Posts Tagged ‘Messalonskee High School’


Poetry Out Loud Finalists

March 5, 2018

Yahoooo for high school students and poetry

State Final, Free and Open to Public, at Waterville Opera House March 14

AUGUSTA, ME–The art of performance and spoken word is alive and well in Maine high schools, as 39 individual students competed in two Poetry Out Loud Regional Finals last month.  The Maine Arts Commission, which administers the poetry competition at the state level, is pleased to announce the top 10 finalists who will compete in state finals at the Waterville Opera House on March 14 at 3:00 p.m.

Congratulations to the following finalists:

Northern Maine Regional Champions: The northern regional poetry recitation contest final was hosted by Hampden Academy.

  • Lydia Caron, Grade 12, Bangor High School
  • Katherine Kemper, Grade 12, Camden Hills Regional High School
  • Lauren Dodge, Grade 12, Lee Academy
  • Hannah Lavenson, Grade 12, Messalonskee High School
  • Lauren Farmer, Grade 10, Rangeley Lakes Regional Schools

Southern Maine Regional Champions: The southern regional final was hosted by Westbrook Middle School.

  • Allan Monga, Grade 11, Deering High School
  • Abbie vanLuling, Grade 12, Gorham High School
  • Richard Hilscher , Grade 12, North Yarmouth Academy
  • Emma Lombardo, Grade 11, Westbrook High School
  • Wyatt Bates, Grade 11, Yarmouth High School

After three rounds of competition, one state finalist will be named the overall winner and advance to the national competition, where s/he will compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends, as well as a $20,000 scholarship.

The Maine Poetry Out Loud state finals are March 14 at the Waterville Opera House. The doors will open at 2:30 p.m. for a 3 p.m. performance start. The event is free and open to the public, who are encouraged to attend. It will also be broadcast and streamed live throughout Maine in collaboration with Boothbay Region Television on the BRTV station and through Facebook Live.

For more information about the state and national finals, please visit Maine Arts Commission: Poetry Out Loud 2017 or contact Argy Nestor, Maine Arts Commission Director of Arts Education at or 207-287-2713.



The Addams Family Musical

October 29, 2017

Messalonskee High School Players

‘Buh buh da do *snap* *snap*’… The MHS Players bring that classic tune from The Addams Family to the stage on Nov. 17, 18, and 19. The dark humor of this dysfunctional family reminds us that love conquers all. Wednesday trades her pigtails for an engagement ring and hilarity ensues when her boyfriend’s Ohioan family meet the dark and sinister members of the Addams clan. Storms, ghostly ancestors, rhymes, the color yellow, and love?! It’s all there for the older fans of the 1960s t.v. show to reminisce over while introducing younger members of the audience to the darkly comedic family. The performance by the Messalonskee High School Players is under the guidance of the new director, Shelby Thibodeau, herself an alumnus of Players. In addition, the Players are pleased to welcome as the new musical director, Mike Peterson, a long time music teacher in the district.  The actors are currently honing their singing and dancing while the crew hand craft the ghostly costumes of the living and the dead and build the Addams Family mansion on stage at the Messalonskee High School Performing Arts Center.  All are welcome on Nov. 17 and 18 at 7:00 pm and on Nov. 19 at 2:00 in the afternoon. Tickets are $5 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults.










Andy is Moving On

June 11, 2016


IMG_2572I just received the great news that our music colleague Andrew Forster from Messalonskee High School in Oakland is moving along in the process for the 2017 Maine Teacher of the Year. Andy is one of 8 county teachers of the year that is moving to the next step in the process. CONGRATULATIONS Andy and a BIG HIP HIP HOORAY!

The 2016 County Teachers Of the Years moving on in the 2017 State TOY process are:

  • MICHAEL McCARTNEY Aroostook County, Maine School of Science and Mathematics
  • MORGAN CUTHBERT Cumberland County, Harrison Middle School, Yarmouth
  • SELINA WARREN Franklin County, Kingfield Elementary School
  • REBECCA TAPLEY Hancock County, Brooklin Elementary School
  • ANDREW FORSTER Kennebec County, Messalonskee High School, Oakland

  • BETH HEIDEMANN Knox County, Cushing Community School
  • CHERRIE MacINNES Penobscot County, Brewer Community School
  • TAMARA RANGER Somerset County, Skowhegan Area Middle School

Messalonskee High School

November 15, 2015

The Sound of Music

MHS 2015 SoM Poster


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Leone Donovan

June 25, 2013

This is the 37th in a series of blog posts telling arts teacher’s stories. The first 19 were told last year by the phase I Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders. The series continues with the stories from the phase II teacher leaders. These posts contain a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

LeoneLeone Donovan teaches visual art at Messalonskee High School (RSU 18) in Oakland, ME. She has been an art teacher for 33 years and at MHS for 14 years. Depending on the quarter, she might be teaching almost anything that falls under the heading visual arts. Currently, the list might include any of the following: beginning and advanced art, drawing, painting, sculpture, metal sculpture, craft techniques, graphic arts, digital design, digital photography, pottery, and AP Studio art. She also teaches an online art history class for Virtual High School and online AP Art History for AP4All. Classes at Messalonskee generally have 12-20 students and meet every day for 80 minutes. Most are quarter-long with the survey courses lasting for a semester.

