May 17, 2024

WHS Mock CSI exercise tests students’ sleuthing skills

By Jolene Bailey

Windham High School has been hosting Mock CSI experiences for students on campus since the 2017-2018 school year and this year’s exercise was intended to help participating students boost their speaking and listening skills, as well as writing, pre-calculus, and chemistry skills.

Windham High School students wrapped up their annual
Mock CSI exercise with a visit to the Public Safety
Simulation Lab at Central Maine Community College
in Lewiston on May 2. The exercise challenged the
students' speaking and listening skills, writing skills,
pre-calculus and chemistry abilities. SUBMITTED PHOTO
“The CSI unit we developed captured my favorite aspects of teaching, including creativity, authentic learning, true challenge, and student motivation,” said WHS teacher Adrianne Shetenhelm, a coordinator of the event. “I hoped to create a memorable learning experience that challenges and propels students to think about how their skills translate beyond the classroom.”

The Mock CSI unit for students began for most classes on Monday April 22 when there was a controlled burn on campus. On May 1 and May 2, about 100 students explored the burn site to attempt to solve the mock crime. This included student crime scene investigators in Shetenhelm and Nicole Densmore's English classes, John Ziegler's Pre-Calculus classes. Students from Lauren Ruffner's Chemistry class visited Central Maine Community College along with representatives of Windham’s Public Safety Departments to take on that angle of the mock investigation.

“Math students needed to come to our APEX classroom to ask my students what they learned from a suspect interview,” Shetenhelm said. “Our interviews informed those lab techs what evidence to analyze. Collaboration between students from different backgrounds unfolded. Students demonstrated they were clear and effective communicators, integrative thinkers, and practical problem solvers.”

Prioritizing math, science and English skills, students were able to crack the case of a mock serial arsonist during their investigation.

“We wrote a narrative of a ‘who dunnit’ and our School Resource Officer Seth Fournier got involved and he pulled in support from our Windham Police Department,” Shetenhelm said. “This year, to try something new, we worked with Windham Fire Chief Brent Libby and Forest Ranger Matt Bennett to concoct an arson narrative.”

The Mock CSI exercise is different each year. From an educational aspect, students are challenged to the Maine Guiding Principles, such as being a clear and effective communicator, self-directed and lifelong learner, creative and practical problem solver, responsible and involved citizen and an integrative and informed thinker.

“Students practiced the guiding principles that we want students to master,” Shetenhelm said. Many students often battle anxiety, which hinders their ability to speak or ask questions in the classroom. Amazingly, these students were leading the questioning of our suspects.”

This year’s serial arsonist case was completely designed by Windham teachers and part of the experience included a controlled burn on campus, interviews with actors as suspects/witnesses, and cell phone triangulation. The unit's grand finale included a day at CMCC's Public Safety Simulation building so students could learn from Public Service Department Chair Matt Tifft, Forensic Science Professor David King, and other CMCC staff.

This not only gave students insight into what it is like to solve a crime, but it also taught participants academic skills that they will need in and outside of a classroom environment.

"I was so proud to see my students, even often quiet ones who may not respond to a lesson within the classroom, engage with police officers, members of the community, and ask hard questions and work with peers to solve the crime. Many demonstrated clever problem-solving and leadership skills,” said Shetenhelm.

The planning process for this Mock CSI exercise started all the way back in September with the officers tasked with setting up the mock crime scene working collaboratively with the educators at Windham High. Expectations are that students will understand how the different pieces of evidence collected come together to show what happened, which tests are reliable, and which ones have a high possibility of error. <

First-ever Pride event nearing in Windham

By Ed Pierce

Final preparations are under way for the community’s first pride celebration next month in Windham.

According to Kate Turpen, Board Chair of Windham & Raymond Pride, the event will be called “Together We Rise!” and will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 2 at the Windham Town Hall Gym, 8 School Road in Windham.

“We've been lucky to partner with the Windham Police Department so we can ensure a safe day of community fun,” she said.

Turpen says the event will include activities both outside Windham Town Hall and inside at the Town Hall Gymnasium.

