Friday, March 25, 2022

Windham’s female veterans share their stories for National Women’s History Month

Recognizing two women veterans, Alola Morrison,
left, and Phyllis Page, both from Windham who have 
shared their achievements, courage and strength as 
each chose a life in the military while at the same
time choosing to be married and mothers.
By Lorraine Glowczak

March is Women’s History Month – a time to officially recognize women's contributions to society - contributions that once went unnoticed. The first celebration occurred in 1980 and was dedicated to one week. President Jimmy Carter wrote a message to the nation, designating March 2 to 8, as National Women’s History Week.

In that letter, he said: “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often, the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”

Two women veterans, Alola Morrison and Phyllis Page, both of Windham, recently shared their achievements, courage and strength as each chose a life in the military while at the same time choosing a life of marriage and motherhood.


Page, born in Farmington, Maine, grew up in a military family, which meant she was always on the move. She attended over 13 different schools during her youth, graduating from Windham High School in 1973. In late fall of 1974, she enlisted in the Navy at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs.


“I always knew from a young age that I wanted to be a part of the military - I wanted to travel because there were so many other parts of the world I wanted to see,” Page said.  

Once enlisted, she ‘filled out a dream sheet’ of all the places she hoped to be stationed. Page listed as many west coast locations as possible as she had yet to see the western seaboard.

“Believe it or not, they sent me to Brunswick, Maine,” Page laughed, recalling her disappointment at the time. 

However, her stint in Maine was short-lived. Within a year, Page received orders for a two-year assignment in Cuba. 

“I arrived at Guantanamo Bay in 1977 and was selected for an elite position on the captain’s boat crew,” Page said. “I was the only female on the team and we were in charge of escorting the captain, his family and other dignitaries from one side of the base to the other [by boat]. The ‘normal people’ had to take the ferry.” 


In Cuba, Page met her future husband, Andrew Page, a member of the Navy. In 1978, they married and Page retired from the military while her husband remained on active duty. Page became restless as a stay-at-home wife.


“I wasn’t content just sitting at home, so I reenlisted in 1980 and relocated with my husband to a base in Virginia,” Page said.

While stationed in Virginia, Page worked as a Dispensing Clerk in the commissary and stayed there until her enlistment was up. After that, she dedicated her life to her husband’s career and raising their four daughters.


Morrison’s story begins much like Page’s. She also grew up in a military family, with a father who was enlisted in the Coast Guard. Admiring her father and his dedication, Morrison wanted to follow in his footsteps. Morrison joined The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps – which is currently a federal uniformed service of the U.S Public Health Services that encompasses eight uniformed services of the United States. At the time Morrison joined in 1960, the U.S. Public Health Service was designated as the support health agency for the U.S. Merchant Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard.


Before joining Public Health Services, Morrison, who was born in Norfolk, Virginia but moved often, eventually moved to Bangor, with her family, attending the University of Maine-Orono. She worked on a double major in foods/nutrition and home economics, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in 1959. 


“After graduating, I was accepted in a yearlong post-graduate training to become a registered dietitian at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and applied for a commission in the Public Health Service,” Morrison said. “I became an officer in the fall of 1960 with the rank of Lt. Jr. grade. My major responsibility was to advise patients that needed therapeutic diets. It was a 150-bed hospital that catered mainly to U.S. Coast Guard active and retired personnel and their families.”


In 1962, Morrison married her college sweetheart, Joseph, and together they moved back to Bangor to be near his family and his job as a principal of two schools. At this time, Morrison resigned from her commission and raised a family, eventually enlisting into the Navy Reserves.


“I joined the U.S. Army Reserves in l974 with the rank of Captain,” Morrison said. “The main unit was out of Auburn, 1125th Medical Unit Section, but my monthly drills were in Bangor at the Army Reserve Center and St. Joseph Hospital. I became a Major before I retired with 12 years in the Army Reserve.”


Both Morrison and Page encourage women to join the armed forces if they consider it but recommend talking to other women who have been or still are in the military.


