Friday, March 15, 2019

Students experience potential and kinetic energy through sledding

Owen Gaulrapp 
By Lorraine Glowczak

The snow-covered hill near the football field and Windham Primary School was packed with eighth grade and second grade students having fun sledding on Friday afternoon, March 8. No, it was not recess. They were studying chemistry.

Windham Middle School’s eight grade team of Ohana Explorers led by teachers, Pamela Mallard, Lisa Hodge, Erika DuPont and Tricia Sabine, were given an unusual homework assignment – to build a sled from materials at home. They were given four weeks to make their creations, factoring in the concepts of potential and kinetic energy. Specifically, they were assigned to, “develop a model to describe objects interacting at a distance and the different amounts of potential energy that are stored,” Mallard said. This was the curriculum standard to which was learned and developed.

Briefly, chemists divide energy into two classes. potential energy is where the energy is stored while kinetic energy is the energy found in a moving object. The faster the object can travel, the more kinetic energy it has. “Students needed to be able to describe what the potential energy of the sled was and where it converted to kinetic,” explained Mallard. “The student also needed to identify the role of friction in stopping their sled.”

https://www.egcu.orgStudents were asked to determine the relationship between the amount of energy transferred, the type of matter, the mass and the change in kinetic energy. They also explored how adding a person to the sled, which increased the mass, would change the amount of acceleration of the object.

“Students did an on-line program through Gizmo (an interactive learning site) called Sled Wars,” explained Mallard. “This gave them information to ponder while constructing their sleds. Sleds were built at home and the students could have the help of a parent. I encouraged the home connection
among family members.”

If a student didn’t have materials of their own, Mallard offered materials from the school and they could stay to work on them after class.

The second-grade students who participated in this middle school science project are part of a mentorship program. “We have been mentoring Mrs. Brianna Butts second graders once a month since the beginning of the year,” stated Mallard. “This allows the eighth-grade students to take on a leadership role and make connection with their younger friends. It is something we will continue to do for the remainder of the year.” student, Abby Thornton stated that the project was a fun and engaging activity. “I never realized the true potential of sledding. It shares a global meaning of fun and allowed us to see how velocity, acceleration, speed, and other components contribute to real life.” 

Lucas Spencer, another eighth-grade student, stated it was a great learning adventure he experienced with both family and friends. “This school project allowed for me to really make a home connection,” Spencer said. “I am lucky that my little brother is on the buddy team at the primary school. We have been brothers and buddies all year. We designed and constructed the sled with the help of my Dad
and my uncle.” 

The next mentorship program event will consist of the eighth-grade students hosting a Grandparent Day in May for both groups. “This allows us to make a generation connection with our buddies,” Mallard explained.

Retired Navy Seal with local roots strives to build strong communities

General Dempsey awarding Mike Wisecup his second
 Bronze Star at the Pentagon in 2011
By Elizabeth Richards

After a twenty-year career as a Navy Seal, Mike Wisecup has settled in Maine hoping to find an opportunity to use the lessons he has learned to build strong communities.

Though his mother’s family has lived in Windham for generations, Wisecup was not born or raised in the area. His family moved a lot due to his father’s job, but they vacationed in the area, and his parents settled in Windham in their retirement, becoming active members of the community.
Moving a lot as a child set the perfect stage for a career in the military, Wisecup said, since he didn’t feel like there was one place he belonged to. “I was comfortable with the idea of the adventure, of something different,” he said.

margebarker173@gmail.comThough his father and uncles had been drafted and served in times of war, Wisecup said no one was pushing him to join the military, and in fact when he first attempted to get into the Air Force Academy, he found himself woefully unqualified. He’d done little to no research on the process, he said. “I just wanted to fly. I thought that would be cool,” he said.

After that interview, his eyes were opened, Wisecup said. He attended a Division 3 college, joined social organizations, did a lot of volunteering, and worked diligently to keep his grades up. The following year, he reapplied and won a spot at the Naval Academy.

