February Superintendent Report

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Regular Meeting
6:00PM, Monday, February 1, 2016
Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

1a. Strengths of Brewer Activity/Blog and Responses
If you have not seen my blog yet, please read it on our district web site. This was an activity done with the teachers as part of our first week back to school after the holidays. It was a great way for me to learn about Brewer and a great way for teachers to reflect on their practice.

b. 8th Grade Step Up Day and Parent Night went very well. I want to commend Mr. Wall, Mr. Ruhlin, the faculty and student ambassadors that organized a great day that show cased the many reasons why Brewer High School should be their school of choice. Students went on tours, were welcomed into the gym and experienced a pep rally highlighting robotics and athletics, met the freshmen team teachers, had an interactive lunch, and completed a rotation where they learned about our art, JROTC, Outdoor Ed and Drama programs. The parent night was also very well attended.

2.  Strategic Planning Update
a. The strategic planning committee met on Thursday, January 28, 2016. After welcomes and an overview of school data and a brief discussion regarding current Maine law regarding Proficiency Based Diplomas, we discussed the work that was completed during the last gathering of the strategic planning committee in prior years. This was extremely informative as it helped with the understanding of the “missing strategic plan.” Jeff Wahlstrom from Starboard Leadership Consulting, worked with the strategic planning committee to develop survey questions. He then asked people from the community these questions and shared the data with the strategic team and a draft of a strategic plan which is included in your packets was developed by Jeff Wahlstrom. This draft consists of the following three goals with sample strategic action items:

1. Foster universally high expectations and aspirations for all students, while addressing inequities in learning opportunities across the curriculum and programs.
2. 21st Century Learning Expectations: Foster skills and knowledge for successful modern adult life, including critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving and innovation.
3. Develop and maintain a positive, student-centered school culture that reflects rigorous academics, strong habits of mind, a committed pursuit of excellence, and an environment of mutual, respect, responsibilities, and ethics.

It is important to note that the committee found this “draft plan” after our meeting. The Superintendent will bring this plan back to the committee. However, the plan was not finished and many of the committee members expressed wanting to see the surveys/plan to move forward to develop a finished product for our district. Finished products from innovative schools across the country were then distributed for the committee to review and critique.

b. Next steps for Feb. 25th Meeting

The committee will review the surveys/action plan that was started and compare this work to the completed strategic plans that were distributed. We will share thoughts of plan review from other districts and discuss preferred components of BSD strategic plan. We will also develop an action team for each component and plan our community forum.

3.  Budget Process Update

a. Met with Steve Bost and Karen Fussell on Friday, January 29, 2016 to discuss the budget process and highlight where the school department is currently in our early phases of the budget process.

b. Presentations to BCS and BHS
Delivered a total of three presentations to BCS and BHS. These presentations were well received and teachers, ed techs and directors have been completing budget requests. Please see the Budget Preparation Document in your packets for the questions that are guiding the work of the faculty. We have received 139 responses and the requests have been very reasonable.

c. Meeting with Trustees (BHS Building Improvements)
Trustees looked into a QZAB loan which would require a 10% matching donor for any new improvements to the high school. I shared concerns regarding reducing our debt service ratio prior to starting any new projects at the high school. While I support continued building improvements, I’d like to see us be able to put money back toward instructional supplies and professional development lines. With the tasks we need to complete regarding personalized learning in our mission statement, our teachers need the professional development and the supplies to make this mission a reality for our students. The trustees were very understanding of this and also understood I wanted our building to be in tip top shape and supported monthly building walk-throughs to make sure we are keeping up with maintenance.

d. Administrator Contracts (Feb 15th Deadline)
I am meeting with all administrators to discuss their contracts by the end of this month. All administrators will receive a letter by February 15th based on that conversation regarding extending their contract out an additional year or maintaining their current contract. Salaries will be discussed during the budget process.

e. Building EPS Studies
Please see the building EPS studies in your packets. Currently we have no teachers leaving due to retirement. There needs to be a conversation regarding where we are going to find some savings. We will have weekly meetings with admin in February and I will share updates with the school committee.

f. UTC Budget and Implications
UTC is looking at a 10-15% increase in their overall budget this year due to a number of years staying flat or having a minimal increase. They also are looking at capital improvements including a new roof, windows and parking lot costing approximately 2.5 million dollars. All of this has an effect on our budget.

g.  Revenue idea for 17-18 school year in New Business
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is a part of the National Security Investigations Division and acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students. See expenditure sheet for new business.

