Showing posts with label student. Show all posts
Showing posts with label student. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2024

Love of flying ignites dream for 2024 WHS graduate

By Ed Pierce

It’s been said that great pilots are made and not born and that those who complete flight training reach their goal through constant practice and experience. Windham High School 2024 graduate Conner Vail may indeed be one of those individuals.

Windham High School 2024 graduate Conner Vail
is working to obtain his pilot's license and would
someday like to become a commercial airline pilot.
He gave up playing sports in his senior year to
work for an aviation company in Portland.
While other graduates may be looking to secure summer employment, Vail, 18, has been working as an aviation line service technician for MAC Air Group in Portland maintaining fueling systems for aircraft. He’s also racked up 33 hours of the required 40 hours for pilot training and hopes to obtain his pilot’s license within the next year.

“My plan following high school is to continue my flight training and become a professional pilot alongside working in aviation,” Vail said. “I plan on taking online classes toward a bachelor’s degree once I am settled in a flying job.”

His passion for flight is nothing new. Vail said he recently looked at a note he wrote while in fourth grade about what he wanted to do when he grew up.

“I wrote that someday I wanted to pilot a Boeing 777 aircraft,” he said. “This is something I’ve really wanted to do for a while and flying professionally has been a longtime dream of mine.”

Conner’s family, including his mother Kathleen, his father Paul, and his older brother Hunter have come to terms with his desire to fly.

“I think my mom was pretty scared at first, but she’s gotten better with it over time,” Vail said. “They all have accepted that flying is what I really want.”

Wanting to be close to aviation played a part in Vail applying to work with MAC Air Group after school during his senior year of high school.

“I have a passion that is hard to come across nowadays and I do everything I can to be around it,” he said. “My goals in life are unlike others and it seems to make me stand out from the rest of my classmates. I gave up playing sports my senior year and that was hard, but I’m farther ahead now of reaching my goal. My job is fun for me so I have never really considered it a chore, but instead a break from the stress that life can bring while in school.”

As far as academics in high school go, Vail says he just tried to stay on track, focusing on his future dreams and giving his best effort always.

“My greatest strength as a student is my ability to think differently than what I may be taught and not be afraid to use it, especially in math,” he said. “Lots of the math and science classes require formulas and lots of steps to find an answer. If I couldn’t make sense of a formula or solve something, I tried to make something for myself.”

He credits his teachers, school guidance counselors and his parents for prioritizing what he needs to be successful in life.

“My mentors in school such as teachers and counselors have helped me get to the point that I'm at now,” Vail said. “They guided me as a student to succeed in what I want for myself. But above all, my parents’ support and dedication to my future has gotten me the farthest and it continues to outside the classroom.”

Vail’s favorite teachers at Windham High School are Alissa James, Peter Small and Jeffrey Neal.

“They all brought passion to the classroom, cared about what they taught and never treated anyone like a stranger,” he said. “Their kindness and enthusiasm are top notch. My favorite class was U.S. History with Mr. Neal. I have always been a fan of history and learning why certain things exist today. Learning about our history as a nation is rewarding and full of interesting stories. That and every class beginning with current events was always a class I looked forward to.”

Vail also credits his sixth-grade teacher at Windham Middle School, Sarah Hopkins, for helping him to reach one of his goals of completing high school.

“I was by no means a great student in sixth grade. She helped me become a better student and taught me how to focus on what I want as I go through high school and to work hard to accomplish it,” he said.

With his high school diploma in hand, Vail says his immediate plan is to continue his flight training and to eventually become a professional pilot working in aviation.

“I plan on taking online classes toward a bachelor’s degree once I am settled in a flying job and my career goal is to fly for Delta,” he said.

Now that his time as a high school student is finished, Vail says his most enduring memory will be passing in his final assignment.

“Years and years of school and thousands of assignments, and that personal finance assignment was the last one,” he said. “I will never forget that feeling. All the hard work and the long nights, early mornings and it was that last one that took all the stress away.” <

Friday, January 8, 2021

Community rallies to support 8-year-old Windham boy struggling with leukemia

Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8
on Christmas Eve, was officially diagnosed
with acute myeloid leukemia a few days after
Thanksgiving. A GoFundMe page has been
set up to help the family with his medical bills.
There will also be a Red Cross Blood Drive
conducted that will provide special blood
platelet donation's to meet Dominic's needs
this coming week. SUBMITTED PHOTO 

By Lorraine Glowczak

No parent or grandparent wants to learn that their child or grandchild has cancer. It is, in fact, their worst nightmare. But strength of spirit and love of community helps the Desalle-Strehlke family stay strong as they face together the leukemia diagnosis of their son and grandson, Dominic Desalle of Windham, who turned 8 on Christmas Eve. He was officially diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) a few days after Thanksgiving.

