Friday, December 6, 2019

Student of the Week: Nemo Koumphompakdy

Nemo Koumphompakdy, a seventh-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle Schol Windham, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Koumphompakdy states that his favorite subject is art and his favorite holiday is Christmas.

“Nemo, is known for his positive attitude and warm smile,” stated his teacher. “He is kind to his classmates, gets along well with his peers, and is respectful to all. Nemo always aims to do his best in the arts and enrichment classrooms. 

In Tech, he is an independent and engaged student, as well as an active participant during group challenges. In art, Nemo strives for quality work, demonstrates patience and acceptance of others, and asks questions as needed. Lastly, Nemo always jumps in to lend a hand or do extra cleaning.  These qualities have earned Nemo the distinction of being chosen by the AE team.”

Koumphompakdy is a frequent visitor of the school library and loves to read in his spare time. He also participated in the cross-country team this year.

Windham dancer returns as Clara in Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Windham resident Emma Davis has returned to dance the coveted role of Clara in Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at Merrill Auditorium, which began last Friday, November 29th and will continue until Sunday, December 8th.

The Windham Eagle newspaper staff member, Melissa Carter, attended last Friday’s performance
Emma Davis
with her husband and three-year old daughter. It was the first time Carter has attended Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”. She and her family thoroughly enjoyed the performance, especially her three-year-old. “My daughter was mesmerized with the dancing and stage displays throughout most of the evening,” Carter said. “The performers were nothing short of amazing. Their facial expressions communicated how much they enjoyed the theatrical production themselves, which only added to the enjoyment of the spectaculars. I would highly recommend watching this performance if you’ve never seen “The Nutcracker’”.

Set in early 19th century Germany, the ballet features well-known characters such as Clara, Uncle Drosselmeyer, the Nutcracker Prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Emma Davis and Laura Moskevich will dance the role of Clara. Arie Eiten and Trevor Seymour will again share the role of Nutcracker Prince. Principals Rhiannon Pelletier and Julia Lopez reprise the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, with First Soloist Kallee Gallant debuting. They will be partnered by Michael Hamilton as Cavalier. David Jon Timm plays the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer, and Principals Glenn and Janet Davis appear as Judge and Mrs. Stahlbalm.

As for the start of the show, Davis grew up dancing at Maine State Ballet and attended Windham Schools as well as being homeschool. She is the granddaughter of popular local resident and Broadway veteran Jonathan Miele, and great-granddaughter of Bob Miele, World War II Veteran and former owner of Patsy’s in South Windham. Davis currently is enrolled as a student at Brigham Young University’s innovative online “Pathway” program. Over the years Davis has danced in hundreds of performances at Maine State Ballet, including almost every role possible from a tiny Reindeer to Clara in “The Nutcracker”.

“I love dancing the role of Clara! When I was growing up I would watch the older girls dance at rehearsals and then would come home and do the entire Nutcracker in my kitchen. Being onstage gives me so much joy as I share my passion for dance with the audience.”

There is one more weekend of “The Nutcracker” performances which include this Friday, December 6 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20-70, with discounts available for groups, seniors & children, and are available at, by calling PortTIX at 207-842-0800, and at the Merrill Auditorium Box Office located on Myrtle Street in Portland. Friday, December 6 is Student Night for High School and College Students with valid ID. These $10 tickets can only be purchased by calling or visiting the Merrill Auditorium Box Office.

Other performers from the Raymond and Windham communities are as follows:

Liliana Abbott, Maisy Dinsmore, Emma Fletcher, Kirsten Mains, Adrienne Pelletier, Gwen Rogers, Isabelle Stoll

Vivian Allen, Emily Charette, Emma Davis, Addison Farris, Mia Gaudet, Amelia Greslick, Meg Kingsley, Juliette Lauzier-Bridges, Hanna Miele, Marin Miele

Maine State Ballet, a non-profit based in Falmouth, Maine, is one of the state’s leading arts organizations. It has been twice named Maine’s Best Dance Group by Downeast Magazine. Maine State Ballet houses the Maine State Ballet Company, the 175-seat Lopez Theater, and its School for the Performing Arts, with continuous instruction in ballet, tap, and jazz for 100 years.

