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 – that 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 on using 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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Learning from the professionals

restaurant 2

On November 18, 2019 two students went to a local restaurant called Mami. This restaurant serves mostly Japanese cuisine. Our two students, Lucky and Bela learned about the kitchen at Mami, stressing mostly upon sanitizing and cleanliness. While there they had the opportunity to cook and make Nutella filled fish shaped pastries. These two students also work our programs coffee cart. Because of their trip to the restaurant, they got some valuable experience that they can apply to their coffee cart work.

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Bulldogs Football



Marlaco just finished a great season with the PHS football team. This was his first season. Marlaco played defense and did a great job. “He is a good player,” said his coach. “He worked hard in practice, and really improved as a player. See you next year, Marlaco!”

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Bulldogs Soccer

Screen Shot

Lucky just finished his first season playing for the PHS Freshmen Bulldogs Soccer team. Lucky practiced every day. “Lucky did a great job,” said his coach. “He plays smart: he likes to pass the ball and he showed a lot of awareness on the pitch.” Lucky says “I can’t wait for next season! It was a lot of fun, and I made some great friends in the team. Next year I will score a lot of goals!”


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a second home for Tyler

TD Ford

Yankee Ford is like my second home because they have a SUPER friendly staff that always keep me busy. I’ve learned so many things from them and this will also apply to my future real-life job.
I have made my own decision about what kind career I want: I want to become a Master Ford Mechanic Technician.

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Deaf tea in Augusta



I feel like my mind was blown in the deaf tea event!
In August someone sent mail to me: ¨You are invited to deaf tea event on September 20.¨
I felt so weird and confused then I asked my friends, “Did you did get any mail for the deaf tea event?¨
My friends said “No.” Two weeks later someone sent me a letter for the deaf tea event: “You JUST GOT AWARD FOR THE DEAF EVENT!”
When I got back to school I asked the teacher about the deaf tea award. I felt so nervous about it!
On September 20 we went to the State House: my heart was really beating; I was nervous and making fun. When the presentations started my brain said, “OMG I’M NOT READY FOR IT!” Then someone started a presentation about me for my award! Everyone started to clap for me. I just got an award for leardership for deaf community.
I felt proud, my heartbeat was GONE and nothing nervous. I just gave a short speech to thank everyone and it was a good experience. I also met the new Governor of Maine, Janet Mills! She said ¨ Wow! nice speech for everyone and congratulations Marena Thompson!” I said thank you to Janet Mills.
I really missed my family at the deaf tea event but I knew my family was so busy. I know my family felt so proud of me.

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my first impressions of PHS


When I first came to PHS, my first impression was “Wow! This is a huge school.” But as the day went on, I got used to it more and more. The first two weeks were crazy! It was definitely a mission to find all the classes, meet your teachers and make new friends. So far, the mission has been pretty successful! It’s weird adjusting to a much bigger school, especially when you come from a small middle school, you can go from knowing everyone to knowing only a handful of students. It’s crazy.
Samantha 2023

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