Showing posts with label Hunter Edson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hunter Edson. Show all posts

Friday, March 15, 2024

Windham Christian Academy student wins Maine 'Voice of Democracy' contest

By Ed Pierce

For the second consecutive year, a student from Windham Christian Academy has captured the state “Voice of Democracy” contest sponsored by the VFW and qualified to compete in the national “Voice of Democracy” finals in Washington, D.C. This year’s winner is Anna Seavey, 18, a WCA senior, and for her winning audio essay, she earned a $2,000 scholarship for college from the national competition.

Anna Seavey of Windham Christian Academy, center, receives
a $2,000 college scholarship during the national 2024 VFW
'Voice of Democracy' contest in Washington, D.C. She was
presented the award by the VFW National Commander Duane
Sarmiento, right, and VFW Auxiliary President Carla
Martinez on March 6. COURTESY PHOTO 
Seavey plans to use the scholarship to attend Southern Maine Community College this fall and plans to study early childhood education. She hopes to eventually teach at a daycare or preschool after college.

She said she was inspired to enter the local Voice of Democracy contest sponsored by VFW Post 10643 last fall after knowing several previous students at Windham Christian Academy who have won the contest in the past few years, including Hunter Edson of Windham, who won both the local and state contests last year.

“I was excited by the possible opportunities this contest offered including scholarships, a trip to Washington D.C., and meeting people involved with the VFW,” Seavey said.

Her 3- to 5-minute audio essay was based upon this year’s theme “What Are the Greatest Attributes of Our Democracy” and she said when she first heard about the topic, she was very excited to write about it.

The annual Voice of Democracy competition was established by the VFW in 1947 and encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society and provides students with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money. The national first-place scholarship prize is $35,000 and each year more than 25,000 students from across America submit audio essays for the competition.

According to Seavey, she was amazed when she learned that she had won the Maine Voice of Democracy.

“At first, I couldn't even believe that they read my name,” she said. “I was immediately filled with joy and excitement when I realized I would be going forward to the national level. I felt incredibly honored that I would get the opportunity to represent my state.”

The daughter of Michael and Maureen Seavey of Standish, Anna is the youngest of four children and says her family was excited to find out about her winning the state-level competition, the accompanying college scholarship and the all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete against other state winners.

“They were all incredibly supportive and encouraging to me as I prepared to go to Washington D.C. My parents were able to watch the parade of winners live, and my siblings watched from home on television. I am so thankful for the support they gave me.”

The national Voice of Democracy competition was held in Washington from March 2 through March 6 and Seavey’s parents accompanied her to the event.

“I learned so much from this trip. The most important thing that I learned is to not be afraid to try new things,” Seavey said. “Submitting my essay to this contest opened the door for an incredible, life-changing experience that I will never forget. I was also able to learn incredible things about our nation's history by visiting memorials in Washington D.C.”

In addition to the $2,000 scholarship she earned at the national level, Seavey received a $750 scholarship for winning the Maine Voice of Democracy and she also earned a $200 check from the Windham VFW for her win at the local level last November.

She said she’s considering using the scholarships she received for further education after she graduates from Southern Maine Community College.

VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman said he is impressed by how well Seavey represented Windham in the state and national competitions and very proud of what she has been able to accomplish.

“This year our VFW Post 10643 was thrilled to have chosen Anna Seavey to represent our post and move on to the district level. Anna then won at that level which meant she moved on to compete at the state level,” Goodman said. “We were ecstatic that Anna won, which meant she would be representing the State of Maine in a four-day all expenses paid trip for her and her parents to Washington, D.C.”

Goodman did not attend the festivities in Washington earlier this month, but said he watched it online and was impressed watching Anna march in with Maine’s VFW State Commander.

“Anna is a delightful young woman with an engaging personality and I’m sure this was an experience of a lifetime for her and her parents,” Goodman said. “They must be so proud of Anna, the person she is, the essay she wrote and in her delivery. Clearly, Anna is on her way to an extremely bright future and our post thanks her for her participation in our annual essay contest and allowing us to be a part of this incredible journey.” <

Friday, January 5, 2024

Year in Review 2023 (Part One)

2023: A year of collaboration, connection, and community

Looking back upon the past year is a great opportunity for all of us to assess and reflect on what has been accomplished in the community and to review where the towns of Windham and Raymond and area residents are headed in 2024.

Windham High players celebrate after defeating
Oxford Hills, 3-1, on June 20 in Gorham to win the
Class A State  Softball championship. 
There were plenty of notable achievements and significant milestones to mention in 2023 and much more to come in the new year ahead.

Following a thorough review of all issues of The Windham Eagle from 2023, we’ve chosen to highlight the top three stories for each month as featured in the newspaper and we wish everyone a healthy and prosperous year ahead in 2024.


