April 9, 2021

RSU 14 registering children for kindergarten

Any Windham or Raymond child who will be 5 years
old by Oct. 15 is now eligible to register for kindergarten
classes at either Raymond Elementary School or
Windham Primary School. COURTESY PHOTO  
By Briana Bizier

The current school year ends in June, but parents and teachers of next year’s incoming class are already starting to plan for September. For the 4- and 5-year-olds of Windham and Raymond, it’s time to start thinking about kindergarten.

Any Windham or Raymond child who will be 5 years old by Oct. 15 is now eligible to register for kindergarten classes at either Raymond Elementary School or Windham Primary School.

“The best thing for parents to do is to go to the RSU14.org website. There’s a registration link that will walk you through the process,” said Beth Peavey, Raymond Elementary School principal.

To register, parents will need to provide their child’s birth certificate, proof of residency, and immunization records as well as their contact information.

In the past, kindergarten-bound students traveled to their future elementary schools for an in-person screening following their registration. This year, however, things are different.

“When our students are all registered, parents will receive a phone call with questions,” Peavey said. “We’ll do an over-the-phone screening with parents in late April or May, and then a full in-person screening would be by invitation only.”

Dr. Kyle Rhoads, Windham Primary School principal, said that the remote kindergarten screening process was even more complicated this past year during the school shutdown resulting from the pandemic. Despite school closures, Rhoads said that he was able to get a dedicated team of staff members together to make phone calls to the families of future kindergarteners over the course of several days.

“We were very successful with that last year, which says a lot about the strength of our team,” Rhoads said. “But I think it’s going to be a bit easier this year than it was last year.”

Both Raymond and Windham schools are expecting a normal number of incoming kindergarteners this fall. A typical incoming class for Raymond is about 45 students, while Windham Primary School usually has between 180 and 220 registered incoming kindergarten students.

“We’re right on track for our typical class size,” said Rhoads.

Because of the pandemic, all RSU 14 schools are following a hybrid schedule this year. Windham and Raymond students, from pre-kindergarten to high school seniors, are attending school in person two days a week and working remotely three days a week. The school district provides iPads to kindergarteners for Zoom classes and remote work, and laptops to older students. RSU14 also offers a fully remote kindergarten option.

While it’s too early to say how the ongoing pandemic will affect RSU 14’s school schedule come September, teams at both Raymond Elementary School and Windham Primary School are preparing to welcome their new students.

“We’ll do our best to make the coming school year as normal as possible,” Rhoads said. “I’m confident our awesome team will be ready to welcome our next crop of young learners.”

Those incoming kindergarten students will have a full year of learning waiting for them.

“In kindergarten we work on letter sounds, forming words, and beginning to read,” Peavey said.

Both RES and WPS use a reading program called Jolly Phonics.

“That’s a kinesthetic program, so there’s a motion for every letter sound,” Peavey said. “It helps them to remember their letter sounds much easier. The kids are really picking it up, and we’re noticing a difference in their writing.”

Reading and writing aren’t the only skills these little scholars will acquire in their first year of school. The math program for kindergarten focuses on counting to 100 by ones, adding and subtracting within five, and also learning shapes. These lessons go beyond identifying shapes to include mathematical concepts like length, weight, and capacity.

“The math program is really focused on learning the basic skills and then their application,” Peavey said. “So students learn the basics of adding and subtracting, and then they work on things like word problems.”

Both elementary schools are also focusing on social and emotional health, beginning with the youngest learners.

“Yes, they’re going to learn the foundational academic skills, Rhoads said. “And the teachers also understand the importance of spending time getting to know each other, to give their students the skills to navigate the social and emotional side of school as well. They need to have those connections and relationships in order to do their best learning and to enjoy school. Our kindergarten learners get a really well-rounded curriculum. It addresses not only their academic needs but also their need to be a good thinker, to be a good citizen, and their social emotional needs as well.”

For both Raymond Elementary School and Windham Primary School, the primary focus of kindergarten hasn’t changed even as COVID-19 has upended almost everything else.

As Dr. Rhoads explained, the goal of kindergarten is simple: “We want them to love learning.”

