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Friday, May 24, 2019

“Bridges of Friendship” photo exhibit at Windham Library has ties to Russia

By Lorraine Glowczak

If you have been to the Windham Public Library (WPL) in the past two weeks, you may have noticed an array of nature and candid photography gracing its walls. Some photographs are encased in gold frames while others – silver frames. Why is this subtle difference so important?

“Silver frames indicate that the photographs are from photographers of the Greater Portland area,” began Dennis Marrotte, a member and former president of the Portland Camera Club. “The photography that you see in gold frames – they are from photographers in our sister city – Archangel in Russia.”

As in all artforms, there is a story involved in the “Bridges of Friendship” photography exhibit at WPL that will continue until June 29. The tale is filled with not only cultural exchange but is also steeped in history which gives the photography display an interesting twist.

It all began in the early 1980s and continued in the early 1990s when, during the end of the Cold War, hostilities in America were growing toward Russia. To create more peace among the two countries, a professor from Oregon State University instigated a sister city initiative between the U.S. and Russia.
The effort caught on and members of the Greater Portland area, including the town of Windham, joined forces “to provide opportunities for Russians and Americans to share time, ideas, and the best of our communities; to bring true friendship and understanding to our peoples; and to improve the chances for world peace through citizen diplomacy,” as stated by portlandme.gov website.

Friendship, culture and art has continued to develop between the two cities since the Archangel Committee of Greater Portland nonprofit organization was established in 1988, of which Dan Glover of Westbrook lead the group as president in its beginning years.

Glover shared that although the towns and cities that comprise the sister city exchange with Archangel began in the late 1980s, their roots and connections began in WWII. “South Portland had two shipyards, building EC-2 Emergency Cargo, also known as ‘Liberty Ships’, with Portland being one of the several east coast ports from where Liberty Ship convoys sailed to Europe and to the Artic Ports of Murmansk and Archangel, in Russia.”

Fast forward to 2019, and the connections continues. Part of the success with the Archangel Committee of Greater Portland can be contributed to the exchange of high school students between the two cities. Glover explained that the students from the Greater Portland area would spend one month, usually during the March break, in an Archangel school (and vice versa). In recent years, the student exchange has subsided. Glover is happy to announce that the exchange will be revived – at least for one year – in 2020 as students at Westbrook High School will do an exchange with students from Archangel.

However, the photography exhibit exchange has remained intact since the Archangel Committee of Greater Portland was established, creating not only an exchange of art and culture, but that of lifelong friendships between the photographers of the Portland Camera Club and the camera club of Archangel, the Spolokhi Club.

Marrotte has developed many friendships and experiences over the years travelling back and forth from his home in Westbrook to Archangel. “When the photo clubs first began the photography exchange, everything was film and you couldn’t just send photography at the click of a button,” Marrotte explained. “We had to communicate via teletype and travel with photographs in hand.” 
(Teletype was used to communicate typed messages from point to point through a simple electrical communications channel, often looking like a big typewriter, before the days of the internet.)

Marrotte has so many stories of his travels throughout Russia as well as the generous and kind people he met - that could fill volumes of books – all as a result from the love of the art of photography and the photography exchange that developed between the two cities.

You too, can experience a small slice of Marrotte’s (and all the photographers’) journeys throughout the past 30 years with the “Bridges of Friendship” exhibit. In the photographs, you will not only see art – but if you look deeply enough, you’ll also see history, friendship – and peace.

“The exhibit is a visual connection between the two cities,” explained Marrotte. “Both camera clubs agreed on the title of the exhibit as it came from an essay written by a member of the Spolokhi Camera Club after Marrotte had visited Archangel three times. The title of that essay was also, ‘Bridges of Friendship’, and it reflected the photographer’s experience between the two countries.”

NOTE OF INTEREST: The Portland Camera club has been a gathering of both amateur and professional photographers in the Southern Maine area since 1899. For more information, peruse their website at www.portlandcameraclub.org. The camera club in Archangel, Spolokhi, was formed in 1980 by a General Physician who left his practice to follow his calling of photography. “Spolokhi” translates to “Northern Lights”.

Essay contest winner shares important message with the community

By Elizabeth Richards

AJ Sweet has a message to convey: Anybody can be awesome. The third-grade student at Windham Primary School shares this message in an essay he wrote for a competition sponsored by the Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness. His moving essay won the third-grade prize. “I was thinking from my heart, and that’s how I was writing it,” AJ said.

AJ Sweet shows off his awards with his sister
The prompt for his essay was “We all have different abilities and different challenges. Why is that a good thing?” The Caring Classrooms Contest was open to any student in a classroom that has been part of the Cromwell Center’s disabilities awareness program, which is presented free of charge in schools throughout southern and central Maine.

In that program, staff from the center give a presentation on common disabilities and building awareness around them, AJ’s mother, Torrey Sweet, said. 

The contest is a follow up to that presentation. A flier promoting the contest said, “The contest is a great way for children to think about what they learned about disabilities and inclusion.”
For AJ, the topic is personal. In his essay he talks about having autism, and how that has impacted his life and attitude. 

AJ said writing the essay was really fun, and he had a great time working on it. “I have a hard time writing, but also I love to write,” he said, demonstrating the perseverance he has developed.

