Friday, October 23, 2009

Noble High Students produce
Award Winning Literary Magazine

By Barbara Leech
Staff Columnist
Nobel High School students are gearing up to create, organize and publish this year’s edition of Knight Vision, the school’s award winning literary arts magazine. According to Sarah Hall, Junior English teacher and faculty advisor for the magazine, this is the second year that Knight Vision production, once an after school club activity, is offered as a .5 credit elective course for students Grade 9 through12.
“Last year was the first time Knight Vision was a class and we got a great response from the students,” Hall said. “It is such an overall group effort and really gets students involved in the critiquing and creative process. It was offered both semesters so we produced two editions and won an award of excellence for our work.”
Hall said it was the second year in a row for Knight Vision to win the excellence award in the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) contest for student literary magazines. The annual contest’s mission is to encourage all schools to develop literary magazines, seeking excellence in writing and school-wide participation in production. Hall said that Nobel High students in all grades submitted work that encompassed several different genres. She is hopeful this year’s course, offered spring semester only, will be equally rewarding for the students involved.
“We print about 50 pages in our magazine and it has everything from drawings to photography to poems to written music…it really represents the creativity at this school,” Hall said. “And the selection of work, the layout, the advertising that is sold….it is all done by the students. It is amazing to see it come together.”
Tiffany Currier, 16, was part of last year’s award winning production staff and has enrolled in this year’s Knight Vision course, which begins in January. The North Berwick teen said she chose the course because it appealed to her love of writing and art and magazines in general.
“It was a good match for me,” she said. “I am very glad I did it. It was a fun way to learn and create something at the same time.”
Currier said she is looking forward to the production work, the reading and selection process and may offer her own writing skills to the effort this year.
“I think I have been inspired to maybe submit something,” Currier said. “I love writing and I find that reading memoirs is the most interesting. So I think that may be what I try for. We will see.”
According to Hall, Knight Vision was created several years ago by members of the Nobel High faculty. She began working as its advisor three years ago, and says that last year’s staff consisted of about nine students but she is hoping a few more join the team by enrolling in the course.
“There is a ‘drop-add’ period so there is still time for students to decide to take part in this course,” Hall said. “I think all students that do walk away with more knowledge about what goes into creating a literary arts magazine, editing, design, their own ability to critique work and a sense of pride in the final product.”
Photo caption: Junior Tiffany Currier, North Berwick, is ready to begin production work on the next Knight Vision, an award winning literary arts magazine at Nobel High School. (Courtesy photo)

Professor helps build Psychology Dept.
at Cambodian University

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
For Dr. Cindy Lahar, Department Chair of Biological and Social Sciences at York County Community College, a vacation trip to Cambodia in 2000 literally changed her life. As a result, Lahar got involved with the Royal University of Phnom Penh and has worked with the school since 2004 to help build the capacity of the university’s psychology department, the only such department anywhere in Cambodia.
“It’s the only psych department in the country,” said Lahar. “There is a highly needy population for mental health services, but none are available. The psychology department is being called on to train people.”
Lahar explained that Cambodia’s history is a particularly traumatic one, dating from the brutalities of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, when much of the population was killed. “They targeted educated people.,” she said “Teachers and doctors were the first to be killed so many moved out. Once the country began to rebuild in the 1990s, there were few educated people, but the population sees education as very important.”
Lahar applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship to go to the country in 2004 and work with RUPP’s psychology department. She got another scholarship in 2006.
“Fulbright’s goal was to train all the teachers there in research methodology,” Lahar said. “I proposed to do training in research methods and to do research into volunteerism, to explore the motivation for volunteering and whether it was different in these cultures. I learned I had to step back and ask a more basic question - what does it mean to be a volunteer and how does someone define volunteerism?”
The second Fulbright involved working with the psychology department as a “teacher, trainer, all around specialist - however they needed me,” Lahar said.
She has returned once or twice a year, along with professionals also from outside of Cambodia, to work with the teachers in the department. Lahar said she has started to see the efforts bear fruit. “We have developed a Master’s program and kicked it off in 2008,” she said. “There are 12 to 14 students in their second year to earn a Master’s in Counseling. There are 15 or so active teachers in the undergraduate program, but only one has a Master’s. The teachers need training to be able to present material to the undergraduate students.”
The goal is to have the program’s graduates accepted as master’s level counselors outside of Cambodia. “There are a lot of Master’s programs in Cambodia, but few are accepted outside the country,” she said. “We need to push them toward international standards in the curriculum.”
Lahar’s next trip to Cambodia begins in January, 2010. She has a sabbatical at YCCC and plans to spend most of the semester working at RUPP. “It’s been an incredible experience,” she said. “Some years I go there and think ‘what more can I do?’ Then I get there and in a few weeks, I’m so busy. Every time I leave there saying ‘boy, I’ve got to get back there soon.’”
Lahar’s work at RUPP has actually resulted in a new organization she formed in Maine, a nonprofit called Reach Out To Education, or ROTE. It’s creation stemmed from the efforts of one of her Cambodian colleagues to keep rural youngsters in school. “One of the teachers in the Psych Department introduced me to a friend who was the first person from his village to graduate from a university,” said Lahar. “He started an organization to help support kids who would drop out to work. It gives money to the family to allow the kids to stay in school.”
Lahar has raised $2,400 in each of the last two years to bring over to that program. She had been getting donations from individuals, but decided to form the organization as a tax-exempt group to formalize things.
Her work has not been overlooked by her YCCC colleagues. “Cindy’s work in Cambodia has enriched our college environment,” said Paula Gagnon, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs. “Sharing her curriculum development work in Cambodia has enabled those in our Academic Community to benefit from her experiences. It has also brought YCCC students into direct (electronic) contact with students from halfway round the globe. A small community college in Maine has a first-hand experience internationally as a direct result of Cindy’s work.
For Lahar, that work will continue. “This is a lifetime engagement,” she said. “I have made great friends. It’s just marvelous. I’ve been blessed with opportunities.”
Photo caption: YCCC Professor Cindy Lahar, third from left, with teachers at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Lahar’s been working with the university since 2004. (Courtesy photo)

