Friday, March 27, 2020

“Life of a Student Athlete” presentation generates enthusiasm in the community

John Underwood
By Elizabeth Richards

Amid school cancellations, business closures, and messages about the pressing need for people to stay home and stay distant, it may seem strange to read about a large event held at Windham High School. But before the threat of COVID-19 caused such drastic measures, the Be the Influence Coalition brought John Underwood to the school for a presentation called “Life of a Student Athlete,” an event that was very well received in the community.

Underwood is the Director/Founder of Life of an Athlete/Pure Performance-Human Performance
Project.  He is a former running Olympian, a former coach of Navy Seals and Olympic athletes, among others, and a crusader for drug-free sports at all levels.  Underwood is internationally recognized as a human performance expert specializing in recovery, peaking training, and lifestyle impact on mental and physical performance.

BTI Director Laura Morris said that the kick-off of the spring sports season presented a great opportunity to bring a speaker with credibility who would be a draw to coaches, student athletes, families and the general community.’s presentation, she said, really exemplifies the impact of any substance – from sugar to
marijuana to alcohol to cocaine – on the brain.  “This is not an opinion piece, this is a science-based, proven, evidence-based theory,” Morris said.  “The underlying factor is that we all need to be far more conscientious about what we put in our body and how it affects us.”

Morris said they had approximately 130-150 people scattered throughout the gym, with a nice mixture of coaches, law enforcement, student athletes, and parents in attendance.

The information presented was quite impactful for many of those in attendance. “The scientific research is very rigorous with a number of universities and medical facilities participating,” said Dave Packhem, parent and prevention specialist. Underwood emphasized many aspects of how powerful the brain is, including the connection between brain and body; the critical importance of sleep; the process of learning; the impact of chemical substances on the brain, body and basic functioning; the cumulative effect of using substances and how the brain learns to become dependent on them; and the brain scans that demonstrate how drugs and alcohol damage the brain.“Mr. Underwood's presentation was incredible. It really opened my eyes on what it takes to be a great
athlete,” said Windham High School (WHS) senior Anthony J. Gugliuzza III. “Being in shape doesn’t just have to do with your physical capabilities. In order to compete at the highest level, you have to be willing to put in the time. You have to be willing to eat right and get sleep. Mr. Underwood didn’t just preach this, he showed us, providing us with statistics and real-life data.”

The brain scans comparing the brains of substance-free teens with those who have used substances were eye-opening for many. “These images were really cool because they highlighted the importance of staying chemical free, especially at such a critical point in our development,” stated Gugliuzza, who will be attending Endicott College next year to study pre-physical therapy.

The presentation has inspired him to change his personal habits, he added. “What he said, especially in regards to diet, exercise and sleep, stuck with me. I have already started practicing better training habits, and look to continue these in the future, so that I can compete to the best of my abilities.”
Town Councilor Dave Nadeau said the way Underwood tied everything together was outstanding. “His presentation was so complete and thorough. That’s what the key to the whole thing was,”
Nadeau said. When he spoke about the impact of various substances on the brain, “You could see the downhill curve of the loss of what you had trained for,” Nadeau said.

The presentation didn’t just focus on drugs or alcohol, making it even more comprehensive.  Underwood also focused on personal development. “The way he talked to you about the way you can develop and constantly get better, either as a coach or an athlete – he just sewed it all together,” Nadeau said.  “It was impressive.” The impact that this presentation can have in the community is huge.  “It’s important to the community to counter the messages about alcohol and cannabis with scientific facts, Packhem said.
“Too many people think these substances are benign. They are not. I hope we see a movement building to educate us to the real dangers for putting chemical substances in our brains.”

WHS assistant principal Phil Rossetti agreed. “It’s so important to have experts in the field in to speak to our community. It helps reaffirm the message and information that we are sharing with our youth. There are so many messages out there that confuse folks and make it seem like a substance is healthy for you, but in reality, it’s harmful.”

