Friday, November 16, 2018

Student of the Week: Chase Wescott

Chase Wescott, an eighth-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Wescott states that his favorite subject is social studies.

Through both words and actions, Chase Wescott demonstrates all the qualities and characteristics of a model student and citizen, that among these are honesty, courage and compassion,” stated his teachers. “Not only does he consistently have a positive attitude but he also possesses a strength of character not always seen in someone so young. Chase fully participates in every endeavor he undertakes, whether it be on the field or court, on the stage or in the classroom. He is a high achiever, often going above and beyond the expectation. Perhaps most importantly, Chase Wescott has the courage to do what is right, even when faced with the evaluative scrutiny of others.”

Wescott believes that having good teachers is one of the ways that makes learning fun. During his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, baseball and basketball.

Wescott lives at home with his four dogs and really nice parents.

Calling all bow makers for the Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program

By Lorraine Glowczak

Veterans Day is now behind us but that should not stop us from showing our gratitude for all veterans, including those who have passed. The American Legion Post and Legion Auxiliary will provide an opportunity to show veteran appreciation through their Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program and bow making workshop on Monday, November 19 at 9 a.m. The workshop will continue throughout the day until all 900 bows are completed.

“In the past, depending upon the number of volunteers, we are usually done within 3 and a half
hours,” stated Pam Whynot, President of Auxiliary 148.

Founded by Libby Jordan of Studio Flora, the Everlasting Gratitude Wreath Program began in 2013. It is now coordinated and funded by the American Legion Field-Allen Post and continues to work in collaboration with Studio Flora.

For those who may hesitate to volunteer due to inexperience in bow making, one should not fear. Studio Flora staff will provide the training needed.

The Bow making workshop is also a time to meet new people and to give back to those who risked their lives. “There will be veterans, Auxiliary members, family, friends and lots of community members,” Whynot explained. “It is a time to meet a lot of new friends, have many laughs while making bows, drinking coffee and eating snacks. The experience is very casual and friendly and it is a way to show love, respect and honor for our veterans.”

Once completed, the bow adorned evergreen wreaths will be placed on the graves of each Veteran in the cemeteries of the Town of Windham.

This year, the wreaths will be placed on the veterans’ cemeteries Saturday, December 1 beginning at 9 a.m. The wreaths will be delivered by Studio Flora to Arlington and Smith cemeteries. Other cemeteries will be covered in late November by Legion and Veterans of Foreign War Post members.

The December date at Arlington is also open for the community who wish to participate in this annual event. The Smith cemetery distribution will be coordinated by the Windham High School Jr. Cadets.

For more information regarding the placing of the wreaths, contact David Tanguay, Post Adjutant, at 892-1306. For more information about volunteering at the bow making workshop, contact Whynot at

Maine State Ballet stars two sisters from Raymond

It's not often that you get to dance the role of Sugar Plum Fairy in Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” (in the last 42 years there have been a little over a dozen ballerinas who have done it). It’s an even rarer event when sisters get to share the role. Meet Adrienne and Rhiannon Pelletier of Raymond and Casco: Sugar Plum Sisters!

Both sisters grew up in Raymond and danced at Maine State Ballet since they were young. “Older sister” Rhiannon is in her 6th year playing the Sugar Plum Fairy. She is a graduate of St. Joseph’s College and now balances her dancing career with being artistic director/owner of Maine Dance Center in Raymond. “What I like about “The Nutcracker” is that you just get submerged into this fantasy world and forget about real world things”.

Adrienne is excited to debut this year as the Sugar Plum Fairy, after having danced the lead role of Clara for the last five. She currently is a teacher at Maine State Ballet, a recent graduate of Southern Maine Community College with a degree in Culinary Arts and is pursuing a degree in Business. “I am very excited to perform the Sugar Plum Fairy. For years the Sugar Plum Fairy handed me her wand at the beginning of Act II as I sat on the throne as Clara, and this year I get to hand the wand to a new Clara.”

Maine State Ballet  will kick off the holiday season with eleven performances over three weekends of its classic production of “The Nutcracker”  Friday, November 23 through Sunday, December 9 at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium.