If you are planning to enroll or considering enrolling your child in kindergarten, please visit 
https://wps.rsu14.org/ for kindergarten registration information. <

Essentials Pantry to host food and essentials item drive with hope of receiving grant money

By Lorraine Glowczak

For about five years, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, 40 Windham Center Road in Windham, established a monthly Essentials Pantry for those who may be facing challenging circumstances by providing personal and household items that cannot be purchased by an EBT debit card.

Since then, the program has grown to serve more than 100 families, with about 25 families participating on a monthly basis. The pantry also offers commodities that are not available at local food pantries.

If 500 or more items are collected during the
St. Ann's Essential's Pantry Drive, the pantry
will be in the running to receive an additional
$500. If awarded, the monetary gift will be
used to purchase essential items when the stock
is low. The food and essentials drive will take
place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 18.
COURTESY PHOTO
“We provide personal hygiene and cleaning products that are acceptable to donate and are not provided by local food pantries, like powdered laundry detergents and stick deodorants,” Deacon Wendy Rozene, of St. Ann’s said. Rozene is the founder of St. Ann’s Essentials Pantry.

Part of the Pantry’s success has been due, in part, by the donations they have received from the community at large. Also, about two years ago, Faith Lutheran Church, 988 Roosevelt Trail in Windham, joined the Pantry efforts as a part of their ecumenical Faith in Action initiative. They contribute donations, monetary funds and volunteers.

Recently, Faith Lutheran Church received $250 from a Thrivent* Action Grant to organize a community food and essential items drive. Funds are earmarked to go toward marketing efforts to create awareness and to invite the community to gather the much needed items. Faith Lutheran elected to apply the grant award toward St. Ann’s Essentials Pantry.

If 500 items or more are collected during the drive, the Pantry will be in the running to receive an additional $500. If awarded, the monetary gift will be used to purchase essential items when the stock is low. The food and essential items drive will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 18.

The pantry serves those who live in Raymond, Standish, Casco, Gorham, Windham and other Sebago Lakes region area. The only thing an individual needs to receive the free products is proof of residence (CMP bill, etc.). No questions will be asked.

The types of essentials the Pantry needs include the following: bars of soap, toothpaste, shampoo, stick deodorant, toothbrushes, powdered laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, hand lotion, razors, shaving cream, spray cleaners and Comet.

Non-perishable food items are limited to: Pasta and pasta sauce, peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish and canned chicken, canned vegetables and soups and non-sugar cereals.  

The Essential Pantry is open the last Saturday of every month from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. During non-pandemic times, families and individuals were able to select the items they needed in the lower level of the church; however, the pantry has made special accommodations to adhere to Maine CDC guidelines. 

“We now bag items separately and have them prepared as people drive up to the door, remain in their car with masks on and we put the bags in the trunk of the vehicle,” Rozene said. 

The Essentials Pantry also collaborates with the Windham Food Pantry to help keep their pantry stocked and running successfully. 

“There are times we have a lot of food donated to us which we can’t easily store,” Rozene said. “So, we give some of that to the Windham Food Pantry and the toiletry items they can’t give out, they give to us. It is a win-win situation.”

Briefly and as written in a previous Windham Eagle Article, the idea for the Essentials Pantry came when someone dropped off rolls of paper towels into the collection basket at a church service after having read an article in The Windham Eagle about items that the food pantry didn’t provide.

Rozene noticed the donation and thought about the same article which she’d read. She got permission to start an initiative through a grant she applied for from the Dioceses of Maine for $3,000, which gave the pantry its start. Rozene bought shelves and loaded them for the first day. 

Food, essential items and monetary donations can be made in person or sent via snail mail to: St. Ann’s Essential Pantry, PO Box 911, Windham 04062. If delivered in person, the office is open Monday through Thursday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m.

For more information, Contact Wendy Rozene at: wendyrozene@gmail.com or Stephen Palmer at best1axz75@gmail.com. <

*About Thrivent:

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation supports programs that contribute to the health and vitality of the greater Lutheran community and beyond. FMI: www.thrivent.com/what-we-offer/generosity/

April 2, 2021

Award recipients receive recognition for exceptional dedication to community

By Lorraine Glowczak

Kevin Bailey
Successful businesses are a direct result of the outstanding efforts from staff members who enjoy their chosen careers. Their enthusiasm to uphold the company’s overall mission and the positive impact it has on those they serve as a result, deserves acknowledgment and reward.

