Friday, September 14, 2018

Make Shift Coffee House to offer food, music and good old-fashioned civic conversation

What good old fashion conversation looks like
We've always had people in our lives that disagree with us - and us with them. But in recent years, disagreements have grown and chasms have developed; not only within our communities but among friends and between family members as well. It might be safe to say we’ve all become tattered and worn by a lack of civil discourse and a breakdown in communication where the desire to appreciate our differences has all but escaped us.

It is true that our upbringing and environment shapes us and our beliefs. Learning a little about someone’s life can help us to understand one another and accept our differences – and thus potentially changing the course of civility.

Seeking to understand another’s perspective and to learn from each other is the purpose of the Make Shift Coffee House to be held on Thursday, September 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Windham Veteran’s Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive in Windham (behind Hannaford’s and Reny’s shopping center). The theme for the event is “Exploring the Political Divide.”

Briefly, a Make Shift Coffee House is an event where people have an opportunity for good old-fashioned civic dialogue while enjoying good food and great music. The occasion provides a chance to ask questions and to hear another’s perspective in a safe and fun environment. It’s not about persuading each other; it’s about coming together with the desire to understand and the willingness to listen and learn.

Make Shift Coffee Houses have been popping up in various communities across Maine for the past 18 months and is the concept of Craig Freshley of Good Group Decisions, Inc. According to the website, Freshley, a professional facilitator, stated that he was troubled by the growing political divide and the growing lack of civility in political conversations. As a result, he hosted the first Makes Shift Coffee House event in January 2017 in his hometown of Brunswick in an effort to help bridge that political divide. The event was so successful, volunteer members of other Maine communities have joined Freshley to provide a positive opportunity for conversations with others who have different perceptions.

To follow in the footsteps of that success, seven local community individuals from various political and philosophical perspectives have been working together for the past five months to give Raymond, Windham and other Lake Region residents the same chance to seek understanding with the hope of bridging the gap and returning to civil discourse.

Gary Wittner
The event will begin with music provided by Gary Wittner of Raymond and food donated by area businesses with an opportunity to meet and greet one another. This will be followed by a group discussion, led by Freshley who will manage a civil exchange of ideas as a neutral third party. Questions that may be considered include:

·         How does the political divide affect your everyday life?
·         What are the political differences that divide us?
·         If you affiliate with a particular political party, why?
·         If you feel strongly about a political issue, why?

Individuals in attendance will get a chance to voice topics that they deem important for discussion. Topics will be selected and discussed at individual tables, of which attendees will choose to participate in the issue of their choice. Freshley will bring the smaller groups back together for a large group dialogue to capture a larger viewpoint and to end another successful Coffee House discussion.

Gary Plummer of Windham who is a retired teacher and former elected official, is one of the volunteers who worked to host this Make Shift Coffee House. Being positive and giving back is important to him. “My nearly four decades serving as a local, county and state elected official was a hobby that provided me a chance to give back to a society that has given me so much,” he stated. “I signed on to the Makeshift Coffee House because I see this as a way to help spread and continue a positive outlook on life.” Duffy of Raymond who is a founding member of Raymond Arts Alliance and is a practicing clinical counselor as well as an adjunct faculty member at Central Maine Community College has also volunteered her time toward creating this event. She believes civil, face-to-face discussion is important.Civil dialogue takes the print and visual media, their need for simplification (and to sell their product) right out of the equation,” she said. “I see this [event] as needed more than ever. Our challenges seem more complicated than ever, and we can cocoon in our own likeminded communities and get nowhere forever. We really need to be more interconnected; everybody knows different things that contribute to the whole.”

To learn more about the Make Shift Coffeehouse, visit or call 207-729-5607.

About the musician:
Guitarist Gary Wittner has been performing worldwide for over 30 years. He has released several CDs and officially represented the USA overseas four times. A native New Yorker, Mr. Wittner performs Jazz, Latin music, and Middle Eastern music locally, regionally and internationally.  He also teaches guitar at Bowdoin College and is a faculty member of the Univ. of S. Maine School of Music.

About the Make Shift organizing committee:
In addition to Plummer and Duffy, the other volunteer members of the organizing committee include: Frank Pecoraro of Raymond, owner of Mulberry Farm. Nancy Foran of Raymond, Pastor of the Raymond Village Community Church. Marie Guerin of West Kennebunk, member of the Raymond Village Community Church. Lorraine Glowczak of Windham, Managing Editor of The Windham Eagle newspaper; and Sheila Bourque of Raymond, President of the Raymond Village Library.

Speaker tells story of how minor ailment saves him from the tragedy of 9/11 by Lorraine Glowczak

Donato Tramuto
September 11, 2001 is a date that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed and experienced the tragedies that occurred in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. Much like any unforgettable catastrophe, everyone remembers that day with clarity. There are also many stories of near misses - seemingly insignificant events – that resulted in a life saved. For some, it was oversleeping and arriving late to their office on the 105th floor, for others it was missing the subway bound for the Trade Center, and yet for others it was an error in flight scheduling.

For Donato Tramuto it was a toothache.

