Category Archives: Volume 6

Teaching law in China

Glennon and Adam with the class in Qindao, China

Last spring St. George residents Karen Adam and her husband Robert Glennon were offered the opportunity to spend three months teaching law at Ocean University in Qindao, China. It was an opportunity they embraced because at the very least they thought the assignment could be a fun—and enlightening—adventure.

“Part of why we wanted to do this was to be part of [an unfamiliar] community and figure out how to live there,” says Adam, who in November 2015 retired after 34 years as a Tucson City Court magistrate, Superior Court commissioner and Superior Court judge. “We knew no Chinese, but we rode the subway, Robert found a gym and a cleaners, we shopped in the local stores. We often were the only Westerners around.”

The chance to go to China arose because the University of Arizona’s Roger’s College of Law, where Glennon is a professor, has in recent years been moving toward being more international and global in its orientation. “We’ve always had an international law curriculum,” Glennon explains, “but now we are bringing international students into our JD program here in the U.S. and we are pursuing joint programs with universities in other countries.”

The University of Arizona’s partnership with Ocean University is one such new joint program. The way it works is that for four years Ocean’s undergraduate law students study both Chinese and American law, earning both an undergraduate degree from Ocean University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona.

“The first two years the students are studying English, studying some Chinese law and taking some basic introductory classes in common law subjects and legal writing,” Glennon says. “They’ve had instructors during those years, but we were the first real American law school professor and the first real American judge to be there in person to teach. We were there from the end of April to the end of July, teaching 63 undergraduate juniors. Karen taught procedure and I taught public law.”

The reason for creating this kind of joint program, Glennon says, is the increasingly global nature of legal practice. “China and the U.S. are the two biggest economies in the world and there’s an awareness in China that even if the students don’t ever practice law—and most Chinese law students don’t end up practicing law—they feel that knowing how the legal system works in the U.S. can help them in whatever they do. Mostly they are interested in intellectual property, business, trade.”

For Glennon, teaching public law meant he could use the curriculum he has developed for his constitutional law classes at the University of Arizona (these days, however, his primary focus is water law, a specialty he’s been developing since 1988).

For Adam, the preparation for teaching American procedures, which is basically about due process—a citizen’s right to fair treatment under the law—was more involved.

“I’ve never been a law school professor, so it was lucky that I had access to the curriculum used by the law professor who is teaching the procedure class for Arizona’s new undergraduate major in law. So I had a PowerPoint presentation and I had the cases, but I still had to learn the material. I hadn’t thought about any of those cases since law school, which was 42 years ago. And I’d been busy since then being a judge. It was incredibly hard work—Robert is delighted that I figured that out, that being a law professor is hard! He thought I thought it was easy,” Adam says with a laugh. “So I spent last winter working on it, reading all the cases, reading interpretations of the cases and getting prepared to teach these students.”

But much of that preparation went by the wayside after the couple’s first class with the students, a four-hour session that Glennon and Adam taught together.

“Even though these students had been studying English at the college level for two years and some had very good English, others did not,” Adam says. “And we realized that the way they learn is very different. It is based on code, which is Chinese civil law, and in which there are clear answers to every question. In the U.S. we have a constitution and a judge rules on a case in light of that and interprets it and then other people disagree with the interpretation and it’s all about that, about the analysis of what a case says and how it applies.”

In addition, Adam points out, in China the students never talk in class. “There’s no give and take. A Chinese professor comes to class, stands at the podium and delivers information. And then the students regurgitate it on a multiple-choice final exam. That’s how it is done.”

So taking these factors into consideration, Glennon and Adam made some decisions during that first class. In many ways it was Adam’s judicial experience with self-represented and non-native English-speaking litigants that suggested the direction those decisions took.

First, Adam says, she knew that reducing stress in the courtroom, particularly when litigants are unfamiliar with the law and/or unconfident about their English, led to a better performance for all involved. So to reduce stress for their Chinese students who were not used to answering questions in class, let alone in uncertain English, she and Glennon told the students that neither of them would call on the students during class. “We said that if they wanted to volunteer that would be fine and if not, that would also be fine.” With a wry smile she adds, “And it turned out, of course, nobody would volunteer, so that meant we had to be prepared to lecture for two solid hours each time we went to class since we couldn’t count on a lot of engagement as we might in the U.S.”

