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RSU #71 News from the PR Committee

posted Apr 9, 2018, 12:40 PM by Betty Lu Davis   [ updated Apr 9, 2018, 12:42 PM ]

February 2018

Greetings residents of RSU 71 (Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Searsmont, & Swanville):  As chair of the RSU 71 School Board, I want to share with readers a description of efforts and events taking place at our district schools:

The Captain Albert Stevens School (CASS) 5th-grade experienced a cozy restaurant-styled event (complete with virtual fireplace, snacks and music) in the library filled with the Maine Student Book Award (MSBA) winner and nominee books. Students rotated through three tables filled with books to preview and each student was able to sign out a MSBA book. As part of the LabVenture! Program, CASS 5th-grade students visited the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland to learn about becoming scientists and about the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. 

At Troy Howard Middle School (THMS) this month, 7th graders in social studies and the garden program are interviewing local people about the history of local agriculture: farmers of veggies, Christmas trees, goats, flowers, oysters, llamas, mushrooms, chickens and micro greens, as well as lobsterman, loggers and beekeepers, focusing on what they do, why they do it and how the world of agriculture is changing. Stay tuned for the podcasts of the interviews soon to be released, broadcast live on Belfast Community Radio and streaming on the internet.

The district now has official Chess Clubs at both the high school and THMS with engaged student participation and teacher coaches. Practicing is underway for the Maine State Chess tournament held in March. THMS held its school competition of the National Geographic Bee (an eighth grader won) which includes for the winner a chance at a $50,000 college scholarship. This is the first round in the 30th annual National Geographic Bee, a geography competition designed to inspire and reward students’ curiosity about the world. 

In collaboration with the Belfast Soup Kitchen and the Technical Ed program, the 6th grade general music class is making and playing diddley-bows, a single-stringed instrument that originated in the rural South and had a major influence on American blues and rock music. Students are using scrap lumber provided by the Tech Ed Program and soup cans from the Belfast Soup Kitchen for the project, building student connections to the local community.

The THMS job shadowing program for 8th graders is underway helping s
tudents get exposure to real life options for careers, and explore their interests before actually seeking a job. And, social studies classes are studying the UN Sustainable Goals and fundraising (through DonorsChoose and GoFundMe) to buy UN classroom posters. Soon 8th graders will be getting out into the community to promote the Global Goals, part of THMS’s effort to become globally competent (investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate with diverse audiences, and take action.) For sustainability podcasts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iqo6b9JkWMU&list=PLfDyas-1XLrWXB8pL7zc9uYb3V7Kf8-0G&index=2; for more 8th grade events: https://sites.google.com/rsu71.org/8thgradeexploration/whats-happening  


The THMS Academic Audit has been completed; it examines classroom experiences of students and teachers through data gathering, focus groups, and analysis. The Audit has resulted in recommendations to address the findings and provides a rich supply of information to guide and implement future action plans in many areas including school academic schedule, development of common routines and structures, and professional development and planning.

Belfast Area High School (BAHS) is in intense preparation for the  final phases of New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) Accreditation process (occurs every 10 years) which includes a review of many aspects of school performance and culminates with visit from the NEASC Accreditation team in early March. BAHS also continues to address findings of its 2017 Academic Audit and to work toward school goals of keeping students at the very center, improving relationships and providing active learning.  BAHS is piloting a change to the academic schedule that includes several periods a week of longer time frames (75 minutes) and is alert to the need for common teacher planning time and increased professional development. The preliminary construction schedule has been set and bidding begun for Phase 2 of high school improvements, including: a 2-story addition in place of old energy-wasting “math-wing” to provide improved classroom space and new home for Central Office, revamping of sports locker rooms and corridor space, and replacement of the entry canopy.

BAHS has begun a Students of the Quarter program; students are nominated and voted on by BAHS students. Qualifications include demonstrations of communication, social responsibility, ethical integrity, perseverance, respect for diversity, self-reliance and problem-solving. Students are recognized at quarterly all-school “Spotlight on Core Values” assemblies.  A first ever AP (Advanced Placement) Summit will be held Feb 15th—for students enrolled or planning to enroll in BAHS AP classes, AP teachers and parents/guardians. The Summit will include lunch, small group sessions and discussions of goals, AP class process and test preparation plans.

On February 27 senior members of the BAHS modern band will be performing for a Maine Arts Commission hosted statewide luncheon on the economic impact of Maine’s arts and cultural sectors. Students will be performing five pieces by diverse composers-- Dire Straits, The Fray, Johnny Cash, Of Monsters and Men, and Coldplay.   Seven THMS and six BAHS students auditioned and were selected to perform at the Kennebec Valley Music Education Association Festival in February with a final concert on Saturday the 3rd to show off the students’ musical accomplishments. And, four BAHS students auditioned and were selected to perform at the All-State Music Festival this May 17-19 at UMaine. For tickets to the All State Concert: http://mainemmea.org/2017-state-info/


Students at Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education (BCOPE) have been participating in community service by pitching in to move and stack wood at the Searsmont Waldo County Woodshed, http://waldocountywoodshed.org/index.htm . The Searsmont location is one of seven in the greater Waldo County area. The Woodshed is a non-profit program providing wood for anyone needing heating assistance.

So much going on in our schools. For information on these programs, sports events and more, please go to the district website (www.rsu71.org) and/or the websites of the individual schools. Our schools work hard for the children and families of the district!

Caitlin Love Hills
Chair, RSU 71 School Board