Friday, June 14, 2019

2019 Windham Summerfest theme: “We are a Little Bit Rock and Roll”

It will be a rockin’ good time for this year’s Windham Summerfest to be held next Saturday, June 22 at Windham High School. Living up to its motto, “Bringing Unity to the Community”, the Summerfest committee has been working hard to incorporate a variety of family games, activities, and more.

Expect more diverse food options, hand-made craft selections as well games the whole family can play.
For the younger family member, the popular inflatable park at ‘Kiddie City’ will be back again this year. All with the sole purpose of bringing unity to the community in a fun, hometown and old-fashioned way.

The day’s activities will begin with the parade at 10 a.m. led by the Grand Marshall - the Cub Scout Troup 805. From there, one can explore all the Summerfest has to offer. At 11:30 the main stage entertainment will begin with a legislative welcome and hometown hero award which will be presented to Nolan Cyr. At noon, musical entertainment will begin with performances by five local and popular bands – ending with the band of Windham High School teachers, “Cousin Itt” – with the one and only musical extraordinaire, Dr. Rick Nickerson.

As always, the Summerfest will include the Duane Clark Memorial Car show and will end with a bang as a beautiful array of fireworks will begin at 9:35 p.m., don’t forget – those of you who enjoy a morning run, walk – or roll can sign up for the Toby Pennels Memorial 5K and 1-mile run. The race will start at 7:45 a.m. To register or donate:

Last, but not least, the Windham Summerfest would not be possible without the hard work and efforts of the Summerfest committee. “I want to thank all the committee members for their dedication - making the Summerfest an event for the whole family,” Windham Parks and Recreation Director, Linda Brooks said. “I wish to give a special thanks to co-chairs Deb Matthews and Robin Mullins.”

So, put on your dancing (or running) shoes and come rock and roll with the town. For more information visit them on Facebook or the website at <

Sen. Diamond welcomes Senate pages from Windham to State House

During the last week of May, Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, welcomed Windham Middle School students Noah Henry, Tobias Perkins, Finn Smith and Heidi Muse as well as Portland High School student Kyessah Pina of Windham to serve as honorary pages in the Maine Senate. The students and their chaperones took the picture below with Sen. Diamond in the Senate Chamber.

The program gives students a unique chance to participate and observe the State’s legislative process. As honorary pages, students deliver messages, distribute documents within the Senate Chamber, interact with senators and, most importantly, take part in a real world, legislative learning experience.
To learn more about the honorary page program, please contact Sen. Diamond’s office at (207) 287-1515.
Sen. Diamond poses with Windham Middle School Students Heidi Muse, Noah Henry, Tobias Perkins, Finn Smith and their chaperones

Sen. Diamond Poses with Portland High School student Kyessah Pina of Windham

The Raymonds celebrates local film makers

Kindergartners from Mrs. Spearin's Class
Photo Courtesy of John Powers

By Briana Bizier        

Did you catch this year’s hottest celebration of moviemaking talent? With its red carpet, elegantly dressed movie stars, golden statuettes for the winners, and emotional acceptance speeches, it’s certainly a night to remember.

I am talking, of course, about The Raymonds, the annual festival devoted to artistic collaborations between the students of Jordan Small Middle School and Raymond Elementary School. Each year, students from JSMS work with classes at the elementary school to produce short movies. The Raymonds celebrates these artistic endeavors with a night of awards, speeches, and musical performances.

The Windham Eagle offers a hearty congratulations to all the participants!