Set in the early 19th century Germany, the ballet features well-known characters such as Clara, Uncle Drosselmeyer, the Nutcracker Prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. This year the role of Clara is shared by Emma Davis and Laura Moskevich, both of whom will be making their debuts. Arie Eiten and Trevor Seymour will share the role of Nutcracker Prince. Principal Rhiannon Pelletier, and First Soloists Julia Lopez and Adrienne Pelletier split the role of Sugar Plum Fairy. They will be partnered by Michael Hamilton. Jonathan Miele plays the mysterious Uncle Drosselmeyer, and Principals Glenn and Janet Davis appear as Judge and Mrs. Stahlbalm.

Choreography is by former New York City Ballet member and Artistic Director Linda MacArthur Miele, with three pieces of original choreography by world-renowned choreographer George Balanchine, Ms. Miele’s protégé. Performances feature the Maine State Ballet Orchestra and Choir, under the direction of Karla M. Kelley Brenner. Associate Director Gail Csoboth designed the colorful costumes and scenery. Performers include over 30 professional Company members and an additional 300 dancers of all ages.
Performances of “The Nutcracker” will run three weekends - Friday, November 23 at 2 p.m.; Saturday, November 24 at 2:00 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, November 25 at 2 p.m.; Friday, November 30 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 1 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday, December 2 at 2 p.m.; Saturday, December 8 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, December 9 at 2 p.m.

Tickets are $20 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors & children, and are available through Porttix at 207-842-0800,, and at the Merrill Auditorium Box Office located on Myrtle Street in Portland. Friday, November 30 is Student Night for High School and College Students with valid ID. These $10 tickets can only be purchased by calling or visiting the Merrill Auditorium Box Office.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Veterans Day Celebration

A Veterans Day Ceremony and open house, hosted by Windham Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 10643, will be held at the Windham Veterans Center on Sunday, November 11 at 11 a.m., announced VFW Commander Willie Goodman.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony and refreshments will be provided. Mr. Lee Humiston, founder, director and curator of the Maine Military Museum, will be the keynote speaker and patriotic songs will be performed by the Windham Chamber Singers.

Boy Scout Troop 805 will be in attendance and will assist with the ceremonies. The Winners of this year’s VFW sponsored essay competitions will be introduced, and the winners will read their essays. The theme for this year’s Patriot’s Pen, grades 6-8, is “Why I Honor the American Flag” and the Voice of Democracy theme, grades 9-12, is “Why My Vote Matters.”

 Following the program, the VFW will have a wreath laying on the Vietnam Memorial in their Memorial Garden. The Windham Veterans Center is located at 35 Veterans Memorial Drive. Turn right just before Friendly’s Restaurant and follow Memorial Drive to the end.

Happy Veterans Day: Get a poppy and donate to the America Legion

The men and women who defend the liberties and freedoms of the countries they represent hold a special place in people's hearts and an eternal spot in their countries' histories. Any opportunity is a good time to commemorate the bravery and selfless deeds of military personnel, but Veterans Day is an especially important time to thank veterans for their service.

The American Legion Field-Allen Post and Auxiliary Unit 148 will be doing their part again this year. They will be handing out the traditional Legion Poppy flower over this Veterans Day weekend at local area stores and the post office as a remembrance of all those veterans that did not return from the great conflicts. Although the poppies are free, the Legion will gladly accept donations to support the Legion’s Poppy Program. Funds raised are used to support veterans and their families as well as active duty service personnel and their families. Locally, the funds have been used to support homeless veterans as well as veteran's causes.

Many places around the world pause and remember fallen veterans on November 11, but a good majority of Veterans Day and Remembrance Day commemorative events focus on past and current veterans who are still alive. There are many ways to honor the military at home and abroad in time for the November festivities. In addition to donating to the American Legion this weekend, the following are just a handful of ways to show appreciation for military men and women.

· When dining out, ask your server if you can pay the tab for a soldier or veteran you see in the restaurant.

· Draft letters and send care packages to soldiers currently in service far away from home.
· Ask your company if Veterans Day can be an observed holiday at your place of business each year to pay homage to servicemen and women.

· Visit a military memorial in a city near you. Your town also may have its own memorial.
· Volunteer time at a veterans' hospital. You may be able to read with veterans or engage in other activities.

