Superintendent shares acronym meanings

Vassalboro Community School. (source:

At the Sept. 17 Vassalboro School Board meeting, Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer shared a list of more than 200 educational bureaucracy acronyms he obtained at a recent conference.

Some have become familiar, like ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

Some seem confusing. HR might mean either House Resolution or Human Resources, and SFA stands for either student financial assistance or School Food Authority. FY is fiscal year; FFY is federal fiscal year; PFY is preceding fiscal year; SY is school year; there is no SFY for state fiscal year.

There are long acronyms, like AEFFA (Association of Educational Federal Finance Administrators), CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program) and FPLPE (Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension). There are a minority of two-letter ones, including MC for Montana Compact and PS, which does not mean an addition to a letter or an email ­– it means postsecondary.

Easy to pronounce acronyms include GAPS, the Grant Administration and Payment System; HELP, the U. S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; LEARN, Literacy for All, Results for the Nation; and PLOP, present level of performance.

Kassman speaks on history of weathervanes

Dr. Larry Kassman making a presentation at the China Village (ACB) Library on weather vanes. Here, Dr. Kassman displays one of the common “rooster” weather vanes commonly seen throughout New England. Other weather vanes were also on display for the presentation. Many weather vanes from his collection are on display at Colby College this fall. (Contributed photo)

On Sunday September 8, the China Village (ACB) Library hosted a presentation by Dr. Larry Kassman on weather vanes. The talk was given to a full library of attendees and was very informative. Dr. Kassman covered some of the history of weather vanes, common weather vane forms, and the value of many of the unique weather vanes around the world. All of the library’s programs are free and everyone is welcome. A full list of upcoming events can be found on the library website at

China TIF members seek additional volunteers to serve

by Mary Grow

Five members of China’s Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Committee and Town Manager Dennis Heath shared information on several ongoing projects at the Sept. 23 committee meeting.

Chairman Frank Soares noted that although the committee has 10 people listed as members, at least two have resigned and others have been unable to attend a meeting in months. He plans to ask selectmen to delist the resigned and inactive members to make space for new people.

Any China resident interested in advising on spending up to half a million dollars a year is invited to contact Soares, Heath or the town office.

The half million is Heath’s estimate of sums spent and obligated for the current fiscal year, the bulk of it for the causeway project, the new bridge and future recreational improvements at the head of China Lake’s east basin. TIF money comes from taxes Central Maine Power Company pays on its north-south power line and its South China substation.

Committee members are waiting for detailed plans and state permits to continue the causeway project eastward from the new bridge. In 2017, China voters authorized spending up to $750,000 for the work; Heath doubts the approximately $150,000 left will be enough to finish it, and foresees asking for another appropriation.

Funds have been authorized to help the China Lake Association with projects to control run-off into China Lake. Construction subcommittee chairman Tom Michaud said Fire Road 35 is first on the list, with grant money and a donation from the Kennebec Water District supplementing TIF funds.

The committee’s revolving loan fund subcommittee and the full committee have recommended selectmen approve the first application for TIF revolving loan fund money to help a local business, from Buckshot Sports. Heath said selectmen are awaiting final documentation.

New and renewal applications for TIF funding are expected this fall. Heath said new state laws allow TIF money to support broadband service and all emergency services, not just fire departments.

Thurston Park Committee Chairman Jeannette Smith delivered her committee’s request for $22,700. Committee members intend to discuss the application at their late-October meeting, to be scheduled.

In the interim, they will hold an Oct. 14 (despite the holiday) workshop meeting to discuss requesting state and local approval to add funding categories and to reallocate funds among current categories.

Vassalboro Community School students in line for joint project with NASA

Vassalboro Community School. (source:

by Mary Grow

Vassalboro School Board members applauded when they heard at their Sept. 17 meeting that students at Vassalboro Community School (VCS) are in line for a joint project with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, commonly called NASA.

“Wicked awesome,” was Superintendent Alan Pfeiffer’s reaction.