“I truly believe Mr. Underwood's presentation will have a lasting impact on the community. The way in which he was able to speak to us and our parents was truly inspiring, especially given all that he has accomplished,” Gugliuzza said.  “There are a lot of kids who aspire to be athletes growing up, and I think this will hit home. I think his message will not only impact the future generation but will resonate with parents throughout the community."“If it helps one person make a healthier choice/decision then it was worth it. Our hope is that by
continuing to share information with the community we can be the influence,” Rossetti said.
“As a coach and educator, I/we encourage students to make healthy choices and to be prepared.

Preparation for learning is equally as important as preparation for an athletic event. This element often gets overlooked by many. The impact some “little things” like sleep have on us is unbelievable. The true way for us to see this impact is through science. It’s hard to argue the brain activity demonstrated in the brain scans when a substance has been inserted,” he added.

It’s critically important to provide this kind of information to youth, Morris said, especially since everywhere they turn, they are receiving messages that many substances are no big deal.  “It is a big deal, and it will have very negative repercussions for your future. If we can get someone like John Underwood, it really helps that credibility,” Morris said. “Youth are very undereducated, as are adults. We really hoped that parents would get the message too, and that’s why we tried to make it a community event,” she said.

2016 WHS graduate is top student and Valedictorian at UMaine

Sierra Yost
By Lorraine Glowczak

“I did it, Mom! I did it! But please don’t tell anyone.”

That was the humble plea of Sierra Yost, a 2016 Windham High School (WHS) graduate, during a recent phone conversation with her mother, Marla Pettinelli. Sierra had just discovered she was selected as the number one 2020 academic and Valedictorian student graduating at the University of Maine (UMaine) and called her mother to notify her.

The fact that Sierra is on the front page of today’s Windham Eagle newspaper is an indication that her mother, as well as Sierra’s father, Rick Yost, did not heed her pleas about this exciting news. But since the cat is out of the bag, we will share Sierra’s story despite her preferences for keeping this news on the down and low.

In alignment with her well-mannered personality, Sierra has honored her parents’ requests and took the time to speak with The Windham Eagle newspaper. She shared how the selection process for the top student works at UMaine. “There are 10 nominations,” she began. “Two top students are nominated from each college [there are five separate colleges in the UMaine system]. I was selected as one of the top students in the Department of Engineering. A Teachers’ Council of professors then select from the submitted essays of these 10 students. From there, they nominate the number one student and send it to the President for approval. I’m very happy that they selected me and that I was approved by the President.” Sierra’s degree is in Chemical Engineering. both of her parents recognize her exceptional gift in academics, they are perhaps more
pleased with how she conducts herself and chooses to live her life. “Yes, it is true the Sierra is smart,” Rick stated about his daughter. “But there are a lot of smart students in the world. What makes Sierra stand out more is her determination. She works hard at everything she does, and she is where she is today, because she applies herself. She never gives up until she reaches her goals.”

Her determination and love of learning began at a very early age. Rick stated that when Sierra was just learning how to ski at the age of three, she had broken her leg. “This only made her more determined. She wanted to heal as quickly as possible so she could get back on the slopes to do a better job.”

Marla shared that Sierra loved to read and write at a young age, doing so by the age of four. “I think I may have been one of the only parents who was required to ask her child to put a book down and to go outside to play,” she laughed. As for writing, Marla explained that Sierra insisted on writing thank-you notes before she entered kindergarten. “One day she wanted to send a thank you card to someone so I gave her the card and crayons, expecting that she would draw the thank you. But she insisted on writing it.”

Sierra’s love of learning continued with a special interest and skill in the sciences, especially chemistry. When she was a student at WHS, she participated in the AP (Advanced Program) Chemistry curriculum. Her passion for chemistry and its affect within the world, however, began before she entered high school.

cstlouis@spurwink.orgIn fact, this is not the first time Sierra has received media attention. As a Windham Middle School
eighth-grade student, the motivated and innovative 14-year was a house-hold name in the Associated Press after watching the film, “Bag It”.

