Baxter Update 2/15/17: News

February 15, 2017

Dear Baxter Community and welcome to next year's parents and students!

We feel fortunate to write you today, to share a press release around the potential move of Baxter next year to a new location on the peninsula.  We have been working on finding a location where we can all be under one roof and this process has involved engaging in many different parts of the process of acquiring and renovating a building.  

The processes of acquiring the building are ongoing, but because the press learned through the permitting process that Baxter was working on this move, we knew the news would hit before we had planned. And we wanted you to hear the full story from us first. 

Best Regards,

Michele LaForge and Kelli Pryor

Baxter Update 2, who knew another one would come so soon!?

February 3, 2017

JUST received this update that the story on Baxter's snow day (anytime anywhere) learning is running this evening!  Look, it's Taylor working on the ambulance!

Baxter Update 2/3/17: Standing with our Portland high school colleagues

February 3, 2017

Hi, all,

A quick update, but we wanted you to know that today, we took advantage of an opportunity to support other schools in Portland.  Baxter is it's own district, as you know, and not part of the Portland school district, but we have a strong relationship with the Portland schools.   This morning, Portland district administrators and student government and other leaders planned to meet outside of Deering High and Portland High to stand together outside of the school in unity and solidarity against the incidents of hate speech directed at some high school students recently.

Baxter students and staff offered their support and on their behalf, I asked the Portland High principal and student council if Baxter students would be welcome to stand with them.  The answer was a resounding yes and Baxter students who wanted, and were able to arrange given their flex friday work, walked with teacher chaperones and me to Portland High at 2:15.

We were welcomed and walked several loops around the high school with them.  70 students and teachers from Baxter were there.  We met Ethan Strimling and the superintendent of the Portland school district Xavier Boston, as well as the PHS principal, Sheila Jepsom.

Your students stayed together, stayed positive, and were as always, a credit to their school.  Baxter's staff was supportive and energetic around the opportunity and I thank them all.

The news media was there and they interviewed many Portland students and teachers, but also interviewed a few Baxter students.  It's possible you'll see us on the local news tonight.

Have a good weekend, all.

Baxter Update: An evening event at Bowdoin available to students

February 2, 2017

Hello, all,

One of our best skills is taking advantage of opportunities for partnerships.  When we have attended events on college campuses, partnered with businesses, asked our neighbors how we were doing...we have always learned something and done well. 

Bowdoin College is screening a theater piece supporting an end to violence against women.  It is a tough subject, and there is some mature content.  The Vagina Monologues is a theater piece based on Eve Ensler’s interviews with hundreds of women from around the world.  It synthesizes the interviews into a creative expression of some aspects of the female experience, and covers topics including love, physical intimacy, violence, tragedy, relationships, and a broad range of emotions.  The film offers something for everyone in the audience to think about, and encourages thoughtful reflection in a safe, supportive space.

The showing is at Bowdoin College in Brunswick on February 10 at 5:30 and students will need transportation and $15 for ticket and dinner in the dining hall.  This event is not for everyone, but if you are interested in having your student attend, more details about the timing are attached.  We'd need to know if you are interested by Monday at the latest.  

Thank you.

Baxter Update: Statement on Baxter’s Commitment to Mutual Support

January 31, 2017

Hi, all,

I know you know this, but every year the number changes a little.  Those of us who work and learn at Baxter come from almost 60 different towns this year.  The 2016-17 school year is also remarkable because it is an election year and the changes that come in such years affect us all.  Some of you are experiencing politics playing out in your towns, workplaces, and families in challenging ways.  I’m not writing to you to speak about politics, but rather to acknowledge the uniqueness of each family’s experience and to reiterate our commitment, at Baxter, to be a safe and welcoming place for all students.  

Even before I became a teacher, when I was a manager in a business, I saw how powerful a single statement, spoken or unspoken, is to individual success:   “I see you.”

Baxter’s success in achieving its mission lives in this statement.  When we really see each other, amazing things are not only possible, but likely.

When our educators, staff, and parents recognize the truth of a student’s enthusiasms and passions, her or his clear desire for a certain kind of career or post-secondary learning or work…

When we all together discover and build on a student’s strengths and focus on the ways that student needs to improve in order to reach her or his goals…

When we understand best practice and different learning styles, and when we commit time and energy to matching the work to the goal…

Then, we have the information we need to ensure that the teaching and learning is right for our students.  School doesn’t define us.  It helps us define ourselves, as individuals.

That said, there is another truth that often seems contradictory.  Even though our individuality is at the heart of our future success, so is the way we understand that we are not alone in the world.  The work we do will affect others around us.  It will depend on someone else doing work to inform ours.  The work we do is often not possible without input or guidance or editing or support or just having someone hold things steady while we measure.  

That’s what any school should be and what our school is.  A collection of individuals who understand that mutual support is necessary for success.  It doesn’t hurt that this necessary collaboration is so often thrilling and leads to friendship or long-lasting partnerships.

A week ago, Friday, January 20, I took the opportunity, with faculty and staff support, to remind us all of the importance and expectation of tolerance and support in our community.   I attach the slideshow and agenda so you can see a day in the life of Baxter and catch a glimpse of who we are when we are together.

Four years ago, nine days into our very first school year, I took a similar opportunity, again with faculty and staff support, to remind us all that our school is ours, what we do here matters, that all are welcome, and that help will always be given to those who ask.  

So my note today doesn’t say anything new, anything we haven’t been saying since the beginning of Baxter.  Rather, it renews the promise of our school to be safe for all, to promote ethical behavior, to innovate in the service of learning, and to assess natural consequences for the mistakes we make as we learn.  We do this even when it is hard.  Maybe especially when it is hard.  

From my Day 9 remarks:

Innovative and Ethical.  That is what we are. Ubunifu and kimaadili, in Swahili.  

Innovative...we like to learn, to try new things.  This should be a school where we can express our individuality by designing our own projects, by inventing new things.  We are allowed, even encouraged, to take things apart and put them back together.  We call each other by the names that feel right to us.  

Ethical.  We are respectful of other people’s right to learn, and our own.  The stickers we put on our backpacks aren’t mean or ugly.  We don’t shout at people, or call them names.  We don’t ever use hate language.  We should be trusted to use our phones and devices as calculators or to look something up, to aid in our learning.   We don’t text or play video games through class when we have goals to achieve.  We do our own work, and not because someone is watching over our shoulder.  