Tramuto, the CEO of Tivity Health, Inc., told his story and explained the purpose for establishing the Tramuto Foundation to a crowd of students, faculty and eight non-profit partners (2018 Tramuto Foundation recipients) at the Stone House on the St. Joseph’s College Campus for a breakfast and commemorative event on Tuesday, September 11 from 8 9:30 a.m.

The morning began with a welcome and opening prayers by President James Dlugos, who has worked closely with Tramuto on other projects over the past three years.

The purpose of the event was to not only gather and commemorate the tragic losses of the terrorist attacks but to recognize the grant recipients of the Tramuto Foundation. A foundation established in memory of two close friends of Tramuto and their son who lost their lives aboard flight 175 on September 11th. The foundation provides scholarships to underprivileged students, as well as providing grants to organizations whose mission it is to better the lives of others.

Two Maine organizations, Saint Joseph’s College and the Good Shepherd Food Bank are this year’s recipients as well as Boston University School of Public Health, Thomas Jefferson University – Jefferson College School of Population Health, Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Health eVillages and Lwala Community Alliance.

After his introduction by Dlugos, Tramuto told an attentive and quiet audience that he was scheduled to be on United Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles, a weekly flight he often took from his home in Ogunquit to California where he was busy creating a healthcare company. weekend prior to the tragedy, he and his partner Jeff were the host to two close friends from California and their three-year-old son. “It was the most beautiful September sunny weekend,” he recalled. “We laughed, we ate, and we enjoyed watching three-year old David as he played and explored, begging ‘just five more minutes’ so he could capture more time before he went to bed. At the end of the day, while sitting on the patio, I raised a glass to toast the perfect weekend. I said, ‘It will never be as great as it is right now,’” After choking back tears he continued, “I will never be able to use those words to toast again.”

Tramuto was scheduled to fly back with his friends and their son on that fateful day, but a toothache caused him to change flight plans so he could visit his dentist in Boston. His friends and their son continued their flight to L.A. as planned. It was the plane that hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.

As with many whose lives were spared during this devastating tragedy, Tramuto explained the depth of his anger and guilt he felt during this time. To funnel the intense emotions, he decided to create a living tribute in his friends’ memories, creating the Tramuto Foundation to show there is still good that exists in the world.

When asked what advice he might have for others who face such misfortune and heartbreak, Trumato offered two pieces of guidance. He stated that adversity and challenge can create an opportunity for understanding and compassion. “Do you want to remain bitter and hateful?” he stated. “Evil and hatred does not solve anything. Instead, use the experience for good.”

He stated that by choosing to take the road towards compassion, it changed his life. “I feel like I’m living my calling now. It’s not about my career or material things – it is about compassion toward others. I’ve done more in the past 17 years than I did the first 45 years of my life.”

The last piece of advice he offered is something he stated all great leaders of our time have done at least once in their lives. “Search right down to the core of your being,” Trumato stated. “Find out who you are and what you will do with that.”

He also shared his concern regarding the present political divide. “My biggest fear is 10 years from now, the country will be in a more challenging place,” he reflected “We lack compassion and unity for one another, which was the common denominator during the early days after the attack.”

Dlugos added to Trumato’s sentiments. “I call it ‘radical hospitality’ which goes beyond being tolerant of others,” he began. “If we can stop and take the time to get to know other people and be sensitive to their stories, it will help us to act in a more civil manner. It’s really hard to be uncivil to someone you know.”

Trumato added to his own statement, “Have we lost the lesson from 9/11?”

Following the breakfast and commemorative event, the 2018 foundation recipients transitioned into a private meeting to plan a 2021 20th Commemorative Anniversary Gala foundation fundraiser.

For more information about the Trumato Foundation, visit

Friday, September 7, 2018

Windham High teacher selected to teach financial literacy locally and nationwide by Matt Pascarella

Kelly-Anne Rush
Social Studies teacher Kelly-Anne Rush was one of the 24 teachers, out of over 200 nationwide, selected to attend the Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) summer institute workshop in California and become an NGPF fellow this past summer. She will spend this school year advocating for and promoting financial literacy in Maine and across the nation in her role as both a classroom teacher and a fellow.

NGPF is a free high-school personal finance curriculum and professional development partner helping teachers deliver essential money understanding in an easy-to-grasp, engaging way. WHS (Windham High School) is one of the first schools in the state to have a specific financial literacy course requirement for seniors to graduate. Rush believes financial literacy is an important skill and all students should have access to high quality instruction in this area.

During the summer institute, Rush came away with a lot of new curriculum ideas but also ways to advocate for financial literacy education. She has used the free curriculum resources (lessons, videos, assessments) from Next Gen Personal Finance in some of her financial literacy classes and her students love them.

 My goal for the upcoming school year as a NGPF fellow is to not only continue to develop high quality, engaging lessons and activities for the students in my classroom but also to be an advocate for promoting financial literacy in Maine and across the country,” Rush stated. “I was very excited and honored to be chosen as a fellow and am excited to continue teaching and promoting financial literacy.”

