Friday, December 7, 2018

The great outdoorsman: The amazing life of Dick Proenneke

Dick Proenneke at his cabin in 1985 (photo: NPS)
By Matt Pascarella

Richard “Dick” Proenneke was a true wilderness man. A member of the Navy, a carpenter, a diesel mechanic and a salmon fisherman are just some of the occupations Proenneke had over the course of his life. He built a cabin by hand with his own tools in Twin Lakes, Alaska where he would live separate from society for thirty years.

John Branson, a historian at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in Alaska and the son of the noted country doctor of Windham – Dr. Sidney Branson, presented a program titled, “Dick Proenneke – One Man’s Wilderness, Twin Lakes, Alaska” on Monday, December 3 at the Little Meeting House in Windham. Branson examined Proenneke’s life before and during his 30-year residence in the Alaskan wilderness.

Proenneke enlisted in the United States Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served as a ships carpenter. He spent close to two years at Pearl Harbor. He caught rheumatic fever while hiking after being stationed in San Francisco and was hospitalized for six months. By the time he was discharged in 1945 the war was over.

After his discharge from the Navy, Proenneke went to school in Portland, Oregon to become a diesel mechanic in 1949. He had a strong love of nature and while he was a very good mechanic, he later moved to Oregon to work at a sheep and cattle ranch.

https://www.facebook.com/ArmstrongAdvancedDentalConcepts/In the early 1950s, Proenneke worked on the Naval Air Station as a heavy equipment operator and repairman in Kodiak, Alaska. He spent the next several years working throughout Alaska as a salmon fisherman and diesel mechanic. When friends of his took him to a cabin of theirs in Twin Lakes, Alaska in 1962, Proenneke enjoyed the connection the cabin brought to the wilderness. He continued making trips to this cabin until 1967.

In May of 1968, he began building his own cabin, and then retired to Twin Lakes, at the age of 51. He would live in solitude for the next 30 years.

In talking with Branson, who was his friend and a historian, he described Proenneke as an independent soul and operator, who eventually got tired of working with machines and wanted to live in the ‘back of beyond.’ This phrase coined by George Washington Sears, an early conservationist in the 19th century, meaning pure wilderness (mountains, glaciers, tundra); away from civilization.
Proenneke loved nature and didn’t want to disturb it. He was influenced by people (authors like Thoreau and individuals like Sears) but didn’t need to be around them. He kept his own council adds Branson, though he could be very sociable and personable. It was very important for Proenneke to live in harmony with nature.

The white spruce tree provided him with many of his needs; a dominant tree in Twin Lakes, he was able to use this tree for cabin logs, wood for his stove, handles for his tools as well as woodenware, which are utensils, such as spoons, made of wood

Proenneke was very competent with his tools, a skill he likely learned from his father who was a skilled carpenter and mechanic. He knew just how sharp to keep the tools so that they were most effective.

https://www.autoshinemaine.com/Throughout Proenneke’s thirty years living in the wilderness, he kept very detailed journals as well as took photographs. According to Branson, after he had filled a journal, he would send that journal to friends in Anchorage and they would then send it to Proenneke’s brother, Raymond. After Proenneke’s death in 2003 at the age of 86, his journals, all 119 pounds of them, were donated to the National Parks Service. These journals have been turned into books that Branson has annotated covering the years 1967-1996. The books were donated to the Donellson, Iowa Public Library in Proenneke’s hometown; where there is a Richard Proenneke Museum. These books are sold through non-profit cooperating associations and proceeds go to support the museum.

Branson noted that he never knew anyone to document his life in his cabin as thoroughly as Pronneke did. Branson said he had to be thinking of posterity and his life for future generations. The cabin itself is quite valuable in that it touches people’s souls. Visitors have been known to weep while and after seeing it. Pronnenke had a message of personal freedom and to live the life you want, living simply and in harmony, within your means.

If you would like to read more about Proenneke’s life, Sam Keith, a friend of his who worked for the Fish and Wildlife Services and knew Proenneke from Kodiak, Alaska, wrote a book entitled, “One Man’s Wilderness” which was published in 1973 and is the start of Proenneke’s journey. There is also a two-part documentary currently airing on PBS called, “Alone in the Wilderness.”

Windham Chamber Singers: A family experience in more ways than one

By Lorraine Glowczak 

The Windham Performing Arts Center Auditorium was filled to the brim on Saturday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. as most audience members returned to see the annual American Family Holiday tradition by enjoying the breathtaking music and performances of the internationally known Windham Chamber Singers. There was also a 2 p.m. performance. 

In its 31st year, AmFam - as the holiday tradition is lovingly referred, provides not only the beautiful melodies of the Chamber Singers by the esteemed conductor, Dr. Richard Nickerson, but also hosts many talented and well-known musicians and this year was no exception. 

http://betheinfluencewrw.org/index.htmlSpecial guests included Merritt David Janes, an exceptionally talented Broadway performer and graduate from the University of Maine, along with Daniel Strange and Ashley Liberty. Strange, who has performed at Carnegie Hall and with many well-known musicians and Liberty, a violin playing extraordinaire, are no strangers to the Windham community as they return annually as performers with the Music with a Mission program. 

