Friday, March 27, 2009

A Quest to Our Human Roots

By Richard “Chip” Schrader
Book Review Editor
The Young Adult novel is an oft-overlooked genre among adult readers, even though they are frequently on critics’ short list for the year’s best fiction. Young Adult literature is defined by having a main character between the ages of about 13 to 18. This definition gives great leeway for content and reading levels, and the “YA” label is highly deceptive.
“Catcher in the Rye,” “The Golden Compass” and authors like Walter Dean Myers, James Patterson, and Neil Gaiman have contributed to this form of literature. It is as important, provocative and challenging as Adult fiction, and is treated as seriously.
Local author, R.I. Miller is a recent contributor to the Young Adult genre with his novel “The Touch of Bark, the Feel of Stone”. The story follows a misfit 13-year-old member of an indigenous tribe named Racken. With a deceased father who drowned making his spirit eternally “wander beneath the sea,” and a mother who is a great tribal healer, Racken wants to escape his vision dreams and become a hunter.
Angry with his mother for passing on her gift of intuition, Racken goes on a journey with Mathen, a sage spirit speaker to learn more deeply the blessings of what he considers his curse. As their journey progresses, the magical wolves that lead Racken and his rivalry with Thaypen all lend to the lessons he must learn if he truly is the chosen one Mathen seeks.
Told from a first person point of view, Miller nicely adapts his language to fit the narrator’s age without downplaying Racken’s intelligence. The descriptions focus more on Racken‘s internal life and the people around him, rather than the picturesque expanse on which he embarks with the other travelers. This element also lends to the introversion of the child seeking manhood from within.
The details are sparse to make the reading seem light, but each word must be savored in order to fully visualize the tapestry Miller has woven. It reads like a poem where every word counts, and has greater weight and value due to scarcity.
On a deeper level, this novel is about equating the value of the feminine power of intuition and insight with the masculine powers of physical strength and observation. It is about balance and harmony, and the deeper yearning for an understanding of human nature as Racken’s hands become “used to the touch of bark and the feel of stone.”
This is a book to pass on to younger readers after finishing, or to read together at a bonfire. Battling tribes, rough terrain, strange people and creatures all find their way into these pages. The narration has a campfire feel of vision quests, translated into a form that has become in modern times the coming of age novel.
All of the action, mysticism and folktales in this book make it impossible to put down. Highly recommended for anybody looking for a good story that brings the reader back to nature.
Photo caption: The book jacket of “The Touch of Bark, the Feel of Stone” by R.I. Miller. (Courtesy photo)

