News About WOCSD

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Wells-Ogunquit CSD hosts its 30th Literary Achievement Awards Ceremony and recognizes the program’s past and present organizers

posted May 10, 2016, 3:37 AM by Michael Richards

The Wells-Ogunquit Community School District featured its 30th Annual Literary Achievement Awards Ceremony at Wells Elementary School on April 28th.   Fifty-nine Kindergarten through twelfth grade students were recognized for their writing, previously judged anonymously to be the best out of 260 entries submitted in February.

The top prize of $500 was awarded to Wells High School Senior, Seamus McDonough, for an untitled and inspirational essay reflecting upon a childhood toy--a purple dinosaur named Barney--originally belonging to his deceased brother.  Since McDonough was unable to attend, his essay was read by Ryan Liberty from the Wells Rotary Club.  About 250 were in the audience including members of the Wells and Ogunquit Rotary Clubs.  Both of these community service organizations and the Steakhouse in Wells are sponsors of the Literary Achievement Program.

“I found all of the stories well written and engaging,” commented Liberty.  “In particular, the winning 12th grade story that I read was a powerful and profound story of a family’s tragedy turned inspirational.  Many in the audience remarked that it touched them.”

In 1986, Ocean National Bank President David Page along with then WOCSD Superintendent Bob Kautz, and then District Business Manager William Dionne Jr. created the program.  Mr. Page, now deceased, was represented at the 30th anniversary by his wife Barbara, a former teacher at Wells Elementary School now currently a supervisor in the University of Southern Maine’s ETEP program.

“I am just so proud to be here tonight,” said Barbara Page. “And I know my husband would be so proud to know this has been carried on for 30 years and it doesn’t look like there is any end to it at all.”  Page stressed that this writing, non-athletic event is a “wonderful program”.

Some of those who worked on the Literary Achievement Awards at one time or another during its 30-year history were mentioned at the ceremony including Diana Abbott, Audrey Grumbling, Tari Matthews and Lynn Mercier.  Current Co-chairs of the LAA program Maryanne Foley and Reg Bennett were recognized formerly for their 14 years of work with this program at the District’s School Committee meeting on May 4th. 

Among Rotary Club members present at the ceremony were Cassie Mosher and Ryan Liberty from the Wells Rotary Club plus Erin Haye, Ed Seppa and Joe Boyle from the Ogunquit Rotary Club.  Liberty and Seppa helped with handing out prizes and Haye greeted guests at the door. 

The LAA ceremony was video recorded for cablecast on Time Warner Channels 3 in Wells and Ogunquit for times and dates to be announced.
2016 Award Winners
Students who placed first in their respective grade categories in the 2016 Literary Achievement Awards. 

Wells High School honors its newest champions

posted May 3, 2016, 11:51 AM by Michael Richards

Wells High School hosted its third Breakfast of Champions of the 2015-2016 school year on April 8th.  Seven staff members and 13 students were recognized for excellence in their positive contributions to Wells High School.  Those selected to receive this honor are generally nominated by a coach, teacher or staff member based upon a variety of criteria including accomplishments, academic progress, positive contributions and demonstrations of excellence in school.  Those nominated include students, teachers, secretaries, custodians, and others.

Those invited included Isaac Henry Michaud, Ben Campbell, Brooke Verge, Matthew Healey, Sam Sayward, Madison Szczygiel, Olivia Durfee, Joshua Yee, Ivy Pevear, Macy Austin, Olivia Clay, Mitchell Hanagan, and Jacob Jarman.  Staff recognized included Pat Casey, Sandra Hewitt, Kelsey Tessier, Cindy Roche, Eileen Sheehy and Josh Gould. 

After the breakfast, each of the above received a certificate, plaque and a t-shirt with lettering reading “Recognized for Excellence”.  Presenters were Principal Eileen Sheehy, Assistant Principal Josh Gould, and Director of Student Activities, Jack Molloy.  This event is held in honor of students, staff and community members whose service and /or generosity has enriched Wells High School.  Likewise, students who have gone above and beyond or contributed to the positive culture of Wells High School are also honored. 

