Member Laura Pratt Honored

Laura Pratt

During their recent Grange Month meeting members of Valley Grange honored several long-time members. Grange Master Jim Annis presented a 75 year membership certificate to Laura Pratt of Guilford and said he “had to tell a story about her.” Annis went on to tell how “Sister Pratt” had served as Master for 23 years before deciding to retire. He unsuccessfully attempted to talk her into going for 25—a quarter of a century. Instead, he explained, he made the mistake of going out of town during Grange Elections and returned to find that he’d been elected Master.

Pratt did not, however, retire from the Grange and she’s continued to hold other offices and remains an active member. Grange members appreciate her sense of history and knowledge of the local grange and members past and present. During recent years, she’s been a popular addition to the “Words for Thirds” Dictionary Program Team. When the team visits area schools to present third graders with dictionaries, there’s always some fun (and sometimes a little math lesson) trying to figure out her age. There are not only many stories about her, she has many stories she can tell!

Annis noted that the Grange has a number “long time” members but stopped short of suggesting that Grange Membership contributes to a longer life. “But the fact remains, that most people maintain their membership – even if distance or health prevents them from being active.” The Grange has long been recognized as a family friendly organization with full membership and voting rights granted to anyone fourteen years or older.

Unable to attend but also receiving honors were Marilyn Harvey, 70 years; Dora Starbird, 70 years; and Carolyn and Richard Williams, 50 years. Those interested in starting a membership that may also last three-quarters of a century are urged to contact any Grange Member or download an application from this site!

Guilford Primary School Citizens Receive Award

Guilford— Valley Grange Master Jim Annis noted that while usually given to an individual, it seemed especially fitting this year to make Guilford Primary School the Grange’s Community Citizen of the year. Annis read from the certificate, “…in recognition of outstanding service to this community and mankind. Your dedication and personal involvement are gratefully and sincerely acknowledged…” and placed emphasis on personal involvement and dedication on the part of students, teachers, and parents. “Our work with the school gives us many opportunities to see the good work being done.”

Teachers, staff, and "alumni" respresenting the school at Valley Grange.

The Grange’s involvement with Guilford Primary School started with the familiar “Words for Thirds Program’ which provides every third grader with their own personal dictionary. Over the years the program has expanded to include “Bookworming” with Grangers visiting the school to listen to children read and the Newspapers in Education program which involves second and third graders using their creative and artistic skills to develop advertisements for the Grange. Several ads are selected and used by the Grange throughout the year.

This year the Grange voted to present their annual Community Citizen Award to the school to recognize their contributions to the community. Festivities at the April Meeting included a potluck supper and slide presentation featuring some of the school’s activities throughout the year.

Program Director Walter Boomsma noted that he was “self-appointed liaison between the school and the Grange” and thought that gave him the right to “break the rules” and make a special presentation. “We agreed tonight was not about any one person,” he said. “But in all my years of working with various organizations, I’ve never met an administrator more dedicated, more focused, more efficient, and just plain easy to work with than Principal Julie Orton.” Boomsma presented Orton with a Grange tote bag in appreciation for her help and indicated they would “try to fill it up with awards before the evening ends.”

Nearly everyone at the meeting jumped at the opportunity to honor the school in some way with formal and informal testimonials to the school and its teachers, staff, students and parents. Abbot Selectmen Jan Ronco and Corey Hill were present to proclaim a day in the school’s honor. Nodding to his family Hill noted that he had “one child who has attended the school, another currently attending and one who will and we consider ourselves very fortunate to live here and be part of Guilford Primary School. We picked the right place.”

Guilford Selectmen had earlier proclaimed the day “Celebrate Guilford Primary School Day.” Additional congratulations were received from Governor Baldacci and Congressman Mike Michaud. State Representative Pete Johnson from Greenville was on hand to present a legislative sentiment, noting the “important role local schools play in our communities and our future.”

Teachers in attendance expressed their appreciation not only for the recognition but also for the volunteer role Valley Grange plays at the school with programs like Words for Thirds and “bookworming,” noting that the kids get excited when they see a Granger and jockey for their turn to read.

S.A.D. 4 Superintendent Paul Stearns pointed out that while the building that currently houses the school will close at the end of this school year, “schools are a lot like churches… if a church building gets destroyed the church community doesn’t miss a meeting and we can expect the same to be true of Guilford Primary School.” Principal Orton reflected those sentiments noting that while there is some natural apprehension over the move, “most things will not change, including the programs we do in general and the ones associated with the Grange.”

Boomsma quickly responded, “Well I can promise you we’ll be there.”

Member Input Needed!

Community Service Chair Mary Annis notes that we have several scheduling conflicts with our Grange Month Community Service Project scheduled for next Saturday, April 24th… enough to consider rescheduling to a later date. (Dover Foxcroft Town Meeting and the Canoe Races are just two!)

Members, what do you think? Please send Mary an email or give her a call with your preferred date(s) and time… we need to make this decision soon!

Added note: This has been postponed… details will be worked out at our next meeting on May 7th at 7 PM.