York High School Coach Named
Coach of the Year in New England

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Rick Clark has been coaching basketball at York High School for 38 years, the last 27 of them as head coach of the girls varsity program,
In the recently completed season, the Wildcats compiled a 20-1 record, losing the state championship game to Eastern Maine Champion Waterville High School. It was Waterville’s 66th straight victory and the school’s third straight state title.
Prior to the title game, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association named Coach Clark District I High School Coach of the Year. District I includes all New England States.
He has seen many changes over the years he has been coaching. When he began coaching girl’s basketball there were jumps balls every time a held ball was called, the ball was bigger and there was no three-point shot, just to name a few.
“I like it if I have three-point shooters and don’t like it if I don’t,” Coach Clark said this week, sitting in his homeroom at York High School.
As to the change making a held ball alternate possession, he remembered he had some tall girls and set plays for those jump ball situations. “We got 10, 12 points a game on those,” he said.
There have been changes in the girls over those years as well.
One of those changes is the amount of time spent on the game outside the high school season. Early in his career when the last game was played, the players put away the basketball, picking it up again when the pre-season rolled around.
“They rarely touched the basketball in between (seasons),” he said. “That is not the case today. Either in organized or unorganized ways, they’re shooting baskets in the back yard, doing ball handling drills and so on. They have more skills if they’re working on the right stuff.”
There is also a difference conditioning wise, he said, “Because in all sports we’re allowing girls to live up to their potential. They are much stronger.”
Coach Clark, a graduate of Wells High School, one of York’s neighboring rivals, came to York when he graduated from the University of Maine Orono as a teacher and a coach and has been at York ever since.
Over his tenure as coach the Wildcats have won four Western Maine Class B titles and one state championship, that coming in 1992. His overall regular season record as varsity girl’s coach is 338-148. In that span the Wildcats have had only five sub-.500 seasons.
Coach Clark’s teams have qualified for the Western Maine Class B tournament in 25 of his 27 years.
Coach Clark coached the girl’s jayvee team when Kathy Dunn was head coach for five years before taking the head-coaching job in 1982-83 when he led the varsity to the Western Maine finals.
He has also coached the boy’s jayvee team for three years when John Griffin was head coach and the girl’s jayvees for five years when Kathy Dunn was the varsity coach.
He has also coached the York High varsity boys and a women’s semi-pro team, Lesswing Hardware that included several outstanding women players.
Clark said some people wondered how he could go from coaching boys to girls but it as no problem for him. “I love the game,” he said. “I love the sport. I love working with kids.”
He credits the overall success of the program to those coaching the younger girls and the interest of parents. His approach to the game at all levels is to have fun, have fun, have fun.
Among those who have worked at that level are Rick Contera, Kevin Wyatt and Mona Blais. Clark’s jayvee coach is Steven Freeman.
“They are a critical piece of the chain,” Clark said, as is the York Recreation Department and the Police Department with the annual Charlie Brown Tournament.
“If you’re not having fun it’s not worth it,” Clark said of playing the game at all levels. He said he and his team “hated to lose that game” to Waterville in the state final but “we gave everything we had and everyone knew it, what fun it was to be involved in that week” when only two Class B girl’s teams in the state had a game remaining.
Clark focuses on the defensive side of the ball a great deal, something he learned early in his career as a jayvee coach. His team doesn’t always play the same, but defense is vital part of every Wildcat team.
There’s also sportsmanship involved no matter the level, no matter win or lose.
York’s team has won five sportsmanship banners over the years, two more than any other program, something of which the coach is very proud.
“I’ve never had a player get a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct,” he said.
In 27 yeas of coaching that’s really the bottom line.
Photo caption: York High School Coach, Rick Clark, has been named Coach of the Year in New England. (Courtesy photo)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Marshwood High School Students Compete in
U.S. Constitution National Finals