Special guest, Kim Block of News 13 who was scheduled as Master of Ceremonies and to read “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was unable to attend the event due to the death of President George H. W. Bush, a close personal friend. Former principal and Assistant Superintendent, Christopher Howell filled in to read the endearing Charlie Brown story at the 7:30 p.m. performance. Student, Nolan Cyr, was the guest of honor during the reading. 

The live concert of The Windham Chamber singers and their guests is an experience that must be captured in person, as there is no way to encapsulate in words the breathtaking musical sounds and do it justice. Therefore, the real story is about the singers themselves and what it takes to be a part of an extraordinary and talented musical group. 

Officers of the Windham Chamber Singers along with Dr. Nickerson, took a moment back stage
Merritt David Janes
before the evening’s performance to share their stories and the incredibly positive impact being a part of the group has had on their lives. 

Dr. Nickerson began by explaining that the singers do more than perform. “The students are also involved in selling ads and tickets and they make the sets you see on stage,” he said, naming just a few of the expectations. “This creates a sense of ownership.” 

Stage Manager, Gabe Ransom reiterated his conductor’s sentiments. “The performances and rehearsals keep us busy. As a director, mentor and friend; Dr. Nickerson pushes us to excel in the face of adversity.” 

All the singers concurred with Ransom, adding that they are still expected to achieve in other areas of life, school and to continue with their extra-curricular activities. “We don’t have a lot of extra time,” explained President, Annie Stevens. 

https://www.egcu.orgInstead of being daunted by their intense schedules, the Chamber Singers expressed the incredible feeling of family connection and community they experience. 

Secretary, Annika Johnston stated that since they all work so closely together she has acquired deep and lasting friendships. “Being a part of this group has developed in me a sense of pride and community and has helped me to meet and gain many new friends.” 

“When we go on tour together, we become so connected and close with one another, it’s as if we become a family,” stated Vice President, Maggi Bradford. “Even though we are all different in many ways, together we act as an equalizer for one another.” 

Angelyn Gentile, the Wardrobe Manager who is homeschooled, agreed with Johnston and Bradford, stating that her participation in the Windham Chamber Singers has become one of her favorite social activities. 

Asst. Superintendent Randy Crockett and Nolan Cyr
It seems that being a part of this group and the challenges as well as the incredible sense of family community has been a constant through the years. Nathaniel Bennett, a 1991 Windham High graduate and former Chamber Singer spoke of having similar experiences. “Dr. Nickerson – or Mr. Nickerson when I was in the Chamber - was definitely a taskmaster,” Bennett joked. “I think he has mellowed out since I was a part of the group. However, there was always a sense of proud community and a family feeling among us. It was as if we were a team. It was a great experience and I’m glad to have been a part of it.” 

Bennett’s daughter, Emma, who is a 14-year-old Windham/Raymond student, attended the event to watch in hopes to become a future Chamber Singer herself. “I want to become friends with others who like to sing and love music,” she said of her goal. 

https://www.facebook.com/Merry-Christmas-Trees-223243327463/?ref=br_rsPresident Stevens was in the third grade when she saw the Chamber Singers perform for the first time. “I want to be a part of this group,” she remembers telling her mother at that performance. Her mother’s response was encouraging, telling her daughter that it was something she could accomplish but that she must practice and prepare for it. “Here I am,” Stevens stated. “I’m not only a member of the group but I’m also the president. It has come full circle.” 

What advice do Stevens and the other Chamber Singers have for students like Emma who hope to be a Chamber Singer one day? “Be a part of a choir and develop a deep passion for music,” Stevens advised. “Leadership experience is important too, so get involved in a number of organizations.” 
Ransom also offered this piece of advice. “You don’t necessarily have to be the best singer or have the best voice,” he began. “A positive and strong character matters just as much in the selection process.” 

Although performing is the ultimate goal, there is an unexpected occurrence of gaining depth of character and the richness of community if one is lucky to be a part of the Windham Chamber Singers along with a family connection that will be remembered and last for a life time. How could anyone ask for more than that? It is a true representation of what family is – and what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. 

Next year’s tickets for the 32nd Annual AmFam holiday concert will go on sale in October 2019. “Act fast,” Dr. Nickerson warned the audience. “Our special guest will be Norm Lewis and the tickets will sell quickly.”

Friday, November 30, 2018

Finding Kurdistan and a calling: How one trip changed a WHS graduate’s life and created a book

By Lorraine Glowczak

Except for the fact he was born in Iraq to Iranian parents from the Kurdistan region, Hawreh Haddadi, a 2013 Windham High School graduate, was a typical American teenager. Friends, lunch, study hall, chemistry and algebra classes, listening to music and homework were all experiences Haddadi took for granted. That is until the summer of 2010 when he was just finishing his first year of high school.

That summer, Haddadi, his mother, two sisters, and brother traveled to his parents’ homeland, visiting families in Iranian-Kurdistan for two months. It was an eye-opening experience.

