Archive for the ‘Food for thought’ Category

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Spring Choral Concert

May 12, 2022

Camden Hills Regional High School

The Camden Hills Regional HS Chorale, Chamber Singers and Treble Choir will present their Spring Choral Concert on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00 PM in the Strom auditorium. The ensembles, directed by Kimberly Murphy and accompanied by Matthew Mainster will perform a variety of selections, featuring many soloists and guest artists.

Kim Murphy

Of special note will be BSO percussionist Nancy Rowe accompanying the Treble Choir on xylophone in their performance of Mark Patterson’s “Edges of the Night” – a song that highlights the plight of refugees. Ms. Rowe will also play the djembe to accompany two selections by the Chorale and Chamber Singers. A guest string quartet: Sarah Glenn (violin), Heidi Karod (violin), Linda Vaillancourt (viola) and April Reed-Cox (cello) will accompany the Chamber Singers’ performance of “Deep Peace” written by Elaine Hagenberg and Ola Gjeilo’s “The Ground.” Both selections incorporate the theme of peace, with Ola Gjeilo’s composition ending with the lyrics “Dona Nobis Pacem” (grant us peace).

Nancy Rowe

Additional themes concurrent in many of the selections are that of youth, and hope through music. Young singers in grades 3 – 8 will join the high school Chorale in a stirring rendition of “Rise Up” – a song made popular by Andra Day.  The performance will feature many soloists including Sara Ackley, Alyssa Lewis, Lenigha White, Noelle Delano and young singers Rowan McWilliams and Nathan Gomez. The string quartet will return to accompany the Treble Choir in a selection which highlights the beauty and hope of music in “Alway Something Sings.” With text by Ralph Waldo Emerson and music by Dan Forrest, this selection also highlights guest singer, Lydia Day. The theme of hope for our youth continues with the Kyle Pederson composition of “Remember the Children.” This song will feature four soloists: Audrey Leavitt, Aly Shook, Lucas Marriner-Ward and Daniel McGregor.

Seniors Audrey Leavitt and Aly Shook will return to the stage as they lead the student a cappella ensemble: Fortissima in three selections. This extra-curricular student-led ensemble has been rejuvenated under their direction and is flourishing in dedication and musicality. Of special note will be a Fortissima performance of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers,” arranged by Junior, Grace Yanz.

Throughout the evening many soloists will be featured, including Joshua Kohlstrom, Iselin Bratz, Nora Finck, Abigail Kohlstrom, Trey Freeman, Grace Yanz, Jocelyn Serrie, Charlotte Thackeray, Charlotte Nelson, Sophie Ryan, George Bickham, Maren Kinney, Alyssa Bland, Isabella Kinney and flautist Cabot Adams.

During this joyful concert student achievements in the MMEA District III and All State music festivals will be recognized, along with a tribute to our outstanding senior musicians. The concert is free to the public. As of this writing, masks, for both performers and audience members, are optional. For more information, contact director Kimberly Murphy at kim.murphy@fivetowns.net  See you at the show!

I’m certain this is going to be a spectacular concert since Kim is retiring at the end of this school year.

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Traveling and Learning

May 5, 2022

Fast forward

I’m always surprised how much I learn when traveling from home for a length of time (more than 4 days). The pandemic has slowed down my opportunity to travel but fortunately, I had the chance during two weeks in April. I boarded a plane on April 5 and returned on the 19th and in total I took 5 flights including round trip to Dublin. It was an amazing adventure in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Most of the time I was with my son, Nicholas, and part of the time I traveled with Central School, South Berwick’s music teacher Kate Smith and her two daughters. Many friends and colleagues asked me to share my trip so this blogpost gives you the highlights along with some of my favorite photos.

DAY 1, Dublin to Northern Ireland, April 6

I landed in Dublin, after a short night from Boston, at 8am. Nicholas was the official driver and adapted quickly, from the opposite side of the car on the opposite side of the road (of what is familiar to Americans).

We headed north to Belfast. Nicholas visited the Titanic Museum while I toured the city to see the many murals that document the stories of the unrest that has gone on for years between the Catholics and Protestants. My guide, Joe, was very knowledgeable and holds George Mitchell (Maine’s past Senator) in high esteem. I’m sure that many of you know Mitchell served as the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland (1995–2001), appointed by President Clinton and negotiated the peace treaty. Negotiations took place in a church, since it was viewed ‘safe’, and Joe was sure to point it out. We stopped at the four gates that continue to separate the communities. Each day at 6pm three of the gates are closed and not unlocked until morning. The tall fences that separates the two sides are still in place.

The Peace Mural

The troubles still exist but if Joe was any reflection, life will continue to get better for all. He joked with other tour guides along the almost 2 hour tour. At the last mural I took a photo of Joe and another guide, arms around each other, big smiles. When we returned to the car he said “I’m Catholic and he’s Protestant. Things will be better.” He holds such hope!

After a delicious fish and chip lunch we walked along the harbor and headed north to our Airbnb near the Northern Ireland coast. Our hosts were amazing, Mary Jane and Hugh and daughter Katie. We were in a cottage on their sheep farm in Cloyfin – a beautiful view in all directions with lush green farmland. They invited us for meatballs and pasta supper. Katie was working on her senior sculpture project, a huge welded abstract piece. Needless to say, it was fun and we were grateful to be able to relax in their cozy home after a long day.

