Get involved

Parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and anyone else concerned about the education of a student you know and care about, get involved. We shouldn’t need research to tell us that such involvement will make a difference in the student’s life. Yes, this school year is soon over; preparations are being made for next year.

You still have time to go online using Infinite Campus and look up the lists of assignments, quizzes and tests. If only homework is listed, you need to get involved. That could mean that students who complete all homework on time will be getting an A regardless by whom it was done; a student who completes no homework because he/she doesn’t know how, just doesn’t care, or knows the material and considers it a waste of time would fail. You also see the skills and concepts that were taught based on the assignments. If a student is taught only spelling … no reading, writing or arithmetic … then you need to pay the teacher a visit. This report allows you to see what has been completed on time, late or not at all, and what quizzes and tests have been passed or missed. There just might be something you can do to help the student if he/she is in danger of failing. At least it will help you understand why.

If you have a student in grades 8-12, you will soon be receiving a program of studies listing the courses offered for next year. Go over the offerings with your student and call the school if you have a concern or question. For example, eighth-grade pre-algebra: “This course will use the Connected Mathematics curriculum and will include the following units: Filling and Wrapping; Moving Straight Ahead; Thinking with Mathematical Models; Growing, Growing, Growing; Looking for Pythagoras; What Do You Expect?; Samples and Populations; Frogs, Fleas, and Painted Cubes; Kaleidoscopes, Hubcaps, and Mirrors.” I’ll bet if you are the parent of an eighth-grader that you have some concerns or questions now! If not, you should have!

Audrey Buffington
South Thomaston

Greetings on a rainy day

A member of our bee club passed along the news of and article in the Home and Garden supplement in last Thursday’s newspaper that features a large photo of a rarely seen sight even for a beekeeper — that of a queen honey bee and her attendants on the comb of a hive. Adjacent to this photograph is the headline “Identify all those pesky springtime pests.” The caption underneath the photo warns readers that bees “return to wreak havoc” at this time of year.

I am appalled at this lack of editorial oversight. First of all, honey bees are not pests. They, along with native bees, are responsible for one out of every three bites of food. Where would we be without them? Secondly, bees are in dire straits right now. This was the worst year since 1994 for hive losses in the state of Maine and the first year since then that classic symptoms of colony collapse disorder has been seen in the state. This condition is wiping out hives across the globe, and its cause is unknown. Thirdly, it is a very rare event that a hive sets up shop in a building — rare because there are fewer and fewer wild hives. They just can’t survive with all the diseases and parasites that now affect hives, even well-managed hives. The number of hives in this country is about half the number that existed in the 1950s. If a hive does settle inside a wall or other part of a dwelling — and years ago we lived in a house where this happened — a quick Internet search or call to the police department can lead to a beekeeper who would gladly come to extract the bees and take them safely to a more appropriate location.

The general public needs to have a bit of proper education when it comes to bees. And bees need a better publicist. There have been articles in gardening magazines that misidentify flies as bees; a couple of weeks ago a visitor to the Green Fair at Plant’s Unlimited spoke about making a photo of a “newly hatched honey bee with the wings still not dried out yet.” She graciously sent me the photo and it actually was a wasp and not a honey bee. A honey bee emerging from the cell where she grew spends the next three weeks inside the hive until her job changes and she becomes a field worker to forage for nectar or pollen. She would never be outside upon hatching.

Bees are at risk from all sorts of issues such as disappearance and fragmentation of habitat, pests and diseases, overuse of pesticides, competition from other insects for forage and lack of appropriate foraging plants to name a few. We are totally dependent on pollinators such as bees for much of our food supply. Bees are called a linchpin organism because so much depends on their actions in maintaining the integrity of ecosystems through pollination, assuring the continuation of plant species. I urge you to publish an informative and accurate article about bees as I do want people to learn about them!

Regarding some of the other insects and spiders (which are not an insect at all) frequently found in dwellings, they are not all “bad guys.” In fact, spiders are a “beneficial organism” that can help keep the number of more problematic insects under control. We need to have  a little more generosity of spirit and not go for the bug spray at the first sight of an insect in the house. Very few kinds of insects actually cause any damage — according to Dr. Douglas Tallamy of the University of Delaware, only 1 percent have deleterious effects for people. Healthy populations of insects are necessary for the web of life to work, including the survival of our own species.

Unfortunately, in truth it is we humans who are creating the havoc for bees and not the other way around.

Amy Campbell

“My ears filled with the dozy hum of bees and those tiny and odd insect sounds that rise up all around, the sounds mingling in my mind with the good, deep smell of earthy life.” — Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

Political courage

Heroes are few and far between. Not many people have held that position in my personal estimation. However, in these times of social decadence, financial instability, overwhelming government control of our lives and general political unrest, such a man rises in our midst.

He says what he means and means what he says. He is true to his core principles and you can “go to the bank” with whatever he tells you. He can not be bought. He does not aspire to higher office or lust for more money or adulation. He is a true servant of the people and has personally sacrificed much to serve as our governor. We will disagree, from time to time, on things that are outside the core principles that I share with him, but I will always come away with admiration and respect for his political courage and his “hard as steel” resolve to do the right thing for our state.

Paul LePage is a hero to me, and I believe his appearance on the state of Maine political scene at this unique time in history is not by chance. I can’t think of a person that I would rather have leading us in these perilous times. Remember, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan all had their detractors, even within their own parties, and yet, without their service our country would be a vastly different place. Thank God for Paul LePage and his unflinching willingness to face down any and all opposition to the betterment of our state.

Gordon Colby