Archive for May, 2015

Hot off the presses-The 2015 Graduation Issue of The Passages Press!

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Read it here! Passages Press June 2015

Nine amazing young mothers, nine high school diplomas

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

“If there were no Passages program for teen parents, I wouldn’t have gone back to regular
high school. I might have gotten my GED, but I’m so happy to be getting my high school diploma. With the help of Passages I have gotten my own apartment, worked, made new friends, volunteered, got Sophia into a great daycare, did my taxes by myself, and I’m working on getting my license. I want to be the first one in my family to go to college. I want to be a counselor for young kids who are going through struggles, because I know I can help. I don’t want to live in public housing for the rest of my life, or worry about how I’m going to make dinner for Sophia, or buy her the things she needs. I want my daughter to watch me graduate from college and see that even though life is hard, if you keep trying and working hard you can accomplish anything.”-Kelsey Turner, Passages Class of 2015

This year, we will graduate 19 students who once thought they’d never complete high school.  Nine of them earned their diplomas while also raising young children.  Here are their incredible stories:

Passages Grad Press June 2015

First graduation ceremony of the season this Friday night in Camden! Get all the details here:

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015



Students Rose Piscuskas and Rakeem Sullivan receive Rotary, Mitchell scholarships

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Today was an exciting day at Wayfinder’s Camden Campus, as not one, but two of our students received major scholarship awards.  Rakeem Sullivan, who is headed to Dean College to study dance in the fall, is our new Mitchell Scholar, and Rose Piscuskas, who is headed to Evergreen, received a Rotary Club scholarship honoring her commitment to community service. Earlier this month we also learned that students Elijah  Harris (New England College) and Shannon Coccia (SMCC) had received scholarships from their schools, and that 2014 Passages grad Tasha Barrett received a presidential scholarship award from UMaine Machias. For a complete list of colleges our students have been accepted to this year, scroll down.  In the meantime…

Here is Rakeem, moments after learning he is our 2015 Mitchell Scholar:

rakeem happy letter









 And here’s Rose:

rose hands in the air

Asked how she felt about receiving this award, Rose said, “What an honor to receive such a generous gift. I feel very proud of the work I have done this year and with this award I will be able to continue to explore the world through learning.”

Congratulations Rose & Rakeem!

rakeem eyes closed and rose

And to Shannon, Tasha and Elijah, too!

2015 Wayfinder College Acceptances

Bennington College

Central Maine Community College

Cornell College

Dean College

Earlham College

Evergreen State College

New England College

Nichols College

Southern Maine Community College

UMaine Augusta

UMaine Farmington

UMaine Machias

UMaine Orono

University of Southern Maine

Warren Wilson College




Faith and Honey

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Why Graduate

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

4th Annual Earth Celebration this weekend at Opportunity Farm! Join the fun!

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Food, music, outdoor games & more! Free &  fun for all ages. Schedule below:


earth day 2015

Banjos, Ukeleles, Guitars, Hula Hooping Violinists & Dramatic Readings of The New England Poultry Journal. You just never know what you’ll find at our annual Gamfest!

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Once upon a time, when two ships would encounter each other at sea, their sailors might swap stories or musical talents in what was sometimes called a Gam.

We have carried that tradition forward by bringing our two campuses together each year in what has fondly become known as Gamfest, a unique display of the staggering talents of Wayfinder students and staff.

And this year was no exception…from accordion, banjo, ukelele, mandolin, and guitar to dramatic readings of “The Caterpillar who Thought He was a Mustache” and The February 1906 New England Poultry Journal, you just never know what hidden talents you’ll find on display.

This year’s festivities included poems by (and inspired by) Pablo Neruda, a medley of Broadway Musical tunes by Cathy, and, in a new twist…a one minute challenge between Zach and Sable to see who could attach the most clothespins to their face before the buzzer went off.

