Contributed by Allison Flowerdew
I was back at the Yarmouth Performing Arts Center in March when the Freshman class experienced a rendition of Julius Caesar by four actors from the Portland Stage Company. This was the result of a grant request by Karin Walsh and Laura Esty for the Julius Caesar Director’s Lab, to help their students understand Shakespeare’s famous play.
Before the play started, the students were informed that they would be representing the Roman people, making them part of the experience. They were also asked to decide throughout the course of the play which character they sided with. They discussed this in greater detail in the afternoon workshop.
The actors started the play with loud drum beats creating instant energy in the room. The actors portrayed Julius Caesar, Brutus, Mark Antony, Cassius, Octavius Caesar and a few other characters. The play unfolded with Brutus and Cassius plotting against Caesar, who had just returned home to Rome. The audience watched as Brutus planned and executed the assassination of Caesar. During the funeral scene, Brutus and Antony stood on wooden crates and spoke to the crowd. The play concluded with a fight scene in which Octavius tried to avenge the death of Julius Caesar. It all culminated in the death of Brutus and Cassius. The play was exciting, dramatic and helped to demystify Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.
After the play, the actors answered questions from the audience. They also asked the students, by a show of hands, whose side they were on. It was pretty evenly split, but from where I was sitting, I think Brutus had the edge!
Following the play, Karin Walsh’s Freshman Honors English class was join by the actors from the play. The actors started off by asking the class whose side they were on and why. Most of the students sided with Brutus stating, “He had the right idea for the empire,” and “He sacrificed for the greater good.” The actor who played Brutus was beaming!
The students then broke into pairs and picked a subject to debate. They discussed different tactics to win their argument, such as appealing to people’s emotions, using volume, ignoring and using confidence and attitude. The actors explained that Shakespeare’s plays are filled with arguments and they discussed his use of rhetoric, the language of persuasion.
The students were then asked to take on the director’s role. One of the actors gave a speech from the play and the students were encouraged to give the actor a different way to approach his speech. He gave his speech two more times, with his new directions speaking with more confidence the first time and with more anger and guilt the second time.
This grant impacted every freshman at Yarmouth High School. It was exciting for students to see a live performance of a play they’ve read and studied.
Contributed by Allison Flowerdew
I witnessed day one of Marita O’Neill and Jackie Brookes’ grant, Celebrating Diversity: American Voices, in January at YHS. Actor and writer David Mills performed a one man show as Langston Hughes in the Yarmouth Performing Arts Center for the Junior and Senior classes. He started his performance reciting Hughes’s famous poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” then continued reciting more of Hughes’s poems and short stories for about an hour. Throughout his performance, he used many different voices and dialects to portray an array of diverse characters.
After his presentation, he conducted a workshop on Blues Poetry in two Senior AP Literature classes. The classes read a Hughes poem titled “Midwinter Blues.” After the students read the poem out loud, they dissected each stanza line by line, discussing setting, structure, form, tone, meaning, repetition and rhyme. The students then wrote their own blues poem using the formula they had just learned. In the background, Mills played a Chicago Blues song, while the students wrote their poem. At the end of class, a couple of brave students read their poems out loud. Ms. O’Neill has some terrific poets in her class! I could tell the students really enjoyed the workshop, because they personally thanked Mills and shook his hand on the way out the door.
Mills conducted three more Blues Poetry workshops the following day. This experience coincided with a Senior English poetry unit and a Junior Harlem Renaissance history unit.
Part two of the Celebrating Diversity: American Voices grant took place a few days after the Langston Hughes performance when the YPAC was filled to capacity with Freshman, Sophomores and 8th graders. This time, David Mills transformed himself into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Mills recited excerpts from King’s speeches and letters, including “I Have a Dream,” the famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “If I had Sneezed.” In between the speeches, he performed interludes to bring the audience from one stage of King’s life to another. One of the interludes discussed how King felt when four girls were killed in the Alabama church in 1963, just days after giving his “I Have a Dream” speech. It was a powerful performance.
