Friday, November 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Windham Area Clergy Association host third annual community Thanksgiving celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Walter Lunt

This is the second in a two-part series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

Fighting for lower property taxes

By Senator Bill Diamond

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

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

It’s just not fair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Lorraine Glowczak

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manchester school students celebrate National Farm to School Movement

By Joe McNerney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 1, 2019

Congratulations to this year's "Trunk" winners

Windham Parks and Recreation Trunk or Treat event was a hair-raising hit. Congratulations to the follow "Trunk" winners:

Business Trunk Winner: Mainely Ticks with Michael Myers Trunk
Community Organization Winner: Boy Scouts Troop #805 w Haunted Campsite & Friends
Individual Winner: Heather Plati w Deadly Dinner Trunk

Before the memory fades: The recycling of a Windham one-room schoolhouse

By Walter Lunt

It’s not a rare occurrence for the Windham Historical Society (WHS) to receive donations of antiques. The society accepts and preserves scores of historic items from Windham’s rich and storied past – everything from old-time tools to Victorian-era furniture.

The old schoolhouse 
What is rare is when a donation comes in at the exact time it’s needed – for example, to complete a museum display.

The Millett family of Windham recently offered a school desk from the early one-room Bodge schoolhouse. Lineous Millett, brothers Tom and Everett and sister Nancy Fish said the two-student desk, well used but in good condition, has been stored in the family barn for 85 years.

It happens that, within the past year, WHS has reconstructed and opened a typical one-room schoolhouse on the grounds of its Village Green at Windham Center. Preferring to furnish the 19th century themed schoolhouse only with desks, benches and materials original to Windham, the donation was a welcome and needed addition.

The ancient stand-alone desk has the appearance one would expect from decades of use and turn-of-the century construction – a wooden writing surface supported by an ornate cast-iron stanchion and adorned with the usual name engravings and graffiti.

The Plummer home with recycled building materials from t
he schoolhouse
What do we know about the Bodge School? Very little, it turns out. But one thing we do know, said Windham resident Gary Plummer, is that when the town closed down and sold Bodge School in 1934, his father bought it for the sum of $100,  disassembled the structure  and utilized the materials to build a house the Plummer family lived in for the next 80+ years.

Becky (Plummer) Delaware said the rebuild was done over a period of two years as time and funds permitted. “The floor downstairs was a beautiful fiddlehead maple from the schoolhouse.”
Gary’s father, Bill Plummer, had help with the tear-down from near-by resident Lineous Millett (grandfather of the aforementioned Milletts).

When Bill Plummer decided he didn’t want the contents of the school, Millett put the desk and some books in his barn where they remained until their use would come full circle and be returned to the WHS one-room schoolhouse this year.

L to R: Becky (Plummer) Delaware, Gary Plummer, Nancy Fish, School Marm Paula Sparks, Thomas Millett, Everett Millett, Lineous Millett, front Junior Historian Delia Tomkus with the Bodge School desk donated to the Windham Historical Society’s Village School

The schoolbooks, which were also donated to WHS, include an 1848 copy of “Weld’s English Grammar”, which points out in the preface “…prepared with special reference to the wants of the younger classes…” 

Page one explains how the teacher should direct the scholars to verbally sound consonant letters while writing them on slates. Another text, “The Beginner’s American History” – copyright 1902, opens with a chapter on Christopher Columbus and concludes with the assassination of President William McKinley.

The move renewed Gary Plummer’s interest in the history of the old Bodge school building. He has since been a frequent patron of the Windham Historical Society’s research library.

How did the school take its name? Where was it located? How many years was it in operation? And what do we know about its teachers and scholars? Details on Plummer’s research next time, before the memory fades.  

New skate park opens in Windham: A popular destination for skateboarders from miles around

By Matt Pascarella

In 1999, Windham opened a wooden skate park as a joint effort with the police department and the recreation department. This park was enjoyed by skaters for many years. By 2016, the park had to be shut down because of disrepair.

What followed was a plan to replace the skate park as part of a larger community park which would also include basketball and volleyball courts and walking paths. Recently, the new skate park opened on Gray Road near the Public Safety building.

Last year, skaters attended the Windham Community Skate Park public meeting at Windham Town Hall to discuss the design of a new skate park. Windham resident, skater and individual involved with the process from the beginning, Matthew Howe was in attendance.

