Friday, April 2, 2010

Our Earth – Our Future – Our Chance to Make a Difference at Noble Middle School

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
This spring, a group of seventh and eighth graders at the Noble Middle School are planting a vegetable garden on a couple of four by 12-foot plots in front of the school. That may not sound significant, but it is. The plots are part of a year-long project by the teacher Cathy Mende and the school’s Green Team to reduce the amount of left-over’s from the school cafeteria that end up in a landfill and compost them instead. The resulting compost will be used to enrich the soil in which the vegetable garden will be planted. Those vegetables, then, will make their way to the school cafeteria next fall, thus completing the cycle.
“We got a mini-grant from the KIDS Consortium,” Mende said. “The grant is all about composting and turning it into a garden.”
The process began in the fall, when Mende’s team of seventh and eighth graders went to work in the cafeteria, monitoring the collection of left-over’s at lunch time.
“We have teams that collect food scraps and teachers’ coffee grounds in the cafeteria,” said seventh grader Ryan Babcock. “We have two compost tumblers to compost the food into soil.”
Working in teams, the kids collect uneaten vegetables for the tumblers, but not meat, fish or cheese products. Babcock and seventh graders Ruby Jones and Alyssa Flagg, for example, comprised one team doing cafeteria duty. The tumblers sit outside the cafeteria doors and are turned five revolutions each day by team members.
“We had over 200 pounds of food,” said Flagg.
Indeed, the group eventually ran out of space in the original tumblers and began to take the food to the high school. “They have an earth tub composter, and they’re also composting,” said Mende.
The composting project isn’t the only thing the group has been working on. With a goal of reducing the school’s overall generation of solid waste, there are plenty of other things as well. “We also started collecting bottles and cans to get recycling money,” Babcock said. “In the past 18 months, we collected 11,000 aluminum cans and 12,000 plastic bottles.”
Some of their work is meant to educate their peers. “We collected milk cartons,” said Emma McDonough-Doane, an eighth grader. “They couldn’t be recycled but we collected them anyway and set them out front so people could see how many we used.”
Flagg noted that conservation involved everyone at the school. “We’re doing a little with energy by replacing the windows on the side of the building and outing motion detectors (to activate lights) I the gym,” she said.
“There’s also more efficient lighting in the cafeteria,” said Mende.
Mende noted that conservation was a school-district wide activity. Besides the composting at the high school, she noted that the Knowlton School had solar panels for energy and also operated a green house. That green house is where Mende’s team will get the seedlings for its garden plants.
“We’ll plant in early May,” said eighth grader Ashley Cox. “We’ll use seedlings and start from scratch.”
What happens to the garden after the school year ends? “We need to figure out who will take care of the garden when school’s out,” Mende said. “We’ll have a plan by June. This is a new undertaking. We haven’t done anything like this before.”
One thing, though, is likely. When the middle school kids dig in to their vegetables next fall in the cafeteria, they’ll know where they came from, the ultimate in locally grown food.
And for that, they can thank Mende and the 26 members of the Green Team at Noble Middle School.
Photo caption: The Noble Middle School Green Team hopes to grow vegetables in the school’s first ever garden this spring. (Courtesy photo)

High Art High Crime

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
“Paganini’s Ghost” is English author Paul Adam’s tenth novel that mixes history, intrigue, politics and music to make an addictive read.
Niccolo Paganini was a virtuoso violinist from nineteenth century Italy. Paganini won the affections of many women with violin compositions and skill that very few violinists to this day could master. His legend is tied in with the famed violin makers Stradivarius and Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri of Cremona, and most famously, with the devil himself.
Paganini’s talent and debaucheries had merited a legend that he sold his soul to the devil to play so well. While this is a fallacy, he had a past, and one particular lover, Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi (Napoleon’s married sister), who introduces a greater intrigue into this story.
All of this history is woven into the modern day mystery involving a missing Russian violinist, Yevgeny, whose overbearing mother stifles the creativity and youth from him. Violin maker and narrator Gianni Castiglione met the prodigy when Paganini’s famed violin “Il Cannone” had a cracked bridge, as a result, Yevgeny immediately formed a bond for the middle aged man.
After Yevgeny’s concert, what appears to be a miniature violin turns up missing from a golden box. Not long after, Yevgeny is also missing in action. Detective Antonio Guastafeste quickly contacts Castiglione to lead him through the intricate details of violin construction, unscrupulous local dealers, and the numerous biographies on Paganini, Elisa, and violin makers to unlock the clues that could break not only the case of the missing instrument, but a mystery that has loomed over the ages.
Castiglione and Guastafeste travel through Italy and head to Paris to find the ties that Paganini left to solve the case. First is the missing violin they cannot find any record of, then a piece of composition that is unknown to almost every Paganini scholar. Meanwhile, they are hounded by Yevgeny’s mother as an hour grows into days of his unknown whereabouts. Did he finally get fed up with her, or did the thief who cleaned out the safe kidnap him?
At times Adam inserts history in large chunks. Those who enjoy learning about the craftsmanship of violins, violin music, or European history will find these sidebars easy to read through. Adam hasn’t quite achieved the ability to weave the historical aspects of the story in seamlessly, but he still keeps the details interesting and pointed.
Everything down to a safe combination refers back to one of Paganini’s compositions, and former music students would marvel at Castiglione’s knowledge of transposition to crack that code. But for those who just like a good mystery that has interesting characters, this novel will suit them just as well. A well-plotted and intriguing caper that only occasionally lags in pace, this book comes highly recommended.
Photo caption: Cover of Paganini’s Ghost by Paul Adams (Courtesy photo)

YCCC Inducts 23 Students into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society

York County Community College recently held the induction ceremony of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, where they honored 23 students for their outstanding academic records and achievements. The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society requires the following qualifications of its members: each member must be matriculated in an associate degree program, carry a minimum of six credit hours per semester, have earned at least 12 credits at YCCC in an associate’s degree program, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25, and in order for each member to maintain their membership, they must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 and carry six credit hours per semester.
The mission of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society is to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students, and to provide opportunities for individual growth and development through participation in honors, leadership, service and fellowship programming. Today, Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education and is the official honor society for two-year colleges.
The new inductees are: Stephanie Bryant of Kennebunkport, Emily Downs of Kennebunk, Bryce Fountain of Cape Neddick, Marco Harding of Old Orchard Beach, Tyler Hobbs of Wells, Ashley Kadlik of Kennebunk, Brian Kurlycheck of Kennebunk, Jessi Lamontagne of Wells, Zachary Lemire of Eliot, Dorota McKay of Saco, Amber Meagher of York, Elizabeth Murphy of Kennebunk, Kelsey Palmitessa of Sanford, Samantha Parkhouse of Kittery, Michael Penna of Moody, Kelsey Quint of Wells, Robyn Reeves of Wells, Bianca Sturchio of North Berwick, Lily Sullivan of South Berwick, Brittany Thompson of Biddeford, Ted Trafton of Wells, Valerie Vrettos of Wells, Gao Xiong of Augusta. Also inducted as an honorary member, was Joseph Foster, YCCC Adjunct Faculty member.
York County Community College, established in 1994, is one of seven community colleges in the Maine Community College System. The college enrolls over 1,000 students in associate degrees and transfer programs and over 1,600 individuals in non-credit continuing education and professional development areas.
Photo caption: YCCC has inducted 23 students into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. (Courtesy photo)