MHS: Music in a coronavirus world

The Messalonskee High School band practicing outside, at the school, in Oakland. (contributed photo)

by Colin Hickey
MHS English teacher

Try playing a saxophone outside when the temperature is 47 degrees. It’s not easy, and it’s not particularly pleasant. But for members of the Messalonskee High School band program, playing outside has become a necessity in the year of the pandemic, a year in which the music could have died.

“It is doable,” Messalonskee band director Andy Forster said of the outside venue, “but your finger dexterity slows down quite a bit and tuning your instruments is just something you don’t worry about because you need room temperature to do that.”

Forster, though, accepts the inconvenience of playing in chilly weather, and he is willing to adapt in sundry other ways as well. For example, he runs 100 feet of cable outside from the Performing Arts Center so he can hook up a wireless mic to the sound system he reconfigured to work both inside and outside the auditorium. To set it up, he comes to school even earlier than in the past – another inconvenience he accepts as the price of keeping the music alive.

What he cannot preserve, at least for now, is the ability to practice and hold performances inside. The concerts and other musical events that used to fill the fall calendar have all been erased this year, and the sad reality, he said, is they might not return until next fall at the earliest.

But Forster said, “If you focus on what you can’t do, you’ll be stuck and paralyzed and once you do that, the students have lost. They’ve lost everything.”

So instead of bemoaning the losses, Forster celebrates what he can do. “I can be grateful that I work in this (school) district in that I get to see my kids and have my classes,” he said, sitting in his band room as he talked through his mask.  “I’m grateful for the opportunity to be creative. That is not the case throughout the state.”

Forster talked of school districts in which music teachers have had to switch to teaching science and others in which they have become designated substitute teachers.

“It is all shades of bad,” he said of such situations. “As a music teacher, I can’t support any of those decisions.”

Forster realizes that he and his music program face many challenges ahead. As winter approaches, the temperatures will dip to the point in which playing outside no longer will be an option, but Forster already has plans to overcome that frigid reality.

He points to bundles of wooden rhythm sticks in his band room that he ordered. His vision is to distribute those percussion pieces to his students to transform them into a huge rhythm section spread safely across the Performing Arts Center. Forster said he has yet to write the arrangements and create the routines, but the instruments and the determination to put them to use are in place.

Such an approach to making music avoids the dangers caused when blowing into mouth pieces or, in the case of vocalists, breaking into song. Those two methods generate the aerosol emissions that epidemiologists say is a prime way to spread the corona virus and thus methods they warn to avoid at all costs.

Forster, who is married to a physician and has a brother in the medical field, understands full well the danger that his beloved music can generate. At the same time, he also understands that it’s vital to keep his students involved with music, and that gets back to his commitment to adapt rather than bemoan.

Along with his plan for the extensive rhythm section, Forster talks of shifting from performance to creation as the focal point of his program. Instead of playing in front of an audience, he will teach his students how to compose and arrange music – music, he hopes, they one day  will be able to share with classmates and others in a world without the need for masks, a world once more filled with beautiful sounds.

Congratulations to area graduates — Class of 2020

Carrabec High School

Emily Avery, Hunter Avery, Cassidy Ayotte, Anthony Berube, Isaac Boucher, Annika Carey, Ashley Cates, Summer Cole, Jacob Copeland, Caitlin Crawford, Shay Cyrway, Caroline Decker, Dominic Falk, Olivia Fortier, Joshua Foss, Paige Giroux, Olivia Gonio, Ricky Gordon, Ariel Guinn, Olivia Hassell, David Houle, Cheyanne Howard, Madison Jaros, Lemuel Kimball, Dylan Leach, Riley Maheu, Scott Mason, Mabel Mouland, Mary-Jenna Oliver, Colby Paquette, Kira Parent, Roy Pierce, Jasmyne Pray, Elijah Quimby, Abby Richardson, Damon Rogers, Cheyenne Sirois, Jayme Stafford, Sydney Steward, Cheyeanne Stubbs, Brandi Thibodeau, Ebony Walls, Dalton Way, Skye Welch, Jesiah Wilcox-Quimby, and Cameron Wooster.