· Get involved with a military support charity that can provide much-needed funds to struggling families or disabled veterans.

· Have children speak with veterans in your family, including grandparents, uncles and aunts or even their own parents. It can help them gain perspective on the important roles the military plays.
· Support a local VFW organization.

· Create a scrapbook for a veteran in your life.

· Cheer for or thank military personnel each time you see them.

· Visit the veterans' portion of a nearby cemetery and place poppies or other flowers on the graves.

· Always keep the military on your mind and never forget those who have served and didn't return home.

Veterans Day are great ways to honor past and current military for their service and sacrifice.
If you’d like to make donation to the American Legion Poppy Program, send it to The American Legion Post 148, P.O. Box 1776, Windham, ME 04062.

Family Literacy Fun Day inspires the fun of reading for young and old alike

By Briana Bizier

On a cold and rainy Saturday morning, children and their parents came together at the Windham Primary School to celebrate the written word. Hosted by Windham/Raymond Adult Education, the twelfth annual Family Literacy Fun Day showcased Maine authors and illustrators with stories to please readers, or pre-readers, of all ages. Three local authors presented their work to eager and appreciative audiences while the cafeteria offered snacks and a wide range of arts and crafts activities, including creating a miniature book, decorating a bookmark, and making a pine cone bird feeder. There was also a free swap for gently used books and a raffle with prizes that had been generously donated by local businesses and organizations.

We want to help spread the joy of literacy,” Cathy Giuffre-Renaud of Windham Adult Education said, explaining the motivation behind hosting the popular event. “Holding a book in your hand, there’s just nothing that compares to that!”

A book swap was among many of the activities
When my two little assistants and I arrived on the scene, Gorham author Cathryn Falwell was just beginning her presentation. First, Falwell used a page from her bookFeast for 10” to demonstrate the four colors used in printing - cyan, magenta, yellow and black. When she pulled each colored layer away from her picture, the crowd responded with appreciative “ohs” and “ahs.” Falwell also shared pictures of her studio and “treehouse” beside Frog Song Pond in Gorham. My little assistants were especially impressed by the pictures of turkeys. “The turkeys don’t go in the water” Falwell explained. “But sometimes, they go on the water!”

She shared a picture of an ice-covered Frog Song Pond hosting a flock of skating turkeys which made children and adults alike laugh. In addition to sharing pictures and explaining the printing process, Falwell invited the children in the crowd to participate in two interactive puppet shows as she read her books “Pond Babies” and “Turtle Splash!” both of which were selected to be part of Maine’s Raising Readers program. Falwell published her first book in 1991 and is currently working on her twenty-seventh work.

Maine author Tim Caverly also offered a presentation at Family Literacy Fun Day. A former Park Ranger, Caverly now lives in Millinocket. He has published nine books about Maine’s northern forest for children and adults and he travels widely to help spread the joy of reading and his love for the New England woods. In addition to his speaking engagements, Caverly and his Allagash Tails team has donated over 1,750 books to 145 schools in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Mary Morton Cowan, the author of over eighty articles for children, presented her latest adventure biography for middle grade readers, “Cyrus Field’s Big Dream: The Daring Effort to Lay the First Transatlantic Telegraph Cable.” Cowan specializes in telling exciting biographies and making history come to life for younger readers. My four-year-old assistant was especially delighted with the Morse code machine Cowan brought to the Family Literacy Fun Day. While he giggled manically as he sent out Morse code messages, I marveled at the size and weight of the transatlantic telegraph cable. For a generation raised with the convenience of satellites and cell phones, the magnitude of laying a telegraph cable on the ocean floor is quite impressive.

Local writer Sandy Warren had a table in the cafeteria to discuss her multi-sensory approach to memorizing the times tables. Developed when she was teaching her own children, Warren’s “Times to Remember” includes a CD, a workbook, and a storybook to help children learn multiplication. “They see the pictures, sing the songs, and do the exercises,” Warren explained. “It’s a fun way to learn multiplication.”

Rachel Church, a local “book artist,” also had a table in the cafeteria where she showed children and their parents several different ways to fold a single piece of paper into a multi-page book. My eight-year-old assistant was especially impressed when Church revealed these one-page books can hold a secret message when completely unfolded. She spent the next thirty minutes at the craft table making a book for her little brother while he returned to the Morse code machine to tap out further messages. By the time I finally rounded up both assistants, they’d chosen several new books, made books of their own, and discovered a new love for the antiquated technology of Morse code. Not bad for a rainy Saturday morning!

