Friday, July 13, 2018

Tips for writing the college application essay by Suzanne Hatfield

Summer vacation is time for high school students to take a needed break from busy schedules. Members of the 2019 graduating class can rest up for an eventful academic year ahead. Those who are planning to apply to colleges and career schools can use their free time this summer to get a head start on the application process.

Writing the college application essay is a creative endeavor that should not be rushed. A classic guide to this writing process is the 2012 fully revised and updated book, “On Writing the College Application Essay, 25th Anniversary Edition”, published by HarperCollins L.L.C., 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022 (www.harpercollins.com). 

Written by Harry Bauld, a former Ivy League admissions officer at both Brown and Columbia Universities, this publication is available in book stores and online. Students can also check local libraries for access to the updated text.  
   
In this 25th anniversary edition, Bauld concentrates on the writing of a general personal statement to satisfy one of the Common Application prompts. (www.commonapp.org) His advice and encouragement can support students throughout the writing process.
https://www.egcu.org
A few of Bauld’s main points are as follows:

Keep a notebook of ideas and experiences for possible topics. Describe your actions, thoughts, impressions, reflections, sensations, etc., in order to share these with future essay readers.
Read other essays and try responding to different prompts or topics. Examples of common essay prompts include those below:

“Describe a person who has influenced you.”

“Describe the greatest challenge you have faced or expect to face.”

“Write on a topic that you choose.”

Stick to one topic. Have a strong lead that captures the reader’s curiosity. End the essay by satisfying that curiosity.

Use nouns and verbs to describe thoughts and experiences rather than adjectives.

Use precise and lively terms. Avoid using vague or overused words. Bauld provides extensive lists of these that include some commonly used words, “it”, “thing”, “who”, “which”, “that”.

In connecting various parts of the essay avoid using terms such as therefore, nevertheless, thus, moreover, secondly, finally. Use words such as “but”, “instead”, “now”, “later”, “then”.

When writing drafts, avoid self-criticism and freely express your thoughts and impressions. Proofread and revise as often as needed.

The final version of the college application essay is usually 300-500 words. The writing must be original and interesting. The tone of the essay should reflect the student’s humility, honesty, and positivity. Ask trusted adults to read your essay to provide constructive criticism.

Suzanne Hatfield is a certified school counselor who worked in Maine high schools for 20 years before retirement.

Healthy snacks while boating and hiking with children by Briana Bizier

"I’m hungry!”
           
If you’re spending this summer with small children, chances are you’ve already heard that phrase about ninety million times. When I’m at home, I usually respond with something helpful, like: “If you’ll get off the couch, walk down the hallway, and turn left, you’ll find a big, magical box we like to call the refrigerator. It’s full of healthy snacks!”

But, when you’re on a summertime adventure with your kids, those cries of “I’m hungry!” are a bit harder to address. If you’re planning on exploring some of our beautiful lakes or trails with your children this summer, here are some ideas for healthy snacks you can pack along to stave off both hunger and whining.

An important note before I dive into the snack and meal ideas: Plastic bags and boats don’t mix. The combination of wind, waves, and little hands means plastic bags and wrappers can all too often end up overboard, where they pose a threat to fish and birds.

Try packing your boating snacks in reusable hard plastic or glass containers, which won’t get caught in the wind and may even float. Hikers are a bit less likely to lose their plastic bags, but many snacks still benefit from the protection of a hard-sided container. Plan ahead to make sure your packaging doesn’t end up in the ecosystem!

An old hiking standby, the snack food gorp is still well-loved by children and adults alike. Although it was apparently once an acronym for “Good Old-fashioned Raisins and Peanuts,” our family makes our own gorp out of whatever we have lying around. This typically ends up being a mixture of raisins or other dried fruits, nuts, either salted snack nuts or the walnuts and pecans we use in baking, and some form of chocolate, like chocolate chips. Yes, our kitchen is never without chocolate. While we usually pass around a large container of gorp for the whole family, you could minimize fights over, say, the last green M&M by packing individual containers.

