Friday, August 31, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

added "and those who loved them" [DF1]

I put "sell" for "sale" [DF2]

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

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

Friday, August 24, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 17, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Windham Recreation "Green Team" Campers keep Windham High School Community Garden alive

This summer, a small group of campers from the Windham Recreation Adventure Camp group spent part of their time at camp working and learning in the Windham High School Community Garden. This garden was started in 2011 by a high school activity group calling themselves Green Roots. In addition to learning about various aspects of environmental science and doing projects around the school, the group was able to convert an enclosed courtyard space into a school garden.

With the help of several grants - lumber, tools, soil components and even a shed were obtained.

Students built the raised beds under the direction of former teacher and master gardener, Bill Keller and Earth Science teacher Lindsay Hanson. Over the next few years, beds were added by Windham/Raymond Adult Education classes, also taught by Keller.

Each year a variety of vegetables are planted, nurtured and harvested. Vegetables have been used by the school lunch program, taken home by students and teachers and given to families in need.

This space is more than just a garden. It is a place of learning about topics one might not even consider as “gardening”. Teachers of several subjects such as art, science, math and even English have used the space for various learning activities. There are a couple of picnic tables in the space
where students can just sit and read, eat lunch or quietly work on something.

This is the third year that the Windham Recreation campers have been involved in the garden during
the summer weeks. Calling themselves the “Green Team”, they spend time several days a week planting, watering, weeding and even harvesting some of the veggies. Once or twice a week, Keller would come in to teach the students some things about gardening and guide them in things they could do during the week. This year, counselors Bailey Turner and Julia Hamilton helped in the day to day supervision of the campers when they were able to spend time in the garden. the beginning of the camping season, the campers learned about how this garden started, some of the advantages of raised beds for this type of location and how to properly water the beds. Since many plants had already been started by the high school and adult education, the campers did some weeding around them as well as harvesting some of the lettuce to take home before cleaning out that bed and preparing it for a future planting.

The campers learned how to measure and mark with strings a square foot garden space to plant some beans to hopefully be harvested in the fall for the school lunch program. Campers were taught about the soil and how composting of organic matter in the composting bin could be used to replenish the beds in following years.

A bed of radishes was started a few weeks into camp and was flourishing by camps end. Students checked progress on plants noting how long it took for seeds to germinate and grow.

The involvement of the Windham Recreation campers has provided a fun and interesting learning experience for them while at the same time been a great way to keep the high school community garden going during the summer. The campers gladly took time out of their activities to make sure the plants were well watered during this very dry season and the amazing growth in the gardens is a result of their work.

Enjoying chives the "Green Team" planted
On August 2, several of the campers and counselors went on a field trip to Bumbleroot Organic Farm in Windham. They were given a tour by Ben Whalen who explained the workings of the farm, a little bit about their philosophy of growing things as close to nature as possible and of giving back to the community.

The campers and counselors were then given a chance to do some volunteer work in one of the strawberry fields that will be ready for harvest next year. The students got dirty and sweaty and learned a bit about how much work goes into the food that comes to their tables. On the way home, they stopped for a short tour of the Windham Community Garden where they learned a bit about how members of the community could come together to share space, tools, and comradery while growing fresh tasty food for their tables and those in need.

In a follow up with Ben Whalen of Bumbleroot, he shared that “It was good having you and the kids out to the farm, despite the heat! The strawberry fields look way better than they would have without your help.”

Next summer Windham Recreation is hoping to offer campers this experience as an “enrichment” program which would allow for more designated times and learning opportunities in the gardens.      

Friday, August 10, 2018

Proposed amendments regarding medical marijuana caregiver retail stores does not pass by Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Town Council met on Tuesday evening August 7 at the Town Hall in the Council Chambers to discuss a variety of agenda items. The items of greatest concern that filled the chamber room with area residents and Windham delegation was the discussion surrounding issues and recent changes in adult-use and medical marijuana.

Many municipalities, including Windham, have been struggling with how to handle requests from registered caregivers to operate medical marijuana retail stores. Existing law has been completely silent on the legal status of these stores and unclear as to municipal authority to regulate.

