9th annual Battle for Breast Cancer raises $42,000

Messalonskee field hockey team. Front row, left to right, Riley Waraskevich, Ann Corbett, Journey Charles, Chloe Tilley, Abby Breznyak, Nealey Dillon, Jenna Cassani and Jenna Reardon. Back, Coach McLaughlin, Morgan Wills, Logan Alexander, Sidney Hatch, Alyson Violette, Shea Cassani, Malaika Thurston, Frankie Caccamo, Sarah Hellen and Coach Feldpausch. (photo submitted by Kim Kennedy)

by Mark Huard

The 9th Annual Battle For Breast Cancer took place at Thomas College, in Waterville, on Saturday, July 13, and was a truly great success.

The July 13 benefit tournament featured 11 Central Maine high school field hockey teams: Skowhegan, Messalonskee, Mt. Blue, Lawrence, Dirigo, Dexter, Nokomis, MCI, Winslow, Erskine Academy and Winthrop.

Now in its 9th year, more than $240,000 has been raised since 2011 for the beneficiary, the Martha B. Webber Breast Care Center, a program of Franklin Memorial Hospital, in Farmington. Diagnostic breast imaging, biopsies, lab services, surgical consultations, and post-surgical garments are just some of the examples of how the money has been used.”

“Money raised is used to support those with breast cancer living in Central Maine with health care costs as well as practical resources for patients such as gas cards and help with child care which may impact patient care,” said organizer Paula Doughty. “Last year we started a program with platinum thru bronze sponsorship opportunities for businesses or individuals, which provides sponsors with special recognition in the event’s program and during the opening ceremony.” This sponsorship has helped us tremendously.

“For over 40 years I drove 45 minutes a day to work and 45 minutes back from work,” said organizer Paula Doughty. “During this time I did my best thinking. Over the years I had experienced in my family and other people who had jobs but no insurance or high deductibles suffer. Often they got no care at all or couldn’t follow up with medical recommendations because of their financial situations. The hospitals would hound them for the payments they couldn’t make, and they were denied government help, yet didn’t have the money to pay on their own. Often many just gave up and ultimately died. That’s when I thought it would be great to try to help some of these local people with their needs. I met with some of my Skowhegan Field Hockey Boosters and the Battle for Breast Cancer came about.”

The Lawrence field hockey team. Front row, left to right, Abigail Townsend, Taylor Jordan, Sophia Luckern, Ashtynn Stewart, Taylor Leclerc, Emma Poulin, Alexis Trask, Lexi Gordon, Emily Hersey, Haylei Niles and Holly Bolduc. Back, Coach Shawna Robinson, Abbie Vigue Brooke Butler, Capt. Miranda Lambert, Capt. Lexi Lewis, Victoria Dunphy, Capt. Elsie Suttie, Tori Richards, Cassie Richards and Maddie Niles. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

They chose the Martha B. Webber Center because it was local and rural. Often people don’t have the will or the resources to drive to the cities of Maine and they thought it was a good fit. Back in 2011, a total of four teams got together and had the first Battle for Breast Cancer at Colby College which included Skowhegan, Mt. Blue, Winslow and Nokomis. Their goal was to raise $1,000 and they ended up raising $16,655.

Since that time with over 11 teams they have now raised $242,000 dollars which has helped over 550 local people in Central Maine with everything from a gas card to get to treatments to many medical procedures. The entire central Maine field hockey community has stepped up and wanted to participate. Over the last two years they also have been collecting sponsors which has really helped boost the final amounts. The majority of the money is raised by field hockey players raising one dollar at a time with bottle drives, car washes, toll booths, and personal collections.

Next year will be the tenth year and Doughty said we plan on going all out to make it the best ever. “We know after reading and listening to testimonials of patients we help how worthwhile this event is. Hopefully more and more people in the Central Maine Area will donate for our cause,” Doughty concluded.

Allowing community voice to define school success

 

The front entrance at Messalonskee High School (photo source: jmg.org)

by Mandi Favreau

How we measure the success of a school can have a profound impact on a community. Potential residents and businesses alike tend to use online school information to make decisions about which communities they choose. But are current measures giving the public the full picture of what a school can offer students, families, and communities?

Many state and national school assessment systems rely heavily on standardized test scores to make their determinations about the success of schools.  The federal government also attaches millions of dollars in funding to the process by using state assessments to identify schools that need support. This reliance on limited data points does a disservice to schools and students.

