Are you sick of winter yet? With the frigid temperatures and snow keeping many of us indoors this would be the perfect time to work on contest entries. What better way to while away a cold afternoon but to read a book or write a poem or story? To enter the book reading contest all you have to do is keep track of the number of books you read and the number of pages. For those of you who like to write just put the pen to paper and let the words flow. If you’re not sure about the categories for the writing contest ask you Lecturer or look up the rules in Lecturer’s section of program books and information on the Maine Grange website.
William Faulkner wrote, “If a story is in you, it has got to come out.” Some people were just born to write, it seems that all they have to do is put their pen to paper and the words just flow, are you one of them?
The Lecturer’s Department is again sponsoring the Poetry, Story Writing, and Skit Writing contests.
- The Poetry contest is opened to all Subordinate and Junior members. The categories are: 1. Nature, 2. Love, 3. Grange, 4. Patriotic, and 5. Other.
- The Original Story Writing and Original Skit Writing contest are opened to all Subordinate members. Stories or skits must not exceed 10 minutes (approximately 500 words).
The deadline for submitting entries to these contests is July 1, 2017, and should be sent or e-mailed to my home. All skits, stories, and poetry entries will be printed in a booklet for all to use and enjoy. Complete rules may be found on the Maine State Grange website in the Lecturer’s section of Program Books & Information.
The Valley Grange Bookworm Program began in 2007 as an outgrowth of their long standing Words for Thirds Dictionary Program. Program Director Walter Boomsma explains, “We had so much fun with the kids during our dictionary programs we wanted more time with them.” At the time, the Grange was visiting Guilford Primary School where grades two and three were located. Working with then Principal Julie Orton, they came up with what was dubbed the Valley Grange Bookworm Program. Volunteer Grange Members began visiting the school twice a week to spend time with reading with the students. “Initially, we were thinking we’d read to the kids,” Boomsma explains. “But in discussing ideas with the teachers and principal it occurred to us that having the kids read to us made even more sense and after nearly a decade we’re even more convinced we did the right thing. For one thing, the kids feel like they ‘own’ the program and they take the decision of what they’re going to read to us very seriously.”
At the conclusion of this year’s program, the Guilford-based Grange received a packet of thank you notes from some of the students who’ve benefited. These notes prove the value of the program. Some examples of notes written by second graders:
“Thank you for listening to me read this year. You help me become a better reader. It was fun reading with you!”
“Thank you for listening to me read this year. I hope you had fun!”
“Thank you for listening to me read this year. I like it when you make me a better reader. I love when I can read to all of you Grange readers.”
“Thank you for listening to me read this year. You helped me read long words. I really like reading with you.”
“Than you for listening to me read this year. I love reading books and magazines with you. I became a better reader because of you.”
“Thank you for listening to me read this year! I appreciate all the things you’ve done for all of us. You made me prove that now I have better reading skills than I did at the beginning of this year.”
Boomsma enthusiastically recommends the program to other Granges. “It’s one of our easiest community service programs to maintain. It requires very little structure and there’s absolutely no cost. Our Community Service Chair Mary Annis sets up a monthly schedule and the school assigns us to classrooms when we arrive. We’ve actually developed quite a partnership with the school and kids who help us by bringing ‘Coups for Troops to school.”
Admitting there can be some challenges at the beginning in setting up the structure of the progrm, he’s willing to work with and assist any Grange interested in starting a similar program. “Valley Grange has always had a preference for community service work that puts our ‘boots on the ground’ directly benefiting our fellow citizens regardless of age. The rewards are huge.” Additional information about the Bookworm Program, including frequently asked questions, is available on the Valley Grange Website.
In addition to Dictionary Day (third grade) and “bookworming” (second and third grades) Valley Grange sponsors an annual “Newspapers in Education” Project (third and fourth grades) and continues to promote agricultural literacy with special projects (kindergarten through grade three) as part of their “GrowME” collaboration.
In something of a perfect storm, Valley Grangers experienced a bit of March Madness recently with two major community service projects involving local students. First up was their annual GrowME Collaboration–a joint effort with Piscataquis County UMaine Extension and Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District. By pooling resources and volunteers, the three organizations this year visited with over 500 students from Kindergarten through Third Grade in Piscataquis County. With a mission of “increasing agricultural literacy and making it fun,” volunteers help kindergartners build an animal graph, first graders taste and sort apples, second graders make their own butter, and third graders construct their very own “dirt babies.”
Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange is especially proud of the fact that “we have no budget and not much structure–just a bunch of people who love working with kids and providing positive experiences.” His specialty is making butter with second graders. “We have fun and the kids almost don’t realize they are learning–some have even asked for instructions and then made butter at home as a family activity.”
Another initiative the Grange has supported long enough that it’s a school tradition is a contest among third and fourth graders to design two advertisements for the Grange in the Piscataquis Observer’s Annual Newspapers in Education Supplement. The program is a favorite of Piscataquis Community Elementary School Art Teacher Jane Daniels because it “gives the kids a practical side of art.” Valley Grange Master Jim Annis notes that “We have strong ties to kids…” with Grange members involved regularly at the local schools. “We’ve actually built a series of programs that range from Bookworming and Words for Thirds to our blistered finger knitters making hats and mittens for the kids who need them. The kids know us and we know them.”
Valley Grange Community Service Chair Mary Annis is quick to note that this is not a one-way street. “In addition to the fun we have, the kids help us. We recently collected twelve pounds of ‘Coups for Troops’ most of which came from collection boxes placed in local schools. We like the feeling that we are redefining community and good ways of working together.”
Additional information about all of the Valley Grange Programs can be found on their website, http://valleygrange.com. The GrowME Collaboration maintains a basic information and resource site at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com.
Submitted by Walter Boomsma
You may not want to be reminded, but it’s almost time for the kids to start school again! During a recent festival I “interviewed” kids and found about half are ready to return to school. Of course in about a month, it won’t matter whether we’re ready or not! For many Granges, this also means it’s time to start thinking about this year’s Dictionary Project. Some of the steps to consider:
How many dictionaries will you need? Remember, orders placed in the early fall may be delayed due to many organizations placing orders. Get your order in early!
How will you label them? There are some general templates available on the Dictionary Project website… If you’d like a copy of the one Valley Grange uses, let me know!
When will you schedule Dictionary Day? Valley Grange tends to make dictionary day into a big deal! At least two districts usually schedule a field trip to our Grange Hall… my experience with scheduling is that most teachers would prefer not scheduling special activities like this prior to mid-October. This gives them time to set routines and expectations with the kids.
There are, of course, many other considerations including how you’ll publicize your event. Because our project at Valley Grange involves four districts and typically a dozen classrooms, we find it helpful to create a timeline with deadlines. Communication with school administration and teachers is probably the most important aspect of this program. If you have any questions or would like some help with your project, please feel free to let me know! I’ll be happy to help!
Walter Boomsma, Valley Grange #144
Enthusiasm is important to the success of any project, but it is not the only ingredient. Although enthusiasm is frequently the catalyst, the jump-start that gets the engine going, it is commitment that provides for the life and continuity of a dictionary project. Commitment, or the state of being whole-heartedly dedicated to a cause, is what has driven Walter Boomsma to continue The Dictionary Project for the Valley Grange #144 for the past eight years. “My passion is kids first, second and third,” said Boomsma and The Dictionary Project appreciates his efforts to ensure that today’s children have a bright future.
Topsham Grange #37 has taken on several projects in community service over the past few years. The most rewarding is participation in the national “Words for Thirds” dictionary project. For the past seven years, this program has seen Topsham Grange provide either dictionaries or technology grants to several schools in the area.
Beginning in 2008, all third-grade students in Topsham and Lisbon were presented with their own personal dictionaries. With the recent merger of the Dirigo Grange in Brunswick with Topsham Grange, this program also now includes all third-graders at the Harriet Beecher Stowe School in Brunswick.
When another service organization provided dictionaries to third-graders at Lisbon Community School, the Grange opted to support a computer program, “Brain Pop,” for that school with the funds that would have provided dictionaries to third graders. The computer science coordinator at that school recently announced that the program is used by all students in first through fifth grades, reaching more than 500 students in all.