Breakfast of Champions was started in October of 2007 by then WHS Principal and now WOCSD Superintendent James Daly.
Breakfast of Champions
In the photo are those recognized on April 8th as “Champions” at Wells High School

Szczygiel named Student-Athlete of the Month for February

posted Apr 28, 2016, 10:43 AM by Michael Richards

Wells High School sophomore Madison Szczygiel has been selected Student- Athlete of the Month for February 2016.  This award is in recognition of her academics, sportsmanship on and off the field and excellence in school sports including her running performances at the State Class B Indoor Track Meet at Bowdoin College and at the New England Championships in February.

Presenting a plaque to Szczygiel on April 6th was WHS Director of Student Activities Jack Molloy and Pamela Moody-Maxon of Moody Maxon Real Estate.   Szcygiel’s coach for the WHS Girls Indoor Track and Field Team is Jennifer Lewia.

"Madison is a very talented, hardworking and focused athlete and a joy to have on the team," commented Coach Lewia recently.

According to Lewia, Szcygiel, placed 4th in the 800mm run with a time of 2:27.36 at the Class B State Meet.  Finishing with that time qualified her for the New England Championships at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury Massachusetts.  There, Szcygiel ran the 1000mm Run and placed 23rd with a time of 3:15.15.   In doing so, she set a new WHS record for running the 1000mm.  Szcyzgiel also plays soccer and runs outdoor track for WHS.

Since there were no competitive sporting events scheduled for Wells High School athletes in March, school administrators decided to recognize “two” student athletes for Student-Athlete of the Month for February.   The first selected, and already reported on, was Nathaniel Hayward who received this distinction for winning the Class B State title for the 1-Meter Diving competition.

Cole Harrison Insurance Agency and Moody Maxon Real Estate are sponsors of the Student-Athlete of the Month award program at Wells High School.  It is the WHS administration that selects the recipients for this award.  Student-Athlete of the Month has been awarded to student athletes at WHS since 2007.
Athlete of the Month
From left to right is Jack Molloy, Madison Szczygiel, and Pam Moody-Maxon

Students put “compassion” in action by contributing to community agencies

posted Apr 22, 2016, 8:20 AM by Michael Richards

On February 29th, Wells Elementary School held an assembly focused on one of the school’s core values, “Compassion”.  This year the assembly was the culmination and celebration of a multi-donation endeavor focused on making a meaningful difference for others.  

Invited to the event were representatives of numerous local organizations including Atria Senior Living, Safe Haven Humane Society, York County Shelter, Wells-Ogunquit Community Outreach, the Animal Welfare Society, Maine Children’s Cancer Program, and St. Mary's Ecumenical Food Pantry.   Representatives from these entities explained what they do and the importance of what the children collected for them. 

According to WES Assistant Principal Ken Spinney, students contributed a variety of items.  Kindergarten students collected cat food, cat toys, blankets, paper towels and dishwashing detergent for Safe Haven Humane Society, first grade students collected socks and toiletry items for the York County Shelter, second grade students made valentines for and gave chocolates to residents of Atria Senior Living, third grade and multiage 1-2 students collected non-perishable food items for St. Mary’s Ecumenical Food Pantry, multi-age 3-4 and fourth grade students collected needed items for the Animal Welfare Society, and other fourth graders made cards for children at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland.  Other fourth grade classes collected dimes for Wells Community Outreach. 

 “I think it’s really important for children to give back to the community and to understand that anyone of us could have a time of need,” said Spinney. “I want them to be able to realize that we are very fortunate to give of ourselves to help each other out.”

According to Spinney, many “thank you” cards and letters had been received from the above mentioned agencies and guests since the assembly.  Messages of thanks have also been received at the school from the American Red Cross and the U.S. Army for the 70 care packages donated by WES students and sent to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington and to Landstuhl Medical Center in Germany last December. It should be noted that the York VFW donated $1,500 to ship those packages.  Spinney indicated that the “wonderful messages of gratitude” in the cards and letters were shared with the students.   