All students are welcome in our ambition to have an innovative and ethical school.  Ensuring a safe place for great learning to take place is our highest priority.  

Thank you, every one of you, for ensuring this safety, welcome, and partnership at Baxter.

BAXTER UPDATE Sunday January 29: Hall of Flags, and a thank you

 Hello all!

For the last four years, Baxter has participated the Hall of Flags January week focused on education.  As always when members of the public (and the legislature, in this case) meet Baxter students, parents, teachers, I receive such positive reviews.  This year we participated on two days!  Monday (focused on charter education in Maine) and Thursday (focused on STEM education in Maine).  Many thanks to the students and teachers who represented us this year:  On Monday:  Megan Lawrence, Kelsey Meyer, Maddie Rheaume, Alec Gagne, Jacob Willette.  On Thursday:  Hal Larsson, Alan Lukas, Christopher Gifford, Eddie Derzhak, Ryan Courbron.  Christopher is pictured below with Lester Ordway, Standish's state representative.

I'd also like to take this moment to thank Baxter's Board since we wouldn't have the strong showing at an event like this without their work.  All seven are professionals in their fields.  They donate their time and expertise to help Baxter grow and thrive.  They are among the least visible of our assets and after a week in which our students shine in the public eye, I wanted to acknowledge their work.  Thank you, Allison Crean Davis, Ruth Dean, Kim Gustafson, Peter Montano, Peter Morrison, Patti Oldmixon, Christian Sparling.

And finally, PICTURES from the Hall of Flags this week.  Enjoy.


Baxter Update 1/27/17: Additional Class days added to Term 2.

Hello, all!

As a result of the many weather-related interruptions to instruction, we are adding two regular class days onto the second term and as a result the intersession schedule will change to accommodate them.  Here is the schedule for that week:

In addition, if there is another snow day, the next Flex Friday will be a regular class day.  

We are committed to the learning that takes place on Fridays but because we are having success at linking the anytime/anywhere learning days to projects, project work is continuing on those days.

That's it for now, though here is a picture of the Pinball Machine project at work on an a/a day.  Send me more pictures please!



UPDATE BAXTER 01/23/2017

Hello, all,

Just a quick announcement of thanks to all those who helped make this year's record 5 open houses go so well!  Tonight's was the last Open House of the Open Enrollment season and all were well attended.  Thank you to Tia Wilson, Donna Schwarz, Anna Gervais, Barb Price, Kate Driver, Laurie Medeiros, Jonathan Doughty, and Heather D'Ippolito for their leadership and execution.  Every detail.  All the handouts.  The careful organization, clear expectations, and inspiring words to student ambassadors.  What incredible work.  Thank you.

And to our Student Ambassadors.  Many thanks for your time, effort, and work.  Time and again I hear how compelling and unusual it is to hear so much from students at a school.  Thank you for how seriously you take this work, from readying the school in the afternoons, to running presentations, to giving tours.  Thank you.

Thank you to the Baxter teachers and administrators who attended to answer questions, support the student presenters, and represent the school.  

It is a pleasure and an honor to work with you all.

Best wishes,


Update Baxter 12/19/16: Snow Day learning on the radio

December 19, 2016

Hi, all!  I was interviewed today about Snow Day Learning at Baxter by the education reporter at MPBN.  The piece won't be finished until after the next snow day because he would like to do two things in addition to interviewing me:  1) Interview a student in her/his home on the next anytime/anywhere learning snow day; and 2) interview a teacher in her/his home who is touching base with kids as the day progresses.

Volunteers can write me here and should share their name, the fact that they have their parents permission, and what kind of work they'll be doing.  Teacher volunteers are requested as well.

I thought this was all pretty interesting.  Let me know if you or yours want to volunteer.



September 29, 2016

Hello, all!  

1.  Open House tonight is a true open house and please feel free to drop in anytime.  Students are welcome to stay at school until the open house starts and I have attached the agenda below!

2.  Don't forget NEXT Friday is both Picture Day (in the Morning) and a half day.  School ends at 12.  Buses will leave exactly 3 hours earlier than usual, and pick up times will be 3 hours earlier at the bus stops.  Online ordering of pictures is easy and I'll send the link as soon as I get it.

3.  Infinite Campus logins for all new parents and students were emailed to you yesterday from Amos Cooper, our IT manager.  All returning students and parents already have those logins.  That said, if you have forgotten them, didn't get the email, or need information, please feel free to email Amos at

4.  We will publish a wish list that we keep updating soon, but just know that we can ALWAYS use donations of Kleenex, Whiteboard markers, granola bars, pens, pencils, and notebooks.

In addition, we could use help getting Clynk bottles (already bagged and tagged by our advisories) dropped off at centers.  

5.   I'm taking part in a panel talk after a showing of Screenagers at the Curtis Memorial Library next Thursday night, October 6, 5:30 pm at Curtis Library in Brunswick (where I live).  I'll be there with my friend Dr. Andrea Loeffler and other panelists, and I am hoping to bring some Baxter students with me that night too.  You would all be very welcome.  We are considering a showing of the movie at Baxter at some point too.

6.  Introducing...Baxter Learning Commons. The Baxter Learning Commons is a designated space during Flex Friday to attend hour long peer tutor, faculty-led, or individual work sessions. Students can sign up for sessions using this website: Any questions about this can be answered by

7.  A few pictures, cause of how great our kids are.  Thank you.


Update #1 of 2: A sadhappy goodbye to Mo Nunez

September 18, 2016

Dear All,

My apologies for the delay in sharing this news, but I am writing to share that Mo Nunez, our Director of special services, is leaving
Baxter to work with Great Schools Partnership where he will be a school coach.  Mo was here when the doors opened, and has supported
and designed a program that lives and breathes inclusion and focuses on students' abilities and voices. He will be doing work with Great
Schools Partnership as a school coach that builds on the work he has done at Baxter.  Every one of our students has benefited from his
presence, and he will take all the things he learned from and about our students and educators to GSP and therefore into other schools.
He carries us, our students' experience, with him, and they should know that through him they will be making another kind of difference
in the world.

