China School’s Forest gets ready for students

China school teachers get the China School’s Forest ready for students. (photo by Anita Smith)

Six animal cutouts stolen from the grounds

by Eric W. Austin

A few weeks ago, a heinous act was committed in the China School’s Forest. Someone snuck into the outdoor learning center and stole six of the animal cutouts that were set up along the trails to teach children about wildlife in the Maine woods.

“Not only did you steal them, you stole the hard work of middle school children and volunteers who made the project happen,” admonished a post added to the China School’s Forest Facebook page on July 22, shortly after the incident. “You stole the grant money that was used to make them. You stole the enjoyment and learning opportunity from hundreds of children and visitors to the school forest. You stole the desire to continue to do projects like this that our whole community can enjoy. You stole the pride our community feels with the entire school forest project.”

Danica Ferris, left, and Anita Smith putting up a crow cutout. (photo by Katie Reed)

The China School’s Forest, founded in 1995, is located behind the China Primary school and is designed to serve as an “outdoor classroom with trails and learning stations to teach children about the Maine forest in a real-life, hands-on setting.” The trails are also open to the general public.

In the current age of COVID-19, the China School’s Forest has become an important place for local teachers to hold classes in a safer, outdoor setting, and the Forest has been scrambling to get ready for the upcoming school year.

Thankfully, since the incident, community volunteers have rallied to help with the work.

“There has been a huge outpouring of volunteerism in the forest this summer,” says Anita Smith, administrator for the China School’s Forest.

Of the six animal cutouts stolen, three have been returned, says Smith. Additional cutouts have also recently been supplied by local residents Jim Burke and Katie Reed.

Katie Reed says she reached out to Joshua Newhall, of Madison, owner of Gridiron Woodworks, to make them. “Scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post from China Forest…[and] my daughter asked me if we could help replace them,” Reed explains. Her daughter, Danica Ferris, is a sixth grade student at China Middle School. “We did this because my daughter loves spotting the cutouts on the trail. You can see anything from a cat, skunk, bears and more,” she says. “[We’re] hoping the community gets to enjoy them for years to come.”

Lydia, left, and Luke Naegely test out the stump stools at the Geology outdoor classroom. (photo by Anita Smith)

That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, in terms of the work community members have accomplished in the last few months. Volunteers have been mowing and weed-whacking. Extra seating has been added to the Geology Station, and outdoor-themed art has been stenciled on the walls of the wooden classroom structures to remind children to practice social distancing.

In addition, Anita Smith says, “Nine new interpretive signs, manufactured by Leighton Signworks, in Oakland, have been installed to explain features from last winter’s harvest and thinning, and a few additional points of interest on the trails.”

The wood from last year’s harvesting is also being cut up and will be donated to local families. “At the end of July, we had a large crew of volunteers from Central Church,” says Smith. “They helped cut up trees that will be used for firewood for those in need this winter. They also stained picnic tables, water-sealed several structures, raked trails, trimmed brush, replaced the roof on the CPS entrance kiosk and donated two new tables to the outdoor classroom spaces.”

Danica Ferris, adding a hare and bunny. (photo by Katie Reed)

A “Firewood for Friends” event held last Saturday drew an additional eight volunteers who cut wood into workable sizes and stacked it for drying. “We got 1.5 cord cut today,” says Smith. “The wood will be distributed through the China for a Lifetime Committee or the town office as needed.”

Smith says another event will be held on Saturday, September 12, from 9 a.m. – noon. “People with chainsaws are needed as well as others to lug and stack the wood,” she notes.

Steve Childs, of SD Childs & Sons Excavation, in Palermo, has also donated gravel, which volunteers used to smooth and cover muddy areas of the trails.

It’s looking like, with the generous help from many volunteers in the community, the China School’s Forest is going to be ready to serve its purpose as an outdoor learning center when China schools open this month.

“I am so proud of our little town and grateful to those who have helped to make the Forest a place that everyone can enjoy and our students can use this fall,” says Smith. “The teachers and I are so appreciative of the help!”

For more information about the China School’s Forest or to find out how you can help, contact Anita Smith by email at

Contact the author at

Anna Schutte makes the deans’ list at Azusa Pacific University

Anna Schutte makes the deans’ list at Azusa Pacific University

Sidney resident, Anna Schutte, was named to the academic deans’ list at Azusa Pacific College, in Azusa, California.