Day 2, Northern Ireland, April 7

We woke up in our warm cottage to a sky that looked stormy and by 7am the rain was really coming down. So we packed our rain pants and jackets as I remembered my guide Joe in Belfast saying: “if you don’t like the weather at the moment just wait, because in Ireland we have all four seasons in one day.” (Sounds similar to our Maine saying about the weather). Interestingly, not long after we started, the sun came out and stayed for most of our day on the Causeway Coast.

We could see with our first glimpse of the water that it was very windy. We learned later that the wind was blowing 50 miles per hour. Dunluce Magheracross was a quick stop. We could barely open the car doors and walk the 100 feet to the lookout it was so windy. I thought I saw the car lift off the ground on the way back to it.

We headed east to Dunluce Castle which, due to the high winds was free for visitors. The visitors center was well done (educational info) and filled with about 25 grade K and 1 students and their teachers who said it was their first field trip since the start of the pandemic. The castle was built on the edge of a steep crag in the 16th century. Considering it’s age is well preserved and maintained. As we left the castle area, the children were entering and with every gust of wind the children screeched. What a site and sound!

Looking out from Dunluce Castle

We visited a second castle, Dunseverick, which was very different than Dunluce, with only one wall remaining but the setting incredible. The view and lush green invited us to walk high above the water.

Remains of Dunseverick Castle

Giants Causeway was our next stop. The visitors center was very good with demonstrations of how the volcano formed Giants Causeway. In the 1740s it was an artist who was partially responsible for spreading the word of the amazing place. Susanna Drury spent 3 months painting the rock formation. She made two prints from her paintings and they traveled to spread the work of the “astonishing place”. The octagon shaped rocks are a site to behold. With only a 2 meter tide, the salt water preserves the rocks – deep and dark blackness. Climbing from one to the next rock felt like they were intentionally placed just for our fun. Ahhhh… mother natures gifts! The spot was the only location the entire day where we experienced many visitors. We continued on the trail beyond Giants and found few people. The sweep of the ocean views – simply breathtaking, every step of the way. When we weren’t looking at the ocean, we feasted our eyes on the lush green fields filled with sheep including many new borns.

Giants Causeway

Lunch at The Nook, which used to be a school, close by Giants for delicious seafood chowder made with salmon, mussels, cockles, prawns, haddock and brown bread on the side. Sooooo good!!

Onto Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which, yes, it is a rope bridge, 100 feet above the water. It leads to the fisherman’s island where in 1803 the report read: 82 fishers, 21 salmon fishers 19 fish carriers (it’s about a mile walk to the bridge from the visitors center). Unfortunately, due to high winds, the bridge was closed. Fortunately, we could see the island and imagine the fisherman at work. Sadly the salmon fishery is all but gone.

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

Our last stop for the afternoon was at the Dark Hedges. One hundred and fifty Beech trees were planted in 1775 by James Stuart to line the entrance to the family home he built. This has been a filming location for HBO’s series Game of Thrones®, representing Kingsroad. The trees are off shoots from the originals and are intertwined and entangled to create a stunning site. A great way to end an amazing day!

Dark Hedges

DAY 3, heading southwest into Ireland, April 8

We woke to hail beating on the cottage windows. In our first hour of driving we went through rain, sleet, hail and snow and we could see snow on the mountain tops in the distance. Not long afterwards the sun came out for the rest of the day.

We stopped in Derry or Londonderry which is a walled city built in the 1500’s. There are amazing political murals throughout. We walked alongside of the wall, through archways and on top of the wall. We were surprised how wide the wall was in some places – enough for two cars.

Onto county Donegal for a stop at Lough Eske Castle for a lovely “afternoon tea” (at noon). We had delicious golden Irish tea, savory sandwiches, pastries and sweet treats. The castle, sculptures, 2D art including photographs were all spectacular. It was fun to learn the ‘proper way’ to drink tea. By the way it doesn’t include extending your pinky finger.

Lough Eske Castle, afternoon tea

On to the Donegal Craft Village which consists of 8 artists studios and shops. My favorite was The Pear in Paper. Artist Lynn and two young woman were making linoleum prints and letterpress cards. They use a treadle base letterpress that was built in 1872. Lynn is self-taught using books and YouTube videos written and created by Americans. The shop, studio, art and conversation were all delightful!

Our next Airbnb named Lignaul Cottage was a 1/2 mile down a small dirt road. Our view again was a field of sheep and it was very quiet. We had a delicious supper at a local pub.

DAY 4, traveling south near the western coast, April 9

We woke to sunshine and yet again a brief rain shower within an hour. It didn’t last long and the day was a warmer, no wind and lots of sunshine. We started the day with a traditional Irish breakfast at Mrs. B’s in Kellybegs. We opted for the smaller version, called the ‘mini’. Afterwards, a walk along the water to see the giant colorful fishing boats and a stop at a very pretty beach for a short walk on our way west.

Traditional Irish breakfast

Onto Slieve League – amazing cliffs above the sea. All along our 30 minute walk to the top we stopped for pictures and for our eyes to absorb the beauty. The great distances on the steep walk were dizzying. We could see to the very top of the cliffs. It resembled Katahdin’s Knifes Edge. In the visitors center we read many stories and mysteries about Slieve League Cliffs, including this one: In the late 1600’s a young girl, Bridget McGinley, was snatched by an eagle and later dropped and she survived. Her grandchildren remember her showing them the scars on her left chest where the eagle held on with his talons.