“It is a great opportunity for women, especially if you enlist for a specific school or area of interest such as communications, radar technology, etc.” Page said. 


The most crucial thing Page and Morrison have gathered from their time and experiences in the military, and perhaps most proud of, is their level of resiliency - making do with very little.


“We can stand on our own two feet,” they said proudly.

This strength, courage, leadership and achievement in women are recognized and honored more and more, thanks to the celebration of women’s contributions to society. National Women’s History Month gives women like Morrison and Page an opportunity to share their stories that otherwise may all have been left unsaid.


Page and Morrison are both members of American Legion Post 148 in Windham where Morrison is the Second Vice Commander.<

Cinderella Project event Sunday to benefit WHS students

2016  Windham High graduate Hannah
McFarland has created the Compassion
Cloud Collective, a new nonprofit which will
host an 'Oscars Watch Party' at 6 p.m. Sunday,
March 27 as a fundraiser for the Cinderella
Project of Maine which provides prom dresses
and attire for high school students across the
state of Maine. COURTESY PHOTO  
By Ed Pierce

Prom season for Windham High School students is nearing and with it comes all the excitement and memorable times to be savored for a lifetime but for some area families hit hard by the pandemic and struggling to make ends meet, the costs associated with attending a prom can limit some budgets.

But now a nonprofit organization, The Cinderella Project of Maine, is teaming with Smitty’s Cinema to make going to the prom a bit less stressful through a special fundraiser this weekend in Windham. The event is an “Oscars Viewing Party” starting at 6 p.m.  Sunday at Smitty’s in Windham that will include pop-up shops, a raffle, a drawing, menu service and all the festivities from the 94th Academy Awards presentation in Hollywood on the big screen.  

No admission will be charged to attend but participants are asked to bring a donation item to benefit the Cinderella Project of Maine, a nonprofit organization located in Belfast.

Hannah McFarland has organized the event, the very first for her newly formed nonprofit called The Compassion Cloud Collective. She said she chose to help the Cinderella Project of Maine because of the impact its work has on the community.    

“They collect new and gently used prom attire for teens in Maine in an effort to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to have a memorable prom without the added stress of cost.”

McFarland first became involved with the Cinderella Project of Maine in 2017 when she worked for Smitty’s Cinema as assistant director of marketing and sales.

“That was when I learned what they were all about and the impact they make and Smitty’s has given me permission to continue on the Oscar’s event tradition,” she said.  

Now serving as the lead activities coordinator and administrative assistant for Modern Woodmen of America’s Regional Director Scott McDonald, McFarland aims to help Windham High School students attend prom by providing them free and fabulous prom gowns while at the same time promoting positive self-esteem and community volunteerism among the teens.

“In 2016, I started with Modern Woodmen as an activities coordinator and fell in love with the job. Since then, philanthropy, compassion and giving back to my community has been one of my biggest missions,” McFarland said. “Now in 2022 I have worked alongside nearly every nonprofit in the state of Maine. I would not have the love, drive and resources for philanthropy work without the example set by Modern Woodmen of America and their generous outpouring into our community in so many impactful ways.” 

According to McFarland, her new The Compassion Cloud Collective is a multi-mission, nonprofit organization owned and operated by female business owners who seek to find the silver lining in all of life's storms by using the strengths of each of their partners. 

“Each one of our seven partners has their own mission that they stand for, but all of them as a collective are fighting together to raise awareness on mental health in today's world,” she said. “For this event we chose Windham, although The CCC seeks to cover all of Maine. I am a 2016 Windham High School graduate and worked at Smitty’s Cinema in Windham for seven years. Anyone who knows me, knows that Smitty’s had more of my time than my actual home and that Smitty’s was my home for several years. It was important to me for the first event of my own nonprofit be in the town that watched me grow into the person I am today. The good, bad, awkward and happy days Windham has been a part of for me.” 

Planning for the “Oscars Viewing Party” began at the start of this year and McFarland said that the event grew and developed from there.

