Alex Marshall of Portland Parks, left, and Eric Topper, at right, hold the ribbon for former King Middle School students to cut and unveil a new interpretive sign in Deering Oaks that celebrates a collaborative project between the students, Portland Parks, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Maine Audubon to restore native plant habitat. Contributed / Maine Audubon

King Middle School students unveil environmental project

King Middle School students and teachers joined leaders from Portland Parks and Maine Audubon to unveil a new interpretive sign about a collaborative, environmental stewardship project in Deering Oaks Park in Portland Nov. 17.

The school and several partners adopted an area in Deering Oaks in 2019 to restore and study wildlife habitat. In partnership with Maine Audubon, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and others, students and teachers at King Middle School have adopted this site to practice and promote environmental stewardship. In particular, they are restoring habitat for birds and other wildlife by restoring a native forest understory to replace acres of lawn, which is relatively devoid of direct benefits to Maine wildlife.

As the new sign explains, “for King students and for the city, this site is a ‘living laboratory.’ Students research what plants grow well, what animals are benefitting, how the site changes, and how it compares to other sites.”

Portland Parks maintains the site as a “no-mow” area, except for paths that meander through the area, by various signposts with QR codes – digital links to videos about native plant restoration that were made by King Middle School students.

King Principal Caitlin LeClair said the unveiling of the sign represents a sort of return to normalcy for students and teachers there.

“As an expeditionary learning school, King has focused our teaching around community collaboration, learning in public and engaging students in hands-on fieldwork for decades,” she said. “The COVID pandemic has certainly impacted these approaches over the past two school years.”

The school has also partnered with the Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative to add a new Climate Change Observatory picture post at the site. Visitors can use the mount on top of the post to take a picture and then submit the photo to what will become a time-lapse view of the site over time.

USM students intern for Sen. Susan Collins

Paige Rinaldi, a Freeport native, and Connor Feeney, a native of South Portland, have been awarded fall internships in U.S Sen. Susan Collins’ Portland Constituent Services Center.

Rinaldi is a sophomore at the University of Southern Maine, where she is studying nursing, and is a member of the lacrosse team. She previously served as a spring intern in Collins’ Portland office.


Feeney is a freshman at the University of Southern Maine and is studying political science and economics. After graduation, Feeney hopes to find a career where he can help draft solutions to the nation’s problems.

OUT Maine introduces curriculum activities

To help schools create more welcoming, affirming and safer environments for LGBTQ+ youth, OUT Maine has built a set of curated curriculum activities for educators. The activities are designed to supplement educational content used in schools.

The lessons are organized by grade levels from kindergarten through second grade to the high school years and focus on gender, diversity and self-expression. Students also will learn about empathy, family dynamics, gender stereotypes and LGBTQ+ history. The lessons are designed for any classroom teacher; all lessons are compatible with the Maine Learning Results and/or Early Learning Development Standards. For more information, and a free download of LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum, go to Maine’s goal is to create more affirming communities for Maine’s diverse queer youth by changing the systems that serve them.

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