Realizing how lucky he was, it changed the level of gratitude he felt to be an American. “Simple things such as getting an education, having a bus to take you to school and eating lunch in a warm and safe environment – all things I took for granted in my easy teenage American life are not every day experiences for many people in Iran,” Haddadi explained. “Getting an education and living in peace was something not everyone was guaranteed. I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was and how chance played a role in my life. I am very lucky to be here in America.”

https://www.facebook.com/ArmstrongAdvancedDentalConcepts/He also discovered a calling upon his travel to his parents’ homeland he could not ignore – to be an advocate for the Kurdish people and all other minority groups who face persecution and discrimination. One step he has taken to inform others about the horrors experienced by the Kurdish people is through his recently published book, “Finding Kurdistan: A Kurdish Iranian American’s Journey Home”.

“It’s true that I had a general understanding of my parent’s life experiences in Kurdistan, but it wasn’t until I had first-hand knowledge of the culture and witnessed the horrors many face in Kurdistan on a daily basis that it became clear to me the amount of suffering and lack of freedom they encounter,” Haddadi said of his journey to his ancestral homeland. “When I returned, I questioned why the suffering experienced by my ancestors was not known in America. I asked myself, ‘We are taught about the genocide of Jews and the challenges faced by the Israelis but there is very little information about my Kurdish people and the genocide they face. Why is that?’ I answered by own question and I’m here to change all of that – by writing this book.”

Haddadi was born in 1995 in Iraq to an Iranian academic father who was a political and human rights activist and a mother who was a farmer. “Due to the continuous conflict in that region my parents decided to leave and find a new homeland. America was where they wanted to go. Coming to America was a dream come true. It was a difficult and scary journey getting here. My parents were constantly on the move. Even though we got accepted to come to America, the neighboring governments could have easily deported us back to Iran” Haddadi explained. “My father became involved in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and even afterwards was still politically active. No progress was being made and my parents decided they had to leave Iran for the security and well-being of the family. He knew his children would not succeed, or even possibly stay alive where he grew up. He applied for political asylum in America. They did what every other loving and protective parent would do. They did their very best to keep their children alive and provide a successful future for them.”
Hawreh Haddadi with his parents and older sister a few months prior to their departure to America

First the family went from Iran to Iraq before moving on to Turkey while waiting for all the paperwork to be finalized and to be officially accepted into America. It was in the late 1990’s, when they finally arrived to America and eventually became citizens, landing in Windham as their final destination.

“I can’t reiterate enough. If my parents hadn’t come to America, I would have had a completely different life….or no life at all. I am so lucky,” Haddadi stated.

Since luck and chance was on his side, he will do what he can to advocate for his Kurdish family and for the millions of Kurds who are unable to speak for themselves due to control by neighboring governments.

Hawreh Haddadi
But there is one downside to doing that. Since he wrote and published his book, the prospect of him returning to see his family in Kurdistan is highly unlikely. “If this book becomes known among the powers that be in Iran, I will not be able to enter that country,” Haddadi said. “I will be considered a threat. That’s the reason why my father couldn’t travel with us in 2010. He wasn’t allowed back in his own country due to his advocacy against the government. He was promoting democracy and freedom. But I’d rather sacrifice the opportunity to see my aunts, uncles and cousins again. I’d rather bring about awareness and educate the American people about the unfortunate situation of the Kurdish people. I believe this is my calling and I will work the rest of my life to help all people who have been marginalized and not given a fair opportunity at life.”

You can find Haddadi’s book on Amazon.com and find more information on his Facebook page. He is also working on speaking engagements as well as providing his book at local independent bookstores.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Windham/Raymond Boosters Club offer many benefits to volunteers and community

Volunteers experience fun, friendship and more!
By Lorraine Glowczak

Whether it’s the purchase of popcorn, hotdogs or fries at the Windham High School (WHS) concessions or an event that brings in well-known guest speakers such as sportscaster, Tom Caron, that encourages positive team experience– it is the Windham/Raymond Boosters Club that puts it all together effortlessly; or, so it may seem.

As many know who are involved in community-oriented organizations, it is the volunteers that make the events a success and the Boosters Club’s efforts to create confident student athletes is no different. An organization that promotes a community image to be proud of, the Windham/Raymond Boosters Club is seeking more volunteers to continue making the club, and the students it supports, a success.
Our goal is to help promote athletic excellence, to create a positive community image and to support competitive athletic programs,” explained volunteer member, Shelly Afthim “and, volunteers are essential to fulfill the Boosters’ Club mission.”

Although students have participated and volunteered in past fundraising events, a majority of Booster Club volunteers have always been parents. Since volunteer requirements for WHS students have changed recently with a focus on career discovery, volunteer participation has declined, making it difficult to work events and fundraisers.

http://betheinfluencewrw.org/index.html“When volunteer time was a requirement for students, working in any of our sponsored events was an easy way for them to get their hours,” explained volunteer member, Jennifer Kent. “The Boosters used to host an annual car show and all of the fall athletes were required to work the event, which helped out the Boosters, but also allowed the students to get their volunteer hours in. Due to the lack of volunteers and the fact that students no longer have this requirement, the Boosters have chosen not to host this annual event.”

