Friday, May 25, 2018

Students at Windham Primary School learn the importance of giving back to the community by Lorraine Glowczak

The students at Windham Primary School held a Community Day Assembly on Thursday, May 18 at the Windham High School auditorium, to show their appreciation and to give back to community organizations that have given to the students throughout the year. The first through third graders, who raised funds and learned about community accountability and character education in the process, collectively raised and contributed $7,000 as their way of saying, “thank you.” this was the first community day event established by the students, it is the goal of the educators and students alike that the event will become an annual project. “We wanted to help build a sense of community within our school and hope that this becomes an annual event,” stated Michelle Jordan, one of the volunteer coordinators. “Because of our large size, we rarely hold a school wide assembly. This event was designed for two reasons: 1) to bring the school together, and 2) to teach our students the importance of community programs and supporting those programs.”

The recipient organizations that received funding for their contribution and assistance to the students at Windham Primary School include: Windham Public Library supported by the kindergarten class, Ledgewood Nursing Center supported by the first-grade class, the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals supported by the second-grade class and the Windham Historical Society supported by the third-grade class. All organizations were very appreciative of the donations given to them including the members of the Windham Historical Society (WHS). “This very generous gift will help us a raise a blacksmith shop as well as complete the South Windham Library,” stated Susan Simonson, President of the WHS.  “This building will house South Windham Village and train station historical collections. To the third-graders, the Historical Society shows grateful appreciation for their donation, and to all of the primary grades and staff we applaud the lessons of support and involvement given to the community.”

To raise funds, the students participated in a “Race for the Community” day. “They each had a sponsor sheet to have friends and family members sponsor them for the number of laps they ran or walked around the [high school] track,” Jordan explained. “On Friday, May 4, the whole school went out in groups of 5 or 6 and spent 30 minutes on the track. Kids had paper sneakers that were hole punched for each lap they completed. Then students collected donations based on the laps they ran. enjoyed participating in the community day event. Not only did they learn the importance of community but the significance of acting upon the passions they carry for life. Lilly Steele, a second-grade student loved the fact that they donated to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals. “It was nice to raise money for the animals because I love the horses and like patting them.”
Parents were proud of the students and saw the importance of what their children learned in the community give back effort. “I think it’s been an eye opener for them and you can tell they were proud to have been part of giving back,” stated Mel Oldakowski who is Steele’s mother.

During the assembly, Dr. Karl Rhoads complimented the students for their hard work and explained why community is so important. “We are very fortunate at Windham Primary School that has a supportive community that gives to us in many ways. And all the organizations that were funded today, give to us. This is an opportunity for us as a school to give back. That’s the reason for Community Day and the Community Day Assembly.”

The school donated the following: Windham Public Library received $1163.05, Ledgewood received $1692.15, MSSPA received $2412.80 and Historical Society received $1723.

K9s on the Front Line hard at work to save the lives of veterans with PTSD by Lorraine Glowczak

Dr. Hagen Blaszyk with one of his favorite canines
Memorial Day is the day we remember and honor those veterans who have passed away. Although, the non-profit and Portland based organization, K9s on the Front Line, concentrates on veterans who have returned from service and are alive. Their mission to provide trained service dogs to military veterans who are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at no cost is worthy of attention. 
Their service to veterans can and has saved the lives of those who experience trauma as a result of war.

According to Dr. Hagen Blaszyk, President and Cofounder of K9s on the Front Line, PTSD occurrences contributes to 22 deaths per day in the U.S. “Veterans who experience PTSD believe that ending their life is better than continuing to live the nightmare,” explained Dr. Blaszyk, “That’s the reason why we are here and do what we do.”