South Berwick Determined to Keep Everyone Warm

Townspeople are planning an “old school” community supper at Spring Hill Restaurant to raise funds to supply local families with heating oil and Keep South Berwick Warm this winter.
Soups and breads from nine local restaurateurs and bakers, raffle prizes from local merchants and a bucket at the front door for cash donations -- on Wednesday, Oct. 28th, from 5-7 p.m., the people of South Berwick are holding a very special supper at Spring Hill Restaurant on Pond Road in South Berwick. It is an old-fashioned community fundraiser being held by townspeople working with Social Services to help local families deal with heating costs this winter. Just like days gone by, there’s no set donation or entry fee -- there will be a bucket by the door where people can give whatever they can to help their neighbors get thru this difficult time
To that end, restaurants in South Berwick and York are pitching in and providing soups and breads for the event. Among them are Nature’s Way Market, Pepperland, Forgarty’s, The Catered Event, Redbarn at the Outlook Farm, The Black Bean, The Brixham General Store, Spring Hill Restaurant, When Pigs Fly Bread. Local merchants including Abby Chic, Salmon Falls Gardens, The Early Bird, Vacuum Village, the Little Hat Company, and Kimmi’s Best Biscotti are providing prizes for raffles to be held during the event. Tickets are also available ahead of time from The Early Bird and The South Berwick Pharmacy. We also have Jeff Lind and Carl Pehrsson playing acoustic jazz music.
“The money we raise from this supper, the raffle and any subsequent donations that are made will give a family a few hours of heat, or help with weatherization of their home,” says Pat Robinson, one of the key organizers. “The support we’ve gotten from the local restaurants and merchants has been very enthusiastic -- if we see the community respond the same way, the event should really make a difference in local families’ lives this winter. If people can’t come, we hope they’ll mail in a donation. We really hope to make sure that all of the families of South Berwick stay warm this winter.”
When residents make their donations to the South Berwick Fuel Fund this year, the checks will be written out to a new organization in town: SoBo Central. SoBo Central was recently incorporated as a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing together five community projects into one tax-exempt nonprofit.
In addition to the Fuel Fund, other programs that have joined to create SoBo Central are Hot Summer Nights, which has run summer concerts for 10 years; Green Up, a local sustainability group formed last year; the South Berwick Community Food Pantry, formed to bring food to residents in need, and Smart Growth South Berwick, which is focused on nurturing the downtown and runs the annual Home for the Holidays event.
“None of these groups had official non profit status and all are run mainly by volunteers. Many of the same people worked with two or more of the organizations, so the new group will help bring together overlapping causes and make all of the efforts stronger,” explains Nicole St. Pierre, SoBo Central Board President.
“Rather than have five groups with separate administrations, SoBo Central pulls them all together so they can share administrative functions and costs. That makes them all more efficient,” says SoBo Central Treasurer, Dave Stansfield.
Donations to the Fuel Fund can also be made directly to SoBo Central, c/o Fuel Fund, 9 York Woods Road, South Berwick, ME 03908. Write “Fuel Fund” on the memo line.
All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. For more information, call Pat Robinson at 207-337-2792.