4. Superintendent Convocation
Attended the Superintendent Convocation in January where I met many of my colleagues throughout the state. During this meeting, a number of issues were discussed around current legislation and a guest presenter, Dr. George Manning, shared on the topic “Organizational Climate” looking at how to build community in the workplace through shared vision, diversity, shared culture, communication, trust, shared leadership, developing your young members, positive reinforcements and alliances with outside groups. I was proud of Brewer as we have so many of these already in place or are working toward these with our strategic plan.

5. Thomas College Curriculum Coordinators/Superintendent’s Meeting
(Maine Curriculum Leader’s Association, Thomas College, January 29, 2016)

This meeting was a gathering of curriculum leaders, superintendents, and state representatives from the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee including Tori Kornfield who is the Chair of this committee. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how to “right size” the current law LD 1422 regarding Proficiency Based Diplomas. We discussed the following:

1. Explore and identify cross-district common ground regarding standards, proficiency, and equitable opportunity to learn for all Maine students;
2. Identify the underlying issues and complexities contributing to common implementation challenges;
3. Draft key decision making criteria to inform state policy on standards, proficiency, and diplomas.

I do expect changes to this law but these changes will benefit students and fix the key issues and concerns within the law. Proficiency based diplomas will still be the main part of this law. The law will just be amended to meet the needs of ALL kids.

6. Cyr Bus Changes and Training of Bus Drivers
I met with Cyr bus with Reg Ruhlin, Jason Richards, and Dan Costain. We discussed how we can meet the needs of our parents, students and faculty and ensure the safety of our students while on the bus. We have arranged for a new bus discipline system where the school system will receive the bus slips and the students will meet with our administrators. There will be direct communication between the school and our parents. This system is used with many other districts and works well to have parents know that regardless of where their child might have a concern, they call the school. Our goal is for better communication between parent, student, school and bus driver with this system. We are here to help. We also have access to the video tapes without having to wait for them from Cyr Bus. We also will be doing a training with all the bus drivers after February vacation that will align with our school policies and expectations.

7. Penobscot Job Corps Luncheon/Visit and Tour
I was recently invited to the Penobscot Job Corps. I have always believed in Job Corps and the role this program can play for those few students that end up on our high school drop out list each year. The Penobscot Job Corps program gives these students another pathway to reach that diploma when all of our other pathways have not worked. I have seen this program provide job skills and provide a high school diploma that still meets the sending schools diploma requirements. I was impressed by the number of programs, how the academics are aligned with the high school and how easy the entry process is for the students. The number of students that graduate and have jobs lined up for them after graduation is also impressive. This program could save one or two students a year and would still count as a student graduate for Brewer instead of a student dropout. I will bring more on this program in March. I understand that the school committee discussed this last year but I would like for you to discuss it again with a clear understanding that this program is another pathway for maybe only 1 or 2 students a year if needed. There is no cost to Brewer for being a part of this program as the student still counts as a student on our roster.

Strengths of Brewer

Recently to start the year, I asked the faculty of Brewer to participate in a back to school activity where we reflect on our practice and our memories of Brewer, and share what makes Brewer School Department an exciting place to work and the best place to send our children to for their education.  In my first three months as Superintendent, one thing I have learned is that there is a strong commitment to education in Brewer and the community support is something I have not seen before in my 23 years in education.  I have heard the phrase, “teachers care about kids” and “teachers love what they do”, many times in my career.  I have met many remarkable teachers along my path as well. However, there is something special about Brewer.  I have been trying to describe it to the people that I meet, and the phrase “community of caring” is a good start but it is so much more than that.

