Portland School Notebook: June 7

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Hall students’ story walk focuses on environment

First- and second-graders participating in the Many Rivers program at Hall Elementary School have partnered with the Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District to create a permanent story walk along the Forest City Trail. The story walk, which officially opened June 6, focuses on the importance of protecting local water resources. The project was paid for by the city’s Greener Neighborhoods Cleaner Streams program.

Governor visits East End’s before-school program

Every day, students at East End Community School get their minds working and their bodies moving before school even startswhen they participate in the school’s Rise and Shine program. On May 25, Gov. Paul LePage visited the school to get a firsthand look at the program, which is designed to combat absenteeism by getting students excited about coming to school. The governor was joined by Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings.

“This school gets it. Rise and Shine is connecting students with mentors and inspiring them to want to learn. I am so impressed with these students and with the adults who lead the programs,” said LePage.

Rise and Shine was started in 2010 at the school, which serves about 400 students from Munjoy Hill. The extended-learning engagement model brings community groups and volunteers to the school to offer activities in STEM, literacy, health and wellness, citizenship, and the visual and performing arts. Students in grades 3, 4 and 5 get to choose from more than 75 options, ranging from violin and guitar lessons to basketball and book groups.

“Attendance is a key factor in student success, and Rise and Shine is a great way to motivate kids to come to school,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana.

UNE director of athletics stepping down this fall

Vice President of Student Engagement and Director of Athletics Jack McDonald will step down effective Sept. 1, University of New England President Danielle N. Ripich, Ph.D., announced.

McDonald, who cited personal reasons in his decision to leave, said, “The past two years have been two of the best of my career due to the outstanding leadership … UNE’s talented and dedicated staff and coaches, and our tremendous student-athletes. The university is a very, very special place, and I have enjoyed working on UNE’s beautiful ocean-front campus and surrounding beaches.”

McDonald, who came to UNE in June 2015, has led the Nor’easters to significant competitive success, student-athlete achievement and community outreach during his tenure. UNE won seven conference championships over the last two academic years, while its student-athletes have maintained a 3.25 cumulative grade point average.

Multilingual Center celebrates seniors who ‘made it happen’

A celebration of achievement was held May 17, for more than 90 graduating seniors from the Portland Public Schools’ Make It Happen! program. The students have not only mastered English, but also have done so well academically that most are headed to college after they graduate in June.

“This is a wonderful example of the kind of success we strive to achieve in the Portland Public Schools,” said Superintendent Xavier Botana. “These students are representative of the best of what we’re able to do.”

The 2017 “I Made It Happen!” Celebration took place at the University of Southern Maine, in Hannaford Hall, where each student was honored and given a certificate of achievement.

Make It Happen! is a program of the Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual & Multicultural Center. It’s a college-readiness and academic success program for language minority students in grades 8 through 12 that provides personalized and structured academic support to ensure success in school and help prepare students for college. 

Sharon, Lennie, and Perry Newman with Levey Board President, Rabbi David Freidenreich, at the fourth annual Holy Smokes barbecue to benefit the school, held May 21.

Reiche Elementary School students Isabelle Figdor and Heloise Bampton served as honorary pages in the Maine Senate in Augusta on May 23. The students were the guest of Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland.

The Outliers robotics team from the Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland was the first team from Maine to ever play in the Einstein Field at the world championships, which was held in late April in St. Louis, Missouri. To honor the team’s success Gov. Paul LePage invited members to the Blaine House for tea. He has also pledged to match donations to the team up, to to $25,000, through the end of the school year. Outlier team members are: Alec Gagne, Westbrook; Jacob Willette, Auburn; Sam Kemp, South Portland; Julian Bernard, Portland; Jacob Morneault, Lewiston; Jacob Morrison, Freeport; Ian Farm, South Portland; Cutter Meeker, Naples; Maxine Ewing, Falmouth; Caleb Marston, South Portland; Jean Claude Zarate, South Portland; Emma Harrington, Falmouth; Jacob Lorenzo, Falmouth; Harmoni Larrabee, Lewiston; Owen Blake, Gray; Richard Mann, Bowdoinham; Lydia Elliott, Scarborough; Connor DuPuy, Scarborough; Andrew Bryant, Hollis; Connor Smith, Casco; Quinten Sagov, Kennebunk; Elaina Merriam, Naples; Olivia Scola, Portland; Joslyn Schwieterman, Portland; Taylor Bentley, Auburn; and Arianna Wylie, Limerick.