Staff returns for encouragement, entertainment

PARIS – New teachers and staff were introduced.

Veteran teachers were flattered.

A former teacher and current administrator were honored.

And all SAD 17 personnel were challenged on Monday at the annual opening day ceremonies at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

They all also shared a laugh at the end.

The school year began for more than 600 teachers, administrators and the staff with introduction of new personnel.

It was also a day when OHCHS Principal Joseph Moore perhaps learned never to joke about someone who steps up to the microphone after you speak.

Moore playfully introduced Oxford Hills Middle School Principal Hal Small as the “senior” member of the administrative team.

“I want all you new staff members to take a good look at Joe,” Small then told the audience. “Because you probably won’t see him until next Monday.”

After introductions Johanna Farrar, a 1999 graduate of OHCHS and 2003 graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, explained how her research for her senior thesis paper led her to her great-great-great-great-grandmother’s diaries.

“They helped me understand how deeply connected my family was to this area,” Farrar said. “Thank you for pushing me, challenging me . . . and help me foster the love I have for my home.”

Gifted and talented teacher Nancy Hohmann was honored for 20 years of service, acting as interim district Gifted and Talented coordinator, for being a Fulbright scholar and a songwriter/filmmaker.

The Mary Lou Burns Education Award was given posthumously to Mark Otterson, who founded SAD 17’s Gifted and Talented program in 1989. Otterson, an educator and administrator for 42 years, died about a year ago from cancer.

Receiving the award were Sarah, his wife, and his children, Karl and Johanna.

Superintendent Mark Eastman urged all there, no matter what their role in the district to pay attention to the district motto of “Dare to Accept the Challenge.”

“This is a real motto, not something fancy for us to think about,” Eastman said. “Six years ago we had to reinvent secondary education in Oxford Hills.”

He acknowledged the accomplishments the district had made and said with declining revenues, increased costs, overburdened taxpayers and the pressures of the No Child Left Behind Act, there were more challenges to face.

The final event of the day was a humorous video listing the 10 school songs, according to students and district personnel.

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