Telling Room authors sweep Maine Literacy Awards youth categories

For the first time in Telling Room history, the nonprofit writing and publishing program for young authors swept the youth categories of the Maine Literary Awards with their published writing in all three genres of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance Maine Literary Awards: Youth Competition in Fiction, Catherine Morrissette for “Growing Pains”; Youth Competition in Nonfiction, Gabby Bekoka, “Lemme Tell You”; and Youth Competition in Poetry Lulu Rasor, “Grendel’s Mother Takes the Mic.” Their stories can be read at

Falmouth architecture student recognized for outstanding project

University of Maine at Augusta architecture student, Nicole Cyr of Falmouth, received a 2020 American Institute of Architects Maine Merit Award for her project Distribution, Charlestown. Cyr is a senior in the UMA Bachelor of Architecture program. The annual American Institute of Architects Maine Design awards are included in the May 2020 edition of Maine Home + Design magazine.

Cyr’s project was for a two-building medical office with labs and office suites in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Given the building’s location near the shorefront, her design took into account the need to accommodate for rising sea levels in years to come.

According the award jury, “We were impressed by the thoroughness of the project and its strength in exploring connectivity. From concept, to plan drawings, to tectonic details, it was all there. Not many students think as cohesively about a building as this project. It is both imaginative and constructible.”

Falmouth girl wins ecomaine challenge

A desire to spend less time and money on new hair ties led Katherine Bender to design upcycled “scrunchies” from old pieces of clothing and fabric – and receive a $2,020 prize for Falmouth High School as part of ecomaine’s Upcycle2020 Challenge.

“Anyone who has long hair knows that you are constantly having to buy new hair elastics or hair ties,” Bender said. “So, instead of buying new scrunchies, I used old clothing that would have otherwise been thrown away. This makes it so that you no longer have to throw away clothing with perfectly good fabric and you also save money on hair supplies.”

“With 60 entries received, we were bowled over by the creativity, resourcefulness and thoughtful nature of these students and their designs. Katherine’s design combined everything we were looking for – use of something that would usually be trash, utility of a new design, and creativity in seeing something new in old materials, ” said Caleb Hemphill, chairman of the Outreach & Recycling Committee.

Other entries included plastic bottles made into bird feeders, tires turned into furniture and old sporting goods made into planters.

Dollars for Scholars


Two local students each received a $2,500 Mainely Character Scholarship sponsored by Biddeford Savings Bank. Isabel Berman, a senior at Cape Elizabeth High School, and Molly Whelan, a senior at Freeport High School, were two applicants who provided personal stories that demonstrate the four aspects of character: integrity, concern, responsibility and courage.

According to a release announcing the awards, when Berman saw many of her peers becoming addicted to vaping, she knew she had to act. She created “The Truth,” a video about the dangers of vaping, including its impact on juvenile brains. The video premiered at Cape Elizabeth High School and is now part of the middle school health curriculum. Berman plans to study neuroscience at the University of Vermont this fall.


Whelan volunteered at Preble Street Soup Kitchen and made personal connections with people she met. In her sophomore year, she shaved her head and donated her hair to Locks of Love. This social experiment for a class brought rumors and judgments from her peers. She learned about peer pressure to be “beautiful” and the importance of being authentic. Whelan will study communications at Elon College.