NEW MSCN HEADER (With border)
Issue No. 13
March  2011
The MSCN Newsletter

Welcome to your March newsletter! 


As I write this the sky is gray and rain is melting the heaps of snow that have accumulated this winter. While it's dreary today, the warmer temperature indicates spring is on the way!


In this issue we are pleased to announce the second MSCN Poet Laureate competition and the first MSCN photography competition. Details are below, and we are looking forward to receiving your entries.


In addition, we have articles from the south and the north of Maine: York County Senior College and SAGE at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, as well as Farmington's Gold Leaf Institute to the west. This month's Poetry Corner features poets from the OLLI at USM and Augusta Senior College.   


Two reminders: your invitation to explore the Maine Senior College Compass as a tool for exchanging ideas across the network is below, as is an invitation to senior college instructors to register with the Instructors Bureau if they are available to teach at a Maine Senior College beyond where they currently teach.


We're also sharing information about the Senior Pets for Senior People program at Westbrook's Animal Refuge League, and a play about the late Senator Margaret Chase Smith that will be performed during March at the University of Maine at Augusta. To save space,  for these last two articles we have created pdfs containing additional details that you may access by clicking on the link provided in each article. Please download Adobe Reader if you are having trouble opening the pdfs.  




Kali Lightfoot

Executive Director
Maine Senior College Network  
The Search Is On: Who Will Be The 2011 MSCN Poet Laureate?

quill pen & scroll illustrationThe 2010 MSCN Poet Laureate Contest was so popular we are offering it again this year.

Do you write poetry? Are you a member of a Maine senior college? Then you could be the 2011 MSCN Poet Laureate!  It's easy to enter -- just submit a piece of your work (one poem per person, please) to: MSCN, Attention Kyle Allen, P.O. Box 9300, Portland, ME 04104 or email your poem to Kyle at Be sure to include your name, contact information, and note which Maine Senior College you belong to.
The deadline for submissions is November 1, 2011. The winner will be announced and their poem will be included in the December MSCN Newsletter, and the 2011 MSCN Poet Laureate will receive an Amazon Kindle e-book reader.  We are looking forward to reading some fine poetry!
But Wait, There's More:
Announcing the MSCN Photography Contest!

illustration of photographerCalling all shutterbugs! This year MSCN is also holding a photography contest. The theme of the contest is "Outdoor Maine": photos taken of the natural world in our beautiful state. If you are a member of a Maine Senior College you are eligible to enter. One entry per person; photos must be submitted in digital format. Please email your entry as an attachment to Kyle Allen at Be sure to include your name, where your photo was taken, and tell us which Maine Senior College you belong to. Deadline for entries is November 1. The photographer of the image judged the top pick will receive a digital photo frame, and the winner will be announced in the December MSCN newsletter.
No Shrinking Violette,
This Fleurette

I say age is only a number, and I really live by that philosophy, never allowing that number to influence my decisions. Recently, however, that number turned out to be the big 80, and it did seem to deserve special notice. I felt driven to mark it with a challenge to myself.

Thinking about my extreme fear of heights, I decided that facing that fear head on was an appropriate way to celebrate. I chose to do that by way of a Zip Line Adventure.

For anyone not familiar with this, it involves zipping on cables high in the air hanging from the cable in a harness.

My family, fully aware of my fondness for taking a walk on the wild side, agreed to join me in my escapade in the mountains of New Hampshire.

Fleurette Bannon on platformTo say it was scary does not do it justice. Standing on the platform 60 to 90 feet in the air and being told to step to the edge and then to step off, is not scary; it is terrifying!

After searching for the courage to step off, the ride feels like flying and is worth all that fear.

Fleurette zipliningWe did six lines from tree to tree and walked across an even scarier wobbly rope bridge high up there in the crisp New Hampshire air. The highest point was 100 feet and the fastest zip was a drop at 35 miles an hour. WHAT A RUSH!!

So, age 80, bring it on. I am ready for you. I was terrified, exhilarated, thrilled and had the greatest fun ever on the day you caught up with me. Being 80 is not all bad, especially for a "zip line pilot."

- by Fleurette Bannon, York County Senior College

The Maine Senior College Compass: A Way To Share Ideas Across the MSCN

Compass illustration We've developed the "Maine Senior College Compass," an online communication tool that allows you to share ideas, ask questions, gather information, or bounce ideas off other Maine senior college board members. To consider how your senior college could use it, visit the Maine Senior College Compass.