Wisecup’s first encounter with Seals happened in between his freshman and sophomore years at the Academy. “I had never met better people in my life. They were kind, they were focused, they were fit, they were inclusive,” he said. “I liked their qualities, I liked their ethics, I liked their character, and I decided then that I wanted to be around people like that.”

That’s when he set out on the rigorous path to becoming a Seal himself. With great focus and determination, he was able to secure one of fifteen positions for Seal training when he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1998. Though over 140 people began that training with Wisecup, under 20 graduated. “It’s no joke that it is one of the hardest military training programs in the world. People go there and they want to be Seals, they’re prepared physically, they’re trained – and they still quit,” he said.

Mike Wisecup on board an LCAC with the USS Nassau
in the background on the coast of Djibouti in 2002
Mental strength and the ability to deal with failure repeatedly are important in making it through Seal training, Wisecup said. “The biggest thing I learned coming out of Seal training is that I can do anything I want to do if I just focus on it and work hard,” he said.

Wisecup’s career as a Seal included many deployments, including to Southeast Asia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. During one deployment he was injured and earned a purple heart. He was involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and came full circle to help the U.S. pull out of Iraq in 2010.

In 2007, Wisecup was selected as an Olmstead Scholar, a program that immerses military officers into another culture while they earn a master’s degree. He and his wife spent two years in Mumbai, India, an important growing experience for him as a person, Wisecup said. sheer number of people, the pollution, being treated differently as a minority, and the disparity between classes were all challenges Wisecup had never faced before. He said they saw both the best of humanity and the worst, every single day. “It really makes you question who you are as a person,” he said.

That questioning remained when he returned, he said. It changed the way he lives now, prompting him to question why things are done a certain way, to challenge assumptions, and to look at all sides of an issue to gain new perspective.

Other notable experiences in Wisecup’s career include acting as the personal aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and helping to develop policies to counter ISIS, as well as other counterterrorism policies, that required coordination with many agencies.

With wife, Emily
Near the end of his military career, Wisecup was selected for command. This two-year job is like being the CEO of a small business, Wisecup said. His command with a Seal team of approximately 500 people required him to oversee all resources, finances, training, and personnel. He was also responsible for culture and discipline, a complex task that involved people from a wide range of backgrounds, including the vast network of support people required to carry out successful missions.

“Being in command where you have the leverage to integrate all those capabilities together is really rewarding,” Wisecup said. “I loved it. I am now in constant search of opportunity similar in scope.”
Wisecup finished his command in 2017, volunteering for one last deployment in Iraq, where the Iraqis were now getting to a point where they could defend themselves. It was satisfying to see the years of hard work pay off, he said, to know that the Iraqis knew how to handle themselves. That deployment ended in June of 2018, and Wisecup retired in August 2018 after 20 years of commissioned service.

Ready to settle somewhere and become part of a community, Wisecup and his wife came to Maine, where they are currently renting in Portland. He has a fellowship at Colby College through May, putting the leadership skills he’s gained to use in ways that both benefit the college and help demonstrate what veterans have to offer. is currently waiting to hear from Harvard, where he hopes to attend a one-year program in Public Administration. Even if accepted, he will stay in Maine, he said. “The education will be valuable, but I want to be here. I still want this to be my home,” he said.

Wisecup has already begun to build connections and give back to Maine communities. In 2014, he started an annual event to raise money and awareness for Camp Sunshine to help military families. In that first event, four active duty Seals swam 13 miles across Sebago Lake. Every year since, they’ve completed a tough task in Maine, as well as events in San Diego. To date, just over $500,000 has been raised to help military families attend Camp Sunshine. Their 2019 event is a 16-mile swim from Bridgton to Casco on July 25th. More information can be found on

Thursday, March 7, 2019

“Taking Back Maine’s Future”: Ending the opiate crisis

A panel of experts speak to the students
By Craig Bailey

On Tuesday, March 5, Windham Middle School’s seventh graders participated in an assembly kicking off the project, Taking Back Maine’s Future: Ending the Opiate Crisis. This second annual program was hosted by Be The Influence, whose Mission is to promote community collaboration and positive choices in reducing youth substance use.