Our Special Services and Special Education staff now includes two fully certified SPED teachers, a school social worker, five
experienced educational technicians, and a new Special Ed Administrative Assistant, Anna Gervais.

In addition we have been consulting with Rich Abramson, an experienced administrator and certified special education director, on how best to
continue Mo's work as well as support kids and families at Baxter through the implementation of their IEPs.  I'll share more updates as
they are available.

Mo can still be reached through the special education staff at Baxter, and a letter addressed to him c/o Baxter will always find its way to
him, should you wish to write.  Mo's last official day at Baxter was Friday.

Best Regards,

Baxter Update #2: Urgent and Exciting!

AUGUST 19, 2016

Worthy of it's own email message....

Dear all,

I hope you have had a chance to read Heather D'Ippolito's email of yesterday.  Flex Friday has been OUR project for the last three years and we have worked through the summer to make changes that will make a difference.  You are a big part of that!

Here's what we need YOU to do BEFORE August 26th:

  • Read the catalog (attached below)

  • Fill out the form indicating your interest focus

The more information we get from you, the better, so thank you for doing this for me right away.

I am so EXCITED!



Baxter Update: School supplies, Schedule, and Someday

August 2016

Hello, all!  

Before I start on my list, we are looking for some student help next week in the school building, mostly cleaning and helping recycle and clean out some of the rooms.  If you are interested and willing, please write tia at  Thank you!!!

1.  Schedule recap:

First day of school for 9th graders is Monday, August 29.  The first two days (Monday 8/29 and Tuesday 8/30) are ALL YOURS.  And then the next two days, 9th graders will be joined by 10th - 12th graders.  So 9th graders please come to school Monday - Thursday.  No one has school on Friday.

The first days of school for 10th, 11th, 12th graders are Wednesday, August 31st and Thursday, September 1st.  No one has school on Friday.

AND then everyone will come back to school on Tuesday, September 6 for the week!

1a.  If you are a 9th grader, this next message is for you, from Aleah Starr, Gretchen Yock and the rest of the 9th grade teachers:

On Monday the 29th and Tuesday the 30th, incoming 9th graders will be inducted into the wonderful universe of Baxter! Students will have the opportunity to meet their advisors and teachers and mingle with a cohort of some of our rising sophomores and 11th and 12th grade leaders. Students will attend a variety of teacher and student-led sessions on everything from the Baxtitution (Baxter's code of conduct) to Mindset and will get the inside, honest scoop on what it means to be a high school student at a project-based school. 9th graders should expect to get their hands on Baxter's arsenal of STEM tools, explore the Portland community beyond school doors, and meet a  host of awesome peers from around the state. Students should come prepared with a pencil or pen, lunch, and an open mind!

2.  School supplies.  Recommendations attached.

3.  Someday (I chose that word because "Driver's ed" doesn't begin with an "S") you will want to learn how to drive a car, and if you are in high school, you will likely be the right age soon if not already.  Someday, you might want to have your first job and you might not yet be 16.  Here are some things you might like to know about how Baxter can help:

  • Driver's ed:  There will be a driver's ed course starting up on September 12th.  I think it is unlikely that many 9th graders will be ready to take it (must by 15 on the first day of class), but I wanted you to know that The Right Choice Driving Academy holds courses at Baxter after school 3 or 4 times a year, so if this time doesn't work out, another will surely come.  The course lasts three weeks after school, Monday through Thursday.  The cost of the course has been $460 and often kids can schedule driving hours during their lunch break or after school and get those hours in during the school day.  You can call Tim O'Carroll at the Right Choice Driving Academy at 767-6114 or write him to sign up or ask questions.
  • Worker's permit.  Here's the short answer in how to apply for one:
  1. Pick up a State of Maine Work Permit Form in the main office at Baxter (or print the attached PDF).
  2. Fill out the Student information section.

  3. Get a job (the promise of a job) and fill out the middle section about your job.

  4. Have your parents sign the form.

  5. Bring the form AND a copy of your birth certificate(proof of age) to the office and the Head of School will sign the form as long as you are a student in good standing.

  6. Baxter will send the school in to the state.

  7. The work permit will be mailed to your house (the address that you included on the form.)

More details available on the State of Maine Department of Labor website here.

More from me soon (sooner than you know...)


Baxter update: Calendars for the 2016-17 school year

JULY 19, 2016

Hello, all!  

Along with a few pictures of Baxterite Tristan A. on his journey across the U.S., I am sharing this year's calendar.  Yes, we are starting before Labor Day along with a few other schools in the area (Greely and Windham that I know of) but aren't in the majority.  Thank you for being spectacular supporters of this extraordinary school we are building together.  I know I always say things like that but sometimes I wish you--any one of you--could be in my shoes to hear the kind of positive feedback we get out in the world about our kids, their projects, their professionalism, as well as about the many unique learning opportunities they have or will have at Baxter before moving on.  The real world starts now, for them, and I am grateful to be a part of that.  

More from us very soon about changes and expansions to the Flex Friday program, opening days, schedules, and some exciting news about the robotics team this summer.

In the meantime, if you do send me pictures of your daughter or son and the work or joy she or he has found in the world this summer, I would not only love to see them, but share them with the Baxter community.  If you don't want me to share, please let me know when you send them.

Because there are kids who always ask...I just finished novels Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and The Turner House by first time novelist Angela Flournoy; a YA futuristic post-apocalyptic boarding school novel This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab and a YA just plain old fun fantasy called Greenglass House by Kate Mitford; maybe more than one of a mystery thriller series starring Charlie Fox by Zoe Sharp, and finally, World Class Learners:  Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students by Yong Zhao.  What are you reading?



Baxter Updates: Hi Peter

 MAY 18, 2016

Hello, everyone!

As my first post of the new website, I'd like to acknowledge and thank Peter Beretich for all his work this year designing our website.  Here he is during our first year, standing in the yet-to-be-built Fab lab.  (We were sneaking a peek.)

His work has been insightful and nuanced and will make a positive difference in the community.  Innovative and Ethical, all the way.

Thank you, Peter.

Baxter Update:

May 06, 2016

Hello, Everyone!  

