Friday, June 12, 2009

Thornton Academy to Open New Dormitory

By Devin Beliveau
Staff Columnist
Thornton Academy is going international. This August, the independent high school in Saco will open up a brand new dormitory, and fill it with up to 38 tuition-paying boarding students. “We have around 31 signed up,” said Mark Powers, Director of Admissions at Thornton Academy.
So far, all 31 of the students are from China and Taiwan. “I did some international recruiting this fall. I went to South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, and Japan,” said Powers. The trip “was about 3 weeks long, and I went to fairs much like college fairs, set up a table, and met with students and their families.”
Powers said the biggest surprise of his trip were the bilingual abilities of the students he met. “I couldn’t get over how well everyone spoke English. Even the younger kids who I met applying for freshmen year had already taken 5 or 6 years of English.” English is a standard part of the Chinese school curriculum.
The typical school size in China is about 5,000 students, according to Powers. “Classes range from 50-60 students per class, and they’re taking 12-13 classes a day, with no room for extracurricular activities or athletics,” he explained.
Powers believes that these students are choosing TA because “they recognize the critical thinking that American education, Thornton in particular, tries to get across to its students.” They also want to go to TA to “prepare for a university here in the United States and improve their English along the way.”
There will be a number of ways in which the new boarding students can take advantage of the opportunities Thornton has to offer, according to Kelli Corrigan, a Math Teacher and the newly appointed Director of Residential Life & Residential Students. “After the academic day is done around 2 p.m., the students can either participate in athletics or clubs, we have over 40 to choose from. And if they are not participating in an athletic event or club, then we will have an individualized event for them,” explained Corrigan. “I will meet with all the students who are not doing an athletic event or club every Monday, and we’ll come up with activities that they want to do that week.” Such activities may include fishing, surfing, hiking, Ultimate Frisbee and other active endeavors.
In the evening after dinner, “there will be a tutorial program available where all of our content areas will be covered by faculty members,” said Corrigan. Then boarding students will return to a dorm that will be run and monitored by 5 current TA faculty members.
New courses being added, such as AP Physics, will be a byproduct of the new boarding program. Having the library open on Sundays, a new intramural athletics program, and new weekend activity programming will also benefit the day students as well as the boarding students.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for students here in Saco to really learn about different kinds of people. We’re a pretty homogeneous group here at TA. The different cultures and academic interests these boarding students will bring will expand our students’ horizons,” said Powers.
Corrigan agreed, “It’s going to be an amazing eye-opener (for TA students) to see that there is a world beyond ours. I think it’s great.”
Construction on the dormitory began last year and is expected to finish near the beginning of August. Despite the current make-up of the dorm, it is not strictly an international program. Thornton also hopes to eventually draw boarding students from Maine and other states.
Photo caption: The new dormitory at Thornton Academy will house up to 38 students. (Jen Hass photo)

Pennies for Peace

It all started with a book called “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. Sophie
Ritchie, a student in Sarah Petan’s third grade class at Eliot Elementary School, decided to read the story after her parents told her what Greg Mortenson had been doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan to promote peace through education.
After she finished the book, Sophie explained to her class that, “Greg Mortenson was this man who wandered into the tiny village of Korphe (in Pakistan) by accident. He saw that the people were so poor, but they still helped him to get better because he was so sick after attempting to climb K2. To thank the people of Korphe, he helped them build a school for their children.” And he hasn’t stopped building schools and promoting education since.
After her classmates heard Mortenson’s story, several of the students decided to read the book, too. The nineteen students in Petan’s class wanted to help Mortenson with his mission. The children decided to do Pennies for Peace, a fundraising program started by Mortenson’s 10-year-old daughter, Amira. Their class raised $90.82 in pennies in just 2 months time! In Pakistan and Afghanistan a penny can buy a pencil. What a difference that will make in the lives of the children of Korphe! Petan’s third graders at Eliot Elementary School are proud of what they raised and hope that others will join the cause.
In the past 16 years, Mortenson has built over 80 schools. He feels strongly about educating girls, the future mothers in these communities. If you are interested in learning more about Greg Mortenson or Pennies for Peace, check out the website:
Article by Nicole Gastonguay Ritchie, Sophie’s mother.
Photo caption: Petan’s third graders at the Eliot Elementary School. (Courtesy photo)

Brick Store Museum Salutes
President’s 85th Birthday

With former President George H. W. Bush’s 85th birthday on June 12 comes an opportunity to reflect upon what he has meant to the Kennebunks, as well as what the Kennebunks—so often referred to as his “anchor to windward”—have meant to him. The Brick Store Museum unveils Happy Birthday, “41”! on Friday, June 12, as its newest History Showcase display, made possible by the Museum’s business partners, Ocean Bank, Captain Jefferds Inn, Captain Lord Mansion, and Kennebunk Savings Bank. History Showcases are temporary displays that change throughout the year and address a timely theme, current event or new acquisition, thus ensuring that visitors are always seeing something new.
President Bush has frequently stated that he has returned to the Kennebunks every year but one, when he was serving his country in WWII. While the world has come to know George H. W. Bush as congressman, ambassador, Director of the CIA, Vice President and 41st President of the United States, to many locals he is the neighbor, friend, golf or fishing companion affectionately known simply as “41.” This commemorative display draws primarily from the Museum’s Bradbury and Kippax collections, replete with memorabilia telling not so much the national story as the story of the unique Maine connection. Personal snapshots, thank-you notes, Kennebunkport souvenirs, local headlines, campaign buttons, and invitations to area events juxtapose statesman Bush with citizen Bush and illustrate the intersection of the international political stage with the village green. The iconic home on Walker’s Point that served as the “Summer White House” and backdrop to so many news anchors’ reports is also a retreat, a gathering place where the Bushes reconnect with family and friends, relive memories and create new ones.
This birthday salute includes a giant card upon which visitors can pen their greetings, which will be presented to the President later this summer. In addition, the display encourages locals to document their own recollections of the President, First Family, press corps, and Secret Service over the years. These anecdotes will be added to the Museum’s archival collections chronicling the President’s enduring presence in the community.
Happy Birthday, “41”! will be on view throughout the summer. The Brick Store Museum is located at 117 Main Street, Kennebunk. Hours are Tuesdays – Fridays, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (closed holidays). Admission is by donation, suggested $5 per person. Visit or call 207-985-4802 for more info.
Photo caption: Memorabilia about President George H. W. Bush is on display at the Brick Store Museum. (Courtesy photo)