The assembly featured Janet Mills’ newly appointed substance misuse expert Gordon Smith as well as a panel of experts from law enforcement and prevention including: Kevin Schofield, Windham’s Chief of Police; Jonathan Sahrbeck, Cumberland County District Attorney; Bridget Rauscher, City of Portland Public Health; Bill Andrew, Windham Police Patrol Captain; John Kooistra, Windham’s Deputy Fire Chief; Nicole Raye-Ellis, Project Coordinator for Be the Influence. grade teacher Doug Elder kicked off the assembly sharing an overview that this project-based learning is developed to look into issues that are most impactful to the students. “We decided to take a look at Maine’s opiate crisis, viewing students as community members who can make an impact,” Elder began.  “We’ll educate together with Be The Influence, law enforcement, the medical field and state government. This is not only about information, but also transformation of our community.”

Be The Influence’s highly enthusiastic Executive Director, Laura Morris, offered a few opiate-related questions to students who eagerly provided their responses, which confirmed some basic understanding of opiates.

Gordon Smith reinforced how thrilled the Governor is with the school’s choice of this project and how honored he is to help launch it.

Smith stated, “The opioid crisis is about addictions. Finding out why people abuse substances.” He then asked, “Why are we educating about this at the seventh grade level?” to which he provided the answer, “Because that is the age people often begin abusing substances. It is important to educate now as you have your whole life ahead of you. You have the opportunity to help the State of Maine stop the biggest public health crisis of our time.”

Smith shared statistics to help the audience appreciate the magnitude of the problem, indicating that in Maine, “in 2017, 417 people died of an overdose. That’s more than one per day. Last year, 2018, numbers were lower due to the use of Narcan.” He further explained that Narcan is used for the reversal of opioid overdose.
Another statistic shared was, “of the 13,000 annual births in Maine, during 2018, the mother of 908 babies was an addict. Not only do we need to help the mother, we must also help the babies recover from addiction.”

A final, staggering, statistic shared by Smith was the number of people who died of an overdose last year in the USA: 72,000. Smith stated, “that means that in the time I’ve been standing here, at least 2 people have died of an overdose.”

Each of the panel members shared highly impactful perspectives. Schofield indicated, “Last year, in Windham, we saved over 30 people from an overdose, with Narcan.”

Sahrbeck offered a profound perspective by asking, “Is there anything in life you love?” to which students responded with: family, friends, pets. Sahrbeck then shared, “What if something could alter your brain to cause you to focus on (love) something else? That is what opioids do. They rewire your brain, changing your priorities, leading you down a path you didn’t realize you’d go.”

One of the most impactful perspectives was shared by Raye-Ellis, an addict in recovery for eight years, stating, “I was in your shoes. My school never covered anything on addiction. If they had done something like this, I could have seen a visual of what the path of addiction looks like.” A round of applause ensued.

In closing, Elder spoke directly to the students, “If you’ve ever asked, when will they start treating me like an adult? Well, it is right now. Simple answers to this problem will not work. We are going to talk through tough questions. There will be some difficult conversations. This will call for you to invest your time, energy and imagination. This issue is going to come for you whether you are ready or not. We want to make you ready.”

Queuing up the project, Elder relays, “The student’s job involves traveling through time via research and evaluation of current data and statistics, bringing newspapers back from the future: some from the bright promising future where Maine has defeated the epidemic - others from the dark and dangerous future.”

The assembly closed with the admonition, “What we do today and in the coming years to solve the opioid crisis; to help addicts, to find new solutions, legally, socially, and personally, will determine Maine’s future.”

Local Contractor appears on DIY Network Show “Maine Cabin Masters”

The O''Shea Builders team
By Elizabeth Richards

Local contractor O’Shea Builders, LLC recently appeared on season three of the DIY Network’s Maine Cabin Masters, in episode 10 titled “The Twister Camp.”

While the face time in this episode was brief, according to owner Warren O’Shea, it was a great experience for all involved. The opportunity arose when the company that was scheduled to install the outdoor kitchen area cancelled. O’Shea said he received a call on a Tuesday from the producer of the show, and his crew was there on Thursday putting it all together.

