February 1, 2023
Dear Parents, Guardians, and Staff,
The New Year sure reminded us we live in Maine! It is always difficult to predict Maine snow storms and the overall safety of those walking and driving; however, I believe we made the right call on the recent snow days. At this time, we have used three of the five snow days normally scheduled into our district calendar. According to Chapter 125 of the Maine Department of Education (DOE), public schools must provide 175 instructional days per school year, and according to Section 5.01, there are acceptable methods to reschedule that instructional time (including required nutrition services).
As it is early in the winter months, we are drafting a plan of action should we need to utilize all five days. Any proposed make-up plan must be approved in advance by the School Committee and the Maine Commissioner of Education We have surveyed both the staff and held meetings with Administrators to determine preferred options.
The resounding majority felt remote learning is the LEAST preferred for both student engagement and instructional equity. Other factors included no internet access if the storm causes power outages, as well as safety logistics and the financial impact of providing nutrition services throughout the community (a non-reimbursable requirement during a remote school day).
Most felt making up a day on a Saturday morning, during school vacation, or at the end of the school calendar in June was not preferred. Most families already have their vacations planned, and extending the school year could impact graduation, summer jobs, etc.
The preferred option was to forgo teacher professional development hours to extend early-release days to a full day and add an hour to current school days to meet the required five hours of instruction time within a two-week period.
More information will follow via email if and when we utilize all of the five snow days and have to consider this option. For more information and FAQs about rescheduling instruction days, click here.
STAYING WARM AS TEMPS PLUMMET
As we move into this weekend, it is predicted to be extremely cold as temperatures plummet. In fact, Biddeford’s Winterfest was even postponed due to the below-zero temperatures! We recognize many of our families struggle with homelessness and the high cost of heating their homes; therefore, we are including several resources below:
Keep ME Warm Fund: This fund provides emergency heating assistance through a statewide partnership of Maine’s United Ways and Community Action Agencies. Simply dial 2-1-1 or visit www.211maine.org for information on heating assistance and weatherization services near you. 211 Maine will work with your primary fuel vendor to make emergency oil deliveries in the event established community resources are unable to provide home heating assistance.
Local Warming Stations/Resources: During an emergency, some communities may provide warming stations in addition to other resources for those in need. Please visit their websites or official Facebook pages for up-to-date information: City of Biddeford - Town of Dayton - City of Saco. For a full list of warming centers, click here.
Due to the extreme cold predicted for this weekend, Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center and the City of Biddeford have partnered to open a temporary emergency warming center to offer a safe, warm location to keep community members out of the elements and to serve those with burst pipes. See announcement here.
FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH
As we enter Black History Month, students throughout the district will be learning about cultural differences and inclusion. These topics reflect the Maine Learning Results enduring themes on Social Studies and are required content for all Maine students. The Maine DOE has provided our educators with a comprehensive list of resources to integrate Black history into their curriculum. I encourage families to talk with their children about what they are learning in class, as well as consider choosing some of the books listed on the Maine DOE Resources page to incorporate into the February Read to ME Challenge.
I am very excited to announce that Biddeford School Department recently received a nearly half-a-million-dollar grant to support the expansion of restorative practices for our students. Of the four applications submitted, Biddeford School Department received the highest rating. Please read the full article below to see how the allocated funds can be used according to the grant guidelines.
Superintendent of Schools
UPCOMING DATES TO KNOW 📆
February 2, 9, 16, and 23: Youth Full Maine Food Distribution (1:30-2:30pm @ Dayton Town Hall)
February 7: Dayton School Committee Meeting (6:30pm) @ Dayton Consolidated School Library
February 8: Biddeford School Committee Meeting (5pm) @ BHS Little Theater
February 10: Dayton Consolidated School Bingo Night (5:30pm Dinner; 6-7pm Bingo) @ DCS Gym
February 10-12: Biddeford’s WinterFest (Outdoor activities postponed due to cold temps)
February 11: BEF Fundraiser-Super Bowl Trivia Contest (12-3pm) @ RE/MAX Realty One
February 15: Youth Full Maine Food Distribution (10am-12pm) @ Rotary Park)
February 20-24: No School - Vacation
READ TO ME CHALLENGE KICKS OFF 📖
This month, we encourage the community to join our district in the Read to ME Challenge by reading to/with a child for at least 15 minutes. Reading aloud to children not only provides a bonding experience with caring adults, but the simple act of reading aloud to a child 15 minutes a day for five years results in 27,375 minutes of language exposure which can put children on the path to high literacy achievement. Reading also builds attention span and emotional development, improves concentration and focus, reduces stress and anxiety, and stimulates creativity and imagination.
