Friday, August 17, 2018

Tree Talk: BioBased Economy by Robert Fogg

I recently attended a meeting, locally, where a group of people were advocating for more BioBased Manufacturing in Maine. I’ve been on this bandwagon for a while now, so anything I can do to help nudge the state in that direction, I am likely to do. It seems a shame to me that we have this incredible forest resource, but we have struggled to innovate our way to creating new uses for it. 

Take heat for example. Heat is a big deal in Maine for a good 6 months of the year. We have enough energy in our forests to heat every building in the state many times over, yet we are still dependent on fossil-based heating oil, much of which has been imported from halfway around the world. 

Wood can be harnessed for heat in multiple ways. It can be used in its raw form as firewood (and modern wood stoves are a far cry from their smoky and inefficient ancestors) or it can be converted to pellets or bricks, to be used in automated heating systems, or even liquid fuel that will burn in your existing boiler.

I, for one, would like to see us find a way to break the grip that “outside oil” has on us and turn it around so that we are the ones utilizing and exporting “Maine-Made BioHeat” and bringing that wealth into the state rather than it leaving.

There’s also transportation fuel. Wood can be converted into a number of different transportation fuels. Fuels that will burn in the cars and trucks we drive today. This will definitely happen eventually, once the price of fossil fuel goes through the roof, but why wait? Why not start down that road now, while we still have reserves of fossil fuel that can be saved for critical uses. 

And then there’s plastic. Yes, wood can be turned into a biodegradable replacement for plastic.  Is it ideal in every situation? Probably not. Can it be manufactured as cheaply as our current non-biodegradable plastics? No it can’t, but it could help save the environment. 

There are hundreds of other products that can be made from wood, and Maine is positioned to be a leader in the manufacture of these alternative products,  …if we can only figure out ways to make it happen.

The Author is General Manager of Naples-based Q-Team Tree Service and is a Licensed Arborist. You can contact him at 207-693-3831 or at

Using the Common Application to research colleges and apply for admission by Suzanne Hatfield

The 2018-2019 Common Application is now available to help you with every aspect of the college application process. Get started now by creating your Common App account. The personal profile information you will enter in your account includes your email address. It will become your user name and the Common App’s primary method of sending you updates and reminders so you don’t miss a college application deadline.

The Common App allows prospective college students to choose from over 800 colleges and universities in order to find institutions that meet their personal and academic needs based on type, location, size, programs of study, etc.

Click on the “College Search” tab to find colleges that are right for you. Just add to your “My College List” as you find each college of interest.

An important step in preparing to apply to colleges is to understand the application process for each school of interest. The 2018-2019 Requirement Grid of the Common App lists the college types, deadlines, fees and requirements for first-year college applicants. The Requirement Tracker Worksheet, which can be downloaded, helps you keep track of the various application requirements for each college to which you may apply. learn which institutions accept the Common Application for transfer students and what their specific Also, be advised that some institutions charge different fees for students from the U.S. and their international applicants. Consult the website for each college of interest for specific information and instructions.
requirements are, transfer students should go to

The general application information will remain constant for your list of schools using the Common App. This information, once entered, can be used to apply to multiple schools across the world. Start gathering and entering a copy of your high school transcript, a list of your extracurricular activities (both in school and outside of school), test scores and test dates from college entrance exams (ACTs, SATs, SAT Subject Tests), as well as parent/legal guardian information (educational background, occupational information, employer information, etc.). The Application Dictionary included in the Common App helps you understand the lingo used in the college application process.

Getting started in the college application process using the Common App isn’t difficult. The “Applications Solutions Center” and the “Virtual Counselor” features will answer any questions you may have. Staying organized is easy when you use the Common App’s new companion app for mobile devices, Common App onTrack, available for iOS and Android devices. The app lets the user view each college application deadline and submission status, add and invite recommenders for college admission, and create personal lists of tasks and reminders.

The Common Application’s “Applicant Support Portal” provides timely information on topics that vary from the 2018-2019 Common App’s essay prompts to information concerning the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). You can learn more about the GDPR by visiting or

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

Bringing the outdoor garden inside for the fall and winter by Gayle Plummer

No one wants to use the word “winter” at this point in time. However, as this month will go screaming by us, we will soon find ourselves in the middle of September. Now is the best time to eyeball your garden plants to figure out which ones you may want to bring in. Bringing in a few helps to make the house cheery in fall/winter; not to mention boosting our spirits by having something blooming inside all winter.