From my very first interview, I remember telling my husband, we are moving!  The connection to the people around the table asking me questions and the connection to how this town supports not only their children but each other in times of need, I see everyday.  For example, when you get welcomed into Brewer, you get little care packages at your door, you get people that check in on you to see how you are doing, you get asked to dinner, you get that perfect little note in your mailbox when you are least expecting it.  In Brewer, everyone seems to know what is happening to everyone, but we also lend a helping hand without even thinking about it.  I have seen teachers during this holiday season, donate numerous gifts and food items to make sure children had a Christmas.  I have seen businesses call our schools to ask how they can help out and I have seen the numerous donations that support our schools each month at our School Committee meetings.

One of the things I have learned is that family has a strong presence in Brewer.  The generations of family that have gone through our schools and the number of employees that use to be students within our school system is amazing to me.  People always come back to Brewer to give to this community.  In the next few months, the district will be undergoing the strategic planning process where we will look at our vision and mission of our school department.  This process started in 2011 and fizzled out a little over the last few years.  Another strong showing of community is that when these members of this committee were called, they were all too eager to come back and represent their prospective areas and serve on our planning committee again. Another example of Brewer’s strong community and dedication to our schools!  During this process we will have a community forum and I will be asking for your voice in what we do well and what you would like to see us improve upon.  This is important in mapping out our plan for the next five years.  I look forward to having you participate through either online surveys, in person at our community forums, or in smaller neighborhood meetings.

Recently I presented to the faculty regarding pieces of our vision and mission focusing on student-centered and personalization of instruction.  Offering our students multiple pathways to demonstrate their learning and multiple pathways to earn a diploma with strong programming is a goal for Brewer.  We believe that all kids can learn and our faculty works hard to help each child find a way to demonstrate that learning.  We offer some of the most unique programs in the state from our Forestry and Outdoor Education program to our Air Force JROTC program where you can actually get your pilot’s license!  If art and music are your niche, our award winning band, new Art wing, and drama program are simply out of this world.  Brewer offers multiple AP courses, dual enrollment college courses, and support for all students to be successful.  I could go on and I have in my prior article that was in The Scholar  that was mailed to all of our Brewer residents written and published by our students.

As I close this entry, I wanted to share with you some of the statements sent to me by the teachers.  I have put a slideshow together for you that you can view.  Please enjoy.  And if you ever have a moment, please stop by the office and say hello.  I love to meet and talk with the people that make Brewer such a dynamic community to live in and raise our children in.

Please click here to enjoy the show!

January Superintendent’s Report

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00PM, Monday, January 4, 2016
Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

1. School Event Recognition:  Band and Choral Concerts

Just wanted to take a moment and recognize our choral director Heather Macleod, Brady Harris, and Lanissa Nadeau for their remarkable talent and efforts with our children in the Brewer School Department. I attended all music events prior to the Holiday Break and each left me wanting more and anticipating what I would hear the next week. The students and parents are to also be commended for the time they put in practicing and bringing their students to the early morning rehearsals and practices. Their performances certainly put me in the holiday spirit!

2. Strategic Planning Update

We spent approximately twelve hours of time contacting prior committee members searching for a strategic plan that may have existed in 2011. After speaking with a few committee members and reviewing all school committee minutes from 2011 through 2015, we have determined the following:

March 10, 2011 Curriculum Audit Report, moved to receive by SC

December 5, 2011 Table approval of Strategic Planning Committee to January 2012

January 9, 2012 Nomination/approval of SP committee

August 16, 2012 Workshop meeting on Mission & Vision led by Mr. Jeff Walstrom

November 1, 2012 Approved first reading of Policy AD- Mission & Vision

November 5, 2012 Approved second reading/adoption of Policy AD – Mission & Vision

February 4, 2013 Moved to receive Brewer High School Strategic Plan (5-year)

September 9, 2013- October 7, 2013  Mr. McIntire reported on the progress of his draft Strategic Plan (District Improvement Plan)

February 3, 2014  Mr. McIntire proposed a work session to continue toward completion of

October 6, 2014  Mr. Leithiser presented the Brewer Community 4-year plan, which will be in line to end with the high school 5-year plan

March 12, 2015 Workshop on District Improvement Plan

What is next? Now that the School Committee has given the charge to form a strategic planning team on December 7, 2015, this team will be formed. A survey monkey has been developed and a one-call will go out to our parents and teachers this week together information and form our team. Prior committee members will be called first to see if they would like to continue the work they started. Our first meeting will be on January 28. The agenda for the meeting can be found here.  This agenda also contains the dates of all future meetings.