Rush, a Windham native, has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. Her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Kelly Rich, was the real inspiration for choosing her career path. Rush credits the “American Girl book series and dolls for instilling her first love of history. Toward the end of high school, she had an extremely energetic U.S. history teacher, Mr. Terry Christy, who inspired her to teach social studies.
She earned her B.S. in Secondary Education from the University of Maine and then earned her master’s from the University of New England in 2007.

Her first teaching job was as a long-term substitute at Lake Region High School in Naples. That position turned into a full-time position and she spent 8 years there before coming to Windham High.
“I really love the community and school district, so I made it a goal to apply for a teaching job [in Windham] when I saw one open up,” Rush explained. “RSU14 offers a tremendous amount of resources, support, and programs for students and staff which makes it a great place to live and work.”

In addition to teaching full time, Rush runs a blog and Instagram account called ‘Crafty Teacher Lady’, focusing primarily on teaching resources as well as home design. She renovates and ‘flips’ houses and furniture, too, and is a bargain shopper, always looking for good deals. She loves to travel and makes an effort to go somewhere new every year, mostly in search of the ‘world’s best donut.’

Local students gain leadership skills, broader understanding of the world through HOBY programs by Elizabeth Richards

Emma Ward and Alexandra Hammond
Two high school students from Windham gained global perspectives and leadership skills at two Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) programs this year. Alexandra Hammond and Emma Ward participated in both the HOBY Maine weekend seminar in June and the HOBY World Leadership Congress (WLC) in July.  
After attending the state seminar, the girls were eligible to participate in the WLC. This year, the program was on the Loyola College Campus in Chicago. There, the girls spent a week with youth from around the world.

HOBY was founded in 1958 by actor Hugh O’Brian, best known for his role as Wyatt Earp, after he spent time in Africa with humanitarian Albert Schweitzer. HOBY’s mission, according to their website, is “to inspire and develop our global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation.” More than 10,000 students participate in HOBY programs each year.

Both the state seminar and the WLC offered opportunities to develop critical thinking skills and discover the power that students have to make a difference in their communities.

The state seminar focused on learning about yourself and how you as an individual can help the community, Hammond said, while the WLC took a broader angle, showing students how, together, they could make an impact.  “It was a different take on the same idea,” Hammond said. 
Ward said, “The world [congress] showed us people from everywhere.”  This brought many different points of view, and many different issues to discuss, she added. “We all got together and helped each other.”

During the WLC, the girls learned about their specific leadership styles, and how people with different styles can work together. One of the most difficult aspects, said Hammond, was trying to understand the point of view of students who came from other parts of the US as well as other countries. Though this was a challenge, Hammond also said, “seeing other people’s perspectives was a big benefit.”

Ward said that it was difficult in the beginning to open up and talk to people.  Her group communicated via snapchat prior to the WLC, but the group time at WLC allowed them to connect on a deeper level.  “They say you make really good friends, lifelong friends, but you don’t really realize that until you actually get there,” she said.  “We’re still all talking, which is really nice. Having friends from all over the world is a good thing.”

Participating in HOBY was a great growth experience, Hammond said. “A lot of people are closed minded. Going into it I didn’t think about how closed minded I was but coming out of it I have all these new ways to think about things and ideas on what we can do,” she said.  Students had an opportunity to help each other talk through issues and share what happens in their own school systems.

Ward agreed that the experience offered a broader perspective. “It really just shows you the people of the world, instead of just from Maine, just from Windham,” she said.

The girls also enjoyed getting a glimpse into what a college experience might be like. “We were on campus with people our own age for a week, we had to do things on our own, and being treated like an adult was a good thing,” Hammond said.
HOBY programs extend beyond the weekend or week-long experience, asking students to bring what they’ve learned back into their communities. At the state level, they are asked to commit to completing 100 hours of community service in the year following the seminar. And at the WLC, Hammond said, they were challenged to up that to 250 service hours in a year.

One of the things Hammond would like to do is to work with her school administration to help students have a bigger say in changes that occur.

#HallImplementWard said she’d like to encourage Windham High School to select students to attend. “If you’re thinking about getting involved in your community but you don’t know what to do, this is a good way to learn what you could do for your community and what other people are doing for theirs,” she said.

Both girls are already busy, active students. Hammond participates in Key Club, and plays soccer, softball and basketball. She also volunteers at Windham Primary School sometimes, working with the special education department. She doesn’t have a lot of time, she said, but participating in HOBY showed her where she can combine passions and fit in more community service.

Ward said she doesn’t currently volunteer anywhere. “Going to HOBY showed me that I could,” she said.  She also is active in soccer, lacrosse, and this year will do indoor track.  

