Shine-on Oakland Day benefits food pantry

Colby Charette (and his dog Sadie) sit among the over 150 boxes of cereal collected at Oakfest’s first “ShineOn Oakland Day” in support of local kids.

Avery Charland, of Fairfield, was among hundreds of kids who painted positive messages on rocks to hide in the community to spread kindness as part of the July 28 “ShineOn Oakland Day” at Oakfest.

Oakland’s first “ShineOn Oakland Day” July 28 collected over 150 boxes of cereal, bringing awareness to child food insecurity and feeding local families who receive support through the Oakland Food Pantry. The ShineOnCass Foundation partnered with the Town of Oakland’s summer festival “Oakfest” which featured three days of community events including a street dance, farmer’s market, triathlon and a parade, where parade goers dropped boxes of cereal into shopping carts pushed by area students involved in ShineOnCass initiatives.

Anya Fegal helps collect cereal boxes in one of the ShineOnCass shopping carts.

Monica Charette, who organized the event with Foundation volunteers, said she hopes this will become an annual event to support the Oakland Food Pantry, local families in need and offer opportunity for children to participate in an activity that gives back to the community. The ShineOnCass Foundation also hosted “Oakland Rocks” where kids painted positive messages on over 200 rocks to place in their community to help spread kindness. All who participated received “ShineOnCass Kindness Matters” wristbands.

The ShineOnCass Foundation was created to honor the spirit, continue the work, and encourage others to live the legacy of Cassidy Charette, whose kindness and passion for others Shines On. Cassidy was a 17-year-old Messalonskee scholar and athlete, and a devoted community volunteer who died in a hayride accident in 2014. The organization’s mission is to educate, inspire and empower youth to make their world a better place through volunteer charitable activities.

Town embarks on Comprehensive Planning process

 

Messalonskee Stream cascade, Oakland, ME; from a c. 1906 postcard published by G. W. Morris, Portland, Maine.

Engages community to envision the town’s future

The Town of Oakland is currently in the process of crafting a Comprehensive Plan with the goal of creating a blueprint for the future. Fifteen community members have volunteered to join the Oakland Comprehensive Planning Committee (OCPC), which is facilitating the process.

A Comprehensive Plan is a broad, long-range plan intended to guide the growth and development of a community. At its core, a Comprehensive Plan reviews the history of the municipality, evaluates its current status, and outlines a vision for its future. It typically describes the community’s natural resources, housing, economy, infrastructure, transportation, recreation and public spaces, and community facilities, and provides recommendations for those components.

For Town Manager Gary Bowman, a Comprehensive Plan represents an important milestone for Oakland. “We have embarked on a two-year process to inventory the Town of Oakland and gather public input on a wide range of topics; this magnitude of data hasn’t been compiled in over two decades, and it is critical for leading the Town in its desired direction for the next twenty years.”

Volunteers on OCPC have convened for several months to build an inventory and to create methods of collecting public input. Their dedication to the process has impressed Bob Nutting, who participates in OCPC. “It’s very special to have fifteen community members volunteer two years of their time, energy, and skill. Their volunteerism illustrates the passion OCPC members have for the Town of Oakland,” said OCPC Chair Bob Nutting.

OCPC emphasizes the importance of community involvement in the Comprehensive Plan process. Input from the community is critical, as it shapes the vision for the Town’s future.

This summer, all Oakland residents and businesses will have the opportunity to express their thoughts on Oakland’s core values, possibilities, needs, and direction. OCPC looks forward to the community’s participation in its efforts to collect input, including public workshops and a community-wide survey, which will be going live digitally and mailed to Oakland residents on Monday, July 2nd. The first public workshop will be held at the Town of Oakland’s Cascade Room (6 Cascade Mill Rd, Oakland, ME 04963) on Thursday, June 21st at 4:00pm.

Once the asset inventory analysis has been completed and public input has been collected, OCPC will craft a Comprehensive Plan that is easily-readable and usable. Comprehensive Plans are commonly used to promote quality of life, prosperity, and dialogue between neighbors, and to gain an advantage when applying to state and federal funding opportunities.

Information regarding methods by which the residents and businesses of the Town of Oakland can voice their opinions on the future of the community may also be accessed via OCPC’s Comprehensive Planning website: http://www.centralmaine.org/oakland-comprehensive-plan/.

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.

Students named to Colby-Sawyer College dean’s list for Fall 2017

Colby-Sawyer College, in New London, New Hampshire, recognized 254 students for outstanding academic achievement during the 2017 fall semester. To qualify for the Dean’s List, students must achieve a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale while carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours in graded courses.

Ross Sirois, of Norridgewock, a member of the class of 2018, majoring in biology.

Haley Carver, of Sidney, a member of the class of 2020, majoring in sociology.

Chelsea Perry, of Oakland, a member of the class of 2021, majoring in business administration.

Local students named to Clarkson University dean’s list spring 2018

The following students have been named to the dean’s list for the fall semester at Clarkson University, in Potsdam, New York:

Dakota Bragg, of Skowhegan, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering/environmental engineering, and Ben Thibert, of Oakland, a sophomore majoring in aeronautical engineering.

The many roles of RSU #18’s SROs

by Mandi Favreau

Tracey “Frosty” Frost, SRO for RSU18

When students arrive at Messalonskee High School, the first face they often see is that of Detective Tracey Frost.  “Frosty” as the kids call him, is a reassuring presence, rather than an intimidating one. He has a booming “good-morning,” a witty comment for each kid, and can call most of them by name.

