CHS memorials and monuments, explained


Daisy LaPlante

The Class of 2003 made a gift of this main lobby floor seal, which students learn not to step on.

Students and staff pass memorials across campus every day but many have no idea of the inspirational, cheerful or sad stories behind them.

Freshmen Sophia Regan and Daisy LaPlante spent the previous six weeks locating and researching these markers, including a grass-covered stone they dug out with their bare hands.

Their first round of reports, below, explain monuments in and outside the building.

The first and most obvious marker on campus may be the huge school emblem engraved in granite in the floor between Student Services and the Main Office, just inside the main entrance.

The crest was a gift from the 2003 senior class. The words written within it — SCIENTIA, CONCORDIA, SAPIENTA — are Latin for Knowledge, Harmony, and Wisdom.

“The idea came from the movie Rebel Without A Cause,” said Alexa Roos, a member of that graduating class.

In the 1950s movie, students would throw coins on their own school emblem for good luck before tests. It was considered bad luck to step on the school seal.

The Class of 2003 anted CHS to have that symbol of pride too, so they arranged for installation of the school crest in the lobby.

Keep in mind if you ever need luck for a test, think about throwing a coin on the emblem, and be sure not to step on it.

Former Principal Gene Connolly used to stand in this area every morning to greet students and staff as they arrived for the day. (Sophia Regan)

Gene Connolly was a beloved longtime principal of CHS who dearly loved the school and everyone in it.

“He knew every kid in the building – just really loved this place – the guy went to every event, you name it and he was there 100% of the time,” said Steve Rothenberg, director of the Concord Regional Technical Center.

Connolly passed away in 2018 at the age of 62 due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease that in North America strikes 1-3 people out of every 100,000.

Despite his 2014 diagnosis, Connolly continued to work daily as long as he could, greeting everybody arriving on campus each morning from his customary spot between the catwalk and the granite stairs.

“He was a very warm person,” Rothenberg said.

A bench in memory of Connolly and what a truly wonderful person he was invites passersby to sit a while, and of course, to say hello to everybody everyday.

A stone by main entrance to campus honors beloved long-time substitute Irving Morrison, who was adored by students and staff alike. (Sophia Regan)

Irving Morrison was a substitute teacher who always enjoyed conversations with staff and with students, whom he loved dearly.

Science teacher Chad Fleming recalls one telling memory of Morrison. “I remember some kind of fight was starting just down the hall.  I went out to intervene only to find this frail, kind man standing between two teenagers two times his size.”

“I stepped in as well, and I think administration came soon after to straighten it out.

“I told him he should not have stepped in. He could have gotten pushed or knocked down. He just looked up at me and said with the utmost of confidence that they would never have hurt him.”

“I didn’t know if he was trying to defend them or if he knew something I didn’t know.”

Morrison died soon after he stopped subbing. Greatly mourned, he received a memorial in his name that now sits in the front gardens in front of the school, next to the sidewalk. 

A U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II, Morrison loved sharing stories of that time in history classes. His moving 2011 obituary explains that at one point he hoped to become a teacher or a dentist.

Dick and Pearl Allbee Painchaud both entered military service following graduation (Sophia Regan)

The plaque for Dick and Pearl Painchaud sits between the bus drop off area and the Main Office, to the left of anybody coming up the stairs from Westbourne Street.

Longtime English teacher Denise Fournier, who retired in 2020, had the memorial installed in memory of her parents, both graduates of Concord High School.

”The plaque was my idea as I hoped to be inspired by the stone as I walked by it each school day- the same walk they may have taken.”

The plaque was the senior gift of the class of 2009, who put her idea into motion. ”I was humbled by their generosity,” Fournier said.

As a student her father enjoyed  hockey, dancing, and listening to swing records.

Pearl Allbee Painchaud (Denise Fournier)

Her mother, whose maiden name was Allbee, took part in a wide variety of activities during her time at CHS: bowling, basketball, Student Council, Debate Club, and being part of CHS Red Cross. Albee was captain of the bowling team. 

“She was too humble to brag but she was very good!” said Fournier, whose daughter, Jill Carson, also graduated from CHS. Carson is now a music teacher at Rundlett Middle School.

As was tradition years ago, each graduate chose a favorite quote for the yearbook: something they would often say to family and friends.

Pearl’s was “No wealth is like the quiet mind,” a line from an Elizabethan poem. Dick’s was, “The night has a thousand eyes.”

Dick Painchaud’s yearbook entry (Denise Fournier)

“I wrote a poem for him based on this quote,” Fournier said.

After graduating CHS both of her parents entered the U.S. military during World War II. Dick served in the Army Air Corps and Pearl was one of 13,000 U.S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service).

“I think what they contributed to CHS was their commitment to being involved and to represent CHS with pride,” Fournier said.

“I often stop by to brush off the leaves and thank them for all the love they gave me in their lifetime. The tree shades the stone which creates a quiet and comforting presence. Even though I have retired, I still walk over to sit under the tree sometimes.”

Sarah and Philip Gehring had many friends in Concord School District. Sarah had just finished her freshman year when she and her brother were murdered by their father after a fireworks display at Memorial Field. (Sophia Regan)

Not far away from the Painchaud plaque, to the left of the ramp leading up to the main doors of Concord High School, sits a memorial to Sarah and Philip Gehring.

At 14  Sarah attended Concord High School and participated in cheerleading. Weeks after finishing her freshman year, she and 11-year-old Philip were murdered by their father following a July 4th fireworks show at Memorial Field.

Manuel Gehring confessed to the crime after he was apprehended in California. He told investigators that he had buried his children by a highway somewhere in the Midwest. 

Mud found on a shovel recovered from his vehicle was later determined to have come from Ohio.

The children’s mother, Teri Knight, never gave up searching for her children’s bodies, which were finally located in 2005.

An Ohio woman following the case found the gravesite with the help of her dog.

Gehring died by suicide in prison before standing trial for murder.

Classmates included a tribute to Sarah and Philip  in the CHS yearbook marking what should have been her senior year.

This touchstone was erected as part of an Eagle rank project by former student Richard Clar. (Sophia Regan)

Next to the Christa McAuliffe Auditorium steps stands a monument that seems hidden in plain sight.

Most people seem to breeze over it with their eyes, not even realizing that it’s there: a granite post with numbers on all four sides and a hand print engraved on top.

We came to the conclusion that the four different numbers (9,10,11,12) must represent the four grade levels at Concord High, but we were stumped for days by the hand print.

Lisa Lamb, administrative assistant to the principal, senior class advisor and National Honor Society co-advisor, remembered that the post was put up by Richard Clar when he earned his Eagle Scout rank.

Math teacher Tamara Hatcher explained the design.

“Grades are there so that a freshman can come in and put their hand on the post and try to envision themselves as a student coming in, and each year a student is supposed to put their hand on there to remember they’ve left a mark at Concord High School.”

There are plenty more memorials  that were not recognized in this feature, but they will be acknowledged and appreciated at a later date.