Friday, November 15, 2019

D.A.R.E. to Adventure offers leadership development and opportunities to take safe risks

D.A.R.E students raise funds for their adventures
through their "Labor for Donations", doing yard work
services for the community on a donation basis
By Elizabeth Richards

The Dare to Adventure program at Windham Middle School (WMS) offers students several unique opportunities: to bond with students outside their regular social group; to learn leadership skills; to give back to the community; and to participate in exciting outdoor adventures.

The program, run by Community Service Officer Matt Cyr of the Windham Police Department, is made up of 20 carefully selected students in the seventh and eighth grades.

Every spring, Cyr said, he asks the sixth-grade teachers for nominations of kids who have either demonstrated leadership ability or in whom they have seen potential for leadership. “I want somebody from each social group,” Cyr added. 

Last spring, 75 students were nominated for just nine spots in the program. Of those nominated, 62 chose to participate in an interview for possible selection. After interviews are complete, they make the difficult selection decisions, Cyr said. The group needs to stay small because of the activities they undertake, including an end of year whitewater rafting trip. have different reasons for accepting the invitation to join. Eighth grader Ezra Foster said “I thought it was a really great opportunity and something that is only going to happen once in my life, so I should take it. I knew it was a great program and we do a lot of fun stuff, and it also was something that can help keep you on the right track.”

Cole Heanssler, a seventh grader said he had heard good things about the program and wanted to join because it sounded like a lot of fun. Building leadership skills also appealed to him, he said.
Kathryn Favreau, also in the seventh grade, added “I wanted to get into DARE [to Adventure] because there’s a lot of community service and I love doing stuff like that, and I also love getting outdoors and being adventurous.” 

Having students from many different social groups helps them realize that they can enjoy spending time with other people and build social bridges. The students who participate in DARE to Adventure form a tight-knit community that can carry over into high school as well. 

“It’s a lot of team building stuff, so you get to get closer to everybody in the group and make a lot of new friends,” Foster said.  “I think it really gives you a close tight friend group to go through high school with,” he added.

Ryan Smith, an eighth grader, said “You are engaging with different people you’re not used to and it helps you realize and learn what they like to do.” This often leads to hanging out with them even outside of the program, he said.

The activities in the first few meetings help the students get to know who everyone is and what they like, Favreau said. “Eventually it becomes like your own community and you get to have a lot of people that you’re close to. Going into high school you’re going to have this group that you know you can trust, and it’s something that is valuable,” she said.

The bonds formed in the program are demonstrated by the fact that high school students who were in the program themselves continue to come and work with the group. The experience really does help smooth the transition, these students said. 

Ninth grader Josh Noyes said DARE to Adventure gave him information on what kinds of situations may come up in high school and provided a group of kids that he knew would continue to avoid those situations.  “You always have a friend group you can trust,” he said. 

Daphne Cyr said the transition to high school was easier due to her participation in the program.  “Going to the high school it was easier because we knew what to do in a certain situation, and we had other people we could turn to if something was off.” Both the friends and the knowledge gained from the program made that transition smoother, she said.

To fund the big end of year trip, the group has big fundraising goals.  Noyes said they do this in a number of ways, the biggest of which is Labor for Donations, where students go into the community and do yard work for donations. Other fundraising efforts have included a Christmas Tree Craft Fair and selling concessions at a school dance. 

Members of the group said they like the combined service/fundraising efforts. “It’s nice to raise funds for stuff we need, but also have other people enjoying what we did,” Heanssler said.

Favreau said, “I think it’s really cool to be able to help people and at the same time be raising money for our group for the end of year trip,” she said. 

Asher Knott agreed.  “It’s definitely good because we get to go out and help people, and most people here really like helping out.  You also get to meet new people and it also benefits Dare to Adventure,” he said.

One of the goals of the program, Cyr said, is to help the students influence their peers in positive ways, including avoiding smoking, vaping, and other risky behaviors. “Even if they’re not going to be able to necessarily be the type to tell others not to do that type of thing, if they can at least lead by example that silent leadership is a positive also,” he said.

Students in the program said there can be times when people are picked on because they participate. Favreau said she wants other students to know what the program is about, and to realize that if they get an opportunity to try it, they should give it some thought before saying no.

Heanssler agreed that some people do say things about their participation, but he added that he feels the students in the group are able to not let it bother them. And if other kids see that, he said, they may be able to do the same in other situations. 

Cyr said that the teasing about being part of the program shifts from year to year, but he works to build resiliency skills among the students. “The reality is that these kids have done nothing but say yes to an opportunity, and because they’ve said yes to that opportunity, they’ve had a lot of benefits that have come out of that.” They also have the opportunity to do things a lot of other students won’t have a chance to do, such as whitewater kayaking or whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and the ropes course. 

Twenty years of leading the program has allowed Cyr to form lifelong friendships. Some former students have gone on to become Maine Guides, law enforcement officers, and leaders in the military.  “It’s just been really cool to watch that progression and I would like to think that some of what they took from here did help them in their future lives,” he said.

Windham Area Clergy Association host third annual community Thanksgiving celebration

There will be a 50 to 50 person choir from various churches
performing at this year's community Thanksgiving
By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Area Clergy Association (WACA) invites the Windham, Raymond, Standish and greater Sebago Lakes communities to its third annual ecumenical community Thanksgiving service which will be hosted this year by St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road in Windham.

The observances will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26 and will consist of music and prayer from each participating church with a 50-60-person choir finale performed by the combined all-church choir and directed by Dr. Richard Nickerson. This year will include a special guest; the Rev. Thomas James Brown who was recently elected in February and consecrated in June as the 10th Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Maine.

“The purpose of this yearly Thanksgiving service is to encourage the community to come together and give thanks to the Lord for the blessings we’ve received from God as a community,” explained Rev. Tim Higgins, Rector of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and member of WACA.

It will be the first time that the ecumenical Thanksgiving service will be held at St Ann’s. “We are delighted to host this year’s community service for the first time in three years,” stated Higgins. “And we [WACA] are very excited that Bishop Brown has accepted our invitation and will be a part of this year’s Thanksgiving service.”
Higgins also explained the word, “ecumenical” and the purpose of WACA: “We are a group of interdenominational churches that cooperate on matters of mutual concern. We work together so that our communities will thrive in love, spirit, hope and trust through common worship, fellowship and outreach.”

The first ecumenical gathering of Thanksgiving hosted by WACA occurred in 2017 was held at North Windham United Church of Christ which was followed by the second annual service hosted by Windham’s Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.

“We are honored to host this year’s community Thanksgiving gathering,” Higgins said. “We are especially excited to have Bishop Thomas Brown to be a part of this service, we are told that Bishop Brown will concentrate on the Gospel according to Matthew Ch.6:25-34.  We do not know what wisdom he will share with us, but we are all looking forward to hearing him preach for the first time in the Greater Windham community.”

For those who wish to do so, goodwill offerings such as paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, diapers, toothbrushes, and other non-perishable food items will be accepted as part of the community service.

“The goodwill offerings will go to the St. Ann’s Episcopal Church’s Essential Pantry,” stated Higgins. “The Essential Pantry, coordinated by deacon Wendy Rozene of St. Ann’s, accepts all donations that are not available for folks on their EBT cards. We have also begun to give out non-perishable food items. As these items are collected during the service, they will go toward St. Ann's Pantry and be distributed to members of the community the last Saturday of the month.”

Briefly, Bishop Brown received his Master of Divinity from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, an Episcopal Church seminary in Berkeley, California. He has served as rector of St. Michael Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, Vermont, and as the director of alumni and church relations at CDSP. Bishop Brown has held many leadership positions in The Episcopal Church and in the Diocese of Massachusetts and is currently chair of the Church Pension Fund’s board of trustees.

In addition to St Ann’s Episcopal Church, the other churches providing choir numbers and contemplative services throughout the year include Windham Hill United Church of Christ, North Windham United Church of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and Faith Lutheran Church.

As for WACA: “We began meeting as a group in the Spring of 2016,” said Higgins. “The idea is for area clergy to gather monthly and share our concerns and joys and to support one another in ministry. 

As an organization, we want to remain aware of the community’s needs so as to be able to react appropriately to any tragedies or difficulties the community may experience. This past spring we were able to respond with a clothing drive between the churches when 400 asylum seekers landed in Portland at the Expo.”

For more information regarding the ecumenical community Thanksgiving service, future community events or if you are a clergy from any denomination from the Windham and Raymond areas and would like to participate in WACA, contact Rev. Higgins at 632-4046 or

Institute for Integrative Aging fosters a sense of community among young and old alike

The Institute for Integrative Aging (IIA) at Saint Joseph’s College hosted its first potluck for community members belonging to the Silver Sneakers program on November 1st of this year.

The harvest-themed gathering was held in Xavier Hall, the nearly century-old
Tudar-style estate located on campus that overlooks Sebago Lake. The Silver Sneakers
program, a nationally recognized health and fitness program developed by Tivity Health,
is just one aspect of the IIA.

“Our Silver Sneakers program is like no other as we are not only focusing on fitness, we are creating an environment that fosters a sense of community. Friendships and camaraderie among participants contribute to the overall feel” stated Heather DiYenno, Director of the program. “Our aim is to create an age-friendly intergenerational learning environment with a variety of enriching social and educational activities. We strive to include meaning, growth, involvement and sustainability in our curriculum.”

“I feel that a community is forming, and I am very happy to be a part of it. It’s nice to
have special events like this to look forward to,” stated one of the participants, Sheila Donahue
One added benefit of IIA is that students on campus are better prepared to support the aging population. Through a combination of innovative and experiential learning modalities, interpersonal relationships are formed between students and older adults on campus. We saw this in motion when a young man entered Xavier Hall carrying bags of food and a casserole for a community member. 

Consistent with the mission of the College, attendees not only brought along stunning casseroles, crockpots, and desserts, they also provided nonperishable items which were then donated to
the Standish Food Pantry.

Blossoms of Windham, a known entity within the community, donated a beautiful
centerpiece that was raffled as a door prize; Stephanie Bubier was the lucky recipient!

Before the memory fades: Surrounded (literally) by schoolhouse history as one family looks back

By Walter Lunt

This is the second in a two-part series

One-room schoolhouses of the 19th and early 20th centuries were often named after prominent families living in the neighborhood. Typical of the practice, the Bodge School was one of the earliest stand-alone schoolhouses in Windham. It was located along the southwest stretch of present-day Highland Cliff Road near Alwebber Road.

Uncovering schoolhouse history
Town records indicate Bodge School was probably closed in 1927 but fail to reveal when it was built. In her 1999 book “Memories of Windham”, historian Kay Soldier wrote that by 1798 there were eight school districts serving the settled neighborhoods of Windham, and “By 1814 there were 14 districts (serving) a growing community and its continued concern about education.” From this, we can perhaps conclude that Bodge School (a.k.a. District #9 school) began in the very early 1800s.

One researcher, however, has recently placed the build as early as 1792.

In one way, according to Windham resident Gary Plummer and his sister Becky (Plummer) Delaware, Bodge School still exists (The Windham Eagle, November 1, 2019 – “The recycling of a Windham one-room schoolhouse”). As explained in part one of this series, Gary and Becky’s father, Bill Plummer, paid $100 for the abandoned schoolhouse in 1934. He disassembled it and used the materials to build a home for his family (wife Helen and children Duane, Gary and Becky) on route 202 near Newhall Road.

Furniture from the Bodge School was recently donated to the Windham Historical Society by another Windham family, and this sparked in Gary and Becky a renewed interest in the old Bodge schoolhouse. Both began researching.

From old maps, Plummer pinpointed the old school’s location: the intersection of Highland Cliff Road and the (old) Dole Road.

Explained Plummer, “The Dole Road (now discontinued) connected River Road and Highland Cliff Road (and ran) parallel to Alwebber Road. The school served the Bodge neighborhood which encompassed the area on Highland Cliff between Montgomery Road and Canada Hill.”

Plummer also learned that the many Bodge families in the early years were farmers, cabinet makers,
Items found at the schoolhouse site that include square cut nails
Indian head penny, hammer head and more.
and a minister. “Thomas Bodge, Jr. was a teacher and regarded as ‘a fine mathematician.’”
The first Bodge, John, came here in 1742 and married Rebecca Chute, daughter of Windham’s (New Marblehead) first settler, Thomas Chute. They had seven children. Many of the Bodge family members are buried in the Chase Cemetery on Highland Cliff Road.

From old town reports and other sources, Becky Delaware came up with information that gives us a more intimate look into the history of Bodge School:

From the town report (TR), 1887 – a school official reported, “school houses should become the property of the town…so schools are more equal. Truancy laws should be put in effect. $3.80 spent per pupil for 701 pupils in Windham.”