Diamond forms foundation to help stop child homicides

Former State Senator Bill Diamond of Windham created a nonprofit foundation to protect children called “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes,” which is duly filed with the Maine Secretary of State and supported and guided by an advisory board consisting of experts in the field of child protection and child welfare.

According to Diamond, the new foundation will help prevent child homicides and the abuse of children who are under the supervision or direct care of the State of Maine or who are or have been associated with the state’s Child Protective System.

“Children associated with state care have been dying at record levels, in fact, as recently as 2021 a record number of children died, many were victims of child homicides,” Diamond said. “The chilling question is: How many more children must die before we make meaningful changes?”

Diamond said he was first made aware of the issues affecting child homicide in Maine and the state’s child protection system in 2001.

“The problem has continued to persist over the past 22 years under four different gubernatorial administrations, Independent, Republican, and Democrat,” he said. “The problems are not partisan based. They are the concern of all of us. This is the most important thing I’ve ever been able to do, nothing comes close.”

To learn more about the issue, Diamond said he’s attended many child-homicide trials and sentencings over the past years and each time he does, he’s made aware of the gruesome and sad details of an abused child dying needlessly. To create and launch this new initiative, Diamond has committed $25,000 of his own money to provide the support necessary to get the foundation functioning without delay.

He’s also assembled a distinguished advisory board for the foundation including former Maine Gov. John Baldacci; former Maine Assistant Attorney General Lou Ann Clifford; former Maine Attorney General Mike Carpenter; Dr. Amanda Brownell, a pediatric physician and Medical Director of the Spurwink Center for Safe and Healthy Families; former State Senator and State Representative Joyce Maker; and the former Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and a national advisor on child safety, Michael Petit.

“It’s time we committed ourselves as citizens, government agencies, legislators, and media to ending these needless child deaths. Too many children keep dying and nothing seems to change,” Diamond said. <

Windham awards new contract to town manager

By virtue of a new contract, the Town of Windham will continue to tap into the experience, expertise, and leadership abilities of Barry Tibbetts as town manager. Tibbetts, who was appointed by the Windham Town Council as the interim town manager in November 2019, assumed duties as the fulltime town manager in March 2020.

In extending a new three-year contract to Tibbetts, councilors authorized him to perform the functions and duties of the town manager and to hold all offices as specified in the town's charter and to complete other duties and functions. Under terms of the contract, Windham will pay Tibbetts an annual base salary of $160,741.80, which Phyllis Moss, the town’s human resources director detailed in a memo for councilors as being in line with compensation for other town managers leading nearby communities.

Based upon the new agreement, Tibbetts would receive cost-of-living adjustments for town employees starting in July 2023 based upon results of his annual performance evaluation. He would also be eligible for a longevity increase should he stay through the third year of the contract in Fiscal Year 2025-2026.

“I truly believe if you had not come to Windham when you did, we would not be in the position that we are in,” Councilor Jarrod Maxfield told Tibbetts. “Windham is getting a lot more than we’re paying for.”

In August 2022, Tibbetts was honored with the Maine Town, City and County Management Association’s 2022 Leadership Award during the association’s annual convention at Sugarloaf. The award is presented to recognize a Public Administrator in the state for a particularly bold and innovative project or for solving an unusually difficult problem and then playing a key role in developing the project as well as in implementing it.

As town manager, Tibbetts has spearheaded efforts to acquire and conserve the East Windham Conservation Area, Windham’s new sewer and wastewater treatment project and to alleviate persistent traffic congestion in North Windham along Route 302 through creation of a system of new access roads and sophisticated high-tech traffic signals. <

Town hopes sidewalk improvements spur South Windham growth

The revitalization of South Windham moved another step closer when members of the Windham Town council have endorsed submission of an application for Community Development Block Grant funds to move forward with a concept planning study for sidewalk reconstruction in the area.

Town councilors approved the application during a meeting and the sidewalk funding application is expected to be completed and submitted by the end of January. The proposed concept planning study would review the most cost-effective way to reconstruct existing sidewalks and construct new sidewalks running from Depot Street in South Windham to the Mountain Division Trail.

Windham Town Manager Barry Tibbetts told councilors that the proposed sidewalk improvements are intended to improve safety for pedestrians in South Windham and boost economic growth along Main Street there.

According to Tibbetts, the project would rebuild some 1,250 feet of existing sidewalk along the east side of Main Street from the Blue Seal store near the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

He said other planned improvements would replace old and failing retaining walls along the 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk on the east side of Main Street and to install pedestrian lighting along that same 1,250-foot section of rebuilt sidewalk.

The project would also create 1,250 feet of new 5-foot-wide paved sidewalk with granite curbing along the west side of Main Street from the Mountain Division Trail crossing to Depot Street in the center of South Windham Village.

