Friday, April 21, 2017

Celebrating Earth Day today and everyday by Lorraine Glowczak


What began as a grassroots movement in 1970 by then U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, has now become a global celebration to focus on the health of the environment.
 
It all began with a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California that Nelson took note of and then decided to raise awareness about environmental issues. With the assistance of Rep. Pete McCloskey of California, as well as a Denis Hayes from Harvard, events were organized across the nation with many college students participating in various ways. The date, April 22, was chosen at the time because it fell between spring break and final exams.

According to the Earth Day Network, “Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.” www.earthday.org/about/the-history-of-earth-day/

In 1990, Earth Day became a global passion with approximately 140 countries participating in environmental awareness activities. Despite recent years of cynicism, Earth Day celebrations remain in the spotlight with approximately 180 countries participating as it approaches its 50-year anniversary in 2020.
Karen Lothrop (r) with Ron and Martha Strout

For some, celebrating Earth Day has become an everyday habit. This includes a few individuals within the Windham and Raymond communities.

For the past 15 years, Karen Lothrop from Windham and her friends Martha and Ron Strout, as well as Inger Riley (when she is visiting from Wisconsin) go on long morning walks. And as they do, they pick up trash. Their route begins on Sandbar Road, making their way along 302 and then onto Route 35. “We have discovered that the most trash can be found behind Staples on 302,” Lothrop stated. “For some reason, people dump a lot of trash in that area.” 

Although Lothrop spends winters in Florida, where she picks up trash on her daily walks there, she always returns to her home in Windham. While here at home, she dedicates her morning walks to trash pickups from June until October. 
Gordon Street holds the sign he will use in Saturday's March for Science

Gordon Street of Raymond has turned his passion, the art of scientific thinking, into an Earth Day activity. Street will be participating in the “March for Science” event that will occur this Saturday in Portland. 

However, Street’s participating in Saturday’s March is just the beginning. He has been and will continue to advocate for and educate the public on the need to think scientifically, a critical skill that has not been adequately taught to our children. 

“All humans have what is called a ‘confirmation bias’,” Street explained. “This simply means that we look for data that supports what we believe and suspect to be true, instead of data that opposes what we believe, which is the way scientist approach a hypothesis. Scientific thinking prevents us from ‘shooting from the hip’ and making decisions and coming to conclusions in error. You don’t have to be a scientist to have critical scientific thinking skills.”

Street believes the lack of scientific thinking has a great impact on misunderstandings surrounding the environment. 

For those who also are interested in being every day stewards of the earth, one does not need to be an advocate or walk every morning to pick up trash. There are a variety of small steps that can fit your lifestyle. Some positive action can be as simple as turning off the lights in a room when no one is there or planting a tree (make sure it is not invasive to Maine). 

If hiking, biking, snowmobiling or riding your ATV is your passion, one can also become a member or a volunteer for non-profit environmental organizations where trails are readily available. Organizations such as the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (Black Brook Preserve and Pringle Wildlife Preserve in Windham) or the Loon Echo Land Trust (Raymond Community Forest in Raymond) are always willing to accept volunteers. 

No matter what it is you do to celebrate Earth Day, today and/or every day, any step you take is an important one. As Lothrop stated, “There is no Planet B, so it might be wise to take care of the one we have.”

Community Day embraces new learning style by Michelle Libby


Every year Manchester School in Windham hosts a Community Day, a celebration of projects the students do to support the community and non-profits that they want to support. This year’s theme was, “Hands and Hearts Caring for our Community.” 
 
“This is the most special day we have during the school year,” said Principal Danielle Donnini. Fifth graders learn about culture and civilizations, she said. That means common values, ideas and goals. Common celebrations and traditions are a part of culture. “This is the one day we take a break to celebrate them.”

Donnini thanked the volunteers, parents, AmeriCorps volunteers, PTA and school board who had helped with the projects. 

“It’s pretty awesome, the projects and the celebration,” said Superintendent Sandy Prince. “The work is really important. Every year it gets better and better. The projects are relevant, meaningful and make a difference. It raises their awareness of the community.” 

Special guest speakers, on Wednesday morning, were Windham High School Principal Chris Howell and Windham Middle School Principal Drew Patin. “I was absolutely impressed with the work you’ve done this year,” said Howell. “You have the opportunity to grow up in a very special place. When you help another person you get more enjoyment, more excitement than the person receiving the help,” he said.  

The projects the students worked on this year mirror what will happen when they are in the high school with a Capstone Project, which is an individual project in an area of interest. Students will explore with a mentor from the community and help make career decisions, said Howell. These projects were a taste of what’s to come for the students. 