For any who truly love their gardens, you already know about the boost a blossoming plant can give when you have a few inside during the gray days of winter. Also, for those of us who enjoy the gardening process itself – this allows us to trim, feed and fuss over our plants over the long winter; no bugs, no heat, no sunburns.

So, now while you are deadheading and weeding for the last time you may want to pre-plan which plant(s) you’d like to have inside. Maybe you’ve completely enjoyed that coleus this summer. Trim/shape it back now to give it a nice size and let it adjust to the trimming before putting it into a pot to bring in.

Be sure to keep it watered well so it won’t be under any stress when you dig it up to re-pot it. Another word about trimming and shaping: Size. Since most houses can only tolerate small to medium size pots, you may want to trim your plant back quite a lot now. This will thicken it up and stop it from becoming too leggy and droopy looking. You can do this a time or two during the winter as well – to keep it looking smart and to stimulate more growth and blossoms.

Be sure to water it well and often once brought inside, as our heated houses tend to dry plants quickly. Also you’ll want to feed the plants at least two or three times during the fall/winter to get all the blooms you can. following is the method that has worked well for me when bringing plants inside: Be sure to transplant your choices into their pots in September and no later. Then leave them outside where you can see them and remember to water them often. By leaving them outside for a few weeks during fall there is little (if any) shock to the plant. I like to keep my new transplants quite moist while they adjust to being back in a pot. Bring them inside while the weather is still warm enough to have house windows open, as they are still getting the outside air. This also keeps them from suffering any shock from being brought in and it makes for a nice, easy transition from outside to inside for them.

I am listing a few here that have typically done very well for me when approaching the transplanting this way. I won’t say that I have 100 percent success 100 percent of the time.  However, about 90-95 percent of the time I get to enjoy my plants all winter and sometimes I have even re-planted a few back outside in the spring. 
My very favorite to bring in are snapdragons, I have a high success rate with them. Also, the coleus plants do well; they will need trimming in winter to keep a nice shape. Put the trimmings in water to root out for more! I have even done lavender plants (trim them back fairly hard now and they will do well in a sunny window all winter). Other good choices are the shorter zinnias, petunias (with the smaller sized blossoms), and most any of the herbs. And of course the geraniums do very well. I usually bring in all of the geraniums, put them in a nice sunny window and enjoy. Geraniums do like to have their yellow leaves snipped off and keep them deadheaded to get maximum flower blossoms. 

By February cut them back a bit, don’t feed them and let them rest until mid-March, then feed them and they’re ready to go again. 

Enjoy your indoor gardens.

Book Review of “All the Living” by C.E. Morgan. Review by Jennifer Dupree

C.E. Morgan’s debut novel is fiercely beautiful. The language is clear, precise and evocative of the landscape within the novel. The story itself is a love story, in a way. 

The novel opens when Aloma returns with Orren to his family’s farm after an accident kills his brother and mother. Orren needs to prove—to the town and to himself—that he can handle what he has never been taught to manage. Aloma, orphaned as a child, goes with Orren in order to begin anew.

Their love is not easy. She is a talented pianist, but he doesn’t understand her need for music. He struggles with the drought, but she doesn’t grasp his desperation. Neither Orren nor Aloma want people in town to know they aren’t married and when that fact is revealed, it brings with it a hefty shame.

As the novel unfolds, it seems as though these two might only have passion in common—and they have plenty of that. But, as their communication breaks down and as they grow more tired, confused and lonely, we wonder if their young love will survive.

This book is not in any way a typical romance novel (if there even is such a thing). Orren and Aloma are young and in love but their emotions are far from straight-forward. Their struggles feel authentically complicated, their lives richly textured. 

“All the Living” is sweet, honest, tender, and heartbreaking. It’s a rare gem of a book.

Be The Influence Theater Group provides peer-to-peer support and education by Matt Pascarella

Be The Influence Players, a new theater group composed of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from RSU14 presented a play at Windham High School on Friday, August 10. This play, which was composed of three acts about the importance of kindness, may become part of the Be the Influence’s mission to educate local students and reduce youth substance use.