Second, because when Adam was on the bench she had found it very important to get everyone’s names right, to be respectful as a matter of fairness, she and Glennon told the students they would call them by whatever name they wrote down on the seating chart. “Ninety percent of them wrote down their Chinese names, not the English names they had been assigned in English class to make it easier for Western teachers like us,” Adam says. Pronouncing those names was not easy, however, since in Mandarin there are four different ways to pronounce every word. So Adam made phonetic notes below each name as an aid, hoping this would give herself and Glennon a chance of getting the names right.

Finally, for her procedure class, which required that Adam be able to assess each student’s ability “to research a legal issue, employ legal reasoning and then argue a position effectively”—in a climate where students were not engaged in dialogue with the professor—she staged a moot court exercise for which they could prepare in advance and work with a teammate. This also gave her the chance to call each student by name (as best she could) at least once during the term.

Not surprisingly, both Glennon and Adam say that over the course of their time at Ocean University there were many situations which highlighted for them that they were teaching American law to students who live in a country with a completely different legal framework. In an essay Adam wrote after coming home she gives this anecdote by way of illustration: “One of the sharpest students in class … challenged her grade on the midterm. She got an A but was upset that her answer to a multiple-choice question about the balancing of private vs. government interests was wrong. ‘I’m Chinese,’ she said, ‘the government’s interest is always more important.’ I respectfully reminded her that this was a class in American legal procedure and that, though she might think us silly, her answer was still wrong.”

Reflecting on this aspect of their experience Glennon adds, “We were in an awkward position because it is a communist country. The rulers exercise total power. Yet at the same time it is a full-blown capitalist country with people making tons of money—it was not unusual to see cars that cost six figures parked on the street. But it’s an oppressive place. Everything is censored. There are cameras everywhere, including in our classroom. There’s no accountability, no transparency. So by the end of three months we were ready to leave.”

That said, Adam also is clear that her Chinese experience “was one of the best things I’ve done in my life. Yes, the government is oppressive, but the people everywhere were so amazing to us. We considered ourselves so lucky to be living there for three months and not to be blowing through. And our students—we just loved our students!” —JW

(The article Karen Adam wrote about her experience at Ocean University, “Teaching Law in China: What works in the courtroom works in the classroom,” can be found at the website of the National Judicial College, judges.org­­

‘LBJs’ on the side of the road

Nature bummin’ with Kirk Gentalen

White-throated Sparrow

Animal migration is a wonderful phenomenon to observe. Be it lobsters, monarchs, or in the case of this column—birds—watching the comings and goings of animals can bring a lifetime of lessons about the earth’s tilt, weather patterns and survival in general. Connections between water depths, different countries and even hemispheres can be made, and after a while the earth starts to feel a little smaller. Power of migration.

At times, bird migration can be subtle and tricky to see. The hundreds (or even thousands) of Saw-whet Owls that pass through mid-coast Maine each fall (passing through as I type) may go largely unnoticed by humans except for the random, stressed owl(s) that remains active during daylight hours. Observing fall songbird migration can be tricky as well, as male songbirds aren’t singing as they do in spring. Instead, some songbirds get shy and stick to the shrubs and thickets, or go high in trees during migration–meaning the average nature observer has to use patience and maybe even a little work to get a good view.

Dark-eyed Junco

For every tricky migration observation, however, there is an example of a more readily accessible migration observation. Such is the case with species each fall that use the not-so-subtle bird habitat and migration corridors that line the sides of our roads. These birds feast on seeds and insects while following safety-in-numbers survival strategies. Within a group word of incoming threats spread quickly in the form of “alarm calls” and groups will erupt in flashes of browns and whites at the drop of such a call. These groups of birds can be impressive in number and, depending on weather conditions, may show up where a single bird had not been seen the day before.

