Ready… Aim…

There are several important rituals I have every year at this time… one is finding a veteran and buying a poppy. I’m happy to report I accomplished that yesterday in Dexter. Another is hanging out the flag at the end of the driveway. I have in the past been teased a bit about that… after all, I live on a dead-end road with only six or so houses past mine… so not many people see my flag. But I know it’s there and that’s important to me.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to watch parades anymore because I’m often in one. I catch glimpses of units going by as we line up and of course I see who’s in front of me and who’s in back of me. But getting ready for it brings back a flood of memories from childhood.

My Dad was a WW II veteran and those childhood Memorial Days were second only to Christmas in importance as family events. I’m not sure how much help I actually was, but he and I had lots of projects to complete before the big day—projects that included working at the cemetery and rehearsals for the honor guard. Folks in town used to say they could tell when my Dad had charge of the honor guard because of the precision. Everything was synchronized. When those guys fired the rifles you only heard one shot. (After it was over and we’d put the rifles away the guys would discuss who’s rifle jammed or misfired during a volley. I felt like I was an insider to a secret that no one else knew.)

I confess that to this day it’s hard for me to watch a ceremony without being a little critical. When we stop for it during the parade I can’t see them but I want to hear one shot.

There are times when it’s important we do that—when we come together and work together and the result is that many shots sound as one. I wish Memorial Day was one of those times—a time when we could put aside politics and political differences, pause in our busy lives, and “fire” one shot:

Thank you!

Editor’s Note: For some fascinating facts about gun salutes and rifle volleys check out this site. Do you know how many volleys are typically fired and why?

Who’s Got An Eraser?

A few weeks ago I spent several hours over the course of a week or so helping with one of the Guilford Primary School second grade classes on their “inquiry projects.” It was a pretty awesome experience! Imagine second graders doing the equivalent of term papers! When we started writing the drafts I bounced from desk to desk to share ideas, do a little editing and correct spelling. “Mr. Boomsma, will you help me?” (Bookworms don’t just read, we write too!)

                I confess it took a while to stop reaching for my pen as I worked. Second Graders work in pencil for a reason. While finding a pencil wasn’t too difficult, finding one with some eraser left was! (I suspect if I’d been a little less in demand I’d have had some time to consider a story or poem about a tired pencil whose eraser was worn down from a school year of writing.) I asked no one in particular “Where do we find a pencil with an eraser?” The kids are usually great at helping a guest find his way around the room, but there was a notable lack of response to my question. Eventually one little guy dug into the back of his desk and with a secretive smile presented me with his cherished possession—a pencil with a few millimeters of eraser left on top. Of course the kids have somewhat adapted to the problem by doing “cross out” and making smudges. I suspect they’ve also figured out “he who has the eraser has the power.”

                Since a lot of my volunteer work with the school is about “empowering” kids, I found myself considering the idea that a simple pencil with some eraser left could mean a lot in a classroom where a lot of mistakes have been made in the course of learning. Kids’ needs are often simple but simple doesn’t mean unimportant. So it seemed somewhat fateful that shortly after the experience Sheree Brown from Penquis contacted me regarding their Smart Starts for Students Campaign.

                The campaign represents a school supply assistance program for the greater Piscataquis area by providing starter packs of new school supplies for families in need throughout MSAD #4, #41, #46, #68 and Union #60. (The starter packs include erasers!) Last year nearly 250 kids benefitted from the program and there’s every reason to believe the need will be even bigger this coming school year. Penquis is looking for donors to help empower our kids.

                Donations can be money or specific items. There are lots of options! You can “back to school” shop for a specific starter kit or just some items… you can pick which district your donation will go to and even decide whether you want to help at the elementary, middle or high school level. Penquis is working really hard to make it easy for us to help. Look for drop boxes around the area where you can leave items. You can find details regarding the program at the Penquis web site or call the office at 564-8196 564-7116 (see comments).  Parents may use the same resources to register their children for the program.