Briefly, Be The Influence Coalition (BTI) is a community collaboration program that provides support and resources in Windham and Raymond. Its goal is to communicate consistent drug-free messages to assure that local youth make positive choices and are aware that decisions matter. The organization works to reduce substance use in teens and pre-teens, providing this message since 2014.
Stuart Gabaree and Natalie Adams explain why kindness is significant 

The concept of BTI Players is modeled after a peer-to-peer program that originated in Missouri where it is presented to over 100 schools annually.

Having seen the success of peer to peer theatrical education in the Midwest, Laura Morris, Director of Be The Influence Coalition, used the concept to educate students in RSU14.

According to Morris, who orchestrates the theater group, studies show students learn better from older peers than adults. BTI’s peer to peer theater group is one way to communicate BTI’s message in a fun and approachable way.

The Be The Influence Coalition decided to offer a camp this summer through the Parks and Recreation program to introduce the theater concept to area students. Last Friday’s play proved to be a success.

The BTI Players will continue performances throughout the school year and will be using two scripts to present at Windham and Raymond Elementary schools this Fall. The lessons they are trying to convey with these performances are important ones. “Respect one another,” says actor William Yates and, “Don’t bully people,” stated actress Natalie Adams – both speaking about what they learned during their participation and the lessons the play portrayed.

“Through improvisational games, character development exercises and lots of practice, the campers will be producing a fairytale called ‘The Princess in Search of a Prince’ and ‘The Nancy Nice Show’”, explained Morris. “The production will be followed by a cheer on ‘Respect’. While they have worked with original scripts, they have added their own ideas and energy to each show.”
Each actor and actress added energy and pizzazz to the performance; through eye catching props, singing, dancing and audience participation.

Morris also stated, “The hope is this becomes a yearly group of sixth to eighth graders continuing to educate and present to kindergarten through fifth graders. The program is also something the students can take pride in.”

Student and actor, Stuart Gabaree, reiterates Morris’ statement, “I was really part of something.”

Friday, August 10, 2018

Taking the training wheels off at Gambo Dam: A cautionary tale by Briana Bizier

One of childhood’s rites of passage is learning how to pedal a bicycle without training wheels. As last weekend’s experiences proved to this writer, kids are the not the only ones who need to adjust to this new reality.

My seven-year-old assistant took her first short ride without the training wheels last month, in the parking lot of Raymond Elementary. Letting go of her bicycle seat as she pedaled across the pavement was one of the more poignant parenting moments I’ve experienced.

Not to be outdone, my four-year-old assistant also insisted he could pedal without training wheels. After another round of two-wheel practice, this time in the gravel parking lot of Raymond’s Mill Street Ball Field and Playground, my husband and I decided to take the kids for a bike ride and a swim at the Gambo Dam in Windham.

Theoretically, this is the perfect place for a first bike ride. The Gambo Dam area along the Presumpscot River overlaps with the Mountain Division Rail Trail, a beautiful, paved path running along old railroad lines, and Gorham’s Shaw Park. If you make a few left turns, you can easily combine these overlapping trails to create a short loop with Shaw Park in the middle.

Last summer, when our daughter was still using training wheels and our son was riding a toddler balance bike, my husband and I took the kids for a bike ride along this trail. Our children loved the gentle inclines and the smooth, paved path, which was perfect for a bike with training wheels and a bright pink “motorcycle.” My son’s pink balance bike, a hand-me-down from his big sister, didn’t have pedals. And, as he pointed out quite often, motorcycles also don’t have pedals; hence, he had a motorcycle.

Hoping to replicate our past success, we loaded the two training-wheel-free big kid bikes into our car last weekend and set out for the Presumpscot. Both children loved pedaling the initial section of the Mountain Division Rail Trail, which follows a set of old railroad ties in a wide, flat path. However, the first of two bridges posed a challenge.

Even though we walked our bikes over the first bridge, a high railroad trestle, the steep drop beside the subsequent stretch of the trail made one of our two new bikers balk. She decided to walk her bike - the entire way.

The Mountain Division Trail continues from the Presumpscot all the way to Sebago Lake, but we turned left after the railroad trestle and continued to Shaw Park. Attempts to convince my assistant that riding a bike is actually much easier, and more fun, than walking a bike were met with much resistance. Apparently, there’s a big difference between feeling comfortable riding a bike around a parking lot and feeling comfortable riding a bike along a windy, curving trail.