Some drivers of St. George’s roads have been referring to the roadside birds as “Kamikaze birds,” as they seem to play with death while darting in front of cars, buses, and bikes. Others describe such roadside birds as “Little Brown Jobs” or “LBJs.”

White-crowned Sparrow

The vast majority of LBJs along Watts Avenue I saw recently were Dark-eyed Juncos (easy to identify in flight as their outer tail feathers–both left and right sides–are white in contrast to the dark central tail feathers) and White-throated Sparrows. Both are members of the Emberizidae and both species breed in the midcoast. The large numbers of roadside individuals, however, tells a story of birds from further north stopping at our “roadside diners” before heading to their wintering grounds in the south.

White-crowned Sparrows also made up a healthy part of the LBJ groups I saw in St. George. This species breeds up north, Hudson Bay, Labrador and above. But, for a few weeks each fall we get to see this species as individuals pass through on their way to wintering grounds in the southern half of the U.S. Along the coast most White-crowneds seen in migration are first-year birds (hatched just a few months ago) and “white-crowned” can seem like a misnomer for them as their crowns are red-and-cream colored. Song, Chipping, Swamp, and Savannah sparrows rounded out the sparrows I crossed within the LBJ groups.

Hermit Thrush

Two larger bird species that I also saw in this year’s roadside groups were Northern Flicker and Hermit Thrushes. Flickers–state bird of Alabama!–are a woodpecker that spends a lot of time on the ground eating ants. When they take to flight, the white rump patch at the base of their tail (dorsal side) is easily seen and makes identification just as easy. Hermit thrushes–state bird of Vermont–have been extremely tame this fall, especially those with the roadside groups, and approaching close for great views has been the norm! That is never the norm at all!

All in all, I picked out nine species of birds in the St. George roadside LBJ groups and there were undoubtedly other species that passed through. It was hard not to note the sheer numbers of LBJs. They showed up almost magically overnight and seem to have disappeared as quickly as they appeared. The power of migration–a quick show along a roadside near you! See you out there!

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

High School Choice: An important part of the 8th grade year

8th grade students at the St. George School browsing high school handbooks and brochures

This year’s 8th graders are currently going through the High School Choice process as it is their last year at St. George School. This month we are taking tours and getting presentations about the main schools we have to choose from: Oceanside High School, Camden Hills Regional High School, Watershed High School, Lincoln Academy High School, and Medomak Valley High School. The choice process is an important part of the 8th grade year because the school we choose is the school we will be attending next year. It may be stressful for some of us, but St. George students are fortunate to have this choice of schools. The High School Choice process helps each of us pick the right high school best suited to our way of learning.

The High School Choice process begins in September, starting with High School Choice Night. This is when representatives from each of the main high schools as well as Midcoast School of Technology (MCST) sets up a small table with handouts, brochures, and schedules. The representatives each give a brief presentation about their school and what it offers, including different programs or clubs they have and graduation requirements. After the schools have presented, students and their families are free to walk around to the different tables and ask questions or take handouts that the high school representatives provide. This year, in addition to the regular schools, we also had presentations from North Haven Community School and the Maine Ocean School in Searsport.

The next step in the process is when 8th graders tour each high school in October. This is helpful because students can get a feel for each school and can even see classes or activities they are interested in. So far, our 8th grade class has visited four of the five schools. Each tour has been excellent; many of us have had a great time exploring the schools’ music programs, their theaters, and their visual arts. Others enjoy checking out the hands-on programs, international options, sports programs, and electives.

The third step of the High School Choice process is the potluck for families of students who have gone to St. George in the past. At the potluck supper, students and their families can chat with high schoolers to get an idea of how they like the school they are attending and answer questions we might have about their schools.

After the potluck, students have a chance to shadow a student at the high school that they are considering. For some students, it may be two schools. Eighth graders get to spend about one school day at that high school shadowing a student who has the same interests and a similar schedule as theirs. By shadowing a high school student, St. George students can get a good feel for the school they are considering.

The final step of High School Choice is when you have made up your mind about what high school is the best fit for you. To complete this step by January 31st, you must fill out a form stating what high school you will be attending the following year.