The organization trains dogs to create a human-canine bond that gradually and permanently helps to manage the PTSD experience. The K9s on the Front Line staff often hear from the veterans they work in conjunction with, that the traditional treatment approaches to PTSD have not worked well for them. “Traumatic memory is not accessible by our conscious brain. The dog gets to the brain at an unconscious level,” Dr. Blaszyk stated. website explains the PTSD experience and how dogs play a role in calming the trauma and stress: “Traumatic memory, in order to protect us from overwhelming affect, is encoded in consciously inaccessible parts of our brain. Traumatic memory typically has no storyline, no beginning and no end. To make matters worse, traumatic memory is freely taken in and stored, but the person’s ability to rationalize the experience is compromised. Dogs seem to be able to read our minds, having developed the capacity to discern the most miniscule changes in our mood and behavior. A perfect example is the working dog for patients with seizure disorder, where they detect and alert the approach of seizures long before the patient becomes aware of it.” It seems that dogs play that same role in the PTSD experience.

K9s on the Front Line, established in 2016, is staffed by volunteers and 100 percent of the funds donated go directly to the purchase of dogs. The dogs are then trained on a volunteer basis by police officers who are certified canine trainers. The dogs then go home to a veteran to develop that life-saving canine-human bond.

Dr. Blaszyk explained that all volunteers have firsthand knowledge of PTSD in one way or another. “For example, the police trainers have been involved in some form of traumatic experience while working on the streets,” explained Dr. Blaszyk. “The veterans do not have to utter a single word when they walk into our space – they know we all get it and they can sense that on an emotional level. We have not walked in THEIR boots, but we are all walking in boots.”

K9s on the Front Line offers their outreach to veterans in all of Maine and New Hampshire. “If I could fast forward the clock I would bring this to a national level,” Dr. Blaszyk said. “Ideally, I would like to be able to have a complex established here in Maine and have veterans from all over the U.S. come to stay for a couple of months. We have many ideas we are discussing.”
 Dr. Blaszyk stated there is an art and science that encompasses many layers of what the organization does but one of the most important components is the role that dogs play in saving the lives of veterans. “Dogs are somehow able to soak up the negative emotions. It is miraculous,” Blaszyk said.

To learn more information or to donate to K9s on the Front Line, visit their website at k9sontheFront

Friday, May 18, 2018

Jordan-Small Middle School students apply knowledge from water project in creative ways by Lorraine Glowczak

Ryanne Greene and Macie Ennis explain the water cycle
Sixth-grade students from Jordan-Small Middle School released hundreds of baby brook trout in the Presumpscot River on Tuesday, May 8 as part of a collaborative, educational effort with the Portland Water District’s TroutKids Program. On the day of release, the students performed water quality tests, macroinvertebrate sampling and conducted shoreline assessments to ensure the new habitat was healthy for the trout. The purpose of the project was to help the students gain insight into local water issues; take a role in its future protection and to apply the information in creative and fun ways.

The TroutKids project began in early January when the students received the fish eggs, raising them until their release last week. Their projects entailed scientific evaluation and record keeping and making sure the water in the fish tank remained at a certain Ph level, in order for the fish to grow in a healthy environment., the students studied the trout life cycle, the water cycle, the watershed and other related environmental topics; such as storm water runoff as well as the importance of composting and recycling. They also learned the history of water filtration and wells that dates back as early as 500 BC.

Of the many things the students learned, the most reiterated topic was the importance of keeping our waters clean, fresh and pollutant free. Not wasting water was also a noted topic, realizing that there is not an endless supply. “Some people in other countries, such as some countries in Africa, have to walk thousands of miles to get water,” stated students Ryanne Greene and Macie Ennis, whose project included artwork of the water cycle.

Artwork was one form students chose to share what they learned during the project. Others applied and presented their new-found knowledge with PowerPoint presentations, slide shows with music, books, games and other “call to action” strategies. The students will present their projects in a school-wide event to share what they learned with the other grade levels.

The Splish Splash game
Students Marlie Ennis and Elizabeth Gurney created the game, “Splish Splash”, to teach the correct call of actions one needs to take for the future of healthy water. In order to advance on the game board, the player has to answer the problem correctly. The questions have multiple choice answers. Responding to the questions correctly will allow the participant to move on to the next space and win $50. An incorrect answer could land you in jail.