Last Wednesday began with breakfast for 400 people. Guests were invited to visit each display and table set up in the gym at the school. During the presentation, students and teachers presented checks and gifts to recipients.

“Last year there were 20 projects. This year we can’t capture all the projects,” said Donnini. “As teachers, we learned how to make learning more real, more engaging.” 

Teacher Carol Otley has spent 15 years helping her students build bird houses to share with people all over the State of Maine; with over 200 bird houses created by the students over the years. The bird houses have been placed from New York City to Katahdin, Aroostook County and all over New England. Many birds have been sheltered. This year bird houses were given to: Game wardens, Windham Police Officers Gene Gallant and Steve Stubbs and K9 Vader, a VFW veteran and Survivor winner Bob Crowley to name a few. 

“All of you are from Maine. Be proud to be from Maine,” said Crowley, who owns Maine Forest Yurts. “I’m almost 70 and I’m still giving back to the community.” 

Other teachers and their classes were recognized. Otley was recognized as VFW Teacher of the Year at the local and district levels. Sabrina Nickerson and Stacey Sanborn were honored with the Garden of the Month Award from Maine School Garden Network. Environmental educator Katrina Venhuizen from EcoMaine recognized Jen Ocean’s class with an Eco-Excellence Award 2017 for recycling. The class applied for and received a grant from EcoMaine to work on food waste and recycling at Manchester School. The school went from making nine bags of trash per day to one.

“The class saw a problem, which led to some research, but it takes all of you to make it work,” said Donnini. 

The experiential learning that happens with the projects is hands-on. “The projects give the students choice and voice. It’s not the teacher saying I want to do this,” said Donnini. “Students have their own voice and passion, which leads their learning.”

Judy Taudvin’s class each chose individual projects to work on, allowing the students to develop their own interests. 

Adam Beal’s class raised $400 to donate to Chelsea’s MS Walk. Another class made 21 pet beds out of old sweaters to donate to Harvest Hills. One held an Iditarod Read-a-Thon and another will hold a Color Run on May 20, at 9 a.m. One class sold Pokémon cards and has raised over $400 for the Preble Street Resource Center. 

Paton closed the assembly. “I haven’t always been a Windham Eagle. I have pride to be a Windham Eagle.” He is excited to have the students in his school next year. He said he was proud of their, “willingness to be creative, to be problem solvers.” Patton stated that he liked their creativity, perseverance and grit; and their willingness to make a difference in somebody else’s life.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Holocaust survivor speaks at Jordon Small Middle School by Lisa Schadler


It has been said that if we were to have a minute of silence for every victim of the Holocaust - then we would be silent for eleven and a half years.  

The eight grade students and staff at the Jordan-Small Middle School had the honor of hearing Rudy Horowitz, a child Holocaust survivor, talk about his book, “Avoiding the Cracks”.

This special event coincided with an integrated curriculum unit that the students have been working on during their Social Studies and ELA classes.

Mr. Horowitz not only shared personal experiences and excerpts from his book, but also shared words of wisdom, guidance and his positive outlook about future generations. 

Shown here is Molly Cochrane with Mr. Horowitz, after she shared a poem that she had written.

Windham loan officer is recognized for being in the Top 1 percent across the country by Lorraine Glowczak


There is the best. Then there is the best of the best. Congratulations go to Kate Virgie, Senior Loan Officer with Northstar Mortgage Group for being recognized by nationwide investor as top 1 percent of loan officers across the country. 
 
Kate Virgie holding her award

Based upon volume, the top 1 percent is an award that is granted to a loan officer who has closed on the largest amount of home loans within one year. For Virgie, this means she closed more home loans with nationwide investor than loan officers across the U.S., competing against big population areas such as Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and New York City. Although the Greater Lakes region is one of the most beautiful spots in the country, where many purchase their dream home, it certainly does not compare in size to other regions in the U.S. How did she close more home loans than other officers in larger demographics?

It begins with her ability to be of service 24/7. Often in the office until past 11 p.m., Virgie never leaves until her work is completed. “One thing that separates me from other loan officers is that I am always available when people need me,” Virgie said. “I will drop anything I am doing and will be there immediately.”

However, she doesn’t have to be at the office to continue her work - she takes it with her wherever she goes. Whether it’s a late-night dinner with friends, getting a manicure or shopping at Target, she is never “closed” for business.