At Messalonskee Middle School, Sergeant Adam Sirois starts his day in a similar manner, greeting students with a smile and a quiet “hello,” complimenting their hat, asking about their weekend. “He is always chatting with the kids, either one on one or in small groups,” said head Administrative Assistant Tracey Foster.

For both of these men, their day is spent wearing many hats.  A school resource officer (SRO) is part counselor, part teacher, part enforcer, and part defender.  There’s no such thing as a typical day in the life of an SRO; they simply play too many roles in the school setting. “I try to fulfill whatever need is present,” said Detective Frost. “I’ve investigated threats, searched students for weapons, taught young men how to tie ties, investigated DHHS issues and sexual assaults, assisted in drug investigations, delivered death notifications, assisted with suicidal students, handled traffic complaints, stood by for custody disputes, taught classes in Civics, Health and Criminal Justice, recovered lost property and investigated sexting complaints.  Every once in a while, I get to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee.”

Police Chief Mike Tracy

The student resource officer program in RSU #18 started in January of 1999 with now Police Chief Mike Tracy as the district’s first SRO. The SROs are always Oakland Police Officers but are also deputized as Kennebec County Sheriffs in order to be able to cover all the schools in the district as needed. “The schools and the police department have always had a very strong relationship, even before the start of the program,” said Chief Tracy. He added that while the job has changed with the times, the basics have stayed the same.  ”We work together with the safety of the students in mind.”

While the national media has, naturally, been focusing on the role that school resource officers may play during an incident of school violence, that is only one of the many situations where these officers may be called on to protect students. According to Superintendent Carl Gartley, having armed SROs has been key in keeping students safe in a variety of situations that could have become much more difficult without their intervention.

Their presence is also extremely reassuring to the school community.  “Students and parents appreciate having Detective Frost in our building as he is a great resource for them to reach out to when they have specific issues that they need help with,” said MHS Principal Paula Callan. She also added that he is the school’s “go-to person” for delivering food baskets and gifts to families over the holidays, and behind the scenes, he is in charge of running drills and updating staff on security protocol.

Frost acknowledges that though his role at the high-school is primarily that of protector and investigator, he feels he is most effective as a mentor.   “I try to position myself to be approachable,” said Frost.  “When a student wants to talk about what’s going on at home, or online, I want them to feel comfortable coming to see me with the assurance that I will do my best to help.” He added that he believes that this is the best defense against potential school violence. “Students feel comfortable texting, emailing or talking to me. I am usually successful at getting information that a problem exists before it becomes a fight or something worse.”

Forging relationships with the students they work with is key for SROs to be effective. For Sirois, it’s also his favorite part of the job. Many of the students he works with frequently need more “positive interaction with adult authority figures,” and providing that can have a huge impact.  “Adam builds great relationships with students and has many discussions with them on topics around bullying, being safe online, avoiding legal issues and other topics,” said MMS Principal Mark Hatch.

Detective Tracey Frost congratulating graduates

The job also has its fair share of challenges. For Frost, the biggest one is the heartache of knowing that 90 percent of the students he interacts with in his official role grew up in poverty with little to no positive parenting; this makes reaching them difficult.  “I deal with the same 20 students over and over again,” said Frost. “Sometimes this is very challenging and, quite frankly, tiring.” He agrees with Sirois that being able to make a difference with those kids is the greatest reward. “Every once in a while, I get a victory where a student who is going down a hard road gets in trouble and I am able to turn that kid’s life around.”

Safety in our schools has always been a priority in RSU #18 and will continue to be so. “Unfortunately, just living in rural Maine is no longer enough to say we are safe,” said Superintendent Carl Gartley.  “In today’s world, we need to have our building secure, we need to have buzz-in systems and cameras in our schools.” He added that the schools and town are working together to explore a variety of additional improvements that can be made to our security protocol, from the possibility of additional resource officers to modifications in the physical structures of some of the buildings.

Both Detective Frost and Sergeant Sirois feel that there is a lot to be said for the current state of security in the district, despite some architectural challenges in the older schools. “Our crisis plans are state of the art and are updated regularly,” said Frost. “We have more SROs than any other district in the area. Our management team takes security seriously. We have a substantial number of cameras. We work well with surrounding police and fire departments.” He added that there is a balance to be had between ensuring safety and turning our schools into prisons. “We want to remain a welcoming environment, not a detention facility.  It’s a balance that everyone is struggling with.”

This article first appeared on the RSU18 website.

Messalonskee Middle School students visit State House

Contributed photo

Kendall Arbour and Grace Stocco, both students at Messalonskee Middle School, in Oakland, visited the State House on February 20. During their visit they served as honorary pages in the Maine Senate and met with Senator Roger Katz (R-Kennebec).

The honorary page program, which is open for students from third grade through high school, gives students an opportunity to participate in the legislative process for one day’s session in either the House or Senate. For more information, please contact Senator Katz’ office at 207-287-1505.

Knight enrolled at St. Lawrence University

St. Lawrence University, in Canton, New York, has welcomed Saige Knight, of Oakland, as a member of the class of 2021. Knight attended Messalonskee High School.

Saige Knight enrolled at St. Lawrence University

St. Lawrence University, in Canton, New York, has welcomed Saige Knight, of Oakland, as a member of the class of 2021. Knight attended Messalonskee High School.

Students named to the U. of Vermont dean’s list

The following local students have been named to the University of Vermont dean’s list, in Burlington, Vermont:

Delaney Curran; of Skowhegan; Kaitlyn Sutter, of Palermo; and Kayla Christopher, of Oakland.