Friday, September 23, 2011

Mills and Valente Named Semifinalists in National Merit Scholarship Program

Wells High School seniors Jesse Mills and Michael Valente have learned that they are Semifinalists in the 57th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) formally made the list of Semifinalists public September 14th.
Last year, 1.5 million high school juniors throughout the United States took the 2010 PSAT/NMSQT. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation then selected 16,000 Semifinalists based on the PSAT/NMSQT results.
As Semifinalists, Mills and Valente have the opportunity to compete to become Finalists and qualify for over 8,300 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $34 million. These scholarships will be available in the spring of 2012. To become a Finalist, students must meet high academic standards and all other requirements. According to the NMSC, “…more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.”
“I am pretty excited,” said Valente in an interview about becoming a Semifinalist. Mills shared Valente’s excitement and added that he found it hard to take a test at school after learning the news.
Mills is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Team and plays club tennis, a non-varsity sport at WHS, in the spring. He indicated that he would like to attend Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania next fall. As of now he is undecided about a college major. Mills is the son of Wesley J. Mills and Cheryl Dearman Mills of Wells.
Valente is the Treasurer for the Class of 2012 and for the National Honor Society chapter at WHS. He says he would like to attend Boston University or Tufts University to major in pre-med. Valente is the son of Dawn Valente of Wells.
Photo caption: Michael Valente and Jesse Mills. (Photo by Reg Bennett)

Emmy Award Winner Richard Kahn Presents ‘An Arctic Wilderness Journey’

Emmy award-winner and documentary filmmaker Richard Kahn will offer “Travels by Canoe in Alaska’s Western Arctic,” a wilderness journey of words and pictures, at the Kennebunk UU Church at 7 p.m., Friday, September 30. Sponsored by the Sierra Club, the event is free and open to the public. Dessert will be served at 6:30.
An independent filmmaker, Kahn has had his work presented on The Discovery Channel, CBS, WGBH-TV and WBZ-TV in Boston, as well as Vermont Public Television.
Kahn has spent the last twelve summers paddling wilderness rivers in the Brooks Range and North Slope in Northwestern Alaska. He has traveled extensively in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, spending more than 300 days on the Colville River and its tributaries.
His talk will focus on spending time traveling wilderness rivers, in an area with which few people are familiar. A question-and-answer period will follow his presentation.
The inappropriately named National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) is 23.5 million acres of wilderness. It is home to the Western and Central Caribou herds, wolves, bears, wolverines and a rich assortment of raptors, songbirds and waterfowl. Kahn’s photographs and journals record intense light, an ocean of unnamed mountains, crystal clear rivers, delicate wild flowers and glimpses of the animals whose lives are woven into the fabric of the place.
Kahn’s credits also include MSNBC, NOVA, Frontline, and Bill Moyers Journal. The filmmaker received an Emmy in 1983 for “7 North,” a documentary on nurses in a neurological unit and in 1973 for “A New Beginning,” about four teenage patients in a spinal cord injury unit. While he has made films on a great variety of topics, Kahn has spent the most time and feels the strongest connection to films concerning health care and ethical decision-making as well as end-of-life issues.
The Unitarian Universalist Church is located at 14 Main Street (Route One) in Kennebunk.
Photo caption: A lone caribou grazes on the Brooks Range in Northwestern Alaska. Filmmaker and ardent canoeist Richard Kahn will share his photographs and observations in “Travels by Canoe in Alaska’s Western Arctic,” a Sierra Club presentation, at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 30, at the Kennebunk Unitarian Universalist Church at 114 Main Street. (Photo by Richard Kahn)

What the…? A Review of Stephen King’s ‘Mile 81’

By Chip Schrader
Book Reviewer
Stephen King continues his experiment with publishing with “Mile 81,” a story that is published strictly as an eBook to be downloaded to a Nook, iPad, Kindle or any of the other e-readers edging their way into the market. King is known to play with publishing formats: electronic, serial (“The Green Mile”), and comic and graphic novel re-releases (“The Dark Tower”), to name a few. With this eBook, it is evident that King is still having fun writing and publishing his stories, and he is taking his fans with him for the joyride.
As any Maine resident knows, Exit 81, under the new exit naming system, stands at 81 miles north of the Maine border on I-95. The whole story takes place at the abandoned rest area on this exit.
Long-time readers will be taken back a few years with this story. King’s main character is a ten-year-old boy, Pete Simmons, who wants to prove he is rough enough to hang out with his brother’s gang. With a half-full bottle of vodka and his favorite magnifying glass packed in his bag, he decides to hide out in the abandoned shack at this exit. For a ten-year-old, Pete has a precocious knowledge of the female anatomy, and a sense of mischief that is almost impossible to believe.
The chapters of this novella, clocking in at the equivalent of 80 print pages, are divided into the characters that will meet their untimely demise at this exit, and the make of their car. For example, Chapter 3 is named “Julianne Vernon (’05 Dodge Ram).” Known as the horse lady, Julianne stops at the exit curious about a Prius parked with a mucky station wagon. As time moves along, she gets eaten by that muddy wagon. Yes, she is eaten by a car.
The story is strange, not unlike “Christine,” which he references in this story, but it works. “Mile 81” is gruesome, bizarre, and silly, but also inventive and fun. King has an imagination that makes most of his contemporaries scoff in envy, perhaps the reason for the literary snobbery that he has been the target of in the past. Sometimes King goes out to the edge – a car eating people isn’t exactly in our realm of believability – but he weaves the campiest concepts into the kind of fun storytelling that hearkens back to old Americana.
Moreover, as he did in “Under the Dome,” he doesn’t just mercilessly slaughter character after character without a care. The characters in each segment are believable, and the reader pities their demise. In each character’s backstory, King reminds us these are loved ones with real souls who have reached out to others in their lifetimes. There is a sense of tragedy in their passing, this is where King’s genius as a horror writer shines through. He never forgets these people are human. The grisly horrific occurrences are actually episodes of high drama that ends these everyday lives.
The narration is quirky, preadolescent, filthy and very funny. At times the pop culture references and youthful tone seem a little forced, but still attention grabbing. To figure out why in the world (and how) this car is eating people is the driving force to finish reading the story, the answer is pure campy delight, and possibly predictable to select King fans. The style of storytelling and bizarre plot are classic Stephen King that references to the early short stories, novellas and novels that put him and the state of Maine on the modern literary map. Not his best work to date, but highly recommended!
File Size: 213 KB. Print Length: 80 pages. Publisher: Scribner (September 1, 2011).
Photo caption: (Courtesy e-book cover image of Stephen King’s “Mile 81”)