First Friday tomorrow night and an opportunity to see a lot of area student art!  Casco Bay Artisans is hosting the first annual Regional High School Art Show.  The show OPENS tomorrow night May 6 but RUNS through Wednesday, May 11th at Casco Bay Artisans, The Maine Wharf, 68 Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101.


Tickets for Prom still on sale but we are doing so well!  Almost there!  Tickets are $50 each and includes dinner and parking.  It's a Great Gatsby Prom and is going to be beautiful, planned by a group of talented students.


Thank you a thousand times to all our parents for your support and to the parents who brought in seeds and plants and chocolate and fruit and breakfast and wrote thank you notes and showed in so many ways that you value the work we do.  Thank you.


Thank you for the Student Senate for their good work around activities, policies, community, and curriculum.  This week was Spirit week and while my favorite might have been May the Fourth Be With You Day, this clever costume from Z today on Character Day, made me smile.  Thanks, all of you.



Let's start with a picture.  Student MS unicycling in the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington D.C. Awesome. 

2.  Breakfast Bar.

Hey Michele! I was wondering if in your next email, you could let everyone know that the breakfast bar is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays? Everything is $1.50 and under. I especially want to get the word out to parents, because if they know there's an option at school a lot of stress could be relieved in the mornings. We also have a payment system where (using cash or check)  students can put money in an account and we charge the account so they don't need to carry cash. (Sort of like a gift card) Thanks!  Julie and Rowan

3.  Prom.

Prom committee met on Friday with Angie and Michele. They have agreed that Prom will be opened to all sophomores and a guest! Please get your tickets in the front office from Donna and Tia, or order them online HERE, where you can sign in as a guest and purchase your tickets online.

Tickets are $50 a piece. We must sell 100 tickets by Friday, May 6th in order to make this happen.

4.  Surveys.

Baxter survey

Charter Commission Baxter survey from Panorama

5.  Voting.

We have a general election in November, and we have students who will be eligible for voting.  We're holding Voter Registration at Baxter on Friday, May 20th at 9:00 am.  Here are the facts:  

  • Students can register now as long as they will be 18 years old on or before Election Day,Tuesday, November 8th.
  • They will be eligible to vote in the State Primary on June 14th as well.
  • They may register as Democrat, Republican, or Independent and the Voter Registration Drive is non-partisan.  The mission is to get young people registered to vote for the rest of their life.  
  • Students will need either the last 4 digits of their social security number, Maine Drivers License or Maine State ID.
  • As new voters, it will be a good idea for them to bring ID with them to the polls when they vote. 
  • Below are the pertinent dates that your students need to know about.  Students going away to college in the Fall may want to request an absentee ballot through their Town or City Hall. 


June 14, 2016 - State Primary Election and potential Referendum Election

Last day for by-mail registration to vote for State Primary Election.May 24, 2016

Last day for absentee ballot to be received for the state primary and referendum. voted absentee ballots must be received by the municipal clerk by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.June 14, 2016

Last day to register to vote in person for State Primary Election. (same day as election)June 14, 2016

November 8, 2016 - General election Day

Last day for by-mail registration to vote in General Election.October 18, 2016

Last day for absentee ballot to be received for the General Election. voted absentee ballots must be received by the municipal clerk by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.November 8, 2016

Last day to register to vote in person for General Election. (same day as election)


Baxter Update: Baxter STEM College Fair is on May 13!

May 04, 2016

Hello everyone! 

Our 2nd annual STEM college fair, hosted by and at Baxter, is coming up on May 13th.  This event has grown by leaps and bounds in just one year and we are so excited to be able to bring this to our area.  Part of it, you can see, is just for Baxter students, but the afternoon portion is open to the public and will allow us to share access to STEM programs with the larger community.  Having a good turnout in the afternoon would be wonderful!  I'll be forwarding to other schools in the area and printing a copy to put up in my library here in Brunswick.   I'd love it if you forward it to anyone you know with kids thinking about college, or print it and put it up in your area.

Thank you!



Baxter update 4/16/16

April 25, 2016

Hello, all,

Here's wishing you a fun April break.  When I asked last week, I heard about kids planning to skateboard, to build a shed, to visit friends and family, to unicycle in the Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom parade (!!), to compete in a robotic competition, to sleep and read and play games and instruments and ride bikes and ATVs and log hours driving.  [How's that for a run-on?  Students in Multicultural Literature, can you name the literary device?]

A few things:

1.  One more heartfelt congratulations to the Outliers, team 5687.  This 2nd year team has worked so hard and excelled every step of the way. Congratulations on your top 20 finish at FRC District competition in Hartford and qualifying for World's in St. Louis again!

2.  Another picture and another thumbs up to two Baxter 9th graders who spent the day recently with two Maine DOT engineers to check out bridge building.

3.  The week we get back, we'll be holding the rescheduled Code-a-thon.  Students should sign up directly with Theo and/or Kelsey in answer to the email they sent out.  No student can participate without a permission slip (if you turned it in for the one scheduled originally for March, no need to do another) so I have attached one here.  Please click HERE for permission slip

Also, we can use some chaperones and support by way of food and drink.  Here is a handy signup genius to sign up.  IF you have any problems signing up here or if you feel uncomfortable or unhappy using this way of signing up, please feel free to just write me back.  

Sign up here.

4.  Also the week we get back, on Thursday, April 28, our Review Team from the Maine Charter Commission will be at the school, as they are every year, to visit classes, teachers, students, and parents.  We need to gather up a few parents from each of the grades who could give a little time during the day on the 28th to meet with them.  Probably morning 10:30 - 11:30 or so.  Please let me know if you are interested and able.

5.  Yet *another* opportunity the week we come back is one you have seen before, from Kate Driver, but here's a reminder:

Hi, students and teachers of Baxter,

Young Adult Abuse Prevention Program of Family Crisis Services, a local education group, is putting together a youth activist group for students who are interested in engaging in violence prevention efforts outside of their classroom presentations. These efforts include peer to peer education about cultural change that will support an environment where healthy relationships thrive. Discussion topics will include dating abuse, sexual violence prevention, and bystander intervention tactics. This group will be driven by the interests of the youth and will culminate in school and community awareness projects. 

The first meeting is Saturday, April 30th at Baxter Academy (54 York St., Portland) from 3 to 5 pm. 