In the spring, the counselors from the high schools help get us registered for courses, and we each attend orientations at our school of choice to help ease the transition and meet other students. No matter where we go to high school, we will always know that we can come back to St. George School for advice and support or to give back to our community.
—Adeline McPhail, Grade 8

Upcoming ceremonies to honor veterans

A Veterans Day ceremony is to be held at the St. George School on November 9th at 9am. Members of St. George American Legion Post 34 will be in attendance and will be honored by the students. The message given to the students is the importance of service to our country.

In conjunction with “Wreaths Across America” on December 15th, Legion members will also lay a wreath for each branch of service in a noon ceremony at the First Baptist Church in Wiley’s Corner. The noon service will occur at the same time as the wreath-laying service at Arlington National Cemetery and across the country. The local Girl Scouts will also participate with the American Legion. — Dave Percival

Share the warmth!

This year the St. George Community Development Corporation (CDC) will be accepting donated coats in all sizes for distribution in the community through Thanksgiving. Residents are welcome to bring donations to the CDC office located at 47 Main Street in Tenants Harbor during office hours: Mon.-Tues. 9-2, Wed. 9-12, and Thurs. 2-7. Please donate items that are either new or have been laundered and are in good condition.

Those residents or families that would like to pick out a coat (or coats), please come to the St. George Community Cupboard, the food pantry located at 47 Main Street, during open cupboard hours on Thursdays from 2 to 7.

Taking to the town’s hiking trails both for recreation and service

When Tom Gorrill and his wife Barbara moved to Martinsville from Gray in September of 2015, aside from addressing needed renovations to their new-to-them mid-19th-century home, high on Gorrill’s agenda was finding a way to make a hands-on contribution to local conservation efforts. As vice-president of the Maine Appalachian Trail (AT) Club, he was naturally drawn to volunteer opportunities involving trail maintenance and development.

“When I first got here, I began looking around for local volunteer opportunities. I’m still involved very much with the AT, but that work has become more administrative now that we’ve moved further away.” For quite a few years, Gorrill notes by way of explanation, he had been Overseer of the Baldpate District of the Maine AT, with 31 maintainers working with him to keep that portion of the AT clear, groomed and in good repair. “So when we moved here I wanted to get back to being more involved with trails, to get out in the field.”

He checked out some midcoast conservation groups’ websites looking for ways to get involved. “Coastal Mountains Land Trust has a nice website. I hit the “Volunteer” button and they got in touch with me within a day.”

In short order he was going to Camden every Wednesday to join what he calls “an old-guy group” that went out and did maintenance. “And that was fun. But what I didn’t know about, and gradually got to know about as I was here longer and began attending Conservation Commission meetings, were the trails in St. George.” 

About a year ago, in line with the Commission’s informal way of welcoming volunteers and sharing responsibilities, Gorrill began coordinating with Ingrid Mroz, who up until then had been overseeing the Commission’s responsibility to “enhance public access” to town conservation lands “through the establishment and management of trails, kiosks and parking areas,” as it states on the town’s website. “Ingrid shifted over to helping me on the trails and I help her with her new focus, which is invasives,” Gorrill explains.

So now Gorrill no longer needs to make the weekly 50-mile round trip to Camden to satisfy his desire to do trail work. “These trails are local. It’s wonderful to have this system here. I can go out and walk my dogs, but I can also contribute locally and to me that’s important. I don’t want to have to drive an hour to get an opportunity. I don’t want to have to leave the peninsula.”

Gorrill hopes other St. George residents will discover how easy it is to support this particular part of the Conservation Commission’s work. 

“The Commision has always done a trail clean-up day, or a spring trail-maintenance day. And unofficially some people from the Commission have sort of looked after a trail, but the trail network has been expanding. We’ve now got High Island, which Les Hyde and the Commission worked with Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) to acquire, and there’s the Bamford property, which is a 35-acre tract down off Long Cove where the MCHT has just finished putting in a trail to the water. And then there’s the Meadow Brook preserve off Turkey Cove Road. That was purchased by the MCHT but turned over to the town so the town has all the maintenance responsibilities. There’s no trail there yet, so we will build it with the MCHT, but then we will have to maintain it. So the network is expanding, which is great—to preserve these areas and give everyone the opportunity to get out into these places to enjoy them, but we’re going to need more volunteers to help with the maintenance as that happens.”