Michelle Lake, instructional specialist for the now-dissolved Alternative Educational Structure (AOS) #92, and VCS science teacher Breanne Desmond reported that their application has been approved to try out for a Cubesat launch. A Cubesat is “a little tiny satellite” that carries experiments into earth orbit, Lake explained.

The next step is for NASA to help assemble a team of engineers and other experts who will work with students to build the solar-powered satellite. It will be tested by going up with a weather balloon and if it works, will hitch a ride into space.

Related: Superintendent shares acronym meanings

The timetable is indefinite, starting this fall. The project is supposed to take two years. Desmond expects to start with sixth-graders; the curriculum team hasn’t decided whether the second year will continue with the same students in seventh grade or hand over to the new sixth-graders.

The question the students will try to answer is whether the frequency or location of lightning strikes is changed by global warming. Sub-questions include whether the northeastern United States can expect more frequent or severe lightning strikes; if that answer is yes, what negative (like more forest fires) and positive (like more nitrogen fixing to improve soils) consequences might occur; whether energy could be captured from the lightning; and whether, if lightning is more frequent, housing codes should be adapted.

The other good-news report Sept. 17 was that changes to the school meals program are leading more students to eat school-provided breakfast or lunch or both. In addition to potential improvements in nutrition, more use of the meals program means an increased federal subsidy.

A third issue discussed was whether to allow a Vassalboro school bus to transport eight VCS students attending Happy Days Childcare and Learning Center on Augusta Road (Route 201), in Winslow, an estimated 70 yards from the Vassalboro town line. The usual policy is that Vassalboro buses operate only inside the town.

However, Pfeiffer said he gave Happy Days conditional approval, if the childcare manager will let its yard be used as a school bus turn-around. Driver Clayton Rice called the plan “doable,” Pfeiffer said. School Board Chairman Kevin Levasseur said Happy Days employees’ vehicles are not in the way.

Board members approved the proposal without opposition, as long as the turnaround is plowed adequately and not blocked in any other way. Pfeiffer emphasized this action does not set a precedent for automatically allowing buses to cross the town boundary; anyone else wanting the same service needs to follow procedure, starting with a written application.

The next regular Vassalboro School Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, Oct. 15.

Paige McGlauflin named to Emerson College dean’s list

Paige McGlauflin, a resident of Sidney, has been named to the Emerson College dean’s list for the Spring 2019 semester, in Boston, Massachusetts. McGlauflin is majoring in journalism. The requirement to make Emerson’s dean’s list is a grade point average of 3.7 or higher.

Steward named to dean’s list at Bob Jones University

Matthew Steward, a junior criminal justice major, of Skowhegan, was among over 800 Bob Jones University students named to the Spring 2019 dean’s list, in Greenville, South Carolina.

Catherine Riley named to Cedarville University dean’s honor list

Catherine Riley, a mathematics major from Chelsea, was named to the dean’s honors list at Cedarville University, in Cedarville, Ohio.

This recognition required Riley to maintain a 3.75 minimum GPA while carrying at least 12 credit hours during spring semester 2019.

Give Us Your Best Shot! for Thursday, September 26, 2019

To submit a photo for this section, please visit our contact page or email us at!

LAZY SAIL: Tina Richard, of Clinton, took this photo of a schooner going by the Breakwater Lighthouse, in Rockland, while being on a ferry ride.

COOL SPOT: Emily T. Poulin, of South China, snapped this robin resting on a somewhat unusual perch.

COME ALONG, KIDS: Michael Bilinsky, of China Village, photographed this mother duck with her chicks in tow.

Oakland Public Library opens Cassidy’s Corner

Atwood Primary School kindergarten teacher Maggie Solis reads and leads a discussion about kindness at the dedication of “Cassidy’s Corner,” a new, outdoor reading space developed in memory of Cassidy Charette at Oakland Public Library.

Text and photos by Monica Charette

Storytime is part of most preschool and kindergarteners’ day, but it’s made even sweeter when a book is read outside in the sun, surrounded by flowers, friends, and topped off with jelly donuts.

