Showing posts with label summer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label summer. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2024

Memorial Day activities in Windham taking shape

By Ed Pierce

Since 1971, the last Monday in May is designated as Memorial Day in the United States and it’s a holiday where all Americans can pause to reflect on and remember those who have been lost in military service to our nation. This year Memorial Day falls on Monday, May 27 and to mark the occasion, members of Windham’s American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 have planned a full slate of activities that the public can attend and participate in.

Memorial Day activities include a parade,
a ceremony at Windham High School
and a picnic lunch and gathering at the
Windham Veterans Center. The public
is welcome to attend and participate in
these activities. COURTESY PHOTO

For several weeks now, Legion members have been assisting in cemetery cleanups across the town. They also have been placing more than 100 American flags on utility poles on major highways in Windham as a reminder that Memorial Day is more than the annual kickoff of summer and the holiday honors those who have died defending America’s freedom and liberty. The flags will fly through Labor Day in town.

“This year the American Legion Field-Allen Post has its own set of memories as it celebrates 86 years of service to our veterans and the Windham community,” said Post 148 Adjutant David Tanguay. “The Post remembers it founders, World War I veterans, leaders in the community, who established it in 1938 to honor one of their own, Lt. Charlies W.W. Field of Windham who was killed in action while leading a charge against an enemy machine gun emplacement.”

Tanguay said that following World War II, the name Allen was added to its name remembering the ultimate sacrifice made by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. James Allen of Windham, who was killed in the Pacific Island campaign leading a patrol against the enemy forces.

“Both are local heroes, and both now are the namesakes of the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148-Windham,” Tanguay said.

According to Tanguay, the American Legion plans and conducts the traditional Memorial Day events and is looking for public involvement in staging this year’s Memorial Day Parade in Windham.

“The Post is asking the community to increase their involvement with floats or decorated vehicles to replace some of the more traditional entries that may not be available,” Tanguay said. “At one time in the past the Memorial Day parade was the largest parade in town. Let’s make the 2024 parade an event to remember.”

He said that teams of veterans will cover the 22 smaller cemeteries in the town to place new flags on the graves of all local veterans.

“On Saturday, May 18, weather permitting, teams of veterans and community members will meet at 9 a.m. at Arlington Cemetery in North Windham adjacent to the Fire Station to place the final 350-plus flags on the veteran’s graves,” Tanguay said. “For any families or groups interested in helping, this is a great opportunity for the community to have a teaching moment and share in the flag program.”

At Smith Cemetery in Windham, ROTC cadets from Windham High School will place flags on veterans’ graves there and will also put more than 200 flags along the Route 302 Rotary.

On Memorial Day itself, Windham’s Memorial Day Parade starts at 9 a.m. and runs from the Windham Town Hall on School Road and proceeds onto Route 202 in the direction of Windham High School.

“The best vantage point for viewing is from the area around the intersection of Windham Center Road and Route 202,” Tanguay said. “This year the Legion is asking for business and community support to make the parade truly memorable by marching or walking in the parade, entering a float or decorated vehicle, or offering a ride to a vet who may not be able to walk the distance. To sign up, call 207-892-1306.”

Tanguay said there is a need for open vehicles with convertibles preferred to provide rides for some of the post’s less ambulatory senior veterans.

At 10 a.m. in front of Windham’s Veterans Memorial Flagpole at Windham High School, a formal Memorial Day Ceremony will be conducted with the guest speaker being American Legion Past National Commander Vincent James Troiola, who now resides in Windham.

Master of ceremony for the event is Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault. Ceremonial events will include patriotic selections performed by the Windham High School Band, a wreath laying, bell tolling for Windham veterans who died in the past year and the ceremonial burning of tattered flags removed from veterans’ graves, followed by the traditional rifle salute and the playing of Taps. To wrap up activities that day, American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 will host an open house at noon at the Windham Veterans Center, 35 Veterans Memorial Drive in Windham, with a picnic-style luncheon open to the public. There will also be a brief wreath ceremony prior to the picnic in the Windham Veterans Center Memorial Garden. <

Friday, July 24, 2020

Summer recreation program for children still popular in Windham

A total of 115 children are participating in
the Summer Kids' Club recreation program
at three different locations this summer in Windham.
By Elizabeth Richards

Windham Parks and Recreation has continued to offer summer programming even in the face of the coronavirus pandemic through their Summer Kids’ Club and Summer Track programs.

