Star Spangled Celebration at Carrie Ricker Elementary

Flag dayAt 9:30 on a cloudy Friday morning, the three hundred students of Carrie Ricker Elementary School, Litchfield, gathered in the gymnasium to celebrate the flag of the United States of America. Among the parents and community members who congregated there were close to a dozen veterans who were honored for their service on this 9th Annual celebration at Carrie Ricker. Senator Angus King and a representative for Senator Susan Collins were in attendance as well. The walls were plastered with large, colorful posters bearing messages like, “Best Principal Ever” in farewell to the school’s retiring principal, Christine Lajoie-Cameron.

A procession of first graders was led into the gymnasium by Uncle Sam, a tall star-spangled man in a towering top hat, to the thunderous accompaniment of “The Star Spangled Banner” as the entire assembly clapped in time.

Students with flags
Uncle Sam leading the patriotic procession.

After circling around the gym, the children took a seat and the ceremony began. First graders sang before the school about flag soup, then third graders stood and spoke about the Pledge of Allegiance and its importance, after which all stood to salute the flag for the National Anthem. The second grade performed, and then the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts showed how to properly and respectfully retire a flag. Their troop leader commented that they learn how to handle the flag as part of their organization, and that the young Scouts have looked forward to participating in the ceremony for the last few years.

Students with flags
Scouts marching with the American Flag and the Maine State Flag in hand.

The winners of the writing competition were then announced. Students in all grade levels had submitted short essays or pieces of poetry, some of which the winners were then selected to read aloud.

Next, the fourth graders recited poetry, and then Senator King spoke at the podium. He told the audience about Andrew J. Tozier, who was born between Monmouth and Litchfield, and was the color-bearer for the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Gettysburg, where he stood at Little Round Top with the flag under one arm while firing with a borrowed rifle from the other. The Representative for Susan Collins read a letter from the Senator shortly afterward.

The ceremonies concluded with a choral ensemble composed of the student body, featuring a number of patriotic songs. With the impressive turnout to the event, it is almost certain that Carrie Ricker Elementary will host its 10th annual Flag Day celebration this time next year. All community members are encouraged to attend.

Students with flags


Technology Learning Lab Hosted at Bucksport Middle School

Submitted by Evelyn Beaulieu, Director of Curriculum and Academic Achievement at RSU 25. 

On Wednesday, June 5, 2019, Bucksport Middle School (BSM) hosted teachers from around the state in a Learning Lab, sponsored by the Maine Department of Education. The Learning Lab’s purpose was to demonstrate how BMS uses technology to enhance learning, and for the visiting educators to take new ideas and skills back to their community.

One of the day’s main focuses was to have students and their experiences be front and center. Members of the school’s Digital Media Club discussed the process of establishing, then writing and distributing the school’s first Digital newspaper. Members J-Lynn Farren, Abbigail Farricker, Kasey Findley, Dylan Wombacher, Emily West, Brianna Grass, Hannah Varnum, Kelsea Gaff, Wynn Therrien and Ella Orcutt also answered guest questions regarding the success and struggles they had experienced establishing the newspaper, and what the group’s long term goals were for the upcoming years, and plans for video announcements and more.


“My favorite part was teachers asking us questions and us being able to teach them how to do stuff,” said Kasey Findley, writer of the paper’s Kasey’s Korny Korner. “I think they gained a lot of resources that they will be able to bring to future classes.”

The school’s GT Art Program had students Ella Hosford, Ayden Maguire, and Diego Harvey working with GT Coordinator Amanda Hoffert doing photo manipulation. They were able to show examples of their photos, and go over the process and technology they used to manipulate the photos.


8th graders Alyx Frazell and Wynn Therrien were on hand to show the amazing work they did with 8th Grade Social Studies teacher Donna Short’s Greek Mythology Research project. Mrs. Short used project based learning to have her student’s demonstrate their understanding of the research process. Through student voice and choice 8th graders used a variety of genres to express new learning, from posters and slide shows to Ms. Frazell’s pottery and Mr. Therrien’s computer program written in Scratch. Guests were able to see the various types of technology that were used, and how Mrs. Short integrated them into project based learning in her classroom.

The final group, were students Wynn Therrien, Dylan Courtney, Andrew Braley, Bo Provencher and Kasey Findley to demonstrate BMS’s 3D printing program. All BMS students take Information Technology class with Mrs. Braley and learn coding, and 3D printing engineering and design. Mr. Provencher and Mr. Courtney showed the boats they had designed in 6th grade, Mr. Findley discussed the bubble wands they had made in 5th grade, and Mr. Therrien and Mr. Braley demonstrated Tinkercad, the program the students use to create their 3D projects. The students went over the design process, the engineering skills that were taught, and how they used problem solving to fix issues that arose when designing their projects.

“I was incredibly proud of all of our students.” Mrs Braley stated. “It was important to us to have the students be front and center, so that instead of teachers listening to just Donna, Mandy and I, they were getting first hand testimonies and examples from the students that we are teaching, and they were able to ask them what they thought was successful and what needed improvement. Having our students be able to demonstrate their learning in such a positive way was incredibly rewarding for us.”


Lincoln Academy Takes New Approach to Vaping

Submitted by Jake Abbott, Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life, Lincoln Academy. Link to original article.

Vaping among teens has been called an epidemic by the US Surgeon General. Lincoln Academy’s new policies respond with education rather than just punishment.