For additional information about the group, please call the YAAPP/Family Crisis Services office at (207) 767-4952.

If you are interested in joining this group, please view the attached information and bring a signed permission slip in to Kate or Laurie in Guidance.


Kate Driver 

That's it for now.  Again, many wishes for a happy April break.  For one last smile, a picture of my daughter Maggie, from many years ago, during April break.



Baxter Update Thursday evening April 7: A list of many and varied things

April 08, 2016

1.  The Baxter Outliers Robotics team is back at it in our next big event this weekend at the Colisee in Lewiston Auburn.  Next weekend we'll be in Connecticut.  Early pictures just came in to me from Hal!  Good luck team!  May the robot do exactly what we want it to do...

2.   Again, press release to follow, but just Wednesday, Baxter's Anabiri Benjamin received the prestigious Maryann Hartman Young Women’s Social Justice Award at UMaine.  Anabiri's work is impressive and we are so proud of her.  Brian Olson nominated her and presented the award at the ceremony.   Congratulations, Anabiri!

3.  There is a report of an extra foot of tide tonight in Portland, according to the weather service.  Scheduled by Nature for midnight, or thereabouts, municipal crews are standing by and some roads may be closed.  We'll check on conditions at the school, early, and don't anticipate any problems but thought I'd share the information.

4.  I know I have now sent two things related to girls at Baxter and I assure you, there is plenty for boys too, but here is another one, a new club!  Please encourage your daughter if you think she would be interested.

From: Emma

Date: Thu, Apr 7, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Subject: These Boots are Made For Walking Info

To: Elke Perks <>

To Forward to all advisors...

Hi Everyone! Elke and I have been working together to put together a new club, and we are now seeking new members! The name of the club is "These Boots are Made For Walking", and it's a to be a girls empowerment hiking group. We will be doing day hikes around Maine and New England and strengthening the female community at Baxter through teamwork. No hiking experience required! If you could let your advisees know about the creation of our new group, that would be fantastic! If anyone is interested or has any questions, they can email myself of Elke.

We will have an initial informational meeting tomorrow 4/8 in Mirzakani[Sean's Room] at 2pm. 

5.  I was sure there was a #5.  Did you know the number 5 is the third prime number, a Fermat Prime, the third Sophie Germaine prime, the first safe prime, the first Wilson prime, and the third factorial prime, the first good prime, and an Einstein prime.  It is the only number that is in more than one pair of twin primes.  That's a lot of primes. 

While I was looking up stuff about the number 5, Hal sent another picture.  Here you go.  

Read, rest, ponder, ride, jump, build, electrify, fish, vote, strum, write, say hello in another language, calculate, measure, weigh, and argue.  Whatever you are up to tonight, be well.

Baxter update March 4: Yearbook orders, School Choice week pictures, and at least one more thing

March 14, 2016

Hi, everyone,

First, I have forwarded an email from Jacob Dupuis, a follow-up with pictures he wrote to me after he and the XQ Flex Friday team represented Baxter at the Hall of Flags the last week in January.   I didn't ask for the update, the team decided that completing their work at the state house with a note to me was the thing to do.  I know (and you know), I am likely to be a little weepy on Fridays after a week of spending days with your kids as they learn these skills, but what I'm talking about.  Professional and warm.  Communication skills I hope all our students learn.

From Jacob Dupuis:

Hi Michele,

As you know we went to the State House as a Flex Friday Project, (Myself, Alec, May, Morgan, Abram & Katelyn) and while we were there we were photographed by National School Choice Week.

As you may notice when you click on that link, we are the thumbnail on the video on their homepage!

We were proud to represent our school in front of the state government as well as nationally.

Below I'll attach a few screenshots from the video of us, and a link to the video itself.

Thank you for providing the opportunity for yet another year,

Jacob & BA:XQ Team

On a related note, while we did not chaperon or otherwise endorse the political events this week, I have to admit, we did have staff circle up and around both days, making sure that kids were safe.  I asked each group of kids to tell me what I needed to hear to usher them out of the building those days and they all knew:  Be respectful; don't be a jerk; listen and learn; leave at 2:30 to be back for the buses; if I can't get in, I come back to school.  I was proud of our Baxter students out in the world, as well as the ones in the school buildings.  

If you would please, remind your students that if they attended a political rally, they are still responsible for the work they missed and need to make sure they have connected with all their teachers or with classroom.

In other news, here's how to order a YEARBOOK if you haven't already!

Hello again, Baxter Parents!

We've received a few emails from some of you asking if it is still possible to order a yearbook... and the answer is YES! 

Yearbooks are available to order at $35 dollars each until April 8th. After then, the price will be raised considerably. You can order online at this link.

For all other yearbook related things, or to contact us with questions or ideas... visit our website at

Thank you!

Caroline R. 

The Yearbook Committee

Visit Our Website

Also in this update, I am including the information from the Tyler Technologies Maine App Challenge. In their words:  

yler Technologies of Yarmouth is hosting the 2nd annual Maine App Challenge. The Challenge is an opportunity for Maine high school students to win money for college while exploring the world of mobile app design. Contestants will submit an app they’ve built to meet a need in their school orcommunity, along with a short video showcasing the app. Perfect for the student with a knack for computer science, however no prior experience is necessary. Up for grabs is $10,000 in total scholarships, with first place winning $6,000! For complete details and dates click over to

There are some Baxter students working on this app challenge in class, but we wanted to share the opportunity in the wider community.

Finally, have a good weekend.



Baxter Update March 2, 2016: Two things I missed: One event and Intersession

March 02, 2016

"Well," she said, wondering if there is any place more exciting to be than a high school, "that was interesting."

Bernie Sanders held a rally here in Portland today and a number of our families took the opportunity to have their kids to see part of the political process at work. This wasn't a school sponsored event, but it did make for an exciting day here at school.  

And now, a quick update.  In my email Friday, I missed one event.

"STE(A)M: the art of innovation at Baxter Academy" first Friday event at Salt next week - March 4, 5-8 pm

Baxter Academy for Technology and Science will showcase student project work during the First FridayArtwalk from 5 to 8 p.m. on March 4, 2016, at 561 Congress Street. The title of the show is “STE(A)M: The Art of Innovation at Baxter Academy” and the exhibit will focus on work that shows off the aesthetic side of a STEM-based high school.

