Portland School Notebook: May 9

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DHS grad helps combat human trafficking

Zsofia Duarte, a 2014 graduate of Deering High School, is working with The Center for Wisdom’s Women in Lewiston to develop a volunteer program as part of her short-term program of study at Bates College. The Bates College Short Term is a five-week, intensive period of academic study, research, and exploration for students both on and off campus.

Duarte is part of the action/research team working with local nonprofits through the college’s Harward Center for Community Partnerships. In coordination with Harward Center staff, the action/research team conducts extensive research, including creating and administering surveys, collecting oral histories, and designing volunteer programs. At the conclusion of short term, the students will present a report and recommendations to their community partners.

Duarte’s Community Partner, the Center for Wisdom’s Women, is a weekday drop-in center in Lewiston that offers women community-building and healing programs. Specifically, Duarte is working to develop a volunteer program for Sophia’s House, a planned residential facility for survivors of trafficking, addiction, and incarceration. Her final goal is to create a list of volunteer positions and a plan for recruitment and training. Additionally, she will deliver a written report, oral presentation, and video introduction to be used in volunteer training.

City student recognized for leadership

Bryant Peterson, a Portland student, was given an Emerging Leader Award at a banquet held in early April, when the Maine Maritime Academy Student Life Awards Committee recognized outstanding members of the MMA and Castine community whose contributions include various service projects, athletics, employment and volunteer programs, and other co-curricular activities.

Peterson was lauded along with Rachel Bunker of Ellsworth.

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes two first-year students who have emerged as leaders and who can be expected to contribute significantly to the campus community and the welfare of their fellow students during their time at the Academy. 

PIES to welcome fellow this fall

An application by Peaks Island Elementary School for an Island Fellow for the 2018-19 school year has been accepted by the Island Institute.

The Island Institute is a Rockland-based nonprofit that works to encourage the sustainability of Maine’s island communities. Since 1999, the Island Institute has been placing Island Fellows in island communities in order to support a variety of community development projects. The Peaks Fellow will collaborate with PIES and partner island organization, Peaks Assisted Living, on issues that bookend island life on Peaks, namely attracting new families with young children to the island and creating a plan to help older citizens stay in place on Peaks. Specifically, the Island Fellow will be working at PIES on the school’s Edible Schoolyard project, as well as supporting the continuation of the school’s successful Afterschool Academy program. Through PAL, the Island Fellow will work on an effort to create senior housing on the island.

Deering student’s poetry is top tier

Deering High School senior Janessa Roberts was the runner-up at the 11th Annual Merriconeag Poetry Festival held April 29, at Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport for her poem “I’m Problematic.” Falmouth junior Blake Knox earned the top prize for his poem, “Fickle Flames May Burn Brighter.” Third place went to Morse High School senior Nina Keyes for her poem “Roses are red, violets are blue.”

The prizewinners were among 20 poets selected by Stuart Kestenbaum, Maine’s current poet laureate, to read their work at the festival, which was attended by over 100 poetry lovers. 

Students received a booklet comprised of all the finalists’ pieces, and a gift certificate from a local bookstore. The top prize-winners have had their poems printed on a large poster that will be distributed to the nearly 50 public and private high schools whose students were invited to submit work.

Kind kids to gain recognition

Northeast Credit Union has partnered with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and the Portland Sea Dogs to create “Nice Catch – Celebrating Kind Kids” initiative to recognize and celebrate New Hampshire and Maine kids who consistently demonstrate compassion, empathy and kindness toward their peers, teachers, coaches, family and other community members and who go above and beyond to make our communities a kinder and brighter place.

“We hope that by recognizing these kids and making a positive example of them, it will encourage others to join in and reinforce the idea that each one of us, no matter our age, can truly make a difference,” said Northeast Credit Union President and CEO Timothy J. Collia. 

The Nice Catch Initiative encourages teachers, coaches, youth leaders, community members and families to make nominations of children 17 and younger who consistently exhibit acts of kindness, empathy and overall helpfulness to make their communities a better and brighter place. Submissions can be made online until June 15 at necu.org/nicecatch.

A dozen grand prize winners will be selected and will experience a special game day celebration at either a New Hampshire Fisher Cats or Portland Sea Dogs home game with nine tickets to bring family and friends. Each kind kid will have a special shout-out, be featured on the game-day signage, throw out a ceremonial pitch, and be awarded a Northeast Credit Union swag bag of goodies.