From the user’s perspective the old skatepark was fully functional but from the perspective of a structural engineer it just was unsafe and had to go,” observed Howe.

Howe went on to say that the skatepark design meeting started by the skaters talking about Windham Skatepark history as well as Mackenzie MacVane.

As stated in a previous Windham Eagle article, ‘MacVane of Windham died at the age of 13 in an accident at El Weir Dam. He left a memorable mark on his friends. He was a member of the Dare to Adventure Program, a community program supervised by School Resource Officer, Matthew Cyr. “He was perhaps one of the most positive people a person could meet,” Cyr said in an email interview.’

Present at the public meeting was an American Ramp Company representative who gave the skaters a questionnaire so everyone had input on the new skatepark. “The process made me very happy and seemed solid; left me feeling excited for the future,” said Howe.

The skate park is a project headed by the Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee. “When that park needed to come down, it was time to start fresh. The concrete park with that plaza style skating is kind of the trend and what people are interested in now. We decided that’s the direction we should head,” explained Linda Brooks, Windham Parks and Recreation Director.

“We ended up seeking land and water conservation funds, to be able to do the project,” stated Brooks. “That requires a match by the town; basically it’s 48% the federal government and 52% the town. We had to put the project out to bid, that’s a requirement.”

The bid estimate came in at $170,000 for the skate park. Brooks explained that constructing the community park would be done in phases and phase one was getting the skaters skating again. So far, they are on budget.

“Our hope is that we can get an extension of time for the grant process...[a]state contact indicated we could likely apply for an extension of grant funding and time and continue getting some more work done; in the process of working toward that end,” added Brooks.

“Additionally, we will continue to budget out through the capital improvement plan, the use of impact fees that get distributed to the department for development and expansion of recreational facilities. As the funding becomes available, we will continue to work on subsequent phases of the project.”

BMX biker Logan Tripp, 19, a Direct Support Professional and Certified Residential Medication Aide from Oxford Hills, drove 45 minutes to get to the new skate park.“A couple of my buddies on Instagram said, ‘come and shred the park’. I used to shred it back in the day, when it was wood. Pretty decent park now, I like it.”

Howe has been to the skate park every day since it opened and said, “once you skate there, you’ll never want to leave.”

“We know it was hard, the park appeared ready to be skated on two weeks prior to us saying ‘yep it’s open now,’ so we appreciate the skater’s patience. We’re happy we were able to get that logo back up to honor McKenzie MacVane.”

“We’re looking forward to doing a grand opening next spring,” concluded Brooks.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Student of the Week: Kaleb Fitch

Kaleb Fitch, a third-grade student at Raymond Elementary School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Fitch, who is eight years old, states that he enjoys art and playing hockey.

“Kaleb Fitch was chosen for the Student of the Week for many reasons,” his teacher said. “Kaleb is hard-working, genuine, and is thoughtful. He exuberates ambition and perseverance inside and outside of the classroom.”

Fitch said that his greatest accomplishment is winning a hockey tournament and states that his grandmother, who teaches him to be a better artist, is the person who has meant the most to his education. His favorite subject is art and during his free time, Fitch enjoys playing outside or going to his grandparents’ house.

Fitch lives at home with his mom, dad, a brother named Brandon along with three fish and one dog.

College plans: To be an artist or chef
Favorite TV show: “Master Chef Junior”
Favorite animal: Shark
Favorite Movie: “Christmas Vacation”
Favorite holiday: Thanksgiving

Tiff Theriault has a love of field hockey to pass on to others

Tiffany Theriault
By Matt Pascarella

Tiffany Theriault has always loved field hockey. She played goalie during her days at Lake Region High School and since then, has wanted to pass her passion for the sport onto others. Theriault has coached field hockey at Windham Middle School and has been the junior varsity coach for the past two years.

“My high school coach had a major impact on who I became as an adult,” Theriault stated. “My hopes in coaching is that I can make a positive impact. I want the girls to develop self-confidence, learn to be resilient in face of adversity and believe in themselves.”

Theriault’s love of the sport is what drew her to coaching, giving her the opportunity to have field hockey in her life again. She really enjoys working with the kids.

cstlouis@spurwink.orgTheriault didn’t realize how much she would love coaching until she did it for a year. The benefits of seeing the athletes grow and learn the sport was an added bonus for her. And when she got the opportunity to come up to the JV level, and meet a whole new group of girls, it was awesome.

