Friday, April 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The community of Windham has two opportunities to support the team, by helping to fund their trip to Michigan. At the present time they are about 50% funded, primarily by parents of these outstanding students. To assist, consider visiting their fundraising page at: Alternatively, if you’d like to take in a movie while helping to fund the team, they have partnered with Smitty’s Cinema. You may buy an $11 ticket good for any showing at Smitty’s Windham location on May 5. Half of the ticket price goes to the team. Tickets are available at the Manchester school and seating is on a first come, first served basis. 

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

Go team!

Windham sculptor wins 2019 artist’s residency at Monson Arts

Anne Alexander
By Lorraine Glowczak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a recent press release pointed out, many students in the Windham and Raymond communities know Alexander as a frequent substitute teacher at Windham High School. Having worked as an art teacher at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School and Waynflete School in Portland for more than twenty years, she now works part-time with youth in order to devote herself more fully to her sculpture career. for advice for those who dream and hope to follow in her footsteps, she offers the following words of wisdom. “I have always had a ‘day’ job because I wanted to be free to let my art be authentic instead of a mode of financial survival,” she began. “However, I have many friends who make art
their full-time job and love it. But no matter which way you choose, art is more about perseverance and hard work than talent. You must have that intense feeling that says, ‘I simply have to do this.’ Otherwise, art as a lifestyle may not be the path for you.”

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

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

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

By Lorraine Glowczak

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 King writes that:‘From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the movement.... It was the Sermon on the Mount rather than a doctrine of passive resistance that initially inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action. It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love.’”, that’s the sole purpose (or perhaps the “soul” purpose) of the efforts of the Unity members who studied non-violent and peaceful approach to a chaotic society – a creative weapon of love and peace.
In terms of technicalities and to stand by their method of peaceful action, members of Unity stated they have reached out to determine if it was lawful to do what they deemed important. The Windham Eagle contacted Windham Chief of Police to verify. “As long as they are not impeding the flow of traffic, the individuals have the right to exercise their freedom of speech.”

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

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

Famous musician entertained crowd with song and story at the Windham Performing Arts Center

Dougie MacLean
By Lorraine Glowczak

Internationally renowned for his song, “Caledonia” as well as a composition featured in the movie, “Last of the Mohicans”, Dougie MacLean from Scotland performed to a crowd of approximately 300 last Wednesday, April 10 at the Windham Performing Arts Center.

The singer-songwriter, who played a few scores with the Windham Chamber Singers, provided an interactive concert, sharing tales and encouraging the audience to sing along; crafting a harmonious musical adventure.

"I loved the way he wove his story, telling us a bit of the background of his songs along with gently coaxing us into true audience participation," stated one audience member, Barb Hunt Maurais. "Of course, the songs and his guitar playing skills were amazing. What a treasure." the audience’s laughter, participation and - sometimes tears as a result of the melodic beauty - is any indication, then Maurais’ assessment of the evening was correct. He was adored by all.

Most fans of Dr. Richard Nickerson, conductor of the Windham Chamber Singers, are aware of the story and how the adoration of MacLean began in 2011. Nickerson and his new bride, Linda, honeymooned in Ireland where they heard and enjoyed the song, “Caledonia” for the first time at a local pub. “I knew I wanted to incorporate the musical composition into a choral arrangement to be sung by the Windham Chamber Singers,” Nickerson explained.

But in order to do that, copyright and other legalities were required. Nickerson reached out to MacLean, who not only gave him his blessings for the rights – but also helped Nickerson compose the song specifically for the chorus.

As a result of this communication Nickerson had with both Maclean and his wife, Jackie (who addresses all correspondence for the famed musician), the opportunity for this special performance on Wednesday was created. “Jackie sent me a message,” began Nickerson. “She told me that Dougie was going to be on tour in the U.S. and had an evening available to perform. She wanted to know if Windham would enjoy experiencing a concert by him.” Nickerson responded with an unequivocal yes.

