10/02/2023 Dear RSU #34 Families & Staff, Some of our families have received or will be receiving P-EBT cards (known as SNAP) from the State of Maine. We were not aware this was going to happen and received some questions today; we are passing along information that we have found. The short version is that the state of Maine has changed how it gathers information about what percentage of students in communities would qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. These changes have resulted in widespread distribution of the cards in many communities. Here is a link to the state's website explaining eligibility for the program, and why you may have received these cards. https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ofi/programs-services/food-supplement#:~:text=To%20be%20eligible%20for%20this%20program%20individuals%20must%20meet%20the,19%20for%205%20consecutive%20days There is a "Frequently Asked Questions" section on that website that includes information about other benefits, how to use the cards, and what to do with the cards if you do not wish to use them. There is also an email address for Maine DHHS on that website if you have further questions. If we learn of more important details we will send them out to families. Sincerely, Jon Doty, Assistant Superintendent
Dear RSU #34 Community, Thanks for helping us have a great “launch” to the school year! It’s been great to see the smiling faces in the hallways, excited to be back in school despite the hot weather. Last year we began sharing a profile of a student each month; we are excited to begin sharing the stories of our colleagues! This month we visited with David May, who joined our team as a technician in the IT Department. David very much impressed his colleagues, and this past July began serving RSU #34 as Director of Information Technologies. David was interviewed by our Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Jon Doty. Q: When you were a kid what did you think you wanted to do when you grew up? A: I was going to be a professional athlete, playing soccer for Manchester United. All the way through high school I really thought I was going to make it. My real career path was a little different. In high school I pushed shopping carts, was a lifeguard, and mowed cemetery lawns. After high school I started off doing customer service for credit card companies, then shifted to Verizon Wireless. I changed over to tech support, and then started working at a computer repair shop where I started working more with businesses and device networking. I discovered that I really love computers and solving problems, and it doesn’t feel like work to me. I was ready for a new challenge and I was excited to join the schools’ IT Department. Q: What do you like about working in RSU #34? A: I love the people...I love the challenge. Everybody has fun, too. We’re all working hard, and sometimes it can be tough, but at the end of the day it’s all about getting students what they need and we all have fun together. I love coming in to work every day. Q: How do you recharge your batteries? A: Usually it’s either an HP 65-watt adapter or USB-C, but….wait….you mean….? Q: Yep. A: Playing video games and working out. Q: At the same time? Q: What was your favorite book as a kid? A: The DragonLance series; I still love the fantasy genre! Q: What was your favorite show / movie as a kid? A: Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and Return of the Jedi. Q: What do you like about our community? A: It’s the people, the sense of community, and events like RiverFest. I grew up in Old Town, and I love how close our community is. Our people are always caring and resilient….tough. We’ve been through a lot together over the years and we keep coming back. Q: What’s something that most people don’t know about you? A: I’m a pretty open book! That said, I don’t think most people know I was really into theatre at OTHS - the One Act Play and the Fall Play. Q: Who was your favorite school teacher and why? A: Mr. Marty Clark [OTHS Social Studies Teacher] - he really made learning fun! It was cool to start working alongside him before he retired. Q: Which colleague would you like by your side during a zombie apocalypse? A: Curtis Robertson. [LMS teacher] Q: Not me? A: No. Q: Wow, zero hesitation on that…OK, I would have guessed you’d go with a certain veteran of the U.S. Army Cavalry, Captain Mike May. OTHS Social Studies teacher? Your brother? A: Nope. When we were kids he broke a plate and I got blamed for it. Q: Little did he know that would someday cost him an ally in a zombie apocalypse. A: I could tell you about all the times I beat him at sports but I won’t. Q: What’s a small act of kindness you were once shown that you’ll never forget? A: That’s a tough one - there are a lot of acts of kindness I’ve been shown. People are so kind here and these acts happen every day. It’s hard to pick just one in this district. Wow….I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Thanks, David, for being part of our team and for your hard work! And thank you to Captain May and our other veterans for your service to our country! RSU #34 Community, if you’d like to suggest someone for a future staff profile please use this form: https://forms.gle/m9295zfr8xLTzNzRA
Students who live in Alton and West Old Town - our bus contractor is making some adjustments to routes; we will share more detailed information when it is finalized. Please plan to be out waiting for the bus extra early for the first few days as the routes settle into place. Thanks in advance for your patience!
