Thursday, December 31, 2015

Windham High School - 2015 marks the 50th anniversarey of the original "new school" - By Walter Lunt

Replacing an aging, inadequate facility began with bitterness and vitriol and ended with a labor of love

 Although passing without fanfare, 2015 is the 50th anniversary year of the first graduating class from Windham High School at its present location.

 Construction began in 1963 following a tumultuous year of acrimony over location and cost. Local newspapers published scores of articles on the agonizing process that epitomized the classic battle between the so-called “old” and “new” Windham. In December, 1962 the Portland Sunday Telegram observed that the bitterness stemmed from the long running feud between the generations of Windham families who felt that their current high school, built in 1910 (which now serves as Windham Town Hall), had been “good enough for them and ought to be good enough for kids today,” and the “outsiders” new to Windham who favored “quality education…and better facilities.”

 The town’s population had grown from about 4,000 to almost 5,000 souls between 1945 and 1960 and talk of replacing the old wood frame school off Windham Center Road had surfaced numerous times. Attempts to pursue the idea were always voted down. By 1960, 396 students, grades 9 to 12, were enrolled in the 50-year-old facility, designed to hold only 250 pupils; 500 or more was projected for the ’66 – ’67 school year. By 1963, study halls were being held in the back rows of active classrooms and on the gym stage behind a curtain. Double sessions were anticipated for the following year along with the possible loss of state accreditation. The “old” Windham faction, fearing higher taxes, was forced into the fray, quite literally, kicking and screaming.

 Round one concerned location. Fifteen proposed sites were quickly narrowed to three by the newly formed school building committee. The Allen site (which was ultimately selected) was favorably located in the center of town next to the Field-Allen School on Route 202, but ledge was a cause of concern for water service and waste disposal. The LeGrow site, located northwest on Route 202 near Falmouth Road was an open area that would require little or no tree removal, but was a long distance from the water main. The Libby property on Park Road was initially approved, even though engineers warned that it was uniquely situated and would necessitate costly water and electric connections.

 The questions over where the school would be located, how it would be financed and how much of a tax burden it would bring, dominated public meetings for weeks. The Westbrook American weekly newspaper reported on what it called an “unprecedented controversy…neighbors have turned against each other. Old and cordial friendships have gone on the rocks.”

 Innuendo, charges and countercharges ruled the debate in local gathering spots, at public functions, as well as public hearings. Four of nine building committee members resigned, a complaint was filed in Westbrook Criminal Court against the building committee for allegedly holding an illegal executive session and, at one point in the controversy, the chairman of the school committee said he received a death threat over the phone. For a time it seemed there would be no resolve, and no new school. In a later editorial, the Westbrook American commented “Few of principals involved have been blameless. Many a conscience will turn in the weeks to come.”

 Finally, a referendum vote changed the location from the Libby to the Allen site in one of the highest voter turnouts the town had experienced. But with one issue settled, another arose: Treated waste from the site would be discharged into the Pleasant River. Hundreds of petition signatures from sportsmen’s groups and local residents were presented to the Maine Water Improvement Commission which held jurisdiction over the project. Following river inspections and design reviews, the commission announced it would not allow the introduction of pollution beyond the river’s current high classification.

 Questions concerning the selection of an architect, financing and taxes remained. A bitter debate continued into 1963 when it was decided the town would apply for a $1,150,000 loan from the Maine School Building Authority.

 Construction began in early spring. By March 1, 1964 at the cornerstone time capsule ceremony, building committee member Nora Branson set a new tone for the construction project that would soon admit 430 students into a new modern school saying, “Today marks the beginning of a good and prosperous community. My job will be grounds…draperies and colors…an exciting labor of love.”

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Looking for your feedback - By Rep. Patrick Corey

I  would like to take this opportunity to thank the residents of House District 25 for the privilege of serving as your state representative in the 127th Maine State Legislature. As your voice at the capitol, I can assure you that I’ve been working thoughtfully on your behalf.

