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CBHS Juniors To Explore Katahdin Region Ecology

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CBHS Juniors To Explore Katahdin Region Ecology
Posted on 03/28/2019
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Casco Bay High School 11th-graders are about to journey to the Katahdin region, seeking an answer to this question, “What is my relationship to, and responsibility for, our rapidly changing world/planet?”

The students’ trip, which will run from April 6-12, is their Junior Journey. Each year, CBHS  11th-graders go on a one­week, cross­cultural learning experience to expand students’ sense of the world and who they are through service and adventure learning.

In some years, the juniors have gone out of state, traveling to West Virginia, Mississippi, New York City and Detroit to assist in community improvement efforts, while also telling the inspirational stories of locals through oral histories and brief films.

Last year, the Katahdin region was chosen because of the many economic, environmental, cultural and political stories there. This year, the students are headed back to the same region, where they will perform community service, do some adventuring and also conduct an ecological investigation of the region.

They plan to do a case study of the Penobscot River Basin, gathering data about water quality and ecosystem health. They’ll travel to various sites in the basin. For example, students will sample water and conduct habitat assessments as close to the headwaters of the Penobscot as they can in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. They’ll also explore the river further downstream where the ecosystem has experienced significant strain, in Millinocket as well as on and around Indian Island, the primary island of the Penobscot Nation’s reservation land (penobscotnation.org).

Also, said CBHS science teacher Jacque Kutvirt, “students will reflect on each of their personal roles as actors in an ecosystem – building a foundation to consider our relationships with the land. Before we embark on this learning expedition, students have been building background knowledge around the science of papermaking, how water quality impacts the living organism in and around rivers, lakes and oceans, and the many reasons why water quality is important for people of Maine.”

She continued, “Ultimately, students will share two days with the Penobscot Nation’s Water Resources Program to learn about the science they do to protect, enhance, and restore water quality of the Nation’s territories so that tribal members may fully carry out tribal traditional cultural practices and lifeways. CBHS wants to acknowledge that we are in the Wabanaki homeland. We are honored to collaborate with the Wabanaki as they share their stories."

Kutvirt added, “On the days when students are not out in the field doing water quality science, they will have the opportunity to explore communities that are adapting to changes in the paper industry and also to explore the incredible outdoor beauty of the Katahdin Region. Back at Casco Bay, students will synthesize their data and experiences and apply their deepened ecological understanding to our community here in Portland.”

As a community service project, the CBHS juniors will be partnering with Our Katahdin, a nonprofit working to promote community and economic development in the area. The students will help renovate a large abandoned building in downtown Millinocket, to assist in transforming it into two new storefronts and a community meeting space for local organizations. The goal of the renovation is to help boost the local economy.

During their Junior Journey, CBHS students plan to host a community event at Stearns High School in Millinocket, celebrating the partnership between that school and CBHS. The free event, which will be held on Tuesday, April 9, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., will include an update on this year's Junior Journey as well as a screening of the documentary that CBHS students made after last year's Junior Journey. Titled “199 Miles: Stories from the Katahdin Region,” the documentary features the stories of 24 local residents.

A more condensed version of that same documentary will be premiering on Maine Public Television as part of its Community Film Series on April 11 at 10 p.m. and on April 13 at 11 a.m.


CBHS Junior Journey 2019 poster