Free and open to the public, Windham Adult Education’s Family Literacy Fun Day was intended to help inspire a love of reading for all ages, from the smallest children to parents and grandparents who attended the event. Many local companies and organizations graciously donated supplies or raffle prizes to help make the event a success, including Lowe’s, Amato’s, Hannaford, Americorps, Bull Moose Music, Metayer Family Eye Care, People’s United Bank, BJ’s, the Windham Economic Development Corporation and the Maine Romance Writers.

The delicious taste of “Unity”: An innovative concept that perhaps one sweet idea could change it all

By Lorraine Glowczak

Imagine a smooth, cool Ben and Jerry’s ice cream that contains equal amounts of dark chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch, a variety of nuts with a hint of the colors red and blue sparkling within it. The name of that ice cream flavor is “Unity” and it is so delicious it is difficult to not eat the whole pint. It may even be tasty enough that our eyes will open to what we all have in common rather than those few things in which we vehemently disagree.

Rebecca Cummings, First Vice Commander of the American Legion as well as a member of the Windham Town Council, invented this sweet concoction after she heard President Trump calling for unity among the nation. “When the President asked us to unify, I was inspired and tried to do my part,” Cummings explained.

Her inspiration to narrow the great divide among the nation created a vision to invent a good-natured and delightfully charming way to encourage unity. Cummings knew she had an idea. How can a person not be joyous and more agreeable when eating ice cream?

Cummings got to work immediately on her ice cream flavor. After testing it on her family, who most likely ate too much of the tasty creation and approved with certainty, sent her idea to Ben and Jerry’s for consideration. This was her pitch to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream in February 2017:

“Introducing my ice cream flavor, ‘Unity’. Equal parts of red and blue to represent the two major political parties. Equal amounts of dark chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch to represent our beautiful and blending skin tones and a couple of nuts because each political party, and our own families, have a few.”

When Cumming sent in her concept, she had also applied and received a provisional patent. Briefly, a provisional patent application has a pendency lasting 12 months from the date the provisional application is filed. It is to establish priority rights as soon as you have an invention that can be patented. For more information on provisional patents, contact an attorney.

Crickets. That’s the sound and response Cummings received from the well-known ice cream manufacturer recognized for its advocacy and creating positive and social change.

Not to be deterred by their silence, she sent her ice cream idea to other larger companies. Still, there was no response. “My family said maybe my politically motivated flavors weren’t as clever as I thought,” Cummings said.

Discouraged, she discontinued the provisional patent which expired early this year, and stopped making Unity ice cream, believing that her family was correct in their assessment.
But then, it was officially announced this past Thursday, November 1 that Ben and Jerry’s created a flavor reflecting the conflicting perception of our times, “Pecan Resist”. This was their press release announcement:

“Together, Pecan Resist! Alongside all those nutty chunks, this pint packs a powerful message under its lid: together, we can build a more just and equitable tomorrow. We can peacefully resist the Trump administration’s regressive and discriminatory policies and build a future that values inclusivity, equality, and justice for people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, refugees, and immigrants. Pecan Resist supports four organizations that are working on the front lines of the peaceful resistance, building a world that supports their values.”

It is obvious, and perhaps rightfully so, that Cummings felt betrayed. “The flavor, ‘Pecan Resist’ includes many of the same ingredients as my ‘Unity’ flavor.” Cumming said. “If this was a song, the similarities would be obvious. I can’t prove Ben & Jerry’s stole my idea - or was inspired to make a divisive version of my creation but I can prove that I created ‘Unity’ and that I reached out to Ben & Jerry’s (and others) to do what our President asked. My flavor was about taking our differences and coming together to create something sweet. That’s what America is all about and that is what makes us great.”

A call to Ben and Jerry’s regarding why they chose the concept of “Pecan Resist” over the more unifying and positive term of “Unity”, has yet to be answered as of this printing.