According to RSU14 Athletic Director, Richard Drummond, the Boosters Club has been involved in supporting WHS student athletes for over 30 years.  “The Boosters are very proactive to help all programs in our district and communities,” explained Drummond. “It’s an organization that provides extra financial support that the athletic budget just cannot provide. What is great about this group is that it supports all sports. Many schools have individual booster clubs that support a specific sport and or gender. The Windham/Raymond booster club at our school is one club that supports all sports, all genders and shares funds equitably for all the programs. This a huge asset as it ensures all kids, teams and programs all have the same financial support and opportunities.”

The amount of time required to be a volunteer for the Windham Boosters Club in nominal, compared to many other volunteer organizations. “All that’s required is 32 hours per parent over four years,” Afthim said. That averages only eight hours per school year.

There are some benefits for both parents and students who choose to volunteer. “Student athletes that participate in one sport over 4 years of high school are eligible for an athletic cord which is presented at the Spring Awards Banquet and Cording Ceremony,” stated Kent. “Athletes that participate in two sports are eligible for two cords, and for those that participate in 3 sports over their 4 years of high school are eligible for 3 cords.  Parents that volunteer 32 hours for Booster sponsored events are able to present their student athlete with their cords during the cording ceremony.”

Fundraising events include the annual craft fair, concessions during sporting events, the yearly engraved bricks program as well as a food booth at Windham Summerfest. But fundraising isn’t the sole focus of the boosters’ club. They also offer an annual well-attended “Meet the Coaches Night” that was established over 10 years ago.
https://www.egcu.org
“’Meet the Coaches Night’ is a valuable night as you can hear from the coaches working with your children directly about the upcoming season in regard to rules, expectations and philosophy,” Drummond stated. “A positive athletic experience is all about communication, so this night has proven to be most beneficial. As the athletic director, we have been very fortunate to have the boosters support in this event because we have been given the opportunity to bring in high quality guest speakers from across the country that have been financially supported by the booster organization.”

The next “Meet the Coaches Night” is on Monday, November 26 at 7 p.m. and the club is excited to announce that the guest speaker for this year’s event is Tom Caron, a sportscaster and anchor for New England NESN and former sportscaster for WGME in Portland.  

The low number of volunteers makes it difficult to keep up the much needed programs and to support the student athletes in positive ways, helping them to grow into contributing members of society who know how to work well with others. “When the Boosters are unable to open the concession stand for either a high school event or a youth event being held at the high school because we don’t have enough volunteers, or we don’t have a manager available to be there,” explained Kent “ we miss an opportunity to earn money to support the athletic program at WHS, and thus an opportunity to support our students and the community.”

To inquire about volunteer efforts or to learn more regarding the Windham/Raymond Boosters Club, contact Jennifer Kent at WindhamBoosters@yahoo.com

Adventures in Africa: The tale of a once-in-a-lifetime experience

By Lorraine Glowczak

When one travels to foreign lands, the thrill and excitement of meeting new people, experiencing a culture different than your own and viewing fresh landscapes, makes it almost impossible not to burst with joy and share the journey with others. Returning from a recent trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, Al and Julia Cheney were more than willing to share their once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will have everlasting impact on their lives.

Julia, although currently a resident of Lyman, is a 1964 Windham High graduate who remains involved in the Windham community. She and her husband, Al, never thought about or made South Africa a bucket-list travel destination. “We never would have gone there, but our son and family had moved to Johannesburg over a year ago and we wanted to visit them,” she explained.

Her son, Don Cheney, works for the NBA (National Basketball Association) and as part of an initiative to encourage more Africans to become involved in that sport, Don moved there to help build up African basketball teams. His wife and two sons moved with him and have made South Africa their home for now.

Julia Cheney being kissed by an elephant as her husband, Al looks on.
Although the major intent for Al and Julia’s travel to the southern tip of the country was to visit their son and his family, the Cheney’s also explored the area from the moment they arrived on October 11 until they left on October 23rd. “We crammed a lot of travel into 12 days,” Julia laughed.

Though it is true they thoroughly enjoyed visiting their son and family, the Cheneys admit that there
was a bit of excitement in exploring the game preserves, national parks, participating in multiple safaris and spending nights in a lodge in the middle of the preserves. Julia shared what it was like to stay and wake up in a natural African environment: “One morning as we were preparing to go on a safari, we opened the door to our lodge and right in front of us was a warthog grazing on grass about 6 feet away. And, one day, we could see elephants outside our window, along the fence of the compound, eating leaves from the trees. The whole experience was beyond imagination.”

Julia holding the lion cub
But the exciting encounters didn’t stop at the lodges. During one of the safari journeys the Cheneys: were charged by a black rhino, waited for 45 minutes as 137 elephants paraded across the road at their leisure, watched a five-month-old elephant huff, grunt and stomp his feet in an effort to intimidate and play with safari participants, saw duiker (a small deer) bound across the land and witnessed amazing African birds fly in the air and hop along the ground, all within close sight.