On the way down this majestic mountainside (200 feet high), Nicholas walked on a piece of land that jutted out in the water. He was but a speck at the furthest point. This was an important area during WWII, pilots depended on the words made out of rocks on the mountain sides and the lookouts that were installed to worn the pilots that the area was neutral territory.

Slieve League Cliffs

Rockwell Kent lived and painted close by in 1926. When he arrived he asked where the most remote place was to live for 2 years. We learned from a couple of Irish hikers that we were fortunate to be at Slieve League with the weather sunny and no wind. They had tried to visit on several occasions with no luck due to the wind and rain.

We spent the afternoon scooting along narrow roads stopping at a beautiful and remote waterfall, admiring the sea, and watching the young lambs play in the grassy knolls.

Our last stop for the day was at Ardara where they make and sell beautiful tweed clothing, hats, and scarfs. The main weaver works on a 300 year old loom and he’s 85 years old. From start to finish it takes 3 weeks to create a batch of capes. I have such an appreciation for the crafters and the process having done some dabbling w the craft in the past. And all of the items absolutely beautiful!

Beautiful cape, Ardara

DAY 5, Donegal to Sligo, April 10

We drove from Donegal to Sligo with two stops. The first was at Eagle’s Rock in County Leitrim. A short path led us to a gate with a walk over ladder or stile, as it’s called. The stone covered road is in fine condition for a hike over commonage. A commonage is land held in common ownership on which 2 or more landowners or farmers, in this case all over Ireland, have grazing rights.

In the distance to our left Eagle Rock loomed up. It was formed about 12,000 years ago by two small glaciers that dug into the mountain’s horizontally-embedded limestone. It was somewhat magical and eerie at the same time with the wind whistling through the cracks and the angle seemed to shift as we walked along. Even more magical were the hundreds of sheep who were slowly moving along eating the grass. They’re everywhere! Each with a dyed spot of blue or pink, to identify the owners. Even the newborns were marked.

Eagle Rock

All day long it looked like the sky would open up dropping rain but it surprisingly remained grey and damp. We stopped at the church and cemetery in Sligo where William Yeats is buried before heading to hike Benbulbin.

Benbulbin is a flat topped mountain in County Sligo. The mountain loomed up as we hiked a trail that circled near the base. The area is well maintained even w what appeared to be clear cutting taking place. We landed at a BandB with a room that looked up at the amazing mountain. And what a surprise to find Maine products in the bathroom. Our very kind BandB owner Maureen had no idea where she got them.

Benbulbin

DAY 6, east to Dublin, April 11

Today we drove from the west side of Ireland in Sligo to the east side, Dublin. It took about 3 hours. Dropped our stuff at the Leixlip Manor, dates from 1700, very cool place.

We drove into Dublin, 25 minutes away. First stop was at EPIC which is home to small eating places and shops with the majority being the home of the Irish Emigration Museum. It is very well done. With passport in hand visitors wind their way through several rooms that include the stories of almost 300 Irish people. It includes the history while intertwining the journeys, education, politics, the arts, and much more.

Afterwards we walked and walked through the city viewing flowers, sculptures, and the Irish people themselves. We stopped at the sculpture of Oscar Wilde, walked the Trinity College campus to see other sculptures. Some of the buildings were very ornate with interesting details.

We met a friends granddaughter who is studying in Dublin and had a pleasant visit over supper. Our walk back to the car was pleasant especially walking over the bridge again with the end of day light for our last full day in Ireland. Back to the manor for a short night.

Day is done, Dublin

DAY 7, Flight to Amsterdam, April 12

I was pretty excited especially when I realized my last trip to Amsterdam was in 1975 when I was traveling during spring break. I was at the university in Copenhagen as an exchange student. We spent the day at the Rijksmuseum, mostly to see the Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Newly cleaned and hanging behind glass. And, there were others that I really love by Johannes Vemeer, Peter Claesz, Van Gogh.

Afterwards we walked along the canals being careful not to step in front of the many, many people on bicycles. We had supper on the canal as we watched the boats go by peacefully. Beet Dutch meatballs called Bitterballens. Ordered them w beets instead of meat. Mmmmm!

DAY 8, a visit to the tulips, WOWZER!, April 13

This day was a dream day! I am so very fortunate to have this adventure and I am doubly grateful for it! I’ve dreamed about walking through the tulips, grateful this dream came true!

We met Nicholas’ friend Pegah who has lived in Amsterdam for many years at the train station to travel 30 minutes out of Amsterdam to see and walk through the tulip fields. The tulip area we went to is in the town of Hillegrom. We walked 20 minutes from the train station to Ruigrok fields and were glad that a young tulip grower created a place where visitors can actually get up close with the tulips. We learned so much about growing tulips, FOR THE BULBS, while speaking to the owner who was a delight! It makes perfect sense that the tulip farmers are not interested in people walking all over their fields. The place was fun as you can probably tell from the photo.

Singing in the tulips

We continued walking another 15 minutes to the center of town and along the way we passed several more fields of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The smell was amazing as well. We had a lovely lunch and headed back to Amsterdam.

It was a sunny day so took the afternoon and toured the canals by boat learning the history of the canals. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, easy to get around. Fun to watch the people, bike riders, and enjoy the food and art everywhere.

Amsterdam canals seen from the water

It was a wonderful last day with Nicholas. He has been an amazing guide and traveling buddy. I said so long to Amsterdam.