Briefly, “Bag It” explores the impact of plastic on marine life due to the fact that plastic never fully degrades - and when it is thrown ‘away,’ some of it finds its way into waterways and oceans, eventually killing marine animals that ingest it. The film also enlightens the viewer that plastic is making its way up the food chain and is consumed by humans as well. “Bag It” explains how plastic is made, sharing the fact that chemicals such as Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates are added during the manufacturing process. The film states that scientists have overwhelming evidence that these and other chemicals are affecting humans - specifically babies in utero and children.

“When she learned how detrimental plastic bags were, she set out to make a change,” Marla said. “She spoke to the Windham Town Council to advocate for the elimination of plastic bags at local grocery stores. She prepared a Power Point Presentation and, wouldn’t you know it – there were technical difficulties and she couldn’t use it. But that didn’t stop her. She got out her notes and gave her presentation to the Council without missing a beat. They were pretty impressed.”

Sierra’s activism created media interest and her story hit the news. Her advocacy was highlighted in The Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald, Factory Direct Promos, The Blaze and many more Associated Press media outlets. She was also interviewed on Channel 13.

karen.spring@fryeislandtown.orgBut Sierra never once mentioned this in her interview. Instead, she focused on her educational career, specifically the State of Maine University’s educational system and how it made a profound impact on her success during college. Although Sierra had many college options, she ultimately chose the
University of Maine due to the fact she received the UMaine Pulp and Paper Foundation Scholarship, which paid for all her education.

During the last two years of college, she participated in a co-op series which allowed her to apply her classroom knowledge in a real-world setting, working two terms at Onyx Specialty Paper located in Western Massachusetts.

As for school itself, Sierra is glad she chose UMaine. “Don’t knock your state school,” she advises future WHS graduates. “At first, I really didn’t want to attend UMaine, but I discovered I have received the best education possible. The faculty wants everyone to succeed and help you become qualified for the next step in your life.”

Sierra’s next step is obtaining her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. Although she is still deciding which school to attend, her top four colleges choices are: Clemson University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Pennsylvania and Penn State.

Whichever college she chooses, if the first 22 years of her life are any indication, she will succeed beyond measure.

“I am just going to sit back now and see where life takes her,” Marla said.

The community from where you got your start, Sierra, will be watching you, too. Thanks for allowing us to share your story, inspiring us to work hard at accomplishing our own dreams. Congratulations and good luck on your future endeavors.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Local poet creates framed poetry display for National Poetry Month

Bob Clark
By Elizabeth Richards

Bob Clark’s interest in poetry was piqued when he was a student at Windham High School.  A teacher there took the time to really examine poetry and the different ways it could be interpreted.
That initial interest returned later in life, and inspired Clark to begin offering a display of his work to public libraries during April, which is National Poetry Month. He is scheduled to display his work for the tenth consecutive year at the Windham Public Library next month.

In notes that will accompany his 2020 display, Clark wrote, “Making reader connections
has become my lead effort, just as it had been years ago in grade school when we were invited to think about a “deeper meaning” that an author could be intending. It was fascinating!” dabbled in poetry in college where there were classes devoted to looking at the meaning,
motive and feelings of poetry.  He had some work published in the college literary publication, which was a nice validation of the idea that “wordsmithing was legitimate,” Clark said.

After college, Clark joined the Peace Corps. In the Spanish speaking places that he travelled to, he began to notice the tone and sound of words that people respond to, he said. After his Peace Corps experience, he became a Spanish teacher at Gorham High School. When he started to think of retirement around the year 2000, he picked up a pen once more.

In 2010, Clark approached several local libraries about doing a display for National Poetry Month. His idea for display was different than the typical book or poster displays he’d seen. Clark framed his work, sometimes adding illustrations to the page that reflected the ideas in the poetry.

For several years, Clark had month-long displays in two different libraries. He has now backed off to only displaying his work in Windham.’s poetry reflects what he sees in New England, much like that of Robert Frost or Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, he said. “To write is to feel freedom, a freedom to use words as images and images as expressions of comfort and joy, as well as concern or unease,” Clark said in his 2020 display notes. “The ‘story’ of many poems furnishes a friendly New England gesture to relax and read with a serene sense of enjoyment. Those on display welcome patrons to recall something similar
in or from our unique natural maritime and forest landscapes and work heritage,” he added.