People's Choice Awards
Shark Attack - Kindergarten
The Suspicious Sub - 4th Grade

K-2 Division
1st - The Beast - Grade 2
2nd - Disappearing Kids - Grade 2
3rd - The Friendly Dragon - Kindergarten  and Shark Attack Kindergarten

3-4 Division - Are you smarter than an 8th grader?  - Grade 4
2nd - The Suspicious Sub - Grade 4
3rd - 4k Ultra HD calculator  - Grade 4

5-6 Division
1st - Jacob's Detective Agency - Grade 5
2nd - Mixed up Music - Grade 5
3rd - Tricks R4 Kids -Grade 5 and Flex Tape - Grade 6

7th Division
1st - Gratitude - Grade 7

8th Division
1st - The Cloning
2nd - Lazy Raymond and Google's Order
3rd - Mishap at the Mansion and The Competition

McIntosh Award (Best in Show)
The Cloning 

Finally, current eighth grader Al Potter was recognized with a new award for Excellence in Film Making and Outstanding Dedication. Potter won his second McIntosh Award this year and finished his four years at JSMS with nine total trophies. This outstanding young filmmaker is leaving his middle school years after achieving a first place in every movie category other than K-2. 

Congratulations, Potter, and perhaps someday we’ll see you celebrating on another red carpet!

Congratulations Windham Christian Academy graduates

Zeb Cleaves

Zeb began attending Windham Christian Academy as a kindergartener in 2006. He was a recipient of the WCA Scholar Athlete Award in 2018 and played soccer, basketball and disc golf throughout his years at WCA. Zeb will be attending the University of Maine Orono, studying engineering. He is receiving the UMaine Heritage Scholarship and the UMaine Director's Award. He also hopes to pursue a military career as a Navy Seal and knows God has placed a call of worship upon his life. 

Rose Hagerstrom  

Rose began attending Windham Christian Academy in the second grade. When not in school, Rose, a skilled dancer, can be found at Western Maine Dance and Gymnastics. Rose plans to attend University of Maine Fort Kent in the fall and has been awarded the Bengal Gold Scholarship. She is entering their nursing program in the hopes of becoming a medical missionary in the developing world.  

Molly Kramschuster

Molly began attending Windham Christian Academy in the sixth grade. She is a talented artist and took college level drawing at St. Joseph’s College this spring. Between her aspirations to be a writer, and the talent she brings towards illustrations, Molly hopes to become a novelist.  For right now, Molly plans to take a gap year and is seeking employment.  

Alewives in action: PRLT hosts an alewife viewing hike in Mill Brook Preserve

Jack Alan with a salamander found by Mill Brook
Photo courtesy of Stefanie Gill
By Briana Bizier

Did you know that hundreds of animals are migrating past Windham right now?

Every day, schools of alewives brave waterfalls, predators, high rivers, and strong currents in order to reach their spawning grounds. Last Saturday, thanks to the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT), we got a chance to view these impressive fish in action during the Trust’s first Member Thank-You hike in Mill Brook Preserve.

Opened in 2016, the Mill Brook Preserve protects 130 acres of forested land along Mill Brook in Westbrook. My family and I hiked part of this five-mile trail system in January, and I promised my little hikers that we would return in the spring to watch the alewives. Saturday’s event was a perfect opportunity to make good on that promise.

This is a really exciting natural phenomenon,” said Toby Jacobs, PRLT Stewardship and Outreach Manager.

The alewives, a species of herring, spend the majority of their lives at sea but return to fresh water to spawn. Unlike the slightly more famous spawning species salmon, most alewives do not die after they spawn. Instead, they return to the ocean and make their inland trek again the next spring.

The restoration of alewives to their traditional migratory paths and spawning grounds has been a tremendous success story in Maine. With the removal of several large dams and the addition of fish ladders and fish elevators, alewives now run through many of the major rivers in Maine, including the Kennebec, the Presumpscot and, of course, Mill Brook. Alewives provide an invaluable food source for raccoons, mink, herons, osprey, and bass, as well as serving as lobster bait for local fishermen.

How far do you think these fish swim?” Jacobs, who led the family friendly hike, asked our group of children, parents, and grandparents as we set off down the trail.

Fifty thousand miles!” someone offered.

One hundred miles!” another added.

Not quite,” Jacobs answered. “These fish swim eleven miles to get from Casco Bay to Highland Lake.”