MacLean with the Chamber Singers
The Lakes Region was very lucky to have such renowned talent in their midst. The Windham Eagle reached out to MacLean, who happens to still be on tour as of this publication. His wife responded within an hour and provided a bit of his biography to us, “Dougie’s performances have carried on apace though over 40 years with great tours and festival appearances in England, Wales , N. Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Canada, the USA, Spain, Australia and all parts of Scotland.

Venues have included Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s Main Auditorium with the legendary Mavis Staples and with Phil Cunningham Aly Bain and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Usher Hall with 3 wonderful choirs, solo with his trio and with the MacLean Project in The Queen's Hall during the Edinburgh Festival and a concert in Holyrood Palace for HRH Prince Charles.” have such a world-class and musical genius performing in Windham is not the only honor received. “Although his song “Caledonia”, has become a staple in the Windham Chamber Singer’s repertoire, I explained to our chamber singers that it would be respectful to let him sing the song on his own – after all, it is his song,” stated Nickerson. “But he invited the singers to join him. It was a surreal moment.”

Nickerson was not the only one who was moved by MacLean’s invitation. “After hearing it many times, it still brought goose bumps when Dougie invited the Windham Chamber Singers to join him for ‘Caledonia’,” stated Jim McBride, another member of the audience. “It was another proud moment for Windham to have a world-class talent on stage with our students.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Schoolhouse Arts Center kicks off 30th season with hilarious farce

By Elizabeth Richards

Schoolhouse Arts Center opened the first show of its 30th season last weekend with an uproarious rendition of “Noises Off!”, a farcical look at the world of theatre. I had the pleasure of attending the dress rehearsal, which unfolded far more smoothly than the dress rehearsal portrayed on stage.

If you’ve ever participated in a theater production, you’re sure to appreciate the familiar (but greatly
exaggerated) glitches that arise. And if you haven’t, your perception of live theater may be forever changed once you’ve seen this show.

The audience received a glimpse of how each character would evolve from the moment each made their initial appearance on stage. The talented cast built upon these initial impressions throughout the show, creating characters that worked in perfect sync with one another. Through facial expressions, body movements, and flawless timing of remarks and gestures, the distinct personality of each character emerged. By the end of the show I felt as though I knew each character personally and could anticipate what might come next, though there were plenty of twists throughout. first act details the final dress rehearsal of a touring show about to open. Although it soon becomes clear that things aren’t running quite the way they should, there’s a hopeful air that it will all come together in the end. But by the end of the act, with personal lives revealed bit by bit and a love triangle emerging, it’s clear that the run may not be so smooth after all.

The second act, set a month later, gives a backstage glimpse of how poorly things have gone. It was this act that highlighted just how talented this group of actors (the Schoolhouse cast, not the fictional cast) is. The pace is quick and frenzied, but the show moved smoothly along, with so many side stories overlapping all at once that it was difficult to keep track of all the action.  Everywhere I looked there was a hilarious moment unfolding; I hate to think of how many I missed.

In the third act, back on the set of the fictitious show two months later, it’s clear that the entire production has devolved into total chaos. And yet, the (fictional) cast embraces the idea that “the show must go on,” moving through every missed entrance, unexpected arrival, and set failure as though nothing unusual has happened at all.

The physical comedy alone makes this show worth seeing. Comedic timing was right on, and there was often no way to determine if what had just happened was part of the script, or an actual glitch in the rehearsal. Everything worked so well that it simply didn’t matter. impressive as the acting and flow of the show was, the set showcased the backstage talent at Schoolhouse Arts Center.  Two stories high, with detachable stairs and ladders, the entire thing had to rotate between each act. The show has two 15-minute intermissions to accommodate this rotation. I recommend staying in your seat for one of them, just to see the feat accomplished.  It’s a real life look behind the scenes that added another level of interest to the production.

“Noises Off!” is a production that shouldn’t be missed. In fact, with all the action happening simultaneously, you might want to see it more than once to catch anything you may miss. There are four shows remaining in the run, on Friday, April 12th at 7 pm; Saturday April 13th at 2 pm and 7 pm; and Sunday, April 14th at 2 pm. The show is rated PG-13 for language and innuendo.  Tickets can be purchased online at

Windham High School students get nerdy at science

By Briana Bizier

On a blustery Saturday in late March, a team of Windham High School students traveled to the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus to compete with mousetraps, calculators, and batteries. Maine’s annual Science Olympiad competition, which dates back to 1986, brings together teams of students from middle and high schools across the state.