“Standardized tests can help us design interventions for individual students and help us examine our overall programming, but one test does not paint the entire picture of our schools or our students,” said Superintendent Carl Gartley.

“Our students learn differently, and they demonstrate success differently.  Any teacher you ask could name several students for whom a standardized test is not going to show their strengths. These students deserve to be represented when we talk about our schools.”

Current measures of success do not highlight a school’s strong arts or media program. They give no acknowledgment to the special education and intervention programs that the school provides beyond the performance of students with disabilities on assessments.

The Maine Department of Education is currently working to develop a more well-rounded system. “The first step is to get the conversation going statewide with students, teachers, parents – all of the stakeholders,” said Mary Paine, Director of the Commissioner of Education’s Office of School Success. “We need to develop a more complete set of indicators of success by identifying common values, asking the public what matters beyond the indicators that are being used currently.”

To that end, a team from the DOE, lead by Paine, came to RSU #18 in mid-May to meet with small groups of students and educators across several grade levels. They spoke with about 10 students per grade level and a group of educators from across the district and from a variety of content areas. The conversation was focused on what is working in the district – what makes our schools successful.

Even given the small number of participants in this first round of conversations, common values emerged in RSU #18, such as the importance of relationships. Students spoke of strong connections with their teachers, and teachers spoke of good working relationships with their administration. Safety was also mentioned, particularly by the students. They said they felt safe both within our buildings and walking to school. Teachers mentioned the importance of collaborative time. Healthy social settings were also valued.

These conversations, along with a community dialogue in RSU #38, will be used to inform the development of a flexible framework that can be used locally and by the state to portray authentic, relevant indicators of success based on the statewide and local conversations.

“It needs to be authentic and we want it to ensure that the indicators are backed by evidence,” said Paine. She believes that it does not necessarily need to come down to numbers, or at least not the usual numbers. “One goal of the statewide conversation is to gather ideas about what the framework might look like. How do we capture and provide evidence for qualitative measures such as strong relationships, community involvement, unique programs and opportunities that are provided to students, or strong career and technical skills programs?” Paine says that even in the early stages of the conversation, these are the kinds of things that matter and that we need to find a way to communicate.

“The questions really focus on what people look for in a successful school and whether those features exist in their district,” said Paine. The resulting data would not only provide a more complete picture of a school for state and national reports but would also provide school districts with valuable information about what is working and what they might work to improve.

School rating websites are already making an effort to change their assessment models. Paine hopes that if the state can supply them with more accurate and complete information, it gives them something relevant that they can use. GreatSchools.org, considered to be one of the better school ranking sites, lists Maine as one of the states that does not “have sufficient information to generate a Summary Rating.” In those cases, the site defaults to test scores as their overall rating. This makes this project doubly important for Maine schools to be able to provide an accurate reflection of what our schools’ offer. But Paine cautions, “We in no way wish to generate another system of rating and ranking. That is the antithesis of public school.” The added benefit to the new approach is that it also moves the dialogue away from ranking and comparison which can create false impressions.

“When it comes to bringing people to our state, cities, and towns and encouraging them to stay, we couldn’t do anything more important than to make sure that the real value to be found in our schools is seen and heard,” said Paine in recent material focusing on the project.

The DOE plans to come back to RSU #18 in the fall and to open the conversation up to community members. “We also want to talk with more students,” said Paine, “their voices are incredibly important.”

Cash cashes in with two home runs

Messalonskee Middle School (photo source RSU 18 Messenger)

by Dan Cassidy

Cash Bizier, a seventh grade student at Messalonskee Middle School, in Oakland, recently hit his first out of the park home run on April 28, playing against the Famington Flyers with his 50/70 Sunday League at Purnell Wrigley Field, in Waterville.

His second home run came on May 15, his 13th birthday at the Sidney Pits vs. Ward Electric playing with his Rec League team. Cash plays mostly as a utility player. He pitches, plays second base, catcher, shortstop and plays in the outfield. He is the son of Shannon and Jeremiah Bizier, of Oakland.

Superintendent satisfied with China schools condition

photo source: JMG.org

by Mary Grow

RSU (Regional School Unit) #18 Superintendent Carl Gartley is satisfied with conditions in China schools and the RSU as a whole.

Gartley talked about the proposed 2019-2020 budget at the next-to-last in a series of explanatory meetings in China on April 30. Voters from the five RSU towns (Belgrade, China, Oakland, Rome and Sidney) will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the Performing Arts Center at Messalonskee High School to vote on the budget. A budget validation referendum will be held June 11 in each town.