Clark’s 2020 display is titled “Carriage Lane,” and features works from his two books, “The Hitching Post”, and “Tenerife Island”. Along with the display, Clark will offer free bookmarks, and a booklet of poems for sale.

Because the library is currently closed due to the current coronavirus social distancing efforts, this display may be postponed or cancelled.  Please check with the library for updates.

Windham couple make it to final round to win a “Real Maine Wedding” with plans to donate to Windham Food Pantry

Stephanie Frost and Mitchell Hodge
By Lorraine Glowczak

Since 2011, the publishers of Real Maine Weddings magazine have hosted a fun competition for couples getting ready to tie the knot for a chance to win a $100,000 wedding prize at a beautiful Maine venue. Past host communities have been located in idyllic Maine locations such as Rockport, Kennebunkport, Peaks Island and Ogunquit to name a few. This year, the lucky winning couple will have their wedding celebrations in Bath and Phippsburg.

Windham natives and 2012 Windham High School graduates, Stephanie Frost and Mitchell Hodge, who became engaged to be married on October 19, 2019 entered the contest and have made it to the top three finalists. The final round of voting runs to midnight this Saturday, March 21st. stated that she and her fiancĂ© were encouraged to enter the contest by her grandmother. “My
grandmother knew the couple that won last year,” Frost began. “She believed we had an interesting story and history to share so she thought we would be good candidates for this year’s Real Maine Wedding competition. So, we thought we’d give it a try and go for it.”

A fun history and story the couple does have. This is not the first time Frost and Hodge made The Windham Eagle news. In the December 7, 2018 edition, Sports Reporter Matt Pascarella highlighted Frost and her sister Samantha for their long-time connection and coaching experiences with the Windham Youth Basketball Association.

Hodge, on the other hand, was written about in the article, “Coach and Teacher Spotlight on Mother and Son”, highlighting him and his mother who are both educators and coaches for Windham students. The article, also written by Pascarella, was published in the January 4, 2019 edition.
Hodge and Frost grew up in Windham and although they knew one another while in high school, it wasn’t until they became friends at Keene College in New Hampshire that their love blossomed during their sophomore year. After receiving their degrees - Frost in communication; Hodge in theater with a minor is psychology - they returned to live and work in Windham, becoming engaged
approximately three years later. couple are active community members, giving back in multiple ways including coaching youth in soccer (Hodge) and basketball (Frost). But giving back to their hometown does not stop there. In a recent Facebook post, Hodge wrote the following:

“Coronavirus. Tom Brady. Let's take a minute and forget about the tragedies going on around us.
I have been bugging people about voting for Stephanie and I to win this wedding contest, but I've been trying to figure out a way to actually give back to the people voting for us. This includes people we've never met before. Steph and I want to give back to the community that we grew up in, live in, coach in, etc.  Between us directing the Windham Summer Camp, coaching youth and travel basketball, coaching high school soccer, working in Special Ed, Steph and I are passionate about the kids and families around us. Especially those in need. For every vote we receive throughout the final round of voting, we will donate ten cents. The money raised will be donated to the Windham Food Pantry. Steph and I want to give back and help the people around us, whether we win the contest or not. We will be giving back to our
community. That's the real win.”

If you haven’t done so already, help support Hodge and Frost win their dream wedding – and at the same time, help raise funds for the Windham Food Pantry. three Real Maine Wedding finalists are chosen based on a score determined by a weighted average that considers 50% of the public vote and 50% of the partnering vendors vote. Public voting consists of one vote per day per email address. The winner will be announced on March 22, 2020.