Snap a photo or short video (15-30 seconds) and post it with your challenge to others to read aloud for 15 minutes to a child they know. Use hashtag #ReadtoME and tag others.
BIDDEFORD EARNS NEARLY 1/2 MILLION DOLLAR GRANT
The Biddeford School Department was recently awarded a grant in the amount of $447,582 to support the expansion of restorative practices for all students, but most especially for so-called "system-involved youth." The money will be used to support a variety of resources to advance this critical work, including the hiring of two additional social workers, and securing contracts with community partners, including APEX and the Restorative Justice Institute, to name a few.
There were four (4) grantees who were successful in their application, and the Biddeford School Department received the grant's highest rating.
"The team is thrilled that we were successful in our application for this critical resource," said Assistant Superintendent Chris Indorf. "We're incredibly proud of the work that we've done in recent years to support at-risk youth; our charge is to serve all students, regardless of their station. There are many young people in our community who struggle with homelessness, adverse childhood experiences, abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and early involvement with the criminal justice system. We recognize that an 'ounce of prevention' can go a long way."
Director of Innovation and Curriculum Mandy Cyr agrees, "Schools don't have the luxury of teaching the 3 R's and calling it a day. Our community is dynamic and thriving writ large, but we still serve families and children who need a great deal of support. Our administrative team is thrilled with the impact this award can make--it's one of the, if not the, largest non-federal grants ever received by the school department."
BMS STUDENTS MOVE ON TO COUNTY SPELLING BEE 🐝
Students at Biddeford Middle School (BMS) competed in the 2023 BMS Spelling Bee. Every team at BMS put forth a speller to compete in front of the whole school to find the top two spellers (champion, and runner-up). Congratulations to Seventh Grader Lola Laverriere, who was the school champion, and Sixth Grader Rocklen (Rocky) Bald, who was the runner-up. Both Lola and Rocky will represent Biddeford as they proceed on to the York County District Spelling Bee in February.
“It was so exciting to hear our students proudly cheer on their classmates, congratulate them in the hallway afterward, and talk about this event for the rest of the week,” said BMS Spelling Bee Facilitator Liz Leblanc. “It goes to show how supportive our students are to each other.”
Pictured below (l-r): BMS Principal Scott Descoteaux, Sixth Grader Rocklen Bald (Runner-Up), Seventh Grader Lola Laverriere (Champion), and Spelling Bee Facilitator Liz Leblanc.
ODYSSEY OF THE MIND DOUBLES IN SIZE & CONTINUES TO PLACE IN COMPETITIONS! 🏅
In the last year alone, the Biddeford Odyssey of the Mind (OM) program has more than doubled in students participating (56%)! OM is a creative, problem-solving, extra-curricular program involving students from kindergarten through college. Teams of up to seven students work together at length, with limited guidance from a coach, to solve a predefined long-term problem and present their solution to the problem at a competition. In the last decade, Biddeford teams have placed among the Top 3 at the State Tournament 12 times and moved on to the World Finals 10 times! In fact, last year, Biddeford Middle School’s talented team of eighth graders was the first team to be awarded the Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award, which recognizes a team or individual for demonstrating outstanding creativity.
In 2013, Biddeford had two OM teams consisting of 14 students at the high school level only; today, they have grown to eight teams consisting of 50 students at the elementary and high school levels. There are two teams at Biddeford Primary School (BPS), including a student from John F. Kennedy School (JFK); two teams at Biddeford Intermediate School (BIS), including a student participating from the Saco school system; three teams at Biddeford Middle School (BMS); and one at Biddeford High School (BHS). Teams are led by coaches Suzanne Tighe, K-5 Gifted and Talented Teacher at BIS, and Victoria Salo, Biddeford’s Odyssey of the Mind District Coordinator and Science Teacher at BIS.