Two local employees, Kevin Bailey, Windham Parks and Recreation Maintenance Foreman, and Catherine Giuffre-Renaud, Adult Basic Education Coordinator for Windham/Raymond Adult Education, recently received award and recognition for a job well done. Giuffre-Renaud received a fellowship from The Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) and Bailey is the recipient of the 2021 Maine Recreation and Park Association Outstanding Parks Professional of the year.

“Kevin diligently attends to his tasks independently each day and takes great personal pride in the parks and trails facilities that he oversees,” said Windham Parks and Recreation Director Linda Brooks. “Recruiting seasonal help has been a challenge for the last two summers, so Kevin just picks up the slack and gets the job done. His winter duties include managing two ice skating rinks, plowing parking lots to keep our parks open and accessible, and grooming trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.”

Brooks also said that Bailey, who is a life-long Windham resident, is motivated to provide stellar service to the community. “Kevin is always thinking about ways to improve what we offer,” she said. “He is the face of the department in our parks and on our trails, and is friendly and caring, while also seeking ways to encourage people to be good stewards of our facilities.”

Bailey, nominated by Brooks with the support of other parks and recreation employees, received his award virtually in mid-March in the Windham Town Council Chambers with his co-workers as well as with wife, Melissa, and their two daughters, who were all there to congratulate him.

I was quite surprised to have been nominated,” said Bailey, who has held his position for 13 years. “In fact, I’m honored. I just come to work and do my job the best I can. The people who I work with make my job easier and I enjoy working with everyone. In fact, of all the jobs I have had, this is the best and most rewarding one.”

Catherine Giuffre-Renaud
While Bailey’s award was the appreciation and acknowledgement for the excellent upkeep of Windham’s parks and trails, Giuffre-Renaud was nominated for and selected as a State Advocate for Adult Education Fellowship, a year-long training to develop leadership, advocacy, and research capabilities. The purpose of the fellowship is to lead an effort focused on the advancement of adult education and literacy across the country.

“Catherine has always been a fierce advocate for her students,” said Windham/Raymond Adult Education Director, Tom Nash. “She has actively participated in many of the Maine Adult Education Association Student Days at our Maine State House Hall of Flags events. She realizes not only the importance of exposing her students to the workings of state government, but also the power of encouraging them to find their own voice to speak up - and speak out – for funding to help them reach their very personal educational goals.”

Nash said that what has always impressed him about Giuffre-Renaud is her willingness to find methods to improve her own practice, seek out learning opportunities to enhance the quality of education she can provide her students, as well as her fervent desire to train others in adult education best practice. “She is clearly devoted to adult learners and lifelong learning, serving as a bright example for others.”

Giuffre-Renaud explained what she will be doing during this fellowship award program. “I will receive trainings on how to request and hold meetings with legislators to discuss the needs of adult education and how adult education is a key to the recovery of our communities post-COVID-19,” she said. “I will also learn how to write effective pieces that will be published in the media. Adding to that fellowship opportunity is the know-how to organize and influence others in Maine to work to promote adult education.”

Nash said that Giuffre-Renaud is the epitome of a life-long learner and is passionate about lifting up the adult learners with whom she has been entrusted. “I am proud of her dedication to her students and her willingness to support them through advocating for them when they aren’t able to do so. COABE’s advocacy fellowship and experience will not only bring Cathy joy, but will have a lasting impact on her students, our communities, and even our state and nation.”

Just as it is true that any successful business is a direct result of the outstanding efforts of its employees, it is also true that those successes filter down to the communities they serve, providing outstanding benefits for all involved.<

Local poetry display returns to Windham Public Library

Bob Clark's 10th poetry display can be viewed in
April during National Poetry Month at the
Windham Public Library. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By Elizabeth Richards

Bob Clark’s framed poetry display was ready to go in the Windham Public Library last April, for what was to be his 10th consecutive year, when the library closed its doors due to the global pandemic. This year, the library has reopened, and Clark’s 10th poetry display can be viewed in April during National Month Poetry.