If you are a Senior College board member and you wish to contribute to the Compass, please send your name, email address, and the name of your senior college to Anne Cardale at to create your account. Once it has been created you can initiate discussions and participate in ongoing discussions. You will also be able to edit pages and upload documents. If you are not a board member and would like to have something posted on the Compass, please contact a member of your Maine Senior College board to make this request.
SAGE Students at UMPI Study
The Spiral Shaped Ladder of Life

SAGE students at the University of Maine at Presque Isle studied the building blocks of life during one of the fall class offerings: "The Spiral Shaped Ladder of Life," taught by Solomon Scott, a former senior research scientist at the Merck Institute. The class provided an overview of the DNA discovery timeline, its heroes, and its heroines -- from the discovery of DNA in the 1800's to the Human Genome Project underway today. During one class session, class members became "researchers for a day," extracting plant-based DNA.

2 women in science class

SAGE students Jane McEwen and Carolyn Wadman take part in a DNA extraction exercise

"Being an instructor for the DNA class 'The Spiral Shaped Ladder of Life' provided an opportunity to explain and explore one of the major discoveries of the 20th century, the associated research that led up to the double helix, as well as the burgeoning promises of future cures for the planet and its population," Scott said.

The class began with a DNA timeline, describing early scientists from the 1800's, such as Gregor Mendel and others, all the way to the 1950's with James Watson and Francis Crick, to the 1980's, the Human Genome Project and Craig Venter. The publishing of the original DNA discovery paper in the journal Nature in 1953 marked a turning point in science as scientists of different disciplines, who previously worked separately, began to work together to solve scientific problems.

The second week of the class allowed everyone to experience scientific discovery first hand. After reviewing a simple protocol for the extraction of DNA, the class was divided into two groups; one group extracted green pea DNA, the other group extracted broccoli DNA. The class was then able to review and observe their results on slides under a microscope and view the clumped DNA material extract.

2 men at a microscope

SAGE student Gerry Gallagher looks on as instructor Solomon Scott views a microscope slide of plant-based DNA that SAGE students extracted during class.

The third week, the class viewed the National Geographic film The Human Family Tree, which chronicled the work of Dr. Spencer Wells and a team of renowned international scientists and IBM researchers. The project is an attempt to gather thousands of DNA samples from around the world to be added to a database to be used to chart human population migration around the planet. The film followed groups of people that Dr. Wells interviewed at a street fair in New York City. They had all consented to have their DNA taken and analyzed; then it was revealed to them where in the world their ancestors had settled. The results substantiated that mankind started in Africa, and from there, spread to Europe, Asia and North America.

The fourth and final week, the class reviewed the information seen in the film, and discussed the migrations of the Mitochondrial DNA theorized in the book, The Seven Daughters of Eve, which showed the paths taken by the women of the world. The remaining time in class was used to get an overview of the Human Genome Project, and its promises of improved health throughout the world through genetic testing. Also discussed was stem cell research and the advances that are being made. The United States Army has invested a large amount of money in the development of tissue regeneration and the class viewed a video on the results of these treatments. The hope of this research is the regrowth of lost limbs. The class also watched video of scientists growing organs artificially for future implants in people. This is expected to be commonplace in the future.

"Nothing is more convincing than a presentation from a familiar guest speaker who has helped to solve a situation through DNA technology," said SAGE student Carolyn Michaud. "We [my husband and I] are both looking forward to the next class on DNA information."

-- Submitted by Rachel Rice, SAGE  at University of Maine Presque Isle
MSCN Instructors Bureau:  Have Notes, Will Travel

drawing of car packed for travelThe Maine Senior College Network is developing a list of instructors who are willing to travel to senior colleges across Maine to teach. If you are an instructor and wish to add your name to the MSCN Instructors Bureau, please send the following information to Kyle Allen at

-   Your name and the name of the senior college at which you've taught.
-   A short description of the course(s) or one-session lecture(s) you have taught at a senior college.
-    A clear sense of the distance you are willing to travel around the state.
-  Your contact information including: phone, email and physical address.

We will post your name, course description and travel radius on the Instructors Bureau page on the Maine Senior College Compass. We will not post your personal information without your permission; we  will provide your contact information when we receive a request from a Senior College Board member.
Gold LEAF Helps Host Storytelling Festival   

Gold LEAF Institute, together with the Farmington Public Library, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the University of Maine at Farmington, recently became co-sponsors of Western Maine's first-ever Storytelling Festival.