RSU #34 is thrilled to share our back-to-school issue of Community Connections! Inside you will read about some of the great endeavors of our students and staff, along with important back-to-school info such as school start/end times and bus routes. Please help your kids to be on time every day this year! This issue is dedicated to the memory of our late Board member David Wollstadt, who contributed in many ways to the school district and community. Here's the link! https://5il.co/21o0w
All of our librarian roles are filled for the upcoming school year, but we ARE still recruiting a few members to join our RSU #34 team! https://www.rsu34.org/page/employment-applications-and-vacancies You can get started on a career in education in one of several entry-level roles - we support college tuition so you can keep learning and growing, opening up future opportunities! We just added a grant-funded intervention teaching role as well, and seek an additional Special Education teacher to join our team and help reduce caseloads. Educational Technicians support our students in a variety of ways. We have a couple of coach openings for fall middle school athletics, and we always seek substitutes. Please visit and share our employment page! https://www.rsu34.org/page/employment-applications-and-vacancies
RSU #34 is making a big email transition beginning at 3:30 Friday, June 16th. We anticipate that email will be down through the weekend, possibly also including the federal holiday on June 19th. Please continue to use our @rsu34.org addresses, but anticipate that your email will not be received until Tuesday. Thank you, happy last day of school, and have a fantastic weekend!
Please remember to vote on Tuesday, 6/13/2023, in support of the RSU #34 school budget! Alton: we believe voting hours are 2 PM - 7 PM at the Town Office Bradley: per the website voting hours are 8 AM to 8 PM at the Fire Station Old Town: per the website voting hours are 7 AM to 8 PM at the Elks Lodge Thank you for your support of our students and schools!
We're very proud of our World Cultures and Languages program in RSU #34 - our K-8 program was featured in the Educators for a MultiLingual Maine newsletter! You can read more here: https://5il.co/1w1kh
RSU #34 hosts the Eastern Maine Reading Recovery Site, providing teacher-leader services to more than 30 teachers across Eastern Maine in a fee-based partnership, including our teachers in Alton, Bradley, and Old Town. The Continuing Professional Development that Dr. Sharon Greaney provides to her teachers keeps honing their knowledge and skill so they can do best by their students who need and will benefit from this intensive literacy intervention. Today Dr. Greaney and the other teacher leaders in Maine are continuing their own development, with guest Dr. Betsy Kaye (Director of Reading Recovery at Texas Woman's University). In this picture, Viola Rand School's Reading Recovery teacher Mrs. Jen Dalessandro teaches a lesson "behind the glass" while the teacher leaders and Dr. Kaye observe and discuss strategies. After the lesson, Behind the Glass involves a debrief session with the teaching colleague to reflect on the strategies and decisions in the teaching session. It's amazing what these teachers fit into a half-hour session with a student!
Our neighbors at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge have a great - and free - event scheduled for April 22nd - please see the QR code on this flyer to register!
In 2018 through early 2019, a stakeholder group in RSU #34 led a community discussion about aspirations and opportunities for our community’s middle school students. This process included a community forum, community survey, and reporting to the School Board. This fall, RSU #34 is conducting a more compact process to confirm that these are still the priorities of our community. We will use this information to inform our planning/budgeting for future years, as well as to inform our applications for grant funds such as ESSER/ARP. We invite you to complete this brief survey, and/or to join us at an open discussion at Leonard Middle School on Monday, Oct. 24th, 5:30 - 6:30 PM. If you wish, please complete this survey by October 31st, 2022. https://forms.gle/kFYSYkuWgqCNjsuR8 If you would like to be more involved, please contact Dr. Gert Nesin, LMS Principal, at Gert.Nesin@rsu34.org !
Re-Affirming Elementary Stakeholder Priorities In 2019 through early 2020, an “elementary stakeholder group” in RSU #34 led a community discussion about opportunities and needs for our community’s elementary students. This process included a number of open meetings, community survey, and reporting to the School Board. The committee discussed what our community was proud of, what remained on our wish list for students, enrollment projections, facilities, and a variety of possibilities. This fall, RSU #34 is conducting a more compact process to confirm that these are still the priorities of our community. We will use this information to inform our planning/budgeting for future years, as well as to inform our applications for grant funds such as ESEA and ESSER/ARP. We invite you to complete this brief survey, and/or to join us at an open discussion at one of these times: *with Alton Elementary PTC, @ November meeting (date TBD) *with Viola Rand School PRIDE, Monday 10/3, 6 PM (email Heidi.Gifford@rsu34.org for Zoom link) *with Old Town Elementary School PTC, Nov. 2nd, 2022 If you wish, please complete this survey by November 3rd, 2022: https://forms.gle/FuvZHH8NEzbhCrVL9 We also invite you to complete this survey about our use of federal Family Engagement Funds: https://forms.gle/PXY7wo2xipzEaMCfA If you would like to be more involved, please contact your school’s administration or RSU #34’s Assistant Superintendent (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Similar outreach will be coming out in the coming month for Leonard Middle School and Old Town High School.
