Friday, May 18, 2018

Faculty Spotlight on Patricia Valley by Matt Pascarella

Patricia Valley is an eighth-grade teacher at Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond. She knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was six years old and it was a passion that steadily grew through her school years.

Valley has taught every grade from second to eighth throughout her career. A Californian by birth,
she graduated from UCLA in 1981 and taught for one year in Long Beach. After her first year of teaching, she applied to the Department of Defense (DOD). “When I was in high school, I had a friend whose father was an American diplomat in Brazil,” Valley explained. “He told me about his elementary years attending international schools. The idea appealed to me to teach overseas and learn about other cultures, so I applied to the DOD after my first year of teaching. I told the interviewer that I was available for worldwide placement. I was offered a job in Goeppingen, Germany, which was my home for six years and a base for many travels throughout Europe. 

While there, she taught on an Army base and worked with the children of the American soldiers. She also taught an after-school dance program for elementary and middle school students. her educational adventure in Germany, Valley returned to the United States, landing in South Portland and accepting a position as a sixth-grade teacher at Jordan-Small Middle School and is now in her 29th year. Since she had grown up and lived in the suburbs not far from Los Angeles, “commuting on Route 302 from South Portland felt like the road less traveled,” Valley jokes.
For years she bounced between teaching fifth and sixth grade at Jordan Small School, but after a teacher, and dear friend of hers, retired in approximately 2011, it allowed her to the opportunity to work with eighth graders.

Although challenging, Valley is very grateful that she gets to teach and spend time with future NASA engineers, business owners, emergency medical technicians, carpenters, pediatricians, artists and experts in technologies that are yet to be invented.

She shares her passion for learning with the students and her passion for teaching with her colleagues. Valley feels like she has hit the jackpot when she sees a student realize they can do something very difficult.

Valley, who is an only child, finds family in her four Maine cousins and their spouses as well as her mother, aunt and last but not least - her husband. Valley enjoys dancing and spending time with friends and family during her downtime.

Lake Region Knights of Columbus chili and chowder cook-off results

The Lake Region Knights of Columbus held their third annual Chili/Chowder Cook-Off in Windham on May 5th. The cook-off attracted 15 local home chefs and over 100 attendees from the Lake Region. The winner in the Chowder Cook-Off is Brian Hannon of Windham and the winner in the Chili Cook-Off is Mary Champi of Windham. Over $500 was raised for a Seminarian studying to serve in the Diocese of Portland Maine. The Lake Region Knights serve people and groups in need in Bridgton, Fryeburg, Naples, Casco, Raymond, Windham and Standish.
George Lariviere and Brian Hannon
George Lariviere and Mary Champi

Raymond-Casco Historical Society seeks museum visitors and new members by Elizabeth Richards

After the devastating loss of their one-room schoolhouse to arson last month, the Raymond-Casco Historical Society (RCHS) has formed a committee to explore what their next steps will be. President Frank McDermott said the committee was going to begin meeting immediately, with the hope of having recommendations for the full society (which may include rebuilding the schoolhouse) by their regular meeting on the second Monday in June.

The RCHS had been talking about moving the schoolhouse to the museum to be able to have it open more often, but they never got the chance. Losing the schoolhouse and its contents was a big disappointment, but McDermott said it may also energize the declining membership to make a commitment to do something.

If they do decide to rebuild, he said, he’d like to do it in a way that allows for community involvement, like a “barn-raising” event. Though the building isn’t a sophisticated design, because of the time period in which it was built, in 1849, it would have taken a fair amount of time to complete, McDermott said. said that he’d like to offer people a chance to take part in the construction using some of those older methods – taking down a tree, stripping it of bark, and creating boards – to give people a feeling of what it was actually like doing that sort of work in the 1800s.

Membership in the RCHS has been declining – and they aren’t alone, McDermott said. Historical societies across the country are facing similar challenges, impacted by the busy lives people lead and the changing times we live in. One factor, he said, is that towns don’t have as many “old” families – those that have lived in the town for multiple generations. There are a couple in Raymond, and a few more in Casco, McDermott said, but they’re falling by the wayside. “So, what happens is you get a community that has no connections to its past,” McDermott said.

The schoolhouse allowed people to better understand what a one-room schoolhouse was like. It also was an opportunity to give children a historical perspective, allowing them to experience what being in a one-room schoolhouse was like, as opposed to the modern schools of today, McDermott said.

“Preserving whatever we have is vitally important,” said McDermott. And that includes the society itself. RCHS was started by Ernest Knight, who put out a monthly newsletter and wrote many books on the history of Raymond and the surrounding area. The newsletter told the story of Raymond and Casco, with interesting tidbits on the town and the people who lived there. “It kept people enthused and we had a lot of members back then, but like everything else, it died off over time and no one seems to be willing to take their place,” said McDermott.