By Magen Petit
Staff Columnist
The senior students from the Advanced Placement Government class at Marshwood High School will travel to Washington, D.C. on Friday, Apr. 24 where they will represent Maine in the national finals of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution.
According to the We the People web site, “The primary goal… is to promote civic competence and responsibility among the nation’s elementary and secondary students… [It] enhances students understanding of the institutions of American constitutional democracy. At the same time, students discover the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
About 1,200 high school students from all 50 states and Saipan will participate in the highly prestigious academic competition on the U.S. Constitution.
Leading the seniors is Social Studies teacher Matt Sanzone. This is Sanzone’s sixth year coaching students into the state and national levels of We the People.
“It is a tremendous honor to represent Marshwood and
the State of Maine at the National Finals,” said Sanzone. “This group of students is incredibly talented and motivated. Their performance at the state championship was exceptional.”
The Marshwood students have studied for months to prepare for their role as experts testifying on constitutional issues in a simulated congressional hearing.
Twenty-six Marshwood students competed at the state level against the Portland-based all-girls Catholic college preparatory high school, Catherine McAuley, on Wednesday, Mar. 4. Marshwood swept all six units, defeating McAuley, and winning the state championship.
“The curriculum consists of six units with 39 lessons addressing principles of constitutional democracy and a culminating authentic performance assessment,” according to the web site.
“In all six years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen a final result like this year,” explained an excited Sanzone. “This group is very motivated and had an excellent performance for the judges.”
Out of the 26 students, only 14 will travel to Washington, D.C. to compete at the national level. The other 12 students have a pre-paid European trip they will be on.
The first round of the national finals will be held at the Crystal Gateway Marriott,
Arlington, Va., Saturday, Apr. 25 and Sunday, Apr. 26. Now in its 22nd year, the competition involves entire classes making presentations and answering questions on constitutional topics before a panel of judges recruited from across the country. Constitutional scholars, lawyers, and government leaders, acting as congressional committee members, will judge the students’ performances. The combined scores of the classes during the first two days of hearings will determine the top 10 classes to compete in the championship round Monday, Apr. 27 in congressional hearing rooms in the Senate Dirksen Office Building.
Senior Sean Strausser is nervous and excited for the competition, but optimistic.
“I feel we have a strong chance,” said Strausser. “We prepare well for it and I think we’re ready for it. We practice all the time and we know what we’re talking about.”
With the amount of work and practice to prepare for the state and national level, it all pays off in the end.
“We each have to write papers and we combine those and end up writing more papers,” explained senior Katelyn Connolly on how to prepare for the competitions. “The practice is worth it for D.C. It’s a good reward in the end.”
The annual three-day final competition is the culminating activity of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, the most extensive civic education program of its kind in the country. The Marshwood students have been studying We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, developed by the Center for Civic Education. The text provides students with an understanding of the fundamental values and principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. During their stay in Washington, D.C., the students will tour historical sites and have an opportunity to visit Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and District 1 Representative Chellie Pingree.
Besides Strausser and Connolly, other students representing Marshwood at the National Finals are: Elise Amioka, Chris Bowen, Erin Carter, Tyler Corbly, Kari DiCecco, Cara Evans, July Flores, Sarah Kent, Marc Michaud, Sam Parady, Chris Protzmann, and Maria Sedler.
“Our big challenge now is fundraising. Each student needs to raise approximately $500 to help pay for the travel and lodging expenses. We are hoping the community will be supportive and help finance the trip,” said Sanzone.
For more information on the competition visit or anyone interested in helping support the students can contact Matt Sanzone at Marshwood High School at (207) 384-4500.
Photo caption: The senior students from the Advanced Placement Government class at Marshwood High School recently won the state competition of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution. They will be competing at the national level on Friday, Apr. 24 in Washington, D.C. (Weekly Sentinel photo)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Local Student Named Maine Geographic Bee Semifinalist by National Geographic

Marshwood Great Works School fifth grade student Hayden E. Fitt has been notified by the National Geographic Society that she is one of the semifinalists eligible to compete in the 2009 Maine Geographic Bee, sponsored by Google and Plum Creek.
Bees held in schools with fourth through eighth grade students throughout the states determine each school’s Geographic Bee winner. A school level winner then takes a qualifying test, which they submitted to the National Geographic Society. In each of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, and the US territories, the National Geographic Society invite the students with the top 100 scores to compete at the state level.
The 2009 Maine Geographic Bee will be held at The Abromson Community Education Center at the University of South Maine in Portland on Friday, Apr. 3.
The state winner will receive $100, the “National Geographic Collegiate Atlas of the World”, and a trip to Washington D.C., where he/she will represent Maine in the national finals at the National Geographic Society headquarters on Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20. The first national place winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the Society. The national winner will also travel (along with a parent), all expenses paid, to the Galapagos Islands with Jeopardy host Alex Trabek and the Jeopardy Clue Crew. The winner will experience geography first hand and up close.
How would you fare as a bee contestant? At the school level Bee this year, students had to answer such questions as: 1) Which state does not rely on corn and soybeans for much of its agricultural output — Pennsylvania, Illinois or Iowa? (Answers to follow the article); 2) The Laramie Mountains, a livestock and timbering region, extend north from Colorado into which state?; 3) You can visit an aqueduct built by the Romans in Segovia, a city located approximately 40 miles northwest of Madrid, in which country?; 4) Approximately 40 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line despite an oil and gas boom in which country where Baku is the capital?; and 5) Mexico City is located on the site of Tenochtitlan, the island capital of what empire that was conquered by Spanish explorers in the 16th century?
Don’t feel so bad if you got any of the answers wrong! That’s why we leave it up Hayden to get them all right! Good luck and congratulations, Hayden!
Answers to the previous questions are as follows: 1) Pennsylvania; 2) Wyoming; 3) Spain; 4) Azerbaijan; and 5) Aztec Empire.
Photo caption: Marshwood Great Works School fifth grader Hayden Fitt placed first in the school’s geography bee. She is up for a chance at winning a $25,000 college scholarship. (Courtesy photo)