The new sidewalk coincides with a project that was completed last fall that repaved the parking lot at the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District at 35 Main St. in South Windham which shares a driveway with the town’s South Windham Fire Station. Reconfiguring the parking lot was a collaborative effort between Cumberland County, the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Town of Windham.

During the June 2022 Annual Town Meeting, Windham voters authorized a $275,000 bond for creation of a sidewalk from Blue Seal Feed on Gray Road to Depot Street in South Windham sometime in 2024 or 2025. <


Windham student wins state VFW 2023 ‘Voice of Democracy’ award

An audio essay by Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior, was judged as the best in the state in the 2023 Voice of Democracy contest.

Edson had captured the Windham VFW Post 10643 Voice of Democracy title in November and then won the district competition to advance to the state contest, where he was awarded first place at a dinner at the Augusta Civic Center on Jan. 21. Winning the state award means that Edson’s audio essay qualified him for the national VFW Voice of Democracy contest.

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?"

In winning the Maine Voice of Democracy contest, Edson also qualifies for a four-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington for the national competition. The annual competition was established in 1947 and encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society and provides students with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money. The national first-place scholarship prize is $35,000, with second- and third-place national winners taking home $21,000 and $15,000 respectfully. Each year more than 25,000 students across America submit audio essays for the competition.

Windham VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman said that Edson’s presentation is worthy of the awards and attention it has received.

“I think Hunter Edson’s Voice of Democracy presentation is so powerful for two reasons,” Goodman said. “First, throughout his speech, Hunter posed questions directly related to the topic which engaged the listeners, and secondly, he provided specific examples and thoughtful, interesting answers to those questions. He gave factual answers about veterans but also went beyond those to give his personal reflections on what the term veteran means to him.” <

Woodbrey confident in leading Windham’s MSSPA

When the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals was looking for a new leader to replace longtime executive director Meris Bickford, it didn’t have to search very far. Kathy Woodbrey of Raymond, who has been part of the leadership team at MSSPA for the last 11 years, has assumed the leadership role for the nonprofit organization and is eager to put what she’s learned through the years to good use.

Woodbrey was born in Pennsylvania and her family moved to the mid-coast of Maine the summer before she entered sixth grade. She graduated from Lincoln Academy in Newcastle and went on to receive an Associate of Science degree in animal medical technology from the University of Maine at Orono. In 2004 and 2005, Woodbrey attended Andover College to study accounting and in 2021 she earned a Non-Profit Management certificate from the University of Southern Maine.

Based in Windham, the mission of the MSSPA is to provide refuge, rehabilitation, and placement of seized equines. MSSPA does not charge for its shelter services and seeks no reimbursement from any public source. Horses cared for by the MSSPA come from Maine law enforcement officials and most of them have been abused or neglected.

The MSSPA’s goal for each horse is rehabilitation and a new home, but if no suitable adoption is found, horses may live out their natural lives at the organization’s farm.

“I have to say that our local community is incredibly supportive of the MSSPA. Members of the local community volunteer at the farm and donate to fundraising campaigns,” she said. “Residents of the Southern Maine Re-entry Facility regularly volunteer and one resident at SMWRC is employed by MSSPA. Students from Windham High School and Windham Middle School volunteer every Friday during the school year. And the Windham Primary School second graders hold a fundraiser for the horses and then come for a field trip each spring. It's a wonderful community and we are glad to be a part of it.” <

Polar Dip participants plunge into Sebago Lake

It takes a special mentality to fully appreciate the benefits of diving into 33-degree water, but more than three dozen individuals tried it out when they plunged into chilly Sebago Lake as part of the annual Polar Dip off Raymond Beach on Feb. 18. Sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, the popular event is the largest fundraiser staged every year for “Feed the Need,” an initiative that donates to 12 different food pantries in the Lakes Region of Maine.

Some of the participants jumped into the lake while wearing costumes and others participated as part of teams representing clubs, organizations, or businesses. But everyone jumping into Sebago Lake for the Polar Dip agreed upon one thing – how cold the water was.

Staging the Polar Dip off Raymond Beach turned out to be a significant undertaking.

A hole was cut in the lake ice about 200 yards off Raymond Beach on the Wednesday prior to the fundraiser and Polar Dip officials expected shelf ice to expand as temperatures dropped to about 18 degrees the night before the event was scheduled to take place. The shelf ice at that location was between 3 and 4 inches when the hole was originally cut, but several days of warmer weather rising to almost 52 degrees later in the week prevented further ice formation and resulted in the loss of about an inch of ice before the fundraiser.

To assure everyone’s safety, the heating trailers for participants were kept on shore and only the teams jumping were led out on the ice and then brought back to the shoreline.

