Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Teen anglers set sights on national bass tournament title

By Ed Pierce

Chaz Elston has loved fishing since he was small and now the Windham teenager is hoping his ability to catch fish will result in a national bass fishing tournament title.

Chaz Elston, 17, a senior at
Windham High School, was 
part of a team that won The
Bass Federation Maine High
School Fishing Championship
held at Crescent Lake this
past summer. It qualified him
to compete in the national
high school championship
tournament in Lacrosse, 
Wisconsin next June.
Elston, 17, a senior at Windham High School, teamed up with Zach Morris of Turner, also 17, this past summer to win The Bass Federation Maine High School Championships held at Crescent Lake in Raymond.

The victory qualified Elston and Morris for a berth in The Bass Federation’s national high school championship tournament in Lacrosse, Wisconsin next June and for the BassMasters national championships at a site to be determined next summer.

According to Elston, he loves competing in fishing tournaments and winning.

“The thing I like the most about bass fishing is the competitive nature of the sport where you can wake up friends with someone and compete against them the next day,” Elston said. “You never know what's going to happen and it's almost an addictive feeling.”

He says it takes fortitude and determination to become successful in tournament fishing.

“I think the hardest thing for me to overcome was learning to discipline myself, to do what I must in order to become as successful as I want to be,” he said. “No matter the conditions whether it's windy, cold, you're tired or wet, you have to keep pushing yourself to fish as well as you can and not give up.”

Elston said many people believe having success in tournament fishing is nothing more than fate and that’s wrong.

“The biggest misconception people have about tournament bass fishing is that you luck into fish. Every tournament angler has to put in work to win,” Elston said. “You have to be able to know where the fish go depending on the time of year, the water temperature, where the baitfish go. Even things as small as graphs. I've spent well over 100 hours figuring out the electronics on my boat so come tournament day I know nobody has the jump on me.”

Qualifying for the national tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Elston. The event features 51 boats and 51 teams that will fish for the first two days of the event. On the third and final day, only the top seven teams advance for cash prizes and stipends to offset hotel and boat expenses.

The National champions and overall winners will leave with the coveted TBF National Champion Boater and National Champion Co-angler Titles and an awards package of more than $125,000 in cash and prizes including a brand-new Ranger Z520 boat powered by Mercury 250HP outboard engine, Lowrance Electronics and MinnKota Trolling Motors.

To go to Wisconsin to compete in the TBF national high school championships is estimated to cost around $5,000 for each participant, so Elston and Morris are seeking sponsors. They already have lined up Port Yacht Services and Farmers Insurance as sponsors but will need more and additional private donations to be able to make the trip.

For details about becoming a sponsor for Elston and Morris, call 207-318-8817 or send an email to

Sponsorship space is available for jerseys or on the boat that Elston and Morris will fish from, which will be captained at the nationals by Heath Morris, Zach’s father.

Elston began fishing locally with his father Alex more than a decade ago and has been fishing competitively in tournaments for the past four years.

“The thing that makes me a great tournament angler is my dedication to catching fish,” Elston said. “Being out on the boat catching fish is my life. I've put in so much work to get to the position I'm in now going to nationals to represent Maine. It's a dream come true.” <

Fuller Center expresses gratitude for area volunteers, businesses

By Lorraine Glowczak

The board members of the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing (Fuller Center) always appreciate their volunteers' time, energy, and financial contributions and the businesses that contribute to their cause. What better way to convey that gratitude than to offer it during the holiday that celebrates the expression of thanks?

The Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing
board members are thankful for the generosity of this
community that so readily helps others.
“We certainly could not fulfill our mission of providing adequate shelter and a safe living space for our older adults without the help of area volunteers and businesses,” said Fuller Center President Diane Dunton Bruni. “I am amazed and grateful for the generosity of this community to help others.”

The Fuller Center was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller, who also founded Habitat for Humanity. The local Sebago Lakes Region chapter focuses its mission on housing repair so older adults can remain and age safely in their own homes.