3. Budget Process Update

Gretchen Gardner and I have met to review the budget process and where we are with salaries and benefits compared to this year. With all contracts signed, this year we actually have some firm numbers when it comes to salaries. With steps and 2% percent increases and a ten percent increase budgeted for insurance we are estimating an increase $668,446. This is not unusual at this stage in the budget. This week I will be presenting to BCS and we will also be starting the request process through teachers. Administrators will have their building studies to me by January 11th. The BHS presentation was held on January 11th. The budget timeline can be found here.

4. Policy Review List and Timeline

The Maine School Management Association lists the policies that are required by all school districts. After a thorough review of the policies, a required list with our current needs has been supplied. The missing policies will be our first priority. We will then review outdated policies that need updating. Please see the policy review list in your packets.

5. ESSA Overview (Every Student Succeed Acts)

New Education Law Reduces Federal Reach President Obama signed into law on Dec. 10 a replacement for the unpopular and ultimately unworkable law that was known as No Child Left Behind, putting more control in the hands of states and school districts and preserving the local governance authority of local school boards. The vote was 85 to 12 in the Senate and 359 to 64 in the House.

Now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the law updates what was officially called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which essentially defines the federal government’s role in K-12 The ESSA goes in a distinctly different direction than NCLB, which set achievement goals for all schools and labeled them as “failing” when they didn’t make the required progress toward 100 percent proficiency for all students in reading and math. The new ESSA limits the federal government’s role and pushes decision-making around accountability to the state and individual school districts. Standardized state tests are still part of the picture, but other factors will be considered, like school-climate and teacher and student engagement. States would still have to test students in reading and math in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school, but get wide discretion in setting goals and determining how to hold schools and districts accountable. States would still have to identify their lowest 5 percent performing schools, and identify schools where subgroups, including children in poverty, are underachieving. The difference is the federal government no longer would prescribe interventions in those schools. That would be a state and local decision. The U.S. DOE also would no longer have a say in how teacher evaluations are to be conducted.

A primer published by Education Week just days before the House vote outlined key initiatives in the proposal and the difference between current law and the old ESEA and NCLB waivers.

 States would still have to submit accountability plans for approval to the U.S. DOE. These new ESSA plans would start in the 2017-18 school year.

 States would set the rules around teacher evaluations. Maine’s system is in state statute and currently is in its pilot year.

 Gone is the now outdated requirement to get all students to proficiency by a date certain – a system that created so called “failing schools” under NCLB.

 States can pick their own goals around proficiency and graduation rates, but must set an expectation that groups furthest behind close gaps.

 States have to identify and intervene in the bottom 5 percent of performers, and these schools have to be identified at least once every three years.

 States have to identify and intervene in high schools where the graduation rate is 67 percent or lower.

 States must identify schools where subgroup students are struggling. Subgroups include English learners, students in special education, racial minorities and those in poverty.

 For elementary and middle schools there must be at least four indicators.

 That includes three academic indicators: proficiency on state tests, English-language proficiency, plus some other academic factor like growth on state tests.

 New is the requirement that at least one non-traditional indicator must be included like student engagement, educator engagement, access to and completion of advanced coursework, post-secondary readiness, school climate/safety, or others proposed by the state.

 For high schools the indicators are proficiency on tests, English-language proficiency, graduation rates, plus at least one other indicator that focuses a little more on whether students have the opportunity to learn, or are ready for post-secondary work.

 For the bottom 5 percent of schools and for high schools with high dropout rates, districts will work with school staff to come up with an evidenced-based turnaround plan and the state will monitor the effort. If schools continue to founder for no more than four years, the state can step in with its own plan.