When he found out he was the third-grade prize winner, AJ said, “I freaked out. I was so excited.” The school recognized his accomplishment with an announcement over the intercom, and everyone in his classroom and the class next door lined up to shake his hand. “It was just a great couple of days,” AJ said.

Torrey said that AJ’s essay is a great depiction of what life is like for him and emphasizes that it’s okay to be different. “We’ve always told him his brain is a little bit different, but that doesn’t mean he’s not as smart as other kids, it doesn’t mean he can’t do the same things they do, it just takes a little bit more to do those things,” she said. AJ’s essay clearly demonstrates that he’s received and understands that important idea.

AJ said he thinks this contest is important because it allows children to “let their hearts out and let them know what they think.” When he gets the opportunity to tell people how things are for him, he said, he feels like they are really interested. “Some people get it, but some people don’t also – that’s okay. In my essay I kind of walk you through what it’s like,” he said.

When asked if he thinks this experience has helped others understand him a little better, AJ answered “I don’t think they understand me just a little bit, I think they understand me a whole bunch better. They understand how I feel, they understand my well-being, they understand me so much, and I feel like that’s really helped me get to know people.”

AJ’s father, Tony Sweet, said that although he didn’t know that AJ was writing an essay for the contest, he wasn’t surprised by the content.  “He’s always really tried to speak out for other people and his classmates,” Tony said. “We’re super proud of him, and all the things he’s done so far.”

“We were very proud of him for writing it. It’s very well-articulated, and it does do a great job of summing it up and putting it in a way that everyone can understand,” Torrey said. “It was definitely a huge win for him, and a huge win in making people more aware of this.”

AJ said he wishes everyone could have a chance to feel the way he felt when he learned he had won.  “I might never forget that minute in my life,” he said. Even more, he said, he wants people to know that they can embrace their true abilities. 

Fear of what other people will think can stop people, he said, but he thinks everyone should be able to be their true self. “Anyone can have a growth mindset. Anyone can embrace beauty on the inside. Anyone can embrace anything, because they, on the inside, are awesome,” he said.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Saint Joseph’s College officially launches Institute for Integrative Aging

Donato J. Tramuto with SilverSneakers participants
95 year old Shirley Saunders, right, and her daughter Judy Alepeter
By Lorraine Glowczak

The Baggot Street Cafe at the Heffernan Center on Saint Joseph’s College campus was host to over 50 Lakes Region community members on Friday, May 10 for a breakfast reception that included locally sourced food. The purpose of the celebratory event was to recognize the successful launch of SilverSneakers®—the first phase of the college’s innovative program, the Institute for Integrative Aging (IIA).

SilverSneakers® is an exercise series specifically targeted for older adults and is initiated by Tivity Health®, an organization with the mission to work hand-in-hand with members, clients and healthcare partners to create everyday opportunities for long-lasting health and vitality. CEO of Tivity Health®, Donato J. Tramuto, was the guest speaker for the event.

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In a recent press release announcing the launch, Tramuto is quoted as stating the following regarding the reason and purpose of SilverSneakers®: “Loneliness is the new epidemic of the 21st century. I have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles and have met tens of thousands of SilverSneakers® members. Fifteen million adults are eligible for this program. Sixteen thousand gyms participate. And it all started with the desire to train gyms on how to treat mature adults in exercise classes who may have chronic conditions. I applaud Saint Joseph’s College for establishing this program on campus. It takes leaders to move us forward so that we never forget the senior community. Thank you for making it easier for older adults in rural Maine to age with dignity.”

There are a multitude of reasons for establishing SilverSneakers® and the Institute for Integrative Aging on the 500-acre campus – and aging with dignity is one important aspect. “Everyone is going to age differently,” said Peter Nielsen, executive director of Mission-Aligned Business at Saint Joseph’s College who oversees the IIA program. “The purpose of the Institute for Integrative Aging is to support individual agency, empowering each person to choose their own path to longevity.”

As Tramuto referred to in his talk at the event, rural isolation is another big factor to adding this new program. Social seclusion is a serious concern in the U.S. and beyond but especially so in rural communities and the aging population. Shirley Saunders, a 95-year-old participant in SilverSneakers®, joined her first class a little over a week ago. “My first class was so enjoyable. I barely got out of my home all winter because it was so icy. I went a long time without being around people. SilverSneakers® is wonderful. I like being in a room full of people and even more so when they’re close to my age. Participating in the class was the highlight of my winter.”

https://bbcultivation.com/Saunders’ daughter, Judy Alepeter is also a participant and explained one purpose for her attendance is because the program gears the exercise components toward the older age group. “It respects us and the fact that we can’t do things at the same speeds as our younger counterparts,” she said. Alepeter, who is a two-time cancer survivor, added that the program keeps her energy up and adds friendships and socialization in her life.

Nielsen pointed out that the word ‘integrative’ is the key point in this campus-wide endeavor. Besides the fact that Saint Joseph’s college is the largest privately-owned property that sits along the shore of the second largest lake in Maine, the program is unique in the fact that it incorporates many facets of the community and individual needs. “The program ties together socialization and food security as well as sustainability and wellness,” Nielsen said, adding that it supports economic development and improved quality of life for Mainers.