Sarah Davenport, Recreation Coordinator for Windham Parks and Recreation, said the Summer Kids’ Club has a significantly different structure than the summer day camp program of prior years.

In late June, the program opened to students entering first grade through eighth grade.

There are three programs running concurrently, each with a maximum of 40 children.  A total of 115 kids are participating in the Summer Kids’ Club this summer in Windham.

Two of the three programs are housed in separate wings of Windham Middle School, with the third at Windham High School. 

Davenport said the school district has been very helpful in facilitating appropriate spaces, as well as new sanitizing and disinfecting procedures.“It’s been really great to work with them on that,” she said.

Within each program, kids are assigned to a group of 8 to 10 children with two or three counselors that they rotate through activities with and remain with for the entire summer.

“What’s great about that is the relationships that the kids get to build with each other and the counselors are maybe a little bit deeper and more meaningful than if you’re in a group of 50 kids and you’re changing activities all the time,” Davenport said.

Programming includes many traditional camp activities, such as arts and crafts, board games, and plenty of outdoor time. Though summer camp has always included a lot of outside time, Davenport said they’re being even more intentional about that now, incorporating more nature based and outdoors activities.

“Our oldest kids have really enjoyed being in the woods down near the high school cross country trails,” she said. “I’ve heard them talking about building forts, or trying to identify plants, and going on nature hikes and playing nature games in the woods, which is pretty great.”

In previous years, field trips happened twice a week to places like Funtown, the Maine Wildlife Park, and Seacoast Adventure Center.  This summer, field trips were not an option, because many places weren’t open initially, and because of transportation challenges. students going into middle school have begun participating in an outreach program with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust, going to the Black Brook Preserve to do both community service and educational programs.  This is the second summer that they’ve worked with the Land Trust, Davenport said.

“It’s great to continue that partnership even if it looks a little bit different than it has in the past,” she said.

Though certain aspects of the summer programs cost more this year, such as staffing and providing individual activity bags to children, not having the cost of field trips has balanced things out.

At the beginning of the program, kids were provided with age appropriate activity bags that included playdough and art supplies that are frequently touched and non-consumable. Consumable supplies that are only used once, like plastic lacing for bracelets or paint, are still shared. Once these supplies are removed from the common stock, they are not returned after use.

Davenport said they haven’t experienced major challenges, but they’ve had to become accustomed to the culture shift of what it looks like to provide a fun day for children while following social distancing, masking and other health protocols.  Children are not required to wear face coverings if they maintain six feet of space between themselves and others. She said those who find face coverings a challenge have become good at communicating around maintaining that distance.

Success depends on helping kids and staff understand the importance of why it’s necessary and that “we’re all taking care of each other,” Davenport said. program was provided clear guidance written specifically for day camps and summer recreation programs to help them set up the program, she said.  In addition to social distancing, masking, sanitizing and hygiene practices, drop off and pick up are curbside and all children and staff have temperature checks in the morning and are asked some basic screening questions.

“Parents have been really good about understanding if kids need to stay home because they’re showing some symptoms. They’ve been good about doing that and notifying us,” Davenport said.

The Summer Track program is a five-week, skills-based program this summer, which looks quite a bit different than it has in previous years.  There is no inter-team competition or travel involved this year.

“Kids are having the opportunity to try lots of track and some field events to develop their skills and compete against themselves,” Davenport said.

The program received such positive response that they ended up with two sessions to stay under the 50-person group maximum.

“We feel really fortunate and pleased that we were able to do this. I know that there are communities who, due to various restrictions in the facilities they were using, just weren’t able to offer any kind of a summer rec program,” Davenport said.  “I don’t think we really could have done it without the district being so open and willing to partner with us and without the staff. We have some really great counselors and some really great administrative and leadership staff who are committed to making this happen in a way that’s safe, and healthy, and fun.”