“Recently while having dinner with a friend one Saturday evening, I discovered she knew someone who was in the market for buying a home,” Virgie explained. “We called her friend who happened to be home. That night after our dinner, we went to her house and within the hour I pre-qualified her for a home loan at 9 p.m.”

The stories do not end there. She also tells of the time she was getting a manicure: Overhearing another client expressing her frustration about being accepted for a home loan, Virgie told her she could help. While both were getting their manicures, Virgie got enough information needed and before they both walked out of the nail salon, the individual was on her way to pre-qualification.

“I have even pre-qualified a customer in the Target parking lot,” Virgie laughed. While standing in line to pay for purchases at Target, Virgie had a conversation with the woman behind her about home mortgages. “I can help you,” Virgie told the woman, who left Target with not only the purchases from the department store but her future home as well.

“She realizes the importance of being available as a Real Estate professional,” stated Leigh Gagnon, owner of Northstar Mortgage Group. “She is driven by helping people and making the process fun and stress free.” Kate does not view her loans as transactions . . . they are relationships, families and friends. This is what has made her so successful in our industry.”

So that’s how Virgie does it. She goes that extra ten miles. No wonder she is the best of the best.

Cuteness abounds at Barnyard Babies event by Stephen Signor


While Windham Blue Seal Feeds was having a truck load sale last week at their store on 43 Main Street, the Young Farmers 4-H Beef Club was also there holding an event of their own, bringing a little Easter fun into the mix. 
 
Two year old Zetty from Gorham fed the ewes

To welcome spring, “Barnyard Babies” was the theme of the day. Baby farm animals were available in pens outside the store for viewing pleasure, feeding and petting; while inside 4-H kids were selling raffle tickets. Haines Photography was also on hand to take Easter photos with live rabbits provided by the Cumberland County Rabbit Breeders Association. 

“We’ve brought Sapphire, a ewe and her baby twins, Sage and Sapphire Junior along with goat Ava, for the kids to touch,” shared Kathy Pride, Co-leader of the beef club.

Like last year, they are hoping to be able to fund another educational road trip. “We are fund raising for another trip, probably in the fall or sometime in January. We are going to the Pennsylvania Farm Show in January or Louisville, Kentucky to a big beach.”

“There is also an expo that is going to happen in May, so there is a meat raffle here today; with all the money going toward buying prizes for the kids, an education class and the general fund,” Pride’s husband ,Troy added.

Up for grabs was a winner’s choice of: 50 pounds of beef, 10 pounds of lamb or 10 pounds of pork.

This event was held last fall, at a time of year when there is more products to be sold and less space for crowds to gather. That over-crowding experience caused a necessary change. “We tried something different this time around because last year we learned that there were very long lines. We figured doing this earlier in the year, people could mill around freely because we really don’t have a lot of space inside,” said Blue Seal store manager Melanie Locke. 
 
Although this is the first time Doug and Gini Haines, owners, have had Easter Bunny photography available at the store, they have been doing pet portraits since starting their business 35 years ago. For them it turned out to be a good day. “It was a successful day. We did around 60 portraits which is a lot of kids. That bunny must have been tired, it was a long day for him,” shared Gini Haines jokingly.

Wendy Nugent was one of the numerous parents who had her child photographed with the Easter Bunny. Her eight year old daughter, Madison, sat in front of a colorful barnyard-themed studio, complete with hay bales, crates, barrels and of course - an Easter basket filled with colorful plastic eggs. “I had a good time petting the bunny and I am having a fun time,” Madison shared.
 
A chinchilla rabbit named Panda, a rare and endangered species, visited the special event for the day and later in the afternoon, a fun bunny hopping race occurred. “It’s like [dog] agility but with bunnies,” shared Pride. 

A long, busy, productive day also proved to be a fairly lucrative one for the 4-H Beef Club. “Our end total was $500.00.  It was crazy busy right up to the end!! All the animals and kids were very tied by the end of the day”, stated Pride. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

James Mannette awarded top prize in VFW essay competition for a second time by Walter Lunt



James Mannette, 17, of Windham advanced his first-place win in a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) essay competition from the local to the district level. Mannette, a Windham High School senior, was honored recently at the annual Deering Memorial Post 6859 Awards Banquet in Portland for his winning entry in the Voices of Democracy Scholarship competition. The competition encourages students from grades 9 to 12, to express their views on democratic ideas and principals. His dissertation, titled “My Responsibility to America,” won first prize at the Windham VFW Post 10643 last November.