Incorporating SilverSneaker® exercise program into the IIA encourages older adults to visit the campus, and Nielsen stated that it is one way to get to know the older population and discover the continuing needs they have. “By having them on campus, we can talk with them and ask them what they want and need,” he said. “We can only move forward successfully with their input.”

Nielsen and other Saint Joseph leaders realize that not all the aging population of the Lakes Region community can easily travel to campus to take advantage of the many services that are available at low or no cost. “Our next step is to discover a way to connect with those who are unable to travel to campus so they, too, can be connected to the community at large.”

One next step in the process that may solve some of the travel concerns is the plan to build housing for the older population to live on campus in the near future. “This will provide an opportunity for intergenerational connectivity,” Nielsen began. “And is another example of the intentional word, ‘integrative’.”

When introducing Tramuto at last Friday morning’s event, President Jim Dlugos, who coined the term “integrative aging” said, "We want you to think of Saint Joseph's as your college.  Know that we are here for you and for everyone in the Lakes Region. Please come back often and take advantage of all we have to offer at this beautiful place on Sebago Lake."

Maine’s future and the opiate crisis

Rotarians Ingo Hartig, Goerge Bartlett, Mark Morris and
Peter Garland
By Craig Bailey

On Thursday March 9, Windham Middle School’s seventh-grade students hosted an event to share the outcome of their project: Taking Back Maine’s Future: Ending the Opiate Crisis. In attendance were parents, children, law enforcement, Rotary Club members and Senator Bill Diamond.

With a $1,200 donation from the Sebago Lake Rotary Club, the students were able to include the DeLorean replica as it was seen in the 1980s film, “Back to the Future”. The project is the brainchild of RSU14 school personnel Doug Elder, Lee Leroy, AJ Ruth and Gwen Roberts and required students to travel through time, via research and evaluation of current data and statistics, bringing newspaper articles back from the future: some from the bright promising future where Maine has defeated the epidemic. Others from a dark and dangerous future where the epidemic persists.

https://www.egcu.org/homeWhen Elder opened the school cafeteria doors the public was welcomed to visit both of these possible futures. One side of the cafeteria was dark, with litter strewn about, mock drugs and syringes on tables along with would-be news articles sharing the state of affairs if the epidemic goes unchecked. The students clearly demonstrated their concern and what the future could hold.

Students shared their concerns and the results of what they learned from the project. Maggie Whiting stated, “Opiates are a real problem. If this issue is not solved, Maine could go very wrong due to increased overdoses and deaths.” This was reinforced by headlines of news articles on display, including: “Child Overdoses on Mother’s Fentanyl.”

Dakota Woodall concurred by adding, “Maine will come to an end as we know it if we don’t do something. People need to listen to what we are saying.”

Another student, Nathan Jordan was very clear when he said that the possibility of a bleak future is not a fantasy. “It is based on what could happen if things continue as is,” he said. “We need to educate to avoid this future.”

Traveling to the bright future the public observed thoughtful ideas and positive outcomes that could result from pragmatic approaches to battling the epidemic.

Cate Culbovich expressed what he learned from the project, “We need more treatment centers where people can get help.”

Julia Mazerolle had an idea that may be helpful in eradicating addiction. “A prescription drink, wearable patch or chewable could be developed to cure opiate addiction. If we can prevent addiction there will be a better future for everyone.”
Elexis Crommett reinforced, “We need to take action that will result in fewer overdoses.”
Sasha Funk proposed, “Scientists could come up with a vaccination which prevents addiction.”
Another scientific approach was offered by John Ulmer. “Scientists could extract the addictive components from prescription drugs.”

Haley Blethen stated that education is imperative, making people aware of the many side effects of addiction. “When a baby is born to an addict, the baby immediately goes through withdrawals. The doctor must give the baby the correct dose of opioids and continue to reduce until they are off the drug. However, the baby remains an addict as ‘once an addict, always an addict’ since the drug rewires your brain,” she said.

The Windham Police Department was also present, and Patrol Captain William Andrews stated that he was impressed with the data collected by the students. “It is refreshing that the youth are taking interest in this epidemic. I’m impressed with their ideas, figures and statistics.”

Rotarian George Bartlett was enthusiastic about the project stating, “this gets the kids involved in the community to help with a very real problem.”

The students were overwhelmingly positive about what they learned which required multi-week investments of time. Ulmer indicated this included, “practicing the Socratic method to answering questions in preparation for this event.”

“We are all at risk as an ‘unlikely addict.”, Elder stated. “It could start simply from an injury, after being prescribed an opioid. One thing leads to another. I just read an article on a police officer dying of an overdose. The problem is so stark and pressing. The students extrapolated the cold hard facts. If the trends don’t change, Maine will become a wasteland. The tide is turning, though, as we are beginning to see companies and doctors held accountable.”

The project was also aided by Be the Influence Coalition, which is a collaborative group of Windham and Raymond community leaders who are working to raise awareness and address concerns caused by substance use and abuse in area communities.