Coaching gave her a chance to get out of her comfort zone. What Theriault wasn’t expecting was the player’s eagerness to learn and the connection she would make with the team. They loved the sport as much as she did.

There is a lot of talk about mindset on the junior varsity team. And Theriault wants it to be a positive one. It’s easy to make a mistake and get really down on yourself, for example, ‘I should have gotten that’ or ‘this drill is too hard,’ or ‘I can’t do it.’ She’s worked a lot with the young athletes to change their mentality. ‘This drill may be hard, but it’s giving me good practice;’ ‘I could have gotten that, I’ll get it next time,’ are examples of the simple rephrasing. Her hope is that her players can have a more positive attitude. One of the things Theriault has done to help with this is start a group text with her three goalies where they have to text her one thing their thankful for each day. It created an incredible connection with them and gave her insight into their lives.

The girls are Theriault’s favorite part about being a coach. “We have a great team, both JV and varsity this year, they really are incredible. I love the connection with them, I love being a part of it again. Win or lose...watching them grow throughout the season has been more of a rewarding experience than I ever thought it could be. My hope is coach DiDonato and I are playing some small role in their lives to making them better humans and I want to be a part of that – I want them to be successful. This is what drives me to be a better coach each season.”

A Raymond resident, Theriault grew up in Casco and has five children. She got her bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Southern Maine. “The fact that I get to have my daughters on the team is only icing on the cake. It has been fun to watch them develop friendships, and a positive mindset,” she adds. In her free time, she is working on her master’s in biology. She enjoys skiing with her husband and children, lazy rainy/snow days at home, watching her kids play sports and spending time with her family.

Call for candy at Raymond Village Library

What would Halloween be without trick-or-treating? Yet, for many of the children in the mostly rural town of Raymond, trick-or-treating is a difficult proposition when the houses are located on dark roads without sidewalks, and there can be hundreds of feet of dark forest between the jack o’ lanterns sitting on doorsteps.

Happily, the town of Raymond has adopted a tradition of Halloween trick-or-treating on Main Street. The street will be officially closed on Halloween evening as costumed children from Raymond and the surrounding areas flood the area for an evening of festivities.

Of course, this means the residents of Raymond’s Main Street will have hundreds of children knocking on their door on October 31 and asking for candy. If that sounds like a daunting prospect, the Raymond Village Library is here to help!

From now until Halloween, the Raymond Village Library is accepting donations of candy for children. The library distributes candy to the residents of Main Street to help ensure a happy Halloween night for both the little monsters and the neighbors who distribute the treats.

Candy donations can be delivered to the Raymond Village Library at 3 Meadow Road on Monday or Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, or Saturday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

WHS senior develops middle school tennis team as her Capstone Project

Sydney Nangle
By Lanet Hane

“The very first time I played tennis was in my freshman year of high school, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” stated Sydney Nangle, a Senior at Windham High School.

Sydney is grateful for the chance she has had to participate in the sport, but also knows how valuable it could be to the tennis program to have students start learning before they hit high school.

“I wanted to pass down my love for tennis to the middle schoolers because I would’ve played tennis in middle school if I had the option,” she said.

With this in mind, Sydney decided to make starting a middle school tennis program her Capstone Project.

As she worked on developing the program, Sydney became aware of the many behind-the-scenes pieces that come into play. The process included getting practice time and access to supplies, finding willing co-coaches and adult support, permission slips and advertising to middle school students.

But Sydney pulled it off.

With the help of Kevin Roy, a teacher and tennis coach at the high school, and her friend Danielle Jones, a fellow tennis player, Sydney was able to make the program come to life. The middle school tennis program met twice a week for 8 weeks. Sydney has only good things to say about the program; “In the few weeks that I’ve been coaching these kids, I already see so much potential and progress in each one of them.”

“I think it’s been a great opportunity for middle school students. Sydney has done a great job of combining drills that teach with games that keep the kids involved and moving including various target practice style games and more traditional tennis matches. She really has a wonderful rapport with the kids that have come out and she’s been very inclusive towards kids that haven’t been able to make it to every session but still want to try it out a bit. I think this could be the beginning of a middle school tennis program that wasn’t in existence before and even benefit the high school program in the future.” stated Roy.