The afternoon continued with a workshop in Mrs. Ruthman’s Sophomore Modern World History class. Mills started off the class by giving the students some historical context around the letter that King wrote from his jail cell in 1963. He talked about the bus boycott, the protests in Birmingham (which was nicknamed “Bombingham”), and why King was imprisoned. When talking about King’s letter from jail, Mills explained how he appealed to the reader on an emotional and intellectual level through his high rhetoric. Mills described the letter as an “epistolary poem,” which is a poem in the form of a letter. After the class read the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” line by line. They discussed setting, repetition, meaning, parallel syntax, alliteration, paratactic syntax, hypophora, antithesis, anaphora, periodic sentences and metaphors.
After the lesson on the literary devices found in King’s letter, the students were asked to write their own “epistolary poem” and include the elements they just learned from King’s letter. They were charged with writing about an experience they had in their own lives where they had been misunderstood, hurt or disrespected by someone with whom they were not able to respond to.
This program was timely, as the Freshmen curriculum includes a section on Americans who are positive agents of change. Sophomores study themes such as social justice and civil rights throughout the year.
Though the grant was written for the high school students, it was a great opportunity for the 8th graders to join in and benefit from the performances as well. I was impressed with the response, as a few of the 8th graders shared their reactions with me.
“I loved it! The acting was amazing and I learned a lot of things about King’s struggles that I wasn’t aware of,” said one 8th grader. “I had no idea how vicious racism could be. I was struck by the phone threat King received where they said they would kill his wife and daughter. My big takeaway was that hatred is pointless.”
Contributed by Allison Flowerdew
I had the pleasure of joining Ms. Finnen’s Kindergarten classroom in January. As soon as I stepped into their classroom, a little boy came right up to me and said, “Thank you for KIBO.” It was so sweet! A few seconds later, a little girl said, “Thank you for KIBO.” My heart was melting! Almost every child thanked me for KIBO. By the time I left, I was a puddle on the floor! Ms. Finnen’s class gets an A+ in manners!
KIBO robot kits are designed for children aged four to seven and will be placed in every Yarmouth kindergarten and first grade classroom, thanks to grant applicants Cathy Wolinsky, Amy Finnen and Terry Lincoln.
The KIBO robot kit looks a little like a car. The first step in construction is to put wheels on the sides to make sure it will move properly. Then the children piece together a series of blocks that have bar codes on each of them. Each block represents a different action that can be combined in different sequences. Next, they scan the blocks with the KIBO car. When they press the “go” button, the KIBO will then perform all the block directions that the kids have outlined for it in a specific order. The blocks say things like “blue light on, turn right, shake, forward, backward or spin.”
These KIBO robots appeal not only to the tech-minded students, but also to the creative students who enjoy the design and decoration possibilities. The teachers like that the programming is done by physically building with their hands, as opposed to using a device with a screen.
While at Rowe I bumped into Jill Webber, the school nurse, who told me how exciting it was to see the kids work with KIBO. She mentioned that kindergarten teacher Karen Bradford said it best when she said it’s all about “the wondering of it all.” After the kids play with KIBO they often say, “I wonder what would happen if…” Gotta love the curiosity!
by Shawna Chigro-Rogers
“When I say ‘uku’ you say ‘leles! ‘Uku!’ ‘Leles!’ ‘Uku!’ ‘Leles!’ ”
“Ukes” in the classroom. What an incredible addition to the music curriculum. All third and fourth graders used the ukes during music class the last five weeks of school. Mrs. Wetmore’s class welcomed Jake Hoffman from 317 Main for the uke portion of their music classes. Jake has been a great resource on how to build from the most basic concepts to a place where the children are making amazing music. Some children were ready to play 3 and 4 chord songs independently by the end of the school year. Others worked in small groups to divide the chord changes among friends. Playing popular songs they know from the radio was a huge motivator to learn the “axis of awesome” chords – chords that make up most of the pop songs written in the last 60 years. Jake would like to come back in the fall when Dr. Michele Kaschub conducts her workshop with fourth graders around using the ukes as a tool for songwriting. Erica Troy looks forward to building on these basics in the fall with the incoming fourth graders, and starting the next group of third graders on their ukulele adventure.