There’s a wide range of volunteer opportunities, Gorrill says, starting with simply monitoring a particular trail every week or two to see if there are any maintenance needs to report such as blowdowns, a drainage issue or a need for clipping. “All that person has to do is call or email me the information and we’ll line up some trail maintainers to take care of the problem.” The biggest need in the summer, Gorrill says, is for clipping. “It’s amazing how quickly a trail can disappear. You want to keep the trail three feet wide, but stuff grows in the summer so if someone wants to get out and clip that’s very definitely a summer volunteer opportunity.”

Another way to help is to add your name to a list of volunteer maintainers who will be notified of work-day opportunities to help with trail construction or larger maintenance issues such as bog bridging replacement, setting stepping stones or installing waterbars. These are mostly seasonal activities.

Building the trail at the Meadow Brook preserve is a special case, where the fun is in creating a trail that users will find interesting. Here the new trail will likely be more of a wetlands nature walk similar to the St. George school’s nature trail. “In building a new trail you try to go by certain features so people can learn about them. And there are always some areas you can’t avoid, so bridging or stepping stones have to be put in. And obviously you have to clear the trail with the aim of making it accessible for all ages.”

The big thing to realize, Gorrill says, is that people don’t need many skills other than a willingness to go out and work and learn. “I’ve always found it’s a great time out there working with people. You can learn on the job so you don’t really need any particular skills. And you don’t need special equipment, either.”

Gorrill acknowledges that, despite its expanding nature, the trail system in St. George is very small-scale in comparison with the AT. But what Gorrill says he appreciates about St. George’s trails is the “variety of experiences for a variety of abilities” the system offers. 

“So for a guy like me who tends to like a longer trail, the Jones Brook Trail is great—you can go from the Town Forest Trail off Kinney Woods Road right over to Route 131. It’s about 2.5 to 3 miles, so you can really get a good hiking experience in. And from Route 131 it links up with the Fort Point Trail, which is a short trail that doesn’t take very long and you’re rewarded with a great view.”

Dogs are welcome on the trails, but should be leashed, more as a precaution against encounters with other dogs than anything else. And the trails are accessible much of the year, including winter (another option for volunteer work is painting trail blazes to mark the trails for all-season visibility). Hikers should avoid damaging muddy trails in the spring, respect the limitations hunting season brings and take common-sense precautions against ticks.

For more information on volunteer opportunities related to maintaining and developing the town’s trails contact Tom Gorrill at 372-8806 or at woodencanoeboy@gmail.com.—JW

The St. George School nature trail was re-dedicated in memory of conservation activist Les Hyde on October 20. Hyde was a moving force behind the expansion of the town’s trail system.

PHOTOS: Top, Maine AT Club, below, Betsy Welch

This is one honey of a mushroom

Nature bumming’ with Kirk Gentalen—

Pithy stalk

In my humble, fungal experience the two most frequently asked questions on mushroom explorations are, “Will it kill me?” and “Can I eat it?” And while the edibility and toxicity potential of a mushroom adds an air of excitement to any harvesting experience, those potentials just skim the surface of characteristics that make mushrooms cool and interesting. There are plenty of things to think about when dealing with mushrooms. How does it release its spores? Does the mushroom glow in the dark? Does the fungus help, hurt or just turn trees into dirt? Does it have a veil? Does it look like a “mushroom?” Is it found locally, regionally, circumpolarly, or even globally? Can it clone itself or is it at the mercy of sexual reproduction? Classic fungal questions. They can go on forever. 

With so much to think about and so many mushrooms out there, things can be a little overwhelming to the newbie mushroom watcher/fungus tracker. But what if I told you there was an easy-to-identify (pretty much) mushroom that is, was, and continues to represent most everything a mushroom watcher looks for in a ‘shroom? And to make things even better—they call this honey of a mushroom the Honey Mushroom! I know—you can’t make this stuff up!