Granola is another healthy, delicious snack which is easy to eat with your hands. Granola is readily available in pretty much every supermarket in the great state of Maine. It’s also fairly easy to make yourself, as long as you can keep from getting distracted during the last ten minutes of cooking, when granola goes from “perfectly done” to “singed” faster than a three-year-old can scream, “Mommy, I have to go potty!”

jobs@tubehollows.comPopcorn is a quick, crowd-pleasing snack which can easily scale up or down, depending on how many boaters or hikers you’re feeding. While you can easily buy popcorn in a bag, popping your own on the stovetop is very simple - just make sure to cover the top of the pan with a colander or tin foil. Popcorn really does fly everywhere, creating great fun for kids and a huge clean-up for parents. If you’re aiming for healthy popcorn, heat your corn kernels in a bit of olive oil and top with either nothing or just a dash of salt.

If, however, you want popcorn to impress your friends and frighten your enemies, try popping your kernels in a mixture of butter, olive oil, and a small spoonful of leftover bacon drippings. Top them with salt, and you might just end up eating them all in the car on your way to the lake.

Another delicious and quick-to-prepare snack would be apple slices tossed with cinnamon. There are some days in the summer when my children survive on apple slices and cinnamon, which also make a perfect snack to pop in a lunch for work or school. The preparation is about as simple as it gets: slice up an apple, put it in a container, sprinkle with cinnamon, attach the lid, and shake. The cinnamon keeps the apple slices from browning and makes the snack taste almost like dessert.

If you’re planning an all-day boat trip, hike, or picnic, you may need something a bit more substantial than just snacks. Pasta salad makes for a nice picnic meal and, much like gorp, pasta salad is a meal that can be made from almost anything in your kitchen. When the pasta is about a minute from finishing, add a cup or two of frozen peas. Then rinse the pasta and peas with cold water, place in your hard-sided plastic or glass container and add a bunch of leftovers: chunks of cheese, little slices of ham or chicken, green or black olives, the lone piece of broccoli no one ate at last night’s dinner. Dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. A loaf of French bread makes a nice addition to this picnic meal (and white wine for the adults).

Finally, when all else fails, try putting food on a stick. You can make endless variations of fruit, cheese, and lunchmeat on toothpicks. Cherry tomatoes, salami, and bits of string cheese lined up on toothpicks make for fabulous boating or hiking lunches. And why should prosciutto and honeydew melon on a toothpick be reserved for brunches or wedding receptions? Why not take that elegant snack on a boat trip in Vacationland?

Whatever foods you choose for your kid-friendly outdoor adventure, keep in mind that the best boating or hiking foods are easy to eat, easy to clean up, and fun! Don’t be afraid to try something new and turn those cries of “I’m hungry!” into “Wow, can we try this again?”


Raymond Arts Alliance Fundraiser at Hacker’s Hill will feature the New England Jazz Band


The Raymond Arts Alliance is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday July 21 at Hacker’s Hill in Casco.  This event will feature live music performed by the New England Jazz Band, a locally based big band dedicated to preserving and playing the “Great American Songbook” - music from (or in the style of) the Swing Era written by world famous American composers like George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, etc.

The fundraiser will benefit the Raymond Arts Alliance, a non-profit local group of artist/organizers, working as a program of the Raymond Village Library to bring arts to Raymond; and to involve our local community in the arts, both as audience and participants. The Raymond Arts Alliance has presented numerous events this year including music, writing, comedy, singalongs and poetry. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $3 for kids. All donations will be used for future programming for all members of the community. For more information about RAA please visit: www.raymondvillagelibrary.org/raymond-arts-alliance/

The fundraiser is being held in cooperation with the Loon Echo Land Trust, which cares for Hacker’s Hill – a privately owned public space offering spectacular panoramic views of the Sebago Lakes Area, located on Quaker Ridge Road in Casco, approximately 2 miles south of Route 11. The service road is open all day until dusk and parking is available at the top of the hill. The music will start at 4:00 p.m. and end around 5:30 p.m. There will be a 50/50 raffle, and prize drawings. Food will not be provided, but everyone is encouraged to come early, bring a picnic and enjoy the magnificent views before, during, and after the music.

For more info on the New England Jazz Band please visit www.newenglandjazzband.com.


