PARIS — Maine School Administrative District 17’s board of directors approved the appointment of Cathy Bickford as principal of Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris on Monday night.

Board Vice Chair Jared Cash of Norway, who also heads up the Personnel Committee, told directors that Bickford was their unanimous choice amid a very strong pool of candidates for the position.

Bickford, who previously worked at Paris Elementary School as assistant principal, has been Agnes Gray’s interim principal since last September, stepping in after an alleged physical altercation between the district’s superintendent and a sixth grade student. Former Principal Beth Clarke went on medical leave following the incident and ultimately resigned in December in protest of Henson’s actions.

“I felt very welcomed when I walked in the building,” Bickford told the Advertiser Democrat Monday night, acknowledging that it has been a difficult year for students and staff alike. “Students are very resilient. And when they have caring adults around them they are fine. Kids handle change better than adults sometimes. It’s a credit to the community.”

Bickford is well acquainted with Agnes Gray, having taught fourth and second grade there for 10 years. She also taught fourth grade at Rowe Elementary School before becoming an assistant principal at PES.

“Cathy Bickford is an excellent choice to be the next principal of Agnes Gray,” said Assistant Acting Superintendent Heather Manchester in an email statement. “Cathy excels at building relationships with students and staff, communicating with parents, and supporting teachers and staff in building a culture where academics and positive behavior are at the heart of the school.


“She is excited to continue at Agnes Gray school with the goal of actively engaging students through outdoor learning. Cathy brings a wealth of knowledge and boundless energy and positivity to the position.”

Team recognition

Members of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s varsity girls and boys basketball teams made an appearance at the start of the the meeting to be recognized for their successful 2021-22 seasons.

The girls’ team went to the playoffs following their 16-2 regular season, losing in the Class Aa North regional championship game. The lady Vikings were Maine state champions in 2019 and 2020. Coach Nate Pelletier was named 2022 Class AA North Girls Coach of the Year.

OHCHS Principal Ted Moccia (right) talks about classes that allow students to earn high school and college class credits simultaneously. Also pictured, Guidance Director Erin Flynn (far left) and OHTS Student Services Coordinator Nancy McClean Morrissette. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

The boys’ team logged a 15-3 record and won three play-off games before finally losing the state championship game to South Portland. Their coach, Scott Graffam, reached his 400th career win during the regular season when the team beat Noble on Jan. 26.

In other business, Oxford Elementary School and Otisfield Elementary School principals Tiffany Karnes and Jessika Sheldrick gave presentations on successes in their school using positive behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

OHCHS Principal Ted Moccia, district Director of Counseling Erin Flynn and Oxford Hills Tech School Student Services Coordinator Nancy McClean-Morrisette all presented on honors classes, advanced placement courses and dual enrollment classes that earn students college credit.

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