Friday, March 9, 2012

Governor LePage Welcomes Home Returning Marines


Governor Paul LePage welcomed home approximately 130 Marines and Sailors late in the afternoon on Wednesday, February 22, at the Portland International Jetport. The service men and women were assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Corps Forces Reserve. These Marines and Sailors returned home from a ten-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“It was an honor to welcome our men and women in uniform home from Afghanistan,” said Governor LePage. “It is important we recognize our service men and women, remembering that some make the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe at home. On behalf of all Mainers, I extend my sincerest thank you to these courageous service members, and their families for the sacrifice and commitment they have shown to our great state and nation.”

The Marines spent three months in California, where they underwent extensive pre-deployment cultural and counterinsurgency training. After the training, the Marines deployed to Afghanistan for seven months. They were assigned to NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan. The mission was focused on training Afghan Security Forces for the transition of security responsibilities from NATO to the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

This was the unit’s second deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; however it was their first deployment to Afghanistan. In 2003, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Noble Eagle. In 2006, the unit also deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Photo Caption: Governor LePage welcomes home one of nearly 130 Marines and Sailors at the Portland Int. Airport on Wednesday, February 22. (Courtesy Photo)

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with Stillson School of Irish Dance


Irish stepdancing has gained popularity in recent years and this unique dance form will again be celebrated on Saturday, March 10, 6:30pm, at the Dunaway Center in Ogunquit where Ogunquit Performing Arts will showcase stepdancers from the renowned Stillson School of Irish Dance, to followed by a screening of the delightful film, “Invitation to the Dance.”

The Stillson School of Irish Dance is under the direction of Carlene Moran Stillson ADCRG/TCRG. She is accredited by Ad Coimisium in Dublin, Ireland, and is a member of IDTANA (Irish Dancing Teacher’s Association of North America). Carlene has a long tradition of dancing, having started at the age of four.

In existence for nineteen years, the school is the only certified school of Irish dancing in the state of Maine and its dancers compete all over New England. They have placed in the New England Regional Irish Dancing Championships annually, and in competitions around the world. In addition to the dance performance, Carlene Stillson will discuss the history of the dance and the many different costumes worn by dancers. The dancers return to Ogunquit by popular demand.

Next, to add to the enjoyment of this special evening of dance, Ogunquit Performing Arts will screen “Invitation to the Dance,” with Gene Kelly at his finest. The multi-talented Kelly is director, choreographer and performer, and the film is unique in that there is no spoken dialogue. The characters perform their roles entirely through dance and mime. “Invitation to the Dance,” released in 1956, is an anthology consisting of three distinct stories, all starring Gene Kelly and featuring leading dancers of the era: Tommy Rall, Igor Youskevitch, Tamara Toumanova and Carol Haney. In addition, dancers from ballet companies of New York, Paris and Rome complete the cast of performers in this one-of-a-kind tour de force of dance. Five different composers provide the music.

The curtain time for this event is 6:30pm, with the performance of the Stillson stepdancers followed by a reception for the dancers; then the screening of the film, “Invitation to the Dance.” Admission is $5 and payable at the door the evening of the performance.

Photo Caption: Stillson dancers in their various colorful costumes will be performing Irish stepdances at the Dunaway Center, March 10, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. (Courtesy Photo)

Mills and Valente Become Finalists in National Merit Scholarship Program


In February, Wells High School seniors Michael Valente and Jesse Mills were notified that they had become finalists in the 57th Annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Each year, this program makes the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or PSAT/NMSQT available to high school juniors throughout the United States in order for them to compete for scholarship money. From the initial group of 1.5 million test takers, 16,000 of the highest 50,000 scorers are later picked to become Semifinalists. After additional screening, 15,000 emerge as finalists.

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), “more than half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.” In late May, Valente and Mills will learn if and how much scholarship money will be made available to them.

Mills is a member of the National Honor Society, the Math Team and plays club tennis, a non-varsity sport at WHS. Earlier in the school year Mills indicated that he would like to attend Haverford College. At present he is undecided about a college major. Mills is the son of Wesley 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. Last fall Valente indicated that he would like to attend Boston University or Tufts University to major in pre-med. Valente is the son of Dawn Valente of Wells.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation of Evanston Illinois. It is a non-profit corporation established in 1955. Scholarship money awarded by the NMSC comes largely from corporate and college sponsorship. According to NMSC’s website (, 10,400 students received 51 million in scholarships last year.

Taking the PSAT/NMSQT allows not only for the chance to receive a scholarship, but provides students with valuable experience for taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in their senior year.

Photo Caption: National Merit Scholarship finalists, Michael Valente and Jesse Mills. (Photo courtesy of Lillian Lagasse)