The 38th Annual Waban Telethon Held This Weekend

The 38th Annual Waban Telethon will be held on Saturday, Mar. 21 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 47 High Street, Sanford, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Television coverage will be provided by Metrocast Cablevision (Channel 12) in conjunction with Time Warner Cablevision (Channel 22). The Telethon can be seen throughout most of York and Cumberland County in over 50 communities including the towns of Sanford, Springvale, Acton, Alfred, Arundel, Berwick, Biddeford, Bridgton, Buxton, Cape Elizabeth, Cornish, Cumberland, Dayton, Denmark, East Baldwin, East Lebanon, Falmouth, Gray, Harrison, Hiram, Hollis, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Limerick, Limington, Lyman, Moody, Naples, New Gloucester, North Berwick, North Yarmouth, Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach, Parsonsfield, Porter, Portland, Pownal, Raymond, Rochester (NH), Saco, Scarborough, Sebago, Shapleigh, South Portland, Standish, Waterboro, Wells, Westbrook, Windham, Yarmouth, and York.
Over the past 37 years, $1,607,488 has been raised through the Telethon. In spite of difficult times, last year $95,226 was raised from this event. The funds are used for developmental therapy, specialized equipment, assessment services, therapeutic recreation, and other educational and habilitation-based services for children who attend the Waban Child Development Center in Sanford, the Infant-Toddler Program, the Assessment Program, or who receive services from the Case Management Program.
In the course of one year, the Child Development Center provides service to over 150 children ages three to five, the Infant Toddler Program and Assessment Programs will support over 50 children ages birth through two-and-a-half years old, while the Case Management Program will provide services to over 100 children and their families. All the children have special needs that require specialized training and equipment.
The Telethon is sponsored by the Tri-Parish Catholic Churches of Sanford-Springvale.
Hosts for the day will be Kevin Mannix of WCSH-TV, RJ and Jim Legere the sons of long-time Telethon volunteers Bud and Sandy Legere who will be joining us remotely, and Kristen Guillemette Perfeuto, who works for Boston Medical Hospital.
Entertainment will include the Big Bad Wolf Band, the all-time favorite Ben Guillemette, the Joel Jolicoeur Band, the youth performers from Sanford’s Jazz-Tappin Dance Academy, while Laura Pelkey and the Pepper Steppers will be strutting their stuff along with the Eric Andrews Swing Jazz Quartet, and guest appearances from the Sanford High School Band that played at the Presidential inauguration. The Sanford Mainer’s own B’roose da Moose and Kenny Bear from Kennebunk Savings Bank will be there and once again, MECA will be on hand to finish out the day.
There will be other guest appearances throughout the day including parents from the Child Development Center discussing how the Program has helped their children and the awarding of the Waban Making A Difference Award to a community member and a Waban staff member who over an extended period of time through their dedication and efforts have made an indelible difference in the lives of the children and adults that Waban supports.
A team from Metrocast Cablevision will be producing the Telethon.
Certificates for merchandise and other gifts, donated by merchants, businesses, and individuals, will be given away for donations and pledges throughout the day. Some of the items will include a vacation week condo at St. Thomas, furniture from Central Furniture, Red Sox tickets, a baseball autographed by Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papalbon, Portland Pirates tickets, official autographed pictures of the Celtic’s Eddie House and the Patriot’s Rodney Harrison, a Wasco skylight, various Easter baskets, Smitty’s Cinema passes, and much more. There will be several raffles including a recliner donated by Landry’s Furniture Barn, a Nintendo Wii system and a Nintendo Wii FIT both donated anonymously, a Manatee Kayak Package with paddles and cover donated anonymously, a 14-foot Old Town Canoe donated by an anonymous donor and a king size beautifully crafted handmade quilt donated by Rachel Hunter.
Refreshments for the volunteers are donated by local restaurants and businesses.
The Knights of Columbus will be having a breakfast starting at 8 until 10 a.m. to benefit the Telethon. An old-fashioned bean supper will also be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Debbie L’Heureux and the Sanford Wolves Social Club will sponsor the 22nd Annual Waban Jam to be held at the Wolves Club on 40 High Street in Sanford. The Jam will run from 4 to 11:30 p.m. with live music provided by the Alan Roux Band, Lipstick and Leather, the Delrays, Freedom, Tung in Groove, and of course Big Bad Wolf.
Contributors may make donations prior to and after the Telethon at the Sanford Institution for Savings, 900 Main Street in Sanford. Donations may be called in during the day of the Telethon by calling (207) 324-5344 or 1-877-544-4275 or by accessing PayPal on Waban’s web site at