The replica DeLorean was provided by Bill and Patrick Shea of Hubbardston, MA.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Portland Water District’s support of national drinking water week offers tour of facility

By Craig Bailey

On Tuesday, May 7, over 20 people from the community attended a tour of Portland Water District’s (PWD) Sebago Lake Water Treatment Facility. The tour was offered in support of National Drinking Water Week to call the public’s attention to water quality and PWD’s approach to protection, treatment and testing of the water supply to 15% of Maine’s population.

The tour was kicked off by Kirsten Ness, PWD’s Water Resource Specialist, reinforcing her role in protecting Sebago Lake, the number of customers served, the reasons why the lake water is of such high quality and related challenges.

Ness began by stating, “PWD serves approximately 200,000 people across 11 communities. As such, Sebago Lake water quality is of utmost importance.”

https://www.egcu.org/homeNess further shared, “The lake is over 300 feet deep and contains almost 1 trillion gallons of water, which is considered of excellent quality. The lake contains so much water you could fill enough Poland Springs tanker trucks to get to the moon and back - twice!”

The source of water in Sebago Lake comes from the Sebago Lake Watershed, which is more than 50 miles long, stretching from Bethel to Standish and includes parts of 24 towns including the towns of Windham and Raymond. As such, whatever happens in the watershed ultimately impacts Sebago Lake.

Ness reinforced, “One of the reasons for such high water-quality is the watershed is 84% forested, serving as a natural filter. The result: the lake water is clean enough to be exempt from the expensive filtration process required of most surface water sources.”

A key challenge to maintaining water quality is only 10% of the lake is restricted. This results from a law passed in 1913 prohibiting bodily contact within two miles of the intakes and prohibiting trespassing on District lands acquired "for the purpose of protecting the purity of the waters." Later amendments prohibit trespassing within 3000 feet of the intakes.

One of the visitors asked what Ness confirmed was a common question, “Why can we boat within the two-mile zone but not swim?” Ness responded by sharing, “Petroleum products ‘mainly’ evaporate off the surface and our water intakes are deep in the lake. The PWD is more concerned with what we humans carry and excrete.”

Ness further shared, “We have a beach monitoring program and have consistently found that E. coli levels are much lower within the two-mile limit than at swimmable beaches.”

Dave Herzig, PWD’s Plant Systems Foreman then shared an overview of his role in operating the treatment facility as well as additional factors contributing to the quality of water. Herzig mentions, “When we meet with people from other water-treatment facilities we hear common challenges including: shallow lakes, shallow water intakes, algae blooms and rapid changes in river flow. We simply don’t face any of these challenges. In fact, Sebago is protected thermally (via stratification or layers of varying temperatures and densities) nine months of the year. As such, high wind events, pollen bloom and other natural events don’t affect the lake as it does others.”

cstlouis@spurwink.orgDuring the tour of the treatment plant Herzig shared, “In the peak of summer PWD treats approximately 30 million gallons of water per day and during winter around 19 million gallons per day. Treatment occurs in three ways: ozone, ultra violet light (UV), and chloramines.”
Further, Herzig reinforced, “Because our water is so ridiculously clean our treatment facility is a bit over-sized. As a result, we are prepared to effectively handle decreases in water quality should that occur.” The visitors agreed this is a good position to be in!

Mike Koza, PWD’s Lab Manager, shared an overview of his role and led a tour of the lab. Koza reinforced, “PWD tests and monitors the quality of water in the Sebago Lake Watershed, the output of the treatment system as well as numerous sampling sites within the distribution system, containing 1,000 miles of pipe supplying customers.”

Automatic instrumentation is in place which is monitored by lab technicians who also perform lab testing to confirm meter readings. In addition, there are over 45 sampling sites including: fire stations, convenience stores, town halls, post offices, and other readily accessible establishments.
A primary focus of distribution system monitoring is Coliform which, if found, can be an indicator of other bacteria. The good news is that, as Koza states, “we haven’t found any in years.”

Koza responded to questions related to emerging risks that residents along the watershed should be aware of. This includes micro plastics and pharmaceuticals, which can leech into the lake as a result of doing laundry (traces of microfleece have been found in fish from other bodies of water) and flushing (trace amounts of Advil have been found in Sebago).

PWD’s highly qualified lab technicians use leading-edge technology (some of which is locally sourced from IDEXX).

In addition to the tour, PWD is offering a Brewery Collaborative where the public can learn about the connection between forests, water, and beer. Visit pwd.org for a full schedule of offerings and participating breweries.

“Man with a Mandolin” – Al Hawkes remembered and honored by fans and musicians

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Lorraine, we are in the presence of many chapters in Maine’s musical history,” Dr. Richard Nickerson said to me with passion as I walked into the pub door of Lenny’s at Hawkes Plaza in Westbrook. This past Sunday, May 5, the pub that was once the recording studio of the nationally known bluegrass musician, Al Hawkes, was filled to the brim. It was standing room only as fans of the late recording artist came out to honor and celebrate the gifted performer and instrumentalist.

Friends of Al Hawkes outside Lenny's Pub
(which used to be the recording studio. Event Records ,
owned by Hawkes
Also present were over 15 bluegrass, country music and folk artists who personally knew, jammed in the backyard and/or performed with Hawkes, playing their favorite tunes from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition to honoring and remembering the “man with the mandolin”, it was an afternoon of fundraising for the Al Hawkes Scholarship Fund. “I made a promise to Al,” Nickerson told the crowd before the performances began. “He wanted to start a scholarship fund to help area music students. Today we are asking for donations toward this scholarship. The funds will be used to help students purchase musical instruments and with the cost associated with performances and studies.” Nickerson added that the performers were donating their time to help with the cause.