“Saturday was certainly eventful. Usually, we can all go out to the hole and watch the jumpers and the heated trailers are right there to change in,” said Robin Mullins, executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. “Not this year. I had to walk each team out individually to keep the weight on the ice low. The ice did break up a bit, but it managed to stay together enough to get all 10 teams, or 35 jumpers, into the water.” <


Windham third grader’s fundraiser makes big difference for community

Windham third-grader Eva Doughty really likes helping people. When the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry visited her class, she became inspired. She wanted to help those in need have food and clothes during the cold winter. She decided to organize a fundraiser and created her own Polar Dip event at Sebago Lake on Tuesday, Jan. 24 where about 25 people attended.

At that event, Doughty and several other students from her neighborhood took the plunge into the icy lake waters.

Through determination and persistence, Doughty was able to raise more than $2,200 for the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry at her Polar Dip.

On Tuesday, March 21 during a Windham Town Council meeting, she presented a check to Collette Gagnon, Windham Social Services Administrative Assistant and operator of the Windham Clothes Closet, and Windham’s General Assistance Manager Rene Daniel.

“I decided to do the Polar Dip because I was always curious what it would feel like to jump into the ice-cold water in the winter,” said Doughty. “I thought it was crazy enough that people would donate to me for doing it.”

When the donations first started coming in, Doughty said that she felt grateful that people were helping, and how was happy she was raising money for a good cause.

Eva’s parents, Chris and Sara Doughty, said it was really great to know that their community was so willing to help other families and support the efforts of their daughter to help those experiencing tough times.

Her parents say that they are very proud of Eva and that she took the initiative to come up with the concept and idea for the Polar Dip and followed through to make an impact in the community. They say she is a thoughtful and generous person with a very kind heart.

All the money she raised was donated directly to the Windham Clothes Closet and Food Pantry and will benefit Windham residents in need. <

Town of Raymond to assume milfoil harvesting duties from RWPA volunteers

Responsibility for the Diver Assisted Suction Harvesting Program (DASH) milfoil mitigation program will now be handled by the Town of Raymond instead of the Raymond Waterways Protective Association.

Members of Raymond’s Select Board have voted unanimously to take over this task from the RWPA following a letter sent to the town in December by Peggy Jensen, RWPA president.

“After careful consideration of all the imaginable ways to address the remaining small patches and the inevitable stray plants that may regenerate from even tiny pieces of stem or root, we have decided the best solution is to move the DASH program to the town,” Jensen wrote to Raymond Select Board members.

Jensen said that RWPA has pledged to guide town personnel in taking ownership of the boat and its necessary equipment so that it could be quickly put back into operation and in applying for possibly available grant funds.

“RWPA will continue to monitor and mitigate any invasive aquatic species found in the upper Jordan River, from the Route 302 highway to Mill Street, and Dingley Brook, from Cape Road to Sebago Lake,” Jensen wrote. “We will continue to operate the Courtesy Boat Inspection program at four launch sites in Raymond. We hope to have continuing support from the town for this program.”

The Raymond Waterways Protective Association was created in the early 1970s by Ernest Bickford and Ernest Knight with a mission established to monitor and preserve the water quality of all Raymond lakes.

Bodies of water being monitored by RWPA volunteers include Crescent Lake, Notched Pond, Panther Pond, Raymond Pond, Sebago Lake and Thomas Pond.

“All the smaller lakes and ponds have volunteers who are trained to identify the 11, soon to be 12, invasive aquatic plants that threaten our waters,” said Jensen. “We have spent years finding and removing invasive variable milfoil in Raymond’s waters, with most of it being done by a dive crew as all our divers are trained and certified for SCUBA work and for the specialized work of removing invasive plants.” <

New Windham High softball coach aims to bring fun to team

Darcey Gardiner was named coach of the Windham High varsity softball team and it’s a reunion of sorts. Gardiner, a 2006 Windham High graduate, brings a world of experience to the field as she was a three-sport athlete in high school and a two-sport athlete in college. She began coaching in 2007 in Windham with varsity and middle school softball and middle school basketball.

Gardiner has also coached youth basketball and junior varsity softball for South Portland. She was the assistant women’s softball coach at Bates College in Lewiston, and she’s been an assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach for Edward Little in Auburn. In 2020, she took over the Gray New Gloucester High School softball program, before deciding to come back to Windham.

The Gardiner family is a big baseball family. Gardiner’s grandfather and father were both baseball coaches and her father coached Gardiner through Little League.

Sports are a huge part of her life. Gardiner says she loves sports because of how creative they allow you to be while still giving you a competitive, family-like atmosphere.

“I always knew I wanted to coach sports in my hometown someday,” said Gardiner. “I grew up playing Windham Little League, going to varsity games on the old field and was lucky enough to be the first to play on the new field. Windham sports are home to me.”

Her parents drove Gardiner’s passion for sports. She played soccer, basketball and softball in high school and basketball and softball in college. To this day, she continues to play those sports.