I could not have made this event happen without Modern Woodmen’s generous donations of prom attire, the support of Smitty’s Cinema in my event accommodations and the collaboration of my wonderful partners of The CCC.”

Beyond hosting the fundraising event Sunday on behalf of the Cinderella Project of Maine and spreading the word to make the greatest impact upon public donations for the effort, McFarland said that Modern Woodmen is donating $1,000 worth of prom attire to make sure that teens across Maine have the best prom ever this year.


She said those donations will be recognized and displayed along with the others that come for the event on Sunday.


“We are also holding a raffle of assorted goods from each vendor, tickets are a minimum of a $1 donation and the donations will go toward the efforts of The CCC both present and future such as Oscar’s event costs and future events are planned.” 


Vendor booths for the event Sunday include Windham’s Modern Woodmen of America, The Compassion Cloud Collective, K Sweets, Ritual Maine, Stone Donut Design, Moon Lady Plants, Macs by Seyya, and Cosmic Complexions.


“Our hope is to bring awareness to the endeavors of the Cinderella Project of Maine because in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, they need our support more than ever and our Maine teens deserve it,” McFarland said. “Along with that we really just want a chance to introduce who we are at The CCC to the community of Windham and to have a blast while making an impact where it is needed. We believe at The CCC that working together as a collective group can make bigger waves and deeper impacts than we can ever imagine as individuals.” <

Friday, March 18, 2022

Raymond resident overcomes obstacles in becoming a United States citizen

Merary 'Mae' Plummer of Raymond
became a citizen of the United States
earlier this month in a Naturalization
Ceremony in South Portland. She
is grateful to the staff at the 
Windham/Raymond Adult Education
for helping her prepare for her
citizenship exam and to improve
her language and communication
By Lorraine Glowczak

Merary “Mae” Paredes Plummer, originally from Honduras and now living in Raymond, officially became a United States citizen on Thursday, March 1 in a quiet, low-key Naturalization Ceremony – an event that is normally attended by supportive family and friends. However, because of the pandemic, the ceremony that took place in South Portland was limited in attendance to the new citizens and officials.

That didn’t stop Mae, her husband Daniel of 17 years, and their 16-year-old son Joshua from celebrating her journey in becoming a citizen with hugs and kisses. Her story from Honduras to Maine is filled with love and support while overcoming language barriers.

In 2004 at the age of 24 while still living in her Central American country, Mae decided to take the week off from work to join her cousin who was attending one of the many colorful and well-known festivals in Copan - an ancient Mayan city located along the Guatemalan border. Little did she know by attending that big event - it would change her life in a big way.

“I met Dan at the festival, and it was love at first sight,” Mae said. “The only thing is, we could not speak each other’s languages. We had to communicate through my cousin who lived in the U.S. for many years and knew how to speak English and Spanish.”

They moved fast romantically, despite the fact that her future husband’s vacation was nearing an end and had to return to Raymond and his life in Maine.

“Before I knew it, I was in a long-distance relationship with a man who lived over 2300 miles away from me,” Mae said.

While keeping in touch through letters and phone calls, Daniel and Mae worked fast to file the required paperwork so she could get her visa and move to Raymond. In the winter of 2004, Mae arrived in Maine where she could be with the man she loved and start a family. She does admit that first winter was quite a shock.

“I moved here with sandals, skirts and shorts in the middle of a Maine winter,” she said. “When I saw that people actually went outside in the winter, I could not believe it. I wondered how people could go out in the cold weather and enjoy it at the same time.” 

Mae explained she never wore pants before her life in Maine, as it was against her religion. It was a good friend who took Mae under her wing – taking her shopping and showing her how to dress during the winter months.

“Now when I visit my family in Honduras, I melt,” she said. “My parents make sure I have two fans and an air conditioner in my bedroom.”

What may be shocking for some is the young couple didn’t speak each other’s languages when Mae first arrived.