Musician, Jack Jolie, was among the many talented artists that came out to support and donate their time. Acting as the MC for the day, Jolie performed with Hawkes for five years. “I was one of the Night Hawkes and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” he stated. Jolie further explained that Hawkes is a distinguished musician and known in the bluegrass scene as a pioneer in the field. “He is even highlighted at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Kentucky.”

Rick Nickerson
Mike Stackhouse and Friends was another gifted musical group who performed in the afternoon. Stackhouse stated he didn’t get to know Hawkes until he and his band started performing at Lenny’s when it opened in 2016. “After one of my performances, Barbara [Al’s wife] told me that Al really liked my music. ‘He doesn’t go out often to see performers, but he always wants to see you when you perform,’ is what Barbara told me,” Stackhouse explained.

Soon, Hawkes and Stackhouse became friends. Stackhouse wrote the song, “Man with a Mandolin” after their friendship grew. He played the song for Hawkes one afternoon, soon after he recorded it. “After the second line, Al asked me if this song was about him,” Stackhouse told the audience. “He knew immediately.”

Many audience members also knew Hawkes personally and came to enjoy the show, donating towards the scholarship fund that was imperative to the late musician. One such fan was Terry Chinnock from North Yarmouth. Chinnock is the daughter of the well-known country artist, Dick Curless.“ If you were a musician in Maine,  you loved and were a big fan of Dick Curless,” stated Travis Humphrey.

According to the New York Times, “Curless's albums included "Live at the Wheeling Truck Drivers' Jamboree," released in 1973, which portrayed life on the highway in songs like "Truck Stop" and "The Lonesome Road." Among his other successes were a truckers' anthem, "Tombstone Every Mile," which climbed near the top of the country music charts in the 1960's; "All of Me Belongs to You"; "Big Wheel Cannonball," and "Six Times a Day."

Mr. Curless took country music to Asia as host of the "Rice Paddy Ranger" show on the Armed Forces Radio Network during the Korean War. After the war, he appeared on television with Arthur Godfrey and toured with Buck Owens.”

“I came today because I’m very good friends with both Al and Denny and I wanted to support them and the scholarship fund,” Chinnock said.

When Chinnock mentioned Denny, she was referring to Denny Breau, who also performed Sunday afternoon – in the very pub named after his brother, Lenny.

Briefly, Lenny Breau, at the age of 15 made his first professional recordings in Hawkes’ studio, Event Records (now Lenny’s Pub). Lenny performed internationally in Canada and the U.S. with well-known professionals such as Merle Travis and Chet Atkins to name just a few – and he appeared on the Jackie Gleason Show, eventually hosting his own “The Lenny Breau Show”. He died under unknown circumstances in 1984 in Los Angeles.

“My brother was a musical genius,” stated Denny who is a musical prodigy in his own right. “My parents knew Lenny had a gift by the time he was five years old and they fed that gift, having him become a part of their band by the time he was 12 years old.”

The 12-year old Lenny joined his parents’ country music band, Hal Lone Pine and the Lone Pine Mountaineers, with his father, Hal Lone Pine and mother, Betty Code who had been performing in the U.S. and Canada since the 1930s. “He began playing the washboard and then moved on to the lead guitar,” Denny said and then paused for a moment. “We still have that washboard.”

https://www.lpapplianceme.com/When asked if he had any advice or words of wisdom he wanted to share, Denny was very clear about one thing. “Get out and support local live music. Musicians wouldn’t be able to perform without that support and people would not get to experience great music, like we are experiencing today.”

As I left the pub, Dr. Nickerson reiterated to me one more time – this time with even greater zeal and enthusiasm, “We are in the presence of amazing Maine music history. We are witnessing it – a part of it - Today! Right here! Right now!”

His statement was true. I felt it in the building in which remarkable music was born and great music continues to live. I saw it in both the fans’ and musicians’ eyes, many of which were filled with tears. It truly was a special moment – as the crowd of Al Hawkes devotees and supporters came together under the same roof to honor and remember the celebrated musician. Under the very roof that was once his recording studio.

The scholarship, which was set up just prior to Hawkes death on December 28, 2018 currently has over $3000. Donations to the scholarship fund can be made at: Cumberland County Credit Union, 101 Gray Road, Falmouth, ME. 04105, Attn. Al Hawkes Scholarship.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Spanish Honor Society promotes Spanish language and culture in community

WHS Spanish Honor Society
By Elizabeth Richards

The Spanish Honor Society (SHS) at Windham High School is a group of highly dedicated, high achieving students who enjoy Spanish and help promote the language and Hispanic culture in their community.

Club officers this year are Annika Johnston (President, senior), Maddie Fox (Vice President, senior), Emily Magoon (Secretary, junior), Annie Stevens (Treasurer, senior) and Sarah Symalla (Aguilitos coordinator, junior).