There’s no other competition like it,” explained Pamela Ferris-Olson, one of the two directors of the 2019 Maine Science Olympiad. “The events run across all STEM disciplines, from the build competitions to biology to physics. At least two students compete in every event, so kids learn how important it is to cooperate. The students win on the strength of their team.”

Maine Science Olympiad’s events range from tests on subjects as far-ranging as herpetology and forensics, which are written, administered, and graded by a group of dedicated volunteers who follow national standards, to “build” competitions where students design and construct something beforehand which is then tested and evaluated by volunteers on the University of Maine campus. The entire event is a celebration of math, science, and engineering. Windham High School’s team T-shirts poked fun at popular perceptions of science by using the symbols for nitrogen, erbium, and dysprosium from the Periodic Table of the Elements to spell out: NErDy. have 23 events covered by 15 kids,” explained Daniel Wirtz, one of the two teachers who serve as coaches for the Windham High School team. “So, our team has to have a wide range of knowledge
and experience.”

For the build events, Wirtz said, students are required to bring their completed machines as well as their test and run logs to the competition. As we spoke, the Mousetrap Car competition ran in the background. For this event, high school students constructed a vehicle powered entirely by the snap of two mousetrap springs. To compete, the mousetrap car needed to push a cup eight meters, then stop, and then travel in reverse.

Another popular build event is called Mission Possible, where students construct a complex Rube Goldberg machine in order to accomplish a simple task. This year, the task was lifting a nine-volt battery. Extra points were awarded to students whose machines included details like using vinegar
and baking soda to inflate a balloon, filling a container with water in order to lift a golf ball, or using electricity to break a string.

My young assistants and I watched the Windham High School team set up and run their Mission Possible machine. As we waited, the volunteer judges examined the machine carefully and asked a few questions about the batteries.

Those batteries are hooked up in parallel,” Windham High School student Evan Desmond explained, “so the voltage doesn’t add, it’s just the amperage.”

Clearly, these Windham High School students already know much more about electricity and
The Mousetrap car that won second place.
batteries than this reporter!

After a few last-minute adjustments, Desmond and fellow student, Cordelia Inman put their Mission Possible machine into action. A water balloon inflated, balls rolled down ramps, a string snapped, and finally a little engine whirred into action, slowly raising a wooden platform holding the single nine-volt battery.

I want to see it again!” my four-year-old assistant declared. I promised him that, if he works hard enough in school, he could one day be on the Windham High School Science Olympiad team.

The Windham students’ dedication and hard work paid off during the Science Olympiad award ceremony. Students Annika Johnson and Landon Leclerc took a gold medal for first place in the Anatomy competition. Haley Froisland and Joshua Mora took silver, second place, for their Mouse Trap Car, and Desmond’s and Inman’s battery-lifting Mission Possible machine won third place. \

Students Owen Flibert and Kiril Perederil also took third place in the Forensics competition.

The Windham High School team is generously sponsored by State Farm Insurance in Windham, thanks to Tricia Zwirner. The Windham team thanks you for your continued support of math, science,
and engineering!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Paving the way – the story of a road trip for women’s right to vote

By Lorraine Glowczak

In 1915, three women drove across the country in an Overland Six automobile, from San Francisco to D.C. with the sole purpose of gathering and delivering over 500,000 signatures on a petition to Congress and President Wilson, demanding women’s right to vote.

Maine author, Anne Gass, retraced that trip with her husband in the summer of 2015 - 100 years after
Left to right Sara Bard Field (from Detroit), Maria Kindberg
and Ingeborg Klingstedt. photo credit goes to Library of Congress
the initial journey. She shared her own story as well as that of the three women who made the arduous trip in a presentation last Monday evening, March 25 at the Little Meeting House in Windham, hosted by the Windham Historical Society.