“We communicated through an interpreter,” Mae laughed as she recalled the early years.

Fast forward to today. It was during the pandemic that Mae’s visa expired. Due to the temporary closure of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field offices, Mae wasn’t able to renew her visa. It was through that experience that Mae decided to become a U.S citizen so she would not have to keep renewing her visa to travel back home.

To prepare for the U.S. citizenship exam and to improve her English communication skills, Mae, who works at Chipotle, applied to take courses at Windham/Raymond Adult Education. Through hard work, Mae passed the Adult Ed courses – and the citizenship test - with flying colors.

“We are extremely proud of all our students because we are well aware of the sacrifices they have to make and the challenges they have to overcome to fulfill their dreams of education and/or obtaining citizenship,” Adult Basic Education Coordinator, Catherine Renaud said. “In particular, Mae experienced a delay of two years from the time she submitted her application for the test until the time of scheduling of said test because of the pandemic. Like many of our students, Mae needs the in-person education experience. Once she received the notification of the test date, she had to advocate for herself at her place of employment to carve out time to devote to studying. She also picked up an extra class to work on improving her English communication skills.”

Renaud said that there has been an increase in ELL's (English Language Learners) as a result of the pandemic because Adult Education instructors have mastered virtual education.

“But for students like Mae, we are fortunate to have our own location separate from the crowds of the high school, so we can offer intimate, in-person instruction, sometimes hybrid with students "zooming" in from home. Again, we are so fortunate with the skills of our instructors to help us offer flexible schedules and modes of instruction.”

Mae is very happy to become a U.S. Citizen and to call herself a Mainer.

“I have always loved Maine – it’s beauty and the friendly people,” Mae said. “Plus, it is safer here than Honduras. And the economy is better – it is not good in my country. The government doesn’t help – if the government helped the people, they would be less apt to migrate here.”

Mae misses some things about Honduras.

“I miss the birds. We have all kinds of birds of many beautiful colors,” Mae said. “I miss my family and my church family. I miss the big community experience – of people, chickens, vendors with their loud speakers in the street – it is beautiful chaos.”

She also said that she’s very grateful to Windham/Raymond Adult Ed and would encourage other English Language Learners and/or those who want to become a citizen to take their courses.

“They did a great job and helped me obtain my dream,” Mae said.

If there are others who are hoping to gain their U.S. citizenship, please contact the Windham and Raymond Adult Education by perusing classes in their virtual catalog and register online: or call their office at 207-892-1819, ext. 2191 to ask for Catherine Renaud. One can follow Windham/Raymond Adult Ed on Facebook and Instagram.<

Curriculum a critical factor in RSU 14 student academic success

Curriculum choices including books and instructional
materials play a major role in a student's academic success
and challenging young minds is a top priority for educators
in selecting curriculum for RSU 14 students, officials say.
By Collette Hayes

Through the years, studies have shown that a school district’s curriculum choices are a major factor in a student’s academic success. And with that in mind, challenging young minds remains at the forefront of how curriculum is selected for RSU 14 students.

District officials say that curriculum that is graduating in difficulty as a student progresses through the school system fosters learning, intellectual growth and the ability to make clear and concise decisions later in life by developing critical thinking skills needed to solve and overcome problems.

According to Christine Frost-Bertinet, RSU 14’s assistant superintendent, the challenge that local schools must meet is to inspire, nurture and provide every learner with the tools necessary to become responsible, informed citizens while meeting the Maine Learning Results Standards.

Strong curriculum and interactions with teachers, mentors and peers, offers the possibility for engaging learning experiences that can meaningfully shape lives and transform communities, she said.

“There are policies established by the RSU 14 Board of Directors that guide the work of selecting instructional materials,” said Frost-Bertinet.

The district’s instructional program and library media centers align with district policies and support its strategic plan to meet short- and long-term goals.

“A student should be able to see themselves in a positive light in any text,” said Christine Hesler, RSU 14’s Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. “When selecting texts, you are looking at your students and their needs and where they are coming from with varied reading skills, interests and backgrounds. Through texts, students should be broadening their perspectives, building empathy and developing a more global understanding of others.”