Cony High School

Alimira Abdullah, Zina Ahmad, Nada Al Hoshan, Mohammad Al Jendi, Peter Allen, Hadeel Alsaleh, Abdulmajeed Al-Tameemi, Dakota Andow, Marian Arthur, Ashleigh Audet, Alexander Audette, David Barley, Sebastian Barron, Federico Barzasi, Hannah Beeckel, Gage Bernstein, Katherine Boston, Jordan Brooke, Jillian Brown, Logan Butler, Gabriella Campbell, Kaaleb Carey, Tyler Carr, Alexis Carter, Haylee Casey, Salemn Chapman, Paige Coaty-Neff, Sarah Cook-Wheeler, Riley Coombe, Jillian Coull, Joshua Crocker, Kaylee Cushing, Calvin Dacus, Jasmine Daly, Dakota Dearborn, Kody Demerchant, Isaiah Dodge, Anthony Donnarumma, Emily Douglas, Molly Dutil, Thomas Farris-Chason, Chloe Fleck, Jasmine French, Evan Galego, Jada Genest, Ian Gervais, Isaac Gichel-Curtis, Leighton Gidney, Ian Gifford, Crystal Gilber, Elsie Gin, Ashton Glockler, Kiara Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Megan Greaton, Cecilia Guadalupi, Jessica Guerrette, Mouaoeih Halwah, Ian Harden, Linda Hodgkins, Wyeth Houle, Emily Houston, Justin Huntley, Nathaniel Ieng, Timothy Johnson, Stephen Labbe, Benjamin LaPierre, Sophia LaPointe, Adrian Larrabee, Ryan Lathe, Faith Leathers-Pouliot, Cameran Letendre, Aaron Lettre, Carly Lettre, Emma Levesque, Meredith Lewis, Willow Longeree, Caleb MacFarland, Roger Mackbach, Joshua Martin, Iain McCollett, Lucas McCormick, Simon McCormick, Caleb McDougal, Courtney McFarland, Audrey McLaughlin, Samantha Melland, Abigail Merrill, Kameron Michaud, Gerald Moody, Caroline Mosca, Josephine Nutakki, Collin Osborne, Ayanna Osman, Renee Ouellette, Micayla Paquette, Marissa Parker, Abigail Pelletier, Nhasino Phan, Jillian Pion, Storm Plummer, Myles Quirion, Shakeera Radel, Ashleigh Redmond, Miranda Reichard, Mickayla Rheimer, Madison Riggs, Nathan Rivera Ayala, Jordan Robertson, Alexander Robinson, Natalie Rohman, Hannah Rouleau, Rebecca Smart, Aidan Smith, Karittha Sopasiri, Nathan Surette, Christopher Taylor, Devon Thomas, Kaley Trask, Mallory Turgeon, James Van Doren-Wilson, Sabrinna Vawter, Atlantis Veilleux, Jessy Veilleux, Linelys Velazquez, Arianna Vinal, Yasmine Wadleigh, Isaac Wallace, Proscha Ware, Nicholas Waterhouse, Haley Weston, Julie White, Sophia Whitney, Zachary Whitney, Joshua Wroten, Ayden Wyman and Devin Young.