As a result, Topsham Grange now presents dictionaries to 186 third-graders at Brunswick’s Harriet Beecher Stowe School, an in-kind grant for 95 students at the Lisbon Community School, and a combination of dictionaries and a technology grant to 105 pupils at the Woodside and Williams-Cone Schools in Topsham.
Topsham members enjoyed receiving and reading many colorful thank you notes from students from these schools at their last meeting. The Lisbon Community School also invited Topsham members to attend their “thank you pizza party” for “Community Partners.”
by Walter Boomsma
Third graders at PCES in Guilford were already pretty excited because Valley Grange volunteers and bookworms Mrs. Boomsma and Ms. Erwin were coming to help them make “dirt babies” as part of the GrowME Collaboration. But they became even more pumped when they saw WABI’s Caitlin Burchill and a camera operator headed their way. One teacher asked us to pop in and say “Hi” to the kids… and a third grader came rushing up to Cait with a quickly made card for the “wether woman” that said inside, “I love you!”
The resulting video can be viewed on the WABI TV 5 website.
GrowME is a collaboration between Valley Grange, PCSWCD (Piscataquis Soil and Water Conservation District) and UMaine Piscataquis County Extension designed to build a truly local program of agriculturally themed, hands on activities for kids led by local volunteers. The program was developed three years ago as an outgrowth from Valley Grange’s program with PCES (Piscataquis Community Elementary School). Teachers and students had been enjoying and learning from activities conducted by the Grange and it was thought expansion of the program might be possible by forming a collaboration. This year’s volunteers included Grangers, Master Gardeners, 4-H Club Members, and community citizens interested in GrowingME, growing kids, and growing plants. These volunteers will visit six schools, approximately fifty classrooms and 700 students, kindergarten through third grade.
Kindergarteners complete a graph showing the class’s favorite farm animal, first graders taste and sort apples provided compliments of Rollins Orchards in Garland, second graders make butter, and third graders assemble dirt babies. Volunteers often have some great stories to tell about their experiences with the teachers and kids and often report learning themselves. For example, when asked what the difference is between a horse and a “horsey,” one kindergartener explained, “Horsey’s are smaller.”
For additional information about the GrowME Project:
Original Story Writing Contest deadline March 31st sent / email /fax to my home address. Open to all subordinate and junior members Junior age as of March 31st must be on the label. (ages 5 – 7; 8 – 10; 11 -14. Categories fact and/or fiction. Original stories only. Profanity or inappropriate items will not be accepted. Length of story must not exceed 10 minutes, 500 words maximum. Enter as many stories as you wish. Label at the top of each story. Include all the following information: name, address, Grange and number, phone, title, category.
Original Skit Writing Contest. Deadline March 31 sent, email, fax to me at my home address. Categories Subordinate and Junior members. Jr age as of March 31st must be on label. Ages 5 – 7; 8 -10; 11 – 14. Original skits only. Profanity and inappropriate items will not be accepted. Length of play or skit must not exceed 10 minutes. Label at the top of each skit. Include all of the following information name; address; Grange & number; phone; title; category.
Judging skits and stories will be done in April and winners announced. If you wish to perform your skits and stories this will be done at Lecturers Conference held September 12th in Augusta. Let me know so I can plan.
Date change: our Maine Lecturers Conference will be held in Augusta September 12th — 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. No lunch. The conference will include new program review; workshops; raffle; material and information exchange with skit; story and poetry and all other Lecturer Awards at noon.
(August 22 will be an all-day CWA event including lunch with Karen Flag, Director. Karen and I decided that this change would benefit each of our respective departments better.)
April is Grange month. Information is available from National Grange, our publicity director and on the web for “Grange Month”. If you are making presentations using the National Grange community Citizen Award or Pomona award for public service you must order them early from National, 888-447-2643 not me. I only have “Certificates of Appreciation” for purchase. I do not have the special plaques or awards.
Submitted by Glenys Ryder
Community Service Chair, Danville Junction Grange #65
What a wonderful time Roberta and Norma Meserve, Steven Haycock, and Glenys Ryder from Danville Junction Grange had distributing dictionaries to the third graders this year! The children were so enthusiastic, and we came away from each school with such a positive feeling! I honestly think that we gained more from this project than the students!
This year we distributed three hundred fifty dictionaries in nineteen classrooms at four different schools in Auburn and New Gloucester.