Area Eagle Scouts perform over 6,000 hours of community work

China Troop #479’s Assistant Scoutmaster Ron Emery described Eagle Scout Nivek Boostedt’s ceremony, above, as an occasion for pride and joy, as well as a time of reflection. (Contributed photo)

The Kennebec Valley District finished 2018 with 36 Scouts attaining the highest rank – the Eagle Scout. The Scouting district covers five counties (Kennebec, Lincoln, Knox, Franklin and Somerset) sweeping from the Canadian border to the rocky coast. In 2018, there were 141 Eagles from the State of Maine and 52,160 young men across the nation earned Scouting’s lofty award. If all of those class of 2018 Eagle Scouts wanted to gather to watch the Red Sox at Fenway Park, they would fill up all of the 37,731 seats and spill out onto Yawkey Way.

Locally, churches and charities from Jackman to Camden and from Wilton to Albion saw Scouts providing more than 6,000 hours of service just through projects led by teenagers hoping to earn their Eagle Scout rank. “This is absolutely amazing,” said Kennebec Valley District Chairman Bruce Rueger, of Wateville. “When you think of all the good that our Scouts are doing in the community from building handicap ramps to restoring forgotten veterans grave markers to making life easier for seniors and the needy and building trails and so much more- I am truly impressed. It really is heartening in this day and age to see a program where young people are taught that they have a responsibility to help other people at all times. I am so proud of our Scouts.”

The fact that a boy is an Eagle Scout has always carried with it a special significance. The award is a performance-based achievement whose standards have been well-maintained over the years. Not every boy who joins Scouts, BSA earns the Eagle Scout rank. This represents more than 2.25 million Boy Scouts who have earned the rank since 1912.

While a Life Scout, a Scout plans, develops, and gives leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, school, or the community. In addition to providing service and fulfilling the part of the Scout Oath, “to help other people at all times,” one of the primary purposes of the Eagle Scout service project is to demonstrate or hone, or to learn and develop, leadership skills. Related to this are important lessons in project management and taking responsibility for a significant accomplishment.

Eagles scouts from each central Maine counties:

Kennebec County:

Mathew Dow, Jr., of Albion – Albion Troop #446 – 26 hours of service restoring the Albion Historical Society train for educational purposes.

Alexander Steward, of Augusta – China Troop #479 – 202 hours of service building an outdoor classroom at Lincoln Elementary School, in Augusta.

Matthew Allarie, of Sidney – Sidney Troop #401 – 45 hours of service building a trophy case for the high school music department.

Nicholas Shelton, of Winslow – China Troop #479 – 98 hours of service at Waterville Creates building pottery studio shelves.

Jaxon Roan, of Oakland – Waterville Troop #417 – 358 hours of service building and installing cat climbing and exercise structures at PALS no kill animal shelter.

Maverick Lowery, of Vassalboro – Vassalboro Troop #410 – 208 hours of service building and improving trails at the Annie Sturgis Sanctuary including installing bridges where needed.

Michael Littlefield, of China – China Troop #479 – 50 hours of service building shelves for the China Food Bank.

Jack DiGirolamo, of Belgrade, Troop #401 Sidney – 93 hours of service building mountain bike bridges for Quarry Road Trails in Waterville

Lucas Eric Lenfest, of Smithfield – Troop #453 in Belgrade – 176 hours of service constructing a Veterans Memorial in front of the Smithfield Town office including walkway and granite bench.

Tieran Croft, of Sidney – Waterville Troop #417 – 162 hours of service building eight benches for the town of Oakland.

Nivek Boostedt, of China – China Troop #479 – 132 hours of service building an outdoor classroom for the China School Forest.

Adam DeWitt, of Sidney – Troop #401 in Sidney – 270 hours of service putting on and promoting a benefit concert to raise awareness for Travis Mills Foundation.

Joshua Robert Hoffman, of Augusta – Troop #603 in Augusta – 132 hours of service building a small playground at St Michael Roman Catholic School.

Dawson Poulin, of Sidney – Troop #401 in Sidney – 568 hours of service building helmet and baseball bat racks for the Sidney Athletic Association and then rebuilding them after vandals destroyed them a day after they were installed.

