Wednesday, December 23, 2015

We honor Diane Reynolds

Diane Reynolds
The HMS staff honored Diane Reynolds on Monday, 12.21. We thanked Diane for her stellar work during her 34 year career, and for all that she has done for the students she worked with. 

HMS Unified Arts Team
Diane Reynolds and Bruce Brann

Bruce Brann noted that Diane has touched the lives of 15, 000 plus students during her career. Her cake reflects this amazing accomplishment. Our sendoff included much gratitude, all best wishes, and many hugs. Photos by Tracy Weinrich and Elaine Fletcher say it all.

Diane Reynolds, Liz Reinsborough, and Holly Allen

Diane Reynolds, and Brad Ciemchomski

Saturday, December 19, 2015

7th Grade Students become Botanists

Morgan Cutbert shared our 7th grade students' work on the taxonomy unit: 

Seventh grade students are studying taxonomy and learning to classify flowering plants as part of the unit on living organisms. Using the external and internal features of the plants, and viewing stems, leaves, roots, seeds, and petals, the students are classifying the flowering plants into two categories.  The students grew their own bean and corn plants from seeds and are witnessing the life cycle of a Wisconsin Fast Plant, taking it from seed to seed.

The Winter Concert Season

We're pleased to share the descriptions and images from this year's winter concerts:

Bruce Brann honors Kimberly Grover and Brad Ciechomski
Last night's winter concert featuring the 5th and 6th grade bands, the 6th Grade Jazz Choir, and the 5th and 6th Grade Chorus filled the YPAC with beautiful music!

Our students put their hearts and souls into preparing and performing at this event. The program was a perfect blend of old time and current favorites, and pieces that are now new favorites thanks to our students' emotional performances. Their playing and singing communicated the joyful, whimsical, and poignant moments in every song! 

Mellifluous, precise, beautifully blended, and moving are some of the words that best describe the work of our 7th and 8th grade students at their winter concert.
The HMS Symphonic Band, Jazz Choir, and 7th & 8th Grade Chorus worked together to create an exceptional evening of music. Our students brought the audience to tears, and to their feet, as they experienced the range of emotions conveyed in the performances. 
We thank our students for the hours of practice and hard work that it takes to craft these shows.

Special thanks to Rick Dustin for his piano accompaniment, and his on-going support of all things music at HMS.
To Mrs. Grover and Mr. C., our students' work during this concert season is a testament to your expertise and your vision-our heartfelt thanks for both. Please enjoy:


Friday, December 11, 2015

Fifth and Sixth Grade Attend their First Math Meet

Harrison Middle School was well represented, as 23 student members of the fifth and sixth grade math teams attended their first math meet at Holiday in by the Bay in Portland on Thursday, December 10th.  In this photo, the sixth grade team proudly supports three of its members who earned ribbons for individual scores.
Georgia Herr, Elena Miller, Emily Mickool, Asher Lockwood, Patrick Lucien, and Galen Skinner

Georgia Herr and Elena Miller placed first with perfect scores, and Emily Mickool earned a fifth place ribbon.  Other members of the team shown are Galen Skinner, Asher Lockwood, and Patrick Lucien.  Congratulations to all students who attended this meet, and to Mrs. Ellis for her guidance and leadership!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Yarmouth Digital Media Club Partners with 317 Main Creating Holiday Video

One of the activities available to students at HMS is the Yarmouth Digital Media Club. It meets on Tuesdays after school from 2:30-4:00pm. Mike Arsenault, YDM advisor, was recently approached by Amy Sinclair from 317 Main to create a holiday video.

YDM members met with Amy Sinclair and Jill Webber to plan, shoot and edit the video project. Amy and Jill's years of experience in television created a great learning experience for the students involved in the project. The "Project Wonderland" video highlights many of the talented musicians that teach and learn at 317 Main. The result of their work may be viewed below. Enjoy.

Monday, November 23, 2015

YEF Fall Grant Recipients!

