Friday, April 26, 2019

Insight: The viper’s tail

By Lorraine Glowczak

For someone who is profoundly fearful of snakes, I am also incredibly fascinated by them and know more about the spine-chilling serpents than I’d prefer.

Recently, I learned that there are some snakes, such as vipers and adders, who use a technique that entices their prey, drawing them near for a quick catch. I watched a video that captured a viper in action who had changed the appearance of his tail into a plump spider walking along a rock. I don’t know if it was a sparrow, swallow, black bird or crow that dove down to eat her spider look-a-like lunch, but she was in for a surprise to discover that it was she who was the tasty snack.
Credit: reptiles4all/shutterstock

This clever skill used by vipers and adders is called caudal luring. And - if we are not careful…’s version of caudal luring can play a role in our own lives, causing us to take a detour on our personal goals, and thus, preventing us from diving fully into living our dreams.

If we are lucky – we may only get side-tracked for just a bit. This is not so bad because it creates an opportunity to learn from the experience and continue forward with more awareness. For the most part, this is real life and it’s okay to fumble. I think they call it humanhood.

However, if we are not paying attention, the lure of life’s many requests – whether they be family, work and community demands or paying our monthly bills – may consume (or eat) us, and thus stop us in our tracks, causing us to lose our way indefinitely.

I’ll use myself as an example. I have three goals, when combined, feel like one dream destination. They are:

1)     Working together with our team of writers, layout editor, ad manager, staff and publisher, I am determined to create this small-town news source, The Windham Eagle, as an award-winning Maine newspaper that is locally owned with no ties to a publishing conglomerate. I know – it is a lofty goal. But before you might scoff, I invite you to talk to my family and friends who have witnessed my journey thus far.

2)     To be an author who is published in mainstream media. Afterall, one would presume that it would add a bit of credibility in order to obtain goal number one.

3)     Travel, travel and travel. And….more travel. Besides offering stress reduction, lowering the risk of depression and boosting happiness, studies have indicated that travel increases creativity. And thus – an important contribution to goals two and three.

At the beginning of the year, I was very clear about these three goals. As we enter into the last week of April, the first quarter of 2019, I have been forced to re-evaluate my journey. In just four short months, I have had more than one close call with that viper’s tail.

I share this with you because I want to help you live your dreams and goals fully, warning you that there are objects out there that may appear as stepping stones toward your destination – but, in fact, may capture and devour you. I also share this story as a form of accountability on my own part.

So, the next time we run into each other, feel free to ask, “Any close calls with the viper’s tail, lately?”

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I would like to let your readers know that there will be a Windham Community Garden Open House Saturday, May 4th from 9 a.m. to noon.

The open house is not only for our gardeners but anyone who would like to learn more about the garden. Please come and tour the garden and get any questions you might have answered. 

We are also looking for new members for our Garden Committee so if your interest lies there then come by and find out more. Bottom line is, we are very proud of our garden and our gardeners, so everyone is welcome.  We are located on route 202, Gray Rd next to the public safety building and the skate park. You can also find us at

Hope to see you there on Saturday, May 4 (rain date is Saturday, May 11).

Marge Govoni,
Windham Community Garden Committee 

This letter was written to Windham Middle School Health Teacher, Eliza Adams from one of her students. We have been asked to print it in our editorial page. This was in response to a question Ms. Adam's had asked the class regarding what they had learned about the use of drugs and why they would choose not to use drugs.

Dear Ms. Adams,

The information that I have learned during this class has had a tremendous impact on the way I view drugs. I have so much more knowledge about how drugs affect our brain and why we should avoid them. One reason I am determined to stay away from drug use is that they negatively affect your mental health and if you use them for a long period of time, it will cause depression because the chemicals in the drugs replace the natural serotonin in your brain, making you almost unable to feel happy when you are not high. Another reason I'm going to avoid drugs is that when you're addicted to drugs, things that you used to enjoy will no longer make you good. The drug is the only thing that will bring you pleasure. I enjoy doing many things such as: painting, drawing, gardening, and hiking.