To oversimplify, September is for Boletes and Amanitas. Then, in early October members of the Cortinariaceae (Corts) take over the spruce and fir forests with their purples, greys and oranges. And just when the dust feels like its settling on the fall mushroom bloom, there is an intense, thick burst at the base of trees, rising from subterranean roots, and erupting through tree bark up to 25 feet or more off the ground. Welcome to the world of Honey Mushrooms (Armilllaria mellea)! Let the dance begin. 

Typically fruiting in large clusters, Honey Mushrooms are known for their decurrent gills (they “run” down the stalks slightly and we love that) and (often) honey colored caps that are covered with dark, scaly tufts. Their stalk/stipes are tough, with a “pithy” interior and a bold white “veiled” ring. Their caps are edible, as are their “pithy” stalks once the tough outer layer is removed. (Pithy stalks cooked in olive oil are dreamy). And yet, Honey Mushrooms collected off spruce trunks and roots are more likely to make one become sick when compared to eating honeys collected off hardwoods. Yes, they are an edible mushroom that may make you sick! To make things even cooler, Honey Mushrooms and the fungus itself within the log or trunk glow in the dark, creating an eeirry green glow known as “foxfire.” These mushrooms are “on” both day and night!  

At times the Honey Mushrooms fungus is saprotrophic—decomposing the heartwood of plants, turning the non-living part of trunks and roots into soil.  And yet, when the decomposer lifestyle isn’t “cutting it,” Honey Mushrooms will send out “hyphae”—thread-like filaments that make up a fungus—through the soil in search of food. The thick, insulted groups of Honey Mushroom hyphae are called “rhizomorphs,” and they attack and begin to digest trees and shrubs with which they come into contact. This can cause and spread the destructive “white rot” throughout a patch of woods! They go from decomposer to parasite in order to feed their insatiable appetite. Adaptable and aggressive, the Honey Mushroom is a true survivalist.

As the fungus grows, it clones itself and continues its “individual” life by enlarging in size and extending its reach. In optimal conditions this results in grandiose specimens–as evidenced by the Honey Mushroom fungus in Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon. One Honey Mushroom mycelium—mat of fungal hyphae—in the forest has been measured at 3.5 square miles, and estimated to be at least 2,400 years old—the largest living “being” known to humans on the planet. Honey Mushrooms are not only circumpolar in the northern hemisphere, but are recognized as one of the most widely distributed mushrooms in the world as they can be found at the appropriate latitudes in the southern hemisphere as well. This is why Gary Lincoff says, “With some justification, Earth could be called the Honey Mushroom Planet.” Well put, Gary.

And just when it seems like this fungus can’t get any more perfect, it turns out the “Honey Mushroom” is actually at least ten different, but closely related and seemingly identical species! For most intents and purposes they are the same species and impossible to separate in the field. As our understanding and knowledge of fungus increases through DNA and other tests there are many “past facts” that will be corrected and will have to be relearned. There is so much “unknown” or “wrongly understood” within our knowledge of fungus it can be interesting to correctly identify a mushroom knowing in the back of your mind there’s a fair chance that the resource you are using will turn out to be wrong. For some reason I like this, the mystery of fungus. “Weird” Al Yankovic was right when he wrote, “Everything you know is wrong!”

Honey Mushrooms have it all, or at least most of it all! And they are growing in a patch of woods near you! We’ll see you out there!

PHOTOS: Kirk Gentalen

A special Tenants Harbor welcome

Mary Galbraith Wall and Geraldine Watts Wall stand by the original Tenants Harbor welcome sign on August 5, 1949

As you approach the village of Tenants Harbor through what some old-timers call “The Harbor Woods,” you see a sign that looks like the stern of a lobster boat named the “Welcome II” hailing from Tenants Harbor. Some of the same old-timers may remember the predecessor to that sign when it was located at the intersection of Main Street and Mechanic Street in front of the post office.