YES Salmon Hatchery Grant
Fourth grade students from Yarmouth Elementary School (YES) released 200 eight-week old salmon fry into the Royal River in New Gloucester, many miles upriver from their school. Students studied the endangered Atlantic salmon since their arrival as eggs in early February.
The eggs incubated for several weeks in a cold-water fish tank (4ºC or 39ºF) in the classroom before they hatched as alevin in mid-March. Students observed fish development and traits, measured their size, and recorded the water temperature and pH.
The salmon egg hatchery provided an ideal model for study of the life cycle, traits, behavior and adaptations of organisms, and offered a hands-on, unique, and fun experience for students.
“It’s fun to watch and take care of the eggs. And it’s so much better than looking at pictures in books or on the computer,” said Annie Hunter, a 4th grade student.
Rosie Lenehan, one of the 4th grade teachers, shared some thoughts. “The Salmon Hatchery grant provided students an opportunity to observe the stages of the life cycle in real time, and a hands-on experience with live organisms. Also, the students participated in a larger effort to revive an endangered species, which has many important ties to Maine. It was an engaging and meaningful experience.”
Dan LeBlond, from the Saco River Salmon Club, delivered the eggs and helped with the project as part of the Atlantic Salmon Federation’s Fish Friends Program, which hopes to educate students about the endangered Atlantic salmon, their habitat, and restoration efforts.
Debbie Landry, STEM educator and research scientist, led the project, which was funded by a $1,000.00 grant in the fall. Approximately 120 students got to take part in this hands-on learning.
WGME covered the salmon release event – watch it here!
Flight Club (another YEF grant!) members filmed the salmon release with the drones they learned to fly and made a short movie with Mrs. Wolinsky.
by Kate Shub
I walk into Yarmouth High School and quickly realize what a big impact the Yarmouth Education Foundation is having on the students and staff here.
“You’re here to talk about the YEF?” one student asks. “The YEF is awesome!” she says.
Looking around the school brings back fond memories of my own time here as a student, way back when. I’m excited to return to learn more about a Yarmouth Education Foundation grant that recently paid for two 3D printers.
Technology has changed. I remember when old computers filled the lab here; their screens were green and black, and they were attached to large printers by a bulky cord. I can still hear the sound those old printers would make. I can still feel what it was like to rip tractor feed from the edge of each sheet of paper.
Times have changed. The high school has had a major renovation since my time here, and it is a fantastic facility. I enter an area of the school known as the FABLAB, a large workshop space filled with woodworking tools, robots, computers, and more. The FABLAB is home to industrial technology classes of the 21st century.
“The FABLAB is anything you want it to be!” says Reed Oestreicher, a sophomore at Yarmouth High School.
Reed is an impressive young man. He dreams of becoming an engineer, and I can see the passion he has for designing and building products of all kinds.
Reed and his STEM instructor, Tom Pitman, can’t wait to show me the FABLAB’s new 3D printers. Mr. Pitman teaches a number of classes here, including Engineering, Product Design, and Mechanisms.
“You have no idea how these 3D printers have blown these programs wide open,” Mr. Pitman says with excitement. “Students and teachers can’t get enough of them.”
3D printers have revolutionized the way things are designed and made. Students design products on the computer and then print them in plastic, giving high school students here the opportunity to create all sorts of unique products.
Today, Mr. Pitman and his Mechanism students are creating their own wind turbine.
“Mechanisms is a course about how things work. We create gears, levers, pulleys, and more to help us understand basic mechanical principles.”
Pitman says having 3D printers is a “game changer.” Instead of spending hours of time carving parts out of wood or waiting weeks for a part they ordered to ship, students can design the part they need on a computer, send their design to a 3D printer, and they have the part within minutes.