It's difficult to express the excitement generated at HMS when we first catch a glimpse of the blue and white balloons! This can only mean one thing-a visit from the Yarmouth Education Foundation!

We're pleased to let you know that the fall visit from this amazing group took place this morning. Congratulations to the following YEF grant recipients:

Angie Turgeon and Kristina Walsh-Alternative Seating Choice for Increased Focus and Work Production
Kristina Walsh and Angie Turgeon

Merry Stuhr and Joan Adler-Glass Whiteboards Encourage & Inspire Student-Generated Questions

Merry Stuhr and Joan Adler

The HMS community is incredibly grateful to the Yarmouth Education Foundation for their ongoing support, commitment and dedication to our students and our work. Their efforts enable us to dream and imagine on behalf of our students.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

One Book, One School

HMS experienced a unique and innovative learning opportunity on October 22nd, as Merry Stuhr's and Molly Kilpatrick's One Book, One School YEF grant came to life for our community, culminating in Watt Key's visit. 

We're grateful to the Yarmouth Education Foundation for making this event possible!

We're looking forward to the upcoming video featuring Watt Key; the Yarmouth Digital Media Club is working on this project. 

Molly and Merry share their thoughts about this learning experience below, with special photos by Jessica Townsend:
Molly Kilpatrick, Watt Key, and Merry Stuhr

It was an exciting day at HMS as we wrapped up our One Book, One School reading experience! We welcomed Watt Key and spent the day with him in the library. Each grade level had 50 minutes with Watt as he shared stories from his time in the wilderness of Alabama, his inspiration for Alabama Moon, and his writing process. "I loved his honesty, and he made me laugh," an 8th grade student said. Watt is a terrific storyteller, and both students and staff felt a deeper connection to the characters we love from Alabama Moon. We learned about what it takes to survive in the wilderness of Alabama, as well as what it takes to be a successfully published author. HMS is always a true community of readers, but today felt even more special with our visit from Watt Key! 
Watt Key

Watt Key being introduced by Riley Anderson and Alexis Nisbit

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Wonder of Bats

Annie Kassler, bat enthusiast, recently visited the 7th grade science classes to discuss the importance of bats in our ecosystem. Annie showcased her educational "bat trunk", which she received through a grant from the State of Maine Forest Services.


These often misunderstood creatures are crucial to keeping populations of insects in check and helping to pollinate various crops. Annie discussed the recent decline in the bat populations due to White Nose Syndrome. This microbe is an invasive, and relates directly to the study of invasive species. She explained  how the microbe first came to the United States and what we can do to help the bat population prosper again. 


Bus Driver Appreciation

HMS students honored our bus drivers and thanked them for their work. The students greeted our drivers with a banner, and presented them with a sweet treat in appreciation of all they do for us!

7th Grade Students Learn About Invasive Species

Morgan Cuthbert explained the purpose of a recent trip to Spear Farm:
HMS Students visit Spear Farm
Kyle Warren, Head Steward of the Royal River Trust, and Ling Rao of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, joined our 7th grade science classes at Spear Farm for a fascinating exploration of invasive species.

Kyle and Ling led walks through the preserve and discussed the importance of the salt marsh, and the sanctuary located at the fresh water pond. The students gained great insight about the process used to identify local invasive species, and the management behind them.

HMS Students Attend Math Conference

HMS Students Attend ATMNE Conference
Jenny Jorgensen, HMS Lead Math Teacher, shared this information about an exciting experience for our students: 

On Oct. 29th and 30th, 30 Yarmouth students participated as helpers at the Association of Teachers of Mathematics of New England (ATMNE) conference held in Portland. The students directed teachers to conference rooms, helped presenters get ready for their sessions, assisted with lunch to ensure that things ran smoothly, and had the opportunity to join math workshops during the day. 

I received many positive comments from conference attendees and the ATMNE board members about our students' outstanding participation at the conference, and the wonderful way they represented our school. The students took full advantage of this opportunity to learn about how teachers continue their learning. 