Entertaining guests at Donnabeth Lippmann Park by Briana Bizier


As a recent transplant to the Lakes Region, I’m quickly learning summer in Vacationland means a house full of guests from “away!”

We recently hosted my mother, from Colorado, along with my sister and her two small children, who live in Maryland. This was a wonderful excuse to explore or re-discover many of the joys of Maine in the summer, including trips to the beach, ice cream every afternoon, and swimming in Crescent and Sebago until the kids were all shivering with blue lips.

However, for all the fun activities in the afternoon, there were still a few times when we just didn’t know what to do with four kids whose ages ranged from 20 months to seven years. This tended to happen in the mornings, when it was still a bit early to contemplate pulling on a wet swimsuit, but we had to get the children out of the house, so they would stop fighting over who got to play with the toy tractor or sit on the left side of the couch or stomp on the pebbles in the driveway.

The perfect solution turned out to be Donnabeth Lippman Park in Windham.

This park, formerly known as the Chaffin Pond Preserve, is a 123-acre woodland with a ten-acre pond found just off Route 302. We were hoping the giant green playground would keep the children entertained long enough for the adults to finish their morning coffees, but the enormous slides and monkey bars failed to interest my niece and nephew. Apparently, they have playgrounds in Maryland.

Instead, Chaffin Pond itself proved to be a major attraction. Once we assured my three-year-old nephew that the pond contained neither crocodiles nor sharks, he was delighted to spend the morning throwing sticks in the little outlet stream and searching for frogs. After thoroughly traumatizing any frogs that happened to be lounging along the banks that morning, our family decided to venture on to the Story Trail, a very short loop located on the far side of the Donnabeth Lippman parking lot beneath the “Once Upon a Time” gate.

This Story Trail, hosted by the Windham Public Library, is composed of a row of signs, each featuring a page from a children’s book, so children and their adults can read as they hike the very gradual incline through the woods. As this was still early morning, we sprayed the children down with bug spray before beginning our adventures.

This month’s story is “Sheep Take a Hike”, written by Nancy E. Shaw and illustrated by Margot Apple. In this book, delightfully silly pictures accompany an easy to read story about sheep going on a hike which turned out to be significantly more adventurous than our family stroll through the deciduous forest of Windham. The trail itself was easy enough for even my 20-month-old niece, who my son dubbed “Crime Baby” after she pulled a poster off his wall, to navigate without too much difficulty.

While the challenges of stepping over roots and picking up acorns and sticks that she then tried to put in her mouth entertained the Crime Baby, the story itself kept the other three children engaged. My seven-year-old assistant ran ahead, with her three-year-old cousin and four-year-old brother in tow and read each page of the story to both the boys. She also made sure to point out a pileated woodpecker’s holes, beech leaves, dragonflies, and several other natural features she thought our “flatlander” visitors might appreciate.
           
In addition to the Story Trail, Donnabeth Lippman Park also features a longer 1.1-mile loop trail which circles Chaffin Pond and features several exciting board walks; but by the time we’d finished the Story Trail the children were asking for ice cream and the adults had finished our coffees. In a few more years, our cousins might be ready for something as adventurous as a 1.1-mile loop. But for now, the Donnabeth Lippmann Story Trail and Chaffin Pond’s tranquil, crocodile-free waters were enough to keep the houseguests entertained for a morning.

If you have young visitors of your own to entertain, you can find Donnabeth Lippmann Park off of Route 302 in Windham. Look for the stone sign just past the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store. Bug spray and sunscreen are highly recommended.


Four “regular girls” make a big difference in the community by Elizabeth Richards


When children wonder if they can make a difference in the community, they should look to the girls who started L.I.T.E. for inspiration. In just fourteen weeks, these four girls were able to raise over $1500 through their Manchester School store and other efforts. Funds were donated to two local causes and one international organization.

L.I.T.E also stands for each of the students' first names They are in order of their initials...Lauren, Isabelle, Tayla and Eliza
L.I.T.E., an acronym using the first letter of each girl’s name that stands for “Lead, Illuminate, Teach, Empower” started as an idea that Lauren Jordan and Eliza Hill had after their teacher, Jennifer Ocean, read a book about the charity Heifer International. They asked their principal if they could start a charity group. They were soon joined by Isabelle Fortin and Tayla Pelletier.