Vote once every day until midnight this Saturday and help not only this young Windham couple experience a wedding that dreams are made of but also helps those who could use some assistance during this challenging time. Again, for every vote received, the couple will donate ten cents to the Windham Food Pantry. To vote, go to

Friday, March 13, 2020

Congratulations to Windham's new Town Manager Barry Tibbitts

Interim Town Manager, Barry Tibbitts being officially sworn in as the new Windham Town Manger by Town Clerk, Linda Morrill on Wednesday, March 11. He was unanimously voted in by the Town Council on Tuesday evening at the regular meeting.

Saint Joseph’s College to announce $1.45 million award to address Maine’s secondary STEM teacher shortage

President James Dlugos is set to announce that Saint Joseph’s College of
Maine has been awarded a five-year, $1,444,983 grant from the National Science Foundation’s
Track 1 Robert Noyce Scholarship and Stipend Program.

Governor Janet T. Mills will officiate at the announcement, which will be made on Monday,

March 16th at 10:30 a.m. in the Baggot Street Cafe of the Heffernan Center at Saint Joseph’s
College. The event will be open to media.

The Growing Future STEM Teachers in Maine (GFSTM) project will provide two-year
scholarships of $25,500 per year to a total of 18 undergraduate juniors and seniors. The program
will provide special supports as they pursue STEM degrees in biology, mathematics, or physical
sciences-chemistry or environmental science, as well as secondary education certification., Noyce Scholars will work in high-need urban and rural schools across Maine.
GFSTM is a collaboration between Saint Joseph’s and Southern Maine Community College, and
a partnership with 7 school districts.

The seven GFSTM partner schools include: Deering High School, Lewiston High School, and
Westbrook High School as urban schools; Bonny Eagle High School, Windham High School,
Lake Region High School, and Old Town High School as rural schools.

The Growing Future STEM Teachers in Maine project is designed to increase the number of
secondary STEM teachers in an era when nearly a third of Maine teachers are 55 years old and
nearing retirement, and to address the decades-old problem of Maine’s shortage of STEM
teachers, in particular. By partnering with a community college and seven high-need schools, the
Noyce project is designed to grow students from within those sites. The project will also
encourage students from high-need school districts to return to their communities as teachers and
leaders of the next generation of science and math educators.“Saint Joseph’s College is deeply committed to educating the next generation of STEM teachers
for Maine schools,” President Dlugos said. “STEM education remains the foundation and the
number one priority for training Maine’s future skilled and educated workforce. By working with
SMCC and schools across Maine, this project promises to draw more students into STEM-Ed
degrees, provide teacher training with diverse populations, and plant seeds with current high
school and middle school students to become future STEM teachers.”

Maine’s Congressional leaders expressed excitement about the program. “In order for Maine’s
students to gain STEM skills, we need to make sure they have dedicated and well-trained STEM
educators,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “For decades,
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine has been giving teachers the tools they need to train the next
generation of STEM workers. This funding will help the college expand its efforts and make an
even greater impact on Maine’s students and economy.” Chellie Pingree said: As the number of STEM jobs in Maine increase rapidly, we
need our students to be well-prepared for their future careers,” said Pingree. “Increasing the
number of public school STEM teachers will go a long way towards preparing our children for
the jobs of tomorrow. My thanks to the National Science Foundation for recognizing how
important this STEM education is for the future of Maine’s workforce and for funding this

Representative Jared Golden added: “Saint Joseph’s College does critical work to prepare young
Mainers for jobs in education and other careers, positions we need to fill in our state. This grant
will provide Maine students with opportunities to develop valuable skills that they’ll bring back
to the classroom and help address our STEM teacher shortage. I’m proud to see the NSF
prioritize schools in places like Lewiston and Old Town to provide Maine students with access to
good jobs and a quality education.”

Matthew J. Lokken, Principal of Lake Region Middle School, a project partner, said: “We
appreciate that Saint Joseph’s College will address the shortage of science teachers in our region.
In the last few years, we have not had a large pool of applicants for posted STEM teacher
positions. It is essential that students at the middle school receive rigorous and authentic learning
opportunities in STEM education for not only academic success and opportunities, but to
effectively prepare the next generation of innovators.”