DAY 9, off to England, April 14

I got on an early morning flight from Amsterdam to London and met Kate and Mikayla Smith at the airport. They flew all night from Boston. We hopped on a bus and headed to Oxford where Kate’s daughter Alaina spent the semester. spending two days in Oxford. Oxford has mostly very old structures, some from the 1100’s, and are well cared for. The blending of the new structures w the old is fabulous.

We enjoyed street artists, the old prison, a short walk along the canal, and visiting a couple of shops. The day ended in a traditional English pub with fish and chips!

DAY 10, Oxford, April 15

A delightful day starting with breakfast and morning prayer at a small and amazingly beautiful Catholic Church. I was reminded that it is “American Good Friday”. Soon after we met up with Mik and Alaina and spent much of the day at the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. I found both collections impressive and mind boggling, not to mention the physical spaces of each building, attached but separate.

My favorite part of the Museum of Natural History included a show on biodiversity that combined the art of contemporary artist and environmentalist Kurt Jackson and responses of Oxford researchers. Kurt’s art is from locations across the UK. I loved the way the exhibit articulates the importance of the artists observations. His small studies and large paintings are lovely.

One of Kurt Jackson’s art

Walking into Pitt Rivers was like walking into a huge organized antique shop. It has over 500,000 objects from many parts of the world. Three floors full. I loved looking at the patterns on the fabrics, baskets, pottery, masks, tools, dishware, and weapons. And imagining the people wearing and using and creating them. How the people lived each day with their daily rituals and traditions and the stories they told.

The weather is sunny and 68 degrees, so pleasurable walking and seeing buildings and details on doors, fences, streets, and so much more. The day ended at a local restaurant w a beer, local musician singing and playing guitar and in the next room an art closing. The show included paintings created during the pandemic by a woman who is full of energy and a zest for living fully.

Grateful for this amazing day!

DAY 11, Oxford and London, Saturday, April 16

We started the morning with breakfast at a little cafe with a interesting designed pizza oven with outside tables next to the bazaar in Oxford. We visited the Ashmolean Museum, thrilled to see the Camille Pissarro exhibit. Their collection has many of his and those he painted side by side with Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne. He established a group that included 15 artists who were learning together. Pissarro is considered by many the father of Impressionism but what I saw in the show was a ‘learning from each other’ artists-friends community. There was even one Vincent Van Gogh piece and a few by Georges Seurat. The light, color, texture and depiction of the every day lives of ‘regular people’ – spectacular. And the story behind the story was how Pissarro’s wife held the family together and enriched their lives, artists and their 7 children, all artists. Not enough time to explore the rest of the museum, but the collection is enormous. I am so glad we visited.

We headed to London by bus and did some walking to see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, London eye, flower beds, birds, sculptures, and tons of people everywhere.

Mik, Kate, Alaina

DAY 12, London, Sunday, April 17

Fortunately our apartment for 2 nights was in a location where a short walk led to interesting locations and small surprises. On my way to see Big Ben I saw people looking through a black iron fence. It was the royal band being inspected for the day. Not exactly like Frank inspecting the troops at MASH 4077. Orderly, precision in a relaxed way.

My next surprise was the open and inviting doors to the Royal Military Chapel. I was greeted at the door by a priest who invited me to stay for the Easter service starting in 30 minutes. I thanked him and asked about listening to the choir who was practicing for the morning service. The church was enormous and beautiful but even more so was the sound of the organ and choir. I listened as the priest gave the guard details about where to seat the royal family members in their arrival.

Walked along admiring the beautiful flowers in the park that extends for blocks in front of Buckingham Palace. Big Ben loomed up in front of me as I came onto Parliament Square with elaborate churches and a small park with several monuments. David Lloyd George’s was dramatic. The sound of a bag piper was warming along with the sunshine and 65 degrees. The massive number of people going every which way was mind boggling! In contrast, on the route back to the apartment I took side streets and was struck at the sight of no one.

My last fun surprise of the morning was the sound of the royal band leaving their inspection area and marching to the palace. Stopped at a cafe for brunch and a chance to wonder where people were going as they zipped by.

A highlight of the trip was attending Hamilton at the beautiful Victoria Palace Theater. The best word that describes the performance for me: STUNNING, in every way!! The set, use of stage, costumes, actors, music. What a performance-wow, wow, wow!

Victoria Palace Theater, Hamilton performance

The day was complete with a meal at Its All Greek to Me. Yum!

DAY 13, Monday, April 18

I said so long to Kate, Alaina, and Mikayla and headed to the airport. Today I traveled from Gatwick airport in London to Dublin, Ireland. I took a Bolt ride (no Uber in England) to Blackfriar train station, three stops to Gatwick, flight to Dublin, and I stayed at one of the airport hotels to be close by for my flight home to Boston the next day.

It’s been an incredible journey-sooooooo grateful for every moment! Sooooo happy to be traveling again. Appreciate Nicholas, Kate, Mikayla, and Alaina! The world where I’ve been is definitely opening up once again. Of my 5 flights I only had to show any Covid documentation once. I’m sad knowing my journey is coming to an end but my memories will continue and I’m happy to be headed towards the states. Travel is special to me, from my first trip out of the US in 1973 with my sister Niki to Greece and Egypt, I knew it was something I’d want to continue. I’m soooo grateful for the many travel opportunities I’ve had and all the learning along the way.