Twenty-two people attended the China meeting. Gartley said only half a dozen of them are not connected with town government, China schools or the RSU.

The superintendent projects an RSU budget increase of 2.86%, a little more than $1 million, to more than $38.655 million. Of that amount, $28.8 million covers salaries and benefits, according to Gartley’s figures.

Because of the formula governing how each member town pays its share of the total, Gartley said China’s assessment will go up about 5 percent. That does not mean a 5 percent tax increase, he emphasized, since the town’s tax rate also depends on how much the state contributes to education next year and how much China’s valuation changes.

When an audience member mentioned the legally required 55 percent state contribution to education, people laughed. The state has evaded the obligation ever since voters approved it by referendum in 2003.

Gartley presented charts showing that:

  • Compared to 11 other area towns and RSUs, RSU #18’s per-pupil spending is fifth from the lowest, and below the state average.
  • In reading, as measured by standard test scores (which Gartley pointed out are only one way to assess progress, but are easy to compare), RSU #18 students rank next to the top in the area, and at the state average. • In math, by the same measure, RSU #18 scores are third from the top and above the state average.

Gartley mentioned the social workers, nurses, special education staff and others who help RSU #18 tailor its school system to meet all students’ needs. The member schools offer large and varied extracurricular programs; all RSU students may use the “gorgeous” new athletic facility in Oakland.

  • “The money is being spent where it should be, [and] our kids are getting a great education,” Gartley summarized.

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.”

Where are they now? Oakland’s Nick Mayo integral part of Eastern Kentucky basketball

Former Messalonskee High School basketball player Nick Mayo, now playing for Eastern Kentucky University

Eastern Kentucky University men’s basketball has high hopes of making it back to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament this year, in no small part thanks to the skills of Senior forward Nick Mayo.

Earlier this season Mayo hit a career high of 40 points in a single game, with a game average of just under 17 shots.  He holds the program’s record for career blocks, has already reached No. 2 on the school’s all-time scoring list and is likely to take the top spot within the next few games.

The EKU Colonel’s new coach, A.W. Hamilton, describes him as a “once in a lifetime player” and has said on more than one occasion that he is fully confident we will see NBA beside Nick’s name in the future.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to those of us back in Mayo’s hometown. Mayo, his parents Scott and Jenn, and his sisters Kelsey and Mackenzie called Belgrade home while he was growing up. His parents and younger sister now make their home in Oakland. All three kids attended RSU #18 and played sports in the district.

“Nick was an incredible player to work with,” said MHS basketball coach Pete McLaughlin. “Coming into our program, he was a kind-hearted young freshman (only 6 feet tall at the time) who was eager to get better every day.”

Mayo grew five inches coming into his sophomore high school season, and according to Coach McLaughlin his work ethic grew with his frame. He started having an even bigger impact on the court and during his junior and senior year, college coaches from across the country started to really take notice. Mayo received interest from over 30 Division I and Division II schools, and for good reason, according to McLaughlin.

“In my 16 years of coaching, I have never been around a player that had such great vision on the court,” he said.  “If you are open…Nick is going to find you, and you better be ready to catch because you may not know the ball is coming your way. On the defensive end, Nick has incredible timing and was one of the best rebounders and shot blockers to ever play in Maine.”

Mayo’s awards and stats speak for themselves, but they aren’t all he brings to the court.  McLaughlin describes him as the glue that held the teams together during high school. The now 6-foot 9-inch forward has been named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference first team after each of his first three seasons, regularly breaks school and personal records, and still has a humble attitude. In interviews, Mayo is always quick to point out that he’s not alone on the court and always gives his teammates and coaches credit and praise.

“We as a community are lucky because he models exactly what it means to be a Messalonskee Eagle to all of our youth,” said McLaughlin. “I could not be more proud of him! I cannot wait to see what his future has in store for him!”  The sentiment is echoed by many friends, family, and community members who are staunch followers of Mayo’s career. Two years ago, a bus full of fans from Central Maine sporting “Team Mayo” shirts attended an EKU away game in Manhattan.

The home support isn’t lost on Mayo. He never forgets where he comes from and has claimed it’s a huge source of comfort and strength for him. “My family is awesome…and it’s not just my family, it’s the whole state of Maine,” he said in a recent interview. “I’m really lucky to have the support system that I have back home and I’m thankful for it.”