Fortunately, by this point our family was almost to Shaw Park. It was a warm, muggy day, so the entire family left the bikes by the swings and went for a quick dip (Dad had graciously volunteered to carry towels and swim suits). Swimming in the Presumpscot improved everyone’s morale, and we were able to watch adventurous canoeists climb to the top of the railroad trestle bridge and jump into the water below.

Can I do that, Mom?” my four-year-old assistant asked.

Sure thing, honey,” I said. “When you’re thirty-five.”

After our swim at Shaw Park, the family resumed our bike ride/push. The trail loops gently through the woods past Shaw Park and circles around what looks like an old gravel pit. The path here is broad and flat, and it was finally gentle enough for our seven-year-old to decide she was willing to give two-wheeled bike riding another try. For just a few moments, our children zoomed ahead of us on their bikes, and the hike was exactly what I’d expected.

This loop trail ends at Gambo Dam, where there is a lovely pedestrian bridge across the Presumpscot. Below the dam, you can find a fascinating interpretive trail along the historic site of Maine’s Oriental Powder Mill, which made gunpowder used in the Civil War. You can also explore the ruins of the Cumberland & Oxford Canal if you’re looking for another fun, short hike with (or without) children.

If you’d like to explore the Gambo Dam area yourself, with or without bikes and children, you can find the parking area by turning onto Newhall Road from Route 202. Newhall Road becomes Gambo Road, and it ends at the Gambo Dam. To follow our loop, park just before the dam in the Mountain Division Trail parking lot.

Fixing Maine’s broken child protection system – I need your help by Senator Bill Diamond

There’s no question about it - Maine’s child protection system is badly broken but instead of placing blame, we must focus on fixing it immediately. The health, well-being and lives of Maine children are at stake.

Since the news first broke about the tragic deaths of Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy, the Legislature’s independent watchdog agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and Maine's Child Death & Serious Injury Review Panel have launched investigations into what happened and what we can do to make sure it never happens again. While I cannot speak for the other two investigations, what we found in the Legislature’s investigation is deeply concerning.

According to the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability, Maine’s child protection system failed on several occasions and suffers from inadequate staffing, a flawed intake system and multiple opportunities for cases to fall through the cracks. This is unacceptable. I worry that we will learn of more cases that have fallen through the cracks and be too late to remove a child from a dangerous situation.

Last month, DHHS Commissioner Ricker Hamilton appeared before the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee, (known as the government Watch Dog committee) of which I serve, to provide information and answer our questions. I am encouraged that he has committed to adding 75 intake workers and am interested in additional proposals from the Department and the governor to repair the system. 

However, since Commissioner Hamilton made this commitment to add more caseworkers, the governor is now saying that he won’t include adding these badly needed workers in his emergency bill in the next few weeks. He wants to wait and let the next governor deal with that issue.  Hopefully we reach a compromise and provide some help now …before it’s too late.

I also worry about the lack of transparency and information coming from the Department. The reality is, if we are going to make the necessary changes to the system charged with keeping our kids safe, lawmakers need to make sure we have all the facts.

A report from the Portland Press Herald revealed that there has been a 31 percent increase in child abuse and neglect cases in the past eight years, with more than 1,000 cases handled by the Department in 2016. Even more concerning, the number of physical abuse cases doubled over that same time. What these numbers show is that the proposed staffing increases to the Department are long overdue. They also reveal that the state needs to do more to invest in child abuse prevention programs that have a proven track record of success.

It has also been very helpful and enlightening to hear from many of you, right here in our district, about your experiences with the Department and recommendations on what we must do to transform the system so it works effectively to protect Maine kids. A huge concern of mine has stemmed from what I have heard about the mandated reporting system. I worry that those trying to do what’s best for Maine kids and report a worrisome situation are not getting the proper confirmation that their report has been received.

It’s very clear that we have a problem in this state that is only getting worse. We need a child welfare system that is going to rise to the increased challenges and best meet the needs of our kids.
I also want to be confident that we are exploring every possible option to keep Maine kids safe so they can grow up to become healthy, productive adults.

The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee is expected to meet this week to get an update into the investigation. I am also hopeful that we will get a proposal from the governor to strengthen the child welfare system. Republican, Democrat or Independent - we must all work together for the good of Maine children.