The first Noyce Scholars will be awarded scholarships in Fall 2020. The grant’s investigators
and creators are Dr. Patricia Waters, Assistant Professor of Education, Dr. Emily Lesher,
Associate Professor of Science, and SMCC’s Dr. Daniel Moore, Professor of Biological
Sciences.“This partnership provides new opportunities for our students who have a passion for math and
science,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “Besides helping our students, the program will
benefit Maine’s educational system by allowing us to do our part in delivering a new generation
of STEM teachers where they are most needed. This builds upon our mission of transforming
lives and communities through education and training.”

For more information about GFSTM, the scholarship criteria and application process, see or contact Oliver Griswold at 917-617-2103 or

Friday, March 6, 2020

The 2020 Chase Wescott Award winner announced

(L to R) Coach Jim Beers, Jake Goslant, Chase Wescott
By Matt Pascarella

In 2019, the Chase Wescott Basketball Heart Award was created at Jordan Small Middle School (JSMS). Last month, Jake Goslant became the second recipient of the award.

“At JSMS we already had a soccer award and a baseball award, but nothing for basketball,” explained basketball coach Jim Beers. “And while there have been plenty of former players, I could have named the award for Ben MacDonald, Austin McGowan, Orion Beers, Connor Pittman, Andrew Wing, Jakob Emery, and Colby Mizner; they all culminated into Chase.

Chase Wescott was on the team when Beers decided to create the award. “Chase is a tremendously hard worker, constantly looking to improve, always staying late, having to work harder than those it came naturally to, being a great teammate, being a leader...this is what the award is all about,” added Beers. averaged 16 points a game, he hit 25 three pointers his eighth-grade year and just had a real successful first year at Windham High School. Coach Beers attended several of Wescott’s games and watched him get better each time. Wescott was someone who had to overcome a lot: attitude wise, education wise, even ability wise to stand out and that’s exactly what Jake Goslant has also done.

When Goslant was in seventh grade, he had trouble showing respect to his teachers. He was in the Special Education program for his entire seventh grade year. He received several talks from his
family including his grandfather and his mother who explained that his teachers were trying to help him improve. After that regular school year, he had to take part in summer school. “I came back [with the] mentality to be a good student and be a good role model for everyone,” Goslant stated.

Goslant remained in the special education program for the first third of his eighth grade year and after much hard work, was able to leave the program in December 2019.

Once basketball started, Goslant was excited and wanted to keep up the hard work to play on the team. He received encouragement from his dad that he had the potential to do really well at basketball because of his height, and his hard work would be crucial when he played basketball in high school.
He worked hard to become a great player. He had strong work ethic, he stayed late and set goals for himself. Coach Beers said he went far beyond those goals, not just on the court, but in the classroom. He averaged six points and ten rebounds a game. 

When Goslant heard about the Chase Wescott award, he really wanted it and knew he had to work hard to get it. His hard work soon paid off.

“When I heard that I was going to get it I was so happy; everything that I did through last year – maturing – helped. When I came back from that day and everyone heard that I got it, I got ‘good job, good job, you deserved it,’ my heart was like ‘oh my god; people care about me.’ Last year I felt like no one liked me at all.”

It meant a lot to him to be noticed for his hard work.“I know Jake wants to go on to play basketball and football in high school; I think now with this award, it will spur him to realize that people do care, people are noticing his play, people are noticing his turnaround in the classroom, socially, and they might recognize him more now and take him seriously, because...this young man has the fire to go show high school what he’s made of and I think he’s ready to do that,” commented Beers.

In addition to his hard work, his parents and older brother, Austin, have been big sources of encouragement for Goslant.

Goslant plans to play basketball and football in high school and long term wants to play college football for the Texas Longhorns.

Saint Joseph’s Professor Unearths College Campus’s Role in Maine’s Statehood

Dr. Steven Bridge
By Lorraine Glowczak

What began as a simple question by the former Farm Manager at Saint Joseph’s College six years ago, led Theology Professor Steven Bridge down a rabbit hole of discovery, inspiring his new book, “Unearthed”.