The club operates periodic Kids’ Night Out events to raise money for activities and scholarships. Parents can drop their children from preschool to fifth grade at the event, where they participate in Spanish related activities and games, Johnston said.

The event, which happens a few times each year, allows parents a chance to go out on their own, gives the students in the club a chance to spend time with the younger kids, and is a good fundraiser for the club, Magoon said.

Fox said that there are many children who return each time the event is held. When they leave, they say they’re already looking forward to the next one, she said.  “It’s just really great to have that experience with them and get them to start enjoying Spanish at a young age,” Fox said.

The next Kids’ Night Out won’t be until next school year. Parents of elementary children receive notice of the event through the school list serve.

Fundraisers support the annual $1000 scholarship the club awards to a graduating senior. The club also occasionally funds scholarships for students taking trips to other countries, Johnston said.

Since 2002, the club has offered a program, Aguilitos (little eagles), specifically intended to promote Spanish with younger children. Through this program, club members plan and present lessons to groups of elementary children on a regular basis.

Magoon said “It’s really cool to watch them learn and remember all these words and be able to put things together throughout the year.”  She said she enjoys the relaxed, but educational environment, and being able to nurture the younger kids and watch them grow.  This year, she said, the group she’s been with has completed several units, including colors, numbers, animals and days of the week.

Another activity of the SHS is a luncheon for staff, where club members bring in Spanish foods they have prepared. “That’s really cool too, to get to know more about the culture through cooking,” Magoon said.  She added that she thinks SHS is important because it gives her an opportunity for social connection in a different way.

“I think that what we’re doing is important, especially for those of us who really want to study in Spanish and foreign language,” Johnston said.  “Also, giving back to our seniors and elementary schoolers is an important aspect of what we do,” she added.

Magoon said “It’s really important, I think, to get kids involved in languages because of the way our world is today. There’s so much global interaction now, ways that we can talk to other people, and I think languages are really important for that. A lot of other countries start English early on, so I think it’s a really good opportunity that we provide here at WHS in getting kids involved early on.”

Advisor Trish Soucy said, “Being in SHS gives students the opportunity to spread cultural awareness,” said SHS Advisor Trish Soucy. “Being a part of these activities helps students make a connection with the Spanish they are learning in class and how it can be used in a positive way in the community.”

Local firefighter receives successful heart transplant – fundraising efforts continue

Tim Smith with his wife, Shauna
By Lorraine Glowczak

The family and friends of Tim Smith are celebrating. The former firefighter of Naples who has suffered coronary artery disease and extensive heart surgeries for over six years has successfully received a new heart - and all is going smoothly.  “We are so excited. Tim will be released from the hospital today and we are going to spend the night in the hotel where the kids and I have been staying – then we will finally be home tomorrow,” his wife, Shauna stated in a phone interview on Tuesday.

 As of this publication, Tim is now resting and healing at home with his family by his side.
The bills will continue, however, and fundraising efforts are still underway. Last weekend, Auto Shine Car Wash in Windham tried to do their part and raise funds for Tim Smith and family.

Unfortunately, the rainy weekend put a damper on car wash sales. “The weather didn’t cooperate for us last weekend. We still raised over $80 but we don’t want to stop there. We’ve decided to extend the fundraiser to every weekend – Friday through Sunday – all through the month of May. Our goal is to raise $1,000 for Tim and his family,” stated Josh Chase, vice president of Auto Shine Car Wash. For every car that goes through the carwash, a percentage of the proceeds will go towards the Tim Smith fundraising efforts.

https://www.egcu.org/homeThere are other fundraisers available as well. “A bank account has been set up for us at Maine Solutions Credit Union,” Shauna stated. One can send a donation to the credit union in the name of “Tim’s Transplant Fund” and sent to 209b Western Avenue in South Portland, 04106.
The GoFundMe account that has been set up by his friends is still active. To donate, go to the page called 'Former Firefighter needs a Heart Transplant'. 

Both Tim and Shauna, who is a nurse, have worked closely with firefighters in the Windham and
Raymond communities. As stated in a previous interview, published in the March 29 edition of the Windham Eagle, "Tim is a wonderful father, husband, person and fireman,” stated Tony Cataldi from Windham. “He has spent his life being there for others in their time of need and now he needs our help."

Raymond Firefighter, Gillian Thomas has known the Smith’s for approximately 20 years. “They have always been dedicated to public safety in some role or another,” Thomas said. “We all cross paths in some way in our jobs, but I was lucky enough to work with both of them a few years ago and still stay in touch on Facebook. A lot of our mutual friends have worked for Tim when he was Chief of Sebago EMS, and with Shauna as a paramedic and RN, so there's a huge family of people gearing up to help them get through this. They have always been there when people need them, so if anyone deserves to be on the receiving end, it's them.”

For updates and to show your support, you can follow Tim at the Facebook page that was created :www.facebook.com/SmithFamilyHeartTransplant

Friday, April 26, 2019

Windham students heading to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Michigan

Ewan O'Shea, Ashylnn Cuthbert, Nick Verrill, Cameron Weeks,
Marek Slomczynski, Nick Jenkins, Adam Slomczynski submitted
By Craig Bailey

For the second time, a team of elementary students from Windham Primary and Manchester Schools is heading to Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. Odyssey of the Mind (OotM) is an international creative problem-solving program that engages students in their learning by allowing their knowledge and ideas to come to life in an exciting, productive environment. Participants build self-confidence, develop life skills, create new friendships, and are able to recognize and explore their true potential. OotM proves that students can have fun while they learn.