At a recent Fuller Center Volunteer Appreciation celebration, Linda Gregoire of Windham spoke at the event. She and her husband, John, were recipients of Fuller Center services in July.

Her words speak genuine and heartfelt appreciation that the local Fuller Center believes regarding everyone’s time, materials and financial contributions.

“I’m here to share with you from everyone who was a recipient of the Fuller Housing Foundation projects, our thanks and gratitude for your kind help,” she said. “I don’t just speak for John and myself, but I hope I speak for everyone you helped. I want to start with a quote that epitomizes the spirit of volunteerism by a woman who dedicated her life to helping the unseen. In the words of Mother Teresa, ‘You have not truly lived until you have done something for someone who can do nothing to repay you’.”

Gregoire continued by saying that serving the unseen, the elderly, the disabled, and veterans (who are often both), is a worthy calling.

“We should remember the unseen weren’t always unseen. They were productive members of our community,” she said. “So, to have a group of caring people come into your life to fix or build and repair something you used to be able to do but can no longer do yourself is an unbelievable experience and blessing.”

Gregoire said that she and her husband felt relief that one of their needs was met.

“How do you ever thank the people who freely gave their love, compassion, time, talent and resources? It can be so humbling and overwhelming to receive so much. But I assure you, you have been thanked in prayers to be blessed as you have been a blessing. God smiled a lot this summer, particularly on July 29, but also on a rainy afternoon when the last nail was pounded as the rain fell. None of it goes unnoticed. What you all did this summer won’t just last for this summer. After you all went home, back to your jobs and lives, what you did will last for years. Every project will be a testament to what we can do for one another when we join together and put our “Faith into Action.”

Dunton Bruni said there are so many individuals to thank that it would take an entire page to express the Fuller Center’s gratitude. She listed a small group of individuals, organizations, and businesses who gave $1,000 or more or were local contractors who gave their time.

But first, Dunton Bruni said she felt it necessary to mention one more thing.

“It is essential to note that this list does not eliminate our appreciation for those who gave in smaller ways but with a big heart,” Dunton Bruni said. “Especially those who worked hard cooking to feed the volunteers. Please know that we know who you are and are grateful to you beyond words.”

Dunton Bruni said the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing is grateful to Hancock Lumber, Maine Association of Realtors, Modern Woodman, Sebago Lake Rotary, Bill and Jane Diamond, North Windham Union Church, Alex Ewig, Stephen Fraizer, Raymond Village Community Church, Hussy Seating, Fuller Center Bike Adventure, Randy Perkins of Perks Peak, Brian Shaw of Earthworks, Jill Johanning, Larry Hodgkins, Scott Symonds, Greg Cushman, Rob Regan, Tom Cleveland, Lowes, Casella Waste, VFW Post 10643, Hannaford Supermarkets, and Bob’s Seafood for their help.

Perhaps Gregoire expresses the Fuller Center’s appreciation the best.

“I want you to know you changed circumstances, which has changed lives and how those lives are lived and enjoyed. I hope and pray these projects will be an example to others of what we can all accomplish when we open our hearts and use our hands to help the unseen.”

To learn more about the Sebago Lakes Region Fuller Center for Housing organization, to volunteer, or to inquire about housing repair, call 207-387-0855, send an email to, visit their website at or follow them on Facebook. <

Friday, November 18, 2022

VFW recognizes ‘Patriot’s Pen’ and ‘Voice of Democracy’ winners

By Ed Pierce

Three Windham students have been honored as this year’s winners of the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition and the “Voice of Democracy” audio essay contest sponsored by VFW Post 10643.

Winners of the VFW Post 10643's 2022 essay contests
were honored at the Windham Veterans Center on Nov. 11.
From left are 'Voice of Democracy' winner Hunter Edson,
Patriot's  Pen winner Evangeline Williams, and Lance Lake,
who finished second in the Patriot's Pen competition.
According to VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman, the annual competition encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society. It provides them with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

The “Voice of Democracy” competition is open to all high school students, grades 9 to 12, including those who are home-schooled. For this year, students were asked to write and record a 3- to 5-minute essay (on an audio CD) about this year's theme "Why is the Veteran Important?"