At this assembly, 23 students received the school’s Core Value award for the month of February 2016.    
compassion assembly
In the photo are guests who attended the Compassion Assembly. They are (rom left to right) Megan Cross (Animal Welfare Society), Diana Abbott. (Wells-Ogunquit Community Outreach), Shirley Haywood (Atria Senior Living), Eleanor Saboski (Safe Haven Humane Shelter), Joan Sylvester (York County Shelter), Paul Goyette (St. Marys Ecumenical Food Pantry), and Ken Spinney.  

McGee goes to school

posted Apr 19, 2016, 5:14 AM by Michael Richards

Wells Junior High School students now have a big, furry, four-legged friend to turn to should they ever need some nontraditional, nonjudgmental support away from the classroom.    And that friendly creature is ‘McGee’, a light colored golden retriever always at the ready to retrieve a ball or receive a hug and sit quietly with a student seeking refuge from a bad day at school or home.

“We all have those moments,” said WJHS Physical Education teacher Renee Savage who has been bringing McGee, a trained, certified therapy dog, to school to help students cope with a variety of emotions such as excess worry, stress or anxiety.  “He just calms you down,” Savage said of her dog turned therapist.  

Savage said she and McGee attended therapy dog training classes together and passed the therapy team test.  She added that they are now retested every two years.  As a team, the bulk of their work is actually away from school volunteering with Alzheimer’s patients in Dover and central Massachusetts.  According to Savage one of these patients spoke a few words for the first time in two years after McGee licked her hand.  
This spring, McGee has been coming to school Mondays and Thursdays to meet on a scheduled basis with three groups totaling 10 students primarily in Savage’s PE room or in the PE hallway.  These times with McGee include an intramural class after school. 

“They love it, they look forward to it,” said Erin Mansfield, a self-contained classroom teacher in the Bridges Room who sends two autistic students to be with McGee for a while each week. “One kid in particular knows what time is “McGee time,” added Mansfield. 

Savage has lots of success stories about McGee’s work but one instance at school stands out.   Shortly before a school field trip last June, a sixth grader appeared to Savage to be in emotional distress.  His condition was so intense that outside help was considered at one point by staff who were unable to calm the student.  However, before that could happen, McGee was called in to help.  Following twenty minutes with McGee, the student was able to relax and refocus enough to be able to board the bus for the field trip and remain calm for the rest of the week. 

“It was truly one of those amazing things in education where you get goose bumps and you’re like ‘wow’. That truly, truly worked,” said Savage of McGee’s help in that instance.  

Savage says her 6 year-old dog has lots of energy with the students but is exhausted by the time evening arrives, a time to rest up for another day on the job. 
Savage and McGee
PE teacher Renee Savage with therapy dog, McGee

Wells High School students lobby for the arts in Augusta

posted Apr 12, 2016, 10:31 AM by Michael Richards

On March 29, 2016, four Wells High School art students traveled to the Maine Statehouse in Augusta to meet with State legislators and advocate for the arts. The event was organized by the Maine Alliance for Arts Education in conjunction with Arts Advocacy Day.  

Acting as lobbyists, students Elana Fortin, Alyssa Loukola, Nick Maynard, and Sydnie Sayward, waited in the halls of the State Capital building for the opportunity to speak to their local State Senator and Representatives about the value they place on arts in their school.   Between the morning caucus and legislative meetings in the chambers, students connected with Senator Ron Collins and Representatives Robert Foley and Patricia Hymanson.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to meet these wonderful students representing the value of arts in our educational institutions,” commented Representative Robert Foley-R of Wells.  “I was pleased to receive their information and extend my support for continuing arts education in our classroom curriculums.”
WHS Arts Advocacy Day
From the left are Nick Maynard, Sydnie Sayward, Elana Fortin, and Alyssa Loukola

“Bikes for Books” visits Wells Elementary School

posted Apr 11, 2016, 3:25 AM by Michael Richards

What seven or eight year-old boy and girl wouldn’t like a brand new bike for summer?  It’s easy to assume that most would.   At an assembly on April 6th, Wells Elementary School first and second graders were introduced to the "Bikes for Books" bicycle giveaway program sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Maine and the Maine Masonic Charitable Foundation.

