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!

Parade of Pirates

Additional Information and Resources

New information being added regularly! Keep checking back!

Our communities and schools are a great place to live and learn! That’s worth celebrating! We also want to provide our kids with some sense of closure–the last day of school may be bittersweet, it’s also exciting!

Announcing a Parade of Pirates!

Grange and Community to Celebrate the Last Day of School

Guilford—Valley Grange of Guilford is sponsoring a Parade of Pirates to celebrate the final day of school for SAD 4 and “acknowledge our community treasures—schools, teachers, parents, kids—everyone who helps make this a great place to live and learn,” according to Walter Boomsma, Program Director of the Guilford-based Grange. Using the school mascot as a theme seemed appropriate, according to Boomsma. “While we might not approve of everything pirates did, the fact is they led exciting lives and in many cases built up huge treasures. That certainly describes life in our schools and communities.”

Scheduled for the final day of school, June 10, 2020, and start at 1:00 pm, the parade of vehicles will travel through the MSAD 4 Campus with appropriate waving, balloons, decorated vehicles, horn-blowing, and yelling. Teachers and staff will line the edges of the driveway in what Boomsma hopes becomes a “huge event” that marks the official end of the school year and the start of summer. Noting that many events are being canceled this year, he said, “We know we can do this safely. Drivers and passengers are instructed to remain in their vehicles while driving slowly and safely through the campus. Valley Grange members and volunteers will assist with directing traffic and maintaining social distancing.”

Noting that the event is not just for parents and kids, Boomsma said that community organizations, businesses—anyone who wants to celebrate our community treasures and accomplishments is invited to follow the parade through the campus.

Valley Grange Community Service Chair Mary Annis says she’s excited, “We have a great relationship with the school and kids thanks to programs like our Dictionary Day and Bookworming… We have been missing the kids and those activities we normally do. This seems like a great opportunity to take the focus off what we have missed this year and put it on what we have.”

Want to volunteer? We need a few people to help with directing traffic and keeping it moving… just send an email. Specific information and details will be listed soon! Check back often!

National Moment of Remembrance

Monday, May 25, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Exploring Traditions and Connections

Here you can watch and listen to the discussion between National Grange Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rio and author Walter Boomsma as they explore some of the topics from the book and what they mean to Grangers and Granges today–especially during the current pandemic.

Walter’s book is available from

Exploring Connections

Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange Program Director, to appear on National Program…

National Grange has started a series of Facebook Live Broadcasts during Grange Month to “cultivate connections in the time of COVID.” The daily broadcasts feature guests and a wide range of topics such as making balloon animals to exploring the future of the Grange as an organization.

On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, at 6:00 pm, Walter Boomsma, author, and Maine State Grange Communications Director, has been invited to appear and discuss “exploring connections,” based partly on his book, Exploring Traditions–Celebrating the Grange Way of Life.

Boomsma says he’s often a self-appointed cage rattler. “One of my goals in writing the book was to get people thinking about how the Grange–its rituals and traditions–connect to the world today. Too often we get stuck in a backward and inward perspective. We may need to turn our welcome mat around. Instead of thinking ‘Welcome to the Grange,’ we may need to focus on getting out into the world. The Grange way of life works best when we’re in the world, not when we’re in a Grange Hall. That’s as true today as it was 150 years ago.”


Tune in to this Facebook event to get your cage rattled and your mind engaged. If you’re not on Facebook, no problem! The broadcast will be recorded and uploaded to YouTube. We’ll share the link here after the broadcast.

VALLEY GRANGE ANNOUNCES AD CONTEST WINNERS

Guilford—Over forty 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 sponsored by the Piscataquis Observer. This is the twelfth 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. Under the direction of Art Teacher Mark Arthers students labored to produce ads that would promote the Grange and its programs.

Boomsma pointed out “everyone who participated is a winner” and the Grange is providing “thank you magnets you can use to hold your school papers on the fridge.” Boomsma also noted that the Grange was particularly pleased so many ads 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.”

Winners included Teegan Pomerleau (3rd place), Lillyon Boutilier  (2nd place), and Ava Edes (1st place). Ava’s ad included a book being devoured by a book worm and two people reading together, noting that “volunteers are needed” to “come help kids learn.”

Ava’s first place ad will appear in the Newspapers in Education supplement of the Piscataquis Observer. In addition, winning ads are used on the Grange’s promotional material throughout the year and featured on the Valley Grange Website.

Valley Grange Master Jim Annis noted that Valley Grange is happy to sponsor several programs at PCES and other schools in the area. “We just love involved with the school,” he noted. “These kids are our future and they give us hope.”

Meetings and Events

After careful consideration, we have decided the following:

  • Our March Meeting (Friday, the 20th) is canceled.
  • Our March Blanketeering Event (Saturday, the 28th) is postponed–a new date will be announced when the COVID-19 situation allows for less “social distancing.”
  • The April Piscataquis Pomona Meeting (Thursday, April 2nd) is postponed–a new date will be announced when the COVID-19 situation allows for less “social distancing.”

With school being closed:

  • Newspapers in Education Contest Winners will be announced here and on the Valley Grange Facebook Page by the end of this week. Certificates and magnets will be distributed when students return to school.
  • Bookworms are standing by and will be scheduled at school when students return. We hope students will keep reading at home!

Thank you for your support and understanding. We’ll definitely keep you posted!

Adults Have Fun Too!

The fourth graders at PCES in Guilford recently worked on their ads for Valley Grange as part of yet another “Newspapers in Education” Contest. This is our twelfth year participating in The Piscataquis Observer’s Newspapers in Education Supplement by sponsoring an ad! The earliest winners are now graduated from high school. Maybe some are working in graphic arts or advertising.

Proving that the fun we have with this isn’t just for kids, Mr. Arthers, PCES art teacher, sketched a quick ad for us. Of course he’s disqualified from the competition but we thought you’d enjoy seeing his work!

Stay tuned… we’ll be announcing the contest winners shortly after our next meeting on March 20, 2020. If you come to that meeting you can help us judge the winners and make a magnetic certificate for every participant. And look for “our” ad in the supplement published on April 10, 2020.

Blanketeers Needed!

Volunteers will create blankets for children in need

Valley Grange of Guilford is sponsoring a blanket-making event on Saturday, March 28, 2020,  from 9:00 a.m. until noon and volunteers are needed! Organizer Pat Engstrom notes “no sewing skills are needed. If you can measure, cut a straight line with scissors and tie a simple knot you can become a ‘blanketeer’ and help support Project Linus.”

Project Linus, a non-profit organization, provides homemade blankets to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. A similar event last year resulted in dozens of blankets being made by a diverse group of volunteers. Engstrom hopes to see the number of blankets made increased.

“We have a great time doing this and truly just about anyone can help. We created quite a production line and it sometimes gets competitive! It’s exciting to realize we’re providing love in the form of ‘blankies’ representing love, security, warmth, and comfort to kids.”

While supplies will be provided, volunteers are encouraged to bring scissors, rulers, and masking tape. Light refreshments will be served.

For additional information, contact Pat Enstrom at 564-8290. Valley Grange is located at 172 Guilford Center Road, at the corner of Butter Street.

POSTSCRIPT: There will also be a “sewing” Linus Project in Dover Foxcroft on April 18, 2020 at the Dover Foxcroft Congregational Church, from 9:00 am until 3 PM. Contact Cynthia Vaughn at 884-8898 for more information!