Kai McGlauflin, of Sidney – Sidney Troop #401 – 114 hours of service building an awards cabinet and work bench for the Messalonskee High School and Middle School Robotics Teams.

Tucker Leonard, of Palermo – Troop #479 in China – 112 hours of service constructing an outdoor classroom at the Palermo Consolidated School.

Eric McDonnell, of Augusta – Troop #603 Augusta- 177 hours of service built three benches and picnic table for the Kennebec River Rail Trail for Augusta age Friendly.

Travis John Nickerson, of Augusta – Troop 6#06 in Farmingdale – 81 hours of service gathering items and raising awareness in the community to help those who need help through the Bridging the Gap Center for Resources, Essentials Pantry & Clothing Bank, in Augusta. In total, 1,218 items were collected for those in need of essential items.

Somerset County:

Nathan Bloom, of Skowhegan – Skowhegan Troop #431 – 97 hours of service collecting photos and uploading them to help make it easier for those looking for loved ones or working on genealogy.

Lucas Eric Lenfest, of Smithfield – Troop #453 in Belgrade – 176 hours of service constructing a Veterans Memorial in front of the Smithfield Town office including walkway and granite bench. (Note, Lucas is listed in both Somerset and Kennebec as he is a member of a troop in one county while living in the other.

Austin Wright, of Madison – Troop #481 serving Madison/Anson/ Starks – 78 hours of service to demolish and old ramp and build a sturdy handicap accessible ramp at the fire station.

Jackson Dudley, of Fairfield – Skowhegan Troop #431 – 80 hours building three new picnic tables at Mill Island Park from materials he solicited In the community.

Keeping French heritage alive in central Maine

Some of the students who participate in the Maine French Language Heritage program. (contributed photo)

by Eric W. Austin

“French is French,” Charles Hicks tells me adamantly over coffee at Pat’s Pizza, on State Street. Hicks is the coordinator and sole teacher for the Maine French Heritage Language Program, in Augusta. He’s lamenting the idea that the French spoken in Maine isn’t perceived as “real” French.

Maine has a rich French heritage with nearly one-third of our residents having French in their background. That heritage is evidenced by the many French names of towns in Maine, among them Calais, Caribou, Montville, Presque Isle and, of course, Paris, just to name a few.

“There was a time when they would beat kids in elementary school for speaking French,” Hicks says, “so it totally made sense that you wouldn’t want to teach your kids something that would get them hurt.” But in consequence, much of the French language and Maine’s deep French legacy is being lost.

The Maine French Heritage Language Program (MFHLP) looks to change that. Established six years ago by Julia Schulz, who also co-founded the prestigious Penobscot School of Language Learning and Cultural Exchange, in Rockland, and Chelsea Ray, an associate professor of French Language and Literature, at the University of Maine at Augusta, MFHLP is a nonprofit after-school French language and culture program for children in grades first through sixth. Held from 3-5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Buker Community Center, in Augusta, the program is open to any interested students in central Maine.

Charles Hicks

Hicks himself has had a roundabout trip on the way to his position as coordinator of Augusta’s Maine French Heritage Language Program. Growing up in western Massachusetts, on the border with New York, his first experience with the French language came in college where he was, initially, a political science major. After spending his junior year abroad in France, he fell in love with the language and culture. It inspired him to pursue his master’s degree in the French language at the University of Maine at Orono. This led to a two-year stint in Fort Kent, an Aroostook County town in northern Maine with a large Franco-American population, followed by another prolonged stay in France as part of an advanced graduate program.

On returning to the states, Hicks spent 12 years as a traveling French language teacher to students in grades K-6 for schools in Manchester, Wayne and Mount Vernon. After budget cuts in 2007 killed the French language programs in many Maine elementary schools, Hicks took a position with MFHLP as a French teacher. When the coordinator left a few years later, Hicks embraced the dual roles of sole teacher for the program and also coordinator for its nonprofit fundraising efforts.

In addition to those duties, Hicks also teaches at Lawrence Junior High School, in Fairfield, and is an Adjunct Professor of French at Kennebec Valley Community College, in Fairfield.