The school told them they needed an adult to help, and the girls asked Susan Hennessy, Lauren’s grandmother, to be their advisor. “They selected me because they said I like kids,” Hennessy said. She set out helping them get organized like a business, but she made the girls do the actual work including creating a mission statement, choosing and ordering items, making posters and displays, and figuring out how to turn the money they made into more money.

The girls have a tagline: “four regular girls trying to make a difference.”  They have certainly achieved that goal. Originally the girls set a goal to raise $1000 to split between Compassion International and a local charity. In the end, they raised just over $1500, working tirelessly every Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the store on Wednesday mornings.

The girls approached Nolan Cyr and his family about donating to his “Warrior Packs.” Cyr, a cancer survivor, had compiled backpacks filled with items to help other children with cancer. Because the backpacks were fully funded already, the girls decided instead to make a donation in his name to the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, which had helped him and his family so much. In June, at a presentation at school, the girls presented Cyr with a $500 check to bring to MCCP.

In the midst of L.I.T.E.’s fundraising efforts, Lauren’s seven-year-old cousin Hannah Allen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The girls decided to make a really big push, Hennessy said, so they could also donate money to Allen’s family to help with medical and travel expenses.

Finally, $500 will be donated to Compassion International to send a child to school for a year, covering books, water and snacks.

Now that the school year is over, L.I.T.E. will need to take a different approach to fundraising, but Hennessy said they hope to keep it going in some capacity. Not only did the girls operate a school store, but they asked for donations everywhere they went, Hennessy said. “Parents donated, family members donated, it just started to have a life of its own,” she said. One donation, a $25 gift card from the Ice Cream Dugout, was raffled off at school.

The girls learned many lessons as they worked to raise money. One of the biggest, Hennessy said, was that it takes a team to make a project successful, and that each of them brought different skills to the team. “They didn’t always agree, but they always came together, drama free, to figure it out and they‘ve remained friends,” she said.

On a flyer that the girls designed to promote the school store, they wrote, “We are having so much fun and learning valuable life lessons at the same time! We have a true passion for helping those in need.”
           
“They already know at 10 and 11 years old, that you have to build a great team to be successful, and everyone has to be there, everyone has to participate, and everyone has to live it to be successful,” Hennessy said. “I can’t imagine what these girls are going to do. I’m just so excited to know them, to have been chosen. I have a great relationship with these little girls and it’s going to be fun following them through the rest of their school years.”


Friday, July 6, 2018

Child identity theft: A hidden but real danger


Chances are you shred or secure any paperwork that contains personally identifying information, such as your Social Security number or birth date. But do you do the same for your children?

You ought to. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that at least six percent of all identity theft cases involve children. Youngsters’ personal information is appealing to thieves who can use it to build a clean credit profile where one doesn't currently exist. Another reason: It takes longer to get caught.

Adults may be actively involved in the credit world, checking statements and scores, but “parents aren't checking their children's credit, so thieves can do more damage over an extended amount of time,” says Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, an organization dedicated to educating consumers and assisting victims.

The good news is, with a few simple steps, you can better safeguard your children’s personal information and pursue any problems on their behalf.

Ask questions
Many schools and extracurricular programs ask for kids’ Social Security numbers and other personally identifying information for them to participate. Ask why they need this information, and whether it's mandatory. If it's indeed required, “ask them how they will keep the information secure,” advises Velasquez. Then determine whether you're comfortable with that level of protection.

Know warning signs
“If you're receiving mail in your child's name that would typically be for adults only, that's a red flag,” says Velasquez. Warning signs include:

Collection notices
Bills or new credit cards
Traffic violation warrants
Jury summons

Don't request credit reports
Resist the temptation to check for a credit report in your child's name as a preventive measure unless you have a strong suspicion or know for certain that your child's identity has been compromised. “If your child doesn't have a credit file — and they shouldn't — you could actually open one up accidentally by checking it,” says Velasquez.

Take action
If you suspect fraud — or can confirm it — contact the Identity Theft Resource Center immediately, toll-free, at 888-400-5530. They'll listen to your concerns and work with you on next steps. You'll also want to contact the FTC to get help measuring the scope of the problem, and then file a report with your local police department.

Promote privacy
It's important to teach children the importance of protecting their own personal information so they don't set themselves up to be victimized. Velasquez recommends teens and parents check out ConnectSafely an online resource that offers tips for safeguarding your information online.

For added security, ask your Insurance Agent about identity theft insurance and how it can protect you and your children.

This article was brought to o by Tricia Zwiner of State Farm in Windham.

Floating classroom for kids on Crescent Lake by Sheila Bourque


Coming to Crescent Lake this summer is the Melinda Ann, a 30-foot pontoon boat designed to
be a floating classroom. This classroom is the centerpiece of the LakesAlive! program developed by the Maine Lakes Society.  

Susan Gajewski, President of the Crescent Lake Watershed Association (CLWA) announced that the free program will be held at Camp Agawam in Raymond on August 16 and 17 and is open to Raymond and Casco students and summer visitors to the lake age 8 years old and older.  According to Gajewski there will be several sailings each day that last about an hour and a half, just long enough to provide each participant the opportunity to use the various instruments and tools aboard the floating classroom.   

The Melinda Ann is equipped with proprietary and field-tested materials and activities that deliver a powerful on-the-water learning experience. Through hands-on activities that explore such topics as lake ecology, food webs and water cycles, the Melinda Ann’s young passengers use a Secchi disk to measure water clarity, a benthic dredge to take bottom samples, a camera mounted on a remotely operated vehicle to explore the lake and scientific instruments to measure temperature and oxygen levels throughout the water column as well as to explore the microscopic organisms that live in our lakes.  As a bonus while awaiting to board the Melinda Ann, the students will examine an EnviroScape Wetlands Model that tracks how rainwater falling on the lands surrounding lakes carry soil, chemicals and other pollutants into the lake.   The goal is that once engaged in the life of the lake, students will begin to develop a personal motivation to become good environmental stewards.

The program is sponsored by the Crescent Lake Watershed Association in close cooperation with Camp Agawam which held a LakesAlive! program in June during its Maine Idea session.  “When CLWA first discussed this program with us,” commented Karen Malm, Assistant Camp Director at Agawam, “we knew we just had to offer it for our Maine Idea session this spring and we were not disappointed.  The boys just loved it and I am sure it will be perfect for the Crescent Lake community this summer.”­­­

In early June the Friends of Wilson Lake (FOWL) hosted a LakesAlive! session for students of the Wilton Academy.  “I cannot begin to tell you how excited those students were as they stepped off the boat at the end of their session on the water, “ said Sandra Muller,  a FOWL member and close observer of the event, “and a large part of the success of each trip can be attributed to the knowledge and communication skill of Melinda Ann Captain Phil Mulville,” she continued as she explained how Captain Phil is able to connect with each student on board.

The LakesAlive! concept was originally developed over a decade ago and since 2010 has been a major part of the Maine Lakes Society’s multi-faceted effort to improve its capacity to engage both children and adults in understanding and protecting Maine’s lakes. “We have developed this program at a time when our society is seeing alarming declines in children engaged in outdoor activities and experiences that teach them how to care for their environment and how to simply “be” in the natural world,” comments Maggie Shannon, Executive Director of the Maine Lakes society, “and we are particularly pleased to be able to partner with Camp Agawam and the Crescent Lake Watershed Association to bring this wonderful program to the Crescent Lake community.”

According to CLWA’s Susan Gajewski, this is the organization’s first attempt to expand its community outreach to encourage lake health education and stewardship.  “We hope to interest more community members to help us develop creative activities and programs to promote and protect this valuable community resource that is the chain of lakes surrounding our watershed.”
For more information or to register your student for the August LakesAlive! program on Crescent Lake go to www.CrescentLakeMaine.com.

Maine Idea campers from Camp Agawam watch as Captain Phil Mulville explains how and why a dredge is used to take samples of the bottom of Crescent Lake.  This is just one of the hands-on learning experiences aboard the Melinda Ann in mid-June.

First Mate and former Maine IFW scientist Matt Scott discusses the content of bottom samples with Maine Idea campers.