Category Archives: School Programs

Mr. Boomsma’s Brag Book

When I started my own consulting business many years ago, a colleague and mentor encouraged me to start what he called a “God Shelf.” It could, of course, be called a “trophy case” or “wall of fame.” As I recall, his explanation was, in part, “You’re going to need to learn to treasure the awards and certificates you receive. Since you’re working for yourself, you’ll probably won’t get ’employee of the month’ awards from your company.”

He was right–and I’ll never forget the story he told of an award he received in the mail. He made it into an event by going out to dinner with his wife and having her present it to him over coffee.

Maybe that’s a bit over the top, but I do think we should enjoy the recognition we receive.

As many know, in addition to substitute teaching, I volunteer at our elementary school with the kids. A few years ago I agreed to assume responsibility for publishing the yearbook through my little publishing company, Abbot Village Press.

A lot of folks express surprise that an elementary school has a yearbook, but we think it makes sense. In a way, it’s the kids’ brag book. It helps create a sense of community and school spirit. We involve the kids in its design and production with things like a contest for the cover design. We even have a yearbook team of sixth graders.

But truth be told, my primary motivation is that it provides another excuse for me to work, play, and learn with the kids.

At the end of the school year, the kids always surprise me with some sort of recognition. Last year I was presented with a basketful of thank-you notes–one from just about every kid at school (nearly 300), kindergarten through sixth grade. What makes them really cool is they are personal. Each kid tried to find something specific to thank me for–and I can tell you that in many cases they appreciate things I don’t remember doing! The basket sits next to my desk and if I’m ever feeling discouraged or down, I grab a few and re-read them.

This year’s surprise was an extra page in the yearbook, designed by the yearbook team with the help of Mrs. Daniels, our art teacher and my “partner” in getting the yearbook published. I’ve shared the page with a few friends–they’ve encouraged me to make it public.

Thanks, kids… for another page in my brag book and for being so much fun to work, play, and learn with.

Great idea, but…

In Brief... a short thought, idea, or story!
In Brief… a short thought, idea, or story featured as a brain leak or musing!

The phone rang yesterday and a number I didn’t recognize appeared on the screen. Usually, that means “junk,” but I answered anyway.

The caller began talking rapidly and it became clear we were going to suffer a language barrier, but since she used the word “suicide” I knew it wasn’t a junk call.

Slowing the conversation and lots of repeating revealed that the caller was associated with a school and her question was, “I know you do suicide training for teachers, but would you do it for parents?”

I of course answered, “Yes!” My mind racing ahead to consider the idea of a school sponsoring a program for parents. I’m often approached by parents who are concerned about their kids but this was truly a first. Hmmm…

As we explored the idea, it occurred to me to ask where she was from. She replied, “Brooklyn, NY.” It didn’t occur to me to ask how and why she’d decided to call me in Central Maine. I was just glad she called.

I was able to refer her to some more localized resources using my NAMI connection and encouraged her to call again if I could help further. I hope she has success putting something together. I confess I felt a bit smug that I got the call–even though I don’t know how she found me. But I felt even smugger that the conversation around suicide prevention is becoming increasing normalized and easy to have.

Look for more on this topic…

Say Something! -- preventing violence before it happens:

This article is reprinted from the “Say Something” website… while I haven’t fully “vetted” this program, if your school or organization is interested, I will be happy to assist you… I also have the material and can teach the Eddie Eagle Program — a gun safety program designed for pre-k through fourth grade.


Did you know that when it comes to violence, suicide and threats, most are known by at least shp_2016_say_something_week_logoone other individual before the incident occurs. In fact, in 4 out of 5 school shootings, the attacker told people of his/her plans ahead of time. Additionally, 70% of people who commit suicide told someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication. Imagine how much tragedy could be averted if these individuals said something?

Say Something teaches students, grades 6 -12, how to look for warning signs, signals and threats, especially in social media, from individuals who may want to hurt themselves or others and to Say Something to a trusted adult to get them help. The program is based on research conducted by Dr. Dewey Cornell and Dr. Reid Meloy, two leading national experts in threat assessment and intervention.

National Say Something Week is organized by Sandy Hook Promise (http://www.sandyhookpromise.org) and will take place October 24 – 28, 2016. Hundreds of schools and youth organizations across the United States will be participating in Say Something Week. Will you join them?

Say Something Week raises awareness and educates students and the community through training, media events, advertising, public proclamations, contests and school awards. Say Something Week reinforces the power young people have to prevent tragedies and Say Something to a trusted adult to protect a friend from hurting them self or others!

Say Something is a no-cost and easy to implement program that is available to all middle schools, high schools and youth organizations serving youth grades 6 – 12. In addition to young people, Say Something will benefit educators, administrators, community-based organization leaders and parents. By building a culture of looking out for one another and reporting possible threats of violence when someone sees, reads or hears something, entire communities will become safer and lives will be saved.

Schools and youth organizations participating in Say Something Week agree to host a no cost, easy to implement, flexible Say Something training that can take place within the classroom, an assembly, or be led by student ambassadors. The training can be accomplished in 50 minutes or less and activities (which SHP provides or schools and organizations can create) can take place on one day or spread throughout the week. In addition to the initial training, the Say Something program offers a wide range of post training activities that can be done throughout the year and serve as reminders. Schools and youth organizations have the option of choosing the day, time and format they would like to deliver the Say Something training during the week of October 24 – 28.