Erskine Academy

Pedro Albarracin Nunez- Mera, Lucy Allen, Lucas Anderson, Jay Austin II, Alec Baker, Julia Basham, Derek Beaulieu, James Berto, Adam Bonenfant, Faith Bonnell, Zyashia Borrero, Ashlee Bossie, Yanic Boulet, Haley Breton, Alexander Buzzell, Kole-Tai Carlezon, Jacob Cater, David Chubbuck Jr, Bridget Connolly, Abigail Cordts, Samantha Couture, Summer Curran, Colby Cyr, Norah Davidson, Sean Decker, Dominic Denico, Lily DeRaps, Joshua Donahue II, Joshua Duggan, Michael Dusoe Jr, Dominick Dyer, Jacob Elsemore, Vincent Emery, Nathan Evans, Cheyann Field, Jasmine Fletcher, Jada Fredette, Mitchell Gamage, Alyssha Gil, Annika Gil, Lydia Gilman, Ella Giroux, Boe Glidden, Bryce Goff, Joshua Gower, Clara Grady, Tori Grasse, Ian Gundberg, Alyssa Hale, Emma Harvey, Nicholas Hayden, Jesse Hayes, Gage Henderson, Brayden Hill, Summer Hotham, Nicholas Howard, Julianna Hubbard, Ashley Huntley, Emily Jacques, Sarah Jarosz, Ricker Jean, Cameron Johnson, Colby Johnson, Kyle Jones, Luke Jordan, Zaria Kelly, Marisa Klemanski, Tristan Klemanski, Riley Kunesh, Brandon LaChance, Benjamin Lagasse, Benjamin Lavoie, Cole Leclerc, Eleena Lee, William Leeman, Desiree Leighton, Madison Leonard, Gabriel Lewis, Stephanie Libby, Jordan Linscott, Colby Loden, Sydney Lord, Brandon Loveland, Shawn Manning, William Mayberry II, Haymanot Maynard, Reece McGlew, Marissa McGraw, Lexigrace Melanson, Kaytie Millay, Grady Miller, Jakob Mills, Jamara Moore, Adalaide Morris, Krysta Morris, Nathaniel Mosher, Alecia Paradis, Joseph Peaslee Jr, Shelley Peaslee, Isaak Peavey, Chloe Peebles, Chandler Peele, Lyndsie Pelotte, Matthew Picher, Jareth Pierpont, Jasmine Plugge, Hunter Praul, Dalton Pushard, Miina Raag-Schmidt, Benjamin Reed, Hailei-Ann Reny, Jennifer Reny, Mitchel Reynolds, Andrew Robinson, Dominic Rodrigue, Michael Rogers, Katelyn Rollins, Alyssa Savage, Shawn Seigars, Serena Sepulvado, Santasia Sevigny, Nicholas Shelton, Danielle Shorey, Taylor Shute, Ryan Sidelinger, Alissa Sleeper, Kayla Sleeper, Dominic Smith, Samuel Smith, Lily Solorzano, Makenzi Strout, Matthew Stultz, James Sugden, Jacob Sutter, Audrey Swan, Nicole Taylor, Kobe Thomas, Courtney Tibbetts, Brandon Tibbs, Katelyn Tibbs, Kaitlyn Tims, Ashleigh Treannie, Hailee Turner, Cameron Tyler, Tanner Watson, Andrew Weymouth, Curtis Weymouth, Kayleigh Winam, Richard Winn, Wesley Wood and Amber Wysocki.

Lawrence High School

Ashley Allen, Mackenzie Allen, Raygen Alley, Colby Anderson, Alexis Armstrong, Riley Avery, Lindsay Bagley, Dakota Batchelder, Wyatt Belmont, Mathew Berry, Rilee Bessey, Brody Bickford, Nathan Bickford, Hannah Bilodeau, Hailey Bolduc, Tyler Bolduc, Alan Bourget, Colby Brann, Aaron Breton, Sydney Bridger, Eva Brisk, Lauren Buck, Brooke Butler, Ethan Caldwell, Kendra Campbell, Deleyni Carr, Madison Carrero, Journey Champagne, Abigail Charland, Alfred Cochrane, Ethan Cochrane, Samuel Coro, Evan Craig, Megan Curtis, Cody Dixon, Parker Doane, Dylan Donnell, Bryson Dostie, Dawson Drew, Victoria Dubay, Dylan Eldridge, Annabelle Emery, Abigail Fisher, Wyatt Fortin, Samantha Fuller, Victoria Fye, Kieara Garland, Skylah Grivois, Paige Hale, Tyler Hall, Harley Hamlin, Jacob Hamlin, Ricky Hamlion, Dylan Hardenburg, Alaina Haywood, Caitlin Hedman, Carson Jersey, Haley Hersey, Alaina Hood, Silvia Hoover, Sophia Hoover, Mackenzie Huard, Sumner Hubbard, Jeremiah Hunter, Kristin Jackson, Camron Jordan, Donovan Knapik, Miranda Lambert, Julie Lane, Kyle Languet, Storm Lavway, Nicholas Lawler, Allison Leary, Grace Leary, Tyler LeClair, Austin Leighton, Aubrey Levesque, Alexis Lewis, Erica Maillet, John Manzo, Cassandra Martin, Dylan Martin-Hachey, Joshua McFarland, Joseph McKinley, Kristin Morneau, Paul Morneau, Destiny Mulholland, Morgan Niles, Cassandra Noyes, Bailey Parlin, Jacob Patterson, Benjamin Pierce, Gabrielle Pierce, Isaac Plourde, Cheyenne Poulin, Benjamen Pressey, Brian Pressey, Kassey Pressey, Chase Quimby, Nathaniel Regalado, Brianna Rice, Mackenzie Roberts, Gain Robinson, Mary Robinson, Lydia Rogers, Hunter Roy, Michael Roy, Tucker Roy, Jacob Ryder, Emma Salisbury, Ranea Sapienza, Hailey Sargent, Colby Shorey, Isaish Shuman, Riley Sinclair, Breanna Sirois, Melaina Smith, Paul Southwick, Jayden Stephenson, Elsie Suttie, Jacob Suttie, David Thurlow, Abigail Towne, Lydia Townsend, Haley Trahan, Jacob Turlo, Cody Veilleux, Abbie Vigue, Kyle Walch, Amber Wescott, Savannah Weston, Liberty White, Emily Whitney, Haley Wilkie, Cassondra Wood and Gabriel York.

