Heather Whitaker, middle, and Jennifer Baker, right, rejoice Tuesday when Michelle Raber of State Farm awards a $25,000 grant to Gorham School Department. Robert Lowell/American Journal

Schools win $25,000 grant
for food security program

The Gorham School Department Tuesday was awarded a $25,000 State Farm Neighborhood assist grant to bolster food security for students.

Elated faculty members Heather Whitaker and Jennifer Baker received the check in a ceremony at Gorham Middle School. Whitaker, a finalist for Maine’s Teacher of the Year, thanked State Farm. “It’s incredibly generous,” she said.

The money will be used in the backpack program that Whitaker, a middle school teacher, and Baker, a social worker at Village Elementary School, founded to feed students over weekends and vacations. Cash from the grant also will be used to erect a greenhouse to grow produce for the needy.

Michelle Raber, a State Farm agent in Scarborough, presented the check. “You need a full belly to have a full mind,” Raber said.

A garden at the middle school raises produce for the Gorham Food Pantry. “With a greenhouse, we can extend the growing season,” Whitaker said,

Gorham was one of 2,000 applicants and one of 40 across the country receiving the grant. Gorham was the only New England winner.

Public voting determined the winners. “It’s an incredible community effort,” Superintendent Heather Perry said after the ceremony. “I look forward to the greenhouse.”

While the check goes to the School Department, Hollis Cobb, department business manager, said the money will be designated for the food security program.

A large turnout of State Farm representatives included Maria Odlin and Becki Curtis, a Gorham parent. Those attending also included school officials, Rep. Maureen “Mo” Terry, D-Gorham, friends and other parents. “My mom is getting emotional,” Whitaker said during the presentation.

Following the ceremony, Whitaker’s mother, Kristina Hatch, said receiving the grant is “amazing, its wonderful.”

Brush drop-off

Gorham residents can drop off brush at the Public Works facility, 80 Huston Road, from 8 a.m. to noon Oct.12 and Oct. 26. It’s for residents only, no commercial dropoff, and no stumps will be accepted.

As always, leaves and grass clippings will be accepted at Public Works in the designated spot throughout the season.

USM art exhibit

The exhibit “Contemporary Responses to Modernism: A New England Perspective” will open with a 5-7 p.m. reception Oct. 10 at the University of Southern Maine Art Gallery on the Gorham Campus.

Exhibition curator Joanna Fink, director of the Alpha Gallery in Boston, will present a gallery talk at 6 p.m. at the reception.

The modernist movements of the first half of the 20th century radicalized Western art and continue to provide reference points for artists working today, a news release said. The artists in this exhibition engage with the past in their own contemporary language, whether embracing the concept of movements such as Cubism or Expressionism, paying homage to specific masters, or challenging notions of who owns the canon.

“It is said that all art was once contemporary. Artists break from and take from what has come before them. In our time, the art that we consider contemporary exists in dialogue with the modernist movements that forged new concepts of the possible,” Fink said.

Participating artists are Martha Armstrong, Ben Aronson, Gideon Bok, Sascha Braunig, Bernard Chaet, Susanna Coffey, Aaron Fink, Jon Imber, Dinorá Justice, David Kapp, György Kepes, Kayla Mohammadi, Jim Ritchie, and Ann Weber.

The exhibit will run through Dec. 8, but it will be closed Nov.  27-31.

Public forum on addiction

A public forum addressing addiction and opioid misuse is set for 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the Old Robie School, 668 Gray Road, in Gorham.

U.S. taxpayer debt

The Bureau of the Fiscal Service reported on Sept. 26 that the U.S. public debt was $22,609,957,618,808.14.