There are nine central Maine students in this year’s Maine French Heritage Language Program, seven from Augusta and two from Waterville, although Hicks would like to see that number increase to 20 in order to have enough students to organize both a beginner and an advanced class. Currently, all students are taught together. The program teaches children French language and culture through the use of fun activities and games, and with cultural excursions to places like the Maine State Museum. The program costs $9/class or $18/week per student.

On Saturday, April 27, 2019, the Maine French Heritage Language Program will host its big annual fundraiser, “Springtime in Paris,” from 6 – 9:30 p.m., at Le Club Calumet, on West River Road, in Augusta. The event features French food and music, as well as both a live and silent auction in order to raise money for the program. They are looking for people interested in attending, at $40 per person, or sponsoring a table of eight for $300. The money raised from this event will support the continuance of the program for the rest of the year. Tickets can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com, or by calling Wendy at the Buker Community Center, in Augusta, at 626-2350. Checks should be made out to “City of Augusta.”

They are also looking for people willing to donate items for the auction. Although items related to the French culture or language are preferred, and will usually go for a higher bid-price, any type of item will be gratefully accepted.

Anyone with questions about the program, or the “Springtime in Paris” fundraiser on April 27, is encouraged to contact Hicks by email at MFHLPAugustaME@gmail.com or phone at 215-3621. The language program is also in need of community volunteers, especially those with a knowledge of the French language, history or culture.

“French is French,” Hicks says again, at the end of our interview, “and we want the kids in Maine to learn it because it’s part of our heritage.”

Shakespeare presented by homeschoolers

Contributed photo

Southern Maine Association of Shakespearean Homeschoolers (SMASH) presents The Tempest by William Shakespeare. It will be performed in historic Cumston Hall at Monmouth Theater on Thursday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 29, at 6:30 p.m., and a matinee Saturday, March 30, at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, please visit smashmaine.jimdo.com.

Deadline nears for film and video conference 2019

Photo from www.mainestudentfilm.org

Registration is now open for the second annual Maine Student Film & Video Conference, a full-day event offering a slate of hands-on workshops for middle and high school students in narrative and documentary filmmaking, broadcasting, photography, and technical production. Educators will have access to professional workshops and presentations focused on teaching and learning with film in the classroom. Attendance and participation in the conference is free, and registration is limited to 200 students and 50 educators.

Colleges, universities, working filmmakers, and professionals in the digital arts from Maine and nationwide will be in attendance and lead all workshops, working with small groups to provide individualized instruction. Lunch will be provided, and film-related prizes will be drawn at the end of the day to encourage skills development. To register for the 2019 Maine Student Film and Video Conference, visit: https://www.mainestudentfilm.org/conference.

“The conference is a perfect opportunity for students to try out the digital arts – from photography, shooting video, animation, editing and more,” said Dave Boardman, director of the Media Mass Communications program at the Mid-Maine Technical Center and co-director of the Maine Student Film and Video Conference. “The teenagers who came last year loved it, and the line-up is even better this year. The opportunities in this field are growing so fast, and this is the place where young people are getting a look at what’s possible.”

Arts society to offer scholarships

The Waterville Area Art Society (WAAS) is now accepting applications for its annual $500 scholarship award to be given to a graduating high school senior who pursues a degree in visual arts, performing arts or music. It is open to students from the following schools: Waterville, Winslow, Lawrence, Messalonskee, Erskine Academy, Snow Pond Arts Academy and Mid-Maine Technical Center.

Information has been sent to guidance departments asking for nominations. Information requested includes: student contact information; teacher recommendation; the student’s artistic ability and need; and three photos or video clips of student work. These can be submitted by mail to Waterville Area Art Society (WAAS) PO Box 2703, Waterville, ME 04903-2703) or digitally to waasmaine@gmail.com. Nominations must be submitted by May 1, 2019.

Previous winners and former applicants are also eligible to apply again, with a former high school or college teacher’s nomination and materials.

To receive further information, send email to waasmaine@gmail.com or contact Mary Morrison at 207-872-5843.

Empty Bowls fundraiser to be held at Messalonskee

Empty Bowls has been a fundraiser for several years at Messalonskee High School. The purpose of this project is to raise money for food pantries in our communities. It is also about raising awareness that many people are struggling to provide food for their families.