Despite her disappointment, Cummings refuses to have her passion and spirit dampened. “Now I have bragging rights in my family,” she joked. “I’ve got a wicked Mainer story to tell at Thanksgivings – although perhaps slightly exaggerated with a few embellishments. It will definitely be told in a Maine accent.”

But on a more serious note, Cummings would like to ask everyone to reflect on her experience. “Average and everyday people are doing whatever they can to heal and unify their families and their communities. Sometimes the naysayers are a little louder and have more limelight, but it is your choice as to which path you choose. People need to ask themselves, which flavor of life they will choose. One random act of kindness or one sweet idea could change it all. As for me – I will choose unity.”

Second annual Community Thanksgiving Service to inspire unity among different faiths

By Lorraine Glowczak

The Windham Area Clergy Association (WACA) invites the public to its second annual ecumenical Community Thanksgiving Service hosted this year by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, 755 River Road in Windham. The Thursday, November 15 gathering will include music of gratitude as the theme. The service will also be interspersed with readings by a variety of area church participants as well as a few prayers of gratitude for a community that comes together during difficult times.

The service will include music provided by area church members
The evening of observances will begin at 7 p.m. with a 60 to 75-person church-combination choir and a finale led by Windham’s community favorite music director and educator, Dr. Richard Nickerson.
The intention of this Thanksgiving service is to encourage the community to come together and give thanks. “The purpose is to recognize that we might come from different traditions, but we are one in belief that we have much to be thankful for,” state Reverend Tim Higgins, Rector of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and a leader of WACA. “The service will also offer social time for the community as there will be food following the event. Also, it’s so important for the community to see us as leaders, stepping up to support one another and respond to trials and tribulations, tragedy, etc. In the midst of these uncertain times, such as partisan politics, division, outward signs of hate towards people different from us, gun violence, exclusivity, etc. the service is a chance for the community to gather as one in unity acknowledging the One God we worship even though we may have different faith backgrounds."

For those who wish to do so, goodwill offerings will be accepted. Products such as paper towels, toilet paper, tooth paste, diapers, tooth brushes, etc. and 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 Essentials Pantry accepts all donations that are not available on EBT cards.

According to St. Ann’s website, the pantry serves all those in need in the Windham area free of charge and is open the last Saturday of every month from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in St. Ann’s downstairs meeting room, 40 Windham Center Road in Windham. The pantry is a ministry of Christian hospitality and service to the community that provides all who enter with a bag of cleaning and personal hygiene products provided by parishioners, local businesses and benevolent organizations in the Greater Windham area.

In addition to the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, the other churches providing musical numbers and contemplative sharing at the Community Thanksgiving Service include Windham Hill United Church of Christ, North Windham Union Church, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church and Faith Lutheran Church.

WACA reorganized as a group after a short sabbatical. “We began meeting again as a group in the Spring of 2016,” began Higgins. “The idea of WACA is for area clergy to gather monthly and share concerns and joys, to support one another as well as to exchange outreach ideas. As an organization, we want to remain aware of the community’s needs as well as respond to any tragedies or difficulties the community may experience.”

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

Friday, November 2, 2018

Tree Talk: Boundary trees

By Robert Fogg

Occasionally, we receive calls from people who are concerned about trees on a neighboring property and wondering what legal and ethical rights they have in the matter. While I'm not a lawyer, I can't give legal advice, only the benefit of my experience of working with different scenarios for the past 30 plus years.

Over the years, I've been directly or indirectly involved in numerous situations where, in the case of tree damage, insurance policies have come into play regarding who pays for what.

Naturally, I would encourage all property owners to work with and cooperate with their neighbors in the name of safety and security for both parties. That's just a part of being a good neighbor. But, it's nice to have a few guidelines to go by in the process. While there are exceptions to every rule, here's what I've seen established as “standard practice”.

There is a common misconception regarding trees that are located directly on a property line, that a property owner can legally remove every other tree. That's not true; the consent of both property owners is required to remove the tree. What about limbs overhanging the property line? Think of the property line as a vertical invisible wall. In general, you can remove any limb, or part of a limb, on your side of the wall, as long as it doesn't cause damage to your neighbor's property.

