Holy Cross students in South Portland meet veteran pen pals
After months of exchanging messages of hope and kindness, by exchanging letters in the mail, third grade students at Holy Cross School recently met their pen pals, who are senior residents of the Maine Veterans Home in Scarborough.
Holy Cross third grade teacher Shelley Assia said that during the visit, students sang two songs for the veterans, painted birdhouses and played games with the residents.
“This was a beautiful opportunity for the students to see the joy their letters have brought to the residents and to see how important it is to give back to our community,” Assia said.
The organizers of the field trip hope the experience will be one that is remembered for years to come by the students, who enjoyed writing the letters to their pen pals. Those letters were accompanied by special gifts over the course of the year. Veterans have included coloring pages for their young friends, while the third graders sent ornaments at Christmas.
“The pen pal program is a great learning opportunity for students and a way to give back to those who have served our country,” Assia added. “We wanted to let the veterans know that they are valued and how much we appreciate their service to our country. It’s important for students to understand the sacrifices veterans made and the importance of saying ‘thank you.’ This is truly a mutually beneficial program in which our younger generation can give back while learning from their elders.”
One veteran, who served in World War II, included a message of inspiration: “I was serving my country, but I was also serving God. So as you grow – have faith in God. He is always with you.”

First graders chip in change for animal shelter donation
A group of Congin Elementary School first grade students from teacher Mary Armstrong’s class recently opted to take their studies to the next level. After reading the children’s book “Change Sings” by author Amanda Gorman, the students were inspired to do something nice in the Westbrook community.
Armstrong said, “We came up with ‘Pennies for Pets,’ a fundraiser for the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.”
The students brought in pennies, coins and a few dollars in bills, raising $188. Last week, the 13 students took a bus ride to the Animal Refuge League to personally deliver their donation.
“The first graders in my classroom are so excited to know that this money will be helping the animals who are waiting for their forever homes,” Armstrong.

Registration open for June kids and adult programs at museum
The Brick Store Museum’s education department will offer classes and camps for children and adults who wish to explore local history and art this summer. Drawing on Gooch’s Beach, weeklong children’s art camps and storytelling evenings will begin in June.
Artist Susan Demeo will teach four sessions on how to draw/sketch in “plein air” starting June 1. All levels of experience are welcome to learn how to draw complex forms in the open air at Gooch’s Beach with Susan’s instruction and support. Sessions are $35 each, and registration is available at or by calling 985-4802.
For children, the museum will offer a June early release workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. June 7 at Gooch’s Beach. Students will be taught the art of mono printing using material from local beaches. The workshop fee is $25 per student.
Three weeklong summer camps also are planned for the weeks of July 17 (Wool Week), July 24 (In the Maine Studio) and Aug. 7 (Community Art Project).
To register or for more details, go to

High schoolers debate global politics at Maine Model U.N. Conference
More than 325 Maine high school student participants, representing 25 high schools across the state and one in New Hampshire, came together May 10 to debate pressing international issues of the day at the 2023 Maine Model United Nations Conference.
The three-day conference, now in its 24th year, was held at the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus, with topics including global mental health, NATO expansion, the role of women in politics and food security at refugee camps. This year, the conference featured a historical committee from 1968 that examined industry and innovation in newly decolonized states and the protection of dissident artists. The keynote address was given by USM’s new president, Jacqueline Edmondson.
The Maine Model Conference was run by USM students who are enrolled in an upper-level political science course led by political science faculty members Tim Ruback and Rebecca Davis Gibbons. Those students selected committee topics, wrote detailed background guides and moderated debates among the high school participants during the conference. A leadership team of USM students also helped direct and organize the conference. This year’s Maine Model U.N. secretary general was senior Aidan Graham, and the deputy secretary general was junior Yasmin Idow. Other members of the leadership team focused on public relations, publications, fundraising, operations, delegate affairs and running a crisis scenario within the U.N. Security Council.
Participating high school attendees of this year’s Maine Model U.N. Conference were from Bonny Eagle High School, Brunswick High School, Casco Bay High School, Deering High School, Edward Little High School, Falmouth High School, Freeport High School, Fryeburg Academy, Gorham High School, Gray New Gloucester High School, Greater Portland Christian School, Greely High School, Harpswell Coastal Academy, John Bapst Memorial High School, Kents Hill High School, Maine Central Institute, Maine Coast Waldorf School, North Yarmouth Academy, Portland High School, Portsmouth High School, Sacopee Valley High School, Scarborough High School, The New School, Waynflete Upper School, Westbrook High School and Yarmouth High School.
To learn more, call Liv Dufour at 730-8676 or Rebecca Davis Gibbons at 712-8522, or email [email protected].

Senior citizens saluted at “Remember ME” ceremony
The Maine Health Care Association honored the accomplishments of 32 people living in the state’s long-term care facilities at a ceremony held at the Augusta Civic Center on May 9.
This 20th annual celebration of the photography exhibit “Remember ME” features black-and-white photographs and biographies of residents living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities statewide. These residents, ranging in age from 73 to 98, are decorated war heroes, parents and community leaders, such as nurses, teachers and small-business owners.
The primary purpose of “Remember ME” is to salute the people who have spent their lives supporting their families, building their communities, and serving their state and country. The project also urges the public, including lawmakers, to remember the selfless contributions of our elderly and disabled citizens who now depend on others for their care and safety.
“Each of today’s honorees had made remarkable contributions to their community,” MHCA President and CEO Angela Westhoff said. “After giving to others for much of their lives, they now depend on us for their daily medical and social care, and we take that responsibility very seriously. This recognition ceremony is our tribute to their years of hard work.”
Since its inception, the “Remember ME” program has recognized over 700 long-term care residents statewide.

Food assistance group to host open house
AIO Food & Energy Assistance will offer a community open house from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at its 1A Gordon Drive location. This event is open to the public, and there is no charge. Attendees can tour the facility and learn more about one of the few “market-model” food pantries in the United States.
AIO Food & Energy Assistance provides food assistance to approximately 300 families each week, plus weekend meal packages to 465 families each week. In addition, AIO has provided 475 energy assistance gifts this past heating season and more than 25,000 diapers over the past year.
Pre-event private tours for groups of eight or more can be scheduled between 3 and 4 p.m. by emailing [email protected].
The Samoset Resort in Rockport has generously offered to cater this event.
To help plan the event, attendees are asked to RSVP at or by email to [email protected]. While reservations are appreciated, they are not required to attend. All community members are invited to come meet the board members, volunteers and staff who work together to execute AIO Food & Energy Assistance programs.
To learn more, go to

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