Greetings from the Regional School Unit 5 school board. The board’s Strategic Communication Committee (Kate Brown, Candy deCsipkes, Lindsay Sterling and Valy Steverlynck) will once again be providing information about the RSU 5 school system on a regular basis for this Tri-Town Weekly column. This time, we asked each of the school’s principals to send a brief message about the opening of school.

A September highlight and special treat for Morse Street, Mast Landing and Pownal Elementary schools was an enriching integrated arts performance of West African drumming and dance by Annegret Baier and Marita Kennedy-Castro. Students expanded their cultural horizons with this special kickoff assembly. District art, music and PE teachers worked together to bring this event to the schools through a grant from the Freeport, Pownal and Durham Education Foundation.

Morse Street:

Julie Nickerson

Morse Street School has opened its doors to 243 students, pre-K through second grade, for a new school year. This summer many teachers attended professional development in Responsive Classroom and this learning will continue to drive our work as we build our positive school community. “The Responsive Classroom approach is a way of teaching that emphasizes social, emotional, and academic growth in a strong and safe community,” according to the Center for Responsive Schools. We changed the format of our open house this year. Our students were the focus and acted as tour guides for their parents. Each child was able to share with his/her family the learning done so far at school, show their classroom and lead introductions to staff members and friends.

Mast Landing:

Beth Willhoite

As the school year began at Mast Landing, summer returned in all its glory, along with 262 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders. Summer projects included the installation of new lower-level outside doors, and the sidewalks and bus circle were paved. Fall events include the fifth-graders taking on the Freeport Conservation Trust Trail Challenge and fourth-graders participating in Maine Earth Science Day at the Maine State Museum. Closer to home, the fall open house and parent conferences have been restructured to improve communication with families, and teachers are working in their professional learning communities creating student learning goals.

Pownal Elementary: Lisa Demick

It has been a great opening of the school year at Pownal Elementary School. A highlight of September was taking the whole school to the Cumberland County Fair to celebrate the town’s agricultural heritage. We especially enjoyed the many entries and exhibits our students had on display. IMPACT, our parent-teacher organization, has been as active as ever. September events included hosting an open house cookout, our fall book fair, and launching a new committee structure to increase organizational efficiency.

Durham Community: Will Pidden

Durham Community School welcomed 27 students to the new pre-kindergarten program and the first few weeks of school have seen the youngest children fit seamlessly into the school community. There is a high level of participation in the sports and co-curricular activities, with drama practices now starting for the school play, which will be “Peter Pan.” Our sixth-graders attended the Conservation Camp during the third week of September and had a terrific time learning about the outdoors, as well as learning about themselves and their classmates. The effects of the camp are already evident in the classrooms. We are fortunate to have already logged a number of volunteer hours as our volunteers help in a variety of ways, from copying to presenting to classes.

Freeport Middle:

Ray Grogan

Freeport Middle School has had a wonderful start to the school year. Our seventh grade is getting ready to go to Acadia National Park for some hands-on studying of geology, ecosystems and forestry. They have already had field trips to Wolfe’s Neck State Park, Winslow Park and Sewer to begin their study in this area. The sixth grade will be going to Kieve the first week of November for an outdoor adventure program, where they will work on team-building skills, improved self-confidence and interpersonal skills. The eighth grade is finishing up a civil rights interdisciplinary unit in social studies and language arts. The students are just finishing up a roller coaster project where they have created a marble roller coaster based on the concepts they have learned in math, STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math) and science.

Freeport High:

Brian Campbell

It’s been an invigorating start to the school year with many new faces joining the FHS community. We welcomed over 140 new ninth-graders and over 25 transfer students. We are confident that each will find FHS to be a welcoming environment, where each can challenge him/herself academically and participate in the co-curricular activities we offer.

FHS has implemented its proficiency-based system for the class of 2019. Our framework has been designed to challenge all students to deeper content understanding and skill acquisition, and higher academic achievement. We want to ensure that every student is college-ready and prepared for any post-secondary endeavor. FHS has a dedicated teaching staff committed to the success of each student. Everyone is working to support the teaching and learning conditions that will help to achieve our goal of providing a challenging and rigorous academic experience for all students.

RSU 5: Good for Kids will appear monthly.

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