“Outside there will be an artist market with some of our local queer makers and allies where you can chat with makers, purchase their goods, and mingle with the community,” she said. “There will also be community resources with local non-profits and organizations, food trucks for lunch and treats that can be enjoyed under one of our community tents, and a playground hangout for little kids and parents to enjoy the outside and get to know each other.”

Additional outdoor activities will be a photo camper where participants can take photographs with friends and family to remember and the See-what-sticks Axe Throwing will be on hand for demonstrations in their mobile axe-throwing trailer. Live music will be performed by Viva! The Sensation.

Inside activities include bracelet making with Black Maple Piercing, Storytime, karaoke, special guests and performers on the event’s Main Stage.

There will also be a donation and information booth and a raffle of items donated from businesses and individuals in the community will take place, Turpen said.

"Little Chair Printing will be live printing our limited edition Together We Rise! tee shirts,” she said.

June has been globally recognized as Pride Month, a time of celebration, commemoration, and activism for the LGBTQ+ community. The activities during Pride Month are not only a vibrant celebration of diversity and self-affirmation, but also a potent reminder of the need to promote equity, acceptance, and respect for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Through parades, parties, protests, and educational events, Pride Month activities, such as the one in Windham underscore a rich diversity within the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledge the significant achievements made in the pursuit of equality, and highlight the ongoing struggles faced globally. It serves as an essential platform to increase visibility, encourage conversation, and further progress towards true equity and acceptance.

All ages are welcome to attend the Together We Rise!” event in Windham, Turpen said.

For more information about the “Together We Rise!” event in Windham, visit www.WindhamRaymondPride.org <

Practice interviews help teens find summer employment opportunities

By Masha Yurkevich

As the school year comes to an end, many teens may be thinking about starting a job and setting aside some money for college, a first car, or personal spending wants. Starting a first and new job may be frightening and stressful for some teens, especially a first job interview.

While the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce does not directly help teens look for jobs, they do help with an important and vital part of getting a first job: an interview.

Robin Mullins, President-CEO of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce says that the chamber does not have a direct role in helping teens looking for work. They do, however, partner with local high schools in offering “mock interviews” for students.

“These practice interviews allow students the opportunity to learn valuable interview skills and receive useful feedback and tips on what potential employers are looking for in great employees,” says Mullins.

Having the opportunity to practice these skills ahead of time can help alleviate some of the stress of interviewing and give the student an indication of what the interview process will look like.

“During these ‘mock interviews,’ I talk with teens about the importance of looking for work they will be happy doing,” Mullins says. “Teens work in the summer for a number of different reasons. The need to spend money, to save for college, and to spend time with friends are just a few examples. No matter their reason for working, it is imperative they enjoy the work they are doing. If they like the work, they are more apt to stay for the entire summer and come back the following year.”

For some it could become the full-time career they choose to pursuit once they graduate.

Once the teen has determined what areas they may enjoy working in, they should look to see what businesses offering that type of work are hiring. This information can be found on company websites, Facebook pages and signage at the business locations. Other resources can include word of mouth from family and friends or using an employment agency or website, such as Indeed, Zip Recruiter or Bonney Staffing, located in Windham.

“The need for good summer employees is always great this time of year in our region,” says Mullins. “Tourism is a huge part of our economy in the late spring, summer, and fall. Having teens fill many of these roles is a win for the employers who can invite the students back each summer and will not need to lay people off at the end of the season. It is also a win for teens who can work during the summer when they have the flexibility and time off from school.”

Maine Department of Labor regulations stipulate that those 14 years old and older can work within certain boundaries that are in place to ensure that working does not interfere with the health or education of the minor, such as minimum age for employment, work permits, hours of work, and dangerous prohibited occupations.

All minors under 16 years old must obtain a work permit before beginning a job. This includes home-school students and they must obtain a new permit every time they begin a new job until they reach 16 years old, even if they work for their parents.

In order to apply for a work permit, the minor must be enrolled in school, not habitually truant or under suspension, and passing a majority of courses during the current grading period.