Students in pottery classes, faculty members, and people in the community have been crafting ceramic bowls under the direction of ceramics teacher Sherrie Damon, to be sold as part of the dinner. The bowls will be on display for diners to choose and take home after their meal as a reminder of the event and what is represents.

This year the Empty Bowls will be held on Friday, March 8, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the Messalonskee High School Cafeteria. Cost is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.

The menu will include homemade soups, salads, rolls, drinks, and desserts. There will also be a raffle and prizes to give away.

Diners can complete the evening by attending Something Wicked This Way Comes, performed by the MHS Players. The show starts at 7 p.m.

For more information call Susan Perrino at 465-9135 or email sperrino@rsu18.org.

Instructional coaching important part of RSU #18

Instructional Coach Shelly Moody, left, works with fifth grade teachers Brianna Brockway, top left, and Alexandra Cotter on analyzing student data, reflecting on instructional practices, and determining interventions and goals for individual students. (Contributed photo)

by Mandi Favreau, Communication Coordinator RSU#18

Teaching is not for the faint of heart. As rewarding as the profession is, it can also be overwhelming to be the caretaker of dozens of young minds while juggling planning, assessments, and trying to keep up with the best new trends in curriculum within your classroom.

Enter the instructional coach. From analyzing student data to mentoring and planning professional development, these teacher leaders have a terrific positive impact on the schools they work in. “Our staff who fill these roles are the most talented, patient and invested individuals,” said Assistant Superintendent Keith Morin. “They make it their job to increase student achievement by working with incredible staff.”

RSU #18 has four instructional coaches – two at the elementary level and two at the middle school level. Shelly Moody covers Atwood and Williams as an instructional coach and Literacy Specialist while Pam Prescott works part-time with Belgrade Central. Jenny Barry is a part-time teacher/part-time coach for MMS while Dean of Students Meagan Murphy fulfills the instructional coach role at CMS. While a typical day looks a little different for each of them, the main focus of the position is always to support teachers around particular goals for student learning.

Coaches spend time in teachers’ classrooms at their request or based on coaching cycles. They offer feedback and support, present direct instruction to students or co-teach with the classroom teacher. They offer planning support, assist teachers in developing their SLOs and growth plans, and assist with the implementation of new curriculum. “Teachers have a place to go,” said Atwood Principal Jennifer McGee, “a non-evaluative and safe arena, to question, probe, analyze and improve the teaching practices they are delivering to children each day.”

Instructional coaches also work with students on reading and writing intervention.  “The best part of every day is the time I spend in classrooms collaborating with teachers,” said Shelly Moody. “There’s nothing better than watching students apply their strategies to solve math problems or sitting beside a student to conference on his/her reading or writing. As a classroom teacher, I was able to have an impact on 20 students during the school year.  In my role as an instructional coach, I’m able to support teachers in the growth of students in twenty-four classrooms.”

At the elementary levels, coaches facilitate weekly grade level meetings to help teachers examine data and plan across content areas. All of our instructional coaches help the administration make curriculum and instruction decisions based on student data and instructional practices. They also spend time developing and leading professional development focused on analyzing data, exploring instructional practices, and developing interventions. “Our instructional coaches ensure we have the best practices and most recent research regarding instructional practices in our teachers’ hands,” said Principal McGee. “They are always reaching out, to a broader state-wide and national platform, about best practices, and then bringing those back to our schoolhouses and classrooms.”

This year, RSU #18’s coaches have also been working closely with Assistant Superintendent Morin on supporting new teachers across the district. “This is new to our job,” said Jenny Barry, “and as far as I can tell it has been a wonderful addition to what we already do to support the teachers within our buildings.”

For each of these coaches, it’s hugely rewarding to be able to collaborate with and support other teachers. “My most favorite part of the job is when a teacher expresses their enthusiasm and excitement when they either try something new or focus on a particular strategy and see the success of it,” said Barry.

That’s key for all our coaches.  These are experienced educators who understand all the struggles that teachers face and want to use their expertise to help.