Windham Parks and Recreation is not accepting new registrations for summer programming at this point in the summer. <

Friday, June 26, 2020

Windham Public Library’s Summer Reading Challenge goes virtual

By Elizabeth Richards

The Windham Public Library is presenting a full slate of summer reading activities for children, teens and adults this summer.  This year, all programs will be held online. The summer reading program, with the theme “Imagine Your Story,” runs from June 22 to Aug. 22, 2020.

The reading program will use an online platform called Beanstack, as well as the library’s Facebook page, You Tube channel and, for teens, Discord.

In Beanstack, participants can find activity lists and track their progress to receive virtual badges that qualify them to be entered into prize drawings at the end of the summer. Paper copies of the activity ideas and reading trackers are also available.

For children, there is a program for kids who are not yet school aged and another for kindergarteners through sixth graders. Participants need to complete a set number of tasks to receive a prize at the end of the summer. 

Younger children will need 15 badges, while the older children need 25 to receive the prize bag, which will include a book and some other small items, said Children’s Librarian Samantha Cote.
Children’s programming will also include the typical preschool Storytime on Monday and Thursday mornings, as well as Books and Babies on Tuesday Mornings. special activities for children are also offered in the summer.  On Tuesdays, Lab Coat Adventures will feature science programs.  Wednesdays will alternate between a craft program and building challenges.  Finally, on Saturdays, the library offers the Calm as a Critter program, which features calming activities like breathing exercises, simple crafts, relaxing activities and a personal challenge.

For the interactive programs, Cote said there are some make and take bags available at the library. 
“We tried to plan them all to use materials that people would commonly have at their house,” she said, but if families need them, the bags contain all the supplies needed for the entire summer. Those bags are available for all the programs except the building challenges. 

For building, Cote said, “I’ll probably be using Legos, but people can use whatever they have at home.”

The make and take bags can be picked up at the library, either inside or as part of their curbside service, which can be requested by calling the Children’s Room.

Two stand-alone Zoom programs for kids will also be offered this summer.  On Monday, July 6, Sharks4Kids will present a program on the world of sharks, and on Thursday, July 30, Marine Mammals of Maine will present one about seals. To participate in these programs, contact the Children’s Room for the Zoom link.

A Beanstack account can be created at  Families can create one account with multiple readers in the account. There is also a smartphone app available. 

Designing an entire summer program online had challenges, Cote said. In the summer, they’ve historically offered a lot of interactive programming.

“Trying to figure out how to still make an active and engaging program without the personal contact was hard,” Cote said.

It was important to keep up the summer reading challenge tradition, she added, to provide some sense of normalcy and give families new ideas.

“If you’ve been quarantining for a while, you might have gotten into a routine and maybe you’re starting to get a little bit bored,” Cote said. “Now, through our different programs you can get ideas of new things to do and try.”

One popular summer activity in the month of July has been to hunt for the rubber chicken hidden throughout the library.

“This year we partnered with Parks and Rec and the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust and our chicken is being hidden at some trails around Windham so people can still get the joy of hunting for the chicken while also enjoying some of the trails we have,” said Cote.

This is just one of the activities that can earn a badge in Beanstack.

The teen program includes tracking reading, writing book reviews, and Blackout Bingo.  Summer Reading program events for teens will be held on Discord. Teens must sign up for the Discord server by filling out a form at  Discord events will include Make it Monday, Teen Movie Tuesdays, Wellness Wednesdays, Teen Anime Thursdays, and Escape for the Weekend Fridays.  Details can be found on the library website.

“I tried to balance out social screen time and active time with activities teens could learn and do quickly at any time,” said Teen and Emerging Technology Librarian Cassandra Lull.

She also created a teens’ only closed Discord server to provide a safe place to chat, discuss interests and host online programs, as well as creating a teen specific Instagram account so they see information that only pertains to them.

“I hope to start cultivating the idea that the library isn’t just for kids and adults, but teens have a place here, too,” she said.

For the adult reading challenge, Reference/Technology Librarian Ray Marcotte has designed five tasks that incorporate the theme and Maine’s Bicentennial.  There will also be three online events and attending one of these is one of the five tasks.

On Tuesday, June 30 at 6 p.m., New England Author and Humorist Tim Caverly will present “So You Think You Know Maine” via Zoom.  This presentation will also be aired on the library’s Facebook page.