Donovan is also a member of the MHS Leadership Team and Capacity Builders, chair of the accreditation committee, advisor to the National Honor Society, and writer and managing editor of the RSU 18 newspaper, The Messalonskee Messenger.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

I think teaching art is a fabulous fit for someone with mild ADD tendencies! I love the variety of what I might be teaching in any given term and in any given moment. I like juggling all the ‘stuff’ that comes with teaching art and I love watching kids get excited about it all, too. Those moments when you see the student’s belief in his or her abilities and creativity starts to shine out are standouts.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

The commitment and passion of the arts teachers, a schedule and commitment from administrators and the community that paves the way for enough time for meaningful access to arts classes, and students who love making all kinds of art.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I am always questioning how and what I assess, especially now as we, in my district and around the state, are moving towards a standards-based system. Assessments in a variety of forms are helpful to me and to my students, I think. Formative assessments give me the chance to act as consultant to the artist and to the process. Asking the students to reflect on their work, too, can generate deeper understanding for both of us and suggest a path for next steps. Assessment helps clarify objectives and teaching methods for me and, I hope, for my students. I think, too, summative assessments, class critiques, art exhibits, all give the arts more validity in the eyes of those outside of our classrooms.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

I’ve had a wonderful opportunity to explore the whole world of assessments and had the fun of doing so with a lot of funny, smart people! It made me carve out the time to think about methods and rationales of teaching and learning. MAAI has given me fabulous training and resources that I call on all the time. And, of course, I became acquainted with Gloria Hewett’s fabulous brownies!

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m proud of my students. I’ve kept in touch with some and lost track of many others but I think back to all the different kinds of students that have turned up in my classroom and I’m glad to have met them. And I don’t mean only those students who planned to make art part of their careers. Really, I’ve enjoyed the challenges and pleasures of making connections and hearing their life stories and dreams for themselves no matter what was ahead for each of them.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Oh, just like everyone else, I have to say time, money, and energy! Seems like we have less and less of all three, all the time. I don’t know if it really is less but more would be great if anyone can send some.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Wow – tough question. I think a lot happens because I’m willing to jump into things and really hate not meeting deadlines. There’s probably a bit of the being in the right place at the right time occasionally, too. I would never have applied to the Fulbright Teacher’s Exchange program had I not been at the MAEA conference at Haystack one fall and heard another teacher talk about her experiences. I don’t know that I would have pursued a Master’s in creative writing if my district didn’t require that degree. And so on. Circumstances got me started but my commitment and determination got me through.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Run. Run now. Noooooo, just kidding. I would say, hang in there. Let the craziness of the educational politics and budget issues and the odd school demands on your time and attention eddy around you as much as you can and be the teacher you want to be in the classroom. Not that there isn’t something to be learned or used from all those initiatives and theories that fly at us; there often is. But let it be a sidebar to your real life. Make space in your life to grow as an artist and a teacher in the way that excites and inspires you. In the next moment that inspiration will move from you to your students. And, really, really enjoy your summer vacations!

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Travel. Travel a lot. And in first class.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

That Argy was only kidding about the $500,000.


Happy New Year!

January 1, 2013


I have taken some time today to reflect on 2012 and realize how fortunate I am to work with incredible arts educators in Maine and throughout the United States. Educators who are dedicated, passionate, and fully committed to providing an outstanding arts education for every student!

The year has been filled with many successes, some challenges, and sad losses! I wish I had time to go back through all the blog posts that I wrote in 2012 to help me remember all of the successes, challenges, and losses but instead I will provide the highlights.


The biggest success is the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). The second phase of MAAI officially kicked off in the spring with the identification of 20 teacher leaders. These arts educators joined the 18 teacher leaders from phase one. They participated in a 4-day institute in August at the Maine College of Art (MECA) in Portland where they expanded their knowledge in the areas of assessment, leadership, technology, and creativity. They have created workshops that are being delivered throughout this school year at the regional and mega-regional level. (Registration for the mega-regional workshops is now open – FREE and contact hours are available.) The topics of the sessions are as varied as the individual teacher leaders. I am so grateful for their commitment to the work that is making a difference for arts teachers and in arts classrooms across Maine each day. The impact on students learning is amazing!

And, uniquely the Mega-regional workshops are being co-sponsored with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). At these workshops their will be at least one session that is integrated with an MLTI integrator to provide a first time opportunity for educators!

The MAAI would not be possible without the commitment of the leadership team who have consistently shepherded the work. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Catherine Ring, Rob Westerberg, Jeff Beaudry, Bronwyn Sale, Pam Kinsey, and Matt Doiron. Their willingness to lead has made a difference! Close to 1000 arts educators have taken advantage of the professional development opportunities during the last year and a half.

The MAAI is aligned with the Maine Department of Education’s Strategic Plan: Education Evolving: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First.

In July Catherine and I flew to Denver for a national conference on arts assessment held at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. I was proud to let others know of the grassroots efforts that Maine arts educators are involved with.

Art educator Chris Milliken, on sabbatical from Wells schools, has been following and doing research on the MAAI during this past year. He will join art teacher Lisa Marin and present a session on their findings at the Mega-regional workshop at Ellsworth High School on March 29, 2013.

Literacy is a statewide focus with the Literacy for ME being launched this fall and arts education has stepped up to become an integral part of the cross content literacy connections. Arts educators Jen Nash, Suzanne Goulet, and Lisa Gilman have been facilitating literacy webinars. Suzanne is also co-facilitating face to face sessions.

We have had 4 wonderful art exhibits at the Maine Department of Education during this past year from Maranacook Community Schools, Bangor Elementary and Middle Schools, Lake Region High School, and Messalonskee High School. Along with the exhibits we had receptions at the Blaine House with music and dance performances from each school/district. Participating and collaborating are First Lady Ann LePage, the Maine State Board of Education, and the Commissioner of Education, Steve Bowen.

First Lady Ann LePage partnered with the Barbara Bush Foundation to create a new baby journal to present to parents at hospitals across Maine when their babies are born. We did a call for K-8 artwork and 867 young artists submitted work. Thirty two pieces were selected to be published in the book which will be completed in June 2014.

The Maine arts education list-serv has grown to 1200 and the meartsed blog is growing as a source of information, not only for arts educators but for all educators. If you are not on the list-serv but would like to be, please email me at On December 5, 2013 the blog set a record high day of 976 visitors. And a record high week happened during that same time of 2508 visitors. Thank you for taking the time to visit and informing others about what is available on the Maine arts education blog.


  • Common Core standards for ELA and Math were released this year and teachers are being asked to incorporate them into their curricula.
  • We are waiting patiently for the next iteration of the national arts standards to be released in March March 2013.
  • Arts education in Maine is underserved. As the economy continues to be a challenge so is providing adequate arts education programs and teachers.
  • Determining how to provide quality arts education to be ready for the “proficiency based graduation requirement” slated for the graduating class of 2018.
  • What will determine “teacher effectiveness” for arts educators (the non-tested content)?


In March music teacher Beth Polletto died in a car accident driving to school. Beth taught at Gray New Gloucester and Georgetown Central School. In May art teacher Jackie McTigue died in a car accident on her way to school. Jackie taught at Glenburn Elementary School. Both teachers were amazing arts educators and have left a huge hole. My friend and colleague 2nd grade teacher and Maine’s 2010 Teacher of the Year Kevin Grover died on Thanksgiving day after returning from a run. He is greatly missed by family, friends, and colleagues.

Looking forward

photoBeing forever optimistic, I know that 2013 will be filled with many more successes and that the challenges will be small mountains for us to climb. I invite you to collaborate with your colleagues to face the challenges and enjoy the successes. I hope you will continue to use the meartsed blog for resources and to access information. Many of you have heard me say “none of us is as smart as all of us”. Please continue to share information that I can pass on to others through the blog. I appreciate it!

I am confident that 2013 will be filled with opportunities for arts education to move forward. For example part of phase 2 of the MAAI is videotaping arts classrooms to respond to your request “what does a standards based arts education classroom look like?” So, Debi Lynne Baker (newly retired art teacher) will be visiting arts classrooms in the next few months and creating 4 short videos with examples. This is just one example of resources being developed for arts teachers.

I enjoy the challenges that my work at the Maine Department of Education provides for me. I especially love the opportunity to interact with you, the readers of the meartsed blog. So please take a moment when possible and drop me an email at or make a comment at the bottom of a blog post. You can subscribe to the blog by clicking on “Sign me up!” located on the right side of the front page of the blog.

I hope your year is filled with love and laughter and that you continue to provide outstanding opportunities for your students in arts education! Best Wishes for a wonderful 2013 and THANKS so much for all the good that you do in education!

Only one photo and one quote included in today’s post. Hopefully the photo will put a smile on your face and the quote will provide you with some “food for thought” as we dive into 2013!

The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society. – Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts



December 13, 2012

Dance opportunity for younger and older students

Dance at WES 2Messalonskee High School students in Stephanie Carter’s Dance class visited their local elementary school and encouraged students to dance during recess!  The high school students planned and practiced popular dances in their Dance class and then visited Wiiliams Elementary School for two days. Dance during recess showed students another way to be active, as well as, provided an opportunity for dance to be incorporated in everyday life.

Dance at WES 6Students at Messalonskee High School can take a Dance class which can be used for Physical Education or Fine Arts credit. The Dance curriculum is aligned with the MLR Visual and Performing Arts.The components of the 70 minute classes contain a warm up segment with activities such as Yoga, Zumba, and Tae Bo; followed by stretching. Then a dance is introduced and skills are practiced. In future classes the students begin to choreograph their own routines. Students select to work as an individual, with partners or in small groups, and develop their own dances in movement such as Stomp, Swing and Contemporary Dance.

Thank you to Stephanie Carter for providing this blog post.


DOE Commissioner’s Update

December 10, 2012

Celebration of Arts Education Highlighted

In the Thursday Commissioner’s Update last week Messalonskee High School Celebration of Arts Education was included. You can read the Update by clicking here. You can sign up to automatically to receive the Commissioner’s Update on Thursday’s by clicking on “Subscribe to this Newsletter” at the link above.

Steve Pound, Maine State School Board Chair, Kylee Knight, grade 11, Messalonskee High School, First Lady Ann LePage

Steve Pound, Maine State School Board Chair, Kylee Knight, grade 11, Messalonskee High School, First Lady Ann LePage

Morgan Clements and Dhivya Singaram

Morgan Clements and
Dhivya Singaram

Thank you to Messalonskee Music educator Andrew Forster for taking the photos.


Messalonskee High School Art Exhibit

November 27, 2012

Maine Department of Education

Brittany Dubuc, Gr. 12

During October, November, and December students from Leone Donovan’s art classes at Messalonskee High School have artwork on display at the Maine Department of Education. There is an outstanding collection that can be viewed by the public during business hours and enjoyed each day by the Department employees.

This week we will be recognizing the high school artists and musicians from Messalonskee High School at a reception and Celebration of Arts Education being held at the Blaine House. First Lady Ann LePage and Maine State School Board of Education Chair Steven M. Pound will be giving the students their recognition certificates.

Under the direction of music teacher Andrew Forster, two seniors will be performing a clarinet duet. And music teacher Kevin Rhein will direct the Ladies chorus accompanied by music teacher Pam Rhein.

At the conclusion of the program students and their families are invited to the Department to see the artwork on display.

The artwork is on the mearsted as well for viewing and can be accessed by clicking here.

Taylor Turcotte, Gr. 11

Kylee Knight, Gr. 11




Andy Forster Honored

June 16, 2012

Maine Music Educator Teacher of the Year

Music Educator Steve Muise spoke admirably while introducing his friend and colleague Andy Forster at the Maine Music Educators banquet last month at UMaine. Below are excerpts of what Steve said:

Andy exhibits excellence in all that he does and sets the bar high for himself and his musical colleagues and students. 

Andy Forster is:
• Concert and Jazz Band Director at Messalonskee High School
• Creator and instructor for the MHS recording and engineering class
• an exemplary trumpet performer
• a highly sought after guest conductor
• one who constantly seeks professional development to enrich teaching
• Conductor and Director of MMYO (Mid Maine Youth Orchestra)
• Founder and director of the Acadia Wind Ensemble
• Founder and director of the annual “Stan Kenton Holiday Big Band”
• Co-founder of the MHS summer band camp program
• a tireless advocate for music education
• an avid photographer, volunteer ski patroller, teaches ski patrol advanced first aid, and hiker
• he is humble, helpful, talented and caring as you will see in the attached   recommendations.

Andy’s support of RSU 18’s music program is his “Stan Kenton Holiday Big Band” project. Andy personally purchased the charts for several Stan Kenton arranged Christmas Carols.  He coordinates, and rehearses the band (an extended brass big band with french horns, consisting of the areas finest professional musicians). Last year, the Stan Kenton Big Band, plus RSU #18 music ensembles, and the Downeast Brass Quintet (another of Andy’s bands) raised money for Andy’s colleague’s choral trip to NYC this spring.

Andy assists at every school music event in RSU #18. He can usually be found setting up, breaking down, doing stage tech. and lighting, providing sound reinforcement, recording, teaching students how to record, and taking professional looking photographs. (This is often done during one of his own concert band concerts). He does this without complaint, and never hesitates to be of assistance to his music students, parents and colleagues.

Andy’s fabulous work in directing MMYO (Mid Maine Youth Orchestra) involves students and families throughout Central Maine in coming together to form a full orchestra. The orchestra students in MBRSD benefit greatly from this experience. In an age where many only look out for themselves, Andy truly looks out for everyone else. 

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