Friday, June 29, 2018

A kid-friendly paddle on the Heath by Briana Bizier

Canoeing or kayaking with children can be a serious challenge. Part of the struggle is finding the right water. An ideal place for a paddle with young children is a body of water with very little current, no wake from huge motorboats and enough variety in the surrounding environment to keep little canoeists interested. It’s especially nice if there aren’t too many houses on the shore with vacationers who don’t want to listen to a potential mid-water meltdown. Throw in a chance to catch a fish or two, and you’ll have the perfect spot for a quick, kid-friendly canoe or kayak.

For Father’s Day, our family decided to return to one of our favorite spots for
fishing and paddling: The Heath, a little pond nestled next to Thompson Lake which sits just over the border between Raymond and Casco.

This small body of water does not allow any motors, which means a kid-powered canoe is at no risk of being flipped by the stray wake from a large motorboat. It also means this pond remains quiet and calm, even on beautiful Sunday afternoons. As we set off on our canoeing adventure, the water was calm enough for my seven-year-old assistant (and the bow paddler) to watch shiny, black water boatmen insects skimming along the surface. As we paddled further along the heavily wooded shore, we observed brilliant dragonflies dipping to the surface.

“Oh, the dragonflies must be thirsty,” I said.

“Mom,” said my assistant, with an expert seven-year-old eye roll, “they’re eating the water bugs.”
A few moments later, a bass jumped from the water to make a lunge at a dragonfly, which was exciting enough to make certain canoeists shriek. My husband, who celebrated Father’s Day with two uninterrupted hours of fly fishing before we arrived, told us he’d seen a falcon snatch a fish from the water that morning. So, sometimes a simple canoe ride can turn into a lengthy discussion about the food chain.

The Heath meanders in a figure-8-shape for about two miles; stretching from a wide section near the road to a narrower band in the middle, which features a lily-filled cove and an island with several falcon nests. The far southern end of The Heath widens again and becomes shallow and marshy, with several large boulder “islands.” Numerous tree stumps protrude from these shallow waters; my children did not believe me when I said they were alligators.

“Mom,” my skeptical seven-year-old assistant explained, “painted turtles don’t sit on alligators!”
The water in this part of The Heath is crystal clear, allowing us to watch the bottom for turtles and fish. And, while the fishing was slow during our mid-day paddle, my husband assured me the largemouth bass had been very active that morning.

Unfortunately, after several explorations around submerged stumps, the heat of the day started to bother our youngest paddler. Despite bribes of ice cream cones, we experienced a “hot day, no fish” mid-canoe meltdown. If you were on or around The Heath last Sunday, I apologize!

A full paddle around the many coves and inlets of The Heath would cover roughly three miles and could keep adults entertained for several hours. If you are willing to portage your canoe or kayak over the road to explore Thompson Lake before or after your adventures on the Heath, this could easily become a day-long expedition.

Finally, although the breeze kept the bugs away last weekend, bug spray would be an excellent addition to your canoeing supplies if you plan to explore The Heath.
To access The Heath, follow Route 11 east from Raymond. Take a left on Johnson Hill Road, and another left on Heath Road. The access is easy to spot (it’s just before Thompson Lake Marina) and parking is available on the side of the road.

Free summer meals at Dundee Park to begin July 9th

The Summer Food Service Program will be providing free summer meals every weekday from July 9th to August 17th from noon to 1 p.m. This sixth annual, free summer meal program will be located at Dundee Park, 79 Presumpscot Road in Windham. The intention is to help families save money while providing a fun, safe place for kids and teens, ages 18 and under, to eat a healthy meal every day of the week. RSU14 and the town sponsor the Summer Meals Program and are able to do so through a federal grant.

For those who wish to attend the summer meals, you can inquire about a pass to Dundee Park by contacting Jeanne Riley at

Faculty spotlight on Hannah Bernier by Matt Pascarella

Hannah Bernier, a first-grade teacher at Windham Primary School (WPS), is a 2002 graduate from Windham High School (WHS). She knew she wanted to become a teacher since she was a young student in early elementary school.

During one challenging year, she and one of her teachers didn’t see eye-to-eye and Bernier felt she had no connection with that teacher. As a result of that one experience, it became a very important concept to Bernier to connect with her students. “I saw what I liked and found challenging as a student and decided I wanted to teach to try and create the best possible environment I could for my own individual students.”

For this reason, along with her love of learning and teaching, Bernier graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2006 from the University of Maine at Orono.

Shortly after college, Bernier became an Educational Technician at Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough. From there, she taught kindergarten in Poland, ME from 2007-2009.

Hannah Bernier
After two-years in that position, Bernier decided to teach seventh and eighth grades at Whittier Middle School, also in Poland. With that experience, Bernier discovered that teaching younger students was what she was meant to do and decided to accept a position at the Windham Primary School as a kindergarten teacher in 2011. She taught that grade level for five years before entering into her current position of teaching first grade.