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World Collage Day

April 26, 2022

Plan to participate – May 14

World Collage Day is an international celebration of the fine art of collage being recognized this year on on Saturday, May 14th, 2022! Celebrate with enthusiasts around the globe. If you google ‘world collage day’ you can see what some others are doing to recognize the day. And right here in Maine, the Bangor Public Library has put a call out for collages that will be included in a display at the library. The details are below with hopes of having your students participate or, if the library is not a convenient location for your students, create something similar and get some energy going around World Collage Day! This is a great way to celebrate spring and to help turn the corner from the pandemic. Using the theme “Hopeful” because we know that there are many reasons to focus on what gives us hope.

Bangor Public Library Plans – your invited or use this idea to adapt for your community!

Join in the fun and make a collage to be on display at the Bangor Public Library!

You are invited to submit a collage if you are preK-grade 12 students. 

Collages must be no larger than 9”x12” and must be made of paper (no 3-D objects). You can use magazines, colored paper, newspaper, paper bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper, etc. and mount your collage on thin cardboard (cereal box thickness is sturdy enough to use for the backing of the collage). 

Created by Kal Elmore

What is a collage? 

Usually a collage is an art work made up of photos, clippings, or found items that are attached to a sturdy surface. An example is a picture of a tree made up of pictures of things that are green. You can search on the internet for many interesting examples of collage, if you would like to get ideas. 

The theme is ‘Hopeful

There are many reasons why this is a good time to focus on the things that give us hope. Brainstorm some ideas with a friend or family member and think about these ideas as you make your collage. 

Collages are mostly made up of scraps of paper so you can also think of this as a recycle/reuse project. (Do not use special pictures or papers without permission).

All you will need is some paper scraps, some glue, scissors (if you need to cut things), and your imagination! 

If you don’t have scrap materials at home you can go to the Bangor Public Library Children’s room and pick up a paper bag with paper scraps inside. You still need your own glue and backing material and scissors. These bags will be available at the library from May 2 – May 12, during library hours. 

Submit collages

Your finished collage needs to be submitted to the Children’s Room in the Bangor library on May 12-14, during library hours. (There will be a box for submissions.) 

Before submitting your collage you might want to take a picture of it or a picture of you and your collage. The library is not responsible for lost or damaged work, and sometimes things happen. If you want your collage, back you need to pick it up at the library on May 31 during library hours. 

If you want, you can post the picture of you and your collage on Instagram with the hashtag #meworldcollageday2022.

On the back of your collage please put your name, the title of your work, and a parent or guardian signature that shows you have their permission to submit the work. 

If you have any questions, please contact one of the librarians or Candis Joyce, Reference Department, Adult Program Coordinator, Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow Street, Bangor, ME 04401, (207) 947-8336 ext. 127, (207) 922-6054 direct.

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Penny’s Story

April 19, 2022

MLTI t-shirt design

This story starts with the design that was selected for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) conference t-shirt. But, it’s about much more than that. It’s about a 7th grader who LOVES the arts. Congratulations to Penny Graham who attends Waterville Jr. High School. Her art work, seen below, was selected to be printed on t-shirts that will be worn by Maine middle schoolers and their teachers while they attend the virtual student conference being held, May 26. Registration is open for the MLTI Virtual Conference and all grade 7 and 8 Maine students are invited to participate.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Penny recently about her design that connects with this years conference theme: Space2Connect. Before getting to the creating part Penny looked at t-shirts from past years which helped to guide her decisions. She wanted it simple so she considered ideas with space, specifically planets. She decided on one color so it could be seen and read easily. She tried different colors including pink and green but kept coming back to purple. She’s been using the digital app Procreate on her iPad for about a year so it made sense to use it for designing the t-shirt idea. In fact, she has created a video that demonstrates her knowledge and how she went about accomplishing her design. Video about using the app Procreate. Penny’s video will be included on an upcoming episode of the MLTI SLAM Show, which focuses on student leadership in technology integration. 

Penny drawing

After being on the phone with Penny for about 45 minutes I realized that I was not only speaking to a t-shirt designer by an incredible arts advocate. “The Arts are important to me. My whole life I’ve always loved doing music and art because they’re my passions. I’ve done art clubs, I draw a lot, I played a little saxophone, guitar, and the recorder. This year I can see myself improving.”

In addition Penny loves to write, narratives and some poetry. She’ll often learn something while writing in school and goes home and practices what she’s learned. She’s had several different learning opportunities in the arts. “I love doing art with materials and using my hands and getting dirty. It is such fun.” She enjoys pen and ink, sketching, water color, rock painting and pottery. Penny also loves creating with digital tools because “I can change the design quickly and the process goes much smoother.

The arts rotate through the schedule for students at Waterville Jr. High and as a 7th grader she doesn’t have visual art but she does have music. She selected the violin which she played when she was younger and is happy to return to it. She enjoys playing in the school orchestra and likes the performances.  

She also loves theatre and has participated in the Sound of Music and Nobody Believes in Fairies which was written by one of the school’s 6th English teachers. She’s excited about the musical coming up this spring called Middleschool Madness. Penny says: “Theater is a really nice bonding experience. It’s a fun, social thing that I just love to do. I got to meet so many new people in the two plays I’ve been inMy theater experiences have all been really great.” 

Penny as Gretl

Penny also shared her experience of the pandemic. She was glad to have alone time to draw and bake and was able to pursue her hobbies. “I feel like without the pandemic I wouldn’t have been able to move forward that much. I feel like I could take big strokes that I wouldn’t have had time to do.”

Penny’s dad shared: “Waterville is a wonderful place for artistic and curious children like Penny.”

I’m certain that Penny has a bright future and I’m grateful to have met her and for our conversation.