Preparing for a Katahdin hiking and camping adventure

By Craig Bailey

This is the second article in a three-part series covering Mount Katahdin and the adventure experience one group recently had.

A Katahdin hiking / camping adventure involves a great deal of advance preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable excursion. The recommended starting point is the Baxter State Park website ( which offers a wealth of information in this regard.

The preparation outlined here results from a group I led as we hiked Katahdin, spending two nights in the Chimney Pond bunkhouse.

The first step (after the group has agreed to the challenge) is to make reservations with Baxter State Park, which can be done 120 days in advance. Since the Chimney Pond bunkhouse is in high demand one must be proactive to lock-in the desired date(s).

Once reservations are made each hiker must ensure they are ready, from a physical standpoint, taking steps to minimize or eliminate common pains that may be experienced, which could hamper the journey.

To avoid foot pain, one should acquire a pair of lightweight, waterproof hiking boots offering excellent ankle support. That said, don’t try to break in a new pair of boots on a hike like this. Instead, wear them for many weeks in advance on practice hikes. Add to this a pair of thick wool socks for additional cushion. Finally, just prior to the trip it is important to cut one’s toenails to avoid chafing that could otherwise occur.

Another common pain to avoid is in the knees, which occurs primarily on the descent when the knees take the most abuse. Following are several recommendations, from professionals, proven effective with the test of time.

For those previously experiencing knee pain, doctors recommend Glucosomine Chondroiton (but, of course, check with your doctor). In addition, personal trainers recommend two exercises: glute bridges and quad stretches, for which information can be found online.

In addition to obtaining high-end hiking boots, a pair of trekking poles and knee braces provides a great deal of relief. And, finally, if knee pain is experienced on the trail, it is helpful to have on hand an anti-inflammatory like Advil or Aleve.

The final common pain to avoid is in the back and/or shoulders. This can result from a heavily loaded backpack (think 30-45 pounds) which will be lugged up and back down the 3.3-mile trail. To address this hiker should obtain a backpack with the proper support, where most of the weight is carried on the hips: not on the back or shoulders. Here, it is suggested the hiker visits an outfitter such as LL Bean to get specific recommendations on fit and function.

The final step is to do practice hikes, to try out new gear and confirm no foot, knee, shoulder or back pain is experienced.

In parallel with getting ready physically, one must determine the necessary equipment and provisions. The first consideration is Baxter State Park is a carry in / carry out park. As such, anything not consumed must be lugged back down the mountain.

Secondly, consider the bunkhouse has no electricity or running water. There are 10 wooden bunks (no mattresses), a wood stove, food preparation area, a picnic table and gas lanterns, with outhouses nearby.

Given the itinerary (three days and two nights) each person needs to “pack in” two dinners, one lunch, two breakfasts and lots of nutritional snacks. To minimize the weight and bulk, bring nothing requiring refrigeration, or in bulky containers, and acquire freeze dried food for most meals. To maintain energy levels, foods should consist of high amounts of carbs, fats and proteins. This is NOT the time to go on a diet.

Fortunately, there is a plentiful supply of water along the trail and Chimney Pond serves as a water source, all of which must be treated prior to consuming. As a result, each person should bring their own water bottle and treatment method.

Per Baxter State Park’s guidelines, those climbing to the summit of Katahdin must have a headlamp, space blanket, food and water in their day pack.

While there are other items to consider (change of clothes, personal hygiene, sleeping bag and pad, knife, firestarter, trail stove, etc.) the above areas require the most advance preparation.

Upon finalizing the list of equipment and provisions each hiker should pack their backpack well in advance. Then, reduce and repack again, until each feels comfortable, they have what is absolutely required - and nothing more.

Final considerations, prior to embarking, include reviewing the trails planned to be hiked, confirming the status of each on the Baxter State Park webpage. And, it is important to arrive at the trailhead with plenty of time to get started before the cutoff time. For example, in late September Park Rangers require hikers to begin their climb into Chimney Pond by 2pm. In addition, each member of the group must realize there is no rush up or down the mountain, acknowledging most injuries occur during the descent.

In closing, the best advice to prepare for such an excursion is to make a list of necessities, then repeatedly walk through the days on the trail and at camp thinking of all the things that are (absolutely) required for a pleasant journey.