As it stands now, the RCHS has difficulty finding enough volunteers to keep the museum open two days per week in the summer. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, the museum is open Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. They used to also open on Wednesdays but are currently unable to find volunteers for those hours.
Even when the museum is open, it’s tricky to find business, McDermott said. “If we can get people to come in, they’re amazed at the things that we have there. It’s getting them to come through the door.”
One way they attract business is by exposing children to the museum as part of a class trip. They love the experience, McDermott said, and often return with siblings and parents.
The RCHS has not only the main museum building, but a barn full of exhibits as well. And landlord Skip Watkins also has an antique car barn on site that visitors can tour. There is no entrance fee.
The RCHS meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month, except August and December. In the summer, meetings are held at the museum on Route 302 just before the Naples line. Winter meetings are held at the Raymond Public Safety Building. New members are always welcome. Membership dues are $15 individual/$20 family per year.

A matter of historical record: Babb’s Covered Bridge is now graffiti-free by Walter Lunt

The irksome images resulting from graffiti along the inside walls of Babb’s Bridge may be a thing of the past. The span connects the towns of Windham and Gorham over the Presumpscot River. Drivers and pedestrians passing through the wooden structure have long rued the crude inscriptions created by thoughtless and, some say, self-centered vandals.

The “art,” anonymous first names and colorful language have been met with reluctant acceptance for
generations. But following the 2016 Maine Department of Transportation restoration of the bridge, some residents banded together to discuss ways to discourage the return of graffiti on the new, clean walls.

“If you leave (the graffiti), that says it’s okay to do it,” said bridge preservation activist Gary Plummer of Windham. He and others from Gorham and the state D.O.T. brainstormed ways to keep the historic span graffiti-free. Ideas included surveillance cameras, routine volunteer patrols and the application of a special solvent that resists paint. In the end, it was decided that a combination of willful surveillance and an immediate re-paint (over the graffiti) might discourage the return of the stealthy “artists.” Apparently, it has worked well for nearly a year.

Plummer says the walls received a coat of beige colored stain last spring. Now, as soon as the phantom literature re-appears, volunteers paint over it. The result, especially to those accustomed to the graffiti, is stunning. Even third graders from Windham Primary School commented on the clean, fresh look of the bridge’s interior as they toured the structure on a history field trip recently.

Plummer credits many in the determined effort to eliminate the unsightly images, including Gorham residents Guy and Janice Lebrecque, the Windham legislative delegation, the state D.O.T. and other interested citizens.

With summer just around the corner, round two of the “Keeping It Clean” campaign begins. 

Plummer, who visits the bridge site regularly, says the wooden span receives a steady stream of visitors all summer, some swimming, some just enjoying the serenity of the water and the woodsy environment and out-of-staters posing and taking pictures. He encourages the activity.

“The more eyes on the bridge, the better;” And he adds that police from both towns have stepped up patrols of the area.

In the past 45 years, Babb’s Bridge has experienced two potential end-of-life calamities. Arsonists destroyed the ancient span in 1973. Saddened and concerned citizens from the two towns joined with the Maine D.O.T. to build an exact replica. Then, more recently, swimmers cut holes in a wall and in the roof of the structure to accommodate their high jumps into the water. Rot quickly set in. And, on further inspection, it was discovered that support stones on the bridge’s abutment had separated. Re-setting and cement were needed. An extensive overhaul ensued in 2016.

Historians disagree on the age of the bridge. Some place the time of construction in the 1700s. However, Joseph Conwill, author of “Maine’s Covered Bridges” (Images of America – 2003), notes “The historical record is never complete . . . (bridge) history is spottily recorded.” He places the construction of Babb’s Bridge (as a covered bridge) as 1864.

Maine once had more than 100 covered bridges. Only nine remain. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Faculty spotlight on Deborah McAfee by Matt Pascarella

Deborah McAfee has been working at Windham High for 21 years. Her first position was as the principal, holding that position for 14 years until she stepped down to heal from cancer. She returned as assistant principal and has held that position since 2011.

McAfee will soon be retiring – not because she is a quitter but because she is a fighter in the toughest
Thank you for your service in education, Deborah McAfee
sense of the word. Her cancer has returned and despite the fact that she loves her career in education, she says it’s time to take care of herself.

McAfee became interested in education because she admired her home economics teacher in middle school. As a result, she majored in home economics at the University of Maine at Farmington. Her first teaching job was at the Maine Youth Center, now the Long Creek Youth Development Center.

To further her career in education, she became fascinated with the idea of becoming a principal after working with several principals at the Maine Youth Center. She wanted to have more of a voice within her school, having more impact as an educator. McAfee took graduate courses at the University of Southern Maine and got a degree in educational leadership.

Her first job as an assistant principal was at Mount Valley in the late 1980s. In the early 1990s she accepted the position as assistant principal at Waterville High School. In the late 1990s, she got her first job as a principal at Medomak Valley High School. McAfee wanted to work in the Greater Portland Area and applied to be principal in Windham, where she was accepted. She came to Windham High for the 1996-1997 school year and has been here ever since.