(Valley Grange is collecting school supplies… if you’d like to help you can contact any Granger or bring items to the Grange Hall when you come to the Wicked Huge Yard Sale on June 19th!)

Graceful Graces

Terry, Sally, Jean, Janice and Corice — the epitome of grace!

One of the highlights of the fifth degree instruction conducted by Piscataquis Pomona were the gowns and headpieces crafted by Valley Grange member Janice Boomsma for Pomona and her court. Janice even does some “on the spot” tailoring since we’re not always sure who’s going to wear what!

This could be the basis of a lecturer’s program… or at least something to think about. What are the many talents and resources that exist in your Grange? Could that be a “different sort of talent show?”

“Aprons on Parade”

The Valley Grange CWA (Committee for Womens’ Activities) Meeting will feature “aprons on parade.” CWA Chair Sally Downing is encouraging folks to “bring or wear an apron that is either unique or has special meaning” and notes that there are many different types — men wear aprons too!

The special May Program includes a brief Memorial Service conducted by Chaplain Susan Burleigh in honor of members and veterans who’ve passed on during the previous year. 

The evening begins with a potluck supper at 6 PM and the program starts at 7 PM.

Just a reminder that we are also collecting for our annual Wicked Huge Yard Sale scheduled for June 19th… if you have items to donate, bring them to the meeting!


When I’m at school bookworming, one of the words I hear a lot is “Awesome!” Sometimes the kids apply it to something we’ve read in a book… or something that’s going on at school…

“Mr. Boomsma, are you coming out to recess with us today?”



I know that my language changes after I’ve been at the school and I use words like “awesome” and “cool” more. If you are one of the people who’s noticed that, I just thought I should warn you that I’m planning to use the word “awesome” even more. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not to “blame” the kids. Let me explain.

The kids use the word fairly freely but also advisedly. They really believe a lot of things are awesome. They see things adults fail to notice — and they see things in a way that adults often don’t.  I’ve said before that one of the values of being at the school with the kids is gaining their perspective.

So if you can’t find some kids to hang out with, here’s an idea for you. An adult colleague recently recommended this website: during a discussion about how we view the world. The link also comes with a warning… the site is a bit addictive because you’ll find yourself identifying with some of the things people post as “awesome.” 

So here’s a challenge. How many times today can you say the word “awesome” because you notice something that is?

I’ve already lost count. That’s awesome!

Students Exceed Goal and Jump!

From a recently issued press release…

Caleb Rolfe goes airborne during Jump activities

Guilford– McKusick Elementary School and Guilford Primary School students exceeded the goal they’d set by raising nearly $2600 in their recent  “Jump Rope for Heart” Program. The program was coordinated by School Nurse Sharon Foster and Paula Bailey an Ed Tech at McKusick. The program is an outreach program developed by the American Heart Association. By participating in Jump Rope for Heart students learn how their hearts work and how to take care of them through physical activity and nutrition. They also learn about children who have been affected by cardiovascular disease and how they can help them. In short, children have fun and feel good by helping others.

Foster explained she was very pleased how the program reached into each classroom with cardiac education. “The students understand more about why we jump and it was also pretty great that the students got a little over an hour of exercise while having fun and earning money for a great cause

May Bookworm Schedule

Reading is fun!Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky.
My pile of books
Are a mile high.
How I love them!
How I need them!
I’ll have a long beard
By the time I read them.
~ Arnold Lobel ~

May 4 — Mr.  Boomsma

Don’t forget! May 4th is Teacher Appreciation Day!
“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody (a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns) bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”
Thurgood Marshall

May 6 — Mrs.  Marsh

May 11 — Mrs. Goodman

May 13  —  Mr. Boomsma

May 18  — Mr. Boomsma

May 20 — Mrs. Marsh

May 25 — Mr. Boomsma

May 27 — Mrs. Marsh