The variety of experiences in teaching different age levels has helped her become who she is as a professional. It gives her a lot of perspective on how to teach.

Seeing students gain confidence in themselves is her favorite thing about teaching. “If a student is confident…they are willing to try,” she explains. That “lightbulb” moment means a student is learning and can continue to excel. There’s never a limit to learning and how far a student can take themselves. In her classroom, there is no “can’t” - it is “I can’t yet.”

Bernier lives in Windham with her husband, Matt, also a 2002 WHS graduate. They have two children Isaac and Amya. She enjoys spending time with her family and spending summers on the lake.

Small but mighty church group participate in housing rehabilitation mission project by Lorraine Glowczak

Members of the Raymond Village Community Church (RVCC) participated in a faith-in-action project with the Cherryfield, ME campus of the Maine Seacoast Mission. During the week of June 3rd through June 10th, five members of the congregation worked diligently to improve the trailer housing structure belonging to a woman and her son, both of whom are disabled.

This is RVCC’s sixth annual mission experience with the Seacoast Mission Program. This year they
were introduced to the 40-year-old son, who is suffering from neurological hardships resulting from a motorcycle accident, along with his mother who has severe physical disabilities.

“We are a small but mighty group,” explained RCVV Pastor, Nancy Foran of her congregation. “In the past six years we have worked together with Maine Seacoast Mission to build handicap ramps, trailer skirts, muck out basements and build new walls.”

Maine Seacoast Mission is located in Washington County, the most eastern part of the U.S. The mission of Maine Seacoast is to “build healthier communities and brighter futures,” by serving those in need who live on both the mainland and the islands in the surrounding Washington County area.
According to its website, “Washington County is one of the most economically impoverished regions of Maine and the nation. The county covers an area twice the size of Rhode Island with just over 32,000 residents, or about 13 people per square mile. The Maine Seacoast Mission has served its isolated coastal towns for over 100 years.”

The website further states that residents in that county often struggle to make modest livings, frequently working seasonal jobs not paying enough to consistently afford basic necessities. Unemployment in Washington County is higher than in most of Maine. Children in the county are particularly at risk; 27 percent live in poverty and experience food insecurity.

Members of RVCC are dedicated to do their part to relieve some of that struggle. “We were one group, among many, who helped this family adequately survive in their mobile home,” Foran explained. “Our task as a church included building a skirt around the trailer house.”

Although the work RVCC members provided was important, Foran pointed out another significant aspect of their faith-in-action effort. “The work you do for others is very crucial,” Foran began. “But the relationships you develop and maintain is equally important.”

Building a relationship with the family is what they did. “The son always waited for us every morning to help us,” explained Foran. “And the mother made brownies to provide a dessert during our lunch hours. It was truly a collaborative act. Both parties gave, and both received.”

One individual who participated in this year’s mission is not a member of the church but has experience and ability with construction. Sheila Bourque of Raymond agreed to participate with RVCC and discovered more about herself than anticipated. “The whole experience was challenging, fun, emotional and exhausting all rolled up in one ball,” stated Bourque. “But most importantly, I learned something about myself as a task-oriented person. Being focused on getting the task completed was not the ultimate point of the experience. I had to learn to let that go and realize that other groups would come in to finish where we left off. The point was to make the family’s experience a positive one.”

Although only five members participated in this year’s action-oriented faith effort, the whole congregation was involved in some way. “What amazed me as an outsider is how the whole congregation came together and helped in some way with this mission,” Bourque said. “Some people provided food for us for the week while others provide little words of encouragement and support while we were gone, sending post-it notes of wisdom and laughter. We left on a Sunday, June 3rd and the congregation sang to us a farewell. When we returned, we shared our experiences. Although I must admit I am not a ‘Godly’ type of person, the whole experience was a spiritual one for me.”

Ironically, much like the congregation that waved goodbye, offering well wishes and then welcomed the crew back to embrace them in the fold; that is exactly what the 40-year-old son did each day as the five-member group came and went. “He would greet us each morning with a smile and wave goodbye to us as we left for the day,” stated Foran.

It’s true that RVCC members helped a family on the physical level but they also helped on an emotional – and perhaps on a spiritual level as well. As Foran stated, “Any service you do, you get filled up. I get so much more out of it than I give.”

Friday, June 22, 2018

Special ceremony at Windham Veterans Center to retire torn and tattered flags

There are several ways to respectfully dispose of the American flag without showing disgrace. The most common method is burning the torn or tattered flag in a special ceremony. This occurred at dusk on Flag Day, Thursday June 14th when the Field-Allen Post 148 and Scout Troop 805 joined together at the Windham Veterans Center in a Special Flag Retirement Ceremony. (L-R), Post 148 2nd Vice Commander, Jeff Cook; Post Sgt. at Arms, Larry DeHof; 1st Vice Commander, Rebecca Cummings; and in the background members of Scout Troop 805 holding flags to be retired by burning. These flags were collected from the graves of Windham veterans this last Memorial Day as well as those left at the Scout collection sites around Windham.

