Staff & Community Newsletter - Feb 8, 2024
Portland has two amazing opportunities in 2024 to apply for funds through the Maine Department of Education to reimagine and consolidate our high schools, our career and technical high school (PATHS), Portland Adult Education, and post-secondary partnerships into a cutting edge, 9-16 learning environment on one campus. This new campus would offer exciting opportunities for Portland students.
We recognize that students, staff, alumni, and community members love our schools and feel a deep loyalty to each one. We understand that the idea of merging them into one or several new academies on one campus may evoke a sense of loss. However, our plan calls for honoring each school’s legacy by building on the strengths of each to create a high school learning experience that provides more rigorous classes, wider class options, improved facilities, increased access to early college and career preparation, and enhanced resources for visual and performing arts.
The Portland Public Schools formally kicked off our budget season with a public forum this week on Tuesday, Feb. 6. We presented factual information about the budget outlook for the 2024-2025 school year (also known as fiscal year 2025 or FY25) and we heard important feedback from community members. If you missed the budget forum, catch up on YouTube HERE.
We will have an initial budget proposal on March 5, when Superintendent Ryan Scallon will present his recommended FY25 school budget to the Portland Board of Public Education.
Joshua Chard, a second- and third-grade looping teacher at East End Community School, was named the 2024 Maine Teacher of the Year last fall. Now he’s starting off the new year by sharing his insights about teaching in a Q&A with the Maine Department of Education. Find out why this veteran educator still loves teaching – one reason is that he gets “to be playful and joyful all day long with a bunch of small people” – and also how being Deering High School’s drama director helps him in the classroom. Learn more.
Anonymous donors have given the Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) a $50,000 matching donation to launch the Ed Feeney Athletics Fund, named after retired Portland High School girls basketball coach Ed Feeney. When Portland Public Schools coaches, teachers, or school social workers learn of a student who lacks basic athletic gear to play sports, the Foundation can now purchase that gear for students.
The Foundation is accepting further donations to the Ed Feeney Athletics Fund to assist even more students. All gifts will be matched dollar for dollar.
Rowe Elementary School recently added a student art showcase to its lobby. Teacher Rene Custeau provided the following write-up:
If you've walked in the Rowe Elementary School lobby recently, you might have noticed something eye-catching right at the front – our very own art display. It's like a burst of colors led by Jean Rank, our wonderful art teacher. There's a bit of everything – paintings, drawings, you name it. And it's all about what the students wanted to do.
What does it look like when schools commit to play-based learning, even at the middle and high school levels? To find out, Edutopia, a website that celebrates and encourages innovation in K–12 schools, set off on a journey throughout the United States and the world. From Denmark to Scotland to Portland, Maine, Edutopia found that play opens students up to all kinds of learning opportunities, and the benefits extend to teachers too.
A group of talented young voices at Rowe Elementary School comes together once a week during recess, forming an extraordinary musical chorus led by dedicated music teacher Aidan Boardman. This group has not only become a source of joy for the students, but is now gearing up for a special performance: singing the national anthem at an upcoming Maine Mariners game, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on March 5.
"Seeing With New Eyes: Portraits & Poetry," an interdisciplinary exhibit rooted in poetry, social-emotional learning (SEL) and the visual arts, opened at Lyseth Elementary School on Feb. 5. This vibrant and immersive exhibit invites the community to experience students' emotions, experiences with nature, and artistic expression.
Side x Side is celebrating its 10th year of supporting Portland Public Schools students and teachers through arts integration programs that consistently demonstrate positive outcomes, fostering student growth, improving academic achievement, and enhancing social-emotional development.
East End staff built collective efficacy and had fun participating in the Oakhurst/Holy Donuts donut-on-a-string eating contest on January 20. “Congratulations to Aaron Archer (Winner), Amy Reed (runner up) as well as Dacia Desautels and Samuel Carignan,” said Principal Boyd Marley.
On Jan 12, Deering High School students participated in Model UN—an academic simulation where they address global issues as they embody the roles of delegates from different countries. We commend these students’ commitment to learning, supporting, and honing crucial skills for humanity's betterment.
Students at King Middle School were surprised and excited recently by a free gift made possible by the generosity of Maine Needs. On Dec. 21, the last day of school before winter break, students were given the chance during their scheduled lunch to visit the "toy room" that magically appeared on the stage of the cafeteria.
Casco Bay High School 10th-graders have been studying the plight of refugees worldwide and recently held presentations at the school to share what they have learned. The students’ Beyond Borders Symposium took place during the evenings of Jan. 30 and 31 and was attended by fellow students and families, as well as members of the Portland Public Schools community.
Bangor Savings Bank is supporting the launch of a new Halal School Meals Network, recently donating a $7,500 check to the Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) to aid in the effort across Portland, South Portland and Westbrook public schools. Here’s a statement from FPPS regarding this project :
The CTE Experience class at the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) recently raised $140 through a raffle of cutting boards they made. They donated the money to The Tree Street Youth in Lewiston and The Alliance of Homeless Veterans, according to Jill Irving, CTE Experience instructor at PATHS.