This annual event is taking place at Michigan State University, in East Lansing Michigan, from May 22 to 25. Seven energetic students, in grades three to five, along with their fearless coaches/ parents are heading west on Tuesday, May 21 for the 15 to 18-hour drive. The students and their respective grades are: Nick Verrill (5), Nick Jenkins (5), Cameron Weeks (4), Ewan O’Shea (5), Marek Slomczynski (5), Ashlynn Cuthbert (4) and Adam Slomczynski (3). The first five of which previously competed in the OotM World Finals, along with their coach April O’Shea.

Opening Ceremonies will take place on Wednesday, May 22. Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be days filled with competitions and other creative activities. There will be a Creativity Festival, an International Festival, a Coaches & Officials Competition, NASA-sponsored events, and a lot of pin trading!
When the students were asked what they were looking forward to at the event, the returning members emphatically agreed, “pin trading!” Trading Odyssey of the Mind pins (from various states as well as countries) is a tradition that goes back more than 35 years. Millions of pins have been traded and thousands of friendships have been made during this time. Returning students scored pins from such countries as Australia, Canada and Mexico! More specifically, M. Slomczynski said “I am looking forward to seeing a Polish team and teams from other countries.”

The team qualified for World Finals as a result of their solution to their chosen problem: “Hide in Plain Site.” Their 8-minute skit involved four scenes in which a searcher was seeking a sea creature that morphed into many forms, including an octopus with tentacles that moved via the team’s custom-made hydraulic system! Everyone on the team had a character in the play or worked the creature.
When asked how they figured all this out, Cuthbert indicated “We did research using YouTube. YouTube is gold!”

To perfect their performance, Jenkins emphasized, “We have done this well over 12 times!”
They began developing their solution, made almost entirely of recycled materials, in October. Cuthbert mentioned that she made a skirt from fabric scraps. And, their diving suit was made from trash bags. To achieve additional style points, the team made an antique-style phone.

https://www.egcu.orgIn addition to the fun, each member had something to say about the outstanding experience they’ve had with the program, the majority indicating they’ll be doing it again. Verrill mentioned, “You learn that you can make a lot of stuff if you think about it. And, you get a lot of new friendships.” Jenkins reinforced, “This was fun to do because you can be creative with props and jokes and are not required to do one thing.” O’Shea proudly stated, “If you work hard and win you can go to Michigan.” The team emphasized that everyone has their own talents and OotM brings them out. Whether it is writing, building, creating, etc., the whole team works together, as it can’t be just one person’s effort. Slomczynski reinforced this by commentingI have learned that it is a team effort. You have to work together to solve the problem.”

The community of Windham has two opportunities to support the team, by helping to fund their trip to Michigan. At the present time they are about 50% funded, primarily by parents of these outstanding students. To assist, consider visiting their fundraising page at: 

www.gofundme.com/windham-odyssey-of-the-mind. Alternatively, if you’d like to take in a movie while helping to fund the team, they have partnered with Smitty’s Cinema. You may buy an $11 ticket good for any showing at Smitty’s Windham location on May 5. Half of the ticket price goes to the team. Tickets are available at the Manchester school and seating is on a first come, first served basis. 

As stated by Ewinn, “Odyssey of the Mind confirms we all have talents and the goal is to make them even better.”

Go team!

Windham sculptor wins 2019 artist’s residency at Monson Arts

Anne Alexander
By Lorraine Glowczak

In February, Anne Alexander, a local artist and teacher, received the news that she was accepted for a month-long artist retreat at Monson Arts – a new residency program that started less than a year ago with the support of the Libra Foundation.

“Our first program began on June 7, 2018,” explained, Monson Arts Program Manager, Dan Bouthot."We are a new residency program and arts center offering residencies for artists and writers, shorter intensive workshops, and educational partnerships with area schools."

According to the Monson Arts website, their residency program “supports emerging and established artists and writers by providing them time and space to devote to their creative practices. Residents receive a private studio, private bedroom in shared housing, all meals, and $1,000 stipend.”

Alexander knew she was an artist since second grade and currently works in the mediums of carved stone, wood and modeled clay - making forms selected from nature. She took time from her art projects in Monson to explain how she was awarded this artist get-away to concentrate on her craft.

“I had applied early for the visual artist residency program but there were already so many artists and writers who had applied and were accepted that I was wait-listed for the next retreat,” explained Alexander of this already highly competitive artists program. “I reapplied and received the news two months ago, in February, that I was accepted. I began my residency on April 1.”

One of her first experiences at Monson Arts began with a snowshoe walk in the woods, of which there is plenty at the edge of Maine’s North Woods—3.5 million acres of forest bordering Canada. 
 “I found the perfect cedar tree to carve,” Alexander said.  “With the help of the program’s technician,
a tree was cut and moved to the woodshop. I carved an eight-foot tall sculpture using both power and hand tools.”

