Portland School Notebook: Aug. 31

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Ocean Avenue authorized as IB World School

Ocean Avenue Elementary School has been named an authorized IB World School, Primary Years Programme. OAES is now the only elementary school in Maine to attain the designation, and one of just a few in New England, according to OAES Principal Beverly Coursey.

A school-community celebration is planned for Oct. 5.

IB stands for International Baccalaureate, which is a nonprofit that supports learning models built on rigorous intellectual inquiry and personal growth for children. At the elementary school level, it is called the Primary Years Programme.

In all IB programs, the focus is on helping students become “internationally-minded,” taking an active, principled, positive stance toward learning and making a difference in an increasingly globalized future.

In the authorization letter, IB says that OAES will see the results when its students in the PYP program “graduate and undertake activities that enhance social, cultural and economic environments locally, nationally and, perhaps, internationally.”

OAES worked through a rigorous authorization process to become an IB World School. “Our entire staff has worked with perseverance, and it has been the most fulfilling work of my career,” Coursey said.

“We’re feeling very proud and we want to share our accomplishment with our community,” said Patty Shaw Sprague, the school’s IB coordinator.

Sprague gave an example of the model of learning OAES fifth-graders will be engaged in this school year. The overall concept will be climate and sustainability, she said, where students will create questions about the topic, research the answers – not just through reading but through talking to people in the community – and then through an  exhibition demonstrate what they have learned.

Sprague said examples of questions the students might choose to explore include: “What constitutes an ecosystem?” and “How can we share limited resources?”

Another benefit of becoming an IB World School is that OAES staff will be able to work with an IB community of educators dedicated to best practices in teaching. “We have access to other IB schools and their expertise in this kind of concept-based, inquiry-driven learning,” Sprague said.

Language Exchange open house planned

In anticipation of the first week of classes in the fall session beginning Sept. 21, an open house will be held 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 at the Language Exchange, 80 Exchange St., as the  international instructors gear up for a new array of language and cultural programs.

To kick off the event, at 7:30 a.m. the school will host its weekly French petit déjeuner, a gathering of native French speakers and other francophones that will celebrate the group’s 20th anniversary. But lovers of languages other than French will also have the opportunity to practice their language skills as they gather for round tables in Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, Arabic or Japanese in the evening. Throughout the day, new and returning students will get a chance to meet some instructors, discuss programs, and register for classes.

Now in its 24th year, The Language Exchange promotes the learning of foreign languages and understanding of other cultures with a particular focus on the French language and culture. This fall there will be an abundance of opportunities to practice French, whether at a “Coffee and Morning News” discussion group, an evening “Club du livre,” a lunchtime meeting at the PMA to discuss French art, classes, weekend immersion workshops, movie nights, social gatherings, or French Theater with our newest faculty member, Andy MacDonald, PhD.

Classes will also be offered in Mandarin Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and, Modern Standard Arabic. For more information, visit immersionprograms.com.

Hope Acts extends immigrant and asylum-seeking support

Hope Acts of Portland has expanded its support for Southern Maine’s immigrants and asylum-seeking refugees through the launch of Hope House English Language Program. The new program equips adult English Language Learners at beginning and intermediate levels with the language skills they need through reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Hope Acts, looking to expand its language offerings, provided an ideal space in the common area of Hope House, a residential program for asylum-seekers on Sherman Street in the Parkside neighborhood.

Many of the volunteer staff are immigrants themselves, serving their communities, by sharing their experience, while waiting for approval of their own work visas.

At all levels, HHELP classes provide instruction and practice in English pronunciation, literacy, written composition and cultural competency, including the use of idioms and colloquial expressions in the context of current world events.

HHELP classes meet Monday-Wednesday mornings. For more information about HHELP or to register for summer or fall classes, visit www.hopeacts.org. Class schedules and a link to a registration form are available at http://bit.ly/2cePWmA. Class admission is on a rolling basis. Specific questions and volunteer interest can be directed to the program manager at 274-6005.

Dean’s lists

St. Joseph’s College

Nicholas Belliveau, Katelin Bonney, Kellianne Dolan, John Harder, Courtney Jordan, Molly Mack, Bailey Marden, Jacob Moberg, Nathan Rand, Nicole Rogers, Alexandra Thompson, Rachel Waterhouse


Elizabeth Berrang, Gabriel Dowdy-Terracciano, Darcy Hinck, Julia Kang, Jacob Katsiaficas, Abdisalan Mohamud, Andrew Warren, Adam Zieba

University of New Hampshire

Highest Honors – Alice Hempel, Madison Pierce 

High Honors – John Toohey, Natasha Richardson, Nicole Pineau, Elizabeth Victor

Honors – Galen Hand, Maren Crabill


Nichols College

Anthony Verville

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Nolan Quinn, Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering

Catalina Sposato, Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering

Rochester Institute of Technology

Arsen Tufankjian

University of Rhode Island

Gabriela Tourangeau Cardona, Bachelor of Science in communicative disorders, thanatology, summa cum laude