Allassandra Garafano: Pequawket Valley Alternative School students lend a hand at Mount Vernon


Every year, for over 25 years, students at the Pequawket Valley Alternative School at Fryeburg Academy take a community service trip to an area in need of volunteers for ecological/environmental causes or to help communities rebuild after natural disasters.

The PVAS is a program for students throughout the district that offers a smaller classroom setting and hands-on learning.

In May, the class took a trip to George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate in Virginia where one of the  students’ many tasks was to plant historically accurate varieties of plants, flowers and trees.

Nine students (together with two faculty members) participated in the service trip to Mount Vernon: Hope Stevens, Chris Bergquist, Mason Singer,
Cameron Elmore, Kenny Eastman, Alicia Gerrish, Meadow Keisman, Sahila Jaber, and Allassandra Garofano.

Some of us met for the first time this semester. Our personalities are not all the same, and we do not always think alike. However, we faced our task with everything we had inside us and completed projects in great time.

Our group worked in several locations throughout the estate, including the scholar’s library, the ladies quarters and the historic entrance. Students also removed deer fencing from nearby acreage on the estate and planted the annual garden in front of the sign welcoming visitors to Mount Vernon.

It was a week-long school trip, 12 hours away. Everyone had to work together as a team, not only in the gardens and fields, but as peers trying to accomplish tasks together.

George Washington’s estate is extremely well kept and maintained.

Our host, Horticulture Director Dean Norton, has been employed at the estate since he was 16 years old and has continued to show his loyalty to Mount Vernon for 46 years. The time that we spent getting to know Dean and his staff was truly inspirational.

A great deal of time, effort and resources go into making the historical buildings of Washington’s estate so beautiful and memorable; there is nothing quite like it.

My peers and I had the opportunity to take a private tour given by Dean and to see behind the scenes of Mount Vernon. We also had the privilege of working with a few of the other employees at the estate whose jobs are to educate visitors about the unique artifacts, extensive gardens, animals and overall estate that once was occupied by the family of George Washington.

In the mansion, our tour guide showed off a key on the wall inside the entrance. This key was given to George Washington to commemorate the closing of the Bastille Prison in France. The key symbolizes freedom as it was the key to the main entrance of the prison.

While on our community service venture, we traveled to Washington, D.C., to see our nation’s capitol and visit the monuments and museums.

When we finished all of the work that was asked of us, Dean spoiled us with a cookout and boat ride complete with fishing on the Potomac River, affording spectacular views of the historic homestead.  One of our classmates caught a catfish about 16 inches long.

The Pequawket Valley Alternative School is a unique program that offers life skills as well as a high school education; helping us manage between work, school and life. Experiential learning and community service are also main components of the program, and we are very involved in lending a helping hand in our own community as well as surrounding communities and beyond.

Allassandra Garafano is a student at Pequawket Valley Alternative School


Fryeburg Academy Math Team finishes strong season

FRYEBURG — The Fryeburg Academy Math Team recently completed its regular season by capturing the regional title at Leavitt High School in Turner on March 8.

This year, 190 students from 14 West Central Maine teams competed in the Pi-Cone North League this year. The Fryeburg Diamond team took first place with 1,453 points combined over five meets. Oxford Hills was second with 1,131 points, followed by Spruce Mountain at 855.

The Fryeburg Platinum team finished the season in fifth place at 785 points and the Fryeburg Gold Team landed in eighth place with 438 points.

Six of the top 10 mathletes in the league were from Fryeburg Academy.

Leading the regular season competition for Fryeburg were senior co-captains Mike Chen and Erik Porter. Chen was the top scorer in the Pi-Cone North League with a total of 257 points, while Porter placed second with 251 points.

Senior Brain Gong ranked sixth with 194 points and was awarded a medal for the third best senior.

Junior Jake Zhu medaled as the second best junior, finishing in eighth place overall with 177 points. Also awarded medals were seniors Rondo Chang and Joey Xiao, who placed ninth and 10th, respectively, with 160 and 154 points.