According to Frost-Bertinet, when selecting materials, teachers take into consideration developmental appropriateness, as well as the varied ability levels within a class, while often focusing on the same
theme and standards.

She said that teachers identify instructional tools needed to support the school district’s curriculum and strive to teach in transformative ways by personalizing learning at high levels regardless of ability level.

Licensed teachers in the state of Maine complete a teacher-certification program that includes extensive educational course work to meet licensing requirements. Then they must regularly participate in professional development to renew their credentials.

Frost-Bertinet said teachers address a student’s social and emotional well-being by weaving Maine’s Guiding Principles into academic core standards to ensure all areas of their development and learning are supported and they grow academically, intellectually and personally.

“We know that students are exposed to a wide range of issues in school, at home and in their global community. Our work as educators is to create a learning atmosphere that supports a deep understanding of varied topics and promotes respect,” Frost-Bertinet said. “RSU 14 teachers need to be mindful when teaching controversial, sensitive issues and follow the guidelines outlined in our policy.”

Board policies recognize the educational expertise of professional staff and the need for such staff to be involved in the recommendation of instructional materials, Frost-Bertinet said.

“The Board delegates responsibility for the selection of instructional materials and Library-media resources to the professionally trained personnel employed by RSU 14, subject to the criteria and procedures for selection and the board’s policy,” she said.

From time to time there could be topics in the curriculum which may be objectionable to individual students and or parents/legal guardian based on their particular religious, moral or philosophical beliefs. To address that, the RSU 14 Board of Directors has established a policy in which parents and guardians of students have the right to request exemption from instruction when it infringes on their beliefs.

“Multiple policies that focus on instructional materials are being reviewed by the board’s Policy Committee in response to more recent concerns that have been brought forward,” said Frost-Bertinet. “Any proposed revisions will be presented to the full board for review.”    

Overall, the Maine Department of Education provides oversight management of RSU 14’s curriculum, instructional and assessment practices throughout the district’s schools in Windham and Raymond.

Additional curriculum information can be found by visiting the Windham/Raymond Schools RSU 14 Curriculum website at <

Friday, March 11, 2022

Black Balloon Day honors those who lost to substance overdoses

Lakes Region Recovery Center in Bridgton took part in the 
National Black Balloon Day on Sunday, March 6, an annual
event dedicated to recognizing those who have lost their lives
to substance overdose. These are some of the balloons hanging
from the ceiling at LRRC last week.
By Lorraine Glowczak

“Last week, eight people died from an overdose in Maine – and unfortunately, that was considered a ‘good’ week,” the State Director of Opioid Response, Gordon Smith said in a recent virtual meeting with other health professionals across the state who work to curtail the opioid crisis. In 2021, 636 individuals lost their lives to accidental overdoses, increasing from 504 deaths in 2020.

Lakes Region Recovery Center (LRRC), at 25 Hospital Drive in Bridgton, is among the over 40 professional entities participating in this state-wide meeting hosted every three months by Jonathan Sarhbeck, Cumberland County District Attorney.  

LRRC, along with other recovery centers and individuals, took part in the National Black Balloon Day on Sunday March 6, an annual event dedicated to recognizing and celebrating those who have lost their lives to substance overdoses. By participating in the event, LRRC not only honors lives lost but helps raise awareness about the stark realities of substance misuse in Maine, putting human names and faces behind the statistics of those who have died.


“Here at the recovery center, we focus on peer-to-peer support, recognizing there are many pathways to healing for people with substance use disorder and mental health challenges,” LRRC Communication Specialist Candy Greenberg said. “This year, we wanted to acknowledge those individuals who lost their lives due to overdose by taking part in the National Black Balloon Day.”  