An English major, Schutte is honored for a fall semester 2019 academic standing of a 3.5 or better grade-point average. Schutte is joined by 2,171 other students receiving the same honor.

Azusa Pacific University is an evangelical, Christian university committed to God First and excellence in higher education. With 68 bachelor’s degrees, 48 master’s degrees, 18 certificates, 10 credentials, and 9 doctoral programs, the university offers its more than 10,000 students a quality education on campus, online, and at seven regional locations throughout Southern California.

Youth football in Waterville

Coach Matt Vaughan and team member Dylan Devlin practicing during a recent Waterville Youth Football Clinc. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

Waterville Youth Football Player Isaac Chase, practicing with Coach Matt Perry during a recent clinic. The season begins next month. (photo by Missy Brown, Central Maine Photography staff)

Volunteers needed to help set up outdoor classrooms in the China Schools Forest

photo: China School’s Forest Facebook

Anita Smith, Director of the China Schools Forest, has been preparing the grounds for outdoor learning experiences in time for the beginning to the 2020-21 to year. The China School Forest provides ample space for students to socially distance in a calm, safe atmosphere, while learning. Volunteers have been essential. They have cleared brush, raked gravel on trails, stained picnic tables and water sealed a bridge over a pond. As school is about to begin, we need volunteers to give it one last push to prepare for the kids’ arrival.

Volunteers will be need on Friday, August 28, from 5 – 7 p.m., and Saturday, August 29, from 9 – 11 a.m. Four or five strong people with ladders to tie tarps up in the trees will be needed. The tarps will help protect kids from sun or unexpected sprinkles.

Contact Anita Smith at 207-445-3056 to volunteer. For more information about the China Schools Forest, visit

Future needs for volunteers:

Saturdays, September 5 and 12 at 9 a.m., to cut and load firewood to store for neighbors in need. Bring chainsaws, work gloves, and goggles. If you own a pick-up truck, please bring it.

China For A Lifetime also needs more volunteers. We help with projects such as the China Schools Forests and with individuals who may need a helping hand or two. We run errands, rake leaves, shovel snow, basic home repair, minor chores and welcome neighbors. Contact them at 207-200-3704 or at

Belfast Senior College fall session begins Sept. 2020

Are you searching for something of value? There is much anticipation in the air these days with elections, school openings, vaccines, domestic and global issues. Why not consider a Zoom class to broaden your personal knowledge?

Value awaits you beginning next month at the virtual zoom classes offered by the Belfast Senior College. Literature, history, technology, wellness, language courses among others commence in September.

Look for our course descriptions and registration form at Several courses have class size limitations so register early.

No stress, no exams, no homework, no report cards! Connect with new ideas, practical education and experienced instruction. Add some value this Fall.

Skowhegan tailgate gathering rescheduled

The Skowhegan High School Class of 1963 Tail Gate Gathering is being canceled due to rain on Saturday, August 29. The event will be held on Saturday, September 19, 2020 at noon on Hilton Hill. Bring your lunches, chairs and masks, drinks and chips provided, and a comfort station will be in place. If any questions call Cindy @ 207-858-0946.

UMF announces dean’s list for fall 2019 semester

The University of Maine at Farmington announced its dean’s list for the fall 2019 semester.

Augusta: Allee Cloutier, Suzanna Dibden, Sydney Goodridge, Josh Hoffman, Alison Laplante, Lexi Lettre, Michael Levesque, Alexis Libby, Catie Meehan, Justin Rodrigue.

Belgrade: Alannah Hartford, Garrett Main, Seth Main, Andrew Poulliot, Montana Towers, Makayla Wilson, Gabby Wood-McGuckin.

Benton: Jillian Thompson.

Clinton: Suther Bickford, Alyssa Higbie, Simoane Lowell, McKenna Rogers.

Cornville: Jotham Miller.

Embden: Kelsey Creamer.

Fairfield: Tabby Bickford, Sawyer Deroche, Megan Dickinson, Calista Hodges, Elianna Maniatakos.

Jefferson: Jaynee Goddard, Nathan McIvor.

Madison: Mariah Langton, Chase Malloy.

Norridgewock: Mikayla Chase, Ashley Hemphill, Ben Lyman, Hudson Sirois.

Oakland: McKenna Brodeur, Fern Calkins, Paige Lilly, Sarah Ventimiglia, Nathan Violette.

Rome: Julia Dudley, Becca Long.