Maya VanHise, Bailey Butts and Stella Feenstra wrote a children’s book. The story is about a student who goes on a field trip but does not dispose his trash properly, leaving the garbage behind to soil the water. There are a few individuals who come along to help pick up the trash left behind by the story’s main character. Together, they start a Save the Water Club. “These ‘helpers’ are actual representations of the Jordan-Small teachers,” explained VanHise, Butts and Feenstra. “And the purpose of the story is to teach younger students ways not to pollute the environment. The story explains how one person can make a difference.” Austin created call to action signs to be placed on all the trash cans in the Jordan-Small Middle and Raymond Elementary schools. On the sign, it reads “Is this trash or compost?”  The purpose of the sign is to encourage individuals to dispose of trash properly and recycle when appropriate. Austin is in the process of delivering her signs to the teachers, but her project will not end there. “After a couple of weeks, I will go around to interview the teachers to see if my sign actually made a difference,” Austin stated.

The science teachers Jack Fitch, Adina Bassler and Lynne Estey (who is also the coordinating teacher with the Portland Water District) spoke about their endless amazement at the talent, creativity andpassion for learning their students encompassed and applied to this water project.

“I have learned not to set boundaries with what students can learn and how they apply what they have learned,” stated Estey; “Because they have always exceeded my expectations.”

The Dundee Duck arrives in time for an exciting Dundee Park Summer by Lorraine Glowczak

Ron and Dusti Faucher, Linda Brooks, Tony Plante
The Dundee Duck will now greet and welcome all visitors to its scenic 20-acre Dundee Park this summer, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department, its committee members and the contributions of local businesses and entrepreneurs. The unveiling of the mascot occurred at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 14 at the park with committee members, town officials and park managers on hand to celebrate its arrival.

Pat Moody, Chair of the Recreation Committee and Linda Brooks, Windham Recreation Director,
welcomed all present, introducing and thanking the individuals who supplied the creative contributions and the technical portion that brought the creation into reality.

Nikki Jarvais from Windham and owner of Rinck Advertising in Lewiston, along with her Co-creator and Project Manager, Elizabeth Rentz, also from Windham - are the creative minds behind the soon to be infamous, Dundee Duck. Brendan Faherty of Windham Innovations (a small subsidiary of Windham Mill Works) produced the family-friendly signage you will find around the park. “We did our best to make Dundee Duck family friendly and to keep the logo colors of the Windham Parks and Recreation Department,” Jarvais stated of the combined effort.

“We originally thought the mascot would be a loon,” Moody stated to the crowd on Monday evening. “But Jarvais approached Linda and her staff, telling them that a cartoon of a loon with its small eyes and black head can look pretty scary and suggested the more approachable and cheerful caricature of a duck.”

Brooks and her staff agreed and thus the Dundee Duck was born. Managers, Ron and Dusti Faucher are looking forward to another exciting summer, only this
time sharing the season with Dundee Duck. This is their sixth year as managers, living on site, to make sure the quality of the park is maintained and family friendly throughout the summer.

“We have been the managers here for a little over six years,” stated Ron Faucher. “And we have seen the park expand and improve in that short time. We see a lot of amazing people from the region, including those from various cultural backgrounds. They come here and enjoy the area throughout the week. They eat, play, swim and simply have a fun, family-style experience together. It is great to see and it’s the very mission of Dundee Park to provide a safe and healthy environment for an enjoyable summer time getaway.”

Besides the family recreational and swimming activities Dundee Park provides along the Presumpscot River, it will once again offer its annual four-week Summer Concert Series that will occur every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., beginning on July 11 and ending August 1. Gates will open for free after 5 p.m. on these Wednesdays.

Musical guests for this year’s series will include in order: 121 Band, The Hurricanes, Downeast Soul Coalition, with the well-known local musical talent, Rick Charette ending the Summer Concert Series.

The Dundee Park will also be the host location for the “Summer Meals at Dundee”, a free, federal summer food service program that works in collaboration with the RSU14 nutrition program. More details regarding this event to come in a future article.

Dundee Park will reopen on Saturday, May 26 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends only, until June 23.
From that date until August 12, the park will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., returning to its weekend only time after that until September 3. Dundee Park will close for the season on September 3 at 5 p.m.

The park offers bathrooms and a beverage vending machine, as well as boat rentals and barbeque grills throughout the picnic areas. Day and seasonal passes are available for residents and non-residents. Day passes are $5 for residents $3 for children and $6 for adult non-residents, $4 for non-resident children. Senior and veteran discounts apply.