Seeing was only one portion of the adventure. Julia and Al also had opportunities to touch the animals native to the continent. “While visiting a lion park, I got to hold a lion cub,” Julia exclaimed. “It was the highlight of my trip.” And then she added as if her other highpoints were normal, everyday circumstances. “I also got to pet a full-grown cheetah, feed a giraffe, scratch the ear of an elephant and touch an elephant’s tail. Did you know that the tail of an elephant is much like a bristle brush,” she asked? “That’s exactly what it feels like,” Julia stated, astonished.

The natural environment and animals native to the African habitat were not the only things that made an impact upon the Cheneys. “People live and perceive life a bit differently there than here in Maine – or the U.S” Julia began.

She explained that there is a very distinct difference in economic and social status. “It is true that

https://www.egcu.org/cashthere are economic differences in the U.S. but in South Africa it is distinctly different. You can be in a nice neighborhood, which includes extravagant homes in a gated community and then just a few miles away, you’ll see simple homes made with tin and wood leaning against each other. There is no running water, electricity or indoor toilets.”

The native language where Julia and Al visited is Zulu, “Like many other countries, South Africans are able to speak English. So, we could communicate with others easily. I did try to learn simple Zulu words, but it seemed you had to have the ‘correct’ accent and my Maine accent got in the way of speaking the words with accuracy,” Julia laughed.

Julia advises research and talking with others who have been in the area if South Africa is a future travel destination. As for herself and her husband, they are grateful they had their son and his family to guide them around. “I could never imagine going there by myself. However, it was an adventure of a lifetime and we are both happy to have that experience. We would definitely encourage a trip to Africa if it is an individual’s goal.”

Friday, November 16, 2018

Veterans Day celebration and special awards held last Sunday

Winners, Alexander Potter, Sam Williams with Willie Goodman
By Lorraine Glowczak

Community members and veteran came out to celebrate Veterans Day on Sunday, November 11 at 11 a.m. at the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Memorial Drive. The open house and ceremony not only included honoring our veterans but also included the official announcements of the student Patriot’s Pen essay as well as the Voice of Democracy themed audio essay awards along with a teacher of the year recognition.

Commander Willie Goodman of the Windham Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post began Sunday’s celebration by welcoming all present and providing a background history of Veterans Day.

Goodman stated that Veterans Day originated as Armistice Day on November 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Additionally, congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and November 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Unlike Memorial Day, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.”

https://www.egcu.orgVFW Chaplain Roger Timmons gave the invocation. This was followed by Past Commander, Bob Akins who shared thought provoking insights on the Patriot’s Pen, Voice of Democracy and Teacher of the Year programs. Commander Goodman then announced the winners of the essay and teacher of the year contests.

The first to be announced was the second-place winner of the Patriot’s Pen essay competition that was open to middle school students including home schoolers, in grades sixth through eighth in the Windham area. Out of the 48 submissions, Sam Williams of Windham Christian Academy won $50 for his second-place win for his 300-400-word essay on this year’s theme, “Why I honor the American flag.” First place winner was Alexander Potter from Jordan-Small Middle School who won a $100 award. Both middle school frontrunners read their essay to Sunday’s attendees and will enter the Maine competition for a chance to win on a National level.

The Voice of Democracy audio essay competition was open to high school students, grades nine through 12, including those home schooled in the Windham area. Students were required to write and record a three to five-minute essay, on an audio CD, regarding this year’s theme “Why My Vote Matters.” The winner was Rose Hagerstrom of Windham Christian Academy (WCA). Because she was unable to attend the ceremony and read her winning essay, Principal Jackie Sands read the essay in her place. Hagerstrom will also be in the running for a win on the state level.

Teacher Emily Stokes with Willie Goodman
The first-place state winner of both competitions receives a four-day trip to Washington, DC. The first-place national winner receives $5,000 for the Patriot’s Pen winning essay and the first-place winning essay nationally for the Voice of Democracy receives a $30,000 college scholarship.

The final announcement was the Teacher of the Year Award. This year’s recipient was sixth grade Windham Middle School teacher, Emily Stokes, for her year-long study of veterans. Stokes incorporated all the mandatory curriculum mandates to include language arts, social studies and more as part of the year-long study. The students spent time interviewing veterans, writing biographical essays, visiting museums and cemeteries to name just a few of the projects included.

Special awards were also given to the Boy Scouts Troup 805 for their dedication to various veteran activities as well as a Blue-Star Banner to a mother who has two sons currently in the military.
The Veterans Day ceremony ended with placing a wreath on the Vietnam Memorial in the Memorial Garden


“The Little Mermaid” gives students a chance to shine onstage and off

The "Little Mermaid" cast

By Elizabeth Richards

Putting on a Disney show is an ambitious undertaking, and Windham High School pulls it off beautifully in their production of “The Little Mermaid”.

From the acting, singing and dancing, to costumes, lighting, special effects and sets, the show is magical from Ariel’s first moments on stage to the final scene. Windham has some amazingly talented students, and they shine in this familiar tale.

Countless hours must have been spent creating the sets and costumes that brought this story to life. Creating an underwater world on stage is tricky at best, but this cast and crew pulled it off beautifully.
This year, younger students filled some of the main roles, including freshman Emma Chasse as Sebastian and sophomore Denali Dieumegard as Ariel.