On display will be work completed in one of Baxter 100+ courses or through the students’ Flex Fridayprojects. Flex Friday is Baxter’s flagship program. Baxter dedicates every Friday, 20 percent of the week, to student-managed, long-term projects that are relevant to their interests and goals. Flex Friday prepares students to answer the challenges of an evolving world by focusing on skills that transcend content, skills such as independent learning, iterative design, project management, and open-ended problem solving.

and also, I missed the opportunity to give you a heads up on Intersession:

Monday, March 21st - Off Site Learning Day (either a Job Shadow or Community Service day.  I talked with the mother of one 9th grade boy today who has been helping him spend the day in various businesses this year.)  If you have questions about how to help your student arrange this, or what good possibilities are, please contact your son or daughter's advisor.  Teachers and Staff will be engaged in professional development that day and students should not be at Baxter, as a rule.  It helped enormously last time that many of you provided soup and salad and bread and drinks.  I am hoping to tap your generosity again this time.

Tuesday, March 22 - SLCs.  Student led conferences.  Students and parents come to Baxter, just for the conference time.  No regular classes, though it counts as a school day in our school, just as it does in other schools.  Students who are going on the Collegepalooza trip will schedule their SLCs for another time, just check with your advisor!

Wednesday, March 23 - Friday, March 25   Regular schedule; all students at Baxter.



Baxter Update February 26 2016: Upcoming events, celebrations, and information

March 02, 2016

Good evening, everyone!

A list, from me:

1.  Two sophomore Baxter students, Wil Losereewanich and John Zarate, won the 2015 Congressional App Challenge for the state of Maine.  Congratulations to them and their advisor, Hal Larsson.

2.  Baxter Robotics has been working without stopping, as far as I can tell.   Every day of break, often til 11 pm, and all the afternoons and evenings since.  Competitions start a week from this weekend.  Sometimes the events have a live feed and if I get the information, I put it up on the facebook page or send out an email.  Their design and robot are so impressive, especially given the difficulty level of the challenge this year, widely acknowledged.  Congratulations to them on their hard work and innovative design, and thanks to Jon Amory, volunteer advisor Norris Dale, and many parent volunteers for their time and effort.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

3.  Baxter Drama will be participating in the Maine State One-Acts Festival for the third year in a row this year.  New this year, in addition to a larger cast and crew, is the fact that they are performing a student-written play.  Congratulations to Rylee Sinclair for having her play selected for the performance, and congratulations to the cast and crew for their innovative work and dedication.  Thanks to David Rawson, their advisor, for his leadership as well as Pam Rawson and Jonathan Doughty for their support.  I can't wait to see the play and will be there at Marshwood next Saturday, March 5, during the evening block of plays (starts at 6, we don't know yet when in the block we'll be performing).  

4.  There is a Junior and sophomore parent information night planned for the end of March, to talk about transcripts, post-secondary planning, and how Baxter is capturing all the great work our students are doing.  Leading into this night, we will continue to work with all juniors on being sure they are prepared for what is coming next.  Information will be provided at the Student Led Conferences on March 22 (day 2 of intersession).  Getting the word out about Baxter is a big part of our work in this third year.  Soon we are going to be asking for your help in passing on information about our school and its mission to the colleges and universities you attended.  More details to come!

5.  NWEA testing will take place in early April.

6.  Upcoming events:

9th grade The Bard at Baxter (at Salt):  March 3, 5:30 -7

Winter Semi-formal dance hosted by the Carepackage Flex Friday group:  March 11, 6-10

2nd Annual Lock-in Codeathon at 54 York:  More details to come but tentatively scheduled for March 28.  

Spaghetti Dinner for Baxter families on April 1st. Flyer attached.

I'm sure there is more.  There always is.  Feel free to write or call any of us, if you have questions.  

It is times like this that I find myself thinking, for the thousandth time, that it is a great honor, and a greater charge, to build a school.  Hardest work I have ever done.  I am glad you are doing it with me.  




Baxter update #1: College-palooza tour 2016 02/23/2016

March 02, 2016

Hi, everyone,

We have developed a 6 college tour for Juniors over part of intersession.  Space is limited and there is a cost, but that cost is $100, to cover hotel only.  The mission of the trip is to expose students to a range of colleges and provide access for kids.  If you are interested, please write First come, first served.  If there is space available after hearing from the juniors and junior families, we'll open it to sophomores as well.  

More details are attached below!  Many thanks to Pam and the other teachers who have put this trip together.




Baxter update: February 4, 2016

February 08, 2016

Hello, all!

Hopefully you had a lovely Thursday!

1.  Bus stop change:  Yarmouth stop moved to Hannaford starting Tuesday

The new stop should be safer and provide a little more parking.  We're changing Tuesday to give everyone a chance to get the news.  Kids will be reminded on the bus and I'll send out a text on Tuesday morning.

2.  First Friday with Baxter

You are invited to Baxter's First Friday exhibit tomorrow night.  Students will be showing their work as part of our STE(A)M: The Art of Innovation exhibit at Salt during First Friday from 5-8pm

Here's a link if you need more info:

3.  Baxter Student Directory

The Baxter Student Directory 2015-16 version 1.0 is available and attached to this email.  One copy in pdf and one in Excel format.  The information provided is what you provided to us.  If you don't see your name here and would like to add in, here's the link.  I'll resend updated versions.  

4.  Snowdays

Since 54 degree weather is always followed by snow (!), you will be unsurprised by the forecast for early tomorrow morning.  Think of me, at 4 am, considering the forecast and the road conditions.  If you are an early, early bird, and and out and about on the roads early, it is always good to get information.  207.522.7313 is the number to text.  So all that said...

IF there is a snow day tomorrow, that information will be spread far and wide:  Facebook, website, webpage, text message, email message, major television networks;

IF there is a snow day tomorrow, almost all students now have Snow Day Learning Plans in place and students can spring into action!  Don't forget to check in with your advisors at the beginning and the end of the day;

IF there is a snow day tomorrow, WALKERS, please make sure you check someplace to confirm that there is school.  You are the people most likely to just head off to school whatever the weather and end up needing to go back.  We have always managed to have a teacher at the school just in case, but better to be safe;

And finally,

IF there is NOT a snowday tomorrow but you are coming from a place where the driving is terrible or the roads unsafe, please do what seems right for your family.  Just give school at call at 699.5500 or email to let us know.