According to a program brochure this is a statewide initiative “to foster literacy programs in schools and encourage healthy exercise.”  In the next two months students who participate have a good chance to win a new bike through reading because in this contest, the more books a student reads the better his or her chances are of winning a bike are.

According to Bonnie Esty, a literacy teacher at WES and coordinator of the Bikes for Books program there, along with Claire Tusch of Ocean Lodge #142, participation in the program is “easy”.  Essentially a student reads a school approved book, fills out a slip that includes a brief book report and then places the form into a box in their classroom for a drawing later at a school assembly.  

The deadline for reading is June 10th.  During the week of June 13th a boy and a girl’s name will be drawn from each of the nine 1st and 2nd grade classrooms at WES.  

“The Masons will be providing 18 bikes with helmets and t-shirts,” commented Esty. “The drawings will take place in June just before school gets out.  This gives them about two months of reading!”  
Masons and WES posing for picture
From left are Claire Tusch, Bonnie Esty, WES Principal, Marianne Horne, Jake Wiggin and Dan Fink.  Wiggin and Fink are also Masons and are with the Bikes for Books program. 


posted Apr 7, 2016, 3:57 AM by Michael Richards

Effective July 1, 2016, Christopher Roche will be the new principal leading the way at Wells Elementary School. At tonight’s meeting, the WOCSD School Committee approved Superintendent James Daly’s nomination of Christopher Roche to fill the position vacated by retiring principal, Marianne Horne.

Currently, Mr. Roche is principal at R.D. Seymour Elementary School in Connecticut. Prior to that he was principal for five years in Texas where he earned professional recognition on the Val-Ed Vanderbilt Principal Survey and Texas A&M Social Processes Survey. He began his career in education as an ed tech and then taught second and third grade before going into a leadership role. Mr. Roche attended Sacred Heart University, graduated with a degree in Psychology, and attended Texas State University for education.

Mr. Roche demonstrated the attributes the Wells Elementary School community sought – his outstanding leadership abilities as an innovative and intuitive leader with a primary focus on the whole child; collaborative and distributive leadership style using strong communication with a common vision; dedication to positive school culture and core values; understanding of the value of parents as partners; expertise as an instructional leader with a deep understanding of current standards, assessment processes and the use of data; experience with the implementation of technology into curriculum as a tool and resource.

Mr. Wayne Johnson, former Superintendent of Port Aransas, TX stated, “In my 50 years in education, Chris Roche is one of the brightest young leaders I have ever met. His depth of commitment, drive, and passion for students is incredible.”

The search process began in February with a faculty meeting and a Wells Elementary PTSA meeting in order to gather input from stakeholders about the attributes desired in a new principal. Two committees were formed of highly respected teachers, parents, a school committee member, and administrators. The selection committee met in February and again in March to review applications. The Committee chose five candidates, all with prior principal experience, to interview. After a round of highly qualified interviews conducted by a separate
committee on March 22 and 23, two names were forwarded to Superintendent Daly for an additional interview and campus tour. Mr. Roche emerged as the outstanding first choice to lead Wells Elementary School.

An opportunity for faculty, staff, students, parents and members of the community to meet and welcome Mr. Roche to the Wells-Ogunquit community has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 12. There will be a meet and greet for faculty and staff from 3:15-4:00. Parents are invited to Wells Elementary School from 4:15 until 5:00. Mr. Roche will then meet with the School Committee and Leadership Team at 5:30. 