Goodman said that Hunter Edson, a Windham Academy Academy senior, submitted the winning audio-essay. He was presented with a certificate for his achievement and a check for $250 at an event at the Windham Veterans Center and qualifies to compete in the district-level “Voice of Democracy” competition.

Winners of the district competition advance to the state level and if successful there, are entered in the national VFW contest with a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. and an opportunity to win a $35,000 college scholarship on the line.

Edson said he was shocked and amazed that his audio-essay was chosen as this year’s VFW Post 10643 winner.

“Having the opportunity to go to that amazing event at the Windham Veterans Center was truly breathtaking. I am very grateful for our veterans and the people at the VFW for giving students around the country this amazing opportunity,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something greater, I mean ‘Voice of Democracy,’ that’s saying a lot in and of itself. But I for one am just very happy that I get to be a part of that voice. Winning this year has been a great experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

He says he plans on saving his prize money for either college or to put it aside to help purchase his dream car, a Chevy Camaro.

The “Patriot's Pen” essay competition is open to all middle school students, including home schoolers, in grades 6 to 8, Goodman said. Students were invited to write a 300- to 400-word essay on this year's theme, "My Pledge to Veterans?”

Like the “Voice of Democracy” contest, the “Patriot’s Pen” essay competition local winners advance to compete at the district-level. District winners compete in the VFW’s annual state competition while trying to secure a berth in the national competition.

The first-place VFW state winner in each competition receives a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. and competes nationally to receive a $5,000 prize.

During the awards presentation on Veterans Day, Goodman honored this year’s “Patriot’s Pen” winner, Evangeline Williams and second-place winner, Lance Lake.

Williams is a sixth grader at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $200 for her winning essay. Lake also is a sixth-grade student at Windham Christian Academy and received a certificate and a check for $150 for his second-place essay.

Each year, more than 68,800 students in grades 6 to 8 enter the VFW’s “Patriot’s Pen” youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards.

Established in 1947, each year nearly 25,000 students in grades 9 to 12 from across the country enter to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the “Voice of Democracy” program. <

Veterans Day observance honors Windham residents who served

By Ed Pierce

Windham has a long and proud tradition of honoring those who served in the military and on Friday, Nov. 11, once again the community gathered at the Windham Veterans Center to say thanks to local veterans for their sacrifices while in uniform.

American Legion Field-Allen Post 148
bugler Linwood Bailey plays 'Taps' during
a ceremony on Friday, Nov. 11 to commemorate
Veterans Day at the Windham Veterans Center.
During a ceremony led by VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman, local veterans were recognized for their contributions and treated to a lunch donated by area businesses.

“Veterans Day honors the duty, sacrifice and service of our veterans,” Goodman said. “We cannot ever forget what they have given our nation.”

Goodman then introduced guest speaker Kevin Demmons of East Winthrop, an inspiring Afghanistan veteran and a former U.S. Army paratrooper who uses his military background to help others as a strength and conditioning coach, a life skills coach, and a motivational speaker in the Bangor area.

“Like many combat soldiers when I came home, I brought back some baggage,” Demmons said. “You don’t just forget about that feeling when you think you are going to die, or even worse the sights and smells of your brothers dying.”

He joined the Army in January 2011 and later that year saw combat against the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Paktia province and saw many people, both soldiers, civilians and the enemy lose their lives, leading to his ongoing sense of unhappiness and depression.

“It was war, it was hard times and there are things you don’t forget,” Demmons said. “I had a lot of things to work through when I got home. I thought I couldn’t be happy. I carried that victim mentality for a long time.”

Demmons described arriving at a village in Afghanistan shortly after a suicide bomber had exploded an incendiary device that killed U.S. soldiers who had simply stopped to give out candy to Afghan children as a gesture of friendship. It was something that Demmons said that he had little time to process as he had to load dead bodies onto a truck and drive a wounded soldier for emergency treatment and then he returned home to Maine the very next day.