Madison Area Memorial High School

Chance Allen, Katrina Barney, Shelby Belanger, Graham Briggs, Nevaeh Burnham, Reid Campbell, Autumn Cates, Olivia Clough, Aaron Corson, Caleb Cowan, Isaiah Cyr, Stacy Depoala, Dawson Eanes, Emily Edgerly, Todd Edgerly, Caden Franzose, Aliya French, Dakota Hall, Glen Harrington IV, Chandra Holt, Lauria LeBlanc, Grace Linkletter, Carolyn McGray, Riley Merrill, Cianan Morris, Aidan O’Donnell, Izaiah Perkins, Lucy Perkins, Luke Perkins, Isabella Petrey, Roger Picard, Roland Picard, Evelyn Pisch, Skyelar Pollis, LeiLani Rexford, Abigail Spaulding, Jared Tozier, Mikayla Violet and Daxton Winchester and Kathryn Worthen.

Messalonskee High School

Alyson Albert, Nicholas Alexander, Connor Alley, Ava Ardito, Austin Arsenault, Abigayle Barney, Jennessey B aylis, Madison Beaulieu, Austin Bedsaul, Sami Benayad, Brianne Benecke, Taylor Bernier, Lauren Bourque, Rebecca Bourque, Lydia Bradfield, Andrew Brann, Sydney Brenda, Alexa Brennan, Ethan Burton, Hannah Butler, Salvatore Caccamo, Kaiya Charles, Tucker Charles, Patrick Chisum, Sadie Colby, William Cole, Connor Collins, Emma Concaugh, Bradley Condon, Abitail Corbett, Anne Corbett, Breanna Corbin, Ainsley Corson, Shiela Corson, Hunter Cote, Cameron Croft, Emily Crowell, Hannah Cummins, Dylan Cunningham, Lydia D’Amico, Austin Damren, Zachary Davis, Cassidy Day, Hannah DelGiudice, Jordan Devine, Kristen Dexter, Emma Di-Girolamo, Zachary DiPietro, TaylorJefferey Doone, Cooper Doucette, Haley Dunn, Benjamin Edman, Cade Ennis, Connor Evans, Andrew Everett, Nicolas Fontaine, Lauren Fortin, Joseph Fougere, Brennan Francis, Alexis Furbush, Amelia Gallagher, Austin Garrett, Sydnie Gay, Sara Getchell, Molly Glueck, Joshua Goff, Martin Guarnieri, Juliana Gudaitis, Jayde Gurney, Gavin Haines, Danielle Hall, Benjamin Hellen, Shelby Hoffman, Toni Holz, Maxwell Hopper, Travis Hosea, Gage Hughes, Elizabeth Hume, Alexander Jackson, Madison Jewell, Maya Johnston, Lucas Jolin, Shane Kauppinen, Gregor Keimel, Christopher King, Kody King, Nathan Kinney, Dawson Kitchin, Konnor Koroski, Grace Kroeger, Tabitha Lake, Dominique Lamontagne, Chance Languet, Isabelle Languet Joshua Languet, Hanna Lavenson, Jimmy Lemlin, Jayden Lenfestey, Benoit Levesque, Daimian Lewis, Eve Lilly, Addison Littlefield, Sarah Lowell, Sydney Lucas, Caleb Luce, Isabella Luce, Katie Luce, Ashlynn Lund, Christopher Mairs, Jayden Martin, Alyssa Methieu, Samantha Matthews, Mackenzie Mayo, Connor McCurdy, Aislinn McDaniel, Leighara McDaniel, Garrett McKenna, Kassie McMullen, William McPherson, Meghan McQuillan, Dylan Mercier, Nathan Milne, Ella Nash, Andrew Needham, Mattea Ogden, Joselyn Ouellette, Makayla Ouellette, Alexandria Pearce, Kailey Pelletier, Nathan Perkins, Jacob Perry, Rosemary Peterson, Francis Petrillo, Alexnader Pierce, Adam Pooler, Melayna Porter, Nathalie Poulin, Rylee Poulin, Brian Powell, Brian Powell, Colby Prosser, Valerie Quirion, Alysan Rancourt, Joshua Raymond, Kyera Ripley, Kaylee Rocque, Sean Rodrigue, Elijah Ross, Dharani Singaram, Lindsey Sirois, Emily Smith, Hunter Smith, Makenzie Smith, Taylor Staples, Hart St. Clair, Damian Taylor, Victoria Terranova, Richard Thompson, Deklan Thurston, Chloe Tilley, Eliza Towle, Sydney Townsend, Casey Turner, Brandon Veilleux, Jade Veilleux, Maria Veilleux, Matthew Veilleux, Kaitlyn Vigue, Carter Violette, Isaac Violette, Makayla Violette, Mason Violette, Aran Walker, Keith Warman, Elizabeth Webb, Gabrielle Wener, William Wentworth, Rebekah White, Mary-Jane Williams, Kaley Wolman and Joshua Zinkovitch.