In her time there, which will end on Friday, April 26, she has also developed a series of smaller clay sculptures and large drawings.

As a recent press release pointed out, many students in the Windham and Raymond communities know Alexander as a frequent substitute teacher at Windham High School. Having worked as an art teacher at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School and Waynflete School in Portland for more than twenty years, she now works part-time with youth in order to devote herself more fully to her sculpture career.

https://bbcultivation.com/As for advice for those who dream and hope to follow in her footsteps, she offers the following words of wisdom. “I have always had a ‘day’ job because I wanted to be free to let my art be authentic instead of a mode of financial survival,” she began. “However, I have many friends who make art
their full-time job and love it. But no matter which way you choose, art is more about perseverance and hard work than talent. You must have that intense feeling that says, ‘I simply have to do this.’ Otherwise, art as a lifestyle may not be the path for you.”

Anne Alexander exhibits her sculpture in galleries and larger, human-size works in exterior-sited exhibits throughout New England and beyond. Career highlights include receiving two Pollack-Krasner Foundation grants and four Maine Arts Commission Good Idea Grants/Project Grants. She also received a Senior Scholar Fulbright Grant to study the art of the Taino Indian in the Dominican Republic in 1998-99. She currently teaches sculpture, ceramic, and alabaster carving workshops to children and adults.

To see further examples of Anne Alexander’s sculpture on her website www.annealexandersculptor.com  or by following Anne Alexander Sculptor on Facebook or Instagram.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Signs of peace this Sunday at the rotary reflects time for action toward a collaborative society

By Lorraine Glowczak

Between 12:15 p.m. and 12:45 p.m. at the Windham rotary this coming Sunday, April 21, you will see signs of peace held by individuals who are taking action with the intention and hope of moving toward a more unified society – honoring all varieties of perceptions in a diplomatic manner.

The signs will include sentences that might say: “Peace starts here”, “Peace Now” and “Let there be peace”. Last month, the signs invoked honking horns from passersby in agreement that the world could move in a more integrated direction.

This Sunday will be the second of a monthly Peace Vigil that will continue to meet at the same time and place on the third Sunday of each month. Anyone who wishes to join this group of peace activists are welcomed to do so.

“As you know, the country is in a … (pausing to find the right word)….transformative place,” is the term Jack Seery chose. He will be one of the individuals you’ll see holding the signs this Sunday afternoon. “We all have many opposing perspectives, which is healthy in a democratic culture. But somehow, as a society, we have managed to steer off course, civility speaking. This benefits no one. There are ways to support one another through collaborative efforts without being so divisive. Peace is one way to unify us and this is the purpose for this Peace Vigil.”
Seery explained how it all began. Five years ago, members of the Unity Center for Spiritual Growth located on River Road in Windham (formerly known as Unity Church of Greater Portland) began studying the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr as part of their “season of non-violence” examination.

“We read a series of books by Paul Chappell and studied peace and non-violence activists, Gandhi and King,” Seery stated. “But after five years of the academic study about peace, we realized it was a time for action. We all agreed that we contemplated the issue enough. Instead, we needed to act on what we learned.”

As a result, Unity has collaborated with other organizations including Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, to bring in well-known speakers and non-violent activists to the area. One such event was published in an article written by The Windham Eagle Reporter, Elizabeth Richards, in March 2018 – that of Peace Activist, Father John Dear, who spoke on nonviolence at Saint Joseph’s College and at Unity.

“Peace activism is one step toward non-violent communication and peace”, stated Seery
In an online article regarding King and Gandhi’s approach, written by Walter Earl Fluker, it explains the importance of peaceful activism:

“In Montgomery, King realized the power of nonviolent resistance to achieve his vision of community…..”

Fluker went on to state: “Before Montgomery, his [King’s] understanding of nonviolence was confined to an abstract association of ideas and readings from his intellectual pursuits, but in the midst of the struggle he came to understand its power to effect change, both in society and within the votary him/herself. It is also important to understand that nonviolent resistance as a viable alternative for social change had been debated and attempted by the black leadership long before King emerged as a proponent of the method. Initially, the method of the movement which came to be called nonviolent resistance was conceived in the hearts of the black people of Montgomery as "Christian love."

 King writes that:‘From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the movement.... It was the Sermon on the Mount rather than a doctrine of passive resistance that initially inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action. It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love.’”

http://buttscommercialbrokers.com/And, that’s the sole purpose (or perhaps the “soul” purpose) of the efforts of the Unity members who studied non-violent and peaceful approach to a chaotic society – a creative weapon of love and peace.
In terms of technicalities and to stand by their method of peaceful action, members of Unity stated they have reached out to determine if it was lawful to do what they deemed important. The Windham Eagle contacted Windham Chief of Police to verify. “As long as they are not impeding the flow of traffic, the individuals have the right to exercise their freedom of speech.”

Legalities aside. “We have received a lot of honking horns in support of what we are doing and our role in a peaceful approach,” Seery said.

As Gandhi has famously been quoted, “An eye for eye makes the whole world blind.” King’s response? “There is another way.” Members of Unity may be following that other way.
If you are interested in joining this small group of peace enthusiasts, you can either show this Sunday at the rotary or, for more information, contact Seery by email at jseery53@gmail.com.