Mannette wrote that as Americans, “. . . we are privileged to live our lives freely, safely, and to follow our beliefs.” He acknowledged that part of the reason such privileges prevail is due to the U.S. Armed Forces.

“I view my responsibility to America as one serving in the Armed Forces.” He drew a parallel between his participation in sports and the military. “[Individual and team sports] helped me develop perseverance and determination which are traits servicemen and women need to work together to build a solid team. I consider the U.S. Armed Services the ultimate team.”

Windham Post Commander Willie Goodman said Mannette’s essay was impressive and inspirational, “. . . with his vision of America, his personal growth, and what he sees as his personal responsibility.”

District 10 encompasses eight Southern Maine towns. Mannette’s award included a check, a certificate naming him an outstanding spokesman for freedom, and a VFW medallion.

Reading his essay
During the Portland ceremony, Mannette read his essay aloud to the audience of uniformed veterans, family and friends, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and other guests. His presentation was greeted with a standing ovation. Mannette was reportedly stunned and speechless by the enthusiastic response. “For them to give me such respect is humbling - They deserve all the respect. I basically wrote about personal experiences I had during my trip to the Air Force Academy summer seminar and my junior ROTC group at Windham High School [and] varsity sports. The whole team works together to accomplish something better than one can do individually.”

Mannette was also recently named recipient of Windham High School’s Principal’s Award, in recognition of a senior’s academic excellence, outstanding school citizenship and leadership. An Honors Luncheon for Mannette and other award winners from around the state will be held in Bangor on Saturday, April 15.

Mannette’s future plans include the military. He says he has applied to the U.S. Air Force, Naval and Merchant Marine Academies. “My dream would be to fly”, he shares.

Windham sisters were flower girls at the Christening of the USS Thomas Hudner



Monica Lewis age 10, a fifth grade student at Manchester School, along with her sister, Alanna Lewis, age eight and a second grade student at Windham Primary School, were both invited to be the flower girls for the christening of the USS Thomas Hudner DDG 116.
Flower girls and their brother with Sen. King

The Christening took place at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath on Saturday, April 1, despite the frigid and snowy weather.

The boat was named after a Korean War hero, Thomas Hudner, who was also present during the ceremony.  

The Lewis sisters were chosen to be flower girls because their father Brandon, who is a ship fitter at BIW, has been working on the Thomas Hudner.

The sisters got the privilege to meet many important individuals including Mr. Hudner and Dirk Lesko, BIW President, as well as Senator King and Senator Collins.  Their job was to give flowers to the sponsors of the ship. 

Their brother, Colby, age four was also along for all the festivities.
USS Thomas Hudner DDG 116

WPS Odyssey of the Mind students earn a chance to compete in the 2017 World Finals by Lorraine Glowczak


Last Saturday, April 1, three of the four Division I - Odyssey of the Mind (OM) teams from Windham Primary School (WPS) participated in the state competitions at Biddeford High School in Biddeford. One team from those three Division I students placed second and will have a chance to compete in the 2017 World Finals to be held at Michigan State University, May 24 to 27. This is the first time that students from WPS have qualified for the World Finals. 
The five winning students with Principal, Dr. Rhoads

 
The five winning students, who are all first-time participants in Odyssey of the Mind, will show their creative and imaginative prowess, providing solutions to original problems that will be presented to them the day of their competition.

More than 825 teams from around the world participated in last year’s competition. The five young scholars from WPS are beyond excited to compete this year, giving their innovative skills a whirl. 

The competition incorporates two areas of challenges the young competitors must solve. The two categories are: 1) Long-Term Problems; and 2) Spontaneous Problems. The students have been working together since December to create and practice their long-term problem solution and will present that at the competition. Additionally, they will be given a spontaneous problem to solve. Teams are scored on a combination of the two major components, which also includes a style component. Certain aspects of their long-term project can be judged and scored for their creativity.

Per the OM website, “Long-Term Problems are the engines that propel Odyssey of the Mind. Teams select their problem when they join the program and spend weeks or months to create and develop their solution. Each team member will find a role to play in the many stages of problem-solving, including brainstorming, artwork, set design, technical design, writing sketches and much more!”
Ewan O’Shea, a third grade student, explained the long-term problem they chose to prove their innovative skills. “We made a robot that can produce four different actions in funny ways.”
“And, I made one of the robot’s arms and one half of the other arm,” second grader Cameron Weeks chimed in. “I am having a blast,” he stated about his participation in OM.