“This is the technology students will see in the real world,” says Pitman. “If you can draw it, you can make it.”
The 3D printers are about two feet high and two feet wide, and they sit on a table in the FABLAB. The machines produce extremely thin layers of plastic that pile on top of each other to create an endless list of products.
Reed, the sophomore, proudly shares some of products he’s created with the 3D printers, including gears of all shapes and sizes for his Robotics Club, a model Lamborghini sports car as a class project, and plastic parts that helped him build an electric car for his Science Olympiad Team.
Mr. Pitman says these printers are attracting interest from students and teachers throughout the school, even students who have never shown any interest in these types of classes before.
“It turns a light on for these kids, it excites them, and it brings new students down to this part of the school every day.” The FABLAB has become a place where students spend their free time, eagerly watching for what the printers will build next. Pitman enjoys seeing his students work together to make products using these 3D printers, but it’s not just the students who are learning something new.
“I’ve learned a lot from using these printers as well,” Pitman says.
As I leave Yarmouth High School, I realize how much the building and technology have changed since my time, but some things always remain the same here. The school is filled with an outstanding staff and impressive students, and they truly appreciate the support of the Yarmouth community.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the Yarmouth Education Foundation,” says Reed. “Having this technology inside our school sets Yarmouth students apart from others.”
by Shawna Chigro-Rogers
“Let my people go! O, let my people go!”
A young slave, Minty, pushes through the crowd. Desperate as her next of kin are auctioned off.
Everyone loves a good story and fourth graders at Yarmouth Elementary school became powerful storytellers, sharing the heroic efforts of a young teenage slave, Harriet Tubman. Through a grant by the Yarmouth Education Foundation, SPIRIT SERIES engaged students in an inspirational biography of Harriet Tubman in Freedom Train. Araminta “Minty” was born into slavery. She escaped slavery and became a conductor for the Freedom Train, risking her life with each trip to free slaves.
Betsy Lane, YES Principal, wrote, “A generous Yarmouth Education Foundation grant brought an amazing three-week learning adventure to fourth graders. For an hour each day, students immersed themselves in a world far beyond the classroom studying, co-writing, staging, and performing an inspirational one-act SPIRIT SERIES play: Freedom Train. As one student said, “It’s hard to explain how much we know now.”
SPIRIT SERIES founder, Richard Strauss, poses the question, “can the wisdom and character of great heroes from the past empower our children to meet adversity in their own lives?”
Let’s ask the children –
~”I enjoyed learning about Harriet and the Underground Railroad in a fun way and stepping into someone else’s shoes.”
~”It felt more real than it would have been just reading about it.”
From preparation to performance, SPIRIT SERIES hopes that students will “forge a positive vision for themselves, and begin to become their own heroes.”
~”I loved the feedback that Mr. K gave everyone.”
~”I enjoyed that you got to perform Freedom Train and tell the story of Harriet Tubman’s life through acting. I also liked that you didn’t have to memorize your lines by heart.”
“SPIRIT SERIES was a good experience for our students. They learned so much about our history while diving deep into these roles, while also practicing reading fluency and learning new vocabulary,” shares Cassie Fier, YES 4th grade teacher. “They recognized they learned a lot and they loved the costumes and performing in front of an audience.”
A lot of kids use digital media in the classroom and at home. At Harrison Middle School, students have made it part of their extracurricular activities, too.
The goal of the Digital Media Club is to “mostly just develop some skills around video production, but also to show them it can be fun,” said Mike Arsenault, the instructional technology integrator who advises club members. According to Arsenault, more than a dozen students participate, most of them fifth- and sixth-graders.
The club, which was started last year by a student who now attends Yarmouth High School., was able to buy technology and equipment with a grant from the Yarmouth Education Foundation. Around $6,000 from YEF was used to purchase cameras, Final Cut Pro video editing software, cases, tripods, shoulder mounts, microphones and an iMac computer.