I want to continue feeling happiness while doing these things and if I started doing drugs, I would no longer feel that. One other reason I wish to avoid drugs is because they have negative effects on your overall health. Drugs that you smoke damage your lungs, drugs damage your brain, drugs effect your memory, and there are so many more ways that they damage your body and health overall. Also, I will never try drugs because of the addiction. Many drug addicts feel that their entire lives revolve around the use of drugs and that they cannot live without it. I would never want a substance to have that much power over me. I refuse to allow these chemicals to have power over me and force me to do unimaginable things. In conclusion, I am determined to avoid using drugs due to the negative impact it has on your health and brain.

Alana Grant, grade 8

Friday, April 19, 2019

Insight: I don’t believe that at all

By Lorraine Glowczak

Earth Day is this coming Monday, April 22. Before that, on Sunday, there will be a Peace Vigil at the rotary in Windham with the intention to create positive social change (see front page for detail). 

Because I have been told I “where my heart on my sleeve” and that I am an “open book” - I suspect those of you who read my weekly Insights most likely know where I stand on these issues. (Hint: When I tell people that I have some conservative perspectives on life and in politics, I usually receive a hardy laugh followed by, “I don’t believe that at all.”)

Instead of sharing with our readers my own perspectives on Earth Day and my preferences for peace,
I decided it might be interesting to discover why we tend to lean toward one perspective over another. Of course, this is just an editorial where no more than 500 words are allowed and is not an academic analysis, so - obviously, I will not be able to offer any real answers. But I did discover something interesting about personal perspectives and the human tendency to not stray far from our subjective viewpoints.

In an] article entitled “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds” written by Elizabeth Kolbert, the author showcases a few studies about confirmation bias - the tendency we all have to embrace information that supports our beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. In one example, Kolbert writes about the results of a study:

… researchers rounded up a group of students who had opposing opinions about capital punishment. Half the students were in favor of it and thought that it deterred crime; the other half were against it and thought that it had no effect on crime.

The students were asked to respond to two studies. One provided data in support of the deterrence argument, and the other provided data that called it into question. Both studies—you guessed it—were made up, and had been designed to present what were, objectively speaking, equally compelling statistics. The students who had originally supported capital punishment rated the pro-deterrence data highly credible and the anti-deterrence data unconvincing; the students who’d originally opposed capital punishment did the reverse. At the end of the experiment, the students were asked once again about their views. Those who’d started out pro-capital punishment were now even more in favor of it; those who’d opposed it were even more hostile.”

Kolbert pointed out that when the study participants’ beliefs had been totally refuted, they failed to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs.

I know for a fact that I am no different than the group of students mentioned above. Admittedly, I do my best at honing in on my confirmation bias skills. But I do hope from time to time – any tunnel vision I may have will cease – if only temporarily – taking in facts that I would normally dispute. 

Who knows what can happen if you open doors to other views. Perhaps I will learn to relish the music my husband listens to and enjoy the foods he eats. I’d run home and tell him now about my newfound approach to life – but I suspect I’d be met with a belly laugh – followed by, “I don’t believe that at all.”

Happy Earth Day and peace be with you!

Student of the Week: Caylan Kinney

Caylan Kinney, age 13 and a student at Jordan-Small Middle School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Kinney states that she enjoys participating in soccer, basketball, softball and skiing. When there is down time, her favorite pastime is sleeping.

“Caylan is the perfect example for her classmates,” began teacher, Mrs. Fieldsend. “She is polite, engaged in class activities and discussions, and asks questions to clarify content as well as to deepen the discussion of the topic being explored.” Ms. Merrill added, “Caylan is a very dedicated student.  She always stays on task and is always respectful.”