Chasse, who said she’s been acting since second grade, brought Sebastian to life with a quirky walk and delightful expression. Chasse said she was overwhelmed at first, but by a couple of weeks before the show opened, she was taking it all in stride and enjoying every minute. “It’s my first high school show, and I’ve waited for this for such a long time. It’s so crazy!” she said. 

https://www.egcu.org/cashDieumegard said she’s been acting since kindergarten, and has performed at Schoolhouse Arts Center, Breakwater School and Windham Middle School.  She said she has always loved the character of Ariel and wanted to play the role. “It was a really nice surprise, getting the role. It’s a dream, honestly.”

Listening to her sing, it’s easy to hear why she was cast. Her voice is strong and steady, and it’s easy to believe that it would capture the attention of a handsome prince. Her mannerisms portrayed Ariel’s innocence and longing for a different life nicely.

Dieumegard said the cast is like a family. “They’re all so kind and inviting. It really is a cool community,” she said.

Each role seemed perfectly cast. It can be difficult to bring such well known characters to life in a unique way, but each performer did just that. The ensemble moved in sync to clever choreography, their voices blending perfectly, to create dynamic numbers that were incredibly fun to watch. Some numbers were funny (Will Searway as Chef Louis in Les Poissons had the audience roaring with laughter) and some more touching and sweet. All were well executed and engaging.

It was clear from the quality of the production that the talent extends well beyond the stage.  Scene transitions went smoothly, and lighting cues and special effects were right on time. The costumes were amazing, and clearly the product of a lot of hard work.

Some older students had the opportunity to take on leadership roles that extended beyond their on-stage presence. Damara Stratis, who played a gull, was the dance captain and Travis Burt, who played Prince Eric, was the Assistant Director. 

Both have been involved in theater for many years, and as seniors were excited to take on these leadership roles. Their interest in getting involved beyond performing was sparked when they did “Kiss Me Kate” as sophomores, Stratis said. She said she has loved watching everyone grow as the show came together. “It’s teaching me more about responsibility and being a good role model,” she stated. 

Ariel (Denali Dieumegard) and Ursula (Corrine Ulmer)
Being that role model makes the production more about community instead of just the individual, Stratis added. “This really does give a good sense of community.

Stratis stated that after high school, she’s interested in going into occupational therapy. “That is very much about helping people and supporting people. This is kind of prepping me for that,” she said. “I think it’s really going to help me in my career.”

Burt was student director last year for the “Sound of Music” as well.  “Having my own thoughts and my own creativity being portrayed on stage was an amazing feeling to me,” he said. 

This year, Burt said he handled more scenes and was trusted to take control when Juergens was busy. “I have felt like I’ve grown more mature from it,” he said. “I feel like it’s really helped us become who we are.”

Burt said he wanted the other students to trust him, just as he trusted older students when he was younger.  Having the responsibility of assistant director has made him more responsible, he said, and he can carry that through to college and beyond. Burt is interested in studying acting, and direction, in college.  “I’ve enjoyed taking control and being able to create and invent my own show,” he continued. “You aren’t just focused on you yourself, you’re focused on the entire show as a whole; you’re not just inventing a character and making it grow, you’re making sure that the entire cast grows as a whole,” Burt said.

The performance I saw was evidence that the entire cast and crew worked cohesively, coming together to put on a production so good I had to remind myself it was a high school show. The show runs for one more weekend, on Friday November 16 at 7 p.m.; Saturday November 17 at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, November 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for children, students, and seniors at the door. Reserved tickets are $14 and can be purchased at www.whsfallmusical.weebly.com.



Friday, November 9, 2018

Saying thank you and goodbye to the Windham Kiwanis: 1930 – 2018

By Walter Lunt

The Kiwanis Club of Windham, a highly regarded youth service organization has officially ended 88 years of local charitable and philanthropic work.

Left behind is a legacy of youth development and community improvement that included projects ranging from student scholarships and Key Club to the ambitious Windham High School home building program.

“I’m so, so sorry to think that it’s gone.” said long-time Kiwanian and former vice-president Glenn Libby. “It was a great and worthy organization that did a lot of good things; (I have) wonderful memories of what we did for young people in town.”
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In the sixties when Libby was heavily involved in Kiwanis, the club numbered over 30 members.
“(Despite recruitment efforts) we were down to 3 members.” said Jerry Black, “and we just couldn’t keep going.” Black, who joined Kiwanis in 1962, was the longest serving member, having assumed numerous roles over the years including president, treasurer, committee chairs and district Lieutenant Governor.

Past president Phillip Moody echoes Black’s assessment that dwindling membership would cripple the capability of Kiwanis’ effort to carry out its mission of support to local youth. He cited the club’s sponsorship of Presidential Classroom, Boys and Girls State and local scouting organizations as points of pride for Windham Kiwanis Club.

From its inception in Windham in 1930 and into the 1950s, Windham Kiwanis Club attracted business leaders, teachers and residents who worked tirelessly raising money to fund various youth and community projects. Among the most memorable were the Kiwanis Auction, an annual amateur golf classic and creative booths at Windham Old Home Day. Those projects helped to support scholarships for high school seniors and contributed to the establishment of a Windham High School Key Club.