Christina Warren makes a connection with students through art by Matt Pascarella

Warren with her fans (aka students)
Christina Warren is a practicing artist and an art teacher at Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond. She works in encaustic wax, or hot wax painting, which involves adding colored pigments to melted wax. She has a studio in her home where she has shown her work, sold her work and is currently working on a Maine series with postcards.

Warren has been going to art school since the 5th grade, which at that time was the Portland School of Art. By the time she was 18, there was no doubt in her mind she wanted to be an artist. She got her fine arts degree at the Portland College of Art, now the Maine College of Art.

Making it as an artist is not easy, so when her kids began school, Warren began subbing in the Windham district. This made her a better art teacher, as she understood more about classroom teaching. While subbing, the teachers encouraged her to be a teacher and go back to school. She went to the University of Southern Maine and got her teaching certificate. She was quickly hired at Windham Primary School. She taught there for a while and after some district restructuring, moved to Jordan-Small Middle School where Warren enjoys the small classroom and learning environment.“I’ve gotten to know the kids, I can teach to their skills,” she explains. “I can have a sequence. I start in 5th grade and build their skills right to the 8th grade. The kids’ work is coming out phenomenal.” She gets to know them personally and that makes a difference. The students take care of the teachers as much as the teachers take care of the students.

Warren went back to get her master’s in Integrated Arts and Curriculum Development through a weekend program at Lesley University; graduating in 2009. She integrates her curriculum with other subjects like science, by creating stop motion movies of planets; or health by studying advertising, discussing persuasion and then making a piece of art out of an ad.

Warren’s goal as an art teacher is to have students think and problem solve like artists once they leave her class. If they can approach any project the way an artist would; reflect experiment, practice and maybe add color – then she’s done.

The Windham Eagle newspaper staff awarded for ongoing support of veterans

The Windham Eagle newspaper was honored last Wednesday, June 13th by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars when they awarded a citation, stating “In recognition of and sincere appreciation for the consistent wholehearted efforts through which this newspaper has promoted citizenship and education of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.” We are always honored to serve those who have served for us.

L to R: Walter Braley (VFW), Melissa Carter (Advertising), Kelly Mank (Owner), Willie Goodman (VFW), Mary Emerson (Office Manager), Lorraine Glowczak (Managing Editor) and Roger Timmons (VFW).

Raymond Village Community Church to dedicate window panel art

Church members with two of the window panes
A two-year project, by members of the congregation to create colorful window panels depicting seven major passages from the Bible, will come to a joyous end on Sunday, June 24 at 10 a.m. This is when the panels will be formally dedicated during the regular Sunday Service at the Raymond Village Community Church, 27 Main St. in Raymond Center.  Everyone in the community is cordially invited to attend the service and dedication. twenty of the church’s parishioners had a hand in painting the panels, spending over 200 workhours during a series of seven workshops. The panels were made possible through a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship. That grant paid for all materials and made it possible for the church to retain the services of UCC Pastor and artist Rev. Diane Wendorf, who designed the panels and facilitated the parishioners who collaborated in paining them.

Each of the seven pairs of 15-foot-high panels, frame one of the seven large windows in the Church. The panels can be closed to darken the Church during special services and to allow the projection of multi-media presentations during worship. Most of the time, they are open, “looking like stained glass, only sitting beside each window, not in it,” said RVCC Pastor Rev. Nancy Foran. “And when they are closed, they look like stained glass from the outside.”

The sanctuary of the church is already decorated with trompe l’oeil designs on each wall and the ceiling was painted by a former pastor approximately 150 years ago. “The new panels are meant both to complement and contrast with the historic decoration,” says Rev. Foran. “They add new life and vibrant color to our almost 200-year-old church, reminding everyone that no matter how old an institution, the church needs to be vital, and always growing and changing.”
The panels depict seven different passages in the Bible from Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, John, and Revelation. 

For further information about the panels and the dedication, email Rev. Foran at, or call the church at 655-7749.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Student of the Week: McKenzie Keeney

McKenzie Keeney, a fifth-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle School is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Keeney, age 10, enjoys participating in 4-H, drama and cross-country.

“McKenzie always has a smile on her face and is friendly to everyone,” stated her teacher. “She always participates in PE activities and gets along well with her peers. She is a diligent worker who strives to do her best in whatever she attempts.”

Kenney states that Project Based Learning is what makes learning fun and her favorite class subject is science. Her favorite holiday is Christmas. During her free time, she enjoys reading and watching T.V.