Kinney stated that teachers who can relate with the students is what makes learning fun in her opinion. Her favorite subject is English, and her favorite movie is the “Office” T.V. show.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Insight: The wisdom of Willie Nelson

By Lorraine Glowczak

It is true. We all make mistakes. However, there are moments when we might feel like we drown in constant oversights because we fumble more than “average” (whatever average is). 

For me, that has been this past week. It has been nothing but a big ball of errors – one right after
another. You know it’s a bad week when you write an email to your state senator apologizing for a badly written article that included him. And that’s just the beginning of my super blunder powers.

So, you can imagine my curiosity when I walked into Windham Primary School’s Kindergarten classroom to hear teacher, Jen Key, state to her students. “Our brains grow every time we make mistakes.” (Be sure to see the article on page 6 of The Windham Eagle Newspaper).

I must have a 200-pound brain by now. Is that the reason my neck aches?

I had to do some research to verify Key’s statement and I discovered a few things. There seems to be some scientific evidence that this is true. According to an online article by Barry Boyce on, there is, …..”slowly growing body of research [that] suggests our common aversion to failure is itself a failed strategy. Being curious about our mistakes is the royal road to learning.”

Boyce stated further that research, beginning in 2011, suggests that this aversion [mistakes are bad] can be a cause of poor learning habits. “The research suggested that those of us who have a “growth mindset”—believing that intelligence is malleable—pay more attention to mistakes and treat them as a wake-up call, a teachable moment. By contrast, those who adopt a “fixed mindset,” believing intelligence is static, shut down their brain in response to negative feedback, and thereby miss one of the key opportunities to learn.”

So, how does country singer, Willie Nelson fit into this story and provide the wisdom I needed? The email response I received from my cowboy boot wearing senator stated his reaction to my apology: “Not to worry - as the Willie Nelson songs goes, ‘I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong’.”

Recognizing when we make mistakes, admitting them and using them as teachable moments to educate ourselves is one way to move forward in life – using what we learn to become better at what we do, contributing to a more mindful approach to life.

What is the other possible way to move forward? Forgiveness. From yourself and – perhaps with a bit of groveling and gift certificates to Dunkin’ Donuts – forgiveness from others.

Letter to the Editor

Editor’s note: We received this letter via Be The Influence. The letter was sent directly to the Windham Middle School and Windham High School principals. The author of the letter gave us permission to print it in this week’s editorial.

Dear Drew and Ryan,

I am reaching out to you both today not only as a parent of three middle school students in the district, but through my professional capacity at the American Cancer Society. Yesterday, my colleagues at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network held their annual Day at the Capitol event at the State House. 

This is a day where we gather as advocacy volunteers to speak with our elected officials about important pieces of legislation that have an impact on the health of Maine residents, specifically when related to cancer. One of those pieces of legislation is LD 1028, “A Comprehensive Approach to Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use in Maine”. This comprehensive bill will allow for opportunities to increase tobacco prevention, education and cessation. Back in the fall, I attended the panel discussion at WMS presented by Mrs. Adams seventh-grade health class to learn about the impact of e-cigarette use/vaping has within their age group and peers. It was through the success of that event that we extended this opportunity to Mrs. Adams and her students, Laura Morris, Mr. Daigle and some of the high school ambassadors to join us in Augusta. 

I am so very impressed with how well all of these students represented our district. They were well prepared to speak on behalf of the impact that nicotine products (especially e-cigarettes) have on the pre-teen/teen population and they shared insightful thoughts of how to perhaps get ahead of this public health problem. The students met with Senator Bill Diamond, Representative Mark Bryant and Representative Patrick Corey to talk about what they witnessed within their peer groups and how the tobacco industry is using tools to market to them. These students were well prepared with facts and data from what they learned in the classroom and through their collaboration with the Be the Influence Coalition. It was great to see the role reversal and watch the students educate our elected officials about the impact tobacco products have within their age groups. This group of students embody what it means to be tobacco prevention champions and I truly believe their voices made a difference.