Both girls talked about becoming counselors for the state seminar. In order to do so, they have to complete their commitment of  those 100 hours of community service. “I think it would be a good opportunity if we can fit it into our schedules,” Hammond said.  
Attending the WLC was a commitment of both time and considerable expense. The girls had support from the community and their families to participate. Ward thanked Alternative Sprinkler Fire Protection and Birchwood Nursery School for their support, and Hammond thanked HR Block for their sponsorship.  Both girls also expressed gratitude for the numerous friends and family who supported their experience.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Laurel T. Parker – the positive impact of a children’s librarian by Lorraine Glowczak

Kate Woodside, Mrs. Parker, Ellen Woodside
Whether you love eating sweet cupcakes (as in the children’s book, “If You give a Cat a Cupcake”) or devouring sour candy worms (as in the children’s book, “Diary of a Worm”) then you were likely at the most bittersweet event of the year hosted by the Windham Public Library (WPL) as they celebrated the retirement of Laurel T. Parker, the children’s librarian for the past 25 years.

“I must admit, it is mostly sweet”, Parker said with a smile regarding her retirement.

Young and old alike filled the downstairs conference room of the library to shower Parker with gifts, offer thanks for her service and to say their goodbyes on Monday, August 27th from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Her official retirement date will be September 4.

But the ending of a long career has a story and Parker would most likely agree that every story with an ending must also have a beginning.

So how did Parker begin her journey in the career of a children’s librarian? “There were definitely some twist and turns,” explained Parker.

It is true that she had always wanted to become a librarian and while in high school, she volunteered at the Nashua [New Hampshire] Public Library where she lived at the time. “I like to gain knowledge and I like to share knowledge,” Parker stated. “Being a librarian is the perfect profession for me.”

But when it was time to begin college at the University of New Hampshire, she chose a degree program that would not necessarily take one in the direction in which she landed.

“For some reason, I thought that in order to become a librarian, you needed to get a degree in English,” she explained. “Since I didn’t like English, I decided to major in Parks and Rec Administration.” She admitted it wasn’t the most direct path to become a librarian.

#BeTheInfluenceSoon after she graduated college, she moved to Maine to live near her parents who had moved near the Windham area. She worked for various organizations such as Camp Fire (originally, Camp Fire Girls of America) and then at Reece Corporation in Gorham where she met her husband, Walt. Once their daughter, Jennie was born, Parker became a stay at home mom until Jennie was in the fourth grade.

“I needed a job with insurance,” she explained. “There was an opening for a part-time assistant children’s librarian, so I applied and got the job.”

She worked in that position for two years – until the head children’s librarian retired. “I was approached to fill her position, so I spoke to my husband and daughter to get their feedback about this new full-time position,” Parker explained. “Walt was supportive of my choice as was my daughter.”

But her daughter’s response, who was in the 6th grade at the time, was slightly self-serving. “She asked me, ‘Will I get a raise in my allowance?’”, Parker laughed at the memory. Needless to say, Parker accepted the job and has been in the position ever since.

Parker shared some insights regarding those who may wish to make a career in the profession. “Be a part of the Friends of the Library. It is one of the best ways to become involved and gain knowledge about the library business.”

There is one surprising fact that Parker also shared. “Everyone thinks that if you are a librarian, you read a lot. But the fact is, you don’t have time to read. If I knew how much I had to read, I wouldn’t have taken the job.” she joked.

To make sure she does read and keep up on the latest children’s books, Parker joined the Maine Student Book Award Committee. “The committee consists of four public librarians, four school librarians and four English teachers. We read recently published books and choose one as the award winner for the year.” There is also an award for various age groups.

One of Mrs. Parker's favorite children's books
There are many things Parker will miss about her job but there is one aspect of being a children’s librarian that she will miss the most. “More than anything, I will miss purchasing and building a diverse collection of books, that include Maine authors, for the children of Windham,” she reflected. “But I’m certain it will go on to capable hands.”

It was evident at Monday’s retirement party that many will miss Parker’s presence after September 4th. Sisters Kate Woodside, age 7 and Ellen Woodside, age 11 were among the many young readers who attended the festivities.

“The thing is, every time we come here, she is always so kind and always has a big smile on her face,” Ellen said of Parker. “This is what we will miss the most.” Kate agreed with her sister’s statement. “Yes! Yes! We will really miss her.”

Jen Alvino, Director of the Windham Public Library concurred with the Woodside sisters. “I will miss Laurel in many ways. She is so kind and helpful. I will especially miss her multiple connections with the community since she is involved in many organizations. She is a tremendous asset to the library in many ways. Her knowledge and presence will definitely be missed.”

What’s next for Parker? Besides volunteering, being an active and/or lifetime member of the Girls Scouts, Windham Historical Society, Longfellow Garden Club, Garden Club of Maine, National Garden Club and an active member of Windham Hill United Church of Christ, Parker will spend her time volunteering even more. “I want to be a VNA Hospice volunteer,” Parker reflected, wanting to give back to the organization who was there for her husband who passed away in April 2017.

“I also want to become a platelet donor for the Red Cross,” she said. “I’ve always given blood and now I also want to do this.”

One will still see Parker at the Library every Tuesday as she will continue her participation in the Knitters ‘N More gathering that meets from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. You might even hear Parker read a book at that weekly gathering.

As for travel, she has no immediately plans. “But I now have a passport, so if anything comes up, I can travel on a moment’s notice.”