Read the complete article from The Forcaster
by Shawna Chigro-Rogers
You can enjoy a good book, share it with a friend, and recommend it to a book club. How often can you find an opportunity to read that book with everyone in your school at the same time? Would it be possible to get the author to visit your school to talk about the book? Could that discussion be opened up to your town community? Meet that opportunity: One Book, One School.
Merry Stuhr, Harrison Middle School Librarian, submitted this grant to the YEF. What came about was a unique experience that unified the school and the community, and exceeded their expectations.
One Book. Alabama Moon by Watt Key, is a coming-of-age novel for young adults. This book was specifically selected by Stuhr because of its broad reach and varied readership.
“I really liked Alabama Moon, it kept me on the edge of my seat and I wanted to hold the book in my own hand so I could keep turning to the next page,” stated an eighth grade student. “My teacher read with a southern accent which helped to imagine the story. I would really like to be able to do this again.”
As teachers read the book to their students, other staff members were reading it as well. Discussion groups made up of mixed grades were formed. Key visited the school and intimate sessions with the author were conducted with each grade.
“The visit from Watt Key was truly amazing,” said Stephanie Robison, sixth grade teacher.
“It was interesting–he dropped by my room during class in the morning and I don’t think the kids would have been more excited if Taylor Swift had come in!” recalled Robison. “A few gasped, a few cheered, some just stared, and a few whispered ‘That’s him!’ It was super cute.”
Two sixth grade students found it interesting that Watt Key lived outside with nothing like Moon (a character from the book) did.
“He did it for a college project and we think that’s amazing and helped him to write the story,” they shared.
One School. Stuhr and Robison both believe that the unified reading of Alabama Moon gave a strong sense of community to the school.
“Students could talk about the book with anyone because EVERYONE was reading it,” Robison explained. “It was so powerful to have such a great common experience school wide.”
A sixth grade student enjoyed the discussion groups.
“I liked talking about the book with kids in other grades because you got to hear what their thoughts were about the book,” she declared.
Additionally, the HMS Digital Media Club filmed the visit, and are producing a video. Mike Arsenault, Technology Coordinator for HMS, posted a picture on Twitter.
Stuhr added, “This was an amazingly wonderful event and we can’t thank YEF enough. I’ve heard comments from staff members that they’ve never seen an event that unified our building in the way this one did.”
One Community. Yarmouth’s own Merrill Memorial Library and Royal River Books fully encompassed this endeavor. The library hosted Watt Key for an evening with the author. Royal River books offered Alabama Moon books at wholesale.
“I thought the Watt Key visit (and) program was incredible. There was so much enthusiasm and discussion around the book,” stated Amy Beard of Royal River Books. “I am grateful to have been involved. It was such a wonderful experience to see such a wide range of kids excited about the same book and about meeting the author.”
“This has been an absolutely incredible experience that has exceeded our already-high expectations,” Stuhr exclaimed. ”A HUGE thanks to YEF for making this possible!”
“An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – Buddha
Every Tuesday after school, the computer lab at Harrison Middle School comes to life with a dozen tech-savvy students who share a passion for video storytelling. The Yarmouth Digital Media Club, now an integral part of life at HMS, got its start thanks to 8th grader Sam Marjerison’s creative skateboard videos and the teacher who recognized their potential.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could offer that opportunity to all middle schoolers?” recalled Mike Arsenault, HMS Technology Coordinator. Together, they wrote a grant to the Yarmouth Education Foundation, asking for funds to purchase high quality camcorders, wireless microphones, tripods, editing software and a new iMac.
In the spring of 2014 they received a YEF grant for $7,452. One year later, the club is thriving. The young videographers are often called on to shoot and edit videos of school functions and recently club members Nate Emory and Ethan Roth, both 7th graders, shot footage that will be used in a new “1-2-3 Let’s Move” PSA. Read More
YES gym teacher, Meg Pachuta, created this video to Thank YEF for the fall grant she received. And we would like to Thank YOU, Meg, for all you do!