Waterville High School

Halah Al Subai­hawi, Devin Andreozzi, Trent Andreozzi, Emilee Arbo, Maryah Audet-Gagnon, Estaphanie Baez Vazquez, Jess Bazakas, Jacqueline Bean, Timara Bell, Kristen Bickford, Taylor Bielecki, Abigail Bloom, Hallee Brunette, Bryn Burrows, Elizabeth Campbell, Damien Carey, Amaryllis Charles, Katie Chase, Kevin Chen, Hope Cogswell, Jacob Cornforth, Logan Courtois, Remy Courtois, Mickayla Crowley, Maggie Didonato, Hannah Dillingham, Gavin Dorr, Duncan Doyon, Keegan Drake, Lauren Endicott, Jaimee Feugill, Sadie Garling, Daniel Gaunce, Chloe Geller, Trafton Gilbert, Ryan Gilman, Devin Goldsmith, Benjamin Combos, Emma Goodrich, Sierra Grant, Joseph Gray, Cierra Guarente, Jacob Gerrerro, Kylee Hamm, Madison Hanley, Alexis Hawkins, Shantylane Hubiak, Keona Jeror, Miranda Juliano, Madaya Kavis, Sadie Labbe, Ethan Ladd, Peter Lai, Michael LeClair, Jordan Lesiker, Dakota Libby, Jasmine Liberty, Emelaine Llanto, Hannah Lord, Olivia Lovendahl, Joseph Macarthur, Rebecca Maheu, Christopher Manigat, Madeleine Martin, Shane Martin, Isaac McCarthy, D’Nell McDonald, Maxwell McGadney, Zaharias Menoudarakos, Luquis Merrithew, Alana Monk, Mckayla Nelson, Flesha Paradis, Jelani Parker, Lauren Pinnette, Sophia Poole, Katlin Prat, Barry Preble, Nikkia-Lynn Pressey, Colby Quinlan, David Ramgren, Dasia Roberts, Corinne Rogers, Lily Roy, Kira Sencabaugh, Amanda Shirley, Anthony Singh, Jared Sioch, Keisha Small, Simon Smith, Isabella Sousa, Joey Stanton Jr., Alisha Stevens, Catherine Tracy, Brady Vicnaire, Natalia Von Leigh, Cole Welch, Wayne Williams, Alysia Wilson, Erin Winkley and Cairlyn Young.