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MAEA Conference and Awards

April 12, 2022

What a day for art education!

The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) concluded an outstanding spring conference by presenting three, no four, awards to deserving educators. But first a word about the conference. I’ve been around long enough to see institutions transform, some for the third and fourth time. I had the pleasure of working on the planning committee for the MAEA spring conference that was held on Saturday, April 2 in Rockland at the Farnsworth Art Museum and CMCA. I’m not just talking about a conference that was held in both facilities but what took place was magical. It was delightful to see the two institutions partner with MAEA to put together a very worthwhile day for art educators.

Presentation by Daniel Salomon

The conference entitled Radical Reuse was planned and implemented by a group of people who had never worked together before, some new to their positions, and everyone went above and beyond. Over a two month period every Thursday the education staffs of both institutions and the MAEA conference planners came together on zoom to plan the annual spring conference. THANK YOU to everyone for a job well done! From CMCA: Mia Bogyo, and representing the Farnsworth: Gwendolyn Loomis Smith, Katherine Karlik, and Alexis Saba. MAEA president, Lynda Leonas, coordinated the effort with board members Iva Damon and Christine Del Rossi supporting. From the Rockland school district Richard Wehnke helped.

Printmaking with Sherrie York – Lynda Leonas and Iva Damon

The keynote was provided by Krisanne Baker, Medomak Valley High School art and ecology teacher and artist. She is committed to advocating for the ocean and inspires her students to learn about water quality, availability and rights, and ocean stewardship. Guest speaker Daniel Salomon who teaches in The Hatchery at Camden Hills Regional High School provided background information on the work he is doing with students utilizing and reusing materials and the role we each can play.

Gallery tour, Farnsworth

After the opening speakers, conference participants attended sessions on printmaking with Sherrie York, art making around ‘place’ with Alexis Iammarino, toured the Farnsworth Museum, and toured CMCA. Several merchants from Downtown Rockland supported the conference goers with discounts. During the middle of the day Daniel’s students from the Hatchery, set up outside CMCA, shared several of the projects they have been involved in this year.

Alexis Iammarino demonstrating, CMCA

AWARDS PROGRAM

The day concluded with honoring the work of four educators with an amazing backdrop of quilts at CMCA. The educators are outstanding in and out of the classroom, engaged in work at the local, regional, and state level. They work (and play) tirelessly, sometimes alone and often collaborating with others. Every day they exhibit all that is right about education. In their respective institutions they have a place at the table where they continuously advocate for students and art education. We know that an excellent education in the arts is essential, and these educators strive for every student to experience just that. 

The awards committee was led by Belfast Area High School art teacher Heidi O’Donnell. Members of the committee included Hope Lord, Maranacook Middle School art teacher and Suzanne Goulet, Waterville High School art teacher, and myself. The awards, clay vessels, were created by Carolyn Brown, Camden Hills Regional High School art teacher. In addition each educator received a plaque for their classroom and a pineapple.

The 2022 Administration/Supervision Art Educator of the Year was presented to Dr. Rachel Somerville who is at Maine College of Art & Design and Westbrook Schools. She was introduced by Melissa Perkins, Congin Elementary School art teacher, Westbrook.

Melissa presenting Rachel

The 2022 Secondary Art Educator of the year was presented to Iva Damon, art teacher at Leavitt Area High School in Turner. She was introduced by Lynda Leonas, president of MAEA and an art teacher at Walton and Washburn Elementary Schools in Auburn.

Lynda presenting Iva

The 2023 Maine Art Educator of the Year was presented to Matthew Johnson, art teacher at Westbrook High School. He was introduced by Deb Bickford who also teaches art at Westbrook High School.

Lynda Leonas presented a surprise pineapple award to Heidi for outstanding leadership and contributions to the MAEA board. She is stepping down from the board as she takes on a leadership position with the National Art Education Association.

Heidi O’Donnell, right with her Belfast colleagues Linda Nicholas, middle and Kathie Gass, left

As we move away from the challenges of the pandemic I urge you to consider:

  • Become a member of MAEA, if you are not already one
  • Volunteer to become a board member and take on a leadership role
  • Nominate a colleague who is worthy of recognition

For more information please go to the MAEA website.

Photos taken by Heidi O’Donnell and myself.

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HundrED

April 3, 2022

Accepting applications

If you’re interested in connecting with a global audience of educators, please read this post. I’ve blogged about HundrED in the past. In 2018 I was selected as a HundrED Ambassador and was invited to attend the HundrED Summit in Helsinki in 2018 and 19. I met amazing educators from around the world. Some of my follow up roles with HundrED have been to assist in the selection of innovations that best represent HundrED’s mission.

What is HundrED?

HundrED is a global education non-profit, recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on scalable innovations in K-12 education. HundrED’s mission is to help every child flourish in life by giving them access to the best possible education innovations. HundrED annually selects 100 leading education innovations globally packages and shares their amazing work with the world, for free. 

Applications are open for the HundrED 2023 Global Collection – DEADLINE: JUNE 1ST, 2022 

Are you an education innovator? We want to hear from you! Submit your initiative to the HundrED 2023 Global Collection before June 1st, 2022. If you are not an innovator, but know an organization doing great work in the field of education, send us an email at research@hundred.org with a link to their website. APPLICATION.

In addition HundrED has put together a Social & Emotional Learning Spotlight Report that can be downloaded.

