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Staff & Community Newsletter - Dec. 7, 2023


Board Inauguration Held Dec. 5

One returning Board member, two new members and six student representatives were sworn in at the Portland Board of Public Education’s Dec. 5 Inauguration ceremony. The Board also voted for Sarah Lentz to serve for the second time in a row be the Board’s new chair for the coming year and for Abusana “Micky” Bondo to again be vice chair for a second year.

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Be Here! Every Day Counts!

Woo-hoo, students! You’ve just passed the first trimester of this school year. There’s lots more learning to come, so make sure you are here in school every day. You’ll get many positives from being in school – not just academic success but being part of the school community and developing traits like curiosity, creativity and responsibility. 

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Snow Day Plans 2023-2024

It's the time of year in Maine to expect snow storms and other types of inclement weather events. In advance of the changes in the weather, Superintendent Ryan Scallon presented the Portland Public Schools' snow day plans for the 2023-2024 school year to the Board of Public Education meeting at its Nov. 14 meeting. Here are the details:

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First page of the PDF file: Pre-KInfoNight2024Flyer_1

The Portland Public Schools offers high quality pre-kindergarten programming in both Portland Public Schools' buildings and at partnership sites. Children are eligible if they turn 4 years old on or before October 15, 2024. Children are placed in Pre-K slots in their neighborhood schools or at partner sites, based on our Pre-K lottery process. 

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Mural by Wabanaki Artist Enhances Rowe School

A new mural at Rowe Elementary School promotes learning and beautifies the school, according to Rowe art teacher Jean Rank.

Marissa Joly, a Wabanaki artist and recent graduate of the University of Southern Maine, collaborated with Rank to create the mural, which was painted by Joly and funded through a grant from the Foundation for Portland Public Schools. The mural was completed this past summer, in time for the 2023-2024 school year.

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King Mural Celebrates Diversity and Inclusion

An informal “unveiling” of a new Flag Mural at King Middle School took place Nov. 29  during a family multicultural potluck at the school.

The colorful mural, covering the length of an entire hallway along the front corridor of the school, was designed and painted by parent volunteer Lucy Bergen, a local muralist and sign painter, with the help of King students. The mural is a patchwork of flags that spell out the phrase: “WE ARE THE FUTURE.” 

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Rising Tide 2023 Winners

The Rising Tide Leadership program, which provides pre-college summer program experiences for Portland Public Schools students from immigrant families, is now in its sixth year and final year. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the program recently awarded five $5,000 scholarships to PPS high school students from immigrant families.

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 Student Art on Display at Central Office

The district has begun hosting student art shows at Central Office, located at 353 Cumberland Avenue. The first show opened on Dec. 1, coinciding with the city’s First Friday Artwalk. The show features the work of talented students from Deering and Portland high schools as well as PATHS; King Middle School; and East End, Longfellow, Presumpscot, Reiche, Rowe and Talbot elementary schools. As with any of our student art shows, this exhibit also serves as a way to showcase the important teaching ongoing  in PPS art classes by our amazing art teachers. 

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In Memoriam: Lado Ladoka

The Portland Public Schools expresses deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lado Ladoka, 44, a leader in Maine's South Sudanese community, who was killed Dec. 2 in an explosion while working on an oil burner in his New Gloucester home. After coming to the United States as a refugee from southern Sudan in 1995, he attended Portland High School before graduating from the University of Southern Maine and then going on to earn a master’s degree in development policy and practices from the University of New Hampshire, according to an obituary in the Portland Press Herald.

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George Lucas Educational Foundation's Edutopia: Making Meaning of High School With Self-Reflection

In many high schools, only the top few highest-performing students get the chance to give a speech sharing a reflection on their school journey. But at Casco Bay High School, in Portland, Maine, every graduating senior experiences this opportunity.

Through a series of introspective writing exercises, students craft a speech to deliver to an audience of classmates, family, and the greater school community that helps them make meaning of their four years of high school and look to the future with confidence. The result is a powerful, joyful event—and an established rite of passage that the school’s younger students look forward to.

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Portland Press Herald: Football: Portland stuns Oxford Hills with late TD to win Class A North, 29-22

The play wasn’t designed to produce a touchdown. But Portland High sophomore Cordell Jones had other ideas. Sure, the play call was about as basic as it comes: Take a direct snap and run up the middle, and, in all likelihood, let the clock run out and take your chances in overtime against Oxford Hills.

But Jones saw the possibilities with about 30 seconds left and the game tied. “Every time I get a chance to touch the football and have my offensive line in front of me, I’m very confident in them to make big plays,” Jones said. “All of them made great blocks and allowed me to break off a (76-yard) touchdown run and get this game over with.”

Jones banged through a tackle attempt about eight yards after the line of scrimmage and raced through open space for the final score in a wild 29-22 victory Saturday as the top-seeded Bulldogs won the Class A North football championship at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

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Deering High School's Winter Concert on December 14!

Deering High School invites you to a captivating Winter Concert on Dec. 14!. Led by Music Director Julianne Eberl, the PPS High School Orchestra will showcase a diverse repertoire featuring the talents of District 2 and All-State festival participants. From the lively "Reggae Jingle Bells" to the classical allure of Beethoven's "Allegretto from Symphony No. 7," the orchestra's performance reflects the school's dedication to cultivating musical excellence.

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Apply for the 2024 Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative!

Schools and community-based organizations can now apply for the 2024 Maine Outdoor Learning Initiative grants through the Maine Department of Education (DOE). Applications are due by Jan. 12, 2024. These grants support hands-on, engaging, interdisciplinary outdoor learning and career exploration opportunities that connect students with Maine’s amazing natural environments and landscapes. Read more.

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Nominations Open for Exceptional English Language Arts and Literacy Teachers

The Maine Council for English Language Arts (MCELA), an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English, announces the Claudette and John Brassil Distinguished Educator Award.  The purpose of this award is to recognize exceptional English language arts and literacy teachers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching, contributed to the profession, and shown a commitment to the community. The award is open for nominations until December 10, 2023. Teachers may be nominated by a supervisor or a teaching peer. Learn more.

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‘Live and Teach in Maine’ Campaign Launches!

The Maine Department of Education (DOE) and Live and Work in Maine have partnered to launch a nationwide Live and Teach in Maine campaign to attract educators to the state and strengthen the education profession. The multifaceted campaign includes a highly targeted advertising effort, new videos highlighting teachers who have chosen to make Maine their career destination, and events in-state to welcome, connect, and celebrate educators. 

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Parent University 4th Grade Health Curriculum Overview

This upcoming Parent University session will offer an overview of the three-lesson fourth-grade health curriculum, which outlines the physical, social, and emotional changes that come in puberty. Also discussed will be why teaching this material is important, and what we can do together to partner to ensure a successful experience for your child. Join us on Thursday, Jan. 18, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Talbot Community School!

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Upcoming Events

High School Walkthrough
Saturday, December 9th

Pre-K Information Night
Thursday, January 4th
Pre-K Lottery
Application Opens
Monday, January 8th
High School Preference
Form due
Friday, January 12th
4th Grade Health
Curriculum Overview
Thursday, January 18th