“Between loving sports, my desire to be a positive female leader, and my passion for working with the youth has driven me to a love of coaching. Wanting to be back in Windham is a no-brainer for me,” said Gardiner. “To be able to gain the trust of your athletes and their families is something special that creates life-long bonds and that is something I really cherish when it comes to coaching.” <


Windham’s ‘A Team’ surges to Quiz Bowl State Championship

Acquiring knowledge and putting it to good use should be the goal of every student and members of Windham High School’s “A Team” took that task to heart in winning the National Academic Quiz Team State Championship at Bates College in Lewiston. Team members say that extracurricular activities can be an uplifting experience for most students and are a way to discover passions and spend time doing something you enjoy. The Quiz Team is just one out of many extracurricular activities that Windham students can participate in, and this team has acquired a great deal of knowledge and experience since being created in 2018.

Meeting on Mondays and Fridays after school and in the mornings before classes, Quiz Team members spend a fair amount of time dedicated to learning trivia.

Senior Greta Paulding has been involved with the Quiz Team since her freshman year.

“When the original team graduated at the end of my sophomore year, I took over as team captain. Over the past two years, I have watched us grow from eight to more than 20,” Paulding said. “My teammates are dedicated to not only learning as much as they can, but also supporting each other through good times and bad. We are not only colleagues, we are friends.”

She said that with more students joining the Quiz Team, they were able to creatively pursue knowledge.

“A big takeaway from being part of the team is that to be successful every player needs to be strong,” said Kaitlyn Farrin, a Windham Quiz Team member. “Some teams try to rely on one ‘star player’ in games, but I have found that teams with a more balanced attack where everyone contributes, often do better.”

The National Academic Quiz Bowl’s format contains three bonus questions after each tossup question that only the correct answering team can respond to. During this segment of the competition, questions can feature an assortment of topics, which test the extensive knowledge of contributing teams. <

Windham Odyssey of the Mind team earns spot in world finals

Coming in first place in their division, Windham Primary School and Manchester’s combined Odyssey of the Mind team participated in the Nor’easter Tournament at Sanford High School, landing them invitations to the World Finals.

Odyssey of the Mind’s purpose is to educate all students how to use and develop their pure creativity to solve problems of any kind without fear or high confusion. When competing, the team’s goal is to fit all the required pieces into an eight-minute performance skit. From making props, to coming up with lines, teams do it all by themselves.

During practice, students learn and work on their teamwork and being a quick thinker. The strategy of being fast helps them in the long run with verbal and hands-on spontaneous problem solving.

Windham Primary School’s third graders and Manchester School’s fourth and fifth grades had formed a team of seven members to compete in the Odyssey of the Mind competition. The seven student members range in age from 8 to 11.

During these competitions, students can gain a sense of self confidence while grasping an emphasis on public speaking, teamwork, and time management, all of which are important skills, despite their age.

“They performed in the gym in front of a table of judges and audience. Once they completed their performance, we watched some other teams compete that had the same problem as them as well as some other problems. These kids always like seeing what other teams come up with,” said Windham coach Rebecca Miller, who runs this Odyssey of the Mind engaged team and guided their success in their division at the state competition.

According to Miller, the students had high hopes as they placed third last year and worked hard for a better finish.

“This year, they were really anxious,” Miller said. “When they called third place, then second place, our stomachs were definitely in knots. When they announced we got first place, I was definitely crying tears of pride - they earned it.” <

Windham author publishes new children’s book about lobsters

Mary-Ann Coppersmith of Windham knows a thing or two about lobsters from being part of a lobstering family. The crustaceans have fascinated her so much that she’s written a new children’s book, “The Three Little Lobsters,” drawn from the seafaring experiences of her husband of 46 years and the curiosity of her three grandchildren.

She says she was inspired to write the book after she experienced the fascination that rare crustaceans inspire around the world. Her husband, Capt. Bill Coppermith, sparked a media frenzy when he caught a rare bright orange lobster in 2015 and then discovered an equally rare cotton candy lobster in 2021 while lobstering in Casco Bay Inlet.

“My grandchildren are what finally motivated me to follow my dream of publishing this book,” Mary-Ann Coppersmith said. “I hope this story will be a favorite of many, young and old, as you follow Captain Bill’s adventures of finding this trio.”

The manuscript for the new book took her about a year to complete, from start to finish, and is published by Page Publishing.

“The hardest part of the book was describing the first rare lobsters’ namesake. The other two were named after my grandchildren,” she said.

Coppersmith, a 60-year resident of Windham, said that she did a lot of her best writing for the book early in the day.

“I found my inspiration for writing was best in the morning,” she said. “I kept a notebook with me and when an idea or memory surfaced about the rare crustaceans, I would write it down.”