In 1960, Windham Kiwanis embarked on its most unique and ambitious undertaking to date. It established the Windham Kiwanis Building Trades Corp. Under the supervision of Windham High School faculty member Fred Kelley and as part of the formal school curriculum, students enrolled in building trades courses applied classroom theory by actually building houses. The Windham Kiwanis Club financed the project by furnishing a house lot and by obtaining credit from local merchants, including L.C. Andrew (lumber), Don Rich Oil Co., Maurice Rogers (excavation), Northeast Foundations, Sherwin Williams (paint) and others. On sale of the house, creditors were paid, and the profits used to buy additional tools and machinery for the high school and to increase the size and number of scholarships. The project attracted the attention of Kiwanis International and became a model for other Kiwanis Clubs in Maine.

Kiwanian Jerry Black with the official Kiwanis bell and gavel that will no longer open and close meetings
In all, the corporation built 10 homes between 1961 and 1971 in what became the Brookhaven development in North Windham.

Windham resident Walter Lamb participated in the first two years of the program. “It was a great experience and a hell of an idea,” he recalled. “Old Fred was a no-nonsense guy and he’d tell you, ‘this is a screwdriver for driving screws, not a chisel.’ We used hand saws and hammers. No power tools. We built the forms for the concrete, framed up the house, closed it in, put in the floors, hung the doors and installed the windows. I remember Fred and a couple of masons built a chimney and we had a wood stove for winter work. But it was still cold.”

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Asked about transportation to the work site every day, Lamb went on, “We had an old yellow Chevy van. We’d all pile in and go – it was the days before seat belts.” Regarding mischief and practical jokes, Lamb said the student crews were never destructive but still managed to have some fun. “I remember we’d stop at Herb Thomes store at Foster’s Corner (the rotary) and pick up soda and snacks. One time we were shingling the roof and I laid down with my back to the roof to have my snack. My buddies were hammering away next to me. When I went to get up, I discovered they’d nailed the shoulders of my coveralls to the roof.”

“A lot of kids took that program and learned a lot. One of my classmates became a builder and I built my own house.”

Glenn Libby said he joined Kiwanis (“It was an honor to be recommended”) because of the home-building project.

“That hands-on program meant a lot to me. It made sense. If those kids were going to do anything productive, they’d do it with their hands.”

Lamb agreed. “We weren’t academics. If it weren’t for that program, (many of the kids) wouldn’t have stayed in school.”

And, interestingly, the motto of Kiwanis International is “We build.”
The demise of the home building project came, according to Libby, when Fred Kelley was unable to carry it on, and when the formal vocational education programs expanded, particularly the program in Westbrook.

zachary.j.conley@mwarep.orgIn more recent times, Windham Kiwanis has continued vigorous fund-raising projects, including the sale of Christmas trees in North Windham. It has sponsored youth horse shows, spurred support for the Windham Food Pantry and conducted bicycle helmet fitting and child safety seat inspections.

Disbanding meant the resources of the club had to be dispersed. Jerry Black said some materials will be given to neighboring Kiwanis organizations. And after bills are paid, all money will go to the Kiwanis Scholarship Fund, which will continue to award scholarships to deserving seniors. He said the high school Key Club will also continue under the supervision of Standish Kiwanis.    

Libby concluded that the motivation behind Windham Kiwanis Club was this: “What you’re doing for young people you’re doing for your community.”  

New Raymond fire truck named to honor the late Captain David Mains

Fire truck dedication ceremony
By Briana Bizier

On October 28, the town of Raymond welcomed a new fire truck into its fleet. Tank 2 has been dedicated to Captain David Mains, a beloved member of the Raymond Fire Department who passed away in June of this year. The dedication of Tank 2 assures his memory lives on.



The truck named in honor of Captain Mains was built by METAFAB Fire Trucks. It has a 3,000-gallon tank and is designed to carry water to fire scenes in rural areas without access to fire hydrants. Those familiar with the town of Raymond will note fire hydrants are a rarity and will be relieved to know Tank 2 is standing by in case of emergency.

Ninety percent of the funds used to purchase the vehicle came from a FEMA grant written by Deputy Chief Cathy Gosselin, and the remaining ten percent of the funds were contributed by the town of Raymond.

The ceremony of pushing a truck into service comes from old fire traditions,” Deputy Chief Gosselin explains. “The horse-drawn fire wagons had to be pushed into the stations as the horses didn't like backing up. The christening of the truck was taking water from the old tank truck and placing it into the new truck. Everyone was invited to help dry the truck after it was washed and then to push it into service.”

markbryantwindham@gmail.comTank 2 was welcomed into service during a ceremony attended by 75 people. Chief Bruce Tupper offered a welcome and explained the tradition of putting a new truck into service. After a ceremonial transfer of water by firefighters Chris Nassa and Doug Kerr, the truck was christened by firefighter Brandon Cunningham and Lieutenant Andrew Jordan. The truck was then officially “pushed” by Captain Scott Mildrum, who was assisted by the speaker Alice Mains, Dave’s aunt; Jen Mains, Dave’s wife; firefighter Charissa Kerr, who spoke about Dave’s history with the Raymond Fire Department; Noah Mains, who unveiled the plaque; and Deputy Chief Cathy Gosselin, who offered the closing.

