Staff & Community Newsletter - May 26, 2023
May 26, 2023
Dear Portland Public Schools families, staff and community members,
At our annual Seal of Biliteracy Ceremony this month, the Portland Public Schools had 66 Seal recipients this year – 40 percent more than last year and the most since we instituted this award in 2017. The Seal of Biliteracy goes to graduating seniors who achieve proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English. It’s great that the number of Seal recipients is growing because increasing the percentage of our students who graduate as multilingual is an important part of our district’s World Language Vision.
SCHOOL BOARD NEWS
While we continue to be very excited about our two superintendent finalists, we know folks in the community have questions about them and the process. This is a hugely important decision, so we want to address these questions head-on and help everyone have access to as much information as possible.
The City Council voted unanimously on May 15 to approve the FY24 budget recommended by the Portland Board of Education. The vote now sends the budget for the 2023-2024 school year to Portland voters on June 13. The budget balances fiscal constraints with reinvesting in core operations such as finance and human resources, while also investing in student-facing staff to support all students, including many newly arrived multi-language learners. It also is mindful of the tax burden on Portland residents during a time of high inflation.
The City Council unanimously approved the $143.8 million school budget for the 2023-2024 school year on May 15. The budget now goes to city voters for validation on Tuesday, June 13.
Coaches David Aguirre (Lyman Moore), Jack Monahan (King), Charlie Mull (Lyman Moore) and Geoff Slack (Lincoln) thoroughly enjoyed coaching our middle school students from across the district and of all abilities. Coaches were especially impressed by the ease at which our athletes and partners worked together in practice and in games.
Deering High School's participation in the Model UN conference at the University of Southern Maine campus earlier this month was a resounding success! The students demonstrated remarkable respect and engagement throughout the event. Notably, Deering had the largest delegation and several students received well-deserved awards. Special recognition goes to Kauther Hassan and Phat Thai for their Distinguished Delegate awards, Abdala Al-Hussaini for winning the Diplomacy Award as the best delegate, and Archie Rubin and Matthew Okulski for their Honorable Mention achievements. Teacher Tyler Jellison, Deering’s Model UN advisor, and other dedicated DHS staff provided invaluable support in making these students’ accomplishments possible.
Twin sisters Apiyo and Achen Charles, Class of 2020 Portland High School alums, graduated from Thomas College in May after just three years and now plan to pursue master’s degrees. The two were born in a refugee camp in Uganda. Read Waterville Sentinel story: South Sudanese sisters, born in Ugandan refugee camp, graduate from Thomas College
Watch story on WABI 5 TV: From refugees to Thomas College graduates
Students at Lincoln Middle School are participating in a Side x Side mural program in collaboration with art teacher Sara Gimeno and teaching artist, mapmaker, and geographer Molly Brown. With the theme “A Sense of Place,” students are reflecting on what makes them feel grounded in the local landscape and community and then helping Brown to design and paint a permanent mural for the school.
students took part in a Yellow Tulip Project focused on smashing the stigma around men's mental health in Maine. They worked with renowned photographer George Annan, a first generation Ghanaian-America based in Boston, to create photos that highlight the importance of young men destigmatizing conversations about mental health.
Lyman Moore Middle School students on May 20 hosted a middle school Model United Nations conference, organized in cooperation with the Model UN Club at Bates College. Approximately 50 student “delegates” from four Maine schools participated. “The event was a huge success. Lyman Moore students won several awards,” said social studies teacher David Hilton, who co-chairs the school’s Model United Nations Team.
Due to the four snow days held this school year (on Jan. 20 and 23, Feb. 28 and March 14), the last day of school for students will now be Wednesday June 21. The last day for teachers will be Thursday, June 22. These dates have been updated on the live District calendar . You can also view and download a PDF version of the yearly calendar on that page.
Coach Joel Costigan recently made a memorable visit to Rowe Elementary School, accompanied by four exceptionally talented Deering High School soccer players (two of whom are graduating and pursuing college-level play). The interaction between the fourth and fifth graders and these older athletes provided a valuable opportunity to discuss teamwork and athletic prowess. The DHS players were even able to communicate with students in Portuguese, French, and Lingala, and act as role models for what being a successful high school athlete looks like. This heartwarming event exemplified a spirit of community, education, and sportsmanship and is an example of students giving back to the community.
We are excited to announce the launch of Portland Public Schools Alumni and Friends – a free way for alumni and community members to stay connected and engaged in activities that strengthen our schools, and celebrate alumni achievements and accomplishments.
The district’s sixth annual Seal of Biliteracy Ceremony was held on May 17 at Deering High School. As Maine’s largest and most diverse school district, the Portland Public Schools is very proud of initiating this award. There were 66 Seal recipients this year – 40 percent more than last year and the most since the award began.
The Portland Public Schools recently joined The Education Collaborative’s (TEC) Student Data Privacy Alliance to demonstrate its commitment to student data privacy. Learn more.
East End Community School is planning a celebration for beloved crossing guard Danny Lowe on Thursday, June 1. Lowe, a young man with autism, has dedicated himself to helping students get safely across the intersection of North Street and Walnut Street since 2014. The school celebrated Lowe on June 1, 2022, and now the second annual “Danny Day” celebration will take place on that same date this year, from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.
Painting for a Purpose is a local nonprofit organization founded by teachers. It brings creative people together to paint whimsical decorative items that they sell to raise money to fund service-learning projects led by Portland Public Schools students who want to make a difference. Students receive up to $500 to put their idea into action. So far this school year, Painting for a Purpose has funded a wide variety of PPS students' amazing service-learning projects.
At the 2023 Maine Literary Awards on May 18, Deering High School senior Mayinga Mukinayi won the Youth Nonfiction Award for her piece "No Water, No Food: Thirteen Days in the Jungle." Her story was published in the Telling Room chapbook, "Between My Ribs."
Cyle Davenport, a Deering High School science teacher, is one of 10 educators throughout New England to win an inaugural Air and Space Forces’ Sentry Educator Award. The award recognizes educators who support Air Force Core Values of integrity, service and excellence.
Baleria Yugu is the 2023 recipient of the Portland High School Step Up Award. The Step Up Award at Portland High School provides funding for students in the Make It Happen! program who would otherwise have to forego school-year extracurricular opportunities in order to work after school and/or on weekends. Baleria, a rising junior at Portland High School, will receive $1,250 per semester until graduation for her last two years of high school. The Step Up Award was created by Ann and Bill Weber, parents of two Portland High School graduates.