Farewell seniors!

June 3rd

How we all wished we could give our thanks, our best wishes and and congratulations to our seniors the old-fashioned way…in person. But sadly in the spring and summer of 2020, this is simply not possible.

So we did the next best thing – staff and friends of our seniors met with them and their families on zoom. There were a few technical glitches, but not enough to spoil the occasion. Each of our zoom sessions with these wonderful young people and their families was a very special and memorable moment to give all participants only the fondest memories. Good luck to you Cole, Kamron, Marena and Tyler! It was our privilege to see you become the great young adults you are.

marena zoom 6

colezoom 5

kam zoom 5

td zoom 4

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distance learning – the pros and cons


zoom room2


Keyana did a beautiful job on developing, organizing and editing her essay.

This is her final draft:

The Pros and Cons of Distance Learning, by Keyana Kassa

Schools everywhere are closed, as the country tries to beat the corona virus. This means students and staff have to work online, from home. There are some good things and some bad things that go with online learning.

On the minus side, I like to be in class, because I like to socialize with my friends and staff.

Another thing I do not like is not having Friends with you, they made you feel you are not alone and you have someone to hang out with. Friends come and go. So it’s nice to have friends.

On the positive side, Staying home with family is a good thing. We are able to be with them on the weekend, school breaks, and in summer. Not saying that school is a bad thing. You need a family there for you no matter what situation you are put in.

Another thing I like, is sleeping in! But, I don’t sleep until 10:00 am. For school, you get up at 6 or 7. School ends at 2:00. Then you have sports until 5:00. Maybe you drive one hour to get home. Maybe there is traffic or a car crash. Then you finally get home. You are super tired. You have to have dinner and have piles of homework. You finish it maybe around 3 or 4. You finally get to sleep and wake up in the morning.

I like distance learning. But, I also like to be in school because in school, you have the teachers to help you out face to face. School is about to help you grow as a person when you leave the building.  You have a schedule all set up for you in school. But, at home, it changes with the family. And that’s okay.

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remote learning

social distance

Sorry it has been so long since we added to this blog. Obviously things have changed very dramatically since March 13th – that was the last day all of us were together at PHS.

It took only a few days for students and staff to get back to school – we were meeting and working within 3 school days. Now it’s a month later and everyone is used to the new routine. None of us likes the separation -  our MECDHH community at PHS is a very close group. But it’s been really good to see everyone frequently, even if it’s only on a computer screen


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unified basketball


Bela joined unified basketball and had a blast! He learned to pass and shoot baskets and improved as a team player.

His coach, the legendary Rocco Frenzilli said of Bela, “Just look at his face. Every time he steps out on the court the excitement, passion and love of the game is written all over it. He is also willing to work hard on all the skills necessary to improve his game. He is an absolute joy to coach.”

bball 2

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Kids Like Me


KLM was great! There were more people than last year.  We played lots of games and introduced ourselves. Then we walked around the island and to the beach.  And we watched a movie, had popcorn and cookies. They were good.  We went to snow tubbing.

The best thing at KLM was meeting new people. 

Keyana Kassa

I went to the island then we played a game and I hurt my arm in the process. Then we went bowling and I ate my lunch then went back to the island. Then we walked around the island and then we went to put our stuff in the dorm. Then we ate dinner next we watched the movie called The Abominable. Next we went to bed. We woke up and we played some games in the gym and after that we went snow tubing at Sea Coast. Then we went to Mcdonalds.  Then we went back and I got picked up by my sis and her boyfriend.

Zachary Malmquist


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from our wrestling correspondent Kirsten Lewis:

GRIT: To have grit means you have courage and show the strength of your character. … A person with true grit has passion and perseverance. Goals are set and followed through.

Marlaco started in his 1st season of wrestling this year. Coaches state that at least 20-30% of kids stop coming after the first two weeks of practice. Not only did Marlaco keep going to practices after the first two weeks, but he continued to show up to every practice after losing Meet after Meet. It was at the very last Meet on Saturday, February 1st that Marlaco won his first JV Wrestling Match! And again, he didn’t stop. He wrestled a second match that day. It was a Varsity Match. And, he won!

Way to Go Marlaco! We are all so proud of you!! Remember when you get knocked down, Get up and Try again!

And Marlaco’s wrestling coach, commenting on the photograph, said: ”This picture is the culmination of hard work and perseverance necessary to succeed in wrestling.”