The project, spearheaded by the university's Dr. Phyllis Blackstone, will bring two well-known Maine storytellers to Farmington in August -- and among those in attendance, undoubtedly, will be a coterie of Dr. Blackstone's Gold LEAF students.

Two years ago Dr. Blackstone, an Associate Professor of Education at UMF, was recruited to teach a storytelling class as part of Gold LEAF's fall class offerings. The class was so popular that she returned again this year for a second round of classes. Sensing a growing interest in the community, she formed a local storytelling guild last September that began meeting every third Thursday of the month at Wicked Gelato, a Farmington coffee shop. Recently, she also established a monthly storytelling dinner in Wilton, a nearby town.

Several Gold LEAF members, of course, have been attending the guild meetings, among them Myrna Vallette, a member of Gold LEAF's board of directors. Myrna says guild members talk, swap stories, get "honest feedback," and just share their interest in the storytelling art.

Dr. Blackstone, who is a member of the Maine Organization of Storytelling Enthusiasts (MOOSE), the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling (LANES), and the National Storytelling Network (NSN), is a dedicated educator, an aficionado of well-told stories, and has been a wonderful asset to Gold LEAF's class offerings. She's also launched and encouraged a number of new storytelling enthusiasts.

The Western Maine Storytelling Festival -- which sponsors hope will become an annual event -- will be held in Farmington on August 5 and 6.

- Submitted by Dick Matthews of Gold LEAF Institute in Farmington.                       

York County Senior College Invites You To Its March Winter Lecture Series Offering

As part of its Winter Lecture Series, York County Senior College is offering two lectures on March 16, with an lunch intermission. These lectures are open to the public; membership in Senior College is not required.

From 9:30-11:30 a.m. Dr John Sutherland, will present "The Many Faces of Teddy Roosevelt." Dr. Sutherland graduated from the University of Maine and received his Ph.D. in history from Temple University. He is Professor of History Emeritus and Emeritus Director of the Institute of Local History at Manchester (CT) Community College. He also taught at Eastern and Central Connecticut State Universities and the University of Connecticut.

"Our 26th president was a much photographed and much cartooned leader," remarked Dr. Sutherland, and his talk on Teddy Roosevelt's fascinating multi-faceted life will be illustrated with many of these images.

From 12:30-2:30 p.m. Tim Deroehn, a climber with 14 year's experience, including climbs  throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Europe and Asia, will describe his 2010 expedition to the Charakusa Valley in Pakistan. He will share what he learned about Pakistanis' attitude towards America in "Hiking Through Pakistan."

Deroehn, who, with his climbing partner Matt McCormick, was recipient of the Copp-Dash Inspire Award for their trip to Pakistan, set out on a journey to conquer and establish a new line on the unsummited K7 Spire in the Karakoram Mountain Range. They fought bad weather, sickness, and met a diverse range of people while on this challenging and groundbreaking journey.

These lectures are open to the public. They will take place at Denis Hall on the campus of the  Brothers of Christian Instruction, 133 Shaker Hill Road in Alfred (just off Route 202). The fee for the day's program of two lectures, lunch, and coffee breaks is $15, payable at the door. Lunch includes soup, salad, sandwiches, dessert, and beverages. Reservations are important for luncheon planning and lecture logistics; please call 207-282-4030 to reserve your spot.  In case of inclement weather, if Sanford Schools cancel or have a delayed opening, the lecture will not take place.

- submitted by Ted Hargrove and Fern Brown, York County Senior College
The Poet's Corner


Snow does not turn to rain along the coast
And green fields are enough to feed the hungry

And the working stiff endures to face another day
And blessings come among the bills and junk mail

And grizzled poets straining reach the handle
And stargazers do not fade before the dawn

And the lion does not succumb in his cage
And the kind ones do not die in their youth

And lights are always burning in the window
And snow does not turn to rain along the coast


- by Janet Stebbins, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Southern Maine



My Grandfather Immisch - "Opi"

New skates, the screw on kind.
Frozen pond, full of eager kids.
My sister, only two,
pretend skates in her boots.

Looks so easy, I see kids speed along.
But it's hard to stand and balance
On the skinny blades.

Opi takes my arm, helps me stand.
I slide slowly, not gracefully
Fall many times, take Opi down with me.