 For schools where subgroup students are struggling, the schools have to come up with an evidenced-based plan. If problems persist, the district steps in. For chronic underperformance within subgroups – defined as scores as bad as the bottom 5-percent schools- the district and state have to step in.

Thank you to the MSMA for providing a thorough summary of ESSA.

Superintendent’s Report -December

BREWER SCHOOL COMMITTEE

Regular Meeting

6:00PM, Monday, December 7, 2015

Brewer High School Lecture Hall

Superintendent’s Report

  1. School Event Recognition:  Veteran’s Day Assembly; Art Appreciation Night; Warts and All Play; JMG Opening Ceremony; Football Playoff Game

I just wanted to comment on the following events during the month of November.  I continued to be impressed by the level of talent and dedication by our students and faculty.  The Veteran’s Day Assembly was a first for me and I was moved by the veterans I met that day and the spirit of the assembly itself.  If you have not seen my blog entry with pictures from this event, please take a look on our district web page.

The Art Appreciation Night I was able to attend towards the end after another meeting and was able to capture view the students of Se Beowulf drop a beat on the open mic as they were revved up on hot chocolate.  It was teenagers at their finest and it was a joy to watch.  The art work was amazing and I hope to get some student work hanging in my office soon.

The Warts and All Play while appropriate for older audiences, was very creative. We have very talented actors, director and advisor in this area and I wish this group a lot of encouragement and “luck” (not really appropriate for actors, should be “break a leg”) as they move forward with their winter production and One Act competitions in the spring.

Our JMG program in both schools is highly impressive.  For those of you that are not familiar with our Jobs for Maine Graduates Program, the JMG program at the 7th and 8th grade, works with students to build academic and personal skills like leadership and problem-solving to help with the transition to high school.  I want to commend the Alex Ricker for a very successful Opening JMG Ceremony held on November 18th.  The high school JMG program had a very successful College Access Week in November.  The high school program works on helping our students career development, job attainment, job survival, leadership, self development and personal skills.

Finally, I’d like to congratulate the football team, coaches and volunteers on their very successful season.  I know they were disappointed in their loss at Brunswick, but they should be proud of their efforts and team work this season.  I look forward to next season.

  1. UTC Tour

I spent an evening with Greg Miller, Director of UTC, and learned a great deal about the programming offered to our students.  It is by far the best technical center I have visited in the state.  His pride in the building, the use of local resources to build upon learning experiences for kids, and the community support for each of these programs in inspiring.

The opportunity to earn college credit, high school credit and certification in specific skills for no or very little cost is a remarkable opportunity.  If you have not visited UTC and gone on a tour, I highly suggest you do.

  1. Autism Safety Education and Training Grant

Angela Moore has been working with Matt and Nancy Brown from the Autism Safety Education and Training out of Portland, Maine regarding a grant to help bring Autism Education and Training to our community.  Participants will be provided with a detailed understanding of autism, as well as with the tools to recognize and respond to emergency situations involving persons in this population. Discussion will emphasize specific strategies to employ when working with persons affected by developmental disabilities such as autism, during disasters or other critical incidents, and will provide a roadmap to creating a community-wide plan for such scenarios.  If this grant is received, we hope to work with local authorities to provide education and training.

The goals of the training are the following:

*Describe autism and other developmental disabilities.

*Describe specific characteristics of this population that directly impact safety.

*Formulate a plan to effectively assist persons in this population in an emergency situation, including incidents of wandering and elopement.

*Implement strategies to collaborate with other agencies and community partners to plan for emergency situations involving persons affected by developmental disabilities

  1. Administrative Team Evaluation Process and Training

On November 23rd, the administrative team completed Module 1 of the leadership evaluation process they will pilot this year.  Just as the teachers are piloting their new evaluation system aligned with the new state requirements, the administrators will be doing the same.  The components of this evaluation system include:

*self-evaluation and goal setting in the following five areas:  professional practice, professional growth, school climate conditions, school growth and learner growth

* ongoing collection of evidence

* feedback and monitoring of growth

*reflection and ratings aligned to a rubric to the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC)

The administrative team is meeting with me this month to review self-reflections and goals.  We are also meeting bimonthly for feedback and supervision meetings.