Seasonal passes are per household vehicle and cost $50 for residents and $65 for non-residents.
For more information, call the Windham Parks and Recreation Office at 892-1905 or visit our website at or check Dundee Park on Facebook.
Be sure to put Dundee Park on your summer “bucket list” to not only see firsthand its new Dundee Duck mascot, but to create exciting and lasting Dundee Park memories with your family.

Friday, May 11, 2018

An uncle and nephew share a heart-felt trip to Washington on Honor Flight Maine by Michelle Libby

Ed Quinlan (L) and his nephew James Mannette
Ed Quinlan, 82, has the military woven into the fabric of his being. His father was in World War I, his three brothers served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam respectfully, and Quinlan served in the Army in Germany after the war. He recently took a trip to Washington D.C. on the Honor Flight Maine, where veterans are given a once in a life time chance to experience their memorials.

“It was a wonderful and emotional trip,” Quinlan said. He was able to visit each memorial that symbolized the service his father and brothers gave to the United States, as well as his own memorial. “We went to all the memorials. Each one represented a brother to me.”

Quinlan served as a private first class for two years in the Army. He was drafted and spent 16 months of his two years in Germany. His unit was one of the last to travel overseas by ship. It took 11 days to sail across the ocean and 13 days to return, he said. He marveled at the whales swimming alongside the ship during that trip.

Quinlan grew up in South Windham and was a 1954 graduate of Windham High School. He worked for S.D. Warren Paper Company for 34 years. was nominated to go on the Honor Flight by his niece Anita Quinlan. Last year, Anita’s son was a member of the ROTC group at Windham High School. They went to a homecoming at the Jetport and she decided to look into the program for her uncle. She didn’t expect anything to come of it, but a few weeks before the flight they were told Ed was cleared to go.

Each veteran traveled with a companion and for Quinlan it was his nephew James Mannette, who will soon be entering the United States Air Force Academy in June.

“My heart is full and glowing after spending the weekend in Washington D.C. I was very fortunate to escort my great uncle, a US Army Korean War Veteran, alongside many other WWII Veterans to see their memorials with Honor Flight Maine,” said Mannette.

He was most impressed with the stories the veterans told. One man was an Army Colonel who had served in many wars. He had a Purple Heart and three Silver Stars. “He was the first to come up to me and thank me for my service, which was amazing coming from him,” Mannette said.

This was the first Honor Flight of 2018, which transported 48 veterans, 48 guardians and three or four volunteers to Washington DC.

Quinlan’s favorite part of the trip was Arlington National Cemetery. “I could not believe or imagine all the headstones. Four hundred thousand headstones,” he said. He enjoyed seeing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. “It was a once in a lifetime trip.”

Quinlan had been to Washington D.C. with his wife before she passed away, but this trip had its own merits as the volunteers made sure they always had water or a snack in their hands. Each veteran was also given a disposable camera to record their memories.

“It was first class,” Quinlan said.
They saw the Women’s Memorial, Navy Memorial, Air Force Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Meade, were some of the highlights, said Mannette.

When the flight arrived back at the Portland International Jetport, the veterans were greeted by hundreds of people waving flags and clapping for them. For many it was the first time they returned and were celebrated. Honor Flight Maine held mail call for all of the veterans who received a pack of letters from family and friends.

Quinlan received letters from Susan Collins, Angus King, his son in California, his son in Gorham and from students in his niece Anita’s class, thanking him for his service. Representative Bruce Poliquin was there to greet the returning troops.

“The stories these veterans have are extremely powerful, and their patriotism is far from subtle. Full of laughter and smiles, these brave souls never cease to show love and pride for the country they fought for. These veterans changed the world, and their contributions will be forever honored,” Mannette said.

Honor Flight Maine is a non-profit organization solely to honor America’s Veterans. Priority is given to terminally ill and frail Veterans. It costs $17,500 to send one Veteran on the Honor Flight Tour and the trip is funded completely through sponsorships and donations.