As you are well aware, the legislature is currently divided between the two political parties. Democrats control the House of Representatives while Republicans control the senate. Accomplishing anything requires the ability to work together, which is really what our constituents should expect of us.

We’re heading back into session soon and I will continue to focus on welfare reform, tax relief, supporting working families and middle-class Mainers, and bettering K-12, as well as higher education.
In an effort to best represent you, I’d like to hear about your feelings on a variety of issues and concerns. A great way to do this is by taking a moment to fill out the included survey and mailing it back to me. I will also be including this survey in my legislative newsletter.

Your participation will help guide me in the coming session, adding value to every moment I spend in Augusta fighting for you.

Thank you in advance for letting me know your thoughts and have a safe and happy holiday season. 

Your thoughts matter!

How do you feel about the taxes you pay?
Property Tax
Too Low   Kind of Low   Just Right   Kind of High   Too High
Income Tax
Too Low   Kind of Low   Just Right   Kind of High   Too High
Sales Tax
Too Low   Kind of Low   Just Right   Kind of High   Too High
Food and Lodging Tax
Too Low   Kind of Low   Just Right   Kind of High   Too High

Are you getting from State government what you pay for?
q I’m dissatisfied. q I’m satisfied.  q I get more than I expect.

Top three priorities State government should address?
Road Maintenance   Jobs & Economy       Reduce State Spending
Energy Costs         Tax Reform               Natural Resources
Drug Addiction      Affordable Healthcare   Government Efficiency
K-12 Education     Welfare Reform         Higher Education Costs
Other (Please explain.)                                                                         

What rights are most threatened by State government?
Firearms Property  Parental Privacy  Religous
Other (Please explain.)                                                                         

What challenges do you face living in Maine?
Taxes    q Winter  q Income  q Job Opportunities
Other (Please explain.)                                                                         

What are the biggest benefits you find living in Maine?
Outdoor Heritage q Low Crime Rate  q Scenic Beauty q Culture
Other (Please explain.)                                                                         

The most important issue facing Windham is:                                           

Additional comments:                                                                           

Contact information:
Please return to: Rep. Patrick Corey
353 River Road

Fourth graders apply harvesting and cooking to education - By Michelle Libby

Fourth graders from Stacey Sanborn and Sarah Zima classes at Manchester School got a lesson in nutrition after harvesting carrots from the school’s gardens and making creations with them recently.
With the help of parent volunteers, Chef Samantha Cowens-Gasbarro, the school nutrition and wellness coordinator for RSU14, and Pam Lanz, a former guidance counselor at the school, the students made a variety of recipes featuring either orange, white or purple carrots and parsley all from the Manchester School garden. 
The harvested carrots were all weighed, for a total of 36 ½ pounds. One carrot tipped the scales at one pound. Left overs that were not used in the soup or muffins the fourth graders made were put into the freezer to be used this winter in the school’s lunch program. 

“All of the kids reflected on the project and made connections (to all subject areas),” said Sanborn. RSU14 superintendent Sandy Prince also came to sample the creations. “That really made an impression on them,” said Sanborn. They thought that if Mr. Prince came then what they were doing must be very important, she added.  

It was determined that the white carrots were sweeter and the purple carrots stained hands and mouths. Most of the students tried the muffins and the soups that were prepared.  

“I liked the muffins. I didn’t notice the carrots,” said Eliza. She did however notice the pineapple taste. 

“I shaved carrots for the first time,” said Claudia, whose hands turned dark purple for a couple of days. 
The gardens were started at the school in 1999 right after the school was renovated. Vegetable gardens were added in 2009. Now with the hoop house, which they’ve had for five or six years, the program has grown a lot more and more children have access to the garden and to fresh produce. 

Jaydon said, “I didn’t expect to like them, but I liked the muffins. I get to go home and make more.” She was also excited about meeting the school chef. 

Anthony also liked meeting Chef Sam, as they called her. 