Please help us empower our young people to prevent violence before it takes place. Please sign up to participate in Say Something week today at: http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/saysomethingweek.

Who is Sandy Hook Promise?
Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. We are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators.


Sandy Hook Promise is focused on preventing gun violence (and all violence) before it happens. SHP does this by educating and mobilizing parents, schools and communities on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals.

SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. For more information on Sandy Hook Promise, please visit:www.sandyhookpromise.org.


Read a chapter from my book regarding the Sandy Hook tragedy.

MSAD 4 Veterans Day Celebration Planned

Guilford—The students and staff of MSAD 4 are inviting area Veterans and the general public to attend their Annual Veterans’ Day Celebration on Tuesday, November 10th at 1:00 p.m. “We’ve certainly created a tradition,” noted John Keane, PCSS Principal. “We’ve been hosting these celebrations for at least a decade. But it’s a tradition that seems to have more meaning every year and it’s anything but a habit—every year we create some differences.”

File photo by Mr. Boomsma, 2014 Celebration
File photo by Mr. Boomsma, 2014 Celebration

Organizers note that this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam and have included Vietnam Veteran and former state representative Peter Johnson as a guest speaker to commemorate the occasion.

The Marine Corps League, Bangor Detachment 1151 will open and close the program by formally posting and retiring the colors. The celebration includes the traditional patriotic music, student presentations, and selected readings that will feature students and staff from grades three through twelve. The Armed Forces Medley Salute performed by the PCSS Band typically brings the entire audience to its feet as the school and community honors veterans and those who serve in each branch of the service.

Thanks to technology, Katie Haley, a graduate of PCSS who is now on active duty with the Maine National Guard will appear “on screen” to converse with the audience about her service.

The tribute will be held in the Piscataquis Community Secondary School Gymnasium on Campus Drive in Guilford in order to accommodate the anticipated crowd. A local resident who has attended for several years commented, “This is one school program you don’t want to miss. There is some obvious sadness over the sacrifices that have been and are being made by our military. But that sadness is balanced with a deep sense of pride and appreciation. Experiencing that with children of all ages, Veterans, friends and neighbors means moist eyes and going home with a deep sense of community unity.”

Veterans and friends, parents and the entire community is invited to celebrate are encouraged to attend. Refreshments for Veterans, visitors and guests their friends will be served in the cafeteria following the program. For those unable to attend, the program will be live streamed from the school’s website (http://www.sad4.org). Long distance guests are encouraged to visit the site fifteen minutes prior to the event to establish a connection.

More P.C.E.S. Fun Events

As the school year winds down (or should that be “as the school year winds up?”) there are more fun events coming up! Yearbooks will be distributed early next week!

2015 Arts Alive Logo-1On Friday, June 5, students, staff, and community volunteers will drive into Arts Alive! This annual tradition celebrates art, learning, community and life! Students have an opportunity to participate in workshops that include book-making, cartooning, crime fighting, decorative initials, ditty bags, dizzy dancing discs, name signs, mini-foosball, message boards, masks, martial arts, resistant painting, sand art, sculpture, slate etching, thumbprint art, tie-dye, tumbling, drumming, finger painting, flubber, origami, origami people, painted pots, paper lanterns, slate welcome signs, stop motion animation, stretch bags, and string art—nearly 30 assorted activities!

On Tuesday, June 9, Sixth Graders will host a Culture Fair–the culmination of a project in which students chose and study a country in depth, then share that information.  During the day, sixth graders share their projects with other students, then with friends and family in the evening from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The fair features create a displays elements of the students’ studies such as history, foods, music, maps, games, puzzles, and sports.  Many students chose a recipe to make in order to give people a “taste” of a dish from their country.

Remember, the District Budget Validation Referendum will be held at the local polls on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, during regular polling hours. 

On Wednesday, June 10 Sixth Graders offer a fast paced Showcase of Skills that includes plyometrics–a form of exercise that involves rapid jumping skills, designed to increase strength—and cartwheels, round-offs, dive rolls, back walkovers, and walking on two hands. Students will also demonstrate a 3-Person weave into a  basketball layup, advanced jump roping skills, hula hoop tricks, and stretch bags—a creative movement piece with a surprise ending. The beat goes on with a very creative mix of percussion performances including recycled percussion, body percussion, and traditional African songs with authentic instruments. This is the fourth year for the drumming program at PCES and sixth graders have working very hard this year to put a fun program to demonstrate their skills. The program begins at 1:15 p.m. in the gymnasium.

On Thursday, June 11, Fifth Graders will be featured in a graduation ceremony celebrating the completion of the D.A.R.E. Program at PCES. The program will include reading of essays written by a representative of each participating class followed by the musical, “Just for Fun!” which is a collection of fun songs and lots of jokes and movement. It is a wonderful way to conclude their fifth grade year — the title says it all “Just for Fun, a lighthearted revue for young voices” The play is written by Teresa and Paul Jennings and directed by homeroom teachers with the assistance of Michelle Briggs, Music teacher, and Sheryl Allen, Physical Education Teacher. The program starts at 6 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria.

On Wednesday, June 17 students leave the school for the last time… until fall!