For more information, visit

“We can’t all be heroes. Some of us get to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.” - Will Rogers

Local Girl Scouts provide a taste of Maine in Afghanistan by Jennifer Davis

The Daisy Troop
Girl Scouts Troop 695 brought smiles to the faces of a few members who are serving in our U.S. Army, stationed in Afghanistan this past month, when the service men and women received two giant boxes full of Girl Scout cookies. 

During the Girl Scout Cookie Campaign, Troop 695 collected boxes of donated cookies to be sent to the soldiers serving our country. 

“The idea was started when one of the girl’s neighbors asked if there was a way to donate cookies to soldiers,” said Nicole Buzzell, Troop Leader for Troop 695. “The mom asked us on our private Facebook page and another mom commented that she was also interested because she has a cousin in Afghanistan now.” 

This interest and idea soon became reality as the girls began collecting their donated boxes of cookies. “Through all of the trainings we’ve taken over the past five years, we understand the importance of the troop being Girl led,” Buzzell said. “This was a great chance to make that happen.”
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Libby

Cookies were not the only donation made. In fact, a donation of $80 was made to be used toward the shipping costs totaling $120, making shipping the cookies much more affordable. The boxes were shipped to Troop 695 member, Paisley’s cousin, Chief Warrant Officer 3 TJ Libby, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.

The cookies arrived in Afghanistan safely and were received by those serving the U.S. The girls were very surprised when they received a video message from Chief Warrant Officer 3 Libby, directly thanking them for their gift. He explained how much these cookies were enjoyed by all of the people currently stationed with him and how the timing was perfect. 

Libby, who works closely with an orphanage in Afghanistan, explained that not only were the girls making some service men and women very happy, but also would be making some children very happy.  “You guys did a lot to help out the kids of Afghanistan,” said Libby in his video to Troop 695. 

Libby planned to keep one box of cookies for his troop and donate the other to the orphanage.  Libby went on to explain that these Girl Scout cookies would be the first ones that some of the children at the orphanage had ever experienced.

When Chief Warrant Officer 3 Libby opened the box full of cookies he found letters that had been included from all of the Girl Scouts in Troop 695. “These cards are my favorite part of this whole package,” said Libby. “You guys rock. You brightened up my day, week, month!  Thank you so much!  Keep doing what you’re doing.”
The video from Chief Warrant Officer 3 Libby was unexpected and made the girls’ day. “It made me really happy,” said Paisley, 6 years old. 

“He’s so far away from us, keeping our country safe, I wanted the cookies to make him happy.” Paisley and the rest of the girls in Troop 695 will be earning a fun patch to wear on their vests recognizing their efforts. 

What started as an idea and a simple question gave soldiers serving our country the taste of home and, at the same time, providing a little something special to those who could also use a surprise of sweetness. One kind act is all that is needed to make the world a better place.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Successful Color Dash Run supports local educational programs by Jennifer Davis morning, April 28, the community gathered for the Windham Primary School’s (WPS) third annual Color Dash. This year’s race welcomed 180 people, where families met and mingled with neighbors and teachers as they anxiously awaited the countdown to the start of the race.  
This year’s race wrapped around the school, through the woods, then meeting back on the WPS playground where participants ended their run by grabbing their packet of color – where about ten minutes later the air was filled with a rainbow of colors.

“Funds are being used to support teacher grants,” stated Michelle Jordan, Windham Primary School’s Volunteer Coordinator.  “This is a new initiative starting this year where teachers can request funds to support programs that help enhance student learning.”  By the turnout that crowded the WPS playground area, it was sure to be a successful event.

Jordan is part of the Principal Advisory Committee that organizes school wide fundraisers and events throughout the year. These events include: Smencils and Smens, scented pencils and pens that help support the technology in the classrooms and Scholastic Book Fairs fundraiser that supports the school library. Historically, a basket raffle along with the Color Dash have raised money for the playground, a new vision screening machine, smartboards, books and field trip scholarships.  

“Thank you to our volunteer coordinator, Michelle Jordan, and the staff and parents that helped make this a fun school community event,” stated Dr. Kyle Rhoads, WPS Principal.  “We are very fortunate to have such a supportive school and local community!”