“It all began about three weeks before Thanksgiving,” said Dominic’s grandmother, Carol Desalle. “He was experiencing a fever, fatigue, vomiting, exhaustion and sensitivity to light, so I took him to Mercy Express Care in Westbrook. They tested him for COVID and everything came back negative, except tests showed Dominic had a mild case of strep throat.”

Carol Desalle brought Dominic back home with her to nurse him back to health. Dominic considers his grandmother’s house his second home. Dominic’s father, Joshua Desalle has just completed a certification program and is currently a surgical technician. He shares custody with Dominic’s mother, Kylie Strehlke, who works full-time as a certified nursing assistant. Dominic also has a younger brother, Landon.

“Dom’s fever and the other symptoms continued despite the medication we received,” Carol Desalle said. “When Dom’s mother brought him and Landon over the day before for Thanksgiving – I had planned the day for making pies - it is our holiday tradition.  Dominic said he couldn’t do it. He kept asking to go upstairs. I thought that was odd behavior for his personality.”

By 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Dominic’s symptoms had not only increased but included the loss of coordination. He was unable to put his hands together to wash them and found it difficult to stand up straight and walk in a steady manner.

“I looked at his nail beds and they were completely drained of color. I knew I had to rush him to the emergency room. I called his mother and she met us at the ER.”

It was there that spinal and bone marrow tests were completed and the diagnosis was confirmed.

Dominic is now receiving his first round of cancer treatments. He and his family are now in a “wait and
see” mode since further treatment is determined by how Dominic’s body reacts to the medication therapy. In addition to this, Dominic faces a few hurdles that add to the emotional and physical difficulties of cancer.

“One challenge Dominic faces is that his body carries a gene that will cause a relapse,” Carol Desalle said. “Due to this fact, it is deemed he will have to have a bone marrow transplant and thus will have to find a donor.”

A bone marrow transplant is not the only thing needed as part of Dominic’s healing.

“He also needs blood platelets,” said Carol Desalle. “What surprised me the most is that platelets are not readily available because very few people donate them. Dom and another young girl that was in the hospital at the same time had to wait over 12 hours before platelets were given to them.”

There is a way the community can help and be there for Dominic and his family. One such individual is a friend of the family, Jennifer Harmon. She established a GoFundMe page immediately upon hearing the news.

“Josh's parents, Carol and Tony [Desalle], have always been people who want to help others,” Harmon said. “They opened their home to my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. My grandson Matthew was just an infant when Dom was just a year old. Soon, they became best buddies over the next several years. I felt that starting the GoFundMe page was the right thing to do.”

Harmon continued, “I know how compassionate we are, especially for our children. Josh and Kylie need to be able to focus on Dominic without the stress of covering their expenses to be with him. I don't want them ever to feel like they can't be with him while he goes through his treatments.”

As of this printing, the GoFundMe page for Dominic has raised $5,450 out of a $10,000 goal. The GoFundMe web address is

In addition to financial donations, there will be a Red Cross Blood Drive that will provide special blood
platelet donations to meet Dominic’s needs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Clarion Hotel,
1230 Congress St. in Portland. Reservations are required. To schedule an appointment, visit and use the sponsor code: Dominic.

If one wishes to see if they are a bone marrow match for Dominic, visit the Be The Match website at

In whatever way you feel called to support this 8-year-old’s way back to health, any and all assistance is appreciated. But perhaps Jennifer Harmon says it best, “Let's help the Desalle-Strehlke family while Dom kicks cancer’s butt. #DomoStrong!” <

Friday, May 1, 2020

Windham Middle School student reminds community about the importance of social distancing

Lyssi Faith Yekeh
By Elizabeth Richards

Social distancing can be difficult, especially for young people. One Windham Middle School seventh-grade student understands the importance of the safety measures and wants to share her point of view with the community.

Lyssi Faith Yekeh designed a poster to show kindness as well as to point out that taking these steps now can help everyone have a fun summer. If everyone follows social distancing guidelines, she said, things like summer camps, pools, restaurants and other things people enjoy in their everyday lives can begin to open.  People would also be allowed to visit family members, like those in nursing homes, she added.

Yekeh said the hardest part of social distancing for her is not going to school or seeing family and friends. “I like to have fun with everyone I care about,” she said.

zgreenfield@bgt-law.comThat doesn’t mean she isn’t staying connected, however.  “What's working is that I can do zoom calls with my family, teachers, and my friends so we don't forget each other,” she said.

Yekeh has displayed her poster on Facebook and reached out to the Windham Eagle to help her get her message out to the community. “I would like people to know that we can do this if we all work together.” Staying the recommended 6 feet away will help protect everyone, from babies to grandparents, she said.

“This wasn’t a school project. I thought that I could put my voice out there to help others know we are all in this together,” she said. “I hope people will read my poster and understand the importance of the coronavirus and how social distancing is important to keep us alive or safe.”