 “David's name is David Alexander Mains,” Gosselin explains. “As a kid he couldn't pronounce Alexander, so said his middle name is alligator!” Hence, the logo being put on Raymond’s newest fire truck is a fire-fighting alligator complete with a water bucket, axe and helmet.

David Mains is deeply missed in this community. Through the dedication of this new fire truck, Captain Mains is still protecting the homes and businesses of Raymond, Maine.

Friday, November 2, 2018

D.A.R.E. to Adventure students raise funds and help community through “Labor for Donations”

D.A.R.E to Adventure members hard at work
By Elizabeth Richards

Leadership skills, communication skills, community building, bridging social groups and outdoor adventure training are just a few of the benefits for students who participate in D.A.R.E. to Adventure at Windham Middle School. 

The program goes well beyond the traditional Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) curriculums. Led by Community Service Officer Matt Cyr of the Windham Police Department, the program incorporates elements similar to programs like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Outward Bound to teach students leadership skills. 

The group is made up of 20 students – ten seventh and ten eighth graders - from all different social groups who have shown leadership qualities or potential. “Our goal is for them to come out and learn leadership and team building, then go back to their peers and help their peers make good decisions. That’s the big idea,” Cyr said.

https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Tyler-for-Maine-House-374831959591528/“The reason we keep it so small is because of the mentoring piece that happens. I get pretty close to all of them,” Cyr said.

The group meets after school on Mondays and Wednesdays, participating in both team building and skill building activities. In the spring, Cyr begins teaching students how to roll a kayak. “It’s not so much about the kayaking as what they gain from doing it,” he said. Not everyone is successful with the roll, but they gain confidence, a sense of accomplishment for the things they can do and learn about taking positive risks.

The year culminates with an outdoor adventure trip. They begin with a ropes course then alternate between two days of whitewater rafting one year and a day of rock climbing and one of rafting the next. Cyr also teaches the students First Aid and CPR, and all are required to complete this training before going on the year end trip.

While there has always been some fundraising for the D.A.R.E. to Adventure program, it didn’t come close to paying for that year end trip. Student Josh Noyes said that he and his mother didn’t think it was right for Cyr to have to fund a large portion of the trip. They set a goal of raising $5000 this year to fully fund the trip for all the students. 

The whole goal is that he doesn’t have to pay for it, and we get a part in it,” Noyes said of their fundraising program called “Labor for Donations.”  D.A.R.E. to Adventure students go door to door asking people if they have any work they need completed. They have shoveled loam, moved brush and have other jobs, including fall clean up, coming. Parents of students in the program have also stepped up, donating their time to the efforts.

Kimberly Noyes, Josh’s mother, said that Officer Cyr is passionate about the D.A.R.E. to Adventure program and truly cares for kids in Windham. He makes the students – and their parents – passionate about the program as well, she said.

Morgan Hammond, a student participant, said that Labor for Donations helps the community as well. “Before, we didn’t do as much for other people,” she said. 

Haley Atherton added, “It helps other people learn about what Dare to Adventure is all about and how we’re helping the community. Not a lot of adults really know about this great program and how it really affects everyone else in the school district, and how we’re helping our community in different ways.”

https://www.egcu.org/autoUpcoming fundraisers include possibly shoveling in the winter, a fundraiser dance, participating in a craft fair at the high school on November 10 and 11, and activities at summer fest.

The program creates close bonds among participants. Atherton said she has learned leadership skills and made friends she wouldn’t have otherwise known. “The kids that are in the group now wouldn’t have really met each other or talked to each other if we hadn’t been in this program. It helps us become really good friends,” she said. 

Atherton thinks the program will help them later as well. “In high school when we go back into these social groups that we’re in, it will help us help our friends, but also help us when we get into those tough situations. It helps us build a better thought process,” she said.

Levi McDonald agreed.  “It helps me get more social with other people and learn leadership and how to have fun and make the right choices, positive choices,” he said. 

D.A.R.E. to Adventure also helps build bridges between social groups the students said. “If there’s any drama between social groups, there’s always people that know each other,” said Hammond.  “It’s exactly like a team with any sport. You all get along with everyone and learn stuff as a group. You get to see beyond your friends,” she said. 
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Finn Smith said, “I feel like DARE is a good place to make lifelong friends.”

Students who participate in D.A.R.E. to Adventure often maintain contact with Cyr and come back to mentor younger students. Their reasons for doing so vary, but all emphasize the positive impact of the program.  

Tenth grader Ezra Smith said he returns because he wants younger kids to know they have someone to support them when they go to high school.  “It’s good to be somewhere you feel accepted,” he said.

Kyle McLeese, a ninth grader, said, “I definitely gained a lot of friends from the program, and people who accept me for who I am, so I keep coming back for that.”