Wherever life takes you, Laurel T. Parker, the community wishes you the best. Thank you for inspiring the love of reading in the youth of Windham.

Storyteller to share heartfelt stories of those who died during the AIDS epidemic and those who loved them by Lorraine Glowczak

AIDS quilt at the Mall in Washington D.C.
Ashamed, dying alone and forgotten was the unfortunate experience of many who contracted AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) across the U.S. and internationally during the 1980s and early 90s. Although we have a long way to go as a society regarding acceptance of complicated issues we don’t completely understand; thanks to advocacy, education and medical intervention, life has changed for the better among many people who are now diagnosed with AIDS.

Endless stories are available to be told and shared in order to remember and honor a group of individuals who were often separated and shamed by their families. Author/quilt maker/storyteller, Deborah Freedman from Portland will be available on Monday, September 10 at 1:30 p.m. at Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140 Windham Center Road to share some of the stories she has accumulated over the years from her volunteer efforts on the NAMES Project of the AIDS Memorial Quilt for Maine.

The awareness surrounding AIDS began in the 1980s. According to the website, “Though HIV [human immunodeficiency virus, a virus that can lead to AIDS) arrived in the United States around 1970, it didn’t come to the public’s attention until the early 1980s.”

#EvergreenCreditUnionThe website also noted that though the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) discovered all major routes of the disease’s transmission, the public considered AIDS a gay disease. It was even called the “gay plague” for many years after.” It wasn’t until 1991 when a famous heterosexual basketball player, Magic Johnson announced he had HIV, helping to further bring awareness to the issue and
dispel the stereotype of it being a gay disease.

But for the men with AIDS during the 1980s, many were typecast and thus shunned by their families through misunderstanding and embarrassment. As a result, the NAMES Project/AIDS Quilt was born to remember the lives of many and their stories.

Although the NAMES Project/AIDS Quilt began as a political activist endeavor, “by tapping into the word ‘quilt’, the separation and shame surrounding the disease broke the isolation,” stated Freedman in a recent interview.

The concept of the NAMES Project/AIDS Quilt was the brainchild of Cleve Jones, a friend and mentor of Harvey Milk. Milk was a well-known politician who was gay and running for mayor of San Francisco in 1978. He was assassinated as a result of his sexual orientation.

The quilt began spontaneously during a gay pride parade in San Francisco in 1985 when Jones asked people to join him by writing a name of an individual who had died of AIDS on placards. At the end of the march, Jones and others stood on ladders taping these placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. The wall of names looked like a patchwork quilt. Inspired by this sight, Jones and friends made plans for a larger memorial. A little over a year later, he created the first panel for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. In June of 1987, the NAMES Project Foundation was established, and national public response was immediate.
The book will be available for sell

On October 11, 1987, the Quilt was displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington,
D.C., during the National March for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It covered a space larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels. Half a million people visited the Quilt that weekend.

So, how did Freedman from Portland, Maine become involved and head the Quilt Project for the State of Maine?

 “I love to make quilts,” she began. “In the early 80s, a woman in Portland by the name of Frannie Peabody had a grandson who was diagnosed and died of AIDS. In his honor, she started a non-profit called the AIDS Project. This had no correlation with the NAMES project and the AIDS quilt. In fact, I had never heard of the AIDS Quilt. The Portland’s AIDS Project was having a fundraiser, so I decided to donate one of my quilts for them to sell. As I was walking into the office with my donation, an individual noticed what I was carrying and yelled across the room to ask me, ‘Are you a quilter?” When I replied yes, they asked me to help with the AIDS Quilt project. That day in my life turned on a dime and changed my life forever.”

She traveled to San Francisco, met Jones and spent numerous days hearing stories from people whose loved ones had passed, creating a panel in their honor. The quilt she helped to create while in San Francisco traveled to D.C. and was part of the display at the Mall in D.C.

Freedman lead the NAMES project/AIDS quilt cause in Maine, capturing the stories of those who passed away here in the state. The quilt has grown and continues to travel to schools and libraries throughout Maine.

When the quilt started making its rounds to schools, libraries and other events, Freedman began to realize she needed to share the story of each panel. “I noticed that students and other individuals were looking at the quilts, but they didn’t know the stories behind them,” Freedman explained. “So, for each panel, I told the stories as students and others looked on. I began to realize the stories made an impact, made it real and opened the hearts of those who did not understand. That’s how the storytelling part of the quilt began.”
Freedman told one of the latest stories of the quilt when asked if she believed perceptions surrounding AIDS and sexual orientation was beginning to change. She believes for the most part, it
has. But not completely.

“About two years ago,” Freedman began. “A quilt was on display at the Limerick Library. A woman from another town found out the quilt was at that library and wondered if her husband’s panel was on display there. After a few detailed discussions, we discovered that her husband’s quilt – and story – was on display in Limerick, Maine. ‘I’m so glad to know that his story is still being told,’ she emailed me. I told her that we would be happy to bring that very quilt to a library near her. ‘Oh, no!’ she said to me. ‘It is much too soon.’ With that conversation, I realized we still have a long way to go.”