Research shows that there are essentials to improving schools:

*unified district vision with strategic plan with clear outcomes that are measurable

*effective leadership where principals become educational leaders within there schools focusing on all students learning

*quality teaching and learning with high expectations and accountability for all adults *coordinated and aligned curriculum, instruction and assessment

*coordinated and embedded professional development

*support for system wide improvement that focuses on effective use of data, strategic allocation of resources, and policy and program coherence

*clear and collaborative relationships

As an administrative team, we are or will be working to develop each of these items within our school department.

  1. School Board Training on November 30th

I wanted to let the community know that the school committee and myself attended a training on November 30th called “Effective Leadership for Our Schools”.  This training covered the duties of the board and superintendent and how we can expand our influence to be the leader we want to be.  It was a nice way to begin our work together as a new school committee.

  1. Meeting with Commissioner Beardsley

I had the opportunity to meet and discuss education with Commissioner Beardsley in November.  This meeting was informative as he was able to listen to needs from the Penquis Superintendents as well as share his thoughts regarding the Department of Education.  As he is new to the position, this meeting was more of a meet and greet and general information gathering but he plans on visiting with Penquis again.

  1.  Budget Process and Timeline

This timeline was created in collaboration with Gretchen Gardner.  It reflects the need to build a budget and justify a budget to our constituents that is based on true needs of our students and teachers.  We will be building our budget from the ground up, having meetings at all levels, and bringing forward a budget to the community that meets the needs of our district wide goals, our students, and is fiscally responsible.

Budget Process 16:17   Click here for the timeline and dates of budget meetings.

 

Veterans Remembrance Assembly

I have been blessed with many opportunities in my life from becoming a mom to three wonderful healthy children, finding the love of my life and being fortunate to find a career that gives me immense pleasure in watching children discover their possibilities and teachers and staff helping to make those possibilities a reality for each child.  Last week I witnessed a first in my career and wanted to share with you the remarkable experience if you were unable to attend.  I am referring to the Veterans Remembrance Assembly on November 10, 2015 at Brewer High School.

This morning began with a breakfast prepared by our kitchen staff. Our student council served up scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes, and cinnamon buns along with coffee, tea and juice to over a hundred veterans and their families.  Conversations between the army, navy, marine corps, air force and coast guard filled our beautiful cafeteria space.  Teachers, staff members, and students stopped to thank veterans for their service to our great country.  Smiles, laughs and even a few tears were shed as stories were shared about those service men and women that passed away during this year as many of these veterans return year after year to participate in this assembly.

I smiled as I shook the hands of so many veterans that day and held back a tear myself as I thought about what each of these veterans have done for the freedoms I am lucky to have today.  After breakfast, our veterans assembled outdoors and lined up by military branch.  As the 195th Army Band and Select BHS Band Members played the processional “Branch Themes”, each branch was led into the gymnasium to a standing ovation.  I was so proud of our students as they stood a little taller and honored our military veterans and their families as they entered our gymnasium.

Evan Vidas, a member of our Air Force JROTC, led the assembly.  He then introduced the posting of the colors which was done by the BHS AFJROTC Color Guard.  The students in the Color Guard in the picture below are: Pedro Rodriguez, Logan Linzman, Jeremy Gignac, Andrew Rackliff, Jessica Jewell, Lillie Nash, Ian Coleman, Tyler Mock, Dallas Getchell, and Tyler Storen. These students marched in perfect synchronicity as they posted the colors.

