a giant tub of sidewalk chalk for a student. “These kids are about to go to middle school and life is about to get crazy, but we’re going to be there with them, every step of the way.”

Below: Scenes from the last day of elementary school for Bakersville fourth-grade students.

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Savon Kitchen and John Engvik relax under a big blue sky after running around under the fire hose spray. They will be going their separate ways, to different middle schools, next year. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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A group of boys playing Inifinity Tag (with teams) a game they dreamed up during their time together at Bakersville Elementary. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Drenched, and loving it. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Bakersville students couldn’t get enough of the fire hose spray down on graduation day. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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“More, more, more,” the kids chanted, after the first round of water spray at Bakersville Elementary School. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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A little more on top: A student grabs a handful of water from a puddle and drops it on his head during a final play day at Bakersville Elementary. Photo/ Carol Robidoux

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Inspirational graphic on the gymnasium wall: Pieces of a Bulldog: Love, grit, ubuntu, trust, hope, honesty, respect, kindness, forgiveness, integrity. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Derek Manfra, right, a 1998 graduate of Memorial High School and vice president for HOPE NH, grilling some burgers, while Ward 10 Alderman Bill Barry mans the hot dogs.  Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Boys playing Infinity Tag “with teams,” as their recess days come to an end at Bakersville Elementary. They are off to Southside Middle School in the fall. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Big blue sky, big fun. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Fun rains down on Bakersville Elementary students, who are graduating to middle school. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Karen Borrentos-Flores enjoys a small puddle on the playground. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Savon Kitchen and John Engvik from another angle, their alma mater now in the rearview. Photo/Carol Robidoux

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Peace out for Julia Ogunsuyi who says she will miss her classmates from Bakersville Elementary. Photo/Carol Robidoux


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!