The trip was sponsored by the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU), a small but mighty group led by Alice Paul that was determined to win voting rights for women through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution instead of the much slower strategy, pursued for decades, of winning it state by state. The CU set up a booth at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915 and spent months gathering signatures on a petition demanding an amendment to the U.S. Constitution enfranchising women.

However, there needed to be a way to get those signatures to President Woodrow Wilson and Congress in Washington, D.C. Paul decided that a cross-country road trip was the answer. This would permit gathering more signatures in the states they visited, and would also generate badly needed publicity for their cause.  

Paul asked a poet, Sara Bard Field and wealthy socialite, Frances Joliffe to represent the Congressional Union on that journey. “Unfortunately, Frances became ill and was forced to drop out of the trip almost right away- in Sacramento,” explained Gass. “Two Swedish immigrants from Rhode Island, Maria Kindberg and Ingeborg Kindstedt, had traveled by steamship to the Exposition and were already planning to buy a car and drive it back to Providence. They offered to drive the envoys and the petitions the 5,000 miles to D.C, getting there in time for the opening of Congress on December 6.”

As Gass explained at last Monday evening’s talk, “They traveled the Lincoln Highway. However, the term “highway” was much different at that time. In 1915, the ‘Lincoln Highway’ was little more than a cart track that would turn to a sea of mud in the rain. It was highly unusual for women to drive alone - but they were determined to do it and they overcame considerable hardship.”

Gass revealed the many obstacles the three women faced. “Notice the car is a convertible,” Gass pointed out the picture on the PowerPoint presentation. “They begin their road trip in September and were traveling east in early December. Obviously, they were going to face cold weather along the way.”

Author and speaker, Anne Gass
Gass also explained that they had three gas cans filled with water, oil, and fuel stored on one side of the vehicle because gas stations were not as plentiful and easily accessed as one would experience today on a cross-country trip.

She told the story of the three women driving through the Salt Flats of Utah on their way to Ibapah Ranch, where they were planning to stay that night. “They went through extreme heat, through dusty salt plains and had to stop to patch their tires a dozen times. Unfamiliar with the route, they’d hired a man who swore he knew the way,.”

Not as much help as expected, the hired driver got lost. With the help of two cowboys they found wrapped in their blankets at a crossroads, they finally arrived at the ranch early in the morning hours. “
The women continued across the U.S., enduring snowstorms, washed out roads and mud. “At one point, they got stuck in the mud  near Hutchinson, Kansas at 10 p.m. at night,” Gass said. “They had just passed a farm house, so they yelled for help with the hope that someone would hear them and offer assistance. Getting no response, Field, who had insisted on taking the short cut, was elected to walk to that house – in mud up to her hips in places– to ask for help.”

They discovered from two men they met later that day that their pleas for help were heard but ignored because, “If those women want the right to vote, let’s see if they can help themselves out of the mud,” is what the men said to the three feminists. Not impressed with their logic, Field rebutted, “Do you know how many times I’ve been up in the night to help a man who was ill and couldn’t take care of himself? This is not a matter of the right to vote, this is about common humanity.”

Despite their challenges, the road trip provided opportunities for signatures and education to the public, with Field informing those who gathered in town squares, etc. about suffrage and encouraging people to support voter rights.

Making it to D.C. in time and impressed by the size of the petition, the President expressed his admiration and said he would consider their demand. Although it took another five years, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, finally ratified in 1920, opened the polls to women. The three women, plus the 500,000 signatures, helped pave the way for women winning the right to vote.

Anne B. Gass is the author of “Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine’s Fight for Woman Suffrage”, published in 2014. She is the great-granddaughter of Florence Brooks Whitehouse who led Maine’s branch of the CU, working closely with Paul, Lucy Burns and other well-known suffragists. Gass’s great-grandmother was present in D.C. to greet Field, Kindberg and Kindstedt after their long three-month trip.

Gass lectures regularly on Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine suffrage history at conferences, historical societies, libraries, schools, etc. She serves on the Steering Committee of the Maine Suffrage Centennial Collaborative, a diverse group of organizations from across the state working to promote the one hundred year anniversary of woman suffrage.