If you are interested in donating to any of the school programs, donations can be sent directly the
Primary School. To ensure that your donation supports the program that you want, include a note specifying your donation request along with your donation.

Talented woodworker shares his passion to help and inspire others by Lorraine Glowczak

Bob Berry made this ukulele for his daughter
Bob Berry, grounds-keeper, maintenance employee and woodshop teacher at Windham Christian Academy has a passion for woodworking and craftsmanship. He shares this innate skill with not only the students at the academy but with others who are fond of creating music.
Recently, to help the music program at his alma mater – the Lakes Region Middle School, Berry donated five ukuleles so music students could pursue their dream of starting a ukulele band. Berry made each of the musical instruments by hand. 

“My childhood friend is now a health teacher at Lakes Region High,” explained Berry. “He knew that I was making ukuleles with the students at the Academy, so he approached me about a way to make the instruments for the students at Lakes Region.” 

Realizing that arts programs in almost all schools lack funding, Berry wanted to support the students in the only way he knew how. “I gave them away,” he said. His friend paid for the parts that Berry has to order to make the instrument complete - such as the frets, strings and bridges. But Berry’s time, energy and
craftsmanship, as well as the purchase of the wood, was his donation.

Berry’s road to workshop teacher at a Christian school was a long, arduous one. Being a student who fell through the cracks of the educational system in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Berry never learned how to read or write. School was difficult for him. The one class Berry excelled in was his high school woodworking class.

A sample of his craftsmanship
“I saw my woodworking teacher’s passion,” reflected Berry, “and somehow I caught that same enthusiasm.”

Due to the educational challenges Berry faced, he quit high school and went on to work in the fields of construction and cabinetry; perfecting his technique and craft in woodworking for the next 15 to 20 years. His life was filled with disappointment, hardships, drugs and alcohol. During an especially low point in his life, he and his current wife were invited to Windham Assembly of God. It was there he changed his life for the better.

“The instant I decided to walk with Jesus, I knew I had to learn how to read and write,” Berry said. “I didn’t know that was going to be a part of the deal,” he joked.

He participated in his local Adult Education Program. “When one Adult Ed Teacher interviewed me as part of the program introduction, I showed her photos of many of my woodworking and cabinetry work[s], when she asked about what I had done with my life thus far,” Berry began. “She took a look at all the photos and said to me, ‘You are lying. Anyone who cannot read and write could not be able to build and produce something as professional as this.’” 

Bob Berry (second from left) in front of the tree at Thrive Coffee House
After two years in adult education, he received his diploma. “I learned how to write by writing journals with two of my teachers – including the one who initially didn’t believe my woodworking skills,” Berry said. “I also began reading the Bible as well as other books. I have read the Bible in its entirety every year for the past 26 years. This one thing has changed my life unbelievably.”
Once his life began turning around, Berry started working in the grounds-keeping and maintenance departments at the academy. He had heard that a few students at the academy wanted to build a boat as part as the senior project; so he gathered his woodworking tools and found the wood necessary to teach them how to build their boat. One of these boats was entered in the Portland Boat Show and caught the attention of a Rhode Island entrepreneur who owns the Pirate Cove Marina in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

The owner of the marina had always wanted to own a coffee shop and had envisioned putting a tree inside the shop. She admired Berry’s craftsmanship on the boat displayed. “She approached me about making a tree to put in her coffee shop,” Berry said, befuddled. “So, I got a few of the students to work with me on it as part of their senior project and we built a tree. It is now in the Thrive Coffee House in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.”

And, thus, Berry’s career as a woodshop teacher began and he has been teaching the students for the past 10 years. However, the big projects of boats and trees were getting a bit overwhelming. About a year ago, he saw a student with a ukulele and thought that might be a much easier project to pursue. “I looked online to see how to make the instrument,” Berry said. “And we have been making ukuleles ever since.”

Word has gotten out about Berry’s talent for creating the popular and beautiful sounding ukulele and he is asked often to create and make special instruments for many within the Greater Windham Community. 

He has no plans of becoming an instrument-making entrepreneur, but if you have questions or would like to talk with Berry about his passion for woodworking, he is happy to do so. Feel free to contact him at