McAfee enjoys being in the district because it’s a collective community where connections with staff and faculty are made with students. That connection makes a difference and often leads to service to the community. Kids go off to college and are part of service organizations, or they’ll come back to the high school coaching when their kids come through. “It’s a community thing here in Windham; I think it’s something kids take…with them,” she states.

McAfee is the oldest of four children. She has two brothers and one sister. McAfee has a lot of nieces and nephews and spends time with them during the summers.

During retirement, McAfee plans to get back to gardening, sewing; visiting museums and seeing plays – you’ll probably see her at the occasional varsity game, too.

For McAfee working at the high school has been wonderful. She thinks of it as home.
We, here at The Windham Eagle Newspaper, wish her the best in her retirement years and that they are long, happy and healthy.

Local playwright presents newly published “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep”

Jerry Walker

Jerry Walker grew up in Standish where there was little encouragement to become a published
playwright and theater director. But that did not deter Walker from achieving those goals. Today, his is a well-known face among local theater circles and he has become a highly respected playwright and director throughout Maine. On Friday, June 1 through Sunday, June 3, Walker will present “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep,” one of his favorite and recently published creations at the Schoolhouse Arts Center.

“Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” is a one act play exploring rural American high school life, as seen through the eyes of Julie, a young student. The play lives through its memorable and realistic teenage characters. Julie’s struggle to get through life day-to-day, with a detached alcoholic mom and absent dad, is brightened by her exuberant, hopeful best friend, Lexie.

Scene by scene with gentle humor, the characters remind the audience of the feelings of having that first boyfriend, not getting picked for the team, being fat, being the smart student, being the boy who is good at ballet, getting suspended from school, being too short to attract girls and not fitting in with any of the cliques. The play reminds us that high school is often referred to as “the best four years of our lives.” It often is; but that four-year trek is also dangerous and confusing.

The acting crew taking a moment from rehearsal
It brings to the stage all of the things that young people need to know, want to ask, get stressed-out and complain about. Those seeing the play, will be reminded of the familiar feelings of teen angst and adolescence, many moments of pleasant memory, deep identity issues, shocking surprise and utter devastation as their onstage ‘child’ reaches out for comfort, help, direction and approval; wanting to belong to something or someone.

The scenes and monologues in this on-target theatrical performance will have you laughing one second and crying the next. The play is about teens and how each action or word spoken by anyone has either a positive or negative effect on someone else, even oneself. We come to find that no word or deed is harmless or without consequence. Adults and youth alike will see themselves in the halls of this imaginary school, in the lives of its students, and in their hopes and shattered dreams. “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” is a memorable and timeless play which is more relevant than ever in our current age of bullying, school gun violence and increasing teen depression. 

Walker went to school in the very building where he will be presenting his play. He originally wrote “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” in 1997. It was presented for the first time at the Northern Maine One Act Play Festival in 199 and went on to compete at the Maine State One Act Festival. It repeated this fete at state-wide competition again in 2007.

The play has been performed numerous times throughout Maine, including Biddeford City Theater, UNE Theater Ensemble, Western Maine One Act Festival, Eastern Maine One Act Festival and many high schools throughout the state. This June’s performance of “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” will be debuting as a newly published play in 2018, through special arrangement with Leicester Bay Theatricals of Newport Maine (

Schoolhouse Arts Center is a non-profit, community-driven organization dedicated to arts education and the presentation of the arts.

How to get involved in 2018 Memorial Day celebrations by Dave Tanguay

It's hard to believe that Memorial Day will be here in the next few weeks. The American Legion Field-Allen Post 148 invites the community to the Windham Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 28. The day will include events and ceremonies that will involve the Post’s 80th Anniversary Celebration of serving veterans in Windham.

This year, the Post hopes that the parade and the turnout will be the largest in several generations. 
There are a few things that can help in supporting this effort.  

First, if you would like to march or host a float in the parade to support veterans, please contact the Post at 892-1306.  Second, there are a number of veterans who no longer can march in the parade. Anyone who has a convertible vehicle and is willing to volunteer to carry a passenger or two in the parade would be most welcome contact the Post.

The Post Memorial Day Ceremony includes a Tolling of the Bell to honor the town's veterans who have passed away over the last year (from May 2017 to May 2018). If anyone is aware of a Windham Veteran that has passed away during this period please contact us. The following is a list of departed Veterans currently on file with the Post:

Thomas Levign, Roland Libby, Bernard Gardner, Kenneth Atherton, Edward Ahearn, Duane Heffron, Fred Collins, John S. Rollins, Gerald Bell, Gary Lombard, Robert Tofannell, Thomas Joyce Jr., Merle “Bo” Bowman Jr., Peter Dugas, Michael DeSimon, Raymond Kelso, Charles Spencer, Frank L. Lailer, John Williams, Jeffery Smith, Scott Briggs.

Please contact the Post Adjutant, Dave Tanguay (892-1306) if you can provide an entry in the parade, a vehicle to support a veteran or have additional names to be included for the Bell Tolling.