Again, I’m asking for your help in sharing any information you may have that could be helpful to me as we seek the truth and solutions.  I urge anyone with information related to Maine’s child protective system to contact me at or (207) 287-1515. Feel free to remain anonymous if you prefer. If we are going to keep our kids safe, it’s going to take all of us working together to share information and to build a stronger, more effective child protection system.

Prompt! writing workshop back by popular demand

Whether one is experiencing writer’s block, looking for ways to hone in on their prose or recently considering putting pen to paper, the Prompt! workshop might be the perfect option to get the imagination into overdrive.

Join other writers on Saturday, August 18 at the Hawthorne House in Raymond from 2 to 4 p.m. for an opportunity to dive into your imagination and let the words fly onto paper (or laptop) with ease. The workshop will be facilitated by Diana Altman, author of “Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the Origins of the Studio System.”

Altman conducted this workshop last year as a fund raiser for the Raymond Hill Community Center and it was such a hit, she was asked to do it again. Comments from previous participants included:

"Thanks!  This really gave my writing the jumpstart it needed!"
"I'm not even a writer, but this workshop really sparked my creativity!"
"I only came to support my friend, but I had such a good time!"
"I was so surprised by what we were all writing!"

For those who may be intimidated, Altman tries to put minds at ease, “Any creative endeavor requires confidence and it’s my job to help students gain that confidence,” she said. “This workshop is designed to increase the participant’s awareness of their own voice and confidence that what they wish to express is worth saying.” 

Altman has a long history in both writing and fine art – specifically in film. A graduate of Connecticut College and Harvard University, Altman is an independent film historian whose father was Al Altman, a well-known MGM talent scout who discovered Joan Crawford, Ava Gardner, Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope – to name only a few.

Her first non-fiction novel, “Hollywood East: Louis B. Mayer and the Origins of the Studio System” tells the story of how the movies evolved. The book expels the popular misconception that the film industry was the innovative evolution of Hollywood, when in fact New York was where the real innovation began and where the stars of the early industry were discovered.

Her second book, “In Theda Bara’s Tent” is a work of fiction that delves into the life of a young boy who loses his parents in a factory fire. Yearning for love and prosperity, the boy takes solace at the movies. He befriends the theater’s owner who one day becomes a Hollywood legend.

Altman will not be accepting any reimbursement for teaching the workshop and there is a special reason for that. “I live in both New York City and Raymond,” said Altman. “I’ve had a house in Raymond for about twenty years and spend the entire summer here as well as time in the winter and fall. I feel a strong connection to Raymond and that’s why I am contributing my time.

Registration for the workshop is not required. A suggested donation for the workshop is $7. Funds from the workshop will go toward the Raymond Arts Alliance, which is hosting the event. For more information about the Raymond Arts Alliance, visit

What I learned about “The Way Life Could Be - Seeds of Peace” informational meeting by Caryl Gilman

"To inspire and cultivate new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict and to equip those young leaders with the skills and relationships they need to accelerate social, economic, and political changes essential for peace,” is the mission statement of Seeds of Peace. Seeds of Peace is a leadership development organization that began in 1993 with one youth camp locaton in Otisfield, Maine. 

On Tuesday, July 31, Orlando Arellano, Team Leader Multinational Programs and Strategy, spoke at
Raymond Village Community Church about Seeds of Peace. I am a member of the Raymond Village Community Church and I had asked Seeds of Peace to send a speaker who could tell the Raymond, Casco and Windham communities how Seeds of Peace successfully transforms individual perspectives during camp.

The presentation was sponsored by Raymond Village Community Church, Raymond Arts Alliance and Raymond Village Library. During the presentation, I learned that the process of individual transformation begins at Seeds of Peace camp in Otisfield, Maine. After graduating from the camp, participants build on their experiences through over a hundred local/regional leadership development initiatives.

What interested me the most was the beginning of the process: Seeds of Peace camp. Interested participants go through a rigorous selection process, and once selected, participants then attend camp in groups or delegations. 
At camp, which is a new type of experience for most, they are asked to set aside technology and live in close contact with people they don’t know.

The key activity is dialogue facilitated by professional facilitators, many of whom are Seeds of Peace graduates. Dialogue requires listening and speaking from the “I” perspective, not just about “what” but also about the “why” and feelings about their own story and what they are hearing.
The camp participants are asked to “lean in” when uncomfortable as there is much to be learned.
One thought I had was that it seemed like a lot of work to me and could not happen unless participants feel safe and that they can trust each other. 