Employers must have a stamped, approved work permit on file before allowing any minor under 16 years old to work and parental permission is required for a minor to work. <

Nangle’s water protection legislation signed into law by governor

AUGUSTA – On May 10, Maine Gov. Janet Mills held a ceremonial bill signing for legislation sponsored by State Sen. Tim Nangle, D-Windham. LD 2101, “An Act to Strengthen Shoreland Zoning Enforcement,” will give municipalities effective tools for combating shoreland zone violations.

State Sen. Tim Nangle
“This bill is a significant milestone in ensuring that Maine's communities have the authority they need to manage their natural resources effectively,” Senator Nangle said. “I'm thankful to my Senate and House colleagues for their bipartisan support and to Gov. Mills for signing this into law.”

LD 2101 allows but does not require municipalities to deny, suspend, or revoke locally issued permits to property owners who violate shoreland zoning ordinances. Under current law, even with ongoing violations, municipalities are required to issue permits, limiting their ability to ensure compliance with state and locally established regulations. The municipality would be required to provide the property owner with a 10-day notice, ensuring fairness and due process to property owners.

Typically, when the violation is resolved in court, the court assigns the cost of enforcing the violation and any applicable fines to the property owner. Then another fight ensues to collect those costs, which places another undue burden on the town's taxpayers.

To help combat this, LD 2101 allows a municipality to file a civil action against the owner or occupant to recover unpaid penalties; the cost to remove, abate, or otherwise correct the violation; and court costs and reasonable attorney's fees necessary to file and pursue the civil action.

If the case is resolved and the court has awarded costs in favor of the municipality, the town would then be authorized to claim a lien against the land on which the violation occurred to ensure that the legally awarded costs are paid.

LD 2101 also enhances transparency in real estate transactions by requiring sellers to disclose any known shoreland zoning violations to potential buyers.

The law will go into effect 90 days after this session of the Maine Legislature adjourns. <

Windham Middle School students donate socks to the Windham Clothes Closet

By Jolene Bailey

Last winter, Windham Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade band and orchestra students conducted a fundraiser called “Rock Your Socks for Toes in Need” and proceeds from the event help the students with expenses to -participate in the upcoming Trills and Thrills Music Festival for WMS musicians.

Windham Middle School students Aiden Hall, left, and 
Annabelle Riley, right, present Colette Gagnon of the
Windham Clothes Closet with a donation of 98 pairs of
new socks for people in need. WMS students sold socks
as part of a fundraiser for WMS Band and Orchestra and
the sock company matched sales with new socks for
the students to donate. SUBMITTED PHOTO   
The event was such a success that it gave WMS students an opportunity to also give back to their community. For every pack of colorful, fun socks that the middle school students sold in the fundraiser, the company agreed to give students a pair of free socks to donate to the Windham Clothes Closet.

“I heard about this fundraiser and like that it emphasizes giving back to the community, as well as raising much needed funds,” said Morgan Riley, WMS music teacher.

The students say it gives them a good feeling to know they can help others in need.

“It felt really nice to know that people who need some clothing will get some from us buying socks and selling them,” said eight grader Aiden Hall, who is a tenor and saxophone player at WMS.

The Windham Clothes Closet is open to residents and non-residents of Windham who are in need of clothing. Donations of clean, usable clothing are accepted at the facility on Gray Road in Windham.

On May 7, WMS band and orchestra members Hall and Annabelle Riley delivered 96 pairs of brand-new socks to Windham Clothes Closet as a result of their school’s fundraising success and the company’s match.

This was the second consecutive year that WMS students were able to make a sock donation to the Windham Clothes Closet.

Collette Gagnon, the manager at the Windham Clothes Closet, told us that last spring's donation was very well received by Windham residents in need. “This is just a feel-good fundraiser all the way around,” said Morgan Riley.

Hall said it’s nice to know the socks will be put to good use.

“It's super fun and I hope a lot of other people should try being a part of a fundraiser,” he said. “My favorite part would have to be seeing all the socks we are able to donate.”