Windham woman embraces newfound brother by Elizabeth Richards

Louise Coal Beal with her brother Timothy Johnson
Life can be full of twists, turns and new information that changes everything. Windham resident, Louise Cole Beal has been through many ups and downs in her 77 years. A revelation of a long held secret recently sent her to a new high when she learned she has a younger brother that she never knew.  

Beal received a message through Facebook out of the blue one day a few short months ago. In that message, Timothy Johnson named some of her siblings, asking if she was the Louise Cole related to them. He said her father, Charlie Cole, had married his mother, Gladys Johnson, in 1959. They had a child, he reported, and that child was him. He asked her to contact him if she was the one he was looking for.

Beal said the information he’d given was accurate and she remembered her father’s marriage to Gladys Johnson, though it had only lasted a few months. Though suspicious, she took a chance and wrote back to him.   
So began a back and forth correspondence that culminated in DNA testing that showed evidence that Johnson and Beal were, indeed, siblings. “I was in shock,” Beal said. “It’s a mind boggler,” she said about the whole situation.
Once their blood relationship was confirmed, Beal embraced Johnson into her family. She invited he and his wife, Suzanne, to her house for lunch so they could meet in person. “It was nice, and I got to know what kind of a person he was. He’s a very nice person. I said that doesn’t surprise me because Ionly have nice people in my family,” Beal said.

Beal and Johnson communicate every day, via phone, facetime, and social media. The Johnsons will visit again in July to meet some of Beal’s children, grandchilden, and great-grandchildren, along with some neices. She has reached out to everyone, introducing their long-lost family member, she said. The family response has been nothing but positive, she added.

Johnson said that a couple of years ago, one of his brothers called asking if he was looking for his real father. At the time, he dismissed this conversation, because he said he’d believed with all his heart that Winifred Johnson, whom his mother remarried after her divorce from Charlie Cole, was his father.

Then, a few months ago, Johnson said his wife and her family were doing some DNA testing, and he thought he would as well. That old conversation with his brother resurfaced in his mind, and he called his sister to ask her about it. “She went silent,” he said, which tipped him off that something was up. Finally, his siblings told him the truth – he did, in fact, have a different father.

Although he was angry at first, Johnson said, he does not have any animosity towards the siblings who kept this secret. And though he’s getting to know his new family, he still has constant contact with the siblings he’s always known as well.

Others can learn from their story, said Beal and Johnson. Beal, who is very interested in geneology and has traced her roots back to the Mayflower, said she believes everybody has a right to know where they came from, who they are, and their family’s medical history. “There’s so many people in this world wandering around that don’t know where they belong or who they are. And that’s sad,” she said.

Beal believes that had her father known he had another son, he would have gone to all lengths to contact him and be part of his life, “like I am doing.”
   said he thinks his story could be encouragement for others who may be in the same situation, deciding whether or not to tell another family member the truth. “It can be such a wonderful blessing to know that  there are other family members willing to accept you and take you in as their own,” he said. While he added there may be legitimate reasons not to tell someone, being accepted into a family even though they had no idea you existed, has been great for him. “It’s like a human response when somebody knows that they’re related to each other, it’s like a bond that forms instantaneously. That certainly happened with Louise and myself,” he said.

Getting to know Beal is an exciting moment in his life, Johnson said. “She’s just a wonderful, wonderful person. She’s full of life and she puts her heart in everything she does. I just really love her and she’s an awesome sister. I’m so so glad that I finally was able to meet her in person,” he said.

A matter of historical record: The story behind Gambo’s mysterious dog grave by Walter Lunt

Last of a two-part series

As reported in part one (The Windham Eagle-June 1, 2018), a lonely gravestone overlooking the quiet flow of the Presumpscot River in South Windham belongs to a greyhound dog named Malsee. The inscription identifies Malsee as the faithful friend of Gen. Hooton and suggests a connection with the First Regiment at Chickamauga, Spanish-American /War.

Gen. Hooton in 1898. He was a fan of greyhounds. He buried his beloved greyhound, Malsee, in Windham. The exact inscription on the stone states: "In memory of Malsee, General Hooton's faithful Grayhound. Born in Montana 1894. Died 1908 with First Regt at Chickamauga in Spanish War"

Research by local resident Alan Anderson, confirms Malsee was the favorite of several greyhounds owned by Gen. Mott Hooton, who spent nearly a lifetime in the U.S. Army over three wars

Evidence suggests that Hooton’s half-sister, Sally Rhodes, cared for Malsee in South Windham, a location far from the general’s life experiences. It is likely he would trust only family to look after his beloved and “faithful friend.”

Malsee’s solitary gravesite, with its inscription (see box quote) was a decades-old mystery until Anderson, after years of searching, discovered that the general has a biographer.

Kevin Brown and Amy King, two Pennsylvania writers, are currently collaborating on a book about Hooton, who, they have learned had a classic and triumphant military career.
Mott Hooton was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1838. He attended Bolmar’s Academy in West Chester; which is described as semi-military in discipline.