E-cigarette use among teens has skyrocketed nationwide over the last two years. In December of 2018 US Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared it an “epidemic” and the 2018 Monitoring the Future study funded by the National Institute of Health found the 2017-18 e-cigarette use increase to be the “largest ever single-year increase in the use of a substance.”

In response to the epidemic in teen e-cigarette use, also known as vaping, high schools have scrambled to keep policies current with student habits.

Lincoln Academy has made several policy changes in 2019 to address the use of e-cigarettes in school. The new policy has shifted from a punishment model to one focused on education, according to LA Dean of Students and Director of Resident Life Jake Abbott. After their first vaping violation, students are now assigned a “learning detention” where they research the health effects and risks of vaping as well as the truth behind deceptive e-cigarette marketing. After their research is complete, students write a letter about what they have learned to a parent, a teacher, or a local newspaper.

“The focus of this work is to educate and spread information to both the student and the broader community,” said Abbott. “So far students have taken this research to heart… the policy seems to make a difference in how students feel about vaping.”

One student wrote in an essay written during detention, “Learning about the propensity toward addiction that Juuling [Juul is a popular brand of e-cigarettes marketed to teens] and other vaping products bring to the table has completely and utterly disgusted me. I have no desire to consume any products similar to Juul ever again. Knowing the amount of people, minors included, that have become addicted to nicotine is terrifying, especially since a recent census has shown that ‘10.7 million youth aged 12-17 are at risk for using e-cigarettes.’”

Another essay reads, “going forward, I plan to completely cut vaping out of my life. Not only will I stop doing it myself, but I will also try to educate my friends on the dangers of Juul and other vaping products. I never want to vape again. These reports have driven me into utter hatred for the companies behind the propaganda and brainwash of young children and teens.”

A third student wrote, “I do not want to cause myself health problems later in life that are easily avoidable. I do not want to lose the respect of adults and my peers for such an idiotic move. I think when I really put my mind to something I have very strong will power, and I think the combination of knowing I want to quit, and avoiding associating with people I know use nicotine can help me quit. I do not want to be a slave to nicotines grasp any longer and I am ready to quit.”

“The vaping epidemic took us by surprise,” said Abbott. “The adults didn’t have enough information, and the products are marketed directly to young people. They came on the market as smoking cessation devices, but instead of helping people quit smoking, they caused students who previously didn’t smoke cigarettes to get addicted. Often when students start using these devices they believe they contain only flavoring, but most e-cigarettes actually contain high doses of nicotine–one of the most addictive substances we know of.

“We hope our new policy will not just punish a behavior, but help students stop and think about the harm that vaping causes to themselves and others. This restorative philosophy works well for other offenses, and we are hoping it will make a difference with vaping, too.”

“It is impossible to know with certainty whether this consequence actually deters vaping over time, but at least we know students are learning something; are educating themselves about the real consequences,” said Abbott. “We are fighting an information war: the corporations that produce these devices are telling teens they are harmless. At least our policy can help students and their parents learn the facts so they can make informed choices in the future.”


Lewiston Adult Education Graduate Shares Story of Perseverance

(Pictured: Nasra Houssein, who served as the student speaker on Tuesday night, pauses after receiving her diploma.)

Submitted by Mike Reagan, Education and Marketing Coordinator, Lewiston Adult Education.

Nasra Houssein praised the people who convinced her to return to her studies during Lewiston Adult Education’s graduation on Tuesday night in the Lewiston High School gymnasium.

The native of Djibouti dropped out of her classes last year because she could not fit them in with her work schedule. She credited Lewiston Adult Education teachers Don Roux and Amy Hatch for their encouragement along with coworkers at Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston.

She returned to her classes after a three-month absence. On Tuesday, served as the student speaker at graduation.

“Without all your help, it would have been difficult for me or anybody else. So thank you all for giving us your time to help us succeed,” Houssein said.

The 30 Lewiston Adult Education graduates at the ceremony received their high school credential by taking the High School Equivalency Test. The HiSET exam has replaced the GED for high school equivalency.

Beth Derenberger received the Lifelong Learner Award for her commitment as a teacher and for exemplifying the sharing of knowledge at Lewiston Adult Education. She learned rug braiding from an adult education course in Oxford Hills. After a few years of practice, Derenberger ended up teaching in Oxford Hills and at Lewiston Adult Education.

She taught rug braiding at Lewiston since 2004 and retired at the end of the Winter-Spring 2019 semester.

“I have made so many friends from my teaching. It’s awesome. Students come because they want to come. People come because they’re interested. And that’s half the battle,” she said before the ceremony.

Adult Ed Graduate and Teacher
Student speaker Nasra Houssein celebrates after the graduation with Barabara McAllister of the Lewiston Adult Education’s Adult Learning Center on Tuesday night.

Outgoing Superintendent of Schools Bill Webster served as the keynote speaker at graduation and received a round of applause for his support of adult education. Lewiston Adult Education Director Bill Grant gave retiring teacher Diane Whiting a bouquet of flowers during the ceremony to thank her for her service of more than 25 years.

Maine Adult Education Programs Featured on PBS News Hour

Maine and its Adult Education programs, including Spruce Mountain Adult Education, Portland Adult Education, and Turner Adult Education have been featured on PBS News Hour for a story about adult education programming and why it is so important.

Click the link or image below to view the 8 minute story.

Why 36 million American adults can’t read enough to work — and how to help them

PBS News Hour Screen Shot