Winslow High School

Haneen Ali, Carly Anderson, Alika Andrews, Kathryn Bailey, Lily Barkdull, Rylee Batey, Devin Bettencourt, Eric Booth, Sebastian Bouchard, Cameron Brockway, Brandon Campbell, Lydia Carey, Briell Carter, Gabriella Chambers, Garrett Choate, Jessey Cloutier, Silver Clukey, Abigail Cochran, Brooke Cochran, Brady Corson, Camden Dangler, Alexander Demers, Micah Dickson, Willa Dolley, Katie Doughty, Ronan Drummond, Hannah Dugal, Brennan Dunton, Summer Eyster, Cloe Fecteau, Sophie-ann Gerry, Isaiah Gidney, Christopher Girard, Isaiah Goldsmith, Hannah Goodine, Cameron Goodwin, Cody Green, Bryce Gunzinger, Dawsen Gurski, Aaron Harmon, Gabrielle Hatt, Wyatt Hood, Landon Hotham, Jacob Huesers, Ross Hughes, Sadie Irza, Cody Ivey, Savannah Joler, Caleb Joseph Lagasse, Kaelyn Lakey, Juliann Lapierre, Nicholas Lemieux, Felicia Lessard, Alexee Littlefield, Riley Loftus, James Mason, Ronnie Mason, Ethan Matthews, Caleb Mills, Christopher Mills, Brandon Moore, Haylee Moore, Madison Morin, Mariah Morrison, Shaylie Morrison, Gabriel Moumouris, Skylar Nye, Elena O’Hara, Wesley O’Neal, Chase Pelkey, Leah Pelotte, Christopher Phair, Madalyn Phillips, Justice Picard, Faith Pomerleau, Colby Pomeroy, Alexis Porter, Christopher Poulliot, Morgan Presby, Anthony Proulx, Ashley Quirion, Kristen Rancourt, Braden Rayborn, Miranda Raymond, Zachary Real, Jackson Reynolds, Jenna Rodrigue, Taylor Rodriguez, Cheyne Salvas, Nevaeh Schuchardt, Carrie Selwood, Mallory Sheridan, Grace Smith, Austin Soucy, Alison Stabins, Bryanna Stanley, Hannah Stevens, Katherine Stevens, Nicholas Sweeney, Kaleb Thomas, Sage Vance, Gage Vaughan, Austin Veilleux, Abigail Washburn, William Weiss, Caleb Welsh, Austin Williams and Abigail Wright.

Global school play day at RSU #18

by Mandi Favreau

Global School Play Day was celebrated all over RSU #18 this year! Atwood Elementary School, Williams Elementary School, and CPS joined in on February 5, while Belgrade Community School and James H. Bean Elementary School scheduled their play days for the Monday and Tuesday of the following week.

Regardless of the timing, all of our elementary students got to experience a full day where they could let their imaginations and creativity run wild with their friends. Children played with dolls, play dough, puppets, Legos, and much, much more. Several students got to discover all the amazing things you can build out of cardboard boxes, others discovered a new found love for karaoke or for science exploration games.

Global School Play Day was developed in 2015 by a small group of educators who were concerned about the lack of unstructured playtime their students got to experience. Studies show that unstructured play boosts cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development while lack of play increases stress and can lead to many physical and mental health issues.

The day of play was definitely a huge hit with the students. The smiles on their faces say it all and are a terrific reminder of how important it is to simply give our children time to play.

RSU #18 gifted and talented hard at work

These RSU #18 gifted and talented students are hard at work on their spring project, Find a Need, Fill a Need. (photo courtesy of Mandi Favreau)

by Mandi Favreau

RSU #18 Middle School Gifted and Talented students have been hard at work on their spring project, “Find a Need, Fill a Need.” Student teams are tasked with finding a need and then designing and building an adaptive device that helps increase independence or enhances quality of life for a person facing a physical or cognitive challenge due to a disability or increased age.

The project was launched with a district-wide GT workshop at MMS on January 17, with presentations by Occupational Therapist Heather Kerner, Thomas College Pre-service Teacher Alissah Paquette, and New Hampshire engineers Alex and Alec Cobban. The Design/Stem challenge really encourages empathy and problem-solving for students and walks them through the engineering design process of identifying the problem/need, exploring the background of the need and how it might be addressed, designing the device, creating, testing, and improving it.

“I like this project because it is people helping people,” said MMS student, Nar Peterson.  Classmate Elise MacDonald added that “ it can help children enjoy the (Easter) holiday more and give them new experiences.”

Students have already chosen their topics and completed their research. Currently, students are templating designs, researching cost-effective materials, and reviewing possible obstacles. “I am witnessing intense discussions and enthusiastic sharing of ideas,” said GT teacher Tamiko Paquette. “Students are really trying to put themselves in the place of their “client” to really feel that it might be like to have to cope with the differing ability.”