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

6th graders learn about Underground Astronauts

The sixth graders experienced a fascinating journey to the past through the eyes of Becca Peixotto, one of the scientists who excavated the ancient bones found in South Africa. The work these "underground astronauts" are doing may change how scientists look at the human family tree.

The students were mesmerized by Becca's presentation, and by the photo of a dinosaur tooth found during the fossil sorting part of inquiry into geologic time, using the extinction event of 65 million years ago as the frame of reference.
Becca Peixotto

Dinosaur Tooth

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rich Smith featured on "Youth Sports" radio show

Rich Smith, 5th grade teacher and veteran coach, was interviewed on Love Maine Radio, on WPEI and WLOB last weekend. The show, called "Youth Sports", offers wonderful perspectives and insights on student athletes.  

Please take time to listen to this important interview: here

Rich Smith

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

St. Bahkita Pen Pal project continues

Our friend Charlie Roscoe, former Yarmouth resident who runs the non-profit Schools for Refugees, came in to talk with our 5th grade classes last week to kick off to this year's pen pal activities.

HMS students have sent St. Bahkita students over 1800 letters since our pen pal program began. Our students love the experience of sharing information about their daily lives, and learning about the lives of their friends at St. Bahkita.

Our continuing thanks to Paula Vicenzi for bringing this wonderful opportunity to HMS.
Charlie Roscoe


Monday, October 19, 2015

Mr. C. on 207

Check out Mr. C's performance on "207" available here . This band has a great sound and a SUPERB drummer!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Floating Think Lab Project-Take Two

Last June we shared a blog post about the Floating Think Lab project available here
Bob Gross shared an exciting follow up to this work:

Over the summer Oliver Peloquin and Emerson Perdales turned one of the boats that we created in Think Lab last year into a sailboat. These boats were funded by the Yarmouth Education Foundation. I attended the official launch event (Emerson was on the bus to a football game, so he missed the exciting event). The boat only leaked a little and moved fairly well when the breeze picked up.

Literary Cafe at HMS

The HMS Library celebrated their tenth Literary Cafe this week! This celebration is held  annually in recognition of Teen Read Week. Our students celebrate the joy of reading while enjoying delicious snacks provided by our wonderful parents. Thanks to Merry Stuhr, Tracy Weinrich, and all of the parent volunteers who make this event possible. Jess Townsend's photos capture this special time at HMS:

7th Grade Science Students Learn about Fungi

The 7th grade science classes welcomed Dan Argo, a local mycologist, on Friday, October 16th. Thanks to Morgan Cuthbert for sharing information about Dan's presentation:

Dan spoke to the classes about his specialty, fungi. The 7th grade science classes are beginning a unit on ecology. Decomposers are often overlooked during ecology studies next to the larger, more common organisms. Dan helped shed light on the importance of decomposers in our ecosystem, and they way they reproduce, which is quite a different process than occurs with other organisms. Also, Dan is a cook and foodie; he shared information and ideas about the delicious possibilities of eating local fungi!
Dan Argo

Saturday, October 10, 2015

6th Graders visit Mt. Apatite

Barb Ellis provided this update about the recent 6th grade field trip: 

Mt. Apatite in Auburn hosted approximately 160 sixth graders, teachers and parents on Thursday October 8th. Great fun was had by all as we collected rock samples, identified trees, and enticed catfish. We were pleased to hear students making connections to Alabama Moon, the book we are reading as part of the One Book, One School initiative. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Virtual Tour of 8th Grade STEAM