To do so, Greenberg set out to contact the families of the 636 individuals asking if they would like to send pictures in the memory of their son, daughter, mother, father, etc. Greenberg collected 25 photographs from around the state and made a black balloon banner out of construction paper, and it currently suspends from the ceiling in the LRRC’s hallway. For the individuals without photographs - their memories were honored with painted teardrops.

“This will be a moving memorial of sorts,” Greenberg said. “The balloons will hang here until the end of March, and then we will give them to Crooked River Counseling for it to be displayed there. After that, the balloon banner will hang along the Naples causeway – all in remembrance of lives lost to a terrible disease.”


On Friday, March 4, U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ staff member, Mark J. Winter, visited LRRC. Greenberg and LRRC Executive Director Tracey Martin gave him a tour of the 950 square foot facility, talking about the many programs they offer. 


“We are a little center, but we do big work,” Martin told Winter, explaining they are hoping to expand into a larger space to serve the community better. “We have a telephone recovery support center and hold many groups and meetings. Our services are free of charge to members, and membership is free. With the rise in mental health needs, we have added programs to support challenges such as PTSD, grief support, and other similar issues.”

Winter said that Senator Collins is very concerned about the current opioid crisis and the growing substance overdoses. He encouraged Martin and Greenberg to consider congressionally directed spending as the LRRC would meet the eligibility requirements, and the monies could help expand their facility. Winter stated that there is a stigma surrounding substance use disorder and the work LRRC does in recovery support is very much needed.


Substance use disorder (SUD) is a mental disorder that affects a person’s brain and behavior. It affects many people, and the illness does not discriminate as to who survives and who does not. SUD and mental health are common, recurrent, and often serious, but they are treatable, and many people do recover. 


Kathy Black, who has lived in Windham for 10 years but recently moved to Gorham has been in recovery since 2008. She expresses her gratitude to LRRC.


“Being in recovery is a very difficult road because you always have the urge to go back to your drug of choice – the need for it never goes away,” Black said. “Heroin was my drug and I have had a few relapses. If it wasn’t for LRRC, I may not be in recovery today. 


Black was one of the first volunteers at LRRC when it opened in 2017 and has been actively urging legislators for more recovery centers. She said the LRRC is a place where you can always be yourself.


“Everyone there knows what you are going through, and you don’t feel alone,” Black said. “You never feel judged, and you are always supported.”


Black volunteers at LRRC in the call center to support others in recovery. 


“Having someone check in on you every day to offer support – especially when times are difficult is monumental in remaining sober,” Black said, whose left side is now paralyzed due to a recent operation to remove a cyst on her spine. “I know this for a fact. These phone calls have saved my life many times – especially after my operation. Talking is food for the soul.”


Greenberg said that the more we talk about substance use disorder, the more we all can help remove the stigma around seeking out help and maybe save someone’s life.


“National Black Balloon Day is one of the many ways to bring about this awareness,” Greenberg said.


For more information about Lakes Region Recovery Center or to inquire about services, peruse their website at, or call at 207-803-8707. <

Windham nixes moratorium for solar projects

The Windham Town Council will not impose a moratorium 
on solar development in the town after residents on Linnell
Road objected to a new solar project there which abuts
their property. The council's Ordinance Committee will
review existing ordinances pertaining to solar and see if
updates are needed. COURTESY PHOTO     
By Ed Pierce

After consuming much of the Windham Town Council’s attention over the course of the past month, the idea of councilors imposing a moratorium for solar projects was voted down by a vote of 4-3 during a lengthy town council meeting on Tuesday evening.

At the meeting, supporters and opponents of a moratorium on solar projects were given time to share their thoughts in advance of the Windham Planning Board’s March 14 public hearing and final plan review of a Green Lantern Solar project near Linnell Road in North Windham.

The project would abut three residences on Linnell Road, and those residents advocated for the council to impose a moratorium until Windham’s ordinance for solar projects could be reviewed, clarified, and updated.

The project off Linnell Road calls for a 50-foot buffer between the project and abutting properties, fencing and the loss of some trees to create the solar array.