This isn’t the first time O’Shea has participated in a nationally televised home improvement show.  The first one, he said, was a three-month commitment for HGTV’s Vacation House for Free (Season 1, episode 10 “Cottage on the Lake”).  The second was an episode of Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network at Uncle Andy’s Restaurant in South Portland. 

This experience, like the others, wasn’t about making money. Nor was it about marketing or publicity. “They’re just fun,” O’Shea said. “You’re not expecting to make any money, or really bank on any kind of real publicity or marketing,” he added.  But being able to list this type of thing as an accomplishment can be satisfying. “It’s really just a plaque on the wall, and when people are looking through remodeling contractors, anything that makes you stand out from the others is good,” O’Shea said.

O’Shea said his employees were excited this time, since they hadn’t had the opportunity to participate in a show before.  It’s a nice thing to tell the grandkids, friends and neighbors about, he said.

As with the other shows O’Shea has appeared on, the work and filming was a whirlwind of activity. His experience on the other two shows helped him anticipate camera angles and get good shots, he said. In the end, you never know how much of the footage you appear in will be used, and this time, “if you blink, you’ll miss us,” O’Shea said. Even so, the experience was a lot of fun, he said.
The camera crew and cast of Maine Cabin Master’s were easy to talk to and great to work with, O’Shea said. “What you see is what you get with the show,” he said. “They are very down to earth, very creative with their solutions and designing. You can’t help but have a really good time when you’re with those types of people.”

Maine Cabin Masters focuses on camps in scenic areas that have an interesting back story.  The episode O’Shea Builders appears on centered around a camp on Moose Pond that was destroyed by the unusual tornado in Maine last summer. The episode first aired on February 18, 2019. A schedule of upcoming air dates can be found at’Shea Builders LLC, in business since 2014, does only remodeling.  The company has 50 five-star reviews on Houzz®, an online platform for home renovation and design. In January, the company was awarded its sixth straight “Best of Customer Service” award on the site.

O’Shea is also a certified home inspector, Kohler manufacturing certified installer, and has received a Citizen Award from the Portland Police Department. He is an advisory board member for the Portland Arts and Tech School carpentry program and has been featured on local news and radio programs. O’Shea Builders can be contacted at 207-838-1370 or

Friday, March 1, 2019

“Vets on the Ice” fishing shack open house catches the spirit of its mission

By Lorraine Glowczak

It was a party on ice as approximately 40 people visited one another, ate warm beans and hot dogs while enjoying the transformed and handicapped accessible ice shack for veterans on Friday, February 22 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Located off Kent’s Landing on Long Lake in Naples, the visitors to the ice shack open house included residents of the South Paris VA home who got to take advantage of the wheelchair ramp as they wheeled themselves into the warmth of the ice shack to ice fish, participating in the winter activity they love best and now made possible by this program.

This is the first year for the “Vets on the Ice” program and is a collaborative effort among many organizations. “The “Vets on the Ice” project is a collaboration between the “Vets on the Water”, The Sebago Lake Anglers Association, Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham and Naples Post 155,” stated Dave Tanguay, Post 148 Adjutant.

Tanguay also stated that the project was conceived last summer when he and “Vets on the Water” Organizer, Tim Hoffman, were fishing the Kennebec. “Tim mentioned that he had three sheds that could be easily converted to Ice Sheds and wanted to place one this coming winter in the Lake Regions of Sebago for use by disabled vets,” Tanguay said. “So, I brought the idea to the Sebago Lake Anglers Association (SLAA). The shed, which Tim donated, was delivered in December to Naples, reconfigured with a wider door and an eight-foot ramp to accept a wheel chair as well as the instillation of a stove and a 14 ft Flag pole to fly the colors.” also organizes a similar program during the summer in the Rockland area. “Vets on the Water” works in collaboration with the marine and fishing industry along with the boating public to provide water activities for veterans. Hoffman wanted to continue this concept for veterans, giving them, especially disabled veterans, an opportunity to ice fish without having to care for an ice shack and the work it takes to get it on ice.