To have Gass speak to your group, contact her at

Career fair offers networking and connection for successful professional life in Maine

By Briana Bizier

Last Wednesday, as the bright March sun melted the remaining snowbanks on Saint Joseph’s campus, a group of businesses, community members, and college students gathered to focus on their futures and, together, to help advance the future of our state.

The annual Saint Joseph’s Career and Internship Fair, which was re-scheduled for March 27 due to a snowstorm on the original date in February, provided an excellent opportunity to build networks and connections which may lead to internships, jobs and, ultimately, a successful professional life in Maine. With over 60 employers in attendance from fields as diverse as banking, law enforcement, mental health services, and recreation, the Career Fair represented a large swath of the southern Maine professional community.

Saint Joseph College Alumni, Brett O'Kelly, Jason Riley and
Danielle Capozza attended the career fair representing Tyler Technologies
It’s great to see this number of employers,” explained Muhammad Humza Khan, a Talent and Diversity Specialist with Bangor Savings Bank. “And, the students I’ve met are very impressive,” he added.

While the Career Fair has a very strong connection to Saint Joseph’s, this event is always open to the entire community. Laurie Murphy, Assistant Professor of Human Resources in Saint Joseph’s Business Department, explained that this event is an opportunity to support the Maine economy and connect motivated, talented workers from the college and beyond with local employers.

The fair also provided Saint Joseph’s students with an intensive hands-on opportunity to participate in planning, managing, and running a large event. Over thirty students volunteered their time and expertise to make the fair a success, according to Steve McFarland, the Director of Career Development at Saint Joseph’s. Student involvement in the Career Fair ranged from running the check-in counter during the fair to reviewing resumes and LinkedIn profiles for fellow students and members of the community alike. Students even suggested new employers to invite. Tri-County Mental Health, McFarland said, was attending this year’s Career Fair thanks to a suggestion from a current Saint Joseph’s student. Students were even volunteering at the photo booth to offer all attendees the opportunity to sit for a professional portrait.

This is an all-campus undertaking,” explained McFarland.

Historically, the students’ efforts have certainly paid off. Last year, McFarland stated that several Saint Joseph’s students met their future employers during the Career Fair. One of those students, Steven Albert, found his position as a management trainee at Enterprise during last year’s fair. He returned to the Saint Joseph’s campus last Wednesday to represent Enterprise’s Portland branch and their Management Training program.

This is really ground-up training in how to run a business,” Albert said. And it all began with a handshake over the Enterprise table in the same room one year ago.

Other Saint Joseph’s alumni in attendance worked for Covetrus, a software company in Portland who designs technology to serve veterinarians and their teams, and Tyler Technologies in Yarmouth.
We’ll recognize a lot of students who come through today,” explained Danielle Capozza, an Associate HR Representative at Tyler Technologies, who was one of three recent Saint Joseph’s graduates representing Tyler Tech at the Career Fair.

This personal connection to a fellow classmate can make networking and job hunting much less intimidating, explained Alyssa Theriault, a current HR Management Major at Saint Joseph’s and one of the student volunteers who helped to organize the Career Fair.

I found an internship here,” Theriault said, explaining how a connection made at last year’s Career Fair led to her summer internship position with Norway Savings Bank. “It was a great experience,” she told me, with a cheerful smile.

Yet this annual Career and Internship Fair helps to build more than individual careers.

Professor Laurie Murphy explained that this event is an important part of building the Maine community. As a state with an aging population, Maine faces a demographic challenge. “We need a strong workforce to ensure a successful future for employers, their employees, and the entire state.”

Many of our alums want to stay in Maine,” Murphy explained. This Career Fair gives the talented young students at Saint Joseph’s, and the larger community of Windham and Raymond, a chance to connect with employers, to learn of opportunities they may not have imagined, and to envision themselves building their career in Vacationland.

According to Theriault, living and working in Maine after graduating from Saint Joseph’s is an easy sell for most of her classmates.

We spend four years here,” Theriault said, gesturing to Saint Joseph’s panoramic views of the ice-covered Sebago Lake and the white peak of Mount Washington. “How can you look at that view every day and then want to move to a big city?”