In an unprecedented way, the global pandemic has highlighted the importance of building social and emotional skills (SEL) to help children thrive in school, the workplace, and life. In this report we highlight 13 of the most impactful and scalable education innovations fostering SEL skills in students. In addition, the report offers 5 successful strategies for implementing these programs. 

HundrED and Ukraine

Of course HundrED has Innovators and Ambassadors from Ukraine. They’re reaching out to these people and in this writing you can read about the crisis from a Ukrainian teachers perspective. In addition HundrEd provides resources on how to speak with children about the crisis in Ukraine.

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Insect Lab

March 22, 2022

Learning opportunity for teachers

Below is an invitation from Maine artist Mike Libby! Mike is a graduate of Bangor High School and is an amazing artist who established INSECT LAB. Now, he’s sharing his ideas with teachers. I encourage you to respond to Mike and join him on zoom during one or all of the sessions. What a super opportunity to consider how Insect Lab could be part of a lesson or perhaps your school curriculum.

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MAEA Spring Conference

March 19, 2022

Don’t delay – register today!

With a few spaces left to attend the spring conference, the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) is extending the deadline – don’t delay. How wonderful it is to know that teachers can come together IN PERSON for professional development once again. Join colleagues from across the state on April 2, 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. MAEA is partnering with the Center for Maine Contemporary Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland to offer this learning opportunity for Maine teachers who are *members of MAEA. Register at THIS LINK.

Keynote will be given by Medomak Valley High School teacher and artist Krisanne Baker. Daniel Salomon from Camden Hills Regional High School is a guest speaker. Several members of the Downtown Rockland Association are offering a discount during the conference including restaurant.

**You can become a member at the same time you register. Ignore the registration deadline below.

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Nicholas Parker’s Story

February 26, 2022

Musical journey and it’s impact on something larger

This is a story about Nicholas Parker but his story is especially poignant at this time with the invasion by Russia of Ukraine earlier this week. Samantha Smith was a 10 year old girl living in Manchester, Maine when, in 1982, she wrote to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Yuri AndropovI. She was seeking to understand why the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were so tense. Her question and bravery prompted a response and made a huge difference. She received an invitation to the Soviet Union and became a Goodwill Ambassador. Sadly, Samantha, at the age of 13, and her father, died in a plane crash. Her spirit and commitment to peace lives on. I pray for peace for the people of Ukraine.

If we could be friends by just getting to know each other better, then what are our countries really arguing about? Nothing could be more important than not having a war if a war could kill everything.” ~Samantha Smith

NICHOLAS PARKER’S STORY

As many young children do when there is a piano in the house Nicholas started ‘playing’ random notes for fun at an early age. At age 9 he started taking piano lessons from Amy Irish. At the time, he knew how to play “Do-Re-Mifrom The Sound of Music using solely his pointer finger. Amy taught him to develop his piano abilities and he fell in love with the instrument over the next decade.

PLEASE NOTE: All of the indented bold and italic sections below are quotes from Nicholas Parker.

“Plunking around on the piano and coming up with my own melodies has been one of my favorite activities since the beginning, though I never really put my efforts into writing a complete piece until the eighth grade.”

Nicholas playing Do-Re-Mi

In 2014 while in grade 8 at Reeds Brook School in Hampden Nicholas had Karyn Field for a teacher. Students were engaged in project based learning using Meridian Stories. Along with teaching Karyn was the Civil Rights Advisor so she decided to reach out to Rob Shetterly and Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) to enrich the opportunities for student learning. Rob brought some of his large portraits to school to hang in the library. Students selected a portrait from Rob’s collection and were assigned to do some sort of creative project on that person. Nicholas chose Samantha Smith.

I chose Samantha Smith, a girl from Maine who, in the ‘80s, was known as America’s Youngest Ambassador, and who traveled to the Soviet Union as a peace activist at the height of the Cold War. For my project, I wrote a piano piece about Samantha’s life.

Piano recital with Amy Irish

For several days Nicholas worked independently in the music room while writing the piece about Samantha Smith. Karyn remembers checking in with him periodically to hear what he was accomplishing. Nick used his musical abilities and combined them with Samantha Smith; an ideal project in many ways.

When Rob and AWTT staff saw and heard what Nicholas had accomplished they were very impressed. A conversation followed and out of this grew the ongoing AWTT project offered each year to middle students. The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for middle and high school students that uses the creative arts to build a bridge between the classroom and the world as students become compassionate, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them and work for the common good.

“Looking back, I would have written the piece a bit differently now (on account of my skills having developed significantly since I was 13), but the music nevertheless managed to elicit a response from Mr. Shetterly, who was present when we displayed our projects.”

Playing on a street piano

Karyn shared that Nicholas was a confident and very humble student. He was provided an amazing opportunity to take what someone did that created change and through Rob’s painting of Samantha, together they elevated her voice. Nicholas was invited, while in high school, to speak at the New England League of Middle Schools annual dinner. Karyn said: “Through his passion and intelligence and his gifts he opened doors for others students and served as a good role model.”

“Seeing the impact my project had on Mr. Shetterly and the creation of the Samantha Smith Challenge was wonderful. Since then, I’ve loved staying in touch with AWTT when I’m able, and have enjoyed learning much more in the fields of piano performance and composition.”

Nicholas returned at Christmas from a semester studying in Italy. He took time to provide an update what he’s doing and some of his thinking.

“Today, I am headed into my senior year at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where I am majoring in Music and Italian Studies. While I have grown a lot in my abilities, I must admit that I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I want to write (and how to write it). George Winston, whose CDs my parents used to play when I was growing up, is a source of much inspiration. His seasonal albums are some of my favorites, and the way in which he captures natural settings through the piano is exceptional. 