After Principal David Wall’s welcome, there was a recognition where the BHS AFJROTC honored MIA and POWs.  The Prisoner of War (POW)/Missing in Action (MIA) table serves as a ceremonial remembrance of all the men and women who have served in the armed forces and have either been captured as a POW or categorized as MIA.  It honors all five services and symbolizes the strength of those who fight for our country and rests in the traditions that are upheld today.  The tradition of setting a separate table in honor of our prisoners of war and missing comrades has been in place since the end of the Vietnam War. The manner in which this table is decorated is full of special symbols to help us remember our brothers and sisters in arms.  The students that participated in this remembrance were Dylan Bragdon, Ethan Griffiths, Marcus Nash, Alex Reardon, Tim Sovis.

Our keynote speakers for the event were Colonel Douglas Farnham, the 101st ARW Commander and Master Sergeant Daniel Moore, the 101st ARW Command Chief.  These men spoke about the history of Veteran’s Day, the importance of freedom and the significance of making good choices and giving back to our community.  You could have heard a pin drop in our gymnasium, the students were so quiet and attentive, listening to every single word.

As the 195th Army Band played a musical selection called “Bravura”, which words cannot describe, as it was beautifully arranged and delivered, I remember hearing those seated around me whispering “wow” as they were truly impressed with the talent of these musicians.  At this point in the assembly, Sergeant Campbell, a high school teacher, shared the significance of the challenge coin which every veteran received during breakfast that morning.  The Challenge coin is given to a person when they become part of a unit.  They carry their unit coin on them to prove they are a member of that group.  When challenged you must present your unit coin or face the consequences…buy a round of sodas for everyone.  J Sergeant Campbell then recognized all of the Brewer High School Veterans.

As the assembly neared closing, we had the honor of hearing from Anna Jewell from the Class of 2019.  She was the student essay contest winner.  I then had the privilege of giving closing remarks.  I spoke about honoring our heroes, remembering their achievements, courage, dedication and sacrifices, and the great pride we have in being Americans because of what these brave men and women have done for us and continue to do for us.  As the 195th Army Band and BHS Band Members played the “Stein Song”, our veterans and families exited our gymnasium to another standing ovation.

The entire event was incredibly moving and I only shared some of what occurred.  I am sure that my words also could not capture all of what was felt within those moments especially for our veterans.  However, as an American with family members and friends that have served in our armed forces, I was once again in my life, blessed.  I was proud to be in the presence of these great American Veterans.

I want to also make sure I thank the following:

Student Council: Noah Umel, Lana Sabbagh, Annie Jewell, Maria Maxsimic, Jennah Geiser, Jacob Cote, Cameran Oxley, Collin Rhoads-Doyle, Connor Roope, Brian Howard,  Rose McLaughlin, Caleb LaPlante, Hayley Roy, Sarah Maxsimic, Cameron Wood, Alex Stroup, Eric Seekins, Kyle St. Thomas, Abby McCarthy, Ally Chapman, Ashley Clukey, Madison Oxley, Jamison Rhoads-Doyle, Oisin Biswas, Reed Davis,

Student Council Advisors: Breanne Pelletier and Sergeant Anthony Campbell

The 195th Army Band, CW3 Brady Harris and Select Members of Brewer High School Band

Brewer High School Administration

Brewer High School Food Services

Brewer High School AFJROTC

Anna Jewell, BHS Class of 2019

Our Guess Speakers:  Col. Douglas Farnham and CMSgt, Daniel Moore

Our students, teachers, and staff

And Most of All …  Our Veterans, their Families and those that continue to serve and protect our freedoms.

Student Council Students Serve Breakfast to Our Veterans

Student Council Students Serve Breakfast to Our Veterans

Welcome Address and Color Guard

Welcome Address and Color Guard

Our Veterans Lining Up

Our Veterans Lining Up

Marching Into the Gymnasium

Marching Into the Gymnasium

Evan Vidas Welcomes Everyone to the Assembly

Evan Vidas Welcomes Everyone to the Assembly

IMG_2010

MIA/POW Ceremony

Guest Speakers Col. Douglas Farnham and CMSgt. Daniel Moore

Guest Speakers Col. Douglas Farnham and CMSgt. Daniel Moore

The Incredible Music

The Incredible Music

Anna Jewell Essay Contest Winner

Anna Jewell Essay Contest Winner

Breakfast Gathering

Breakfast Gathering