It’s been a great day for RSU #34! This morning our grant application was approved for $70,000 in supplies to support Computer Science learning at all of our schools; this will support and expand our current coding and robotics efforts, and give us new capacities in virtual and augmented reality. Many thanks to our STEM specialists Mrs. Daniel and Mrs. Zabierek for their hard work in preparing the grant application. Our schools have been leading the way in robotics and coding since a 2012-era community fundraising effort! In addition to our in-school programming for all students, over the course of the past decade competitive robotics teams from LMS and OTHS have each earned their way to international competitions. Then at lunchtime, the Department of Education announced that RSU #34 is one of just four grantees statewide under the Community Schools program. This $50,000 grant will enable us to continue our existing community outreach efforts led by Mrs. Goodwin. Many thanks to her and Mrs. Wilcox for their hard work preparing that grant application. $120,000 total in grant awards is a great way to end a busy week!
The Back to School Expo for Viola Rand and Alton Elementary School students will be on August 18, 4:30-6:30!
Check out these summer caps at Hirundo!
RSU #34- Alton, Bradley and Old Town Schools The State of Maine and Department of Education have completed the statewide pool testing program. The Pool Testing program has ended, but that is not an indicator that COVID has ended. We have seen increased cases of COVID as of late and wanted to give our families some extra resources to help navigate this time. If your student is not feeling well or there are house members who are ill with COVID or awaiting testing, you should continue to keep your child at home notify the school and perform a rapid COVID test/seek testing at a facility. It may be helpful to have some at-home COVID rapid tests on hand in case of an exposure, or if you/your student develop symptoms that may be consistent with COVID such as: *Fever or chills *Cough *Fatigue *Muscle or body aches *Headache *New loss of taste or smell *Sore throat *Nausea or vomiting *Congestion or runny nose *Diarrhea *Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing How can I get an at-home test? • At-home tests can be purchased over the counter without a prescription at pharmacies, retail stores, or online retailers. • There are local facilities offering rapid testing services including PCHC Walk-In Care, Northern Light Walk-in Care, Curative (curative.com , located at the Bangor International Airport), The Northern Light Drive Thru, Walgreens, and ConvienentMD. • Order free tests through the State Program: There are free at-home tests (five per household) available for Maine residents through the successful Project Access COVID-19 Tests (ACT) pilot at www.accessCOVIDTests.org. These tests can be ordered once per month per household. • Order free tests through the Federal Program: Maine people in need of home tests may also order them through the federal program. The White House recently announced that U.S. residents can order two sets of four free at-home tests through www.COVIDtests.gov. Residents can also call 1-800-232-0233 for help placing the order. If you have any questions or concerns, need to discuss an exposure, or report an illness please contact the school nurse Hannah Cloutier, RN (email@example.com ) at Alton Elementary School (394-2331) or Viola Rand School (827-2508).
Here is a link to the Pre-Screening Tool https://5il.co/1a64g
Dear RSU #34 Community, You have likely seen in the news that COVID-19 rates are high in our region. We also continue to see the spread of a number of other respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. Please help us keep kids and staff in school by doing these things: *Please remember to do at-home screening for symptoms each and every day. (link below) *Please order and use your no-cost at-home COVID tests from https://www.covid.gov/tests or https://www.accesscovidtests.org/ *Please keep kids home when they’re sick! *Please consider using masks to reduce transmission of lots of illnesses at school. This week, the week of May 9th, is the last week that the state is conducting the pooled testing program, which makes closely monitoring for symptoms at home all the more important! Thank you, and we’re glad to see the sun shining! https://www.maine.gov/doe/sites/maine.gov.doe/files/inline-files/Maine%20DOE%20Pre-Screening%20Tool%20for%20School%20Attendance%2010
School and Student Safety Late yesterday afternoon, we were informed of a possible threat to the safety of our schools. We immediately initiated an investigation. In cooperation with the Old Town Police Department, we determined that a comment overheard by a student was perceived as a safety threat. The student did what we ask students to do, “If you see or hear something, say something.” Fortunately, there was no criminal or credible threat to the safety of our students. Nonetheless, the comment was perceived as a threat and as such, will be dealt with administratively. RSU#34 maintains our high-level commitment to the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff.
If you would like to learn more about the Covid 19 vaccine for children, here is information about a zoom webinar with a panel of pediatricians from across the state.