Clark started writing poetry in high school and continued in college, publishing pieces in campus literary publications. After time in the Peace Corps and a career as a Spanish teacher at Gorham High School, Clark began writing poetry again around the year 2000 as retirement approached.

In 2010, he began displaying his work in local libraries via framed poetry that is sometimes accompanied by illustrations. For the past several years, Clark has also published a booklet for sale. Each of these booklets is now included in the library collection.

This year’s display includes new poems as well as several that appear each year, Clark said. The theme, Tourmaline, was chosen to highlight a natural product of Maine that is valuable in both its natural state and when used to create jewelry, Clark said. The booklet cover will feature an image of raw aggregated tourmaline with finished products on either side.

In his 2021 display notes, Clark said his poetry allows him to observe, perceive, and communicate something of lasting worth, similar to the way raw tourmaline becomes jewelry.  “The attempt becomes one of organizing and “polishing” an idea that might otherwise lay dormant as single words scattered throughout pages of a dictionary,” he wrote.

He said he begins with the natural state and brings a connection to the human experience. “I lay the landscape, then make a human connection so you’re really there with me for a touch of humanity,” he said. “It underlines the human character and makes a connection to the natural world.”

Covid-19 has had an impact on his work as well, Clark said, though he hasn’t written directly about the pandemic. The poems selected for this booklet reflect the uplifting idea that in tough times, support is all around. “The 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic continues to cause profound difficulties. At the same time though, it is uplifting to notice abundant concern for others and unending rescue measures that continue daily. The reality that ‘we are all in this together’ and that ‘together we win’ applies as we ‘share and share alike’ in progress,” he wrote in his display notes. 

Tourmaline includes selections from his books The Hitching Post and Tenerife Island, Clark said. “Readers will find poems that mention expressions of faith, resilience, and the shared, natural joy of positive outcomes,” he wrote.

Clark’s work will be on display for the month of April during library hours. <

Raymond Village Library Birdhouse Raffle under way

Colorful birdhouses built by Bob Grimm are being
raffled off during April as a fundraiser for the
Raymond Village Library.
PHOTO BY BRIANA BIZIER  
By Briana Bizier

If you’re looking for signs of spring this April, you don’t need to go any further than the Raymond Village Library. While the season’s bright green leaves and colorful flowers might still be weeks away, the library’s shelves are filled with a cheerful and eclectic collection of birdhouses waiting to welcome their new residents.

The birdhouses were constructed by Raymond Village Library trustee Bob Grimm. “Bob is a Maine Woodcarvers Association Board member and was one of our featured artists hosted by the Raymond Arts Alliance this past year,” Library Director Allison Griffin said. “Bob donated his time and materials to construct the birdhouses, which were then distributed to volunteers to design and decorate.”

Originally, the library hoped to have twenty birdhouses available for the spring raffle. That number has now grown to 27 as local artists contributed their own creations to the growing collection on display in the Raymond Village Library. This birdhouse bonanza now includes painted gourds, snowman-shaped creations, a birdhouse farm stand, a cozy home shingled with shiny pennies, and even a miniature replica of the Raymond Village Community Church.

Each of the beautiful birdhouses will be raffled off this weekend on April 4. Hopeful birdhouse owners can purchase raffle tickets for $1 each or six for $5. Tickets can be purchased in person at the library, over the phone, or online at 
http://www.raymondvillagelibrary.org/birdhouse-raffle. Each of the beautiful birdhouses can also be viewed online, and Raymond residents can request curbside pickup or home delivery of their winning birdhouse.
  

Children’s librarian Karen Perry has even included the library’s youngest patrons in the birdhouse festivities. Last month, young readers had the opportunity to take a small wooden birdhouse home and decorate it however they wished.

These youthful birdhouses are now on display in the children’s area of the Raymond Village Library. Visitors to the children’s area can vote for their favorite creation by placing a cheerful bird sticker on the paper “tree” behind each birdhouse.

Perry has created several categories for voting, including “unusual,” “realistic,” “sci-fi,” “colorful,” “historical,” and “book-inspired.” Raymond Village Library’s Facebook page includes both pictures and a video of all the creative kid creations on display.