“I am kind when I share my ice cream with my friend,” kindergartner William Mitchell shares with his 14 classmates from Atwood Primary School who came to learn about spreading kindness at the Oakland Public Library on Friday, September 20, as part of the opening of “Cassidy’s Corner,” a new outdoor reading space created by the ShineOnCass Foundation.

Kindergarten teacher Maggie Solis read aloud author Maria Dismondy’s kindness book, The Jelly Donut Difference, while her students and a group of homeschool and preschool-age children gathered around the new stone platform in the corner of the building outside of the library’s children’s room. Kids discussed ways they could be nice to their family and friends, and shared how they can help others in need. The group sampled jelly donuts and created ShineOnCass “Kindness Matters” bookmarks, leaving messages of how they will shine tucked away in children’s books for unsuspecting readers to find at the library.

“It’s a special day when we can shine Cassidy’s light by sharing her message of kindness and her love for reading with young children,” Mrs. Solis told the children after leading a discussion about the book’s characters and asking how each student there can show kindness today.

William Mitchell proudly displays his artwork on a ShineOnCass kindness bookmark he later tucked into a book to be discovered at the Oakland Public Library.

Cassidy’s Corner was developed to support the Library’s summer reading program and give local families a place to read outside throughout the year. Monica Charette, Cassidy’s mother and executive director of the foundation, said the project was a labor of love for the community that has supported their family the last five years.

“Cassidy’s love for reading was nurtured at a very young age at the Oakland Library,” Charette said. “Seeing children enjoy books and share their ideas about spreading kindness in the world fills our hearts. This is how Cassidy’s Light shines on.”

The project also includes plans for a free-standing “Little Lending Library” in the community, where families can borrow books after library hours. Funding for the project came from the ShineOnCass Foundation, with support from Waterville Area Women’s Club and an “Employee Ideas that Matter” program at SAPPI, in Skowhegan. Additional in-kind support was provided by Get Etched, of Portland, which created the ShineOnCass garden marker, and stonework by Somerset Stone and Stove, in Oakland.

The idea for Cassidy’s Corner came from Oakland Librarian Sarah Roy, who knew Cassidy since she was a toddler attending summer reading programs 20 years ago. Cassidy was a longtime member of the library and devoted community volunteer. She lost her life tragically at the age of 17 in a hayride accident in 2014. The ShineOnCass Foundation was created by her family to celebrate her life and legacy of kindness by supporting local programs and organizations close to Cassidy’s heart, and to encourage youth to give back to their communities.

For more information about “Cassidy’s Corner” at Oakland Public Library or the ShineOnCass Foundation, visit, or email

Maggie Solis reads to children at Cassidy’s Corner, a new outdoor reading space created by the ShineOnCass Foundation.

Atwood Primary kindergartner Luna Ripa creates a Kindness Matters bookmark to hide in a book at Oakland Public Library. The bookmarks were part of a kindness program held Sept. 20 by the ShineOnCass Foundation.

Peyton Belyeu raises her hand to share how she shares kindness, along with her classmates from Atwood Primary School, on a ShineOnCass Kindness Matters field trip to Oakland Public Library.

Wyatt Murphy, left, shares a pinky promise with ShineOnCass volunteer and Messalonskee student Nathalie Poulin at the dedication of Cassidy’s Corner at the Oakland Public Library.

AARP SCAM ALERT: Gift Cards and Fraud

You see them in just about every store you shop in, colorful kiosks filled with gift cards. Gift cards for everything from coffee to movies to video games. What you don’t realize is those colorful cards can also be the currency of fraud.

Gift cards are one of the top ways today’s scammers steal money from their victims. They convince their targets to purchase gift cards and share the numbers and security codes. Once shared, the scammer drains the value of the card and disappears. Keep this in mind: if someone asks you to pay for something by gift card, it’s a scam.

Be a fraud fighter! If you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam and remember, only scammers ask you to pay with gift cards.

Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at