This is the fourth year that Sanborn and her class have cooked with the items they have harvested. All of the activities from the weighing and measuring of the carrots to the measuring of ingredients have meaning when it comes to the curriculum, Sanborn said. “We really find it valuable. It connects directly with science and math.” 

Parents have said that children who garden at school come home and ask to garden there, or are more helpful when it comes to picking vegetables for the meal or preparing a salad while at home.  

“It shows our ongoing commitment to school gardening and sustaining what we've created,” said Lanz, who started the gardening program at Manchester School. 

Savannah, her mom Selina Paine, and her sister helped with the gardens this past summer. 

“We made the carrot soup. It was so yummy. I liked the muffins the best,” said Tabitha. 

Sanborn’s class also made applesauce this year as well as started a composting program. Each year the classes involved decide what they would like to plant in the garden. Sanborn said that this class is looking at dragonfly carrots to plant for next season. 

Three classes take part in the gardening program. 

The following pieces were written by students in Sanborn’s class reflecting on the garden to table process.

By Claudia Yurrita
I tugged an orange carrot out of the ground along with a heavy puff of breath.
I dragged it over to the dirty picnic table and slammed it on the table.
Next thing I know, I’m in the kitchen rinsing a dirty carrot under the chilly water.
A few days later I’m in the cafeteria shredding up carrots and dicing carrot tops. Next I switch to the purple carrots. My hands turn a dark shade of violet. When I finish chopping, I trot over to the crock pot. I slowly mix the thick carrot soup. A garlicky aroma dances into my nose. I couldn’t wait to try the soup.
I bite into a carrot muffin and a burst of flavor explodes into my mouth. A heavenly smile melts onto my face and now I know this was the best day of school ever!

By Shawna Edwards
I picked carrots. One of my carrots looked like a rat. Also I probably picked 10 or more carrots. The carrots were hard to pick. It was a lot of work. My hands were dirty and cold. I probably picked more purple carrots than orange carrots. When I washed my hands the dirt didn’t come off. My class picked 36 ¼ pounds of carrots. The longest carrot was 11 ½ inches long. The heaviest carrot is 8 ½ ounces.
Washing carrots is hard work because you are bending all the time. The purple carrots had more dirt on them than the orange carrots. I mostly washed the purple carrots but I did wash a lot of orange carrots too. The water was freezing cold when I was washing the carrots. Also one time when I was washing the carrots the water got really hot.
My whole class went down to the cafeteria to make soup, muffins and some people pealed carrots. Sophia, Cameron, Anthony, Jade and me made muffins. We all got a chance to put in the ingredients. Then everybody got to put in the batter in the muffin pan. While the muffins were baking, the class was all coloring a page. I colored a cornucopia. Then when the muffins were done Chef Sam let them cool. Then she let everybody try one but I didn’t try one, but I heard they were delicious. The superintendent even thought they were delicious.

By Finn Smith
My class picked carrots out in the garden. We picked 36 pounds of carrots. After, we washed them in cold water. Some of the carrots were very dirty. 

Next we got into groups and cut and peeled carrots. They made our hands purple. After, we drew pictures of Thanksgiving. Next I got to try carrot muffins and soup. They were so good.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Obstructionism has no place in your government - By Senator Bill Diamond

 “Knowledge is power.”

 So the old saying goes. We know that often, the difference between a good decision and a bad one is how much we know beforehand. Should you buy a car from the dealership in your town or the next one over? If one has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints and the other is a sterling example of good business practices, the choice is clear. But only if you know.

 In the Legislature, the same is true. The 35 members of the Senate and 151 members of the House of Representatives are charged with making lots of decisions on behalf of Maine’s people — judgment calls about wide-ranging topics from law enforcement to fisheries management to tax policies.

 Every lawmaker gets a vote, but we break apart into committees to do the deep digging, the nitty-gritty of research, debate and policymaking. And there, information about our government is crucial.

