NIE 3rd Grade Winner Megan Beckwith

Megan Beckwith

Megan's Winning Ad

Megan told us, “When I heard that I won first place in the ad I was amazed because I can’t remember ever winning first place in anything! I came up with the idea for my drawing when I thought of all the things that interst me like reading and Valley Grange.”

Good job, Megan! Look for your advertisment in the March 30th Newspapers in Education Supplement in the Piscataquis Observer!

And we agree with your poem!

Fourth Grade NIE Winner Ethan Chadwick

Ethan Chadwick

“I came up with my idea when I thought about bookworms,” Ethan told us. “I’ve seen pictures of worms with glasses and books so I decided to use that theme for my picture. In third grade, my class went to the Grange Hall and learned about agriculture. At the end, they gave us dictionaries and that inspired me to do the wagon full of them. I thought it would be cool to put a slogan and the Grange Logo too.”

Congratulations, Ethan! And thanks… I will always remember the tough question you asked me when you started working on your ad. “What is the Grange’s product, Mr. Boomsma?”
You had me stumped for a minute, but I managed to answer, “Kids that like to read and learn.” And I guess I could now say, “Kids like you!”

April 2011 Bookworm Schedule

Reading is fun!

A book is a gift you can open again and again!”

Garrison Kellior

Tuesday, April 5 – Mr. Boomsma
Thursday, April 7 – Mr. Boomsma
Tuesday, April 12 – Mrs. Goodman
Thursday, April 14 – Mrs. Marsh–This is also Jump Rope for Heart Day!
April 18–April 22 – Vacation Week!
Tuesday, April 26 – Mr.Boomsma
Thursday, April 28 – Mrs.Marsh

Jump! Jump! Jump!

A sure sign of spring is when the kids start jumping rope on the playground and we can expect to see more of that next week following the “Jump Rope for Heart” kick off assembly at Piscataquis Community Elementary School.

The program has been expanded this year to include all grades (K through 6) and, while the emphasis is on physical fitness students may also be seeking adult support in the form of donations to the Heart Fund. If you know a student, ask him or her about it.

Coordinator Paula Bailey also says the program this year will include a “Memory Wall.” Students and staff will receive red hearts to bring home. They can put the name of someone who has passed away or who has had a heart-related illness. All of the hearts will be posted on a wall to create awareness.

The program culminates on April 14th with a full day of jumping and related activities at the school. Valley Grange is happy to promote this event and healthy hearts! (But I don’t think Bookworms will be jumping rope!)

Additional information is available at this website

Don’t forget… Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2nd through May 6th and this is just one example of the efforts they make! Thanks also to Mrs. Foster, Mrs. Allen and Miss Saponara for their efforts organizing  this program.

Animals, Vegetables, and Fruits, Oh my!

The horse is winning in first grade!

Volunteers from Valley Grange in Guilford visited twelve classrooms and close to 200 students last week in conjunction with the annual celebration of Agriculture Week.  Based in part on materials provided by Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, volunteers read to children from Kindergarten through third grade and conducted several activities and had lots of discussion with kids at Piscataquis Community Elementary School.  Activities ranged from seed planting in CD cases so students could observe how sunflowers sprout and grow to the annual “butter making” by second graders and some “favorite farm animals” posters by kindergartener and first graders.

Program coordinator Walter Boomsma pointed out that while the Grange still places value and emphasis on its agricultural heritage, these visits also demonstrate the evolution of the Grange. “Historically Grange Members were in the fields and on the farm, now you’ll find us in the schools. While we still value our agricultural heritage we’re now about community and community service.”

Mrs. Marsh and Kinders

Valley Grange has for some time emphasized working with tomorrow’s citizens through a number of programs such as “Words for Thirds;” an annual project that provides every third grader in the area with his or her own dictionary. The Guilford-based Grange also recently announced winners in their annual Newspapers in Education Contest. Boomsma noted that “all of our activities with the school are about making learning fun… like planting a garden; we hope the kids will grow up with a love of reading and learning.”  

Grange Reader Nathalee Marsh noted that “We’re in PCES twice a week and usually listen to kids read to us. This time we got to read to them and talk about gardening and farming. They sure love to tell us stories… and it’s amazing how many have gardens and chickens!”

Seed sprouting kit

Janice Boomsma worked with third graders, planting seeds in empty CD cases using coffee filters to wick up moisture. “The kids were really excited about being able to watch life begin from a simple seed,” she said. “Maybe there will be some sunflowers in the flower bed in front of the school this year.”

Second graders learned how to make butter—an activity that’s also popular with a least one teacher because “school made butter has no calories—when the kids shake the jar, all the calories fly out!” Butter-making instructions are available from second grade teachers for those who want to try the exercise at home with parents.

Second graders look, smell, taste and in some cases touch the butter they made!

Ad Contest Winners Announced

Third grade winners about to become media darlings.

Nearly 100 third and fourth graders from Piscataquis Community Elementary School in Guilford were challenged to create an advertisement for Valley Grange as part of the annual “Newspapers in Education” Program. This is the third year the Grange has sponsored the program. Students have an opportunity to become “Honorary Assistant Publicity Directors” according to Walter Boomsma, Program and Publicity Director for Valley Grange. Thanks to WABI-TV5’s support of community and school events, these young scholars not only learned about print advertising, they got to experience a bit of television as well during the assembly conducted by Boomsma to announce the winners.