Seeds of Peace camp aims to help participants feel welcome by serving food they can eat (e.g. kosher or halal) and offering a variety of religious services. They build trust through dialogue and through group activities.

Arellano helped me better understand the camp experience and related his own experiences at camp that continues his own learning. 

I admire the organization and the people involved.

Naples Causeway 5K raises funds for Dempsey Center by Scott Fowler

Back in 2015, Naples local George Vooris decided to run in a 5K race in Lewiston, which happened to be put on by the Dempsey Center for a fundraiser called the Dempsey Challenge. It was an effort to get back in shape and see how he ranked among the thousands of other participants, but what he got out of it was so much more.

It was after seeing all the other runners and walkers surrounding him, who were battling cancer that he realized it didn't matter what place he came in or what his personal time was. His being there meant more than that. The will and strength of the people in the race made him forget about his aching back and his painful ankles and changed the entire meaning of the event and the whole reason he was participating.

George with his wife Janis and Patrick Dempsey
It was then he decided to change the course of his thinking and become not only a participant, but an advocate for the event's underlying cause. After learning about its many benefits to the community, Vooris set out to be an independent fundraiser for the Dempsey Center itself and help in any way he could. While asking people to donate money to the foundation and bringing his friends and family to the race in Lewiston was doing something positive, he felt it wasn't enough. He wanted to go bigger.

That very same year, Vooris founded the Naples Causeway 5K, a local family-fun walk or run that would go through his own hometown. It would benefit not only the Dempsey Center, but his own local food pantry, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s, and police and fire departments; and it would bring the community of Naples together as a family in a common cause of fighting cancer.

He never realized what a positive impact his event would have, bringing in hundreds of participants and local sponsors from all over, who were more than happy to give their participation and support. All of Vooris’ effort and hard work in making his vision a reality has brought out the best in the people of his community and continues to amaze him as it grows each year.

To date, Vooris has raised nearly $50,000 with his 5K race and in 2017, was the top independent fundraiser for the Dempsey Challenge. He was also the recipient of the Naples Volunteer of the Year Award for 2017 and credits these unexpected achievements to his loving community for making it all possible.

For Vooris, he is humbled by all of the support and recognition he has received over the years and is still excited to be the director of the Naples Causeway 5K, which is only in its 4th year. He likes seeing the locals sporting their 5K t-shirts around town and enjoys the fame he has garnered, only to use it to further promote his race which is growing bigger every summer. He continues to volunteer at his local food pantry and holds fundraising benefits throughout the year while spreading the message about how important it is to give what you can to those who need the help.

On a sad note, Vooris recently lost his little brother Danny to cancer, which only served to strengthen his resolve in making a difference and prevent others from experiencing the loss of a loved one. He wants to remind us all that everyone has been or knows someone affected by cancer, and the best way to help out is to participate and sign up.

The 4th Annual Naples Causeway 5K is on August 25th at the Naples Marina on Route 114 and you can find Vooris running the course this year in the honor and memory of his little brother.
If you would like to donate to his cause or register to run in the race, you can head to or for more information on how you can help this great cause.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Schoolhouse Arts Center Education Program offers children creative outlet and opportunities to perform by Elizabeth Richards

Last year's "Sleeping Beauty" performance
The Schoolhouse Arts Center is more than just a thriving theater; it’s also home to a robust education program that allows young people to grow and build social skills while exploring the arts.

Education Director, Dillon Bates says he believes that the arts are the social consciousness of the world. “No matter how crazy the world is, or how different it is, throughout history artists have been the first group to accept new ideas and new people, but also to push boundaries and resist things,” he says.

That’s why arts education is so important. “The more that we can prepare people of all ages, but especially young people, to go out into the world with the social and emotional awareness that comes from the arts – that’s going to pay dividends beyond anything else you can do,” Bates said.
The education program at Schoolhouse Arts Center is doing just that. The program offers spring and fall semester classes, occasional one-time workshops, and two types of summer camps. 

Semester long classes include a ten-week production workshop, where students audition for and stage a full production. In the fall, this show is open to children five to 12-years old and in the spring the age range is eight to 15. In addition to the production workshop, the program offers options like Intro to Directing, where students learn the skills necessary to direct a show, and Storybook Theater, where students create their own show while exploring theater games, fairy tales, music and art. 