For further fundraising information for WMS band and orchestra students, or to participate in next year’s “Rock Your Socks for Toes in Need,” contact the school. A link will be posted alerting the public to the fundraiser on the Windham Maine Community Board Facebook page. <

May 10, 2024

In the public eye: WPS Instructional Leader a champion for learners

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

By Ed Pierce


Kaley Petros believes that a school leader presents the past, reveals the present, and creates the future.

Kaley Petros has served as the Instructional Leader at
Windham Primary School since last fall and a large part of
her job is focused on advocating for the needs of students
who need more support both inside and outside of the
classroom. SUBMITTED PHOTO  
It’s what she strives for every day in her position as the Instructional Leader at Windham Primary School. She joined the administrative team at WPS in mid-October and says that a large part of her job is focused on advocating for the needs of student learners who need more support both inside and outside of the classroom.

“As such, I get to wake up and know my work is purposeful and meaningful,” Petros said. “Helping to find what is going to work best for learners and seeing those learners ultimately succeed is the greatest feeling.”

As WPS Instructional Leader, she provides leadership at the school in a variety of ways.

“One of my primary responsibilities is coordinating the Academic Support program at WPS, partially funded by Title 1,” she said. “I consult with teachers and interventionists, supervise, and evaluate educational technicians and classroom teachers, assist with technology, coordinate, and facilitate professional development, and even run a few of my own intervention groups with students. I’m a core member of our school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) team and I work to facilitate the plans laid out in those meetings for students. I assist our school in analyzing different types of data to help us inform programmatic decisions concerning student learning. I am also a Diversity Equity and Inclusion team member.”

According to Petros, the most challenging aspect of her work is not having perfect answers every time.

“When we’re monitoring student progress for one student or for a whole school and we don’t have the exact reason why, it’s hard for me,” she said. “I always want to be able to provide our teachers and ed techs with a clear path forward, but education is a process, and that process is often messy. I’m thankful to have a supportive team of creative thinkers at the table in situations like those.”

Originally from Ellsworth, she moved to Massachusetts and completed an undergraduate degree in English and Elementary Education at Wellesley College and then went on to obtain a master’s degree in educational leadership at Boston College’s Lynch School.

She started her career in education as a student teacher in the Boston Public Schools while also helping to coordinate volunteers for after-school and summer programs that served the Chinatown neighborhood of Boston.

“I taught and led grade level teams as a fifth-grade teacher in Needham, Massachusetts for five years where I also interned in educational leadership,” she said. “My husband and I returned in 2019 and began our family shortly thereafter. I worked at Pownal Elementary School in RSU 5 from 2019 to earlier this year as a second- and third-grade teacher as well as leadership team member. I’ve done urban, suburban, rural, you name it.”

Searching for the right school leadership position for her since moving back to Maine, Petros had a dream to help lead a school for many years, but it had to be the right position.

“The role of instructional leader seemed to be the perfect blend of what I was looking for, a leadership role with a focus on the improvement of teaching and learning,” she said. “The role of instructional leader is unique and very few districts have similar roles. When I tell people my job title inside and outside of our district, there's always ultimately the question, ‘So what does that mean?’ I think that is both the beauty and the challenge of a position that people do not have a preconceived notion of. Having to define my position helps me remain focused on the goal of my work.”

“My husband, Matt, has always been one of my biggest supporters. He moved his entire life to Massachusetts for me, and he continues to fully partner in this crazy life we lead. We have two beautiful yet wild toddlers under the age of 4 and without his help, jumping head-first into a leadership role would have been impossible,” Petros said. “He loves to know I’m doing what I love. Sometimes I won’t stop talking about it. My daughters would probably say they like that they get to come to fun events like WPS Fall Fest and Movie Nights, plus extra time on the playground when Mom needs to do some extra work.”

She says the public would be surprised to know that very few decisions are made without input from someone or whole teams of people and she leans heavily on the other members of the leadership team at WPS including Dr. Kyle Rhoads, Diana Jordan, and Rebecca Miller to give her honest feedback and input.