Friday, March 6, 2009

Local Auto Dealerships Remain Optimistic

By Larry Favinger & Magen Petit
Staff Columnists
Although there seems to be bad news for the auto industry on the national and international level almost daily, that is not necessarily reflected locally.
While there has been an acknowledged drop in new vehicles sales, local dealers are very optimistic and are compensating in other areas, including the sales of used units and the quality of their service.
“New car sales are definitely off for us,” Steve “Hoaty” Houghton, general manager at Starkey of York, said, “but not as far off as nationally.”
Sid Porter, corporate director of sales, leasing and finance at Dick Bournival Dodge of York, said “business, traffic wise, is a little bit off” but used car sales are holding, or, in some cases, are going up.
General Manager of Somersworth Nissan, Dan Forget, mentioned sales were “actually pretty good” during President’s Day weekend.
“We are down a little from last year, but we sold almost 70 vehicles,” said Forget.
Over at Dover Auto World, General Manager Curt Sylvia said he’s “doing better than in 2008”.
“During President’s Day weekend, we sold about 15 percent or more from last year,” said Sylvia. “They were mostly used, but that’s expected. In these economic times, affordability payments are an issue. Eighty-five percent of sales are used cars.”
John Hayes, owner of Village Motors of South Berwick, a dealer who sells only used vehicles, has seen truth in that statement.
“For us, I would say we’re a little recession resilient,” Hayes said, sitting in his office at his Route 236 sales and service facility. “We do actually, a little better, usually, during these times for the simple fact that people either fix the cars they have or buy used.”
At times like these, former customers and referrals become even more important than usual.
All the negative publicity nationally has an impact on the walk-in or impulse buyers Porter said. “You have to divert your energy to your repeats and referrals. We’d love to see more walk-in business, but we’re getting by with our data base, our own owners.”
“Our repeat and referral business is double the national average,” Houghton said. “That puts us in a unique position and gives us a little bit of an edge in the current economic climate.”
Adding to that, Sylvia claims he’s had very low turnover.
“I think that plays into relationship building,” expressed Sylvia. “We build a lot of tenor here. We have a lot of repeats and referrals. This market is in hard economic times, so that’s the best source of advertisement.”
“This time feels a little bit different than the other two recessions I’ve been through,” Hayes said, “but business has been steady, if not a little up tick for us.”
One area in which national news has had an impact is the feeling of the general public toward financing.
“That’s a whole other category,” Houghton said.
In the last quarter of 2008, he said, “It was difficult to get financing for people who should have had no trouble getting it.”
But since then, Houghton said, things have loosened up a little bit and banks are lending more money.
“People with good credit will not have trouble getting a loan,” he said. “Difference is, if you have poor credit, you’re going to have trouble getting financing.” He said. “People who have the best credit will get the best rates.”
Dover Auto World is offering zero percent financing.
“We have rates as low as 1.9 percent,” explained Sylvia. “It’s all about mathematics because when the payment is calculated, it seems too high for folks.”
Forget’s keynote way of doing business is “you pay, we pay”.
“We’re selling cars at invoice price, which costs less than rebates,” explained Forget. “This also helps save time because there is no hassle or negotiations as well as saving money.”
Hayes said there are people who think financing is not available even though it is.
“They have raised the bar,” he said of the financing institutions. Among other changes, he said, is that the banks “want more money down.”
This part of the country is lucky in that there are more community banks and credit unions. “Those guys are still lending,” he said. “They haven’t been hit like the big guys.”
Overall, the auto industry, from a local standpoint, isn’t as bad as it could be.
“It’s no shock, right around October, we took a decline, but there are positive signs, too,” said Forget. “February was a great month, so hopefully that’s a good sign.”
Sylvia added, “It’s not as bad as one would think. We focus on being positive and focus on taking care of the customer. We have the ingredients that makes us successful.”