Given that the fish are, on average, only ten to twelve inches long, this journalist was quite impressed by their eleven-mile trek. We were also delighted with the trail, which set off from the MAGAN trailhead at the intersection of Route 302 and Willow Drive and then dropped through a majestic hemlock grove and into a large, boulder-strewn clearing. Here Jacobs distributed scavenger hunt checklists to the children, who took off running as they searched for treasures like insects, rocks, and pinecones.
You don’t need to pick the items up,” Jacobs explained when my eight-year-old assistant asked about finding a spider. “You just need to see them.”

One of the children, Jack Gill, even spotted a salamander among the oak leaves on the forest floor.  “He’s black and gray, and his name is Sammy,” Gill explained as he gently held the salamander for the other hikers to see.

This was a first time visit to the Mill Brook trail system for Jack and his mother Stefanie Gills. “We’ve fished in Mill Brook before,” Gills began, “but we had no idea that these trails and fish pools were back here.”

After checking off nearly all the boxes on the scavenger hunt list, the family hike set off in search of the very last item: a fish. The trail meandered through the woods, crossed beneath the power lines, and led us to a lovely little waterfall. At this pool, the family friendly group met up with the second nature walk, led by University of Southern Maine professor Karen Wilson. This faster group of nature walkers included Ralph Hatt who, along with his wife Marilyn, donated 33 acres of land to the Mill Brook Preserve.

rita.theriault@raymondmaine.orgThis area is really a jewel of the greater Portland area,” Professor Wilson explained. This winter, Wilson’s students studied local rivers and streams. Mill Brook had the least amount of road salt of any stream in the area. It’s a very healthy watershed, hosting strong populations of fish, birds, and even beavers.

And, yes, that also means lots of bugs,” Wilson added.

Hopefully no readers will be surprised to learn that an early June hike in the Maine woods led to a few mosquito and black fly encounters. If you plan on visiting Mill Brook to observe the alewives, I suggest insect repellent and a strong appreciation for the vital role robust insect populations play in a healthy ecosystem.

As the family group joined the second nature walk, several hikers pointed to a small pool halfway up the waterfall. There, to our delight, several dozen alewives were schooling together and resting before making the final push up the waterfall. After checking “fish” off the scavenger hunt checklist, my hiking assistants and I were lucky enough to see a few of the silvery alewives push their way up the falls as we cheered them on.

It was truly an awe-inspiring sight.

If you want to catch the alewives in action, Jacobs recommends the southern fish viewing pool in Mill Brook Preserve. To access this pool, park at the Methodist Road trailhead off of 302 in Westbrook, cross the brook, and then turn right, or south, on the trail. Please see map at

Friday, June 7, 2019

Raymond Elementary School students get a new view on their town

Third-grad students use their maps to identify land features
By Briana Bizier

For Raymond Elementary School third graders, the best way to study local history and map-making is to get a bird’s eye view. This past Friday, both of Raymond’s third grade classes, who have been studying the history of the town of Raymond while making their own maps, had the opportunity to hike Rattlesnake Mountain. Joined by several parents, this field trip was the perfect chance for both the children and the adults to get a new outlook on their home town.

When the school bus parked at the Bri-Mar trailhead off Route 85 on Friday morning, May 31, the cheerful third graders were sorted into groups, assigned to parent chaperones, and told to stick with their group.

The children took to the trail like a herd of enthusiastic mountain goats. This journalist soon discovered that the hardest part of the hike was keeping up with my assigned third graders as they leapt over rocks and ran up the mountain.

Rattlesnake Mountain, at just over one thousand feet, is a healthy climb. The trail is 2.5 miles out-and-back, and there are several fallen trees and steep pitches to navigate. These sections slowed down a few of the hikers, children and chaperones alike.
I think I’m going to die before I get there,” one tired hiker sighed at the foot of a particularly steep incline.

Happily, a few water breaks restored everyone’s spirits and allowed the chaperones to re-collect their groups. The trail evens out toward the top of the mountain and, as the trees cleared, we caught a few
glimpses of the serpentine, glittering surface of Crescent Lake.