From TR, 1903 – “Bodge teacher Mildred Brown was paid $5.00 per week for spring term and $6.00 per week for winter and fall terms (length of service varied among terms). Three and a quarter cords of hard wood supplied at $4.96 a cord. Outhouses…are a disgrace.”

From TR, 1917, “Bodge School in good repair.”

From TR, 1924, “Bodge had interior paint, paper and whiting.”

From TR, 1925, “Miss Brown left Bodge School. Effie Goodick taught for a salary of $720.00. 

Enrollment (1923-24) = 17 – Average attendance = 8.7.”

From TR, 1926, the superintendent recorded “Bodge (and several other schools) need to be improved…to meet state standards…They are very old, low, small buildings, poorly lighted and poorly located with no playgrounds (and) too few pupils in each grade to provide competition that would create best work.”

By the 1950s, Windham operated only six schools. They were J.A. Andrew (which served the needs of the former Bodge neighborhood), Newhall School, Friends School, Field-Allen School, Arlington School and a high school.

A few of the old one-room schoolhouses are still around, reconstructed and renovated into homes. Or in the case of the Plummer family, a home recycled from an old schoolhouse.

Also, on the grounds of the Windham Historical Society’s Village Green at Windham Center sits a replica of a Windham one-room schoolhouse where present-day elementary school classes are invited  to dress like “the olden days” and experience a school day much like that of the 19th century, including the use of quill pens, McGuffey Readers and good old-fashioned practice in ciphering (math skills).

All this, just so the memory doesn’t fade… too much.  

Friday, November 8, 2019

Fighting for lower property taxes

By Senator Bill Diamond

It’s something I hear all the time — at community events, football games, when I’m checking out at  
the grocery store — people want to know what I’m doing to lower their property taxes.

The truth is high property taxes hurt all of us: They stifle business growth and drive up rents. They make it harder for people to buy their first home and start building equity and credit. They are an additional burden on family budgets that are already stretched thin. Seniors on fixed incomes can find themselves in a position where they can’t afford to keep living in the home they’ve been in their whole lives.

It’s just not fair.

Of course, there has to be a balance. Towns and cities need revenue to provide services like police, fire departments, ambulance, road maintenance, schools and more, and by law they have very few options outside of property taxes for raising that revenue. But there are things the state can do to ease this burden on property taxpayers.

This year, in the Legislature, we took some steps to tackle high property taxes. Specifically, we passed a bipartisan budget, without raising income or sales taxes, that provides $130 million in new and expanded property tax relief programs.

Most homeowners are probably familiar with the Homestead Exemption program, which allows qualifying homeowners to reduce the assessed value of their home by $20,000 when they pay their property taxes, in order to lower their overall property tax bill. It’s available to anyone who has lived in the home they own for more than a year, and all you have to do to sign up is fill out a short application at your town office. This year, the Legislature increased the deduction amount from $20,000 to $25,000, which takes effect for property tax years starting on or after April 1, 2020. We also authorized a $100 refund from the state to be paid out to anyone who qualified for the Homestead Exemption on or before April 1, 2019. Those checks will be sent out in January and February.

The Property Tax Fairness Credit is another program from the state that provides relief to certain low-income property taxpayers. The program allows folks who qualify to receive a refundable income tax credit for the property taxes they paid in a given year, up to $750, or $1,200 for qualifying seniors over the age of 65. In the latest budget, we expanded the eligibility of this program to cover more people. That change takes effect in 2020, so you should check to see if you qualify when you file your income taxes for that year.

Finally, in the latest budget, the legislature also increased the amount of money paid directly to towns and cities through revenue sharing and school funding, to help them cover their costs and take some of that burden off property taxpayers.

These changes move us in the right direction, and I promise to keep fighting for lower property taxes in coming years.

As always, please feel free to contact me or my office with any questions, comments or concerns. You can call (207) 287-1515 or email me at It’s a pleasure to serve as your state senator.

Local parent teacher organizations, associations and businesses work together for safety of school children

By Lorraine Glowczak

Children’s safety has become an issue in the Windham and Raymond communities as students wait at the end of their driveways and roadways to enter the buses that take them to school. In recent weeks, parents have recorded on their cell phones and shared on social media – the many drivers who have sped past a stopped school bus. The bus, with its blinking lights; stop sign extended is indicating the driver to stop so young students can cross the road safely and enter the bus. Unfortunately, many drivers have not stopped, as required by law – putting our children’s well-being at risk.  

