Warming days

The cat is on the prowl these days, what with warmer nights that hint of spring. The sunny days are heating decks, and cats, like the wildlife, are afoot. Many car-deer accidents have been reported over the past week, reminding us that even later in the winter animals are getting, like us, a little stir crazy in their winter habitat. Even though winter returned and hit us with a big snowstorm on Feb. 16, that didn’t stop window washers — a sure sign of spring — from lining up business.

Last weekend was a confluence of minor holidays, with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on Feb. 12, the Chinese New Year starting Feb. 13, a new moon and Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, and Presidents Day on Feb. 15. Mardi Gras, on Feb. 16, rounded out the recent calendar.

The celebration in Rockland Harbor was subdued, mostly comprising flocks of ducks and gulls and a few quiet pairs of companionable walkers strolling the boardwalk and beaches. While winter storms have raged to the unprepared south, local weather has been a bit windy, but otherwise unseasonably warm and dry. For the wild and human residents of our region, the opportunity for fresh air and sunshine has been a fine midwinter break.

Where the wild things aren’t

Speaking of flying the coop, a number of folks fled the Midcoast, what with winter vacation under way. Some were off to the Caribbean, others to Portland. Still others with no mind to go anywhere enjoyed the fresh snow at the Snow Bowl, or just lazed about, like fat cats on vacation. Presidents Day in the Midcoast was quiet, except for a giant sinkhole that yawned open beneath Old County Road in Rockland. Its trigger was a mystery, given the quiet weather we had been having. We will look to geologists for a clue.

We need to collectively thank Malcolm White of Rockport for his quick thinking. Witnesses have told us that he was the one who recognized the danger of the sinkhole and warned everyone else. According to another passerby, White saw the hole, pulled his car over to the side of the road and began redirecting traffic so that no one would get hurt. Thank you, Malcolm!

Sidewalk talk

On some mornings, there is nothing better in life than enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend. Josh Grodzins and his best friend Connor enjoy having their morning coffee at Zoot’s in Camden. Connor, an English Mastiff, was adopted by Josh from the Knox County Humane Society.


Vote for your favorite

In early March, the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation will give a total of $100,000 to 68 local nonprofit organizations and the bank is looking to the community to help decide how to best distribute the funds. The bank wants to hear from as many Maine residents as possible. To help choose the organizations, visit bangor.com/CommunityMattersMore.aspx to cast a vote.


About those new tests

This year, public schools in Maine are implementing a new test to replace the Maine Educational Assessments. Remember the MEAs? We never quite figured out how they really worked. Not that the new test, the New England Common Assessment Program, will be any easier. But thanks to one principal, Joy Baker, of the Appleton Village School, we understand it all a little better. Here is the explanation she sent home to all Appleton parents in the weekly newsletter:

“In case the initials confuse you, the NECAP is the New England Common Assessment Program. Our students in grades three through eight took these tests in the fall and the results are finally here. With this newsletter, you are receiving your child’s report along with an explanation of what the new achievement ratings mean.

“Basically, we no longer will hear the terms ‘Exceeds the Standard,’ ‘Meets the Standard,’ ‘Partially Meets’ or ‘Does Not Meet.’ Instead, you will read/hear ‘Proficient with Distinction,’ ‘Proficient,’ ‘Partially Proficient’ or ‘Substantially Below Proficient.’ The scores work the same as the MEA, which is fully explained in the letter attached.

“It is important to remember that the NECAP is a totally different test from the MEA, so if your child is in a grade higher than grade three, and was tested last year, you still cannot directly compare how he/she did on the two different tests. How we are doing as a school, for the sake of the Maine Department of Education and ‘No Child Left Behind’ measures, is based on two things: (1) percent of our students who were tested, and (2) percent of our students ‘Proficient’ or ‘Proficient with Distinction’ (combined) for each subject, reading and math.

“This year’s test will be used as the basis for deciding whether we meet our state level goals next year. As you look these over, keep in mind that the information tested this past fall is what was taught in the previous school year. This test is considered more difficult than the MEA, partly because of this delay between teaching time and testing time. It should show the child’s enduring knowledge, the skills and information they
truly carry with them. That said, no test is perfect and many factors can affect how a student performs on a given day.”