Center Provides a Place for Youths, Teens

By Magen Petit
Staff Columnist
One effective way to get youths and teens off the street is by providing them with a place to go when they aren’t in school or at home. In 1998, South Berwick Police Officer Peter Gagnon and a group of high school students started the South Berwick Youth Teen Center, located across from The Lunch Box on Agamenticus Road in South Berwick.
Gagnon approached the Town and asked them if the Center could use the old red barn for a place for youths and teens. The Town agreed and gave the front half of the barn to the Center.
The Center provides a place for the youths and teens to do many activities such as quilting, homework, cake decorating, candy making, scrap booking, and many other crafts. Many games including board games, foosball, pool, and air hockey are also available to the kids.
Other groups also use the barn as a place to meet, such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts. The Center also opens its doors to an autism group, which meets once a month, local sports teams, home school groups, the recreation department, and a summer camp.
Now, Louise Cole-Anderson is the director of the non-profit organization and wants nothing more than to continue keeping youths and teens off the street.
“I’ve always been involved in volunteering, especially with the Center,” said Cole-Anderson. “I saw the kids growing up and volunteers leaving, but I stayed. I wanted a place for the kids, but I realized I needed to get a younger group of kids to start coming.”
Cole-Anderson reached out to kids as young as the junior high level and eventually to the fourth and fifth grade level.
A few years ago, Cole-Anderson wanted to expand the Center for the kids as they were outgrowing the space.
“Jerry Easter of the Knights of Columbus gave me the encouragement to get this done,” remarked Cole-Anderson. “He told me the Knights of Columbus were looking for a project and he chose us and he told me that this could be done.”
The efforts of the volunteers resulted in raising about $5,000 to replace the roof as well as gutting out the back room and re-doing the wallboards.
“The whole process started about two-and-a-half years ago,” explained Cole-Anderson. “We ran into a few delays with Mother Nature coming earlier than expected that year and making sure everything was weather-tight. We were able to finish smaller projects before starting on the bigger renovations.”
Instead of just a front room, there is now a back room, which was divided in half to two rooms. The back rooms will be for quilting and sewing as well as a living room area with a television and the popular game Dance Dance Revolution. The front room will be just for games.
The renovations are still not complete.
“In essence, we have two more projects remaining,” explained Easter. “We will be expanding the kitchen and re-doing the bathroom.”
Easter started the renovations and as he put it, “I’m a jack of all trades, but a master of none.”
Greg Paquette of Maplewood Construction in North Berwick took over the project and Easter noted, “He’s the master.”
“You know that saying, “It takes a village…” well, it really does,” said Cole-Anderson who donates about 20-24 hours of her time a week just toward the Center. “If it weren’t for Jerry or the volunteers or Ann Hussey and Dr. Mike Nazemetz of the South Berwick Rotary or my husband supporting me 100 percent, none of this would have happened.”
Cole-Anderson is hoping to have the rest of the renovations completed this summer. She is very appreciative of all the support and donations people have given to help the Center and keep it open.
For more information on the South Berwick Youth Teen Center, visit the 3 Willow Drive (just off Agamenticus Road) location or call Louise at (207) 384-4731.
Photo captions: The backside of the barn after the renovations were completed to the Center... Jerry Easter receives an award from South Berwick Youth Teen Center Director Louise Cole-Anderson for his time and dedication to the youth and the community of South Berwick. (Weekly Sentinel photos)