He gets up, helps me, brushes himself off.
Am I all right, he wants to know, I don't ask him.
I am eight and take certain things for granted.
He takes me skating until I am self sufficient.

He treats Margrit and me to the circus.
Sits through children's movie matinees.
Sits around with young mothers
Chats while we play in the park.

He died one month before the end of the war.

This man who never gave a Hitler salute.
President of the Berlin Bank,
he greeted his employees
With a wave of his hand: "Guten Morgen"

I still see him standing alone on shore as we wave
goodbye from the ship that will take us to America
We wave until he is a small speck.   


- by Ruth Bookey, Augusta Senior College



Ode to a Rhododendron


Rhododendron you are ugly

Your winter stance extreme

Your shuttlecock nose

And stiff leaf feathers

Seem unsightly, hostile, elephantine


But dear ugly duckling

Your leaves will shape and groom

Your buds will break

Into luscious pink

And chase my winter sickly, wicked gloom


- by Connie Baskett, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Southern Maine

Senior Pets for Senior People

photo of oman holding small dogThe benefits of pet ownership are many, especially for seniors. According to the Humane Society of The United States pets ease loneliness, enhance general health and well-being, lower blood pressure, decrease stress, reduce bone loss, lower cholesterol levels, and improve blood circulation, among other benefits.


With that information in mind, the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland established "Senior Pets for Senior People," a program to match people aged 55+ with cats and dogs aged 8+. The goal of the program is to place senior pets in permanent homes with senior people for a win-win result: people enjoy the companionship of a pet, and the pets receive a second chance at life. A senior pet tends to be easier to care for than a puppy or a younger cat or kitten with lots of energy to burn. Most senior animals are content just to have a cozy lap or a bed to snuggle up in and a human to love them.


Although the ARL normally charges a modest adoption fee to help recover veterinary costs, the adoption fee will be waived for program participants, and the adopted animals receive the same medical attention as all pets adopted from the ARL.  


More detailed information is available at this link. If you have questions or wish to participate in the program, contact Ellin Doyle at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland:  854-9771 or
Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington: An Evening With
Margaret Chase Smith
Mrs Smith Goest to Washington poster

 In a world where it is commonplace  to see women in government and on the world's stage, it can be hard to remember when there were no women in the U.S. Senate before Margaret Chase Smith from Maine who served from 1948 to 1972.

Senator Smith was a woman of firsts: the first woman elected to both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for President of the United States by a major political party.

"Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington," is a play written by Linda Britt and performed by Sally Jones. The one-woman play is an intimate and fascinating look at the life and times of Margaret Chase Smith told in her own words and the words of the people closest to her. It tells of her journey from humble beginnings in Skowhegan, to a position of power and respect as a U.S. Senator.

A performance of "Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington" will be performed on March 11 and March 18 at the University of Maine at Augusta's Jewett Hall Auditorium in observance of Women's History Month. For more information, on performance times, cost and how to obtain tickets, click here

In This Issue
Who Will Be The 2011 MSCN Poet Laureate?
Announcing the MSCN Photography Contest!
No Shrinking Violette,...This Fleurette
The Maine Senior College Compass: A Way To Share Ideas Across the MSCN
SAGE Students at UMPI Study...The Spiral Shaped Ladder of Life
MSCN Instructors Bureau
Gold LEAF Helps Host Storytelling Festival
York County Senior College Invites You Its March Winter Lecture Series Offering
The Poet's Corner
Senior Pets for Senior People
Mrs. Smith Goes to Washington: An Evening With Margaret Chase Smith
Don't forget to go to the Maine Senior College Network website to find out what is happening around the state!

Maine Senior College Network 
Maine Senior College Network

Acadia Senior College

Augusta Senior College
Bridgton Senior College

Coastal Senior College

Downeast Senior College

Gold LEAF Institute


Lewiston-Auburn Senior College

Midcoast Senior College

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Penobscot Valley Senior College


Senior College UMaine Hutchinson Center

St. John Valley Senior College

Sunrise Senior College 
Western Mountains Senior College

York County Senior College
The Maine Senior College Network Display Boards are available to any senior college that would like to borrow them. For more information, check out the link below.

About Us
Maine Senior College Network
P.O. Box 9300
Portland, Maine 04104-9300
(207)780-4317 (fax)

Kali Lightfoot
Executive Director
Anne Cardale
Director of Operations & Communications
Director of Conferences

Kyle Allen
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Deadline:  Third week of each month for the following month's edition