After struggling personally and professionally in civilian life back home and out of the Army, Demmons said he came to a profound realization with the help of a therapist.

“I decided to live in spite of the fallen,” he said. “I decided to live in honor of them. Trying to be successful for yourself gives you a sense of purpose.”

Demmons said he focused on what gave him his greatest release from reliving his wartime experiences and that was his ability to train and exercise.

“I chose a path of fitness, nutrition, work and changing my mindset to live a better life.”

That epiphany led him to healthier relationships with his wife and family and a much happier life.

The Veterans Day observance included a performance by the Windham Chamber Singers and the presentation of the flag and colors by Windham Boy Scout Troop 805.

On hand for the observance were State Senator Bill Diamond, incoming State Senator Tim Nangle, State Representatives Mark Bryant and Patrick Corey, and Windham Town Councilor David Nadeau. Former State Senator and State Representative Gary Plummer also attended the event.

Following the VFW observance, a ceremony marking Veterans Day was held in the Windham Veterans Center courtyard by American Legion Post 148 where a wreath was placed remembering all veterans from Windham who served.

Placing the wreath was American Legion Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault and VFW Commander Goodman, accompanied by Windham’s sole remaining World War II veteran Carroll McDonald as American Legion bugler Linwood Bailey played "Taps." <

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Love of flight propels Windham veteran’s service

By Ed Pierce

Carroll McDonald never thought that something he saw while playing outside on his family’s farm in South Windham at the age of 4 in 1929 would change his life forever, but it remains a pivotal moment in his life and set in motion a career of service to America that we celebrate on Veterans Day.

Windham resident Carroll McDonald shows a photo of himself
in the military as a pilot during World War II. McDonald,
97, learned to fly as a teenager and joined the Army Air Force
specifically to train as a military pilot after graduation from
Windham High School in 1942. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
McDonald heard the shouts nearby of school children and then looking up into the sky, he noticed what all the commotion was about, it was an old biplane, the first aircraft he had ever seen in flight, and it captured his imagination like nothing else.

“It was doing spins and barrel rolls overhead,” McDonald said. “At first, I was scared, but the longer I watched that old biplane, the more impressed I became, and I knew from that moment that I wanted to become a pilot someday. The sound of it going up and down and buzzing all around stirred my interest and it never left me when I was growing up.”

McDonald and his younger brother Kenneth were so fascinated by aviation that once when Carroll was 12 and Kenneth was 9, they rode their bicycles from Grant’s Corner in South Windham more than 12 miles to Portland and the airport there. Unbeknownst to their parents, the brothers paid for and boarded a flight, landed, and took off again for a return flight back to Portland, before riding their bicycles back to the family’s dairy farm.

“Our parents had no idea what we had done, and they were shocked when we told them,” McDonald said. “Both of us really loved airplanes and wanted to fly.”

Upon graduation from Windham High School in 1942, McDonald suspected that he was about to be drafted so he instead signed up for the Army Air Force, provided he could train to become a military pilot.

In 1943 he was given a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and sent to Army flight school in Alabama and then on for training as a P-51 pilot at Page Field in Fort Myers, Florida. McDonald earned his flight wings in 1944 and spent the remainder of the war in Fort Myers flying P-51s, a long range, single-seat fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War.

“I joined because it was an opportunity to be well-trained and a chance to fly every single day,” McDonald said. “Flying P-51s was the best experience I could have ever hoped for. It was a top-of-the-line aircraft and was really very fast. Here I was just a teenager, and I was flying one of the fastest aircraft in the world and serving my country during wartime. It was simply an amazing time.”

McDonald learned to fly the P-51 from experienced Army Air Force pilots and veterans who had flown missions overseas and knew what they were doing in preparing young aviators like McDonald to engage the enemy. But before he could be sent overseas, the war ended.

Following his active-duty discharge in 1945, McDonald returned to Windham and attended business school using the GI Bill. He joined the U.S. Post Office as a rural postal delivery driver, a job he worked at for 32 years, delivering mail in South Windham and on River Road until retiring.