As Hooton recorded humbly in his military memoirs, “Shortly after Fort Sumpter was fired on, I enlisted in a company (and) mustered into the 1st Infantry Pennsylvania Reserve Corps.” The historical record reveals a modest man who had deep respect for the uniform he wore and a profound love of country (and greyhound dogs). He glosses over his many promotions and minimizes the reasons for them. He rose through the ranks during the Civil War, having fought in numerous major battles, including the Peninsula campaign, the second Battle of Bull Run (where he was severely wounded – 1862), Gettysburg (1863) and the Overland Campaign (1864).

In 1865, he was promoted and recognized for gallant and meritorious service in the Wilderness Campaign.

By 1866, Hooton was engaged with the 22nd Infantry and spent the next 30 years as an Indian fighter on frontier posts in Montana, Colorado and Texas where he took part in one of the most famous incidents with Sitting Bull, during the Centennial Campaign of 1876. His gallantry in the two-day battle would see him rewarded with a brevet of Major in the U.S. Regular Army.

Details of this and other running battles with Sioux Indians can be found at 1898, as noted in his military memoir, “When the Spanish-American War broke out…I commanded the first troops that moved in the war.”
As a major in the 5th Infantry (the famed Negro Regiment) that made the historic charge up San Juan Hill, Hooton again distinguished himself and was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.
In 1901, as he neared mandatory retirement, Hooton was charged with organizing a new infantry, and in the process found yet another way to bring honor to his name.
Reports of drunkenness and disorderliness among enlisted men were somewhat common on pay days. In an effort to establish order early-on, Hooton addressed the over 600 new troops just prior to their first 2-month pay: “Your commanding officer indulges (in) the hope that your behavior (will) reflect credit upon yourselves, this new regiment and upon the army as a whole. (Let) no act bring disgrace on the uniform you wear.”
A local newspaper observed the order to be, “dignified and an appeal to the soldiers’ better nature…true American manhood responded (because) not a single case of disorderly conduct occurred.”
Hooton retired in 1902. He had been promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He came to Windham to help his sister, Sally, care for their dead sister, Annie Charey’s children. Gen. Hooton had become their surrogate father.
Eventually, they moved to Gardiner, Maine where Hooton passed away in 1920 at the age of 82. His connection to the town Windham rests with Malsee on the marble gravestone near the Presumpscot water at Gambo.

Friday, June 8, 2018

International Music Night comes to Raymond

The  Raymond Arts Alliance is hosting the second presentation of the “Short Set Concert Series” on Saturday, June 16th at the Raymond Village Church, 27 Main Street in Raymond. The series is designed to provide a sampling of music, in one setting, for the audience’s entertainment and enlightenment.

This concert offers an exciting evening of music with three different bands, each playing a short 25-minute set. This event features music from the Celtic, Latin, and Middle Eastern traditions. The Celtic group is the husband/wife duo of Sharon (guitar) and Perry (fiddle and more) Newman. They have been making beautiful music together for a long time. After dinner with friends one night, they formed an Irish band, Sligo Road, which took them down a much different path than their classical training intended. While the band is no longer performing, their music continues! The Middle Eastern group, Zapion, performs music from the Turkish, Arab and Balkan traditions and has been active in Maine for eight years. A student of the late Udi Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, Eric LaPerna, formed Zapion in 2010. Zapion got its name from a Greek Tavern that Udi Alan used to perform at in the 70s. Members include Eric LaPerna (darbuka), Sarah Mueller (violin), Maria Wagner (clarinet, nay) and Gary Wittner (7 string guitar).

The Latin group consists of Rafael Freyre (bass/vocals), Eric Winter (vocals/congas) and Gary Wittner (guitar/vocals); all of whom have been performing Latin music locally and regionally for many years, with groups such as Dos Canosos, Primo Cubano, Grupo Mofongo, Sly Chi and more. This group played at the first “Short Set Concert Series” hosted by the Raymond Arts Alliance. The group interacts well with the audience and it is hard to sit still listening to the Latin beat! 
The concert is free and open to the public, however a suggested donation of $10 is appreciated. These groups are performing for the pleasure of your entertainment and their love of music. They are only taking a small stipend from the donations. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Backpacks available for checkout at the Windham Public Library

The Windham Public Library offers themed backpacks on a variety of subjects (Nature, Magnets, History, Birds, and Games) that are available for checkout. Each backpack contains a collection of items designed to inspire exploration and play. These backpacks are geared toward families with children who are around middle-school age.

Student of the Week: Olivia Hamilton

Olivia Hamilton, a fifth-grade student at Jordan-Small Middle School is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Hamilton, age 10, enjoys basketball, dance, horseback riding, running, drama and cross-country.