Louise Densmore lives on Linnell Road and told councilors she didn’t see how the buffer could be defined without a moratorium.

Pam Hageny, whose property abuts the project said she is not opposed to solar projects but thinks a moratorium was proper for this circumstance.

“The destruction of plant growth within a 50-foot buffer basically eliminates any semblance of protection the 50-foot buffer provides under the ordinance,” she said.

Another abutter to the project, Howland Bickerstaff that he was concerned about the project and where the buffer would be.

But Green Lantern Solar developer Geoff Sparrow told the council that the project has met all required zoning requirements mandated by the town and clarified what he said were some misconceptions shared on social media prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

Sparrow said that there is no road planned for inside the buffer and no studies have shown that having a solar project near residences reduces property values. He said some mature trees would have to be removed for the project but that would have to be approved by the Windham Planning Board.

According to Sparrow, there would not be any clear cutting of trees on the project property and a cedar fence would be installed 35 feet from the property line around the solar arrays.

He also told councilors that the project has a 35-year life span and that the solar panels are recyclable, made of tempered glass with components inside encased in silicone in case they were to be damaged during a hurricane.

Engineer Aubrey Strause of Acorn Engineering, Inc. told the council that that buffer screening plan for the Green Lantern project calls for some trees at the site to be removed, but a new buffer of young evergreens would be planted which would grow as the site progressed through the years.

During the meeting, it was also pointed out that the deeding for the original Mineral Springs Neighborhood Association which Linnell Road is a part of called for residences to have a 50-foot buffer to the parcel where the solar project site will be located.

Attorney Elizabeth Buckley who represents another solar project in Windham told councilors that in order to impose a moratorium, there must be a necessity for one and she said that Windham already had adequate solar development controls in place.

Councilors Brett Jones, Nicholas Kalogerakis and William Reiner said they thought a moratorium would be prudent so the current solar ordinance could be reviewed and updated as needed.

Windham Town Council Chair Jarrod Maxfield said a moratorium wasn’t needed as the town could review the ordinance through its Ordinance Committee and this issue did not meet the standard of an emergency.

He said each of the councilors had studied the issue, researched, and spent many hours trying to determine the best solution for everyone concerned.

Maxfield, along with Councilors David Nadeau, Ed Ohmott and Mark Morrison voted against imposing a moratorium, with Councilors William Reiner, Brett Jones and Kalogerakis voting in favor of a moratorium. <

Friday, March 4, 2022

Students go ‘Back To The Future’ to combat Maine's opioid crisis

Guest speaker Jacinta shares her story about
her own struggle with drug addiction during
an event Tuesday at Windham High School.
She is the subject of the 2020 documentary
'Jacinta' and has been in an out of jail while
trying to break free of the cycle of drug
By Lorraine Glowczak

More than 90 seventh-grade Windham Middle School students participated in a kickoff event to prepare for their Project-Based Learning (PBL) module entitled “Taking Back Maine’s Future III” on March 1 in the Windham High School Auditorium.

The National Anti-Drug Coalition local chapter, Be The Influence, sponsored the Project-Based Learning event and local radio celebrity of the 93.1 FM morning show, Blake Hayes, was the guest host.

Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem or challenge.

This is Windham Middle School’s third year providing this particular initiative with the intent being to empower students to combat Maine’s opioid crisis from every possible angle. Using current data analysis and research, the students will examine the impacts of Maine's opioid crisis and make predictions on what the state might look like in the future.

The big culminating event that will both demonstrate a bright future that has overcome the opioid crisis as well as a dark future if it is not, will be held on the campus of Windham Middle School on Thursday, May 5.

Hayes began the kickoff by telling the students a personal story.

“My dad was a construction worker and an actor,” he said. “He even got a role on Saturday Night Live as an extra. My dad was an awesome guy who happened to be an addict and he died of an overdose. Maybe someone here might find the key to move forward in a positive way – and save someone like my dad.”