He continued to pilot aircraft while serving as a mailman, finishing his mail route by 2 p.m. in the summers and then driving to Naples where he would fly sightseeing trips for tourists around Sebago Lake.

His younger brother Kenneth, who has passed away, also became a military pilot, flying B-25 bombers during the Korean War.

In 1951 while fulfilling his military commitment in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, he was promoted to the rank of 1st Lieutenant. About the same time, McDonald joined American Legion’s Field-Allen Post 148 in 1951 and eventually serving as Post Commander and performed many other duties for the group through the years.

After his retirement from the U.S. Post Office, he then volunteered for more than 20 years delivering Meals on Wheels to area seniors.

About eight years ago he had the opportunity to fly in a P-51 during an vintage airshow in the Auburn area.

“I couldn’t believe it after all these years,” he said. “I was thrilled to have that opportunity once more.”

Now 97, McDonald is the last remaining World War II veteran in Windham and says he wouldn’t change a thing about his military service or his love for his fellow military veterans.

“I still think it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I am very positive about my time in the military. I enjoyed the structure, the discipline and was very pleased with the training I received. I’m lucky to have served and proud of what we accomplished.” <

Reports of wildlife sightings increase locally this fall

By Abby Wilson

Migratory animals have left for southern destinations, but Maine wildlife that doesn’t migrate are hunkering down for the winter.

When we think about hibernation, one animal that comes to mind is the black bear. While bears can lower their body temperatures and slow down their metabolism, they are not technically true hibernators.

A rash of black bear sightings in Windham over the past
month may be the result of bears foraging for food sources
such as bird feeders before the onset of winter. 
A true hibernator, such as a ground squirrel, will drastically lower all bodily processes such as metabolism and blood pressure. These smaller animals begin hibernation and do not come out until they know there will be adequate resources.

If there is a winter thaw, or a den is flooded by snowmelt, bears may actually wake up, and leave their dens to look for food.

In fact, Scott Lindsay, Regional Biologist at the Gray headquarters for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says it is not unlikely to see bear footprints in the snow.

In preparation for winter sleep, also called torpor, bears must dramatically increase their caloric intake. This can lead to a pulse of wildlife contact reports. In Maine, most of these reports involve black bears, and more often than not, the incident also involves a bird feeder.

Bears need to get the most calories in the most efficient way. They roam uplands and lowlands to forage for food. When a bear finds an introduced food source such as garbage or bird seed, they are going to utilize it because food with high amounts of calories like this are very difficult to find in the wild.

It is best to wait until late November to hang out bird feeders to avoid these incidents. Feeders should then be taken down by April 1, says Lindsay.

Bears are typically in their dens from November to April. In the spring, food resources are once again plentiful, so bears begin to forage on wild foods. They will also use human-introduced resources to supplement their diet.

In fact, Lindsay says that the most wildlife contact in populated areas like Windham and Raymond occur in the spring simply because there are so many animals. Adults are providing resources for babies and there is more consumption of prey as well as more foraging. But once the natural growing season begins there are more wild foods. Wildlife conflict and general wildlife complaints will then drop off.

Lindsay said that when we talk about wildlife populations, we use the term carrying capacity. This is the total number of individuals an ecosystem can handle based on space and resources. There is both a cultural carrying capacity and an ecological carrying capacity. It is important to remember that what you see in your background does not necessarily reflect the number of individuals in the ecosystem as a whole.

Bats are another animal that Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife frequently get reports about. Some of the bats we have in Maine are migratory, while others hibernate. Hibernating bats may decide to overwinter in your attic or barn. Professionals known as animal damage control agents can attempt to relocate these bat colonies.

Fall is the proper season to deal with bat related conflicts. If migratory bats are monopolizing a barn or attic, it is best to wait until they leave in the fall. All entry ways can then be covered so that bats will not find their way back into the structure. Do not shut out bats during the summer months because it is the crucial pupping season.