What if a neighbor's tree falls today and damages your property? The courts and/or the insurance company, if either become involved, will likely declare that it was "an act of God" and it's your responsibility. What if you feel your neighbor has a hazardous tree or limb that is threatening your property? The first thing to do would be to get an arborist’s opinion to see if it really is an elevated threat. If it is, the neighborly thing to do would be to present your neighbor with the proof and ask them to remove the threat, or at the very least, allow you to remove it. I've seen many cases where neighbors have split the cost to remove such threats.  

In the rare case where the neighbor refuses to cooperate in taking care of a legitimate threat to your property, you will need to officially notify them, in some documented way, about the threat and your request that they remove it. This puts the responsibility on them to take care of the threat or be responsible for damage to your property.

We've seen cases where, in severe weather, such as a hurricane, everyone's trees end up falling on everyone else's property. The question often comes up about who is responsible to pay the bill. The standard procedure in these cases is that each landowner will take care of the damage and cleanup on their own property, regardless of where the tree(s) were located.

 Hopefully, this information will help clarify some common property-line tree issues so that neighboring property owners will be better educated about what is, or isn't, expected of them. Thanks for being a good neighbor.

The author is general manager of Q-Team Tree Service in Naples and is also a licensed Arborist. He can be reached at or 207-693-3831.

Author shares untold stories of women Vietnam Veterans

Co-author, Claire Starnes speaks at the Windham Veterans Center
By Lorraine Glowczak

The veterans who gathered Wednesday, October 24, for their weekly morning coffee and camaraderie at the Windham Veterans Center, had the opportunity to listen to the co-author of “Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Stories” as Claire Starnes shared the story about the book and how it came to be.

The book chronicles the participation of American military women (other than nurses) who were stationed in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The book includes 863 out of approximately 1,000 women who served in one of the four Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy). Of those 863, 403 women share their stories about their own experiences. “It is an anthology, of sorts,” Starnes said. “Each woman got to share their impressions of Vietnam and what happened to them while they were there.”

markbryantwindham@gmail.comStarnes, who was born in Biddeford and grew up in Lewiston, enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in 1963, and in 1969 she volunteered for Vietnam. She was initially assigned to the U.S. Army Engineer Construction Agency, Vietnam (USAECAV) at Long Binh in February 1969 working as a translator. In June 1969, she transferred to the Joint Headquarters, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), for duty with the Office of Information until July 1971. In Saigon, as a Staff Sergeant, she worked to improve the MACV Observer, the official command newspaper published weekly, and eventually, became a photojournalist, earning the military occupational specialty of Public Information Specialist.

“Our Untold Stories” did not originally begin as a book. “There is little known about the women who served in Vietnam from 1962 to 1973 because the Army and Air Force didn’t keep active records of who they were sending,” explained Starnes. “Only the Navy had those records. My former roommate from my time in Long Binh and I wanted to change that, and so we decided to try and find as many women as we could and compile the information. At the time, we had no intention of creating a book; we just wanted to make sure these women were remembered.”

In February 1999, Starnes and that roommate, Precilla Landry Wilkewitz, co-founded the non-profit organization, Vietnam Women Veterans, Inc. (VWV). The organization’s purpose is to find all the line and staff officers and enlisted women who served in Vietnam throughout the war. By November 1999, more than 700 deceased and living of these women had been found.

“I had started the search in early 1998 and continued almost non-stop doing research and making phone calls,” Starnes said. “I only slept three to four hours a day. Also, back then, we still had landlines and had to pay for long-distance calling. My telephone bill would run up to $400 per month.”

In 2012, after the names and stories were compiled,  the others who collaborated with her on this project decided it was important to publish the book - to not only share the stories they gathered but to offer a reference to future researchers.

http://votesahrbeck.comAlthough it was difficult to find a publisher who would allow them to edit the book themselves, “Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Stories” eventually was published in September 2015 with AuthorHouse Publishing.

Starnes stated that historians and government officials have begun using this book as a source of information. “There is no doubt that there will ever be another book like this,” Starnes said. “This is the only book of its kind that gathers names, facts and data together in one literary work.”

Starnes has travelled the country since the book was released in 2015, sharing its important information about the many women Vietnam veterans who would otherwise be forgotten. Although this book has been published, there is more work to be done.

We are still searching,” Starnes said. “We aren’t done yet.”