RSU14 parent organizations, associations and businesses in both Windham and Raymond schools are gathering to create a solution. Together, they are raising funds to install “arms” extending the flashing stop sign on buses, so it makes it more apparent – and more difficult – for drivers to speed past a stopped bus.“When it comes to the safety of kids it makes absolute sense to combine resources and join with other likeminded groups, organizations and businesses to ensure the greatest impact is made for not only the RSU14 system but in other communities as well,” stated Ernesta Kennedy, Windham PTA President.

As a result, the organizations have decided to collaborate, starting a fundraiser to put the extended stop arms on the buses. The Windham PTA and Odyssey Angels as well as the Raymond PTO, along with the RSU14 and the towns, are working together to help with this problem. 

According to their newly developed fundraising website, Operation: Stop Arm, it is stated: “For many parents and residents, our biggest concerns are that of the safety of our children, however the safety of them getting on and off the bus shouldn’t have to be one of those concerns.”

Kennedy explained that drivers not stopping for school buses is a major problem in Windham and have created a solution. “We are raising money to purchase 15 extended stop arms for the RSU14 buses. Donations of any size will help, and every dollar raised is one more bus closer to our goal!

As stated on the website, the cost per bus is $2,100 and the total PTA/PTO fundraising goal $32,250.
To get involved and provide funds to keep the RSU14 students safe, make a financial contribution to: or contact Ernesta Kennedy at

Manchester school students celebrate National Farm to School Movement

By Joe McNerney

Hands were washed and chef hats were on as fourth and fifth grade students entered the cafeteria. In the middle of many tables, freshly grown carrots were set and ready to be used. This is what the scene looked like on Monday, November 4 at Manchester School. In a recent press release, it was announced that the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry and the Maine Department of Education teamed up with the Manchester School to promote the growing farm-to-school movement in Maine.

“The students participated in a day of activities to celebrate growing, harvesting and eating local food. The event was designed to raise awareness about the importance of local food, school gardens and the relationship schools are developing with local farms to provide fresh, quality fruits, vegetables and produce to Maine schools,” stated the press release. Sanborn, fourth grade teacher, explained how the food is grown by the students. “We tend to the hoop house all school year,” she said. “Students help maintain and pick vegetables and sometimes we are able to send the food home that has been produced by the student for students in need.”

Briefly, a hoop house is a form of greenhouse that consist of a series of large hoops or bows—made of metal, plastic pipe or wood covered by heavy plastic. It is heated by the sun and cooled by the wind. Although winter is coming, and some students may be less than thrilled to trudge through snow, they will none the less keep up on the hoop house. 

Ryan Roderick, head chef and nutrition coordinator for and Jeanne Reilly, director of school nutrition,
led the educational sessions with the students. During the class, students from fourth and fifth grades made fresh curried carrot soup and carrot muffins. 

Students had the opportunity to wash, peel, chop carrots and onions as well as sauté the vegetables. For the muffins, students grated carrots, measured and mixed the ingredients and portioned them into muffin cups. At the end of the class, students and teachers all were able to try the soup and muffins made with carrots from their school garden and fully experience what the farm-to-school experience is all about.

“It was refreshing to see young faces so excited about cooking,” stated Pam Lanz who had worked with the school for 21 years as a guidance counselor prior to taking up her post as garden leader. “Many of the students are hesitant to try most of the vegetables. However, when peers try, they are more likely to give it a chance.”

Once the ingredients were ready, some students prepared muffins while the others prepared the carrot curry soup. Which was garnished with Greek yogurt and chives.
Students all agreed and said with pride after eating the food they had prepared, “The food tasted better because we cooked it.”

Teaching kids at a young age that there is value to growing and making your own food is outstanding. It teaches the art of horticulture and self-sustainability. “Many of our students tale home what they learn,” Sanborn said. “They share it with parents and hopefully they in turn will start gardening more.”

Lanz quickly agreed, “We want to make backyard farmers out of them all.”

The Manchester School is one of the more than 400 Maine schools that participate in a farm-to-school program. The event was designed to raise awareness about the importance of local food, school gardens and the relationship schools are developing with local farms to provide fresh, quality fruits, vegetables and produce to Maine schools.