As a result, the Council invited Windham delegation, the town attorney, police chief and code enforcement to examine these complicated issues, specifically, the lack of clarity regarding the legality of retail caregiver stores.

Basic information provided to the Council included but not limited to the following:

There will be a constantly changing and rearranging of the laws regarding cannabis for a while.
Recreational use is largely up to the municipalities.
Violations of retail stores go to the Department of Health and Human Services. can only enforce general violations.
Complaints about retail caregiver stores can be addressed during the businesses licensure renewal process.

The subject of medical caregiver retail storefronts was also discussed and was an agenda item that required action. The action considered was regarding a proposed amendment to the definition of a retail caregiver store. The proposed amendment was as follows:

“Caregiver Retail Store” – A Retail Sales establishment operated by a registered medical marijuana caregiver for the sale of marijuana and marijuana products to qualifying patients, which establishment may also include facilities for the conduct of any other activities authorized to be performed by a medical marijuana Caregiver pursuant to 22 M.R.S. Sec. 2423-A(2), as may be amended from time to time. Notwithstanding 1 M.R.S.A. § 302, this Amendment shall apply to all Caregiver Retail Stores not in operation on or before August 7, 2018 or authorized by a permit granted by the Town of Windham prior to August 7, 2018."

Area caregivers and owners of retail stores in Windham offered public comments, making the argument that medical marijuana provides relief for many ailments and, as such, the importance of not restricting this form of medication from patients.

Various council members expressed their views on the matter. Councilwoman Rebecca Cummings clarified that the proposed amendment was not a punitive action, but rather an effort to make sure that patients receive safe product and met quality assurance specifications. She mentioned the importance of commercial and home kitchen licenses for the safe making of edible products. Jarrod Maxfield expressed that any legal business should not be prevented from coming into town and stated he would not vote for the proposed amendment.

The action did not pass with four council members against the proposed amendment and three for.

For full details and other agenda items discussed, go to the town website at The meetings are also available to view on Facebook Live as well as recorded and broadcasted on Channel 7.

For patients who wish to know if their care provider is licensed for the use of a commercial or home kitchen can contact the Maine Department of Agriculture at

National Night Out to bolster relationship with law enforcement a success by Matt Pascarella

McGruff, the crime solving dog
On Tuesday evening, August 7th, the Windham and Gorham law enforcement departments and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department hosted a National Night Out held at Windham High School. This was a community event seeking to strengthen the relationship between townspeople and law enforcement.

Josh Noyse participates in a kayaking demo
The Windham and Gorham Police Departments put on a K-9 demonstration, showcased new drone technology and county SWAT team members were present along with police cars and motorcycles. Various fire apparatus and the DARE to Adventure program were available to talk and showcase their programs as well.

Service organizations such as Domestic Violence, Trauma Intervention and Be the Influence were on hand so the public could learn more about what they do.

Windham Chief of Police and event organizer, Kevin Schofield, said the National Night Out, which Windham began participating in last year, is “an event to give police departments an opportunity to interact with the community; community members to get to know officers, as well as the various types of programs and equipment that are available to help departments serve our communities.”

“[There are] different things that we do to try and keep people safe other than stop them for speeding and putting handcuffs on people,” said Community Services Officer, Matt Cyr. “[The public] gets to see some of the community policing programs…and lets them see some of the equipment and technology that has really come into law enforcement,” Cyr adds.

Residents from Windham and the surrounding communities were in attendance. Some were there to see what it was all about, while others like Windham resident Angela Wyman, came for the child fingerprinting service for child IDs. Standish resident, Kimberly Nielsen was there with her Den 12 female Cub Scout group working on earning their safety badges.

Each law enforcement department “enjoys meeting new people, getting to know our citizens and displaying and demonstrating some of the programs and equipment we have available,” stated Chief Schofield.