“After spending 35 years in the classroom, I am well aware of the precious little time teachers have to procure new resources, communicate with their colleagues and specialists, or talk with each other about curriculum, instruction, and interventions,” added Pam Prescott. “I love having the time and opportunity to make this happen. It benefits our entire school.”

Oak Grove School Foundation offers grants

The Oak Grove School Foundation is accepting applications for grants to support the education and cultural needs of students and non profit organizations in the greater Central Maine area.

Recipients must be educational, charitable or religious organizations that are tax exempt under section 501(c)(30 Of the internal revenue service code.

Grant requests should be received by April 5, 2019. Funding decisions will be made in May and shortly after the funds will be distributed in July. Recent grants have ranged $500 – $5,000. The OGSF has also provided seed money for initiatives that last up to three years.

Groups interested in obtaining application forms and guidelines should contact Joann Clark Austin, Oak Grove School Foundation, P.O. Box 150 South China, ME 04358-0150 or Susan Briggs at briggsusan@gmail.com (https://sites.google.com/site/ogsfoundationorg/).

Kennebec County retired educators support classroom

Two teachers in Kennebec County were recently awarded $150 grants by the Kennebec Retired Educators Association (KREA) to supplement expenses for classroom projects. The recipients were Nathaniel Paine who teaches science and technology at Cony Middle School in Augusta and Sarah Lucas, a Grade 2 teacher at the Helen Thompson School in West Gardiner.

Paine proposed an inter-disciplinary project known as “Raspberry Pi” allows students to assemble the hardware of a computer and code in Python—one of the most widely used programming languages. He will collaborate with other seventh grade teachers—Mrs. Moore, Mr. Joyce, and Mr. Colburn.

He explains, “Our seventh grade team has structured time into our schedule for extension activities that encompass four major study areas—science, math, English language arts, and social studies. Raspberry Pi enables students to design and code computer programming to solve problems that integrate across our four subject areas.”

Ms. Lucas also plans to integrate interdisciplinary studies in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). “These projects encourage creative problem solving and innovative thinking as well as teamwork and communication skills. These skills translate into real life work environments where problem solving and teamwork are integral parts of the relevancy of the project.”

George Davis, of Skowhegan, KREA president and chairperson of the KREAtive Grant Committee, says, “We are committed to helping teachers and students in many ways—by substituting, volunteering, serving on Boards of Education, and undertaking projects to enhance the classroom experience.”

Other members of the KREAtive Grant Committee are Phil Gonyar and Carl Daiker, both of Waterville; Linda Ellis, of Clinton; Joann Tyler, of China; and Kay Grindall, of Oakland.

The Kennebec Retired Educators Association (KREA) is an affiliate of MEA-Retired and is comprised of retired educators from 60 schools in 31 cities and towns. Grant description and applications disseminated to every principal of all Kennebec County elementary, middle, and high schools in September of every year. The principals make them available to classroom teachers.

MDEA activates anonymous drug tip hotline

Maine Drug Enforcement Agency investigations many times start with a tip from the public and now the agency has a new way for citizens to forward those tips, and do so anonymously. MDEA Director Roy McKinney said the agency gets an average of two dozen tips a month from concerned Maine citizens about suspected drug activity and many of those tips results in seizures of drugs and arrests.

Developed by tip411, the Maine DEA app is available for download free via the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store, or by visiting the MDEA’s website at www.maine.gov/dps/mdea.

“Someone dies every day in Maine from a drug overdose and all communities are affected by drug use and abuse. Our partnering with tip411 brings a new investigate tool to forward information to us,” McKinney said.

The new Maine DEA app enables the public to share an anonymous tip with members of MDEA and allows agents to respond back for more information, all as an anonymous two-way conversation.

The Maine DEA app and tip411 texts utilize technology that removes all identifying information before agents see the tip, and there is no way to identify the sender.

Maine residents without a smartphone can also share information with MDEA by sending an anonymous text tip via their cell phone by texting keyword MDEA and their message/tip to 847411 (tip411). Anonymous web tips can also be submitted through the agency’s website.

MDEA’s telephones are another way to forward tips – the MDEA tip hotline – 800-452-6457, or an urgent tip can be phoned into the Maine Department of Public Safety’s communications center in Augusta – 800-452-4664.