Then and Now!

Come see us at the Piscataquis Valley Fair

We sweated through setting up a “then and new” display in the Grange Building demonstrating how some things are and how they used to be… The display also features information about some of the projects we do, including our recent “Quilts and Lap Robes for Veterans” in support of CHCS’s Hospice Program. Stop by while visiting the fair–it’s open today through Sunday. The photos don’t do it justice!

Special thanks go to Irene Thomas for giving us a hand… and to Alex and Lilly for helping us unload! Help will also be sought for take-down on Sunday… contact Mary Annis at 564-0820 if you can help!

Valley Grange Receives Honor

by Walter Boomsma

At our June meeting, I noted that while we recently haven’t had a lot of publicity, our credibility and reputation seems to be intact. Fifth Grader Olivia Goodwin offered proof that I am right! On June 16, 2021, Piscataquis Community Elementary School students held an assembly to formally express appreciation to those organizations and individuals who support them. Olivia spoke at some length about the many ways Valley Grange supports P.C.E.S. She truly thought of everything—not just this year but throughout our long relationship with the school—things like Bookworming, Words for Thirds, GrowME, Newspapers in Education… for a while it sounded she’d never finish! It was a proud moment for Valley Grange. We were presented with a copy of the book written by the students, “Behind the Mask – our COVID Memories ’20-21.” It was my honor to be invited to accept a copy on behalf of Valley Grange. (Due to COVID restrictions the assembly was not open to the public.)

I have always been proud of our kids but never more than on this day. Not only have they made it through an extremely tough year, they wrote a book about it and conducted an assembly to introduce it and thank the many people who make P.C.E.S. “a great place to learn.” Speakers included some first graders—they all did an amazing job!

And the 136-page book is amazing too! It includes essays, interviews, poems, artwork… all created by students. In describing it, P.C.E.S Principal Mrs. Wright said, ”Epitomized by their energy and their resilience, our students are our beacons. All too often, however, their voices are lost. This book is the exhibition of those voices. Listen as the students share their voyage and give meaning to our collective to our collective experience. Impactful in its simplicity, this book will tug at your heart.”

The book will be available for review at upcoming Valley Grange events. Copies are also being distributed to local libraries and town offices within the district.

Valley Grange Honors Hundreds

For those who cannot be with us tonight (we’d hope to livestream our meeting, but that just wasn’t feasible), here’s an announcement and explanation of who and why we chose as “Community Citizen of the Year.”

It’s Teacher Appreciation Day!

Maine State Granger of the Year

Mary Annis, Valley Grange Secretary, read the following letter to members at the January Meeting.

Dear Valley Grange Members,

Three years ago the Maine State Grange Community Service Committee added a new contest of “Community Granger of the Year.”

This Granger needed to display an attitude worthy of a Granger and take pride and joy in Community Service.

It was with great honor that this year’s winner came from Valley Grange and it was also very pleasing to me personally.

This gentleman has gone above and beyond for the Grange and he proves it everyday between Valley Community Service and state website obligations. At this point you all know who won the award but let me tell you with this was such a joy for me.

Walter has personally helped me for the last 6 years with my Community Service Book packets, columns, announcements, and downright support. He has been there to just give me an encouraging should to rely on when needed.

Walter has helped this committee and myself move forward and keep going even when we have been at our wit’s end.

Failure, quitting, or just stopping is something this man has never done no matter how discouraged I have been, he has helped me to get back on my game.

I truly wish there had been a State Session this year because I truly wanted more pomp and circumstance with this win. That was not an option this year, so I personally wanted Valley Grange to know my feelings on this award.

Walter, thank you from the bottom of my feet to the tip of my head. Just always know you are making a difference one word (key stoke or message) at a time.

Fraternally and with much love!

Christine Corliss, Director
Maine State Grange Community Service &
Family Health and Hearing

Original Letter is available here.

Introducing the Backwards Bookworm!

Find out what’s cool about introducing the Backwards Bookworm on December 23!

We Love Our Dictionaries!

Third-graders at Brownville Elementary School show off their dictionaries. Teacher Mrs. Mills writes, “My students were thrilled to receive their dictionaries. They couldn’t wait to look up information in the back. Almost all wanted to try to say the longest word…. They even used them on an indoor recess day to look up words to use when playing Hangman. I would say they were a hit.”

And here are a few kids from Mrs. Higgins Class… photos are a real challenge with physical distancing requirements but it’s great to see so many “smiling eyes.”

We’re told the kids really enjoyed the video… if you missed it, check it out here.

Dictionary Day 2020

This video was created for teachers of third grade students receiving dictionaries as part of the Valley Grange Words for Thirds Program. All are certainly welcome to watch and listen! Teachers, not that additional resources are available by clicking on the “About the Dictionary Project” tab in the upper left hand corner of the site!

Dictionary Days Are Coming!

Admittedly, we had to get a little creative this year… but dictionaries are being delivered to schools this week! The actual presentation of dictionaries will be completed by third-grade teachers… we’re working on some resources and should have everything ready in a day or two! Stay tuned!

(L-R) Mrs. & Mr. Annis, Mrs. & Mrs. Ricker, and Mr. Boomsma got the dictionaries ready at the December Meeting… Mrs. Engstrom helped but hid when the photo was taken by Mrs. Boomsma! We also sorted hats and mittens to deliver to school nurses for distribution to students who need them, thanks to our Blistered Finger Knitters.

The Words Are Coming!

by Walter Boomsma, Program Director

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of the “Words for Thirds” program… and anyone who knows Valley Grange may remember that we’ve had a very successful program for well over a decade. We provide dictionaries to four school districts every year with two of those districts making field trips to the Valley Grange Hall.

It’s that time of year when we order dictionaries and start planning “Dictionary Days” with our districts. The perhaps obvious question has arisen. “How is this going to work this year?”

The honest answer is “We don’t know yet!” But what we do know is that, one way or another, we will provide our third grade friends with their dictionaries this year. We’re committed to finding a way that works for everyone involved. Things may look a little different–or maybe a lot different but the results will be the same. Every third grader in our area will get their own dictionary. And, as the label inside will say, “This dictionary and all the words in it belong to…”

We’ve already put our thinking caps on and will be coming up with ideas–some may be a little bit crazy–for how to make this year’s program work. Since there are still a lot of uncertainties with how schools will be operating (and things could be different in each district) we can’t make many decisions yet. But in addition to being certain we’ll figure it out, we’ll also be working with the teachers and administration in each district to develop a plan that’s convenient, safe, and as much fun as possible. It’s a difficult but exciting challenge.

From our experience, we know Words for Thirds works best when it becomes a partnership between the Grange and the school(s). This year, more than ever, it will be important to be considerate of the challenges our teachers and schools are facing. We will stay focused on the goal of getting dictionaries into the hands of the kids and work within the restrictions that may be in place. We can do this, we’re Grangers!

This is one Grange Program that we won’t discuss whether or not we’re going to do it. We just have to figure out how we’re going to do it! The words are coming, kids!