Mr. Dehetre shared this fascinating look at what goes on in 8th grade STEAM:
 Any visitor to Mr. Dehetre’s 8th grade STEAM class would be impressed with the variety of learning opportunities being offered. Let’s take a virtual look! 
If you were visiting today, you would see several 8th graders working on building a Blinky. What is a Blinky? It’s an electronic kit that students build to learn about basic electronics and soldering. Students are given resistors, capacitors, transistors, light emitting diodes, along with a battery strap and electrical switch. Students solder these parts to a printed circuit board and if done carefully, the Blinky blinks! In the pictures below you will see Michael McNeil carefully soldering a component on to the circuit board. Notice his safety glasses. Safety is very important and observed daily in STEAM. In other pictures you will see David Hattan and Emi Schneider displaying their completed and working Blinkies. Do you know what a capacitor is used for? These students should be able to tell you!
Michael McNeil
Emi Schneider
David Hattan

While some students are studying electronics, others are using the computers for computer programming. The students in STEAM are programming in the Python language. Students follow a teacher made tutorial that explains the code as they program a working number guessing game, a “weather” predictor, an Etch-A-Sketch program, and a calculator. These exercises give students just enough knowledge to do more studying independently if they'd like to. In the picture below you will see Jacob Veilleux studying the code he is writing. He has two windows open on his computer. One is the interactive window for checking small chunks of code while the other window is the scripting window used for holding the code for the program he is going to execute. Jacob has told me that he really enjoys coding and talks with his brother about coding games often. 

Jacob Veilleux

Another opportunity for 8th graders is learning how to illustrate with an application called AutoDesk SketchBook Pro. Students are not expected to be artists though they are encouraged to try out the program and many find that their digital drawing abilities improve more rapidly than expected. In the photo below, Harry Mellor is drawing a hot dog. Prior to this drawing, Harry drew a Minion and a copy of the minion is now displayed on the STEAM bulletin board. 

Harry Mellor

Lastly, students are taught the basics of SketchUp which is a 3D modeling application. Just about anything you can think of can be drawn on SketchUp and reproduced with a 3D printer. In the picture, you will see Abigail Hincks and Liam Sullivan looking at a house floor plan drawn to scale that Abi is working on completing. With SketchUp, students are able to move the model they are drawing so various perspectives of the object can be viewed. 

Abi Hincks and Liam Sullivan

What 8th grade students learn in STEAM is only limited to their imagination. We investigate just about anything that comes along. Learning and discovering is fun and Mr. Dehetre hopes that all his students will always have the desire to learn and discover new things. 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Brad Ciechomski's latest composition

Brad Ciechomski was commissioned to compose music for the Rochester NH Middle School band/chorus.  He was asked to compose a patriotic piece for the school's concert band and choir using a text written by an eighth grade student, which honors the men and women who served in Pearl Harbor during this tragic time.

The Piece will be premiered by the Rochester MS Band and Choir this November, in honor of Veteran's Day.

Charlotte Agell's work included in Melnicove exhibit

Charlotte Agell's work is included in this fascinating Mark Melnicove retrospective (Word Art) show at the Bowdoin campus library: 

Melnicove exhibit in HL turns literature into art

October 2, 2015

In an array of magazine clippings, photographs, photoglyphs, prints, collages, poems and audio, artist and poet Mark Melnicove presents “Word Art Collaborations.” This exhibit is now on display in the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. Spanning the past 40 years of his life as an artist in Maine, the collection not only offers a distinct perspective of Melnicove’s evolution as an artist, but also illustrates the ability of text to contain meaning beyond literal translation.

“In the show, I’m emphasizing the intersection of art and literature, where the collection contains pure works of art and pure works of literature,” Melnicove said. “The intersection between the two has always been a focus of my work.”

The exhibit is composed mostly of what Melnicove calls “word art”—a synthesis of modified texts and images, torn apart or put together to create meaning beyond the original intent of their publication.

“It represents mine and other artists’ efforts to expand the notion of typography and text to make it more visual than we normally think about it,” Melnicove said. “When most people read a book they don’t think of it as a visual object. They try to read for meaning. What we’re doing is recognizing first that all text is visual, it’s not just words on a page.”