Sidney: Garrett Fisher, Maggie Pomerleau, Brian Tibbetts.

Skowhegan: Mariah Bonneau, Mackenzie Clement, Robbie Knowles, Aspen Leblanc, Brianna Meng, Bailey Weston.

Solon: Rachel Layman.

South China: Noelle Cote, Liz Nadeau.

Unity: Etienne Desrosiers, Madison Vigeant.

Vassalboro: Morgan Wellman.

Waterville: Gareth Belton, Joshua Carey, Ana Drew, Amber Labbe, Jamie Maroon, Becky Paradis, Shirlynn Sears, Morgann Tortorella, Aurora Turmelle.

Whitefield: Jordan Bailey.

Windsor: Mandy LaRose.

Winslow: Broghan Gagnon, Kyle Gurney, Zack Laflamme, Cassie McCaslin, Kamryn Michaud.

Augusta students named to UMF dean’s list

The University of Maine at Farmington has announced its dean’s list for the fall 2019 semester. UMF maintains a dean’s list each semester for those students completing a minimum of 12 credits in courses producing quality points.

Augusta students include Allee Cloutier, Suzanna Dibden, Sydney Goodridge, Josh Hoffman, Alison Laplante, Lexi Lettre, Michael Levesque, Alexis Libby, Catie Meehan and Justin Rodrigue.

Albion students on UMF dean’s list

The University of Maine at Farmington has announced its dean’s list for the fall 2019 semester. UMF maintains a dean’s list each semester for those students completing a minimum of 12 credits in courses producing quality points. Students whose grade point average for the semester is equal to or greater than 3.8 are listed with high academic achievement. Students whose grade point average for the semester is less than 3.8 but equal to or greater than 3.5 are listed with academic achievement. Any incompletes must be satisfactorily completed before the student is honored with Dean’s List status. Academic achievement awarded at commencement is based on all course work taken at UMF.

Albion students who achieved dean’s list status at the University of Maine at Farmington include Molly Burns, Lauren Faloon, Allison Frankenfield, and Noah Grindstaff.

School year 2020: Difficult choices for parents

by Jeanne Marquis

This month, parents are making a difficult decision: how to educate their children in the era of Covid-19. Do they opt to send their kids to public schools? If so, do they choose in-person or remote learning, or possibly a hybrid of the two? Do they choose a smaller private school if they have funds. Or, do they homeschool their children themselves, choosing from a variety of online programs available? The answers are personal and the reasons why the families select which method of education they choose is as varied as each individual family.

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) published a Framework for Returning to Classroom Instruction which includes the six requirements for protecting health and safety:

  1. Daily symptom self-check for students and staff before coming to school.
  2. Physical distancing.
  3. Masks.
  4. Proper hand hygiene.
  5. Personal protective equipment.
  6. An isolation plan if staff or student becomes ill.

Public schools in the area have been planning since July to follow the guidelines and have surveyed area families on their intentions and preferences between in-person or remote learning. Every step of the day has to be thought through carefully by the administrators and staff to keep in compliance with the DOE framework.

The buses, according to the RSU #18 website, will have assigned seating, fewer passengers and frequent cleanings. Parents will be asked to drive students if possible to free up the bus seats for social distancing.

Facilities at the schools will be adapted to help students and staff practice illness prevention. Drinking fountains will be replaced at some schools with bottle refill stations and students will be allowed to bring individual water bottles. Where possible, waste baskets will be replaced with touchless versions to keep clean hands sanitary after washing.

Even lunch time at school will be adapted by the nutrition workers adding appropriate protocol. Additional time will be allowed for hand washing prior to meals. Single-serve packets will be provided instead of sharing condiments. More room will be added for seating and serving lines will be socially distanced.

For specific changes at your students’ schools, check the school websites frequently:
Albion, Benton, Fairfield, Clinton Lawrence High School and Junior High.
Atwood Primary, China Primary and Middle Schools, Belgrade Central, James H. Bean Messalonskee Middle and High School, Williams Elementary.
Chelsea Elementary,Sheepscot Valley, Palermo Consolidated School, Somerville Elementary, Whitefield Elementary, Windsor Elementary.
Vassalboro Community School.

For those families who have chosen to homeschool, Homeschoolers of Maine at is an excellent resource to get you started. According to their website, a letter of your intention to homeschool is due to your superintendent of schools by September 1, 2020. This organization provides information on record keeping and assessment of your students progress.