Raymond’s Age Friendly Community receives Community Challenge Grant by Lorraine Glowczak

Members of the Raymond community participate in the intergenerational community garden project
The Raymond Community Garden, located on the grounds of the Raymond Village Library, was the host to area individuals on Monday, July 30 as they came out to celebrate the competitive grant awarded to Raymond’s Age Friendly Community (RAFC). RAFC is one of 169 organizations, nationwide, that received the AARP Community Challenge Grant. This grant is part of AARP’s Livable Communities initiative that helps towns and cities across the United States like Raymond become great places to live for residents of all ages. The goal is to encourage and support individuals to become engaged in all areas of life.

The monetary award received by RAFC will go toward an intergenerational community garden project, allowing people of all ages and abilities to garden together and provide food for the Raymond Food Pantry.“The intention of this project is to foster friendly and safe places for older residents to partner with our children while providing opportunities for each group to learn from each other and to provide fresh vegetables to the food pantry,” stated Sheila Bourque, Age Friendly community member, Raymond Village Library Board Director and author of the grant.

This collaborative effort, inspired by the Raymond Age Friendly Community, includes other organizations who also wish to be involved in creating a healthy and livable community. The other organizations involved include: the Raymond Village Library, Raymond Community Garden, Raymond Lions Club, the Town of Raymond, the Raymond Beautification Committee and Raymond Garden Club. A donation of lumber to build the elevated garden beds was provided by Hancock Lumber. The Raymond Lions Club are donating their time and carpentry skills to build those elevated beds and benches.

The innovative endeavors between these organizations are something to celebrate and the receipt of this grant should be applauded. “There were 1600 grant applicants nationwide,” stated Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “Only 169 grants were awarded, and Raymond was among the recipients for their innovative project – a project that not only creates a better place for residents of all ages to live but inspires positive change.”

Parham also stated that Maine leads the country in age-friendly communities. “There is something special about Maine – especially in the rural areas. Rural locations face more challenges, and the people in these locations are up to facing those challenges by collaborating to make the community more sustainable. The Town of Raymond is a prime example.”

It was only 14 months ago when the Raymond Age Friendly Community was just an idea. Inspired by a meeting hosted by Rep. Jessica Fay, over 35 individuals came out on a nice May 2017 afternoon to learn about creating an age friendly and sustainable town.

Briefly, the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities is an affiliate of the World Health Organization and is a part of an international effort launched in 2006 to help cities prepare for rapid population aging along with the popularity of urbanization.

The gathering that occurred 14 months ago was held to inform the Raymond residents and other surrounding and interested communities how to prepare for their aging population. “I’m so excited about how that one step we took back in May of 2017 is now a reality,” Fay said. “I’m proud of how the community came together to create something this big out of nothing. When that first meeting occurred, this collaborative effort is exactly what I had envisioned.”

Town Manager, Don Willard, also sees a benefit in this intergenerational project. “Given the demographic of Raymond, anything we do that puts older individuals along with younger citizens as a way to engage and connect is beneficial to building a strong and sustainable community.” demographic in Raymond is unique – as are all other communities in Maine. AARP Maine is there to help assess and to support those needs of individual towns. “Our role is to provide resources and tools to help the communities decide what is best for their town. We are here to support the communities in accessing those needs - whatever the individual community deems that may be” explained Parham.

What are the needs of Raymond? That is still being decided. Approximately three months ago, RAFC members sent out and delivered a community assessment questionnaire that ends in September. The survey asks questions related to transportation, social activities, home health care, home repair and many others. Once the results are in, the stated needs of those who live in and visit Raymond will be analyzed by St. Joseph’s College faculty and students. RACF will factor the needs requested and stated by the community from the report to prioritize new projects moving forward.

“The opinions of the people of Raymond are important,” Bourque said. “It matters! Whether you live here full time, seasonally or are just visiting, the RAFC wants to know what you think on these important issues. Our group wants to work on what matters to you. We ask everyone to take the survey. Feel free to drop in on our monthly meetings. Together we can make a difference.”

RACF survey can be taken on-line at The next monthly meeting is Monday, August 13 at 2 p.m. at the Raymond Public Safety Building, 1443 Roosevelt Trail in Raymond.