These avian adventures are a new fundraiser for the Raymond Village Library, which is partially funded by the town of Raymond and dependent on donations and creative fundraising opportunities to sustain their annual budget. The library’s programs and services, such as their weekly children’s activity kits and monthly book club meetings on Zoom, would not exist without the generous support of their community.

This spring’s birdhouse raffle has connected local artists and community members, given children an opportunity to express themselves as they decorate their own miniature birdhouses, and raised funds to support ongoing programs at the Raymond Village Library. It’s also brought color and creativity to the dreary days of early spring, and it’s even given the birds a reason to be grateful for their local library. 

Please visit http://www.raymondvillagelibrary.org/birdhouse-raffle to view to birdhouses or to purchase tickets for the raffle. <

In the public eye: Town of Raymond’s Alexander Aponte

Alexander Aponte was appointed by the Raymond Select
Board to serve as the town's Finance Director and Town
Treasurer in December. His position supports the Raymond
Town Manager in making financial decisions.
COURTESY PHOTO 
By Briana Bizier

Editor’s note: This is another in an ongoing series of Windham and Raymond town employee profiles.

Just like any household, towns and cities need to keep a careful eye on their income and spending, manage their budgets, and make sure all of their bills are paid. For the Town of Raymond, newly appointed Finance Director Alexander Aponte fills this essential role.

Aponte, who has previously held accounting positions in both the private sector and with nonprofits, was excited to join the Town of Raymond.

“It seemed like a great opportunity when I saw this job listed,” Aponte said. “I took that leap of faith and applied.”

Aponte was officially appointed by the Raymond Select Board to serve as the new Finance Director on Dec. 8, 2020. It’s a job that differs from its counterparts in the private sector.

“When you hear finance director, it’s usually referring to the Chief Financial Officer,” Aponte said. “But in local government, the primary responsibility is that of the treasurer. So, my role is to support the Town Manager with the finances.”

It’s a big job that started immediately. Preparation for Raymond’s 2021-2022 budget began as soon as Aponte was hired. He presented a budget development schedule as the first step in the seven-month process leading to Raymond’s annual Town Meeting in June, when the final budget is approved just as the previous fiscal year ends.

“From July on, we’re implementing the budget,” Aponte said. Aponte and his team also prepare for an audit of the previous year’s spending and generate assessment values in order to send out tax bills in October.

Of course, Aponte and the deputy treasurer Rita Theriault are also responsible for the day-to-day functions of the Town Office.

“We pay the bills,” Aponte said. “We make sure that we stay within the budget, make sure the money keeps coming in that needs to come in, and make budget forecasts.” In December, work on the next year’s budget begins again. “It’s a very cyclical job,” Aponte said.

The cycle suits Aponte well. Born in Puerto Rico, Aponte moved with his family to Dorchester, a neighborhood in Boston, when he was a young child.

“I grew up in the inner city,” Aponte said. “It was not a very friendly environment. I heard gunshots as I was going to sleep at night. So, one of the things that drew me to Maine was peace and quiet. “I was the first one in my immediate family to graduate from high school and go to college. When my parents moved back to the island, I decided to move to Maine and never looked back.”

While his move to Maine was a welcome transition, his initial experiences were a bit of a shock.

“My welcome to Maine was the ice storm of 1998,” Aponte said. “I thought to myself, ‘what did I do?’”

However, Aponte made it through that legendary ice storm and has lived in Maine ever since. His parents even ended up following him to Maine, and now they live in Topsham and Brunswick.

Even after his move to the Pine Tree State, Aponte still feels very connected to his roots, and he is in contact with many of his far-flung family members. He also speaks Spanish, which comes in handy on occasion in the Raymond Town Hall.

“If anyone comes in who speaks Spanish, I told the front office to come and get me,” Aponte said.

Aponte is currently in the process of purchasing a house in Poland to be closer to Raymond.

“My boys are really excited,” Aponte said. “They’ve been a part of the whole process. When we were looking at houses, we took all four of them with us.”

A new house and a new job aren’t the only major milestones unfolding in Aponte’s life. “Our family just grew,” Aponte told me. “We’ve been fostering since 2016, and two of the boys who’ve been with us for three years have just joined the family. The adoption should have happened a year ago; it’s backed up a little because of COVID. I still consider them my sons, but it will be nice to have that paper.”