Starnes may be reached at

Windham Middle School eighth graders learn about U.S. citizenship

A few members of the 8th grade meet with three new citizens
By Lorraine Glowczak

The House of Representatives has how many voting members? Which is NOT a Cabinet-level position? Who did the United States fight in World War II?

The above questions are examples of what is asked on a test to become a U.S. citizen. Have you taken the test that immigrants need to take to become a U.S. citizen? Mrs. Hodge’s eighth grade social studies class at Windham Middle School did and they did not pass. If these students wanted to become citizens of the United States, they would not have been able to join the land of the free and home of the brave. They would have had to wait and re-take the test again.

Whatever you do, don’t judge Mrs. Hodge’s eighth grade class before you have taken the test yourself – as a naturally born citizen of the U.S. whose first language is English. “What if you took this test and English was not the first language you spoke,” Mrs. Hodge asked the class when I visited them recently. a part of the required curriculum, Mrs. Hodge’s eighth grade class not only studied the process of becoming a U.S. citizen but attended the most recent Naturalization Ceremony that occurred at Windham High School on Friday morning, October 19.

There are at least four students in this class who have grandparents or parents who immigrated to the U.S., so they have some historical and close-up knowledge of what it takes to become an American. “My parents are from Poland,” explained student Alex Momet. “They met in an exchange program. The both worked at Point Sebago and liked it so much they decided to become citizens.”

When asked what the most challenging issue they faced, Momet stated it was learning to speak the language fluently.

There were also students whose grandparents immigrated from France and Italy as well as one student whose great grandmother escaped from a Jewish concentration camp during WWII and made America her home.

After learning about each other’s ancestry, studying the process of immigration and taking the required test to become an American citizen, the students had the opportunity to witness the Naturalization Ceremony. The middle school chorus sang the National Anthem and the middle school civil rights team helped to hand out the certificates to the new citizens.  

Just as important, if not more so, members of the eighth-grade class had the opportunity to ask a few questions of the new citizens after the ceremony. Sadie Vanselette was one of those students.
“We learned some interesting stories,” Vanselette said. “There was one story from a person from Thailand who has been living here for 25 years on a green card. When he first arrived here, there were different laws about how long one could be here on a green card, but those laws have changed. 

A couple of years ago, he went home to Thailand to visit his family and when he returned [to the U.S.], they almost didn’t let him come back in. Although he was legal, the laws had changed regarding those with green cards. But after doing some research, they [customs] realized he was legally able to return. He said it was this experience that made him decide to become a citizen.”
It should be noted that all permanent green card holder residents are tax residents but since they are not U.S. citizens, they do not have the right to vote. (For details regarding green card holders paying taxes on income earned, one should seek out an Immigration Law Attorney.)

The following are additional learning outcomes the students stated they had learned:
“I learned what people are willing to go through to become a citizen of this country. We have a lot to offer, such as freedom that most Countries do not have.” Liam Yates

“People are easily stereotyped. I saw people from different countries and religions congratulate each other. They didn’t let their differences stand in the way of becoming an American.” Devin O’Brien.
“I thought the new citizens were going to be young people. Although there were young people at the ceremony, I was surprised to see old people becoming citizens who want to end their life in peace.” Liam Yates

“I realized some became citizens to be with their families who were already here – while others were trying to get away from war torn countries and the U.S. was the best option for them.” Reagan McDougall

Ironically, after being told by those who had witnessed naturalization ceremonies that they might see tears of joy, the students were surprised that the ceremony they attended included nothing but celebration. “I saw much more happiness than I saw tears,” stated Vanselette.“It’s true,” Mrs. Hodge agreed. “There were a lot of happy new citizens who joined us two weeks ago. It was something we could easily understand. Afterall, we smile in the same language.”

For those who might wonder about the answers to the questions above, they are as follows: 1) There are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives. 2) While countries from Brazil to Bhutan do, the U.S. does not have a Secretary of Communications. 3) Japan, Germany and Italy were known as the Axis powers. At their peak during World War II, they ruled much of Europe, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

These are only three answers to the questions on the official test that must be taken and passed by those who wish to become U.S. citizens. To see if you could pass the test as a naturally born U.S. citizen, take the test yourself by visiting the website at: