Message March 24, 2016

1.  The sophomore class experienced Challenge Day last week, a national program that is created to build connection and empathy, and to fulfill a vision that every child lives in a world where they feel safe, loved, and celebrated. Challenge Day is more than a one-day program. Our programs go beyond traditional anti-bullying efforts, building empathy and igniting a movement of compassion and positive change, known as the Be the Change movement.   

Many thanks to Challenge Day facilitators Katie and Sea Lloyd for offering such a worthwhile experience for our students.  Thanks also to our 25 adult participants, all staff members, parents, and community members connected to GHS.  And final thanks goes to GHS Asst. Principal Jayme Jones, who worked many hours to develop a schedule and recruit volunteers to assist; and Director of Development & Community Resources Ashley Caswell, who worked behind the scenes with the Challenge Day organization to share costs with another area district.  The plan is to offer Challenge Day annually to the sophomore class.  Natural Helpers also will be taking some of the positive energy from this day and helping to spread it throughout the high school through awareness and special events.  This event helps to fulfill Objective 2.1, student and staff wellness, in the district's Strategic Plan.

Sophomore class @ Challenge Day March 17

2.  I am pleased to report that the state Legislature ran another $15 million through the EPS formula, netting an additional $152,000 in state subsidy, with the district picking up a total of $308,000 in state aid for FY 17. 

3.  The process for hiring a new principal for Mabel I. Wilson School is underway.  This week, the interview committee will be screening the 16 applications received.  Initial interviews will take place the week of April 4, with the target date of early May for appointment of a new principal.

4.  Congrats to these students who won awards at the Maine State Science Fair:

  • Behavioral and Social Sciences - Third Place Brooke Asherman
  • Biomedical and Health Sciences:  Third Place Evan Wyman
  • Chemistry and Materials:  Third Place Ibrahim Saleh
  • Earth and Environmental Sciences:  Second Place Maggie Nolan
  • Energy and Transportation: Nicolas Giandrea Third Place
  • Mechanical and Environmental: Sam Bonnevie Third Place
  • Microbiology: Corrigan Franham First Place; Madeline Panici Second Place; Annabelle Williams Third Place
  • Jordan Bryant was recognized for her research into Visual Memory
Many thanks to teachers Bob O'Neil and Julie Opperman for their work with the students at the science fair.

Maine State Science Fair winners

5.  The GHS jazz ensemble, directed by Kevin Rollins, won 1st place in Division I at the state level, among the 4 best jazz combos in the state.  Several members of the jazz band were also recognized for individual accomplishments.  

6.  What a terrific production of the Learned Ladies this past weekend by the GHS theater students, directed by Audrey Northway.  From the actors and actresses to the backstage crew to the booster support, it was 2 hours of true talent and a lot of fun to watch.

7.  This week marked the beginning of the new state assessment testing at GMS 4-5, the first school in the district to test our students on the new Maine Educational Assessment (MEA).  The MEA replaced the Smarter Balanced assessment after the state discontinued SBAC after only one year of the testing cycle.  Our district has been preparing for this new assessment for several months and I am confident this will be a productive experience for our students.  Special thanks to Principal Carol MacArthur and staff for pioneering the test in our district; Sally Loughlin for the district-level planning; and the technology department, including director Dirk Van Curan, Dawna Green, Pete Rhode, and Joe Bickard.

8.  On a survey to 8th grade families asking if their child would be attending Greely High School in the fall, 105/109 responses (or 96%) indicated their child would be attending our high school.  70% of the 8th grade families responded.

Message March 7, 2016

1.   We are all very proud of our outstanding students and staff.  Here are a few of the many recognitions and honors that have been awarded recently:

  • GHS junior Jack Saffian wins 2nd place in the state for his essay on special needs, sponsored by the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council. 
  • GHS and GMS Civil Rights teams and the Unified Basketball team worked together on a project bringing awareness to both schools about sensitivity towards students with special needs in a day-long "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign.
Civil Rights Team "Spreads the Word"
  • GHS students Evan McCarthy and Charlotte Benoit win the Western Maine student athlete awards.
Evan McCarthy, GHS Principal Dan McKeone & Charlotte Benoit

  • GMS student Christopher Martucci qualified for the state-level National Geography Bee.
  • The National Honor Society welcomed 41 inductees this year at a candlelight ceremony.  Many thanks to advisor Jason Curry, Katie Dexter, and the NHS Faculty Council.
  • The modern classical language societies, including Spanish, French, and Latin, welcomed 49 students to its ranks.  Many thanks to society advisors Grace Leavitt, Pat Thibeault, and Seth Knowles.
  • Boys Varsity ice hockey team, led by Coach Barry Mothes, earned the Class B South Sportsmanship award.
  • The Greely Color Guard, led by Coach Carrie Begley, was invited to perform at the Expo during a Red Claws game.
Greely Color Guard at the Portland Expo Feb. 26

  • MIW teacher Mary Train was flown out to California by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to receive an award honoring her work around STEM education.  Mary has been active with fellow MIW teacher Beth Cory and GHS science teacher Julie Opperman to promote STEM in the elementary grades.
  • GMS world language and art teacher Zanny Wood named by Phillips Exeter Academy as an "influential educator" based on a nomination from a former student.
  • GMS student Malcolm Bourgeois won the New England regional archery competition for his age group, placing among the best in the nation for his skills.
Malcolm Bourgeois
Photo courtesy of Portland Press Herald

2.  A survey was sent out to parents of students in grades K-4 regarding interest in before-school supervision in order to maintain the current drop-off time of 8:00am at the elementary level.  122 families responded, with roughly 11% saying they would use this service regularly and 7% indicating they would use it occasionally.  A rough estimate based on this survey tells us that a minimum of 75 K-5 students could be dropped off at 8am on any given day, and possibly could be as high as 120 students. We will be reviewing this information in order to determine next steps.

3.  I will be presenting the FY 17 budget at the next Board meeting on March 21.  An early estimate of our expenditures shows an increase of about 4.3% over the current year.  The tax impact will be lower than this based on projected revenue figures.