The spontaneous problem contains one of three types. They include verbal, hands-on, or a combination of the two challenges. The verbal problem requires the team to creatively respond to a question in a verbal and creative manner. The hands-on problem requires the teams to build or complete a task with items provided for them. The combination spontaneous problem solving requires both physical and verbal activity; challenging the students to work together as a team. All the competitions are completed without adult assistance.

“We must solve a problem in five to eight minutes,” third grader, Nicholas Verrill explained of the spontaneous contest.

In regards to meeting others at the World Finals, the five students have many queries. “I wonder what language some of the teams will speak,” Nicholas Jenkins, a third grade student asked.

The team is not without guidance. April O’Shea is the team coach, a first for her as well, and she speaks fondly of the students she has guided since fall. “I am so very proud of the hard work and perseverance the team has shown throughout this journey,” O’Shea said. “It would be amazing to have them see it through to the World Finals. We are very excited and grateful for the opportunity.”

There is one more challenge that the team must face, and that is the task of raising funds. “The team has set up a “gofundme page” (gofundme.com/windham-primarys-odyssey) to help with travel expenses to Michigan State University,” O’Shea stated. “They will also be out in the community fundraising. Donations can be sent to the Windham Primary School. Include ‘Odyssey’ in the memo of your check or money order.” 

The satisfaction the five students have had throughout the year as they participated in OM was expressed by all. “My favorite thing about participating in OM is being a part of this whole team,” stated Marek Stomczynski, grade three.

Best of luck goes to the team of five, as they raise the funds needed to travel to Michigan and compete in May.

Friday, March 31, 2017

“The Price is Right” is a huge hit by Stephen Signor

Youngsters picking out prizes they have won.
Those iconic three words, “Come on down!” echoed inside the Windham High School Performing Arts Center over and over - complete with the show’s theme music last Friday. The game show, “The Price is Right” took to the stage in an effort to raise money in support of Project Graduation 2017; a project in which all the seniors and their parents got together to raise money. 

“Karen Petcher, Windham High School (WHS) math teacher, came up with the idea of ‘The Price is Right’ from a town she grew up in, so she pretty much ran everything that went on tonight,” explained Robin Mullins, co-chair for the Windham High School class of 2017 Project Graduation.

http://www.pongratzlaw.com/WHS has been doing projects like this for as long as Mullins can remember. “As a graduate of the high school in 1986, they had similar projects, but it wasn’t quite the same. We paid for it as a class and it was a little cruise around Casco Bay. This year will be something really special.” Usually kept as secret, students will not know what it is until graduation day. Keeping it a secret requires great willpower. “My daughter is graduating and I can’t even tell her, although several attempts have been made,” continued Mullins laughingly.

“We have to raise $30,000 for the trip and I am pretty sure that we are not only going to meet that goal but exceed it,” stated Mullins. 

A year is all that Project Graduation committees have to raise funds because fundraising efforts cannot begin until the previous class is done with their projects. “So you literally have about nine to 10 months: plenty of time when parents contribute,” continued Mullins. “I think we have a really good group of kids and parents. If anything is needed they have been stepping up.”  To this end Kudos also went to class advisor Kelly Anne Rush.

Among the contributors of donated time, was one of the announcers for items up for bid, Miss Maine 2017 Marybeth Noonan, who is no stranger to the limelight and speeches. “Part of my job is to represent the State of Maine,” Noonan explained. “How amazing is it to represent my high school? When in school, I was always in the theater and with the Chamber Singers, so this auditorium we’re standing in was like a second home. It’s so cool to be back here, giving back to the community.”

One of the exciting games to play
It was also her respect for producer Karen Petcher that prompted her participation. “Mrs. Petcher is putting this on and she is a great lady,” Noonan explained. “I wanted to support my class. I like to volunteer for most of the things for my class. I think it is important.”  Noonan also credited her success to the school system.

In all, there were eight games played. Two wheel segments, with the top winning contestants and, the cream de la crème, the showcase showdown. 

In between each of the eight games, the names of five children over the age of eight were called out. Excitement and applause ensued as they ran to a separate table where they could take a prize of their choice. While there was a sign held up during the event to encourage applause, clearly it was wasn’t necessary, right up until the very end.

Obviously enjoying her first ever attendance of a show like this, Debbie Payne who walked away as the overall winner of the evening, took home the coveted showcase, a five-night stay for a family of four at Point Sebago, a tube to be pulled behind a boat, two beach chairs, a cooler, S’more snacks, two beach towels, and a remote controlled boat.
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“I was really excited about winning,” said Payne. Battling through a bit of nerves, she managed to make the bid without going over, but not before also scoring a few raffle drawings earlier. If there is another show again next year Payne will be there. “I absolutely will be back again,” she confirmed.