During these times of conflict, as long as an animal is not showing aggression or injuries, a person should secure all food and domestic animals, and leave the animal alone. Lindsay says it’s important to resist temptation to engage in wildlife physically.

There have been situations where people try to domesticate animals such as raccoons by interacting with them and feeding them. This promotes food habituation and conditioning which will ultimately increase wildlife conflict.

“Enjoy watching them, but you should not be encouraging them to be closer,” Lindsay said.

Climate change has greatly affected migration patterns of animals in Maine. The ‘shoulder’ seasons are getting longer, like fall and spring, which is shortening winter. According to the climate science department at the University of Maine, the state has lost 10 days of winter in the last decade.

However, animals are resilient and able to adapt. For example, opossums used to have a more central range in the United States. Today, they exist in southern/central Maine and are popular to see in the Sebago Lake area.

Lindsay says that what’s potentially even more interesting is the increase in human population in Maine. Many people have moved to Maine from urban areas where wildlife was not as common to see in your background. This leads to more frequent conflicts and complaints. Education is an important tool to teach people about how to enjoy wildlife but also how to stay safe around wild animals. <

Friday, November 4, 2022

Windham High School student captures 'USOA Miss Teen Maine' crown

By Ed Pierce

A Windham High School senior has won the 2023 United States of America Miss Teen Maine Pageant and will represent the state at the USOA National Pageant in Nevada next spring. Morgan Wing of Windham, 17, was awarded the teen crown and title Oct. 9 during the USOA Maine Pageant at the Senator Inn in Augusta.

Morgan Wing, 17, a senior at Windham High School, has
been crowned as 2023 USOA Miss Teen Maine. She will
represent Maine in the National USOA Miss Teen Pageant
in Las Vegas, Nevada in April. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
Wing had been crowned USOA Teen Windham in April and she also was honored with the People’s Choice Award during the state pageant in Augusta, which allows her to donate $3,000 to her charity of choice, Project Sparrow, which aligns with her interest and commitment to helping kids in foster care. During the state pageant, Wing also received the Congeniality Award, as voted on by the other contestants in her division as the contestant who best embodies the spirit of the pageant.

During the pageant, judges were impressed with Wing’s deep level of involvement in the community and her platform idea of something called a “Journey Bag” which provides backpacks or duffle bags filled with essentials such as toothbrush toothpaste, deodorant and other personal hygiene items for children entering the DHHS Child Protective Services foster care system.

“My hope is to provide some comfort in a time that is scary and out of their control,” Wing said. “These kids often are placed in foster care with nothing but the clothes on their back and the ‘Journey Bag’ gives them something that is theirs to keep, no matter where their journey takes them.”

Pageant judges also praised Wing’s volunteer work for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, Honor Flight Maine, the Windham Summerfest Parade, and the Dempsey Challenge, among many opportunities that she has demonstrated her dedication and commitment to worthy community causes.

She is the daughter of Melissa and Andrew Johnston of Windham and Mike and Lindsay Wing of Englewood, Florida. She has two younger brothers named Everett and Liam and is hoping to attend cosmetology school at the Paul Mitchell School of Hair in Manchester, New Hampshire following graduation from high school and become a hair color specialist.

According to Wing, she first became interested in the USOA pageant because her aunt, Nykki Stevens, was also a participant in a different division. She encouraged her to move out of her comfort zone and says that it has allowed her to become more involved in her community and to create an incredible platform that she is very proud of.

Along with Stevens, Wing says that her role models are parents because they are hard-working individuals who are always willing to help others and give back and have always provided a safe loving home for her brothers and her while working together to not only provide for her but to show her incredible love and support.”

She said that her family is her biggest support, and she cannot thank them enough for helping her become the 2023 USOA Miss Teen Maine.

In all, it has taken her almost a full year of attending many workshops and participating in community events to prepare for the USOA competition.

During the state pageant, she competed in three categories with the first being a personal interview where she sat with three judges individually and answered their questions. The second category was athletic wear, and the final category was the evening gown competition, in which she wore a coral pink floor-length Sherri Hill Gown from Grayce Bridal in Portland.