“We are so proud of all he has accomplished,” said his mother, Jennifer Mayo. “Nick has had a lot of people who have helped him along the way, but when it comes down to it, Nick has been the one who has put in all the work and has taken up the opportunities.  He pushes himself every day and has set high goals. We are excited to see what his future holds.”

Local trio cited at annual soccer banquet

Ben Danner (left), Carter Lambert (center), and Isaac Lambrecht

by Dan Cassidy

The Maine Soccer Coaches held their 45th Annual Maine Soccer All-Star Banquet Sunday in Bangor.

Presentation of Awards included the 24th Maine Soccer Coaches Senior Bowl MVPs, Northern and Southern Maine Regional All-Star teams, Northern and Southern Maine State teams, Maine Soccer “Coach of the Year” Awards, United Soccer Coaches “Coach of the Year Nominees, Class “Players of the Year” Awards, All Region Awards and All American Awards.

Over 200 high school boys soccer students attended the banquet from throughout the state of Maine.

Local awards were presented to Northern and Southern Maine Regional All-Star teams that included senior Carter Lambert, a keeper from Messalonskee High School, in Oakland, senior Ben Danner, mid-fielder from Waterville High School and senior Isaac Lambrecht, forward from Winslow High School.

8th annual Battle for Breast Cancer tourney raises over $34,000

Group photo of the teams from Dexter, Lawrence, of Fairfield, Maine Central Institute, of Pittsfield, Messalonskee, of Oakland, Mt. Blue, of Farmington, Nokomis, of Newport, Skowhegan, Winslow and Winthrop. Photo by Cheyenne Paron, Central Maine Photography staff

by Mark Huard

On July 21, field hockey teams from Skowhegan, Messalonskee, Mt. Blue, Nokomis, Winslow, Dexter, MCI, Lawrence, and Winthrop, in Central Maine, participated in the 8th Annual Battle For Breast Cancer Tournament at Thomas College, in Waterville. Now in its eighth year, more than $163,600 has been raised since 2011 for the beneficiary, the Martha B. Webber Breast Care Center, a program of Franklin Memorial Hospital, in Farmington. Diagnostic breast imaging, biopsies, lab services, surgical consultations, and post-surgical garments are just some of the examples of how the money has been used.

“One hundred percent of the money raised is used to support those with breast cancer living in Central Maine,” said organizer Paula Doughty. “And new this year are platinum through bronze sponsorship opportunities with special recognition in the event’s program and during the opening ceremony.”

This year’s event was another huge success and all of the teams together helped raise $34,126.85, the most yet in a single year.

A breakdown of the last seven years:

2011 – $16,655
2012 – $20,858
2013 – $25,936
2014 – $18,831
2015 – $25,105
2016 – $23,666
2017 – $32,563.

Oakland alumni to hold 98th reunion

Fellow alumni for the 98th year of the Oakland Alumni to celebrate on August 11, at the Waterville Elks Club.

We also invite those who attended Belgrade High School.

Alumni includes those who attended these schools even if they didn’t graduate. Come to enjoy the companionship of those you might not have seen for years. See who will receive the Eagle Award for life accomplishments. Help us to find alumni for whom we may not have addresses.

The Williams High School class of 1968 will be there as well as the Messalonskee class of 1973. Call president Dana Wrigley to have information sent so you can sign up and not miss the fun day (207) 314-6676.

Oakland, Williams, Messalonskee alumni committee members invite you.

Veteran Messalonskee bus driver retires

Donna Pullen

by Dan Cassidy

Donna Pullen, a 51-year veteran school bus driver for RSU #18 Messalonskee School Department was treated to a surprise retirement party by her fellow bus drivers and supervisors recently. She plans to retire at the end of this school year.

Pullen began her employment in the nutrition department at the school. She was asked several times to become a bus driver, but she always responded that she could not drive a bus. However, in 1967, after many requests, she began her driving career.

“She has gone through three generations of kids,” according to Lennie Goff, Transportation Director of RSU #18. “She drove summer trips and has not stopped,” he said.

“Donna has always had the perfect words at the perfect time to help me feel better about myself when I began as transportation coordinator almost four years ago,” Shannon Bizier said.

Pullen, who resides in Oakland, has been very active in her community affairs. She has served as a public servant, worked on the budget committee, and served on the Fire Department Auxiliary. She was also named Driver of the Year in 2015. “Donna has gone above and beyond,” Goff said.

Mike Perkins, State Representative presented her with a Legislative Sentiment from the 128th Legislature at the celebration. Perkins is also Safety Officer of RSU 18.