Christmas Caroling in the Barn with the Friendly Beasts event

Faith Lutheran Church of Windham invites the community to a Christmas Caroling in the Barn event that will take place on Sunday, December 15 at The Hartwell Farm, 443 Sebago Lake Road in Gorham at 1 p.m.

This will be an old-fashioned community carol sing held in a cozy barn with live animals,
storytelling, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and special treats for the children.

“Because Mary and Joseph had to seek shelter in a stable the night Jesus was born, Faith Lutheran has a longstanding tradition of gathering in a barn to tell the story of that first Christmas,” stated Faith Lutheran Pastor Jane Field. “This year, we’re giving our tradition a new twist. Instead of a pageant, we will use the French carol, ‘The Friendly Beasts,’ to tell the Christmas story.” 

Based on an ancient European legend that at midnight on Christmas Eve animals can speak, the carol gives each animal in the Bethlehem stable a voice to tell of the gift they gave the Christ child. 
“On December 15, everyone is invited to join us as we sing to the animals who live at Hartwell Farm, including a donkey, a horse, cows, goats and hens, and folks will have a chance to see these animals close up (and maybe even feed them a treat or two!),” Field said.

“We will sing lots of other carols, too, and enjoy Christmas cookies and hot cocoa. Every family who joins us will receive an ornament to take home, and we will have a present for each child who participates.  This very special event is a gift from Faith Lutheran to our neighbors in the community, given in the spirit of joy and love that are at the heart of Christmas.”

Scrooge comes to Schoolhouse Arts Center

Schoolhouse Arts Center is presenting Charles Dickens classic Christmas tale “A Christmas Carol”.  It will be presented for eight performances December 6 through 15.  This is one of the most iconic Christmas stories ever, Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless classic.

This adaptation by Patrick Barlow is a newer interpretation of the traditional ghost story. It follows its main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, through his journey to find the meaning of Christmas all the while being led by three different ghosts: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and The Ghost of Christmas Future. With humor, and wit, this adaptation is sure to keep true to the original story all the while bringing a fresh wave of energy to the show.

The production is directed by TJ Scannell and includes a cast of 29 local performers. They have been rehearsing for this event for two months. They range in age from 7 to 70. Sometimes heart wrenching,  sometimes scary, but lots of humor will keep audiences entertained to the final curtain.
Performances of “A Christmas Carol” will be held on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for students and seniors.  Schoolhouse Arts Center is located at 16 Richville Road (Route 114) in Standish, just north of the intersection of Route 114 and Route 35, only 7 miles northwest of Gorham center or North Windham.  Reserve tickets on-line at

For more information about Schoolhouse Arts Center or “A Christmas Carol” please contact our office at 207-642-3743 or visit our web site  

Schoolhouse Arts Center is a non-profit, community-driven organization dedicated to arts education and the presentation of the arts. Our mission is to encourage individual growth and a spirit of community through participation in the arts. We seek to foster a fun, creative, educational, and supportive arts environment where people can grow, develop skills, and involve themselves in the arts.

Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program invites community to lay wreaths

The American Legion Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program will be out in force on Saturday morning, December 7 at Arlington and Smith Cemeteries and they invite the community to join in the laying of the wreaths. 

Members of the following organizations have provided support: Field-Allen Post and Unit (ALA) 148, Studio Flora personnel, Sebago Gardens and VFW.

The above organizations will meet at the Arlington Cemetery at 9 a.m. to attach bows to the wreaths  
and then place them on over 300 veteran’s graves. At the same time, the cadre from the Windham High School Jr. Cadet Corp will be busy placing 200 wreaths on the veterans’ graves at Smith Cemetery on Route 202.