The event also comprised of an impressive expert panel including the following:

** Jacinta – The subject of renowned 2020 documentary and person in recovery

** Gordon Smith – Director or Opiate Response under Janet Mills

** Jonathan Sahrbeck – Cumberland County District Attorney

** Officer Matt Cyr – Windham Middle School Resource Officer

** Deputy Chief John Kooistra – Windham Fire Department

** Brittany Reichmann – A former Windham High School student and a person in recovery

During the event, Jacinta and Reichmann both shared their personal stories and all the panelists were available to answer student questions and share their personal experiences with the opioid crisis, inspiring students to take on the spring project with an unyielding determination.

This innovative PBL approach with which “Taking Back Maine’s Future” brings the opioid epidemic into focus for young teens gained national recognition with an invite to the National Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, (CADCA) conference in Washington DC in 2019.

“This project is engaging in that it gives students a chance to tackle a real problem through data analysis and research,” WMS teacher AJ Ruth said. “Presenting our project at the national conference was exciting and has provided our team with more resources for this year’s event.”

Ruth said that the 2018’s Taking Back Maine’s Future springtime concluding event was a great success, with over 600 community members in attendance. This year promises to be even more impactful.

The kickoff event ended with a short clip of “Back To The Future” from which the PBL is slightly based. The short film ended with a quote by the character, Dr. Emmet Brown, “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So, make it a good one.” <

WHS’ Rossetti a finalist for national assistant principal award

Windham Assistant Principal Phil Rossetti 
has been named as a finalist for the
National Assistant Principal of the Year
The Maine Principals’ Association has announced that Maine Assistant Principal of the Year, Philip Rossetti, Assistant Principal at Windham High School, is a Finalist for the National Assistant Principal of the Year Award.

Rossetti will be honored by the MPA at its annual awards banquet at their Spring Conference on April at the Samoset Resort in Rockport.

The national finalist announcement highlighted Rossetti’s belief that people make mistakes, but it’s what they do after that defines who they are. He’s used this principle to transform how Windham High School manages student behavior, focusing on restorative justice to hold students accountable and repair the harm they caused their school community.

This restorative approach has improved school safety and reshaped school culture, fostering stronger relationships between students and turning mistakes into opportunities to learn.

Reflecting on Rossetti’s selection as a 2022 NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year Finalist, MPA Executive Director Dr. Holly Blair praised Rossetti.

“It is exciting that Mr. Rossetti has been recognized by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) as a finalist for the National Assistant Principal of the Year,” Blair said. “This is the first time that Maine has had a finalist in the program. Mr. Rossetti is an exceptional Assistant Principal and very much deserving of this honor. We are very proud of him.”

Rossetti started his educational career as a social studies teacher at Windham High School in 1996. In 2015, he became the Assistant Principal of South Portland High School before returning to Windham High School in 2016 where he continues to serve as Assistant Principal.

During an interview in December, Rossetti said that he had encouraging mentors and loving family members who helped guide him along the way.

“I was lucky to have good teachers and people who cared about education during my high school years,” Rossetti said. “Plus, I had very supportive parents who encouraged me to get an advanced education.”

Rossetti, who lived most of his childhood life in Casco, explained that both of his parents came from a long line of hardworking people, and although his mother and father’s traditional education ended early, they believed in the power of conventional study and held grand hopes of high achievement for their son.

“They believed that the only way to my own success was through education and encouraged me to go to college,” Rossetti said. “They told me they wanted me to have the opportunities that they didn’t have.”

In addition to his parents’ encouragement, Rossetti had a very engaging history teacher at Lakes Region High School where Rossetti’s formative years were created.

“It was the way my history teacher taught classes that made the lessons enjoyable,” Rossetti said. “Plus, he was one of those teachers who really cared about you. He was very encouraging to the students and wanted his students to succeed. This inspired me to follow in his footsteps. I remember thinking to myself one day, ‘I want to be a teacher just like him.’”

He is currently a member of the Maine Principals’ Association (MPA) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and also serves as an assistant football coach for the school. <