When Melnicove moved to Maine in 1977, he joined a community of writers and artists that not only shaped his creative content but also provided a means with which to collaborate. Since then, Melnicove has worked with artists such as Bern Porter, Carlo Pittore, Lee Sharkey, Grace Paley—all prominent figures in the Maine art community. The exhibit features Melnicove’s individual work as well as those pieces produced in partnership with fellow artists and writers.

Preparations for the exhibit began 11 years ago, when Melnicove began to work with Richard Lindemann, the former director of the Bowdoin Library’s George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, to preserve his original work.

Caroline Moseley, the acting director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, noted that the library was drawn to the collection for its innovative approach towards art and literature.

“The way special collections works is by collecting around the strengths and the academic interests of the College,” Moseley said. “This collection ties in and makes for a really interesting way of looking at art and literature of a more avant-garde kind. It’s literature, it’s poetry, it’s photography, it’s word art. It’s different ways of looking at things and trying to shake things up a bit and get your message across in a different way. It’s very visually provocative.”

Divided into 21 sections, the exhibit is not arranged chronologically, but thematically by the medium that’s used within each chapter. With underlying themes of social and environmental justice woven throughout, the show uses a variety of word art mediums to convey a message.

“I have always been interested in making the world a better place,” Melnicove said. “This often involves working with, rather than against, nature. I want a just and peaceful world and have seen how art and literature can motivate people and systems to change...Experiencing word art is a sensual experience that stimulates and motivates the mind and changes our perceptions of the world.”

The show also includes unconventional art forms, such as mails art, or words gleaned from junk mail and then highlighted to bear extracted meanings, and what Melnicove calls “photoglyphs” or photographs of words as they appear on signs, windows and various other surfaces. 

The culmination of the show even includes art made by Melnicove’s students at Falmouth High School, where he teaches literature, creative writing and permaculture.

“Students tend to both ask important questions and demand substantial, meaningful answers,” Melnicove said. “This comes out in their word art. Students represent the future; they represent [and embody] hope.”

This engagement with high school students is translated into the overall goals of the exhibit, which Moseley mentions extends from Bowdoin students to members of the Brunswick community. 

“Maine is off the beaten track, and I like that. I’m interested not just in Maine art but art that exists on the margins of society at large,” Melnicove said. “Maine is not New York but there’s something that can be done here that can’t be done in New York. Obviously, our closeness to nature has something to do with that. Every region produces art in response to the region itself.”

Through its connections with Maine and the College, the exhibit aims to inspire by extending the innovation of Melnicove’s work to the community at large.

“I hope that people can just spend time with the exhibit and that maybe it will stimulate them to be creative themselves in different ways,” Moseley said. “It is about the creative impulse and getting a message across and the different and effective ways of doing that. Even if it’s just one or two people that look at that exhibit and think, ‘Wow, I want to try to do things differently’ or ‘I really want to take a class in that,’ that’s a great effect.”

“Word Art Collaborations” will be open for viewing on the second floor of the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library until the end of the semester.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Susan Parr, HMS Social Worker, is sharing her expertise on "Mindfulness" with our students and staff. Her work is having a profound and powerful impact on our school. 

What are you noticing right now?

This is the question I've been asking both students and staff over the past few weeks. Mindfulness, the practice of "paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, without judgement" (Jon Kabat-Zinn) is now being taught throughout HMS.  Over the past two weeks I have presented to five teams of staff, providing an overview of what Mindfulness is and teaching two Mindfulness "nuggets" they can use with their students every day. I've also started a Mindfulness Club open to all HMS students that meets every Wednesday.  

Additionally, I offer Mindfulness lunch groups, where we practice Mindful eating. 
With research demonstrating that Mindfulness reduces stress, improves concentration, and helps with emotional regulation, my goal is to have everyone at HMS taking a few minutes out of their day to slow down and notice the present moment.
 Lily Lonigan and Olivia Bailey
Lilly Lonigan
So, what are YOU noticing right now?

Izabel Cox-Faxon
Avery Schofield
        Photos by Jess Townsend