Along with Tanguay and Hoffman; Bob Chapin, President of the SLAA and Dan Smart SLAA member were present for the open house. “I’d like to thank them for all the dedication to bring this program together,” Tanguay said. “Both Bob and Dan have joined the Field-Allen Post Windham, so our future collaboration in all things fishing will be easier.”

Although the ice shack, placed on Long Lake in mid-January, had a slow start with visitors, Tanguay stated that the shed is now in full swing, hosting area veterans and more. “It has supported small vet groups, youth groups from Camp Sunshine, as well as groups from VAST.” 

Tanguay also stated that during the open house, more interest in using the shed has developed. “The VAST coordinator stopped by. She has a group coming on March 7th and is looking to possibly get one more session after that. Also, a vet showed up midafternoon and made arrangements to use the shed with his family the next day.” 

Although no fish were caught during the open house, the purpose of the event was successful, catching the spirit of its mission.

For veterans who wish to use the “Veterans on the Ice” shed, contact; Bob Chapin at 517-217-1700 or 207-655-1028 or Dan Smart at 207-329-7269.

Firefighter takes the plunge for your safety

By Lorraine Glowczak

Windham Firefighter and Paramedic, Tony Cataldi, was among 21 instructor candidates to become a certified Ice Rescue Instructor at the 20th annual International Ice Rescue Instructor Academy with classroom training held in South Portland and hands-on instruction at Wassamki Springs Campground in Scarborough.

Tony Cataldi
Cataldi, who has been a certified ice rescue technician for the past 10 years, spent four days from Thursday, February 21 to Sunday, February 24 with other instructor candidates representing fire departments from New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Canada. In those four days, which often lasted late into the evening, the students worked in the classroom practicing their teaching skills and spent time outdoors to perform practical skills on the ice. They used everything from specialized equipment to real life circumstances such as using inanimate objects as unconscious victims.

“We also participated in a mock emergency call that occurred at night,” explained Cataldi. “We received the call that a snowmobile with two people and a dog were missing on the lake.” Cataldi further explained how the firefighters worked together to search for the victims. “We walked out on the frozen water together in a 600-foot line with all of us attached to a rope. The scene was set up for us and we looked for footprints and snowmobile tracks. We found the victims on the back side of an island.” stated that the most important thing they learned is that no ice is safe ice. Other important factors realized and advocated for include:

1. You need at least 5” of new, clear, hard ice before venturing out.  And, just because the ice is 5” at one section, it doesn’t mean it is not compromised elsewhere.
2. Consider wearing a float coat or a lifejacket if going out onto the ice in deep water.
3. Carry a pealess plastic whistle to alert others in the event of an emergency.
4. Also carry ice picks which can be used in the event you fall through to pick your way out of the
water and back onto solid ice.
5. Keep dogs and pets off the ice and under control.  Many incidents are triggered by an animal going through the ice and the humans then put their own lives at risk in an effort to save them.
6. And, in the event of an emergency, CALL 911, and only attempt to rescue someone from the safety of the shore by reaching, extending, or throwing something to the victim.

When it comes to rescuing a victim, Cataldi stated that the rescuer’s safety must come first. “If we become a part of the problem, we must rescue ourselves; otherwise, we will be of no use to the victim.”

The training program Cataldi attended, Lifesaving Resources, meets and exceeds NFPA (National
The Instructor Training program included hands-on experiences
Fire Protection Association) 1670 and 1006 Standards for Technical Rescue. To date, the program has trained over 400 water or ice rescue instructors from throughout the U.S. and Canada and Cataldi is now one of them. He will already begin instructing other firefighters and paramedics this week.

Cataldi will not only teach in Maine but is also certified to teach in other areas of the country.

Of all the important things Cataldi learned, perhaps the way the instructor candidates worked together meant the most. “We worked very well together,” he stated, referring to the mock rescue scene as part of their program. “It proves that different municipalities can work together when needed.”

Cataldi also had this to say about becoming a certified Ice Rescue Instructor. “Windham takes pride in keeping up to date for the latest techniques for rescue in order to provide the best service for Windham and surrounding communities.”

Congratulations, Tony Cataldi. The communities thank you.