S. Portland teacher jets away on volunteer trip

Jen Fletcher, a fifth-grade instrumental music teacher in South Portland, was one of 50 people chosen to go on this year’s JetBlue Check In For Good volunteer trip.

Fletcher entered the contest in October by writing an essay about what volunteering and community service means to her. JetBlue scores all the essays and then takes the top-scoring applicants on a three-day surprise volunteer trip.

“We hop a plane at JFK and once we’re en route, we are told our destination,” said Fletcher on her Facebook page before the flight. “All I know is that the expected high temp is 80 degrees and the low is 70 degrees and that we need a passport.”

“(T)he best part is, I get to bring a friend,” said Fletcher, who teaches at Skillin Elementary. “With my dad retiring on his birthday next year, I thought, what a great present. My dad has volunteered more hours in his life than could ever be counted.” 

Nearly 100 volunteers, including contest winners and their guests, took off for the Dominican Republic on Giving Tuesday (Nov. 27) to participate in a four-day service trip alongside some of JetBlue’s crewmembers and nonprofit partners, with projects taking place in La Romana and Punta Cana.

Volunteer opportunities included renovating a local school, building buoys to protect coral reef beds and beautifying a community play space, for which Fletcher was chosen to participate.  

At La Escuela de Educacion Especial Padre Cavalotto, a school for children with special needs, Fletcher and other volunteers hosted the school’s first book fair, which included face painting, books, reading aloud, crafts, and a massive dance party to celebrate at the end.

Yarmouth HS hosting second Day of Hope

Yarmouth High School is gearing up to present the second annual Day of Hope, a student-organized conference featuring Maine leaders addressing the topic of hope 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.

The chosen speakers will deliver TED-style talks to discuss their work; innovative ideas; hope for progress in Maine and the world; where they find hope; and how they use it to make a positive impact on the community. 

This year’s speakers will include: former state legislator and economist Dick Woodbury; founder of Maine Center of Coastal Fisheries Robin Alden; author and Somali refugee Abdi Nor Iftin; Yarmouth High School student and ambassador to the Maine Muscular Dystrophy Association Jared Conant; Director of Operation at Maine Port Authority and entrepreneur Patrick Arnold; and Dr. Alexa Craig, a neonatal neurologist at Maine Medical Center.

The Day of Hope will take place at the Yarmouth High School Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for adults and may be purchased at the door or at www.dayofhopemaine.com. All proceeds will be going to the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Maine.

” … the Day of Hope was created to help rebuild the singular most important aspect of our Maine identity: an unwavering sense of community,” said three YHS seniors in a press release about the event. “Now more than ever, it is important that we unite in hope for a more innovative and inspired future.”

“Through this event, we aim to bring this hope and unity to our community.” 

Maine Maritime Academy scholars recognized

Several local students were among those recognized when Maine Maritime Academy’s annual Academic Achievement Awards banquet was held Nov. 8, to honor the scholarly accomplishments of students and the service of faculty.

Among the 10 students named Scheel Scholars were Abigail L’Abbe, Class of 2020, a Marine Science major from Topsham, and Graham Roeber, Class of 2019, a Marine Engineering Operations major from Yarmouth.

In addition, Matthew Belanger, a Marine Engineering Operations major from Bath, Class of 2021, was one of 10 students named an American Bureau of Shipping Scholar.

Yarmouth middle school recognized for STEM studies

Frank H. Harrison Middle School in Yarmouth was one of five schools in Maine recognized nationally for inspiring change in their local communities through science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education.

Selected from thousands of entries nationwide, the schools have been named state finalists in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest – a nationwide competition that challenges students to creatively use STEM skills to address real-world issues in their communities.

The state finalist schools were chosen based on their creative and strategic proposals to solve complicated issues that affect their communities by using STEM learning. All 250 teachers selected as state finalists will receive one Samsung tablet for their classrooms and have the opportunity to advance in the competition for additional prizes and educational opportunities.

Teachers from the five state finalist schools will submit a lesson plan outlining how students will tackle the local issue using STEM skills to ultimately improve the greater community.

Jen Fletcher, who teaches music at Skillin Elementary School in South Portland, volunteered in the Dominican Republic after being chosen by Jet Blue to participate in the company’s Check In For Good program.