After vacation, students will begin creating prototypes for testing.  They will be presenting their completed projects at a Parent Showcase on March 26, from 6 – 7 p.m., at the MMS Library.

Empty Bowls Fundraiser at Messalonskee High School

Empty Bowls has been a fundraiser at Messalonskee High School for the past several years. The purpose of this project is to raise money for local food pantries. It’s also about raising awareness about some of our community members who are struggling to provide food for their families.

Students and faculty members of Messalonskee High School, under the direction of ceramics teacher Sherrie Damon, have been crafting ceramic bowls to be sold as part of the dinner. The menu for the evening consists of homemade soups, salads, breads and desserts. The pottery bowls will be on display for diners to choose and take home with them as a reminder of the event and what it represents.

This year’s Empty Bowls Dinner will be on Friday, March 6, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria.

Cost is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. This year we will have a silent auction for people to bid on.

Diners can complete the evening by attending The Tempest, performed by the Messalonskee High School Players. Tickets for the play may be purchased at the door.

For more information contact Susan Perrino at 465-9135 or email Sherrie Damon at sdamon@rsu18.org.

Unsung heroes: our amazing school librarians

Each school is staffed by dedicated professionals who give so much to the students

by Mandi Favreau

If you go into any school in RSU #18, it doesn’t take long to find the hub of the action. There are a few common telltale signs: the space is always welcoming, it’s full of books, and each one is staffed by dedicated professionals who give so much to our students. Our librarians and library assistants across the district do a wonderful job providing classroom support and bringing educational opportunities to everyone from our pre-k students to our community members. They are there for our students in so many ways, and we cannot say enough about all the good they do.

For the last four years, Kathryn Bailey has overseen the libraries at our elementary schools in Oakland, Belgrade, and Sidney. During that time Kate has been instrumental in creating reading spaces, developing opportunities for families to read together before and during school, and organizing and finding funding for numerous authors’ visits. “Kate works hard, at each school, to provide a functional and inviting library that supports school curriculum and recreational reading,” said Belgrade Community School Principal Gwen Bacon.

“She somehow finds the time to collaborate on projects and develop relationships with instructional coaches, building administrators, teaching staff and other district library staff.”  Kate works with a gifted team of library assistants across much of the district. In each location, they provide learning displays and activities, coordinate the student choice book awards and the scholastic book fairs, and support teaching curriculum.

Atwood Primary School is where the weekly Rise and Read program was first started by Kate Bailey and Amy Grenier. “All Atwood students and their families are invited into our library where they are warmly welcomed and they get to listen to a wonderful story to begin their day,” said Jennifer McGee, Atwood Principal. Recently, the Atwood library has also started hosting a monthly reading event with the Snow Pond Senior Center where senior volunteers come to read with the students.

At BCS, Rita Daniels is at the helm of day-to-day operations. This year, Rita’s focus has been on coordinating with teachers to encourage increased library time for students. Rita is also a dedicated staff member who is always coming up with new ways to improve morale and goes above and beyond to help anyone at BCS. “Rita is integral to our building and student success,” said BCS Guidance Counselor Jamie Wade. “With her positive mindset and team approach, she is a pleasure to work with each and every day!”

Lisa Dugal, the James H. Bean School library assistant, wears many hats. She works with the kindergartners during the daily intervention block, assists teachers by gathering books and videos to augment their units, and is always the first to volunteer if a recess or lunch duty needs covering. She even makes sure students’ birthdays are special through the “Birthday Book Club.” “She goes above and beyond with everything that she does,” said Principal Erica St.Peter. “It is impossible to capture all of the little things that Lisa does on a daily basis to ignite the love of reading in our students at Bean.”

The Williams Elementary School library is run by Rose Smith. Smith and Bailey facilitate book talks during W.I.N (What I Need) time to provide practice in active listening, processing, and comprehension. They do so much to get students excited about new books that come in. “Our librarians offer read-ins to our students and teachers which incorporate read-alouds, book trailers, and independent reading,” said WES Principal Melanie Smith. Students even get to wear their pajamas at read-ins to give them that cozy and festive feel.

Sonja Boudreau, the librarian “par excellence” at both China schools, does so much to instill the love of the written word in her students. “Last year, author Lynn Plourde read her books and conducted writing workshops with our students,” said China Primary School Principal Darlene Pietz. “What a great experience for our children!”