Oh, and if you want to be added to the Text Alerts I send out, here's how:

5.  Website upgrade

Some of you may have caught the preview beta of the new website at one of our open houses this year.  Designed by a student (go PB!) with help from the teachers on the Community Connections committee, I hope to share it with you very soon.  There are four entry points on the fabulous first page:  one for current students, one for prospective students, one for parents, and one for community members.



Update January 18th: Gray bus stop change, Off site learning tomorrow

January 19, 2016

Hi, everyone!  

Just a few updates tonight: 

1.  The Gray bus stop is soon to be under construction.  When that work begins, we'll change our stop to Rite Aid for the duration.  Park and Ride might be a little more convenient but there really isn't enough shelter for January.  Let me know if you have concerns, as always.

2.  A reminder that the 2nd community service day is tomorrow.  Buses will not be running and work and learning tomorrow takes place off site while teachers engaged in professional development around differentiation, instruction & observation, and Flex Friday.  Thank you, families, for supporting us in our work with a lunch of soup and bread.

3.  Our own Hullaballoo Studios, third year flex friday project, demo'ed their game Freezing Point at the SnowCon gaming convention this weekend!  Yay!

Update January 13, 2016: Reminder about snow days

January 13, 2016

Hi, everyone!  

Snow day reminder:

Just a reminder that if we do have snow day, tomorrow or any day, its announcement will be available by text, on the webpage, on Facebook, and on the major tv networks.

That said, I don't anticipate a snow day tomorrow.  Which gives me an opportunity to say that if there is NOT a snow day at Baxter, but the roads are not safe in your area (66 towns, remember!), please do what you think best and you will have our support.

Remember too that tomorrow night is our last scheduled open house, from 6-8pm.  Feel free to spread the word!


Monday is MLK day and a holiday for our school.  Tuesday is a Professional Learning Day for staff and a community service day for students.  No buses will be running either day. 

Also upcoming is a feedback survey for all students and parents around grades, what is working well and and what is not.  Narrative progress reports are scheduled too within the next two weeks.  

Finally, many, many thanks to students, parents, and families for all you do to support the school.  For your patience with the time it takes to truly innovate.  For donations, of all sizes and shapes.  For breakfast and tokens of recognition of the holidays (picture attached).  Thank you.

Update: January 3rd - Winter at Baxter

January 12, 2016

Happy New Year, Baxter Families!

I don't think I am going to look quite like that tomorrow, but maybe close!  It is starting to get cold.  Please dress warmly, parents and kids both!  If you need a hat, Angie knows all about them.  Also, there are a LOT of clothes in the lost and found if you are looking for your sweatshirt...

In other news, Megan Lawrence is out from January 4-14! She has joined a volunteer trip to the Dominican Republic with doctors and nursing students as an interpreter. The organization is Partners for Rural Health. In her place, subbing for her classes will be Sarah Shaw who recently completed her Peace Corps service in Columbia (Advanced High language level on the US government scale). She has a degree in Art Education, has taught Art and English in three countries, and has subbed in the Gorham School System. Thank you helping Megan and Baxter be involved in such a great opportunity, even during the school year, and for welcoming Sarah and the expertise she will share with us.

A reminder that the new driver's ed class starts tomorrow.  If you want to reach Tim O'Carroll, please write him at or call him at 767-6114 or 318-1445.

Finally, now that up to three of our snow days will count as school days as long as we set our learning goals ahead of time and document a high rate of participation, we'll be prioritizing these snow day plans in advisories this week and onward.  Please have a conversation with your daughter or son later this week or next weekend and ask them about what their plans are.  If, after that conversation, you or your student has questions, please contact your teen's advisor.  

Thanks and looking forward to seeing my people tomorrow!


P.S.  Wear COATS!  And mittens and hats and boots or good shoes, please!  And let me know if you need help acquiring warm clothes.  We'll help.  

Update: January 7, 2016 Next Community Service Days

January 07, 2016

Hi, everyone,

The next community service day will be in two weeks, on Tuesday, January 19th.  To be clear, this counts as a school day for students and participation is an expectation.  Sometimes the schedule has to be worked out if you have an opportunity to do something on a weekend or on a different day.  No problem, just make sure the advisor knows the details.  

Community service is proving to be a great way to expand kids' knowledge of the infrastructure of the world we live in, has given rise to a number of projects, and meets the kinds of goals that many colleges and employers have for their strongest candidates.  Additionally, it provides a way for us to hold professional development meetings at the same time as the students are doing their own important work.  One piece of this work is for a student to plan his or her own community service day.  They can get help...from you, from us, by joining an established initiative...but hopefully they embrace the opportunity to write that email or make that call.  To think about what the best thing to wear is, and to write a thank you note when it is all over, if that is appropriate.  Let's face it though, when does a thank-you note go wrong?

Since many students will ask parents for help in setting these days up, I am sharing a list that I brainstormed at the beginning of this year with a few kids.  Here is the list so far, so that you can easily see and access it.  I am also including a link to a survey in case you want to add your own!

  • Volunteer at your local elementary or middle school (great for kids who want to volunteer to help the gym teacher organize kids, work in the library, help as a teacher’s aid or playground monitor)

  • Volunteer at your local library or town hall

  • Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or hunger prevention program

  • Go to work with a parent or friend of the family to volunteer at their work.

  • Visit/tour a college in your area

  • Visit a nursing home

  • Volunteer at an animal shelter

  • ...or an ice rink

  • rake leaves

  • winterkids

  • go on a coffee or juice run for local government agencies like public works or the town office

  • help the elderly

  • help out at a hospital

  • babysit for free for a family in need

  • visit a radio station

  • pick up parks/beaches

  • help ski program

  • help at a homeless shelter

  • pick up streets

  • volunteer with transfer students

  • teach the elderly how to use technology and devices

  • read to kids and the elderly

  • visit a local historical society

  • volunteer at a hospice

  • teach kids household skills

  • plant trees and flowers



Update: June 18, 2015: School year end of our second year at Baxter

June 19, 2015

Thank you all for your hard work this year, for your faith and intelligence and good ideas, for following through and thinking big, for caring about our community and being flexible.  EVERYONE should be writing a memoir right now.  Wait till you read this update, though, to get started.