A July 1953 issue of the local paper­—the Courier-Gazette—contains a letter to the editor from Fred Romkey recalling the history of the earlier sign. The sign was erected in September 1929 by the Village Improvement Society, with a push from Harriet and Ernest Rawley. The Village Improvement Society was also responsible for such things as the wooden sidewalks that wound through the village to keep residents out of the mud.

Rawley’s letter also talks about “our one and only sign painter Roy” Meservey doing a decent job of painting the sign, even though it was “long over due.”

Rolling the clock ahead by at least 50 years, and with the earlier sign no longer in place, Martha and Bill Iliffe felt a new welcoming sign was needed. Taking on the role of Harriet and Ernest Rawley, Martha and Bill moved forward with the raising of funds, obtained an appropriate design, then had the sign placed on their property at the edge of the road to welcome everyone to the village.

As an interesting footnote, Bill Iliffe was the grandson of the author of the 1953 Courier-Gazette letter to the editor, Fred Romkey.

—­John M. Falla

It takes funds for a fun trip!

The eighth grade has started fundraising for our annual Québec City trip in the Spring. We will be going May 30-June 2. We will explore all of Québec’s unique features. We will go try different foods that we haven’t had yet, we will go to the mall to shop, and we will be staying in a hotel there. We will be practicing our French in all of those places.

Our first big fundraiser was last week’s Italian Dinner. Instead of having the normal spaghetti dinner, Willow’s parents, India and John McConochie, volunteered to make some delicious Italian-style food. They made pasta and red sauce with Italian sausage, polenta, and homemade garlic bread. They, along with other parents, also made some yummy desserts. 

At the dinner, we each had to work a shift, either setting up, serving, cleaning up, or doing admissions. Grandparents, and other family members and family friends came to enjoy this dinner. At $5 a plate, we made over $1,700 (our original goal was $1,000). This was the biggest crowd for the dinner and open house in the  recent history at the St. George School. People were lined up all the way along the gym walls and almost going out of the door. There were people who came who didn’t even have a child in the school. 

Our goal for raising enough money to get to Québec is $11,000. Our next few months of fundraising will be concessions at home basketball games this winter, a school dance in November, the local Christmas Craft Fairs on Dec 1st and 8th, and a Holiday Band Concert dessert. For fundraising in 2019, we will have the bottles at the transfer station in January, a dance in February, our annual March Madness basketball event, another band concert dessert in March, food at the St. George Business Alliance Fair, and another dance in April or May. With all this fundraising and hard work, the eighth grade class hopes to enjoy a trip to Québec City, Canada this spring. We are thankful for the tremendous support from the St. George community. Merci beaucoup!

—Sophia Miller and Gwen Miller, Grade 8

Maine artichokes

  This was a good artichoke year for us. Being Mediterranean plants, they liked the hot and rather dry weather, though we did work at keeping them watered. These are Imperial Star globe artichokes, bred for annual production. I start them in the greenhouse the beginning of February and when they are about six weeks old, put the plants in a cool, dark spot in the greenhouse for about six weeks so they think they go through a winter. Then they come out into the light and heat, and finally into the garden toward the end of May. By the middle of July: lovely and delicious artichokes. But I always leave a few to let them flower. They are members of the thistle family, so we get the hugest thistles ever. How’s that: food and flower both!
—Anne Cox, Hedgerow

Running a kelp business that is all about involved learning

Long Line Kelp Growers students (and teachers) on their first day at Herring Gut Learning Center

Two days a week eight students from the St. George School make the trip to Herring Gut Learning Center in Port Clyde to be part of the Center’s Long Line Kelp Growers program. They signed up for the program to learn how to run an aquaculture business—from what it takes to produce a quality product to marketing it to consumers and selling it at a profit.

“‘The Long Line’ program was specifically designed just for grades 6 through 8 from the St. George School,” explains Holly Merrow, one of the program’s teachers. “It’s a program the kids ask to be a part of, so they have to make up the school work that they miss when they are here.”