Mrs. Boudreau also facilitates several structured study halls, oversees reading interventions, and teaches a library skills class to all the fifth-grade students. “When students arrive at middle school for the first time, they welcome the familiar friendly face of Mrs. Boudreau, who has already instilled the love of books in so many of them at the primary school,” said China Middle School Assistant Principal Meghan Murphy. “Her enthusiasm for books and learning is truly contagious to all that enter her library.”

“Libraries are the cornerstones of our schools,” adds Messalonskee Middle School Principal Mark Hatch. He describes the MMS librarians, Rebecca Cobban and Denise Rivard, as “masters of information” and a great resource and support for MMS students. They are dedicated to helping teachers find the right information to tackle any topic and teaching students to recognize bias and false information so they can get to the true facts. He adds that librarians can be “the key holders to the love of reading” by finding the right books to spark students’ interest. “For all these reasons and more our librarians should be the ‘Most Sung Heroes’ of our schools.”

The Messalonskee High School library has long been the domain of Sylvia Jadczak and Kiri Guyaz. The two women create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that many students seek out. The space is set up to make it possible for group work, club meetings, class lessons, and independent reading or study to happen comfortably all at the same time. Anyone can request a book, whether for reading or pleasure, and Jadczak will find a way to get it. She often takes extra time to write grants to supplement the book budget for this very purpose. The library also hosts various education opportunities during lunch, including basic healthy cooking lessons, the ever-popular lunchtime music series, and guest speakers on any topic imaginable.

The latest addition to these activities is the return of Lunchtime Forums where students learn how to discuss tough topics in a diplomatic way. “Sylvia is an advocate for all our students and will go the extra mile to help a student in need,” said Paula Callan, MHS Principal. “Kiri has worked with students outside of the library through her photography club. Both ladies play an integral role in our school.”

There is absolutely no way to fully capture the scope of what these amazing people do in our district. From daily operations to taking the time to connect to a student in need or working to instill a love of reading in all our students, our librarians are true educational heroes and we are grateful for them.

New school store provides learning experience at MMS

Messalonskee Middle School students at their new store. (contributed photo)

by Mandi Favreau

The preparations started last year. Team Boothbay sold freeze pops to earn money, held a vote to choose a name, and started the work of creating a school store. The result was the Eagle’s Landing which had its official grand opening at Curriculum night a few weeks ago.

“I wanted to give my students an experience that would be engaging, beneficial and impactful,” said team Boothbay social studies teacher, Pamela  Atwood. “For many, it’s a great reason to come to school.”

The store also teaches valuable economic lessons in a very real context. All of the store positions, from general manager to order clerk, were posted along with their descriptions. Students had to apply and interview for any position they were interested in. Thanks to looping on team Boothbay, Atwood was able to staff the whole store by the end of the school year.

“Currently, I have over one-third of our team of 89 directly involved in the store,” said Atwood. She holds whole class lessons about accounting and decision making and holds regular staff meetings during lunch. While the administration was involved in the decision-making process during the opening of the store, the plan is for Eagle’s Landing to be run entirely by the students with staff oversight.

The store is open before and after school each day and carries school supplies, snacks, drinks, fidgets, school logo stickers, and a few novelty items.  They have recently added student-made products to their inventory to encourage entrepreneurship. They also offer gift cards that some staff members use as part of their incentive programs. Any profit that doesn’t go back into the running of the store has two possible destinations. Some of it will remain with Team Boothbay to help fund field trips or purchase academic supplies, while the students hope to donate a portion to Messalonskee Middle School’s general fund which pays for special events and items for the whole school.

“It is my hope that the store will continue to grow and eventually expand beyond the reaches of Team Boothbay,” said Atwood. “This was a great way to help students feel like a part of the MMS community and take on some ownership.”

Super Sunday: opening day for youth football

Messalonskee Youth Football quarterback Parker Doucette (7), runs with the football as Winslow Youth Football team members Michael Loubier and Zander Dickey move in for the tackle. (Photo by Beth Fisher, Central Maine Photography staff)

Super Sunday kicked off the PAL football season on September 1. Here, VFW and Sonny’s Pizza line up for a play from scrimmage. (Photo by Beth Fisher, Central Maine Photography staff)

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.”