While the new book was being finished, the lobstering family received some great news that will lead to a sequel soon.

“During the process of publishing the book, our family received exciting news about another grandchild which would be the inspiration for my second book,” Coppersmith said. “Our third grandchild, Liam, would be a big brother to baby Landen. The sequel to my book will be about ‘Liam The Lobster’ and how he guides his brother, baby lobster Landen, through the deep blue sea.” <


Windham High pitcher reaches 500-strikeout milestone

When Windham’s varsity softball team traveled to Thornton Academy in Saco it wasn’t just any game. In the top of the third inning, with the first Thornton Academy batter, junior Brooke Gerry reached the rare prep milestone of 500 strikeouts. Windham went on to beat Thornton Academy 10-1 that day.

When Gerry struck out her 500th batter, the game was stopped. The team and Windham varsity coach Darcey Gardiner rushed onto the field and hugged Gerry. The next day, at home, there was a small ceremony where Gerry was presented with the team ball and a plaque.

“To be honest I never really thought about [reaching 500 strikeouts],” said Gerry. “Not that it’s not a big deal, but you see more players hit 100 hits, not 500 strikeouts. I personally wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it was, but the closer I got, it seemed more real.”

According to Gerry, she gives herself 30 minutes post-game to reflect on her performance; after that she moves on. She learns every time she’s in the circle, whether the game is good or a struggle. Gerry concentrates on the pitch in front of her and tries to not get too high or low during a game.

Gerry started playing softball at 4 years old and began pitching at 6. She played for the 10-Under Flame at 8 but didn’t get to pitch much. She then moved to the Southern Maine River Rats travel team where Gerry pitched more, developed her skills, and she said that’s where her career took off.

“She puts the team first,” said Windham sophomore and catcher Stella Jarvais. “She isn’t selfish when it comes to throwing it for contact and letting the team field, but with her being so good it’s easy for her to strike people out.”

Gerry has committed to the University of Rhode Island to play Division 1 softball and major in prelaw with a concentration in family services. <

Windham EMT receives prestigious Red Cross honor

Rob Parritt of Windham shares an undeniable bond with Windham Fire Rescue Emergency Medical Technician Dustin Andrews and because of it, Parritt is alive today. For his heroism, Andrews received the Red Cross Certificate of Extraordinary Personal Action for his lifesaving efforts presented by Steve Thomas, Executive Director of the Red Cross of Southern Maine at the May 23 Windham Town Council meeting.

On Jan. 24, 2023, Andrews was off duty and traveling home near the Windham and Gorham town line when he observed a vehicle ahead of him driving erratically. Suddenly a bystander appeared in the middle of the road and waved Andrews down, telling him that the erratic driver had accelerated, left the roadway, and crashed into a snowbank.

Parritt says that he was on his way to work that night and remembers very little of that entire day. But what happened to him was he suffered cardiac arrest and passed out, crashing his vehicle.

When Andrews realized what had happened, he radioed for assistance and when approaching the crash scene, he discovered that Parritt was turning different colors inside the vehicle. He realized that Parritt was not breathing and required immediate medical attention. With the help of the bystander, Andrews broke out a window in the vehicle and the two of them pulled Parritt out. Andrews initiated CPR and continued it for about eight to 10 minutes before paramedics arrived at the site to take over and transport Parritt to the hospital.

Because of his training, bravery, ability to perform CPR and quick thinking, Parritt survived the incident and was taken to the hospital, where he spent about a week recovering from the harrowing ordeal. Hospital doctors implanted a defibrillator to monitor his heart rate and put a pacemaker in his chest to stabilize his heartbeat to keep it from beating too slowly and going again into cardiac arrest.

“Thanks to his training and fortitude, Dustin was able to be the bystander we all hope comes to our aid, and the bystander we should all aspire to be,” Thomas said. <

Restored blacksmith shop brings history to life at Raymond-Casco Historical Museum

Steeped in history, the Watkins Blacksmith Shop is one of the oldest blacksmith shops still in existence in Maine, and now visitors to the Raymond-Casco Historical Society Museum will be able to watch blacksmiths take red-hot iron from the fires of the shop’s forge and hammer it into a variety of tools and hardware.

A year-long project to resurrect and preserve the shop and move it to the museum grounds in Casco was completed in May and it will become the centerpiece and star attraction to a revitalized museum of artifacts and antiquities unequaled anywhere in the Lakes Region of Maine. The blacksmith shop was first opened in the 1850s by William Watkins and was in use right up until the 1940s in Casco.

Footage of the blacksmith’s forge and shop was included in a 1922 silent movie called “Timothy’s Quest” and it once was part of a thriving rural community in Casco, but over the past eight decades, the building slowly became a crumbling relic of Maine’s past. That is, until an idea about moving the building was pitched to Frank McDermott, president of the Raymond-Casco Historical Society. He saw the potential of moving the blacksmith shop to the society’s museum on Watkins Farm in Casco, restoring it and using it for live demonstrations for the public and now that idea has become a reality.