Caleb Heyland with his trophy and scholarship certificate

posted Apr 5, 2016, 10:54 AM by Michael Richards

In early March, Wells High School senior Caleb Heyland was part of a two-member team that won second place at the 2016 State of Maine Marine competition held by the Portland Yacht Services at the Portland Boat Show.  Several vocational schools participated in the contest sponsored by Universal Technical Institute (UTI) and Snap-On tools.

In competition, teams had to take a thirty-minute written exam followed by hands-on troubleshooting and repair of a defective electronic circuit board used to monitor and control various “critical systems” onboard a modern recreational boat.  These systems include the horn, fuel gauges, ignition, fuel sender and lights for the anchor and bow.  Besides completing a multiple choice test, placing in the contest required the repair work to bring the circuit board up to code in the fastest time.

For their efforts, Heyland and his teammate from Kennebunk received a trophy for their school, a personal trophy, a $2,500 scholarship from UTI and tools worth $125 from Snap-On tools.  

Heyland attends both Wells High School and the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS).  Each school day Heyland travels to Portland where he is enrolled in PATHS’ Recreational Marine Repair class.  This is Heyland’s second year studying at PATHS.

“Caleb has been focused on tinkering and fixing things since I met him when he was in 7th grade,” commented WHS teacher Cheryl Oakes.  “He has taken his passion for working on inventions, motors, engines and his family business and turned it into his future. He took the opportunity to attend PATHS…and turned that opportunity into learning skills which will help him in his career.”

Heyland says he enjoys working on his own 14-foot, 55 horse power motor boat that he takes out on Brandy Pond, Long Lake and Sebago Lake. 

Following graduation from WHS and PATHS in June, Heyland says he plans to work a year with his father in a family landscaping business before perusing any post high school education.
Heyland and his award
Caleb Heyland with his trophy and scholarship certificate

Wells-Ogunquit CSD presents proposed budget for FY17 at public meeting

posted Apr 4, 2016, 3:57 AM by Michael Richards

The Wells-Ogunquit Community School District presented its proposed $25.06 million FY17 operating budget at a public hearing at Wells Elementary School on March 30th.   The proposed figure represents a 2.95 percent increase ($718,922) over the previous year’s budget.   According to WOCSD Superintendent Jim Daly, the goal in this year’s four-month budget process was to keep any increase under 3 percent. 

With the WOCSD School Committee present, Superintendent Daly made initial comments explaining overall changes in the budget.  He then introduced Interim Director of Finance Jay Moore to explain results of this year’s budget process in more detail in a power point presentation.   Much like looking at a family budget, Moore examined revenues and expenditures.

According to Moore, the $25.06 million is lowered to $23,968,768 by subtracting expected revenues of $965,577 from the State of Maine, $100,000 from a District carryover fund balance, interest on bank account balances, Medicaid reimbursements and $30,000 from local non-tax revenue.  

The proposed budget expenditures less revenues would raise property taxes in Wells by .08 cents per thousand of a home’s value and .03 cents per thousand in Ogunquit bringing the total educational costs in a property tax bill to $6.26 per thousand in Wells and $3.98 in Ogunquit.   In other words, an area home valued at $300,000 would see a yearly tax increase of $24 in Wells and $9 in Ogunquit.  

This property tax formulation is based on home valuation and on student population per town.  Currently, almost 96 percent of the 1,293 students in the District are from Wells and about 4 percent from Ogunquit. 

Going forward the budget process takes the following steps.   On April 6th the School Committee will review, discuss and approve the budget in order to prepare the warrants for the May 4th School Committee meeting.   At its May 4th meeting, the School Committee is expected to approve the budget and issue a warrant calling for a budget meeting on June 1st.  On May 18th the District Budget newsletter will be mailed.  On June 1st there will be a budget meeting followed by the referendum vote at Wells Junior High School on June 7th. 
public hearing
At right is WOCSD Interim Finance Director Jay Moore presenting a power point presentation on the FY17 proposed budget.  School Committee Chair Helena Ackerson and other members of the School Committee are seated at left.

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