There were 150 donating businesses, encompassing most of Cumberland County that also made this event possible by providing the prizes. All of them that were not won, including the showcase, were raffled off at the end of the show. All proceeds from admission, concession and raffles will be applied to the project’s goal. “We are pretty close to hitting our goal right now so we are sure it will be exceeded from this night and the upcoming events,” shared Mullins. 

Two more events are on tap with Project Graduation. One is Smitty’s Movie Night on April 13. As Mullins explains, “People basically receive a ticket. When they go to the movies the theater will receive $5 and we will receive $5. So it is pretty easy. All we do is hand out the tickets.” The other event is a Fun Run/Walk-5k and takes place on April 30.
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Anything over and above the target goal of $30,000 will be donated to charities in the names of two students who will not be present. “There was a student who passed away while in fifth grade and another one more recent. Both would have been seniors this year. They’re in our hearts,” concluded Mullins.

FMI and to register for the 5k visit: www.facebook.com/events/303758143360715/
FMI on movie night visit: www.facebook.com/events/379385719095795/ and look in this or a future issue of The Windham Eagle for a coupon to clip out.

Art fosters creativity, problem solving and critical thinking in students by Lorraine Glowczak


It is without a doubt that the tangible benefits of studying science and math are irrefutable. The training in these subjects provides students with a future of high employability and skills that will not only benefit the individual but society as well. However, in the pursuit of our need to compete and improve in these areas, the often overlooked and intangible benefits of art are just as undeniable and should not be ignored.

In a 2007 Commencement Address at Stanford University, poet and national endowment for the Arts Chairman, Dana Gioia, stated, “Art is an irreplaceable way of understanding and expressing the world. There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as stories, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, consoles. It educates our emotions.” Various neuroscience studies indicate that a child’s participation in the arts can have a profound effect on the brain's cognitive, social and emotional development and introduces children to different cultures, creating fully functioning and well-rounded individuals.

“Some of the big benefits of art are that it fosters creativity, problem solving and critical thinking skills,” stated Windham Primary School art teacher, Jennifer Vasiliauskas. “These skills are essential and can be applied to all subjects now in school and later on in jobs across the market place. Art has always been an important form of expression. The visual arts can be seen as a language. Emotions, opinions and new ideas can be and are voiced through artwork.”

On my recent visit to Windham Primary School, the third grade students in Vasiliauskas’ class and the first and third grade students in art teacher Kirsten Hackett’s class, were busy creating various works of art. The projects contained a certain level of detail, creating a spark, a purpose and the ability to follow through, that contributes to a child’s confidence.

“I like making stuff,” first grade student, Tayla Doucette said about art. “It’s always a surprise about art because sometimes you think you can’t do it and then you discover you can.”

As Vasiliauskas suggests, art should not stop in the classroom. “Parents can help encourage and spark creative endeavors at home,” she began. “Parents can encourage the arts by having a small container of art supplies handy and accessible for children. Even a simple set of markers or crayons, scissors, a pencil and paper can provide enough material for children to start practicing and exploring their creativity.”

Vasiliauskas also recommends other ways to incorporate art in a child’s everyday life; ideas such as a family art night. “You can have a crazy sculpture competition using simple materials like paper towel rolls and pipe cleaners, take out a book on origami and try it out together or get out some pencils and crayons and have each member draw themselves as a superhero…the possibilities are endless! I think the important thing to remember is that the more you practice, the better you get."

One must not forget the art museums. “Exploring an art museum, is a great way to see a variety of original works, Vasiliauskas stated. “Seeing an original piece of art in person can be very different than just seeing a picture of it. You may even discover something that inspires you! The Portland Museum of Art is not far away. Since it is indoors, it’s a trip you can do even on cold or rainy days.”

Many successful business entrepreneurs have stated that art played a role in their life. Steve Jobs credits a calligraphy writing class to his success. “It was beautiful. Historical. Artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture,” he has been quoted as saying.

Ten years after taking that one simple art course, the Macintosh computer was designed. “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would never have multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts,” Jobs has stated.

Paul G. Allen, the Co-Founder of Microsoft once said, “In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and in developing vital communities…the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery, and achievement in our country.”

On an evening or a weekend when the busyness of life has subsided and you find your family has a moment of time together without distraction, create a little art. In fact, schedule it in by taking time away from the television and computer. Who knows? That moment of fun and artistic adventure together as a family may just change the world.