On Wednesday, July 29, a Maine Bicentennial Concert featuring Bilodeau Family Music will air at 6 p.m. via their YouTube channel. A link will be posted on the library website on the day of the event.
Finally, on Wednesday, Aug. 5, USM History Professor Libby Bischof will offer a visual history of Maine via Facebook Live on the library’s Facebook page.

Marcotte said it was a challenge to figure out how to present the events, but it’s working out.  “It’s definitely not the same, but we’re making it work,” he said. 

Marcotte has been doing virtual book group and Socrates Café for months now, he said, with decent participation.

For more information about any of the summer reading challenges and events, visit <

Raymond will continue to offer free food to students, families during summer months

By Lorraine Glowczak

Although recent changes to the USDA’s eligibility requirements helped solve RSU14’s challenge in providing summer meals for students who are experiencing food insecurity, the Raymond community is still moving forward with their initiative to provide grocery item for students and their families this summer, no questions asked.

Until the waiver of federal eligibility requirements were extended about two weeks ago, not one of the RSU14 school sites were eligible to provide free meals for all students, since they do not meet the benchmark of over 50 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced meals.

Raymond Community Community Organizers prepare bags of
non-perishable and fresh food items to be given out Tuesdays
from 1 to 3:30 p.m. (until further notice) at Jordan-Small
“As soon as we discovered students in Raymond would not have access to food this summer, I knew we had to do something,” said Teresa Sadak, one of the organizers of the initiative and a Raymond Town Select Board Member. “I was determined that we would find the funds and figure it out.”

Although Windham and Raymond students will have the opportunity to pick up nutritious meals four days a week  – the Raymond Food Committee organizers decided to move forward with their original plan and provide weekly grocery items for all Raymond families with children in order to fill in the gap of making sure adults have access to food too.

The initial plan was to hand out food every Tuesday from 1 to 3:30 pm (and will do so until further notice), but with the recent development with the RSU, Raymond is working to figure out the best way to proceed with providing non-perishable and fresh food items at Jordan Small Middle School’s cafeteria, located at 423 Webbs Mills Road. Either way, grocery items will continue to be distributed through-out the summer months until the start of the school year next fall. Until a set date and time has been established it is encouraged to email the organizers at on a weekly basis.

“The goal is to reach as many families as possible,” said Raymond Community Communications Coordinator, Kaela Gonzalez. “We want to make sure all of our families are fed so we are trying to find the best time to accommodate people’s schedules. It is also important to note this program is confidential and open to any family that needs help with food.\ No paperwork needed - just show up and we will hand you a bag of food.”

The types of food to be offered varies from week to week but examples include kid friendly foods such as: granola bars, goldfish and fruit snacks, cereal, fresh fruits and veggies, pasta and sauce, peanut butter, crackers, English muffins and much more.

“For the first couple of weeks, we have planned to serve 35 families,” Sadak said. “It will be on a first come/first serve basis, but we are determined to not let any child or family go hungry and if we discover we need to provide for more families - we will find a way to serve everyone.”

One solution the committee, which consists of Sadak and Gonzalez, Rep. Jess Fay and Deputy Chief of Emergency Services and Health Officer, Cathy Gosselin and other volunteers, is requesting feedback from families to help the committee plan and prepare for each week.

“If people could email us at to let us know the following questions, that would be very helpful,” Gosselin said.

Those questions are: Do you want to receive food this summer? What is the best time for you to pick up- afternoon or evening? Do you need the food dropped off at your home? How many in your family?

Once the committee has received feedback from the community, they will decide whether it makes the most sense to hand out additional food during the RSU pick up times or also offer evening hours for families that are not able to pick up food during the day.

Due to recent circumstances, many families have met with some financial challenges.

“Some folks have not been able to access unemployment benefits as a result of recent layoffs due to COVID-19,” Rep. Fay said. “As a result, it has affected some families’ ability to feed their children, pay the mortgage and pay other bills. I’m concerned about how they can feed their family, and this is a great solution.”

If you want to support this program, please visit or the Town of Raymond’s Facebook page, for more information.

There are heroes everywhere and they certainly exist in Raymond.

“This is typical of the Raymond community – coming together and supporting one another in times of need,” Raymond Town Manager, Don Willard said. <