I heard so many positive comments, both today and yesterday, from senators/representatives, partners and ACS CAN volunteers of how impactful having youth engaged in this important topic is. As administrators, you should be proud of the students and your staff for the positive representation of RSU14. It is evident that your staff go above and beyond to not only teach their students but truly care about the current and future well-being of them. Yesterday was an excellent “hands-on learning opportunity” about the legislative process and how impactful our voices are in decision making process in Augusta. I was not in the gallery with the students when they received recognition and a standing ovation from the entire legislative body while watching the legislative process in action. But I heard it was fantastic!

Nicole Heanssler

Friday, April 5, 2019

Insight: Brilliance and Broccoli

By Lorraine Glowczak

Taking a break from Netflix this past weekend, I came across a documentary on PBS that highlighted various women who were successful in their own ways. One person made an exceptional impact on me from that film. Her name is Sara Blakely.

Blakely is the creator of Spanx, a brand of leggings and undergarments. Although her story about creating a trademark clothing by “accident” is interesting and I admire her journey as a successful and wealthy entrepreneur – those are not the things that grabbed my attention. It was one sentence she uttered that stopped me in my tracks. Paraphrasing, she said something like, “Sometimes you have to keep moving forward with perseverance and determination while at the same time, not having all the answers.”

I thought that statement was brilliant. If anything, it was what I needed to hear at that moment.

You see - there is a small group of individuals of which I am a part who are working to establish a non-profit in the area that would help assist those facing hardships in one particular and much needed way. We are reaching out to other groups to pitch our idea with hopes of gaining support – and to be a part of this non-profit.

This is a huge undertaking and I often feel intimidated by the process. In fact, I have my moments when panic sets in and I want to put on the brakes, jump out of the car and run away as fast as I can.

That experience happened last Sunday as one of my cohorts and I presented our idea to another group. We did the best to provide answers to the many thoughtful questions we received. 

Unfortunately, there were a lot more questions than we had answers. After about a half hour of doing our best to provide the most intelligent responses we could muster, one gentleman in the crowd said, “I say we bring this idea to our whole group for consideration. We obviously are not going to know all the answers but it’s like broccoli. You try it and see if you like it.”

Another brilliant statement spoken by another brilliant person. His justification relieved a bit of the terror I was feeling at the moment. In fact, he made me laugh. “Can I steal that analogy,” I asked him. (Fair warning. I’m serious if I ask you that question. Be careful what you say around me – I’m a writer who is required to pen an Insight/Editorial every week, and that too, can be challenging. So, I have to steal my ideas from whomever and wherever I can.)

With all joking aside, the endeavor we are trying to pull off is no easy feat. But, for whatever reason, I believe in it. As a result, I continue to move forward in this effort, despite my pounding heart. You could say I, along with the others who are considering this big venture, are hanging on the coattails of perseverance and determination even though we don’t have all the answers.

I for one, love broccoli.

Student of the Week: Morgan Clark

Morgan Clark, age nine and a third-grade student in Mrs. Earle’s classroom at Windham Primary School, is The Windham Eagle’s Student of the Week. Clark states that she enjoys participating in soccer and during her free time, she likes to hang out with her friends or take a nap.

Principal, Dr. Rhoads selected Clark for her active participation in school. “She is dedicated and committed member to the Terracycle Club, which collects household items that are returned to a company that pays for these items,” explained Rhoads. “The funds are used for technology at our school.”

Clark stated that her greatest accomplishment thus far has been her experience with REACH testing and she finds that learning is fun when she is challenged. The person who has meant the most to Clark in her educational experience is her Literacy Teacher, Miss Tompson.

Clark lives at home with her mom, dad, her sister Ashley and her dog Shiloh.

Favorite subject:  Math
Favorite movie: “A Dog’s Way Home”
Favorite holiday:  Easter