1.  Tomorrow, Friday :  Flex Friday project presentations and exhibitions.  Open house format with scheduled presentations. 

2.  Monday, Beach Day:  School will be held at Crescent Beach, which opens at 9 am so...

  • Buses will leave their stops 30 minutes later than usual and will leave Crescent for the trip home at 1 pm.  Updated bus schedule to come tomorrow because now I'm home and I left it in the front office.
  • Drop offs should be to Crescent at 9 am or soon after and pick ups at 1 pm or a little before.  
  • The exception are those of you scheduled for presentations on Monday morning.  I'll get kids TO the beach after the presentations, but if you could bring them to school with you for the presentation, that would be wonderful.
  • I am certain there are some special arrangements that will need to be made.  Just write me back and I'll help work it out.  Thanks!

3.  Tuesday, Unconference day:  Bus schedule is the usual for the morning run to school but will leave Baxter at noon.  

4.  Wednesday, Credit recovery day.  Along the same lines as the last day of finals for some schools, a day you attend only in extraordinary circumstances.  By invitation only.  You'd be invited if you needed to attend.  



Update: June 8, 2015: Funtown trip for Baxter on Tuesday, June 16

June 08, 2015

Hi, everyone,

Thank you so much for being part of Baxter.  Every Friday, we tour folks through Baxter from colleges and universities, from laboratories, from the state and federal government, from business, and each and every one of them leaves impressed with the work students are doing, with their passion and ability to speak for themselves and their school.

We are diverse--54 different districts this year and forming a cohesive community with traditions and a culture, is thrilling and challenging both.  The senate, led by Liz P., has arranged a day at Funtown to help us strengthen our community and celebrate our year.  

This wasn't in the budget so I am asking for your support to make this happen for our students.  The cost is $19 per student, and scholarships are available if you cannot contribute.  Please don't hesitate to let me know if you can't.  If you could send money in this week, however, that would be wonderful.  If you are able to send in a little extra to support the scholarship fund, I will be grateful.  

We are in need of chaperones and drivers (trying to do this without the expense of a bus!) and chaperones get in for $14.  Please write Alice if you are willing to chaperone.  

Buses will run that day to get kids to and from school as usual, and teachers will be attending the trip as well.

Finally, if your student does not want or cannot attend, feel free to make the decision that works best for your family as to whether to come to school on the 16th.  There won't, however, be any alternate programming at Baxter that day.  

I've attached the permission slip for the trip HERE.

Thank you!

Update: June 3, 2015: Last Days of school schedule

June 03, 2015

Hi, everyone, 

I'll send out a full schedule for the last few weeks of school soon but at least wanted to confirm that the last day of school for Baxter is June 24.  Let me be clear, though:

  • Our faculty and staff did outstanding work in designing and executing a pilot for anytime/anywhere learning that we implemented on snow days.
  • Our students did extraordinary work designing and implementing their standards-based snow day learning plans.  Most students participated in 2 full days of snow day learning and many participated in up to 5 full days of snow day learning.
  • Our families did an outstanding job in supporting our pilot and work.

Our colleagues in area schools have been openly enthusiastic about the possibility that we might help them access these kinds of learning options on snow days.

Special thanks go to Elke Perks, the faculty member who helped spearhead the pilot and has sifted through all the reports from students to validate our work.  WE DID the work.

Friday the 19th (the originally published last day of school) will be the Flex Friday presentation day, so make sure you keep an eye out for the invitation and be prepared to come to your student's presentation.

Monday the 22nd will be a full day; we're going to the beach!

Tuesday the 23rd will be a half-day.

Wednesday the 24th will be a half-day and a standards recovery day (only students who need this option will attend)

The schedules for the 22nd and 23rd will involve reflection and shared activity but no regular instruction.

I know every family is making plans for summer and as always, Baxter supports our families as they finalize their schedules.  Do what is best for your family and you have our support.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Please feel free to write me or call my cell.  522-7313. 




May 15, 2015

The neon fab lab sign students made for the fab lab, presented to Sunny yesterday!

Update: May 12, 2015: Transportation Meeting

May 13, 2015

Good afternoon, all,

I'd like to invite you to attend a work session around transportation for next year.  May 26, 6 pm - 8 pm.  We have been working to understand and define the transportation options, as well as our enrollment, and now I would love your help creating a plan for next year.  Everyone is welcome, whether you ride a bus, drive a car, ride in a car, or walk.  I would value your input.

Thank you!


Update 3 of 3: April 30, 2015: Baxter, what we do

May 01, 2015

If you can believe it, I am the person in my family who talks the least.  Nevertheless, here I am.  Again.

Hello, everyone!

You might wonder why I divided things up into four messages tonight.  Mostly, so they didn't get too long, and because there was just such a diversity of topics, I thought it might be helpful.  Let me know if it drove you crazy.

This last update is to share that events in Baltimore this week have led to many conversations about community and diversity, tolerance and rights.  Some of these conversations have between among students, and others have included faculty and staff.  Some have taken place out of school, in social media, and others have taken place in school.  Because we are a small school, we have an opportunity to respond and make changes pretty quickly to take advantage of important moments of change or discourse.

Tomorrow is a Flex Friday and a day when we work.  We do the work we have chosen to do.  We start the day with a town hall and there are bunches of announcements tomorrow, but I will also share how grateful I am to have an opportunity to contribute to the formation of a community based in tolerance and respect.  I'll be encouraging our students to keep their conversations respectful on social media this weekend, and encourage them to get ready to articulate their questions and concerns on Monday!

Monday afternoon, we are going to hold four workshops: the current news, credible sources, and forming a balance view of events; first amendment rights of citizens and in schools; the role empathy plays in how we listen and interact with one another; and the way that social media can hurt or help in these kinds of conversations.  

I'll share more details as we go but that's the plan.  The emphasis on Monday afternoon is to give our community the tools, the language, to share their ideas and opinions, not to criticize.  

Thank you for your support of your kids and their school.

Best wishes,