“My work at WPS so far has emphasized the importance of building, prioritizing, and maintaining relationships with students and staff,” Petros said. “It is so easy to feel lost in a large school, and I feel it is one of my many duties to ensure that staff and students feel safe, welcome, and respected at our school.” <

Windham Chamber Singers able to reschedule Lewiston performance

By Masha Yurkevich

The April snowstorm caused many to lose power and caused the Windham Chamber Singers (WCS) to lose most of their entire spring tour. But Dr. Richard Nickerson, the conductor of the Chamber Singers since 1988, said that the performance at the Franco Center in Lewiston was the only concert that was able to be rescheduled.

The April nor'easter storm forced the Windham Chamber
Singers to cancel much of its planned spring tour, but
the concert in Lewiston at the Franco Center was able
to be rescheduled and was held in late April.
COURTESY PHOTO 
The Chamber Singer's history goes back 37 years and they have performed all over the world, but this was their first time they were performing in Lewiston. It was a wonderful night in a beautiful venue and both the choir and audience were electric.

“There isn't enough time or space to tell you what this group means to me,” says Nickerson. “My primary goal is to make music at the highest level. I hope the students will also gain an understanding of how to work together towards a common goal. We are ambassadors for our school, town, state and country and take that responsibility very seriously.”

Abigail Coleman, Windham Chamber Singers president, has been part of the Chamber Singers for all four years during her high school career.

“I have looked up to the Chamber Singers since third grade when I performed with them during the District Art Show, but I had never felt a very fierce interest in auditioning, mostly because I was convinced that I'd never be accepted,” says Coleman. After a virtual audition during COVID, she was delighted to learn that she had been accepted.

“Chamber Singers means the entire world to me,” says Coleman. “I have met some of my dearest friends through this group, friends who share the same passions as I do. This group has given me an incredible relationship with music; it has allowed me to sing so many amazing songs and be a part of so many fulfilling performances.”

Performing with the group has made her want to continue singing for a long time after she graduates, and she doesn't anticipate that this feeling will go away for a long time.

“I enjoy everything about being part of the Chamber Singers. I love rehearsing for three hours every Wednesday, and I love spending time with my peers beforehand while we wait for rehearsals to start. I love the sense of community it brings, and the bonds that can only be created with something as powerful as music,” says Coleman. “I love traveling with them and creating memories. I love every minute of every performance we do. Being able to show every audience what we have worked so hard for, whether that be the RSU14 faculty at the very beginning of the year, or the incredible people who come to AmFam, or any of the concerts in between, it fills me with a sense of pride and belonging that I have failed to find anywhere else.”

Coleman says that Chamber Singers has taught her many valuable lessons, big and small, but the biggest lesson that she will take away from her time in this group is taking responsibility.

“It sounds very simple,” she says, “but I have been taught through practicing my music, being to every single rehearsal and performance, and being in the Vice President and President roles that if you take full responsibility and make sure you are prepared, the outcome will be so much more fulfilling knowing how hard you worked. It was a lesson that I as a freshman needed to learn, and it is a lesson that I will carry throughout my entire life.”

Next year, Coleman will be majoring in Business Management and Marketing in college. Her career goals have nothing to do with music, and that is fully intentional.

"Music is my outlet and my personal way to decompress and allow myself to forget every other stressful component of my life,” she says. “I completely plan to pursue music throughout my life; however, it will strictly remain a hobby. My love for music is very special to me, and I do not want that love to fade by making it something that I have to do rather than something I get to do.”

Being part of Chamber Singers for the past four years has been an honor and something that will always be special to Coleman.

“It's given me so many dear friends, life lessons, and I can thank this group for being responsible for how happy I've been during high school. I will always be incredibly thankful for everything that the music, my friends, and Dr. Nickerson have done for me.”

The next upcoming Chamber Singers concert will be on Thursday, May 30 at Windham High School. This will be the Senior Concert and this event will honor the graduating class of 2024. <