"In my 13 years of coaching Odyssey of the Mind students at both Biddeford and Massabesic Schools, last year’s Biddeford Middle School team was the first team ever to win the prestigious Ranatra Fusca Creativity Award,” said OM District Coordinator Victoria Salo. “Ms. Tighe and I are so proud of all the students for working so well collaboratively and thinking outside the box to continually place at the State Tournament and proceed on to the World Finals.”
Teams are already preparing for the State meet on March 25th at Noble High School. Last year, Biddeford had four teams at the state meet (28 students), where two teams placed first to move on to World Finals, and two teams placed third. Although this advancement is a significant honor for the students, teams must do their own fundraising to attend, which is a significant cost for many of our families. Therefore, the OM District Coordinator Victoria Salo applies for grants and assists students in hosting various fundraisers, including Family Fun Days, yard sales, Drop and Shop events, baked sales, and calendar fundraisers.
CENTER OF TECHNOLOGY RECEIVES $10K DONATION 💰
Thank you to Deering Lumber for their generous donation of $10,000 to the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology (BRCOT). The funds, raised through Deering Lumber’s 7th Annual Charity Golf Tournament last Fall, were designated to support the building trades program. The tournament also secured enough funding to provide $10,000 to the Sanford Regional Technical Center for a total contribution of $20,000.
“One of the most overlooked benefits of learning a trade is the emphasis on in-demand careers,” said Paulette Bonneau, Director of the Biddeford Regional Center of Technology. “We prepare graduates to enter some of the best and most reliable careers available. These include essential high-paying careers and fast-growing technical roles. In fact, if students take early steps to discover their passions and pursue classes of interest to them, they will likely have more success in high school and find a job in their field of interest.”
Deering Lumber’s Purchasing Manager and one of the organizers of the charity golf event Dave Chapais, added, “Proceeds benefited two innovative building trades programs, both of which are developing the next generation of contractors and construction professionals in our area. It’s a win-win for everyone in our communities that these teens have the resources they need to get a great education and prepare for their future careers.”
On behalf of all the BRCOT students and staff, we are grateful to all of Deering Lumber’s customers, vendor partners, and associates who came together to support this worthwhile charity tournament.
Pictured left to right: Heidi McDonald, Christopher Allen, Dylan Beaulieu, Dave Chapais, Dan Laskey, Matt Bouthilette, Allan Henri, and Paulette Bonneau.
UPDATED UNIFIED BASKETBALL SCHEDULE 🏀
Due to the recent snow days, several of the Unified Basketball competitions have been rescheduled. The updated schedule is below or listed on the BHS Athletics page/mobile app, and we hope you can join us in celebrating these fantastic athletes by attending a future game.
PARENTING EDUCATION & RESOURCES 💡
Building Protective Factors for Stronger Families
Wednesday, February 15th from 12-1:30pm via Zoom
Offered by The Youth Resiliency and Choose To Be Healthy Coalitions, this free virtual session will focus on practical methods to build and sustain your capacity to be a resilient, healthy family.
Shannon Briggs, Program Coordinator for York County Kids Free to Grow, will share her years of training and experience working with families. Shannon has a Master’s in Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. She has worked for almost 15 years with foster parents, as an early childhood home visitor, case manager, Early Head Start teacher, and in her current role helping all families be resilient.
TO REGISTER, CLICK HERE for the Zoom Link. FMI, email Sally at email@example.com
Outdoor Activities Postponed to February 10-12 Due to Cold Temps
Please review the full schedule of events below for updated information. The events at City Theater will continue as planned for this weekend.
Schedule of Events
Join us for a cabin-fever breaking weekend of snow and fun filled events for the whole family! We are just starting to plan for 2023 and are adding events as confirmed. Keep checking back for updates!!! 2023 WinterFest Mascot In 2022, youth in our community were invited to dream up a mascot that inspires and...