When telling me about his reasons for choosing Maine, Aponte explained that he has always loved and appreciated the beauty of nature. Like accounting, Maine’s seasons move in a predictable, if occasionally dramatic, annual cycle.

With his new position as the Town Finance Director and his upcoming move to the Lakes Region, Aponte is positioned to help Raymond navigate its financial cycles while raising his family to appreciate all that the natural world has to offer. <

New owner unravels history of old boat built in Windham

A 1956 wooden howler made of plywood and oak and built
in Windham by legendary boat builder Owen Staples is
now owned by Nathan Sawyer of Windham. He tracked 
the vessel online to learn its history and ended up meeting
the nephew of Staples, who gave him some old spare
boat parts. SUBMITTED PHOTO 
By Daniel Gray

The generations of owners of an old Windham boat take nothing for granted and are proud of the fact it shows the history of the town, not to mention the character of a local boat builder who had such an impact on multiple Windham families.

 

Windham in the early 1950s was much different than the town today. While we do know our neighbors today, the town was much smaller then, and people knew one another more intimately. One such person who lived in Windham was a man named Owen F. Staples, a great guy who loved to keep his hands busy.

 

Staples would build various sizes of gorgeous boats in his shop that was once located at 644 Roosevelt Trail in Windham. Sadly, those days are in the past, and Staples passed in October 2001. Despite this, some of his hand-crafted boats still live on to this day, and one remains in very good condition.

That boat, a wooden howler made of plywood and oak, was built in 1956. It can seat six people and is beautifully varnished around the exterior. The motor originally attached and still attached is a 35- horsepower Johnson motor. The boat isn't considered an antique, but at 65 years old, it looks almost brand new.

About 10 years after building the boat, Staples sold it to Clayton Crumnett in 1967. It had been well used on Little Sebago for years in the Crumnett family, constantly being on the local lakes during the summers.

Crumnett's daughter, Sharon Campbell, said that the boat and Owen's old shop drew quite a lot of attention back then.

"Owen would make these large boats in his shops and then put them out on the lawn for passing cars to take an interest. At the time, this was across the street from the old Windham drive-in theatre, so quite a lot of people would see the boats he built,” she said. “It was a real cute boat, so my dad got it and he would speed around Little Sebago in it at his camp for years."

The boat got many years of love from the family, traversing through Little Sebago, Big Sebago, and even Moosehead Lake. However, as Crumnnett grew older and eventually passed away in February 2020, he had made a final decision in 2017 to sell the boat to Nathan Sawyer, another Windham local who had a close tie with the family.

Years passed with the boat now in Sawyer’s hands and he had found himself growing more and more curious about the original builder. A small sticker plaque gave him the clue about who had built it without much other information.

Sawyer reached out online and eventually connected with one of Owen's family members, Fred Staples.

"Windham is a small town so usually somebody will know something about the history and the people,” Sawyer said. “We reached out online since surely someone knew more about the boat and the builder, and we're really glad we did."

Fred Staples said that he was pleasantly surprised when Sawyer called him asking about the old boat and was happy to give any information that he could use. He even went as far as offering to give old parts for some boats that Owen had given to him years prior, along with telling Sawyer more about his uncle in the meantime.

"My uncle was a great guy,” Fred Staples said. “Around the time he was building these handmade boats I was about 6 years old. I remember he would work on two at once in his two-car garage-turned-workshop."

Owen Staples was historically one of a few boat builders in Windham, not including the boat manufacturer that soon opened near his little business. He had a good heart and truly cared about the people in his community, his nephew said.

"If he heard someone was having boat issues around the boating season, he would go out and fix it himself," Fred Staples said. "And that was whether or not it was a boat he had built himself or not. He cared about boats and he cared about people, too. He was an incredible guy."

As we grow closer to the warmer months and the local lakes start to thaw, Sawyer said that he fully intends on getting the boat back into the water as soon as he can. Now armed with the knowledge and history behind the boat, Sawyer said that he has a bit more fondness toward it and the amazing work Owen Staples did crafting it more than 65 years ago. <