Check out this Portland Press Herald story featuring Portland High School girls' basketball coach & teacher Abby Hasson. She and her mother, South Portland coach Lynne Hasson stand out as role models and mentors at a time when most girls' basketball coaches are men. "Mother and daughter courting success for girls basketball in Maine"
PPS IN THE PRESS
If methane were personified as a villain, what would it look like? Maybe a sinister figure, manipulative and cunning, with a malicious charm, able to stay invisible and undetectable? Perhaps there’d be an entire origin story, an arch nemesis, and an evil agenda. It’s the kind of project a student could really get into.
In his January column in The Forecaster, Superintendent Ryan Scallon gives an update on efforts to develop a new strategic plan and features some innovative student service projects.
At the Class A North Regionals on Feb. 3 in Augusta, Portland High School cheerleaders finished in 8th place and qualified for the State Cheerleading Championships at the Augusta Civic Center at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10.
Feb. 5-9 is National School Counseling Week this year. This week is a time to recognize and celebrate the unique contribution of school counselors within school systems. National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have in helping students achieve school success and plan for a career.
A special ceremony was held at the Portland Expo on Feb. 1 to honor longtime Portland High School educator and public address announcer Pete Gribbin, as the 84-year-old retired from being the “voice of Portland High School.
Congratulations to Deering High School's Winter Sports 2023-24 SMAA All-Academic Team! The Southwestern Maine Activities Association (SMAA) recognizes student-athletes for their achievements in sports and academics.
Casco Bay High School’s student literary magazine, “The Blue Heron,” has earned a First Class award from the Recognizing Excellence in Art and Literary Magazines (REALM) program, run by the National Council of Teachers of English.
A student in the groundbreaking cybersecurity program at the Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS) has achieved a significant milestone by passing the CompTIA CySA+ Certification Exam, making him the first PATHS student to accomplish this feat. The program also has an outstanding instructor.
FEBRUARY BREAK OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS
February break this year is Feb. 19-Feb. 23. Here are some fun opportunities for students during the break
EVENTS & OPPORTUNITIES
On Feb. 10, young actors from Casco Bay High School, Bowdoin College and the University of Southern Maine will present testimonies written in 2010 by teens who lived through war in Gaza. They said the words need to be heard now more than ever.
Looking for a place to cheer on some of PPS high schools’ most enthusiastic athletes? Come to a Unified Basketball game. Unified Basketball is a sport co-sponsored by the Special Olympics and Maine Principals’ Association.
Portland Public Schools Alumni & Friends, a project of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, is launching a Distinguished Alumni Award this spring. The 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes Casco Bay, Deering, and/or Portland High School graduates who have notably distinguished themselves in some aspect of their life.
Nominate an outstanding teacher in our community for the 2024 National History Teacher of the Year! Each year, Gilder Lehrman recognizes first-rate K-12 teachers who find creative ways to bring history to life in their classrooms. Winners are selected from each state and US territories and become finalists for the national award. State winners will receive $1,000 each.
Who do you know whose story should be heard? Who has inspired you – and would inspire all of us if we knew them and their story? Casco Bay High School juniors are looking for people in the Portland area to interview and then showcase and honor in a live performance presentation.
The Mitchell Institute awards scholarships each year to graduating students from Maine’s public high schools as they pursue higher education.
Recipients of the Mitchell Scholarship represent public high schools from every community in Maine, and each Mitchell Scholar receives a scholarship award for $10,000 that is paid in four equal installments of $2,500.
Opportunity for Students in Grades 8 – 11: Do you know any teens who want to build leadership skills while making a difference in their community? The United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is now accepting applications for its Youth Preparedness Council.
Here’s a message from Maine Public radio and television, posing a challenge to high school students to share their stories about climate change through “Future Driven: a Youth Climate Story Challenge:”
Otto’s third “Draw Outside of the Box” contest, gives students in kindergarten through grade 12 a chance to see their design featured on thousands of OTTO pizza boxes across New England. The winner of the K-12 category will also win their school $1,000 to support art education and more!
Breakwater School in Portland is offering a weekly, multicultural, multilingual enrichment program beginning Saturday, February 24. This program is for students in K-8th grade and runs Saturdays from 8 am to 3:30 pm. Lunch service is available & transportation (bus) stops in Portland & Westbrook will be provided according to families' needs. Please see this flyer for more details on registration.
Here’s a message from the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, inviting you to contribute to their “Bedside Table” feature on the Sunday books page in the newspaper:
The district is hosting a second student art show on March 1, the date of the First Friday Artwork. Parents and other community members are invited to attend from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Central Office, located at 353 Cumberland Avenue.
February 26 to March 15
Parent Survey Opens
Make It Happen Black History Month Art Show
March 1, 2024
9 am to 6 pm
FY25 Budget Presentation
March 5, 2024
March 8, 2024