What lake do you think that is?” I asked a few of the hikers.

Um, Jordan Bay?” one guessed.

Casco Bay?” another offered.

I suggested perhaps we should check their maps at the top of the mountain.

Once we reached Rattlesnake Mountain’s beautiful lookout, a wide, flat section of glacially polished granite just below the summit, the third-grade classes split into two groups. One group sat down to examine the colorful, student-made maps of Raymond that teacher Ms. Begin carried up the mountain, while the other group ran further up the trail, hoping to find another viewpoint. After a few quick exercises, the groups traded places so that each child had the opportunity to compare a hand-drawn map with the view before them.

Now, how do we hold a map?” Ms. Begin asked the assembled third graders.

After a few guesses, such as “right side up,” we determined that maps should be aligned with a compass. Ms. Begin used her phone’s compass to determine which direction was north (directly behind us). After a few shrieked interruptions when students spotted a tick, or a black fly, or a piece of dirt that might have looked a bit like a black fly, the third graders settled down to read their maps.
So, what lake is that?” Ms. Begin asked, pointing toward the nearest lake. children consulted their maps.

Rattlesnake Lake!” someone called.

And what do we call that lake now?” Ms. Begin continued.

The children answered: “Crescent!”

Using their maps, the collection of third graders was able to identify the lakes and land features spread before them, including Raymond Pond, Panther Pond, Betty’s Neck on Panther Pond, and the distant stretch of Raymond Cape in Sebago Lake. Then, with several reminders to tie loose shoelaces
and not to run over the steep, leaf-strewn trail, we headed back down the mountain and toward the waiting bus.

What did you think of the field trip?” I asked my group of hikers.

Loved it!” said Sage Bizier, my RES insider.

Yeah,” agreed her classmate Kaitlin Skillings. “That was the most awesome field trip ever!”

Windham Middle School teachers jam for a good cause

By Matt Pascarella

Friday Night, May 31, the Windham High School auditorium was rockin’. “The Middle”, a Windham Middle School teacher band comprised of Morgan Riley, (keyboard and vocals), Joe Boudreau (bass), Doug Elder (bass and vocals) and Matthew Shardlow (drums and bass) held their first ever teacher concert fundraiser for Windham Middle School with proceeds going to Special Olympics, Robotics, Band/Orchestra and the Civil Rights Team.

The Middle - a band comprised of teachers Doug Elder,
 Matt Shardlow, Joe Boudreau and Morgan Riley
raise funds for the school
The evening began with special guest, “Pantomine”, a Windham High band, performing a few current and older songs. When “The Middle” hit the stage they played a couple songs solo and then had a variety of students, including the eighth grade orchestra, joining them on stage.

Shardlow, whose father taught at Windham back in the 1980s, remembers something similar being done at a talent show with Dr. Richard Nickerson and another student. The show cast the teachers in a different light; humanizing the teachers.

“I thought we could capture the essence of that concept, and let our students see that we aren’t simply the adults that make them do work and follow rules,” explained Shardlow.

“Matt Shardlow, Doug Elder, Joe Boudreau and I started cooking up this idea last school year and it never took hold until over this last summer,” stated Music Teacher, Morgan Riley. “We started rehearsing and did a show for the Middle School at an assembly and they loved it. I feel like this is important to connect with the community...fundraising for good causes and for the students to see us in a different light.”

“I used to play a lot and I’d sort of gotten out of it,” said STEM teacher Joe Boudreau. When he and Shardlow became friends, Boudreau stated that their connection brought back the magic of music in him. “It’s a chance to give these kids a platform to do something different and showcase what they can do.”

“This is important to me personally, because along the way there were many people that gave me opportunities that helped propel me forward in music and life, and I think all teachers seek opportunities to pay these things forward,” added Shardlow.

“The highlight is showcasing the kids,” commented Elder. “That’s the treat for all of us - who can we nab from the student body to come in and play something and showoff their talent. It’s exciting.”