For an informative, thought provoking and healing story telling adventure, be sure to catch Freedman and four other story tellers on Monday, September 10th.

If you are unable to make this event and hear the many stories she has to share, have Freeman and the rest of the Storyspell crew at your next event. Contact Freedman at
Freeman will also have her book, “The Quiet Triumphant of the Heart” available for sale at the free event at Windham Hill United Church of Christ.

added "and those who loved them" [DF1]

I put "sell" for "sale" [DF2]

where you put "patchwork" I put "panel" [DF3]

I would leave out the town, Presque Isle" from the Limerick Library story [DF4]

Friday, August 24, 2018

Windham Public Library children’s events end summer with a pop and a splash by Matt Pascarella

Annabelle Riley & Elliott Schulz 
The Windham Public Library hosted two events earlier this week to end their summer reading program on an ultra-fun note. On Monday, August 20th there was a bubble gum blowing contest and on Tuesday, August 21st, science exploration was the theme, so children could explore the concept of energy and pressure by bursting open a watermelon.

In the bubble blowing contest, everyone made their own V-shaped measuring tool, called a divider, out of construction paper and a fastener. They chewed a piece – or perhaps two pieces - of gum, then tried to blow the biggest bubble they could.

They used the divider to measure their bubbles, which ranged in shape and size from 1 inch to 6 inches. No winner was crowned, though from what I could see, everyone was blowing some pretty good-sized bubbles.

Organizer Diana Currier, said they had done this event five years ago and it was a big hit, so they decided to do it again.

Children of ages joined in all the fun, chewing, blowing bubbles and measuring and laughing. A good time was had by all – even the parents.

On Tuesday, August 21 a science exploration event was held to teach children about energy by seeing how many elastics it would take to create enough pressure outside a watermelon to make it burst. big crowd had gathered, and no one in the crowd had ever seen this experiment done in person, so there was a lot of excitement in the air. Children put elastics, 10 at a time, over the middle of the watermelon.

“I’m scared!” “I’m excited!” was overheard.

After 100 elastics had been put on, no reaction from the watermelon. 200 elastics, no reaction. Once 300 elastics had been put on, the children were getting nervous. They would put their elastics on and back away as quickly as possible. There was a lot of speculation about what and when it would happen. Some children were taking extra precaution by wearing goggles or looking away as soon as their elastic was put on, to prevent any watermelon splash that might get in their eyes if it burst.

Gavin and Cole Williams
The elastics kept going. 350…370…380. At around 390 elastics, it was noticed that some had turned red. The watermelon had also started leaking a little. The watermelon was able to withstand 403 elastics total, but once the 404th elastic was placed…BAM! It happened so quickly; the top flew up in the air and watermelon was served.

Currier, who orchestrated this event as well, got the idea from a friend of hers who home schools and does a lot of activities similar to this one.

The final number of 404 elastics was a lot more than Currier thought it was going to be. “My job is to make sure the kids have fun [and this event was] excellent,” she remarked.

Windham author illustrates what the power of yes can do for you by Lorraine Glowczak

Sayzie Koldys
The word “yes” might come easily to most people because saying no to others who expect a lot from us is one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. After all, we don’t want to disappoint those we love.

But seldom do we embrace a “heck yes!” when it comes to things for which we do not have any particular talent and might make us appear foolish. However, Windham author Sayzie Koldys did just that and, as a result, published an essay in the ever popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series with the theme, “The Power of Yes!”

You’ll find her story, “Six Years Before the Mast,” among other stories about adventure, change and positive thinking in the latest publication of the Soup series that came out on August 14th. This is her third published essay for the book series.

Ironically, she initially wrote her latest essay for another publication. “I wrote the first draft of ‘Six Years Before the Mast’ when the story was solicited by John Glassie for the ‘Lives’ section of the New York Times,” Koldys explained. “I’d pitched him something else, but he wanted to read about my life at sea. Ultimately, his superiors at the paper killed it, but I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to be edited by such a masterful craftsman. Eventually, I rewrote the piece for ‘The Power of Yes.’”

Koldys’ essay is about being willing to do something you’re not very good at and, in fact, might possibly fail miserably at doing. “We all gravitate toward the things we’re best at, and there are certainly benefits to honing the skills that come naturally to us. But we can also gain a lot by having the courage to persevere through our less easily mastered learning experiences.”

Koldys explained that she has always loved being at sea, spending days and weeks at a time out of sight of land. “But I didn’t have much sailing experience and I’m slow to transfer the concepts of physics and spatial relationships to the practicalities of maneuvering a ship,” she said.

“When I got a job as a deckhand aboard an educational tall ship, my failings were apparent to the entire crew with whom I shared an impossibly small living space. But if I hadn’t been willing to be a terrible sailor, I wouldn’t hold a U.S. Coast Guard license today. If I hadn’t been willing to fail over and over again, I wouldn’t have gotten better at something I love. Because I was able to find my self-worth internally rather than externally, I’ve sailed to some of the most remote places on earth, I’m able to sell with confidence my skills as a chef, I met and fell in love with the man who is now my partner, and I know that I can push myself, in full view of those who would see me fail, until I’m not so terrible anymore.”