Over 900 wreaths will be placed on veteran’s graves in all the Windham cemeteries. 

The Everlasting Gratitude Program was started in 2013 by local Florist, Libby Jordan, of Studio Flora with a goal of placing an evergreen wreath on every veteran’s grave in the cemeteries of Windham. Moving ahead to today, the American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 of Windham is now administering the program with support from Studio Flora.

The Windham based program mirrors the Wreaths across America project that provides wreaths at veteran’s graves in national cemeteries. Windham has over 24 local cemeteries with over 875 veteran’s graves dating back to the Revolutionary War. In December these graves will be honored with the wreaths adorned with a red, white and blue ribbon manufactured by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 148.

Plans are already underway to continue the Wreath Program for 2020.

Again, the community is invited to help lay wreaths on the graves of those who served this Country.

If you are unable to help lay wreaths, funds are always needed to make the bows and purchase the wreaths. To make a financial donation, please send a check to: American Legion Wreath Program P.O. Box 1776, Windham Maine 04062.

Thank you for your support from the American Legion, Field-Allen Post 148 in Windham.

Before the memory fades: Annie Wilkins – Last of the Saddle Tramps

By Walter Lunt

Part 1: The amazing story of a Maine woman’s equestrian journey to California, inspiring hundreds of well-wishers along the way, including one Windham family

Although just an ordinary day in mid-November 1954, the local folks at Windham Center probably did double-takes at the sight of a heavy-set woman riding an aging horse down Route 202. The old mare, plodding along slowly, unfazed by traffic, was also burdened with a heavy pack strung over its hind quarters. A small dog on a long leash kept pace with the slow-moving horse and rider. The trio stopped at the four corners and the friendly-faced equestrian asked one of the locals about lodgings for the night. 

Miss Annie Wilkins ready for her trip to California
from Maine
More about the lady rider’s brief visit to Windham later. First, who was Annie Wilkins? How did she come to be riding a horse into this town? And where was she going?

Messanie (Annie) Wilkins, in 1954, was 64 years old, homeless and broke. But, astonishingly, these were the least of her problems. She had grown up on a pig farm, living with her mother, father and an uncle. All had passed away. Unable to sustain the farm, she lost it to the bank. Soon after, a doctor told her she had less than two years to live, “provided she rested.” Her situation could be summed up simply: no home or family, no money, no future. A more destitute person would be hard to imagine.

In her memoir, Wilkins said she turned to the Lord, who told her to pursue her dreams, whatever they might be.

Her dream, it turns out, was to see the country – to meet people far outside the narrow and limited world she had known in Minot, Maine for over a half century.

In the months following the loss of her family, Annie sold homemade pickles. She had accrued the princely sum of $32. Now, with no prospects, she decided to do as the Good Lord had commanded. Surely, she could work her way across the country.

She paid $5 for a grumpy old camp horse named Tarzan who had been retired from a local riding academy, packed all her belongings and along with her dog, a shaggy brown and white mongrel, rode away. “I didn’t have the heart to look back at my little house,” and assumed she would never see it again.

The route she chose would take her on a 7000-mile equestrian journey. Starting out with just a few dollars in her pocket, and still traveling the plain dirt road away from her ancestral farm, Wilkins said she felt a sudden surge of “the jitters.”

“What sort of idiot am I? Who in his right mind would hire an old woman to work at odd jobs along the way? …plenty of men were out of work, so who would hire a complete stranger, especially an old woman dressed like a man?”

Fighting against her misgivings, Annie soldiered on. The goal: to take a dip in the Pacific Ocean.

One can only imagine the thoughts flowing through Annie Wilkins mind as she rode Gray Road into Windham that chilly afternoon in 1954. She had heard that wayward travelers were often welcome to sleep in jail houses, but she would settle for a warm barn for her and Tarzan.