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the most powerful word?


powerful word

That is not the answer! But this word has three letters and is the most common word we use. It is also an amazing word – as you will see in the fascinating article below.

I teach English to some of the Baxter students at PHS. We have been working a lot on determiners – the word or words we put before a common noun, like book, or car.

A sentence that says, “I saw car outside” is missing a determiner. A car? Ted’s car? Your car? A teacher’s car? Bob’s best friend’s car? etc. In English class we have been looking at these options and practicing ways to use the best determiners. For students learning English, these elements can be very difficult to master. As mundane and everyday as they appear, there is real complexity in them.

So it was nice to see this article and share it with some of the students. They could see that they are not alone! The article is about a word that is ‘technically meaningless’, but nonetheless it is miraculous, subtle and magical in many ways. Who would have thought it?

Rob Gillies

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Jr NAD presentation

Our three seniors, Tyler Dufour, Kamron King and Marena Thompson gave a packed Room G06 a comprehensive report back on their experiences at the Jr NAD conference in Rochester, New York. Each of them presented their ideas and  spoke with confidence and clarity. For those staff who have worked with these three students for years, it was very gratifying to see what good leaders they have become – they gave the younger students wonderful examples to follow.

JRNAD click here for their presentation – with many more cool pictures

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a distinctive artist


Marena Thompson is one of our most enthusiastic artists: she loves to draw! We invited Portland High School’s outstanding art teacher, Barbara Loring, for her thoughts on one of her students:

Marena Thompson is a distinctively powerful young artist. Immersed in the study and practice of art, she is developing a visual language that is uniquely her own. Marena has created her own personal digital art blog with a devoted following and is continuously exploring and practicing methods of drawing and painting. She created powerful painted versions of her own photographs last year that were featured in the 2019 Portland Public Schools Citywide Art Exhibit at Portland City Hall, and is currently entering two approximately 28″ x 40″ works of art in the Scholastic Art Award Competition at Maine College of Art. Marena’s current works of art are moving representations of her experience as a Deaf student in a hearing world. She celebrates the warm, inclusive and dynamic facets of the Deaf community, as well as describes her observations of the hearing community and the limitations and challenges she and other Deaf people face in trying to connect, be understood and included. Her masterful pastel drawings describe the chaos and sorrows of misunderstandings and exclusion as well as a sense of heightened and supportive cohesion within the Deaf community. Marena’s mark-making is bold and emphatic, her use of color vital and strong, and her self-developed vocabulary of human form has a universality that makes it a sheer pleasure to perceive and “read”. Congratulations to Marena on her beautiful accomplishments and a promising future as an artist who creates works of such significant and informative meaning.


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Junior NAD in Rochester NY

3 seniors

Our Baxter seniors went to the Junior National Association for the Deaf conference in Rochester, New York, in early November. The Junior NAD offers deaf and hard of hearing students in 7th through 12th grade opportunities to develop leadership skills, learn and demonstrate citizenship, and meet and interact with students from other schools and states.

“I had a lot fun at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. It was great to meet a lot people from many different states, I had a wonderful time: it was the first time in years that I had a chance to hang out with a large group of deaf students.” Tyler Dufour

“There were so many really cool meetings new friends from so many states. It was so interesting to see and learn different regional ASL signs from the other states. There were a lot of workshops and presentations. I was very excited to meet Nancy Rourke -  she is an awesome deaf artist and I was very lucky to have a 15 minute talk with her! “ Marena Thompson

(Alex Abenchuchan presents an online daily news show, The Daily Moth, in American Sign Language; he is very well known and respected by the deaf citizens of America.)

“Alex is one of our wonderful leaders. He spoke about his own motivation to become a deaf news anchor for our community. He helps us to understand more about what’s going on around the world. He showed us how to be a really good leader and made me feel like I can be a good leader and a good role model. One day I want to be a good leader as a Ford mechanic: Alex is an inspiration.” Tyler Dufour

“I was working on the interview broadcast, my job was adjusting the camera to make it perfect. I was excited to meet Alex because I always watch his news broadcasts on Facebook.” Kamron King

Kamron also liked the presentation “Building Leadership Within You”:

“I would like to be a good leader. I would get around and see everyone, help out anyone with a problem, and talk with them if they’re feeling a little down. I feel good if I can help people: it feels great to me when they are smiling.”


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