Junior Yaru Gong received a medal for the third highest junior at 151 points and freshman sensation Arvin Ma took home the second place medal for his grade level with 90 points for the season.

At the state level, the Fryeburg Platinum team finished the regular season in third place out of 90 teams from throughout the Pine Tree State.

Chen and Porter were awarded medals for finishing in eighth and 11th, respectively, out of over 1,000 students who competed at the five regular season meets.

On April 3, the Fryeburg Platinum team boarded the bus and headed northeast for the annual state meet at the Augusta Civic Center. Eighty-four of the best high school teams in Maine attended the meet in spite of a threatening snowstorm. The morning competition consisted of six individual rounds of three questions each, followed by two team relays and two team rounds in the afternoon.

After all the dust had settled, Fryeburg was awarded the second place trophy in its division with 567 points. Maine School of Science and Math was the top team in the state with 801 points, followed by Lincoln at 661 points and Bangor with 611 points.

Porter and Chen missed only one question each in the individual rounds and were awarded medals for placing in the top 20 in the state.

Thus ended another fine year for the Fryeburg Academy math team. The season ran from October through April, with weekly practices and six monthly meets. All of the members of the team put in a great deal of time and effort to maintain Fryeburg Academy's high standards and renowned excellence in academics. The team was coached by Erik Gustafson and assisted by Jim Gibson.


“10 years and Rising” runs Friday through Sunday

CONWAY — The Mount Washington Valley and surrounding communities are invited to enjoy an evening of dance as the Kennett High School Dance Department celebrates 10 years and is proud to present its spring production entitled "10 years and Rising" May 12-14.

This year the team was challenged to learn 11 group routines to represent each year of the dance program. Early in the fall of 2016 a survey was sent to alumni and current dance members to vote on the routines they would like to see brought back to life. The response was overwhelming with 42 people casting their votes.

Some of the routines chosen to bring back were "Minions." "All That Jazz," "Nerdz" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."

"It has been fun bringing old routines back to life and reminiscing about all the students that have come through the program," said Coach Holly Fougere. "The show will also feature 21 'Where are they now' alumni highlight videos. The show is upbeat and fun and appropriate for audiences of all ages."

The Dance Team will also be hosting a fundraiser for former Dance Team member Madison DiSilva who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma earlier this year. This Saturday, the team will donate $3 from every ticket sale to Madison's Journey to help with her medical bills. There will also be some great raffle baskets every night of the show with proceeds benefiting Madison.

10 Years and Rising will run Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Loynd Auditorium at Kennett High School. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students in grades 1-12.

For more information, contact Holly Fougere at (603) 356-4360 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


'Back to the 80’s' takes the stage Thursday

CONWAY — The Kennett Drama Club will be opening its annual musical entitled "Back to the 80's" this Thursday at 7 p.m. in Kennett High School's Loynd Auditorium.

Additional performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m.

From the era that brought the world the Rubik's Cube, Max Headroom and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes the "totally awesome" musical "Back to the 80's." In the style of movies such as "Back to the Future," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Karate Kid," "Back to the 80's" is a nostalgic romp through the greatest hits of the decade.

"Back to the 80's" tells the story of the senior class of William Ocean High School, as remembered through the eyes of now 30-something Corey Palmer. Seventeen-year-old Corey is madly in love with his next-door neighbor, Tiffany Houston, one of the coolest girls in the school, but she is too busy mooning over Michael Feldman, the hottest guy around.

Michael and his friends are athletic and good looking — the kind of guys that Corey and his two best friends dream of being. However, while they may not be the coolest guys in school, they are still one up on Feargal McFerrin, III, whose best friend is his computer and who believes the crazy notion that one day, CDs will replace cassette tapes.

Throw in a "Star Wars" dream sequence, high-energy dance routines, the obligatory 80s party scene, copious amounts of blue eyeshadow, 20 cans of hairspray, as well as some of the most popular songs ever written, and the result is a musical that will delight and amuse you.

Wear your best 80s costume and enter the "Best Dressed" costume contest!