Carrie Ricker Arts Teacher Creates Virtual Arts Show to Showcase Student Work

This school year has been anything but typical, forcing teachers and students to teach and learn in new ways. As schools across the globe transitioned from classroom instruction to remote learning it was important to Jen Williams, the Visual Arts Teacher at Carrie Ricker School in Litchfield to keep her artists engaged and creating.

Normally, Williams and her colleagues would have had a large Arts Night at school filled with an art show and spring concerts. Since that could not happen this year, she decided to create a video art show to celebrate her student’s amazing artwork. This video art show showcases not only their art created at school but during remote learning.

See the Carrie Ricker Arts Show Here!

“My hope is that with this art show my students feel proud of their accomplishments and celebrated for their talents,” said Williams.  “The arts are such a vital part of education and have kept us all connected through these challenging times.”

This story was submitted by Jen Williams, Art Teacher at Carrie Ricker School in RSU 4 as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea, email Rachel at

Saco School Department’s Young School Adapts to Distance Learning to Follow Through on Planned Whole School Thematic Unit

Last September, Brad Coupe and the Friends of Wood Island Lighthouse invited Principal of Young School in Saco, Dr. Peter Harrison and staff, to visit the island off Vine’s Landing in Biddeford, and tour the lighthouse.

From that visit, a whole-school, Lighthouse Themed study was planned to correspond with Maine’s Bicentennial and it’s Maritime history. A May field trip to Portland Head Light by all students was to set the stage for this integrated project. In Art classes, students were going to design and build a lighthouse.

Classroom teachers planned lighthouse themed activities in all subject areas and technology would be used to virtually visit and learn about lighthouses. Guest
speakers would share their experiences working and living at lighthouses in Maine.
Teachers planned to connect Young School’s OBOYS (One Book, One Young School) project to the lighthouse theme by having all students receive and read a copy of
the book Keep the Lights Burning Abbie, by Peter and Connie Roop.

student lighthouses

Then in March, a Global Pandemic changed all those plans! 

Teachers’ focus turned to “Distance Learning.” Just connecting with students and families became the immediate necessity. Slowly with time, teachers began to be more comfortable with this new way of school and their thoughts drifted back to the abandoned Lighthouse project.

In an effort to help students stay engaged over April vacation, Young School teachers shared a few resources for students to explore if they chose to. Over vacation, Students were challenged to build or create a lighthouse.

Distance Learning Lighthouse Week

Ms. Julia Gordon, K-2 Art teacher, compiled photos staff took while visiting Wood Island into a video for students!

After April Vacation, the original committee members decided to bring the Lighthouse Unit back to life digitally!

Click to see video

Three Lighthouse Experts Right Here in Saco!

Mrs. AnnMarie Hann, from CK Burns School, (former first grade teacher at Young School), shares her experience on the US Coast Guard Cutter, Abbie Burgess! See Video
When Mr. Mike Garrity, Director of Transportation and Facilities for Saco School Department, was in the Coast Guard, he tended lighthouses. Mike shared his experiences with students through video! See video
Mrs. Julie Petrin, School Secretary at Young School (now at Saco PreK), created and narrated a slideshow to share her family’s experience at Wood Island Light when Julie’s father was its Lighthouse Keeper! See video

Distance Learning Choice Board Menus

In order to extend learning, teachers created Lighthouse themed Choice Board/Learning Menus that included all subjects and unified arts.

Teachers also used Seesaw to create learning activities for students to complete in conjunction with the choice boards/menus.

See Student Questions and Responses from our Lighthouse Experts

Links that go along with the student responses in the image below:

Student Responses

This story was submitted by Wendy Cannon, Technology Coach, Saco PreK-2 Schools as mart of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email Rachel at


Sebago Elementary Creates Virtual Arts Festival

Sebago Elementary has approximately 100 students and a community that is hugely supportive and proud of their school. Brenda McGuinness is an Art Teacher at Sebago Elementary School one day per week along with music teacher Jennifer Null and instrumental music teacher Lindsay Waller. In March they were making final plans for the second annual Arts Festival to be held on April 14th. Unfortunately, like events all over the world, the school Arts Festival was canceled.

With a strong desire to showcase the talents and efforts of their students, they worked hard to bring the first Virtual Arts Festival into the homes of students, their families and the community in an alternative way.

Using photographs of the art projects from each grade throughout the year as well as the various events students were involved in throughout the state, along with emailed photos of student art work during remote learning, they made a memorable slideshow of art adventures for the 2019/2020 school year.

“The reaction from our students and families to our Virtual Arts Festival has been wonderful and I feel delighted to have been able to present them with this event,” said Brenda in an email to the DOE.

This story was submitted by Brenda McGuinness, Art Teacher, Sebago Elementary School as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. to submit a story email Rachel at


Vinalhaven School Goes Virtual for 2019/2020 K-12 Art Show

Vinalhaven’s K-12 Visual Arts Teacher Heather White just couldn’t end the year without an Art Show.

“Students created so many cool ‘things’ in the art room this year, and it’s important, now more than ever, to share that work,” said Heather in an email to the Maine DOE.

Instead of having an in-person event this year, Heather got busy creating a website that showcases the work of students at Vinalhaven School so that it can be seen and appreciated by students, their families, the community, and beyond.

“It’s fun to think that instead of just sharing this year’s art work with our island community, we are able to share it with anyone in the world,” added Heather.

Check out the Vinalhaven School K-12 19/20 Virtual Art Show here!

This story was shared by Heather White, K-12 Visual Arts Teacher, Vinalhaven School as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story, email it to Rachel Paling at



U.S. DOE Names Two Maine Students as 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars

The United States Department of Education (DOE) has announced that 161 high school seniors, including two from Maine, have been named U.S. Presidential Scholars. The recognition honors the students’ accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

2020 Maine U.S. Presidential Scholars

  • Neily Kate Raymond, Hermon – Hermon High School
  • John Bishop Wahlig III, Falmouth – Falmouth High School

Six Maine High School Seniors were announced U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalists earlier this spring. A complete list of 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars follows and is also available at

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations, and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,300 candidates qualified for the 2020 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations and the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

As directed by executive order of the President, the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education.

The Presidential Scholars Class of 2020 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer as public health circumstances permit.