“Olivia is an outstanding student, said her teacher. “She is proficient in all academic and academic enrichment classes. She has an outstanding work ethic. She is dedicated to learning with a stellar focus and willingness to participate daily. She takes comprehensive notes whether directed or not. She asks questions for clarification and doesn’t shy away from advocating for herself and others. In the classroom, Olivia has a sparkle in her eye. She welcomes challenges. Olivia is a true friend. All of Olivia’s friends know she is quiet by nature but can also be playful, possessing a great imagination. She is trusted by her friends both in and out of the classroom. Words that best describe Olivia are trusted, nice, happy-go-lucky, and funny.”

Outside of school, Olivia enjoys reading (especially Harry Potter books) and hanging with her dog Daisy. Her favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip. Her favorite subject is science and her favorite holiday is Christmas.

Windham High School instructor wins Music Educator of the Year Award by Jennifer Davis

It is a great feeling when a member of your community is presented with an award but that great feeling increases when it is a member that works so closely with our children. Hanna Flewelling, orchestra and band instructor at Windham High School was recently presented with the Maine New Music Educator of the Year Award this past month at the President's Reception of the Maine Music Educators Conference at the University of Maine.
Nancy Cash-Cobb, Richard Nickerson, Hanna Flewelling, Rose Underfofler, Morgan Riley celebrate Flewelling's award

Each year The Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA) awards a teacher with no more than five years of teaching experience with this award. “The award recognizes an educator who shows outstanding potential and is already making a difference,” said Richard Nickerson, Director of Choral Activities at the Windham High School. The teacher then has to be nominated by a member of the MMEA or by an administrator. 

Flewelling demonstrated all these qualities and did so with flair. “Since arriving at Windham High School, Hanna has shown an infectious enthusiasm towards teaching,” said Nickerson.  “The numbers for orchestra have doubled in the past 4 years.” Nickerson presented Flewelling with this award at the MMEA conference.

Flewelling, who has been the orchestra instructor at the high school, recently took on the role of band instructor following the retirement of the previous long-time band instructor. While taking on this additional role, Flewelling has thrived and is making a difference in the high school students she works with everyday along with the younger students as well.  “She is a team player who always puts the needs of her students first,” said Nickerson.

Congratulations, Hanna! Thank you for your hard work for the students of RSU 14.

Host families needed for French students in July by Elizabeth Richards

In early July, a group of 19 students and one leader from France will be arriving in Maine for almost three weeks. The students are arriving through an international student exchange program called the Greenheart Exchange, a nonprofit organization. Kathy Hansen, a local coordinator for Greenheart said she still needs 10 volunteer host families for students.

The students range in age from 13-17. For this short-term immersion program, host families should have children in the same general age range in the home. Hansen said the students aren’t coming to be entertained or to travel, and host families shouldn’t need to spend any money beyond the cost of feeding the student.

So much can be learned from hosting a student from a different country
The students are here, Hansen said, to make friends, practice English speaking, and share their language and culture with the students who are hosting.

Finding host families can be a challenge. “A lot of people don’t host because of three things – time, money and space,” Hansen said.  While those concerns can be valid, none of them should be a barrier for this short-term summer program.  

Families don’t need to arrange their schedules around the visiting student. Students do the same things the host student is doing or partner up with another exchange student if the host teenager is working or at camp. Sometimes, exchange students even join the host student at a camp – with the exchange student covering any costs of their camp experience. One family who is hosting this summer plans to be camping the whole time and is taking the exchange student along. “I say, just throw them in the mix,” Hansen said.

When it comes to space, Hansen said, students don’t need to have a dedicated room. She collects rollaway cots at yard sales, she says, and either the host student or the exchange student can use something like that.

Students have their own spending money, and if they want to do activities that cost money they pay their own way. “I tell my families not to spend money at all, except to feed them,” Hansen said. She suggests just letting students bond with the family instead. Families can also seek out free things to do in the area, she added. She shared that when she hosted, she always brought students to the Portland Museum of Art on Friday evenings, when admission is free, which also got her own children to go to the PMA.

That’s another advantage of hosting, she said. You don’t always make time to take your family to places like a lighthouse when you live in the area. But finding those free things and taking the exchange student along with your own children, promotes families spending time together.

Hansen has been hosting for about 36 years now. She started when a teacher in Portland called her and asked her to consider it. She said she doesn’t even know how the teacher got her name, but she loved the experience, and became a volunteer the following year.

Hansen has five grown children of her own. “When I look back at being a very busy mom, not having a lot of money, time or space with five kids, one of the smartest things I did was to host exchange students because I brought the world to my kids,” she said.  Having exchange students from all over the world helped her children think about the world and other people. 

Host families do not need to be from Windham. Anywhere within an hour and a half radius is acceptable for this group. Hansen said even if someone can only host for part of the time, she can accommodate that. There is a short application, which can be accessed at For more information, contact Hansen by email at or by phone at 207-653-1007.