At Windham High School, Wing has been on the Honor Roll from her freshman through her junior years. She’s a member of the WHS National Honor Society and the WHS Spanish National Honor Society.

When not volunteering or in school, Wing enjoys reading, cosmetology, word search puzzles and time spent as an assistant director of a children’s theater group.

Wing and her family are now in the process of raising money so she can compete in the National USOA Teen Pageant in April 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. She’s also seeking local sponsors to help with the cost of wardrobe and other essentials such as hair, make-up and clothing items at the National Pageant.

Anyone interested in donating or serving as a sponsor is asked to send an email to

You can also follow her journey and reign as 2023 Miss USOA Maine Teen on Facebook or Instagram at USOA MAINE TEEN. <

Feed Me: 'Little Shop of Horrors' to open at WHS

By Masha Yurkevich

COVID hit us all a lot. It struck workplaces, schools, shopping malls and the list goes on, but perhaps where it was most felt was in the theater industry. Since the pandemic, it has been difficult for the theater program at Windham High School to get its wheels rolling again. But as time goes by and everyone is slowly adapting, so is the theater program. This November, they will be staging the musical, “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Starting Nov. 11 and running through Nov. 20, Windham
High School will stage 'Little Shop of Horrors,' a musical
about a new talking species of plant named 'Audrey II' and
based on the hit Broadway show and film. Tickets will be
on sale at the door only. COURTESY PHOTO 
It's about a plant nerd who finds a new species which starts fulfilling all his wants and desires, but with an unexpected twist for the end. The production is based on the hit Broadway musical and 1986 film “Little Shop of Horrors” and it is rather campy, a blend of gospel, rock, sci-fi, Greek tragedy, and 1950/1960s pop culture.

The musical is led by director Rob Juergens who has been at the Windham Middle School for the past 20 years. Before Juergens first started directing, he used to build sets and work backstage.

“There is a huge gratification gained from watching something you helped build be such a huge part of a show,” says Juergens, who has served as director for the past 14 years.

He said that directing a show means he’s responsible for the overall vision of the production, Juergens said.

“There are so many other pieces that others bring, costumes, set, lights, props, music, choreography, etc.,” he said. “My real job is to take all this creativity and inspiration and weave it all together.”

Liam Yates is part of the cast and plays the voice of Audrey II — better known as The Plant.

“This year I also have the honor of being the assistant (student) producer of the show,” says Liam. “My favorite part of the show is the plant itself. The props look absolutely amazing, and our puppeteer really brings Audrey II to life.”

Yates is a senior and has been part of Windham High School's theater program for four years now.

“I'm thrilled to see the number of underclassmen involved with this show,” says Yates. “COVID took a big hit on the performing arts, and I'm glad to see the Windham High School Theater Program has a very bright future.”

Sophie Koutalakis, a senior at Windham High School, has been part of the theater programs since her freshman year and plays the role of Audrey in this musical.

“My favorite part is the song ‘Git It’,” says Koutalakis. “All of the first act has built up to this one song, and our Audrey II sounds wonderful. I’m only onstage briefly during this song, but it is a fun scene to get to act in.”

Koutalakis says that this show has been very fun to work on because the horror-comedy aspect makes it so fun to play around with.

“For me,” says Koutalakis, “getting to develop Audrey’s character has been such an awesome experience, and I love getting to work with my peers every week to put together an amazing show.”

Little Shop of Horrors will be presented at the Windham Performing Arts Center on Nov. 11, Nov. 12, Nov. 18, and Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. and on Nov. 13 and Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $12 for children, students, and seniors, and $14 for adults.

For Juergens, he says his favorite part is watching everything come together. He enjoys watching the students grow into their parts and become a character.

Juergens said he is also very grateful for Heather Platti , Jen Chasse, Mychelle Koutalakis and everyone else who helps put the show together.

“They are my amazing producers,” says Juergens. “Without them, I am helpless,” he said.

For more information about Little Shop of Horrors at Windham High School, call 207-893- 0909. <