St. John’s Catholic School students inspired to write a book

A love of writing, imagination and commitment led a class of fifth graders at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick to publish a book.

Students at St. John’s Catholic School wrote a book that speaks to mental and physical disabilities.

“I have been blessed with a fifth grade English class full of drive, determination, intelligence, creativity, compassion and integrity,” said the students’ teacher, Tiffany Jones. “Wanting to make the year meaningful for the class, I found the Samantha Smith Challenge.”

The program challenges students and teachers to learn about a social issue and come up with a way to educate and share the issue with the world.

The students who participated were Aurora Blier, Maeve Coughlin, Tessa Couture, Eliza Davis, Abigail Minzner, Ava O’Connell, Wyatt Papiernik and Madeline Smith.

“The social issue the students chose to research and share about is mental and physical disabilities,” Jones said. “We then wanted to find a way to convey acceptance and love to all of God’s children.”

They developed characters, formulated a plot and drew illustrations, creating a fable using animals and their characteristics to deliver their point. In the story, each animal finds a way to fit in while appreciating differences in others.

“The students laid out the plot in storyboards showing their animals with what many call disabilities,” Jones said. “After stringing individual stories together, they added the ‘glue’ of transitions and color.”

But just as the project picked up speed, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed it down.

“As our entire world shifted to schooling and working from home, I didn’t want to overwhelm the class and asked if they would like to pause the work,” Jones said. “I was met with a resounding, ‘NO, Mrs. Jones, this book has to get made!’”

The class overcame the challenge utilizing Zoom and Google Docs. Randolph helped the students with editing, illustrating and collaboration.

Nancy Randolph, a publishing consultant and writing coach, agreed to help the students on their quest.

Just Write Books, a publishing house in Topsham, will make “Life on the Farm” available for purchase in local book stores, at the school and online.

“These students have learned the lessons of resilience, perseverance and creativity under stressful situations,” Jones said. “Those lessons should serve them well in their future days.”

Brunswick, Cape students interning for Maine DOE

Two local residents are among the five college interns who joined the Maine Department of Education for the summer. The students will assist in the daily operations of the Maine DOE while working remotely due to COVID-19.

Anthony Inhorn of Cape Elizabeth is a rising junior at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who is double majoring in political science and American history. Inhorn will be interning as a research associate with Volunteer Maine, Maine’s Service Commission. His work will culminate in a report for the Volunteer Maine commission with his findings and recommendations of where local and national Americorps volunteers can be best utilized.

Aidan Sachs, who is from Brunswick, is a rising senior at Connecticut College, where she is a human development major and psychology minor. Sachs is also a member of her college’s Elementary Education Teacher Certificate Program and is a selected scholar through Connecticut College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy. This summer, she will serve as the Education Commissioner’s Office intern and will be working with the communications and legislative teams.