Carefully disassembling every piece of the old shop, refurbishing them and reassembling that building, the blacksmith shop is now weather tight, and steps have been taken to preserve its interior, particularly the ox-lift. The split stone hearth has been moved and reassembled and the chimney has been reconstructed using period bricks.

A team of advisors assisted the historical society in moving the structure to the museum and that group included Dr. Robert Schmick, Museum Director of 19th Century Curran Village in Orrington, Ed Somers of Bridgton, a specialist in preservation and restoration of buildings of this era, and Kerry Tottle of Limington, who devised a plan for lifting sections of the building over an adjacent building at its original location. <


Dignitaries hail groundbreaking for North Windham Wastewater Treatment Facility

Dedication of the new Wastewater Treatment site on the grounds of Manchester School on June 27 was something many Windham residents didn’t think was possible or could ever happen, but ground has been broken for the new state-of-the art facility and it was an event that drew everyone from U.S. senators to fourth graders.

After decades of proposals, studies, and rejections from voters at the ballot box, Windham residents resoundingly approved a proposed $40.4 million sewer and wastewater treatment project for North Windham in a special referendum. Partnering with the Portland Water District and RSU 14 to create the massive infrastructure project, the Windham Town Council set about to cover the initiative through a combination of grant funding, a $38.9 million award by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and North Windham TIF funding supported by North Windham businesses.

Once completed, a new wastewater treatment facility will be built on the grounds of Manchester School, which will address environmental issues in North Windham by removing 25,000 pounds of nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants each year being dumped by septic systems into the aquifer and watershed. The installation of sewers is expected to stimulate significant economic growth in Windham and lead to development in the area by industries and businesses not willing to locate here because of associated septic system issues and costs.

Speakers at the dedication included Windham Town Council Chair Mark Morrison, RSU Schools superintendent Christopher Howell, Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note, Portland Water District General Manager Seth Garrison, Windham Town Councilor Jarrod Maxfield, and Maine U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King.

“Windham is the gateway to Maine’s beautiful lakes region and is a major retail center for the surrounding communities,” said Senator Collins. “This advanced wastewater treatment facility will support continued job and residential growth in Windham while also protecting the environmental health of Sebago Lake, Little Sebago, and other local bodies of water.” <

Windham High softball captures first Class A State Title

For the first time since 1995 when the Lady Eagles’ softball team was Class B, Windham softball has captured the Class A State Championship. Ranked second in Class A South and facing Class A’s No. 1 ranked Oxford Hills, Windham took control of the game early and worked hard to churn out a 3-1 victory at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham on Tuesday, June 20.

“No words can even describe it,” said Windham senior Hannah Heanssler, who dove for an amazing catch early in the game. “It’s the exact way I’ve always wanted my season and my career as a softball player to end and playing for this team has been incredible and I cannot put it into words how amazing it is.”

Oxford Hills put one run on the scoreboard in the first inning to take an early lead, but Windham answered in the bottom of the first when junior Brooke Gerry reached on an error and sophomore Stella Jarvais and junior Jaydn Kimball then walked. Sophomore Kennedy Kimball’s flied out and Gerry scored on a wild pitch. Jarvais was at third base ready to bolt; and bolt she did, scoring her team’s second run. Windham led 2-1 after one inning.

“Our strategy was mental toughness,” said Jarvais. “Knowing the crowd was going to be big we had to dial in and trust each other and focus on pitch by pitch what we were going to do, and I think we did that very well.”

In the third inning, Gerry singled, and freshman Addison Caiazzo walked. Jaydn Kimball singled, scoring Gerry and Windham had a 3-1 lead.

“This is definitely surreal,” said Windham varsity softball coach Darcey Gardiner. “Our willpower earned this win. From Day One we have said one pitch at a time. The focus and the one pitch at a time motto is how we keep that composure to win. Making the adjustments when we’re up to the plate, making the adjustments when we’re on defense, every pitch you are doing something different ... I’m really proud of them for keeping their composure and pulling it out.” <

Raymond students place first in Maine 2023 National InvestWrite® Competition

Two Raymond students, Cadence O’Brion and Kaleb Fitch, were honored for their skill at developing financial portfolios.

O’Brion, a fifth grader, and Fitch, a sixth grader both attend Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond, and they understand how teamwork can translate into building a diversified portfolio geared for long-term financial success. Their exceptional approach led to an extraordinary achievement in the SIFMA Foundation’s Spring InvestWrite competition.

O’Brion competed among thousands of other students around the country to write the best essay about long-term investing and the capital markets in the elementary school division. Fitch competed among thousands of other students around the country to write the best essay about long-term investing and the capital markets in the middle school division. Along with their teacher, Jack Fitch, the students were honored by the SIFMA Foundation during a classroom presentation on June 6.

SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite national essay competition bridges classroom learning in math, social studies, and language arts with the practical research and knowledge required for saving, investing and long-term planning. It also serves as a culminating activity for The Stock Market Game™, a curriculum-based financial education program that challenges students to manage a hypothetical $100,000 online portfolio of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and cash over a semester or school year.

“I am delighted to congratulate Cadence, her teacher and their school,” said Melanie Mortimer, President of the SIFMA Foundation. “The research is clear that social and emotional learning is a critical component to students’ motivation, achievement and wellbeing. By participating in the Stock Market Game and InvestWrite, Cadence has learned how working with a team can offer insights and increase confidence to make informed financial life decisions and achieve better life outcomes.”

Kaleb Fitch said that he was confident about this year’s competition.

“Thanks to the SIFMA Foundation and the different programs they offer to students I have learned a lot about the stock market and how it operates,” he said. “This is my third time that I have participated in the InvestWrite competition, and I found this writing prompt to be an easy one to write about.” < 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Windham student wins state VFW 2023 ‘Voice of Democracy’ award

By Ed Pierce

Accolades continue to roll in for Hunter Edson, a Windham Christian Academy senior whose audio essay has been judged as the best in the state in the 2023 Voice of Democracy contest.

Hunter Edson, left, a senior at Windham Christian Academy, 
congratulations from VFW Post Commander Willie
Goodman after Edson’s audio essay won the 2023 Maine VFW
Voice of Democracy contest on Jan. 21 in Augusta. Edson 
advances to represent Maine in the national competition
this spring. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Edson had captured the Windham VFW Post 10643 Voice of Democracy title in November and then won the district competition to advance to the state contest, where he was awarded first place at a dinner at the Augusta Civic Center on Jan. 21. Winning the state award means that Edson’s audio essay qualifies for the national VFW Voice of Democracy contest later this spring.

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?"

In winning the Maine Voice of Democracy contest, Edson also qualifies for a four-day, all-expense paid trip to Washington for the national competition. The annual competition was established in 1947 and encourages students to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society and provides students with a unique opportunity to express their own thoughts about democracy and patriotism with a chance to win college scholarship money.

The national first-place scholarship prize is $35,000, with second- and third-place national winners taking home $21,000 and $15,000 respectfully. Each year more than 25,000 students across America submit audio essays for the competition.

Windham VFW Post 10643 Commander Willie Goodman said that Edson’s presentation is worthy of the awards and attention it has received.

“I think Hunter Edson’s Voice of Democracy presentation is so powerful for two reasons,” Goodman said. “First, throughout his speech, Hunter posed questions directly related to the topic which engaged the listeners, and secondly, he provided specific examples and thoughtful, interesting answers to those questions. He gave factual answers about veterans but also went beyond those to give his personal reflections on what the term veteran means to him.”

Goodman said that VFW Post 10643 members are extremely proud that Edson will represent Windham and the state of Maine in the national contest this year.

“Not only is Hunter’s content exceptional, but his delivery is top-notch,” he said. Hunter definitely has a voice for radio and/or television and this is a definite plus for him. It is clear the Lakes Region students know about, and care about, our veterans and I attribute this to both the values instilled in them by their parents at home and recognizing the honor and sacrifice of military members being taught at some schools.”

Edson says he is humbled by winning the state’s Voice of Democracy Award.

“This entire thing has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” he said. “When I wrote my essay last fall, I had no intention of winning, I just wanted to write a good essay and do an overall good job on it. I never thought I would make it this far, but I am so glad that I did. I am very thankful for my wonderful school and the VFW for making this experience a reality for me.”

He says that he’s optimistic about his chances to win the national contest but realistic in that his audio essay will be judged along with 53 deserving finalists in the national competition.

“The national contest is predetermined before you arrive meaning that all judging and awards are based on the first audio recording when you submit your essay,” Edson said. “At this point it is only a waiting game to see who wins the national level. In my opinion I believe winning the national level would take a great deal of thought and effort in the essay and a truly patriotic writer whose passion for our county stands above the rest.”

Edson says that he wanted to compete in this contest because it gave him a chance to voice his opinions and stand up for our country’s veterans who have and always will be the greatest heroes of our country.

“They are the men and women who are willing to put it all on the line for our safety and to ensure a better future for our great nation,” he said.”

Edson, who is in the process of determining where he would like to attend college, said that he hopes that his win at the state level encourages more students to take part in the VFW essay competition to boost their understanding of our country and its history as well as honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our country’s freedoms will be protected.

“It is an amazing experience and you get to meet many wonderful people at the VFW and I would recommend this to any high school student,” he said. <

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. <