Koldys has written many masterpieces before her “Chicken Soup for the Soul” fame. She stated she wrote her first book at the age of two. It was four pages long and was printed on construction paper. “It was about Snoopy,” Koldys explained. “It had a decent plot, if I recall, but only one copy was ever printed, and it was badly damaged in a flood, so I can’t be sure.”

Koldys admits she cannot recall a time when she was not writing, always producing a written form of fancy. But she explains, “It wasn’t until a short story of mine was listed as one of the distinguished 100 of the year in the 2009 issue of ‘Best American Short Stories’ that I felt I’d earned the title of a writer. Writing is such a part of who I am, and by its nature is rife with failure, so getting that affirmation from a well-respected source was an internal turning point for me,” Koldys said.

The “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series is not the only place one will find Koldys’s publications. She has also published in other literary and popular magazines and served as a staff member of the Idaho Review. She has also taught creative writing at Boise State University and Southern Maine Community College.

So, what exactly made Koldys say yes, accepting the role as an inexperienced deckhand? “Part of what drove me out to sea was a desire to get out of my own head, to be forced to stay focused in the present moment,” she explained. “Sailing requires all of your energy and attention, and in that way, it’s meditative.”

Being a writer for several decades already, she offers this advice for others who wish to become published authors. “The first [advice I have] is from Hank Moody, the screenwriter in “Californication.” He articulates it best when he says, ‘So, at the end of the day, if you can do anything else—telemarketing, pharmaceutical sales, or ditch digging, major league umpire—I would suggest that you do that, because being a writer…is like having homework every day for the rest of your life.

If you still think that sounds like fun, then learn to let rejection roll off your shoulders. If you’re pitching and writing articles, you can expect to have your ideas or your pieces rejected by editors more than 80% of the time.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, Louisa May Alcott, John Le CarrĂ©, H.G. Wells, Ernest Hemingway, and almost every other famous author you can think of experienced countless rejections before a publisher recognized their potential. Fitzgerald was even told, ‘You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.’

Which brings me to my next piece of advice: It’s important to differentiate between the writing advice you should take and that which you should leave behind. Learning which is which takes years and will come only with refining your own editorial eye. Read, read, read, and then read some more. And finally, the craft of writing can be learned. You can’t learn to be Alice Munro or J.K. Rowling, because part of what makes an author great is her own unique style, but you can learn to refine your own voice and be the very best writer for your stories.”

But it’s the most important advice that Koldys forgot to mention. It is the courage and art of saying “yes.” Yes to the things that are important to you and fill your life with amazing experiences – whether you’ll appear a fool or otherwise.

If you say yes – you may just have your story published in the next edition of a “Chicken Soup for the Soul."

Friday, August 17, 2018

A matter of historical record: Disciplined learning and occasional chaos characterized early one-room schoolhouses by Walter Lunt

Anderson School. Windham's earliest schoolhouses
Windham and Raymond are bringing back their one-room schoolhouses, not as components of the RSU14 school district, but as replicas of a much earlier time.  

In Windham, the historical society plans a grand opening on August 25 for its Village School, one of several buildings slated to become a living history compound at Windham Center.

Education, in the form of one-room schools, was dispersed throughout Windham for most of the 19th and into the early 20th centuries. One teacher taught “scholars” ranging in age from six to about 16 years. Many attended school just long enough to gain the minimal reading and “ciphering” (math) skills to support life on the family farm. An eighth-grade education was considered high attainment.

At one time, Windham had 19 district schools. Each served a neighborhood, including Centre School at Windham Center, Arlington School in North Windham, Friends School (which now serves as the local food pantry) and John A. Andrew in South Windham. Others were Anderson School, which served the first-settled area on River Road near the Westbrook line, Windham Corner at the intersection of Ward and Pope Roads in the “triangle” at Windham Hill and Bakers Corner, or Clark School on the corner of Brand Road and Route 202, which was said to have been a “lively place.” the early 1800s the Society of Friends, or Quakers, opened an academy at the corner of Swett Road and the Main Road (Route 202). Of their school and religious teachings, Historian Samuel T. Dole noted that the Friends “sturdy observance to the principles…. (of) peace, religious and social freedom, equality of race and strict honesty (was) conducted with marked success.”

The historical record fails to reveal the year of Windham’s first school. However, tradition holds that Mary Chute, wife of first settler Thomas Chute, conducted classes in her home. The first schoolhouse, Anderson School, was built around 1770 on River Road near the Westbrook line.

In his book, “Windham in the Past”, historian Dole describes the function of the General Examining Committee (forerunner to the modern Superintending School Committee). Comprised of three learned men of high moral character, the committee was charged with visiting each school twice during the winter term to evaluate instruction, often by quizzing the scholars.

Dole recalls one such visit to his 19th century schoolhouse: “(I) remember the awe with which these dignitaries were regarded by the average pupil, as, with slow and stately tread, they filed into the schoolroom and took their places behind the teacher’s desk; and with what fear and terrible forebodings we awaited their questions in regard to our proficiency in the different branches then taught.”