Cub Scout Pack 805 will stay active all summer by Elizabeth Richards

It may be almost summer, but Cub Scout pack 805 in Windham isn’t slowing down. Current projects on the horizon include: an astronomy event, a movie night and cookout, an end-of-summer celebration at Sebago Lake State Park, delivering scout-made bird feeders to Ledgewood Nursing Home and planning a town clean-up day with the help of John Scott from Scott’s Disposal.

Cub Scouts have some slingshot fun
Cubmaster Tony Sweet said the pack has been quite active over the past year, with individual den activities and pack events. Activities included: den clean-up projects at Lipman Park, a food drive, a camp out at Camp Gustin in Sabbatus, an overnight at Evo Rock Gym, a bowling event, and a trip to Plimoth Plantation. Sweet said his goal as Cubmaster is to offer plenty of activities throughout the year so that the kids really get something out of their Cub Scout experience. The pack has nearly 65 scouts, and is always looking to grow, Sweet said. 

The Pack Committee is working hard to build a buzz and recruit new participants. The summer events are designed not only to bring the current members of the pack together, but to invite new kids to check out the organization. Anyone interested in finding out what Cub Scouts is like is welcome to come, Sweet said. Events will be advertised on the pack’s Facebook page, and they will also try to get word out on the town Facebook page, as well as signs at the rotary and in the community, he said.

Sweet became involved as leader in the pack last year. At first, he said, he was simply looking for something that his son, AJ, would enjoy. AJ is on the autism spectrum, Sweet said “So finding something that was going to be good for his special brain was something that we wanted to do.” Cub Scouts fit the bill.

After initially offering to help his son’s Den Leader, Sweet found himself quickly assuming the role of Den Leader, Assistant Cubmaster, and finally Cubmaster. He agreed to take on the task because of the positive experiences he – and his son – had with Cub Scouts.

“I’ve had great fun with it, and AJ’s made a lot of friends, which was hard for him at first,” Sweet said. Now, he said, AJ has a group of boys he connects with.

As Cubmaster, Sweet oversees all the dens and plans full pack events with the help of the committee. He is also still the leader of his son’s den. His wife, Torrey, is the treasurer and committee chairperson for the pack. When he began, Sweet said, the committee was small. But now, they have a full committee and some very involved Den Leaders. Participation is rising, and parents have been pleased with events and activities.

One of the most satisfying aspects, Sweet said, was seeing the progress AJ, and other children, have made. He strives for the pack to be a constant for kids; something they can rely on and get something out of. He enjoys watching the older children help the younger ones and watching the kids learn to be safe, responsible and respectful with each other and in the community.  “It’s an amazing thing to see. I’m hoping that by doing some things we’ll get the pack out there in the community’s eyes. We’re trying to really make Windham and our home a better place,” he said. 

Cub Scout Pack 805
To that end, the pack is trying to do more public outreach and build community relationships. They are looking into a scout program called, “Adopt a School” where they choose a school to help with yardwork, clean up, fundraisers, and more. The pack recently moved their charter to St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, where they can get more involved with events there as well.
Sweet said he got into leadership to help his own son but seeing the impact that he can have on other kids makes him feel amazing. “I really try to make a positive impact,” he said. “[I’m] trying to get more kids in because I know how important it is in this day and age, that kids really have positive experiences and positive role models.”

Scouts have given AJ a place he can challenge himself and make connections with other boys, Sweet said. Part of that is the easy acceptance the kids have for each other’s differences, said Torrey. 

Tony said the kids – and parents – are quick to offer encouragement when someone is struggling.  “When one is having a hard time, they’ll boost each other up,” he said. “It’s amazing to see from my point of view. To see it from a dad of a kid with special needs, to see other parents who struggle see the same thing happen – you can’t put into words how it feels,” he said.  Those connections make him want to be a part of the pack for many years to come.

Pack 805 typically meets on the third Monday of each month at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church. Individual den meeting times vary.  For more information or to get involved, contact Tony Sweet at, 207-831-9397 or search Pack 805 Windham Maine on Facebook.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Investing in our future by Rep. Jessica Fay

When we craft budgets at both the local and state level we must prioritize carefully. As stewards of our precious tax dollars, elected officials must make difficult decisions. Sometimes those decisions are made piece by piece, and because of the way the process works, taking the long view about how decisions today will impact the future of our communities can be challenging.

It takes vision and leadership to look past the next year or two to consider what our needs will be in the future and to plan for those needs. When people in the community engage in the process and begin to advocate for budgets that support programs that benefit all of us, policymakers have the impetus to address those issues.

Like municipalities across the state, towns in the Sebago Lakes Region have the opportunity to invest in our economic future by supporting policies that make our communities more livable for older people and all of us. In Raymond, 50 percent of our residents are over the age of 50 and 25 percent are over 62; now is the time to plan for our future. When we include services for older adults in our budgets, everyone benefits.