Working on music while in Italy last fall

The opportunity to teach music to others has presented itself in recent years as well, and I have found myself working with a few students—albeit largely in a virtual format—on the fundamentals of music and piano-playing. To introduce people to the piano has been an immense joy, and quite often has made me think of the importance of the arts and music in education. I personally have learned at least as much from studying music as I have from any science or math course, and in fact have found that the subjects of music and science are not quite so different. And yet, when it comes to many schools (especially those in less-privileged areas or with less funding), the arts and music programs are all too often the first on the chopping block. The benefits of music in education are plentiful, but inclusion and accessibility are indispensable when it comes to having an impact on students’ development.

Nick performing the Samantha Smith piece he wrote:

As was stated by Stanford University professor Eliot Eisner (quoted previously on this blog), “The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.” Whether by aiding in telling the story of Samantha Smith, or by helping me explore the natural world around us in a way that words and numbers cannot, music has occupied a space in my life that nothing else could. It’s impact on me has in turn given me the potential to impact a little bit of my corner of the world, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

AWTT Education Director Connie Carter has valued her time working with Nicholas and said the following: “Besides being the catalyst for AWTT’s education program the Samantha Smith Challenge, Nick has continued to be a strong voice for courageous student activism.  He has spoken at conferences about AWTT and was a critical voice in our strategic planning process.  Listening to Nick talk about the importance of finding and using one’s voice is like listening to a beautiful musical composition  — full of meaning, compassion, and inspiration.”

It was such a gift to converse with Nicholas and hear his story. His journey in many ways is just beginning, especially to those of us who have been around for many years. But, his musical journey started many years ago as a small child. I’m grateful Nicholas shared his story and I’m sure it will inspire and remind us how important it is to provide learning opportunities in the arts for all.

If you have a student or a former student whose story will inspire please contact me at meartsed@gmail.com!

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We’ve Lost a Giant

February 6, 2022

Touched so many

Sadly, we lost a giant in the arts on Friday, February 4. Ashley Bryan was 98 years old and lived everyday joyfully! His face in the photo below is how I will remember this amazing artist, advocate, storyteller, poet, and humanitarian.

Just a couple of weeks ago I read an interesting story in the Maine Sunday Telegram about a family in Virginia who purchased a home where their great grandparents lived as slaves on a plantation. I thought of Ashley Bryan and his book, Freedom Over Me. I cut the article out of the paper and sent it to him. As Ashley has done in so many books it is a beautiful collection of words and pictures. On the mainland near Ashley’s home on Little Cranberry Island he heard there was to be an auction that included paperwork from a plantation where slaves were held. Interestingly enough, the paperwork was from an auction that was selling 11 slaves. The paperwork described only the necessary items to buy and sell slaves; name, age, height, price, and little else. Ashley imagined much more about these individuals and gave them lives; describing their skills, their hopes and dreams, in poetry and images. Each are alive for the reader on the pages of the book.

Freedom Over Me is one of over 50 books that Ashley has written and illustrated. For years his children’s books have been steady and gently forceful educating on issues of color and racial diversity. He has used song, poetry, spirituals, folktales and much more to share Black culture. He received awards and recognition for many of his books including including two Coretta Scott King awards and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. He found joy in telling his stories with people of all ages through singing, tapping and moving. Ashley’s presentations started with a Langston Hughes poem My People. The youtube video below will help you understand why Ashley shared this poem and you’ll hear him reciting.

My People

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

In 2013 the Ashley Bryan Center was created to  to “preserve, celebrate and share broadly artist Ashley Bryan’s work and his joy of discovery, invention, learning and community. The Ashley Bryan Center will promote opportunities for people to come together in the creation and appreciation of visual art, literature, music, and the oral and written traditions of poetry. The Center is fiercely committed to fostering cultural understanding and personal pride through scholarship, exhibitions and opportunities in the Arts.” The center has been doing impactful work since its inception. One component is the distribution of Ashley’s book Beautiful Blackbird. Each year copies are given to schools, libraries, and organizations serving underserved children. To date, over 20,000 books have been distributed in Maine, New York City, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

I was fortunate in August of 2018 to travel with Central Elementary music teacher Kate Smith to Islesford to meet and visit with Ashley in his home. We were touched by his energy, joy and childlike view of the world. What a gift! We visited the Storytelling Pavilion where we viewed his amazing puppets and stained glass windows. Yesterday I shared the sad news of Ashley’s passing with friend and colleague, Catherine Ring. We agreed that there are some people that should live forever, they enrich every life they touch and make the world a better place. Ashley was one of those people, and fortunately as he reminds us in the video (linked above), that what we create will last. The art he created during his 98 years on this earth will last and there’s no doubt in my mind that it will continue to impact people of all ages in a positive and thoughtful way. At some level his message lives on in each of us touched by Ashley and his work (and play) so he’s not really gone.

If you ‘d like to learn more about Ashley visit the Ashley Bryan Center website. To contribute and to learn what a donation could support visit the donate page on the center’s website.

Earlier blog posts on “Argy’s Point of View” blog are linked below. They are filled with photos, ideas, resources, links, and so much more. One of my favorites is the story of a former student, Aaron Robinson, who collaborated with Ashley to write an African-American requiem for chamber orchestra, choir and spoken voice called A Tender Bridge.

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