 For the most part, the legislature is made up of dedicated people who care about their constituents and work diligently researching the issues.  It's well known that most of the information in state government exists in the vast bureaucracy of the executive branch and needs to be shared with the legislature, media and public.  The only way this information can be obstructed is if the governor prohibits his department heads and staff from releasing it.

 I’ve had the privilege to work with six different governors — Democrats, Republicans and independents alike and throughout that time, the executive and legislative branches have worked together. The two don’t always agree, and they shouldn't. But they maintained a professional relationship for the benefit of the state as they worked together to solve critical problems.

 For the past couple of years that has all changed for the worse. For some reason the governor has refused to allow his department heads and staff to testify and work with the various committees of the legislature.  At times he’s ruled that no senior member of his administration may attend a committee meeting to answer lawmakers’ questions about state business. At other times, he’s allowed answers to be made only in writing. Unfortunately, the “answers” provided are often vague and unhelpful. They lead only to more questions. Most agree that such a shortsighted policy is counterproductive and lacks any semblance of sound thinking.

 The net effect is crucial information about the state’s finances, its work to treat mentally sick patients, its law enforcement efforts, and more have all been kept from lawmakers.  This is contradictory to what's consistently happened with previous governors and most unfortunately, this policy obstructs legislative efforts to find solutions to serious problems.  The most frustrating aspect of the governor's policy regarding his refusal to allow his department heads to work with the legislature is simple - it flies in the face of commonsense and keeps important information about state government from the public.

 The only reason given by the governor for prohibiting the sharing of critical information is because he says his government employees don't have time. Many believe such a reason doesn't pass the straight face test. Obviously, this also sets a dangerous precedent of obstructionism that the public, once told, will find totally unacceptable. After all, if only the executive branch is privy to information about the state’s business, the legislature is hamstrung in its efforts to write budgets and craft policy and public input is severely limited.

 The legislature, and especially the public, needs to insist that this unreasonable policy needs to stop.  When elected officials are kept in the dark, their ability to represent their constituents' best interests is diminished. More importantly, it cannot become the norm for any branch of government to restrict information from the public regardless of who gives the order.

 As always, please feel free to contact me at or (207) 287-1515.

Student of the Week - Julia Burns

The Windham Eagle student of the week is Julia Burns, a 14-year-old who attends Windham High School as a freshman. Although she’s not sure what profession she wants to pursue, she knows she wants to be in Maine.

 Julia lives at home with her mom, step-dad and brother. She also sees her dad, who lives in Portland, a lot.

 “On one of the first days of school, she helped a student who was extremely anxious find the nurse.  She also has helped out with passing student service's passes out as well as continually working on school work and keeping her grades up.  She volunteers at Riding to the Top,” said freshman study hall monitor Terri Whyte said. r

 “The most important things in my life right now are horses, I devote a lot of my time to being with them and I just love it. Riding takes my mind on things and when we aren’t riding, we are doing so many barn chores and having fun that we don’t have time to think about anything else,” said Julia.

 At school she’s most successful in her health/ wellness class and in physical education because she does all her work, turns things in on time and “I try my hardest and I have fun.”

 “My learning used to depend intently on the teachers, what they did for the lesson, if they did a lesson, or if they did something fun. What makes learning fun now is my friends, my relationships built with my old friends from back in our middle school days, to my new Raymond friends, everyone just makes this school a fun place to learn, and even though I do socialize a lot, we do always end up with our work done,” Julia said.

 In her free time, Julia often hangs out with her friends, or is somewhere fun with her dad. Sometimes she’s out on Peaks Island working with horses and being with her friends that share the same passion she does.

 Favorite Movie: Flicka

 Favorite Music Group: I like country, trap and some heavy metal

 Favorite Holiday: Christmas because there is a lot of family around and I get to spend time with them.

 Hobbies and extracurricular activities: I ride horses on Peaks Island and I volunteer at Riding to The Top in Windham, I also love just spending time with my friends