As a member of the Maine Legislature’s Caucus on Aging, I have learned a great deal about what we can do in the state and our local communities to plan for our future.

By encouraging communities that are more livable for older people, we improve it for everyone. Safer more walkable streets and access to transportation means that those who don’t drive or choose not to, still have a way to get where they need to go for health and well-being, as well as social interaction. Access to food locally, either through Meals-on-Wheels, farms, food pantries or shopping, means that it’s easier for people to stay in the community instead of moving. Making sure we all have the social interaction and supports that we need to be healthy and participate in whatever way we choose, means that our towns can thrive.

When we invest in technology infrastructure like broadband, in addition to encouraging growth and diversity in our local economy, we can improve the quality of life for all of us. Through advances in telemedicine, people can stay in their homes when in the past they may have had to be hospitalized. Seniors connected through high speed internet can participate in life long learning, stay better connected to family that isn’t nearby, and continue to participate in the workforce. older population has so much knowledge and valuable work experience. By creative utilization of that valuable experience, businesses could improve their workforce. Partnering retirees with those who are still learning can help teach the skills necessary to do many of the jobs available in our area. Through mentoring partnerships, business could benefit from the understanding of work ethic, soft and hard skills of those who have spent a lifetime learning.

When we look at vibrant healthy communities where people want to live and work, we see some common threads: people have social engagement, economic possibility, access to services that help us participate and age together, and recognition of the value that public policy can contribute to our well-being as we age. Traditional community values of caring for our neighbors can and should be part of our long-term planning. For those of us who are looking forward to spending the rest of our days in the Sebago Lakes Region, looking ahead so that we have the social and physical infrastructure in place to support all of us as we age will be key.

The Raymond Age Friendly Community Connection Initiative is beginning an assessment which will give us a handle on the attitudes and needs of older people, families and caregivers in our area. By better understanding the needs of our neighbors, we will be able to target our resources to meet those needs. This will be a long-term project and hopefully everyone will participate.

Taking a hike on Pismire Bluff Trail in Raymond Community Forest by Briana Bizier

Ian and Sage Bizier on the Pismire Bluff Trail
With 356 acres of permanently conserved land, including spectacular views of Crescent Lake and trails to suit almost all ability levels, Raymond Community Forest is one of the hidden treasures of the Lakes Region.

For the very first edition of my summer series reviewing local hiking trails, I set off with my seven-year-old and four-year-old assistants to explore Raymond Community Forest. We’ve already thoroughly enjoyed the 1.1 mile Spiller Homestead Loop, so this time we packed backpacks, slathered on the bug spray (it is May, after all), and decided to tackle Pismire Bluff Trail.

Pismire Bluff Trail is a 0.7 mile in-and-out or up-and-down, trail to the height of Pismire Bluff.
The trails in Raymond Community Forest are impressively well maintained and well-marked, and the Pismire Bluff Trail is no exception. It begins following the Spiller Homestead Loop’s pink trail blazes from the parking lot, and then veers off to follow blue trail blazes across Conesca Road. I did spot some poison ivy near the parking lot and road, so make sure you stay on the trail as you explore. crossing Conesca Road, Pismire Bluff Trail winds through the woods along a talus slope for about a
quarter of a mile. This section of the trail includes a few steep sections and one large set of stone steps. Although my assistants clambered up the giant-sized steps with utter delight, this adult was left panting for breath.

The upper section of the trail includes a moderate 0.3-mile meander through a gentle forest, where we spotted several chipmunks and heard what sounded like hundreds of songbirds. However, by this point in the climb my youngest assistant had a hiking meltdown and needed to be placated with M&Ms. Parents hiking with small children, be prepared!

At the top of the bluff, a lovely wooden sign marks the turn for the Highlands Loop, an orange-blazed 0.7-mile trail also maintained by Loon Echo Land Trust. This looked enticing, but it was a bit too much for the four-year-old.

Instead of exploring Highlands Loop, we followed the last 0.1 mile stretch of Pismire Bluff Trail to a lovely scenic overlook, where we watched water-skiers on Crescent Lake and a turkey vulture circle just overhead. (No, the vulture wasn’t for me; I swear I wasn’t that winded!) With a large, glacially-polished granite boulder and no cliffs in the immediate area, this overlook is the perfect place to stop for snacks after the climb.

Once we’d finished our descent back down Pismire Bluff Trail, which went very quickly with lighter backpacks and the promise of an ice cream cone if we managed to make it back to the car without another meltdown, I asked my young assistants what they thought of the hike.

“Great!” reported my seven-year-old. “You might think it’s not worth the climb. But it’s totally worth it!”

“It was fun everywhere,” said my four-year-old. “Ice cream?”

To find Raymond Community Forest, head north from Route 85 on Raymond Hill Road. Turn north on
Conesca Road. The trailhead for Raymond Community Forest is just past Hancock Road.