Windham Center turned out to be a fruitful checkpoint for Annie and her troupe. Residents were patronizing the corner grocery store (now Corsetti’s) and public library. After some discussion, someone suggested Annie visit a family less than a half-mile down Windham Center Road. Doctor and Mrs. Laurence Bennett ran a nursing home and were known to be hospitable.

It turned out to be a visit Annie would never forget. She would write glowingly about the Bennett’s in her memoir. Nellie Bennett provided Annie with hot meals and a comfortable bed. A telephone call to a nearby farm family yielded accommodations for Tarzan. The next morning, Nellie would drive Annie to the farmhouse where she would begin the next leg of her cross-country odyssey.

Next time, “Before the memory fades” will trace the rest of Annie’s journey. As the weeks turned to months, and then years, she would face harsh conditions, meet hundreds of well-wishers and fill her road diary with amazing stories.

In one encounter, an admirer would print post cards about Annie and her journey. Annie sold them along the way for spending money. The cards were about life goals and contained inspiring messages. 

One inscription read, “Don’t look back; that’s not where you’re going.” 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Nonprofit Spotlight: The Windham Historical Society

The Windham Historical Society, founded in 1967, is a group of spirited volunteers whose mission is the fostering of history in our town by presenting relevant programs, providing educational opportunities and maintaining historical facilities where displays of the town’s past are available.

Over the years, people in Windham have gotten to know them at fundraisers such as bake sales, plant sales and craft sales; on history tours and by attending the group’s historical programs that are presented monthly March through September.

One of the biggest goals for the Society in 2020 will be to continue the work that has begun on their Village Green Living History Museum. The project began in 2010 when the Historical Society acquired property and buildings that abutted the Old Town House Museum on Windham Center Road. Funding for the purchase came from Society and community members who shared in the vision of using the additional space to create a late 1800s village where people could learn about Windham’s past.

There is one active building on the property now. The Village School provides a unique living history opportunity to area school children. The one-room building is typical of many such structures that once dotted Windham’s landscape in its earlier days. It is set up to look like a classroom in the 1890s, complete with antique desks, a pot-belly stove, a period flag and portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The schoolmarm or master and the students themselves dress in period attire for the living history classes and are given names of children who actually did attend school in old-time Windham. Once the school bell rings, the students take a step back in time to experience a school day in 1898 using slates and chalk for writing, McGuffey Readers for reading and elocution, and quill pens and ink to practice their penmanship.

Over the past couple of years, other buildings have been added to the Green.  Renovations are underway on the old South Windham Library that was moved from the Little Falls area of the town to the Society’s Village Green.  It will become a museum dedicated to the village of South Windham with an ell that will be a replica of South Windham’s railroad station that was once a vibrant part of that section of town.

Last year, a blacksmith shop and gazebo for entertaining were constructed on the property. In 2020, the Society hopes to move the Old Grocery at the corner of Windham Center Road and Route 202 onto its place on the Green as well. It will take $41,000 to make the move, and through the generous support of Society members, $37,500 has been raised so far. If anyone would like to make a donation to the cause, checks can be sent to the Windham Historical Society, PO Box 1475, Windham ME 04062.

The Society is also excited about an archiving project they have been working on in which five members of the group have been recording details and artifacts to be placed on the Society’s website. Over 10,000 items have been recorded to date with many, many more to come. This project will make researching easier and will help the Society respond more efficiently to inquiries they receive.

With the 200th Anniversary of Maine’s statehood coming right up, the Society has put together a lovely 2020 Commemorative Bicentennial Calendar featuring illustrations by Jerry Black, a Society member. All funds coming from sales will be put towards Village Green efforts.

Windham’s Historical Society is not your grandmother’s Historical Society. Its members are forward-thinking as well as being interested in Windham’s past. They work together to continue moving the organization into the future while bringing Windham’s history to life.  Most of all, they show the community the joys you can experience while having fun with history.