In the summer, the program offers one-week summer camp programs for ages five to 11. The most popular, Bates said, is Storybook Theater. The students work together to create their own short show using characters they might already be familiar with. Because this experience is often a child’s first experience on stage, Bates said, they cover the basics such as how to stay open to an audience, what it’s like to speak so you can be heard, and learning theater terms, such as diction, downstage and upstage.

"Once on this Island" performance
Also offered are two two-week camp programs separated by age. The first is for children five to 11 years old, while the second is for those 11 to 15 years old. When students are 11, they have the opportunity to participate in both. Many of the 11-year olds are kids who have been there for a long time and look forward to that year. “They can do both shows. They’re sort of the ‘big fish’ in the first one and then they come back and they’re at the bottom of the barrel again,” he said.  In the first camp these older kids help lead the younger ones, and in the second, they can learn from the older group. “It’s great to have them be constantly pushed and learn more,” Bates said. 

The older group has students who have been there for quite a while, although they are open to new students as well. “This group is fun,” Bates said. “We can do pretty advanced stuff that they’re not going to get at their middle school or high school. We can do some more challenging material.”
In these camps, the group puts together a full show from auditions to opening night in just two weeks. Shows run on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday matinees. 

Registration for workshops and camps happens online, and spots fill quickly. There are a maximum number of students they can take, which varies depending on the show being produced. Camps and workshops are led by instructors who either have a degree in their field of theater, music or dance, or have significant training. They cap the number of students they take, Bates said, so they can have enough time to work with everyone and make sure they are getting something out of it.

There are kids who return year after year but they also get kids who have never performed before. “What I really like about the developmental side of theater and the arts is that it’s stuff that will extend beyond the stage,” said Bates. “That’s the idea with the education program, that they should always be improving, and they should always be gaining something from the show no matter how experienced or inexperienced they are.”
Beyond theatrical and arts training, the education program gives students a place to be open, be themselves, and celebrate that, Bates said. “I’m really proud of the friendships and connections they make. It’s just a great outlet for kids and young adults to be themselves.”

This year’s summer productions are “Aladdin Kids” and “Mary Poppins, Jr.”.

Aladdin will run the weekend of August 3rd through 5th, and Mary Poppins will run August 17 through 19. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. 

For more information on the education program at Schoolhouse Center for the Arts, or to get on the mailing list for upcoming programs, email Information is also available at

An exciting day for the cats of H.A.R.T. Animal Shelter and young readers of Raymond by Briana Bizier

This summer, Raymond Village Library partnered with H.A.R.T, the Homeless Animal Rescue Team
in Cumberland to benefit shelter animals and encourage reading over the summer. The children in the library’s reading program spent their July tracking how many books they read, or how many books were read to them. Each time the little readers brought their reading log to the library, children’s librarian Karen Perry would tally their books and award their “prizes.”

Those reading prizes were fun for kids and animals. The children were able to choose toys, treats, blankets, or medication for dogs and cats in animal shelters. Karen provided a blank name tag, and the children could draw or write their name and a message for the animals before taping the tag to the “prize” of their choosing.

Raymond Library’s summer reading program drew to a close last week, and this past Monday, July 30, the celebration went out with a bang! A big, yellow school bus met children and parents at the library in the morning, and the young readers, their parents, librarians Karen and Allison Griffin, and all the labeled toys and treats headed to the H.A.R.T. Animal Shelter in Cumberland.

Founded in 1997, H.A.R.T. is a shelter and adoption center for cats and kittens. The children were greeted by enthusiastic volunteers in the shelter’s brightly lit lobby, where a painted tree on the wall holds paper leaves with the names of all the kitties who have been happily adopted this year.

The little readers patiently posed for photos with the treats and toys they had earned over the summer, and they were rewarded with a tour of all four rooms at the H.A.R.T. shelter. Volunteers partnered with each group of children to explain a few of the finer nuances of cat etiquette while kids and kitties alike delighted in the laser pointers, balls, and fluffy feather toys. At the end of the tour, everyone enjoyed a picnic lunch in the shade by the animal shelter, where the children were watched by a line of cats in the windows.

No kitties went home with the young readers on this trip, but the bus back to Raymond Library was filled with meows - only this time, it was the meows of children who had decided to spend the rest of their afternoon pretending to be shelter cats.