As the State of Maine officially celebrates its Bicentennial this year, Dr. Bridge will share what he learned about those who owned the campus’s properties in the mid-1700s to early 1800s and how they played crucial roles in Maine’s journey to Statehood.

All are welcome to this free presentation on Monday, March 16 at 3:30 p.m. in the Alfond Hall Auditorium. “Some rare, period artifacts unearthed from campus sites will also be on display and will be included as part of the presentation,” noted Dr. Bridge.

Although a Theology Professor by profession, Bridge enjoys learning about the past. So, when the former Farm Manager asked him about the campus’s predecessors, Bridge didn’t hesitate to dig deeper and look beyond recent history.

“When he [Myke] asked me about the history of those who once lived on the present day campus, I began to give him the standard answer that is introduced to those who work for the college or attend classes on campus,” Bridge said, the customary historical explanation about the campus’ past goes something like this:
In the early 1900s, much of the campus’ nearly 500-acres was owned by the Verrill Family of Portland. The present Xavier Hall was their summer home and their property included a nine-hole golf course, a boat house, a gentlemen’s farm (farming for pleasure rather than profit or subsistence), an ice skating pond and warming shack, a stone chapel for Mr. Verrill’s wife (which still exists) and the Stone Barn (which also still remains). Saint George Hall, which serves as the Admissions building today, was a part of the Verrill family property as well.

Mr. Verrill, a well-known attorney in Portland, owned the land until the Sisters of Mercy approached him about purchasing it to relocate their Portland-based College. Mr. Verrill agreed to sell it to the Sisters in 1955.

Usually, this story ends with, “and the rest is history.” But as Bridge discovered, it was actually the beginning of the campus’s fascinating past.

Having given this standard answer, Bridge was pressed by the Farm Manager further.  I know about that portion of history. What I want to know is who are the people who lived on this land long ago - even before the Verrill Family?”

Bridge had never heard or even considered that question before. The Manager’s inquiry got the best of him, and it was then that his digging--both figurative and literal--began.  Basically, two questions drove his research: Who was here on campus before us and what, if anything, did they leave behind?
“Soon after that conversation,” explained Bridge, “I undertook both documentary and field research to see what I might discover. And here’s one of the very first artifacts that I found……” Bridge said to me while he opened his book to the thirteenth chapter.

The inaugural button made in 1789 found on campus
On the top of the page is a photograph of what appeared to me to be a large coin. The words written around its circumference state, “Long Live The President” with a cursive GW in the center. Although I guessed correctly it had something to do with George Washington, I was baffled as to what the “coin” represented.

“It is an inaugural button made in 1789 indicating support for the new President,” explained Bridge. “According to some scholars, it was only given to those who served directly under George Washington or were somehow closely associated with him.”

The button, it seems, belonged to an individual who was connected to some of the most powerful figures in early American history. But who?

That question led Bridge to the Cumberland County Register of Deeds, where he was able to trace the College’s property records all the way back to 1773. “There have been around 130 previous property owners of the Saint Joseph’s College campus prior to the Verrill Family,” said Bridge. “And at least three of those owners had some sort of association with George Washington.”

Was it the Foot Soldier who endured the brutal winter at Valley Forge?  Was it the lawyer who eventually became a Massachusetts State Senator and Supreme Court Justice?  Or was it the Portland Minister who wrote this country’s best-selling work on New England Agriculture?

Be sure to attend this free presentation to learn more about these remarkable predecessors and the significant roles that they played in Maine’s Journey to Statehood. Copies of Bridge’s book, “Unearthed”, will be available at the event for purchase ($30 each).  (They can also be ordered on Amazon.)

The presentation is sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Committee and will be followed by a regularly priced dinner ($14 for the public) at 5 p.m. at Pearson’s CafĂ©. The menu will feature locally sourced food items, including some dishes made from 1820s-era recipes. To top it all off, the College’s chefs are designing and baking a special State of Maine Bicentennial birthday cake.
For more information, contact Dr. Bridge by email at