Mid-Coast School Notebook: May 25

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Mt. Ararat Class of 2018 top students 

The top-tier students graduating with the Class of 2018 at Mt. Ararat in Topsham were recently announced: Emma Hahesy, Morgan Johnson, Peter Mao, Kelsey Scannevin, Abigail Nordwall, Katania Graeff, Destiny Belanger, Alexander Dau, Matthew Kenison and Blair Kopp.

Science teacher connects with students – naturally

Harpswell Coastal Academy science teacher Mel Christensen Fletcher has received the 2018 James McBride Teaching Award for her project-based work with students in and around the communities of Harpswell and Brunswick.

The award was presented in a ceremony May 22 at the Harpswell Coastal Academy Brunswick campus by Ian Gracie of the Groton School. 

According to Andrew T. Smaha, director of business and finance at the Academy, Christensen Fletcher has long been committed to teaching scientific methodology through projects that have real impact on Mid-Coast Maine students. “Her fieldwork guiding HCA students through a class called Technology & Nature has been of particular importance,” Smaha said in a prepared release. In this learning experience, students examine the impacts that technology use versus time spent in nature can have on one’s physical and mental health.

“As I explore this topic with students, and research the psychological impacts of technology use on young people, I have grown more and more concerned about how to help students find balance in their lives,” Christensen Fletcher said in the same release. “I work with many students whose mental health is suffering from overuse of technology … and I am challenged to help these young people recover from oversaturation to a place where they are ready to learn.”

“We are so proud of Mel, and her ability to focus on what is important to our school: experiential, place-based learning,” said Carrie Branson, executive director of Harpswell Coastal Academy. “She has a knack of how to teach in the natural spaces around us, and adapts quite well to the special demands of bringing the student experience outside the traditional four walls of a classroom.”

The award was established in 2014 to recognize excellent teachers serving under-resourced communities and inspire others to make the same commitment. Offered through the Jonathan D. Krist Foundation, the award is named after author and musician James McBride. 

Since the award was established in 2014, nearly 30 teachers have received recognition, but Christensen Fletcher is the first regional teacher to receive the honor.

With this award, Christensen Fletcher hopes to continue her work with outdoor science education at HCA. “This spring, I’ve been out on fieldwork almost every morning with students working in forest inventory growth plots and vernal pools, or working on digital media projects along the Cathance River. The enthusiasm shown by students for this type of hands-on study and documentation in local ecosystems has reinforced our vision for a strong, student-driven citizen science program at HCA for many years.”

BHS hosting annual art show reception

A reception for the annual student art show at Brunswick High School will be held 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, prior to the Spring Choral Concert at 7 p.m. in Crooker Theatre.

Each spring the high school art students open their portfolios and select their best works for a display in the halls of the school. A variety of media, including drawings, paintings, prints, collages, sculpture, ceramics and photography, will be on view. Family, friends and members of the community are all welcome to attend the reception. The student art exhibit will be hung in the corridors at BHS through May 31.

Patten teens to launch book group for middle schoolers

A group of book lovers from Patten Free Library’s Teen Library Council is launching a summer book group for sixth- to eighth-graders.  The group will meet 5-5:45 p.m. the third Wednesday in June, July, and August at the library.  

Led by Nina Powers, a rising sophomore at Morse High School, the group will read and discuss three books over the course of the summer. On June 20, the group will discuss “I Am Princess X,” by Cherie Priest; on July 18, the book discussion will focus on “The Screaming Staircase,” by Jonathan Stroud, and on Aug. 15, the group will talk about “The Sixty-Eight Rooms,” by Marianne Malone.

For more information or to reserve a copy of “I Am Princess X” call or email Jordan at 443-5141, ext. 25, or rjordan@patten.lib.me.us.

Joining Powers as discussion leaders are two other rising sophomores, Helen Bertelsman and Lucas Blaiklock.

“This is a great opportunity for middle schoolers who love reading to connect with other avid readers both their own age and slightly older, or for reluctant readers to have a social time around a good book,” said Roberta Jordan, an outreach and instruction librarian at Patten. “We’ve also scheduled the book discussions so that they end just before our very popular teen summer movie night on Wednesdays. After a great book discussion, participants can enjoy a free movie in our air-conditioned Community Room.”

Mel Christensen Fletcher, a science teacher at Harpswell Coastal Academy, has received a James McBride Teaching Award for her project-based work with students

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