The late Kenneth Cole, Jr. of Windham wrote of his days in the early 1930s at the one-room Knight School on Pope Road near its intersection with Route 302.

“I went to school by sleigh. (But) if the …. road hadn’t been rolled I would go on snowshoes.”
Cole recalled being the chief stove tender – the stove wood were slabs donated by a local sawmill. Water was drawn from a nearby well, “The first couple of years we all drank from…a 10 quart milk pail (using) the same long handled dipper. At recess time there was no playground, just the cow pasture across the road. We played baseball; dried cow flops were bases.”

Cole expressed high praise for the teachers and the education he received over five years at Knight School, “Eight grades every day for one teacher and the only breather for her was when the town’s music teacher dropped by.”

Courses of study in those early school days included reading and grammar, composition, arithmetic (earlier known as ciphering), history, geography, recitation and elocution (speaking skills), health and wellness and agriculture. Penmanship (cursive) and spelling were emphasized. Grammar instruction meant “parsing” sentences, that is, explaining the function of each in a sentence (a forerunner to diagramming sentences).

A typical day for a student (scholar) would begin with the journey to the schoolhouse. Those without a horse or pony would walk, up to three miles for some. One or two older boys would arrive early to fill the water pail for drinking and washing hands and to haul wood for the pot-bellied stove.

This one room school house is a 19th century replica and sits on the Village Green of the Windham Historical Society on Windham Center Road. Contact the historical society for a tour and workshops.
Today’s aging population who were scholars “back in the day” remember feeling roasted when seated near the stove or freezing when far from it – heavy wool clothing was a must. Attendance was largely voluntary, depending on weather or the need for labor at home.

Before 1900, community schools had two terms, one in winter from November to April, and in summer from May to August.

A teacher’s needs were largely met by the community which usually included a small salary, housing, staples and food. If a female teacher married, many communities expected her to quit teaching because it was felt her most important job should be the care of her family.

Schools were ungraded. Scholars were seated according to age and ability, younger up front – older in the back, and were promoted only when the teacher felt he or she was ready to move on to more challenging material.

A typical day would begin with a morning greeting. The teacher would welcome the scholars. In response, scholars would “mind their manners;” girls would curtsy, boys would bow. Following Pledge of Allegiance and a morning prayer, the teacher would conduct a reading lesson with younger students while others would cipher an arithmetic problem on their individual slate boards.

Gaining the teacher’s attention by raising a hand was a rarity in the one-room schoolhouse. Students waited to be called upon by the schoolmarm/master, then they would stand to answer or recite. 

Responding to a mental arithmetic problem involved more than simply giving a numerical answer. For example, just stating “28” would not be an acceptable response to the following problem. The teacher would expect to hear, “Because Alice collected four eggs each day for seven days, and the product of four and seven is 28, Alice collected 28 eggs.” Discipline was taught in conjunction with schoolwork as well as behavior.

Later, during penmanship, scholars would use quill pens and ink to write their names, date and a maxim into their copybooks. Maxims were oft repeated sayings that promoted proper living habits or good moral character (ex: Deal justly with all; speak evil of none.)

“Turn-out,”, or privy privileges, usually occurred in conjunction with recess. Girls first. It was not unusual for the boys to disappear during recess time to go swimming in a nearby stream or pond.
Forms of punishment for scholars who failed to complete work or mind their manners were varied.

The most common was the use of the dreaded ferrule, a bendy rod utilized to change attitude and behavior when laid sharply across a scholar’s palms or buttocks. Other methods included sitting on a stool wearing a dunce cap or standing against the board with one’s nose pressed inside a drawn circle.

Perhaps the worst practice for boys was being made to sit with the girls while wearing a bonnet.
A special program for local school children designed to replicate the old-time teaching practices (sans the ferrule) has been created by a committee of the Windham Historical Society. students studying local and Maine history will be invited to assume the identities of actual Windham residents who attended a Windham Center school in the late 1800s. Slates, quill pens & ink and McGuffey Readers will be used to give participants a realistic one-room schoolhouse experience. The soon-to-be restored Friends Schoolhouse, located on Route 302 in Casco will offer a similar program, according to Frank McDermott, president of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society.

The 1848 structure was lost to fire last April. McDermott said the RCHS hopes to have the building up and closed in by late fall. Donations of money, materials and furnishings are now being accepted.

While there is much romanticism surrounding the culture and teaching practices of old schoolhouses, their successes were coupled with many of the same problems that plague schools today. However, those difficulties were dealt with in a much different way. The old Bakers, or Clark, School referred to earlier as a “lively place” was probably Windham’s most unruly school. According to an early story, a group of boys slugged their schoolmaster, lugged him out of the building and threw him headfirst into a snow bank.

Many, if not most, of the old schoolhouses experienced similar or more outlandish events than the one at Bakers. Next week, in a special edition of The Historic Record series, we will share a bizarre story told several years ago by the late Phil Kennard who attended the old Arlington Grammar School in the late 1920s. <