While the St. George School doesn’t consider the Long Line program an academic substitute for elements of its middle-school curriculum, learning what is involved in farming kelp does require an understanding of the marine science involved. Late September and October is the nursery season, when the students are learning how to “seed” the kelp. This involves stimulating the sorus tissue of mature kelp to release spores that can attach to seaweed string that has been wrapped around pvc pipe and placed in indoor fish tanks that comprise the nursery. Once the attached spores have gone through their reproductive process, they will produce tiny baby kelp plants. When the young kelp is an adequate size, the students will then place them in the Learning Center’s lobster pound which will host the students’ kelp farms. Here the plants will grow throughout the winter. Harvest season is in the spring.

Students identifying seaweed with St. George School Herring Gut Coordinator Leslie Ferguson looking on

Sarah Redmond, the owner of Springtide Seaweed, an organic seaweed aquaculture company located down east in Frenchman Bay, began helping the students with the seeding process last year. “Bringing seaweed aquaculture into schools is a great thing,” she says, “because this industry is pretty new in Maine and we need to encourage familiarity with seaweed science as well as innovation in developing the industry.” Redmond adds, “There is tremendous interest from the fishing community and our coastal communities in how seaweed aquaculture can fit into our existing waterfront economy, but the big challenge is building the processing infrastructure needed for this new seafood industry. So Port Clyde is a great place, where if you could build the infrastructure here there are a lot of fisherman here looking for ways to diversify. Building the processing infrastructure is key—you can grow all the kelp you want, but if you can’t process it you’ve got a problem.”

Redmond strongly believes “kelp is the future,” and she and others, such as the folks at Ocean Approved, the first commercial kelp aquaculture company in the U.S. founded in Portland in 2006, are helping the Herring Gut students learn why. During a recent seeding session in the Herring Gut kelp nursery, Redmond and Leslie Ferguson, the Herring Gut Coordinator at the St. George School, prompted the students to itemize the positive reasons for growing kelp. For one thing, they noted, kelp is a crop that combats ocean acidification which helps prevent, among other things, shell disease in lobsters. But perhaps its foremost positive quality, student Madison Barbour noted cheerfully, is that, “Kelp is the new kale!” This is because it is a crop with great health benefits. As Redmond points out, the fact that kelp is naturally salty makes it a great substitute for table salt.

“If you think about it, the leading causes of death and disease tends to be nutrient-related or diet-related disease and a lot of people are aware of that. So they are trying to cut down on things like sodium, table salt, processed food. But we still need salt, we need mineral salts, so seaweed can provide that. What’s been happening is that people are trying to get away from table salt but now they are missing iodine since table salt is iodized, so their diets are becoming unbalanced. Seaweed can restore the imbalance.”

Another reason that kelp is attracting commercial interest is that it can be used in so many different ways. While the kelp is growing in Herring Gut’s lobster pound this winter, in addition to periodically taking measurements and recording farm data, the Long Line Kelp Growers students will be investigating some of those applications in preparation for choosing which products they want to make. Last year, for example, the Long Line Kelp Growers students used their kelp to make kelp seasoning that they used on french fries, popcorn and bagels as well as in smoothies. They also made fizzy bath “bombs,” lotions and even nail polish.

“The students run the program like a business,” says Georgie Burress, who is also one of the program’s Herring Gut educators. “They all have different roles within the business—there’s the company spokesperson, the secretary, the treasurer. They’ll apply for the different roles, interview for them, and be elected to those positions. And they will hold monthly business meetings in which they will make decisions together.”

As the year progresses, the students will also be chronicling their work through photographs, illustrations and written pieces that they will use to collaborate on a book-length manuscript that will be published next May. “Expeditionary learning is about making a product that shows what you’ve learned and that you can present to the community,” Merrow points out. “That is what the book is all about.”

If Merrow and Burruss will not be grading each student on their work from an academic point of view, they will still be providing their teachers at the St. George School with an evaluation of each student’s participation in the program. “The school wants work habits evaluations and behaviors evaluations”, Merrow says. “We hope that at the end of the year they’ll really be working together and that they’ll be able to communicate well about what they have learned to do. A big part of our objective with the program is to work on making them much more involved learners. Our platform is marine science, but those are our real goals, that they get those soft skills that they need.”—JW