Boomsma pointed out “everyone who participated is winner” and the grange provides “thank you magnets you can use to hold your school papers on the fridge.” He also told the Channel Five team that the Grange was particularly pleased that nearly every ad included a reading theme and dictionaries, reflecting the students’ appreciation for the Grange’s Bookworm and Words for Thirds Program. “Our goal with the kids is to create a love of reading and learning. These ads suggest we’re achieving it.”

Fourth Grade Winners show off their certificates

Third Grade winners announced at the recent school assembly conducted by the grange included Olivia Riitano (3rd), Jemyni True (2nd), and Megan Beckwith (1st). Megan’s first place drawing included the poem, “”Reading is important especially for a test and if you read once a day, you really are the best.” Four grade winners included Ashley Nanney (3rd), Alison Quimby (2nd), and Ethan Chadwick (1st). Ethan explained to WABI TV-5 news reporter Laura Roberts that he loves to read because “It’s a way to express your imagination. You can go into a different world if you’re having a hard time anywhere.”

All of the winners refused to give an acceptance speech with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but most were “media darlings” when interviewed by the news team. At least one suggested that the “best part of winning is seeing myself on TV.”

The ads selected as first place winners will appear in the Newspapers in Education supplement of the Piscataquis Observer on March 30th. In addition, winning ads are used on the grange’s promotional material throughout the year.

Valley Grange Master Jim Annis noted that Grange Bookworms will be at PCES next week to celebrate Agriculture in Maine by reading and conducting agriculture related activities with twelve classes. “We just love being at the school,” he noted.

For those who missed the coverage, you can check out the story on the WABI website.

Silent Auction–Hutch Top!

Check out this fine Moosehead Manufacturing hutch top… donated to our cause! Here’s the deal… we’ll sell this by bid (there’s a $60 minimum bid requirement) with the winning bidder selected immediately following our Annual Grange Month Program on April 15th. You can download a bid form (not required but it makes things easier for you and us) or email your name, phone number and bid amount to Proceeds will be used to help with our many community service projects and building maintenance.

March 2011 Health Beat

Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley our local area public health nurse… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!

March is National Nutrition Month and is sponsored yearly by The American Dietetic Association. Started in 1973, National Nutrition Month is a nutrition and education campaign to focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices, developing sound eating habits, and developing sound physical activity habits.

According to Healthy Maine 2010, about 60% of Maine people are overweight or obese. Thirty percent of Maine children are considered overweight or obese. Weight is not the only measure of good nutrition and health. Dietary fiber, Vitamin D, calcium, and potassium are often lacking in American diets.

The theme for National Nutrition Month 2011 is “Eat Right With Color”. It is important to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy to your daily diet. Green produce indicates antioxidant potential and may help to promote healthy vision and reduce cancer risks. Orange and deep yellow produce contain nutrients that promote healthy vision and immunity and may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Purple and blue options may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may help with memory, urinary tract health, and reduced cancer risks. Red indicates produce that may help to maintain a healthy heart, vision, immunity, and reduced cancer risks. White, tan, and brown foods sometimes contain nutrients that may promote heart health and reduce cancer risks. Fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables because they are low in calories and high in nutrients.

Three simple changes that can really make a difference are:

  1. Having mealtime as a family is one of the easiest and most important activities to help promote healthy eating. During mealtime, children learn about foods and food preferences. Eat together at the table and do not allow interruptions like TV or the telephone. Try to introduce one new food item at least a few times per week.
  2. Teach children about portion control. Start by using smaller plates. If people are still hungry, they can always have seconds. Offer vegetables and fruits and every meal. Allow children to serve themselves and if they get full do not force them to finish what is on their plates. Avoid soda, fruit juices, and sugary drinks.
  3. Find fun activities and be active as a family. Try to plan one activity every week. Keep it simple like a bicycle ride or a family walk. Begin with 15-20 minutes and then try to work up to one hour. Encourage all family members to suggest activities. And remember, there is NO waking activity that we do that burns fewer calories than watching TV!

For more information, visit,, and  In January, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released. The guidelines are a joint effort between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. These guidelines are updated every five years and are available at

These guidelines are evidence based. Things to reduce in our diets are salt, fat, cholesterol, sugary drinks and alcohol. Things to increase are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, seafood, and plant based protein like beans. The new guidelines also discuss food choices and eating behaviors like snacking, eating fast foods, eating breakfast, and portion control.

Don’t forget to eat well to stay well!

Earth Day 2010

Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd!

The Penquis Leadership Institute will host their 2nd Annual Penquis-wide Earth Day Clean-up Project. They are looking for

  • Suggestions for areas that need clean-up the most in Dover-Foxcroft, Milo/Brownville, Sebec, Guilford/Sangerville, Monson, Greenville, Dexter and any points in between.
  • Area coordinators for all sites Prizes/give-a-ways and most importantly
  • Volunteers!

If you’d like to help, please contact Keri Foster at the Piscataquis Observer, 564-8355