The winner?  Read on…

cliff myranda dylanCliff, Myranda and Dylan appeared in several musical numbers

accordianCarrie playing Leonard Cohen on acordion

elisabeth & fiston poemElisabeth and Fiston, reading original poems inspired by Pablo Neruda. Read Fiston’s poem inspired by The Book of Questions, here: Fiston’s Book of Questions Poem

alex readingAlex, reading from the February 1906 New England Poultry Journal. Watch the video!

crystalCrystal, reading from an amended version of “The Caterpillar Who Thought He Was a Mustache”

cathyCathy, delighting the crowd with tunes from The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and Mary Poppins

papi guitarPapi on guitar

rose violin

Rose on violin and hula hoop!  Watch here!

allieAllie on banjo

rakeem danceRakeem dancing to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Plus we heard Faith & Erika on ukelele; Joseph on guitar; Kara singing a Russian folk song, and Margo, Shannon & Elijah reading more beautiful poems…

Here’s Ian, balancing large objects on one finger…

ian broom

And finally, the clothespin competition…

clothespins 2. jpg

The competition heats up…

happy clothespins

More Clothespins!

And the winner was…

zach pins

Zach! With 24 clothespins.

Wayfinders: Unmasked

Monday, May 18th, 2015

becoming the other 1

Our residential students have just completed the final performance of their new theater class, Becoming the Other. Over the year, they’ve performed dramatic readings of The Glass Menagerie, Lost in Yonkers, Diary of Anne Frank and others. For their final production, the kids wrote and performed their own original piece: Unmasked.

myranda art

After designing masks in art class that they wore for the first part of the performance, each student answered a series of questions bout their journey at school, posed by the play’s narrator, Instructor Andrea Itkin. The results were pretty powerful. If you’ve ever wondered how our residential students make the journey from strangers on the first day of school to family on the last, if you’ve ever wondered what they really thought and hoped and dreamed for over the course of this incredible year together, read on…

camden with masks

 Off stage call from narrator: Andrea Itkin: “I WEAR THIS MASK…”

On stage response from students, wearing their masks:

“When there’s something wrong with me”

“To make me comfortable”

“To make me look tough”

“To show my strength, my wisdom, my passion and my fury”

“To make people think I have it together when I really don’t”

“Because a study shows that 69% of people prefer a manicured lawn”

“To hide my identity”

“So people only see what I want them to see”

“To make people think I can handle what life throws at me”

“To hide my emotions”

“To scare people; to be alone”

“To fight for my belonging”

“To protect myself; to fit in”

Narrator: “MY MASK…”


“Makes the mirror easier”

“Is a cool tiger”

“Is composed”

“Is who I am”



“Everything would fall apart”

“I would be weak”

“I would lose the game”

“I would be open and honest”

“I would be me”

NG_BTO_2 2



“Peace and respect”





“No choices left”



“This is hard”

“Wow. This is way weirder than I was prepared for it to be”

“This is going to be easy. I can just do whatever I want”

“They won’t even let us go outside for a walk after 10. I’m used to living alone, by my own rules.”

“Wow. This is it, huh? Feels like jail”

“I guess I could leave now, if I really wanted to…shit…pull it together. I need some air. This campus is beautiful. I want to stay out here and watch the trees and the clouds and smell the air and feel the light and go get my bags from upstairs and sneak out the doors and run down the street…No! Damn it, lady, get your ass inside and shake somebody’s hand.”




“Fear of being judged”

“Distrust and loss, loss and distrust”

“My adoption”

“My addiction. And stress. Lots of stress”

“Three or four bags full of bricks-full of lies, hate, anger, disloyalty, agony”

“My hopes and dreams for my son”


“So many triggers”

“Peace. Respect. Africa”

Narrator: “AT FIRST…”


“It was hard to be away from my family”

“People were bumping heads, pushing people’s buttons until a big blow out would happen and we would have to figure out ho to solve it with a (resolution)circle”

“I was not a nice person”


Narrator: “I WISH I NEVER EVER…”


“Smoked weed”

“Had to figure out so many things on my own”

“Said so many mean things to people who were just trying to help”

“Hated myself”



“Is being liked, while liking myself”

“Is being away from my family for so long”

“Is having so many people depending on me”



“All of the school adults, all of them; they never give up on the students.”

“Everything I’ve been through at this school, good and bad.”

“I could be in Long Creek for two years instead of getting my diploma.”

“That I’m a kickass-musical-elephant-mask-making-intelligent-beautiful-prompt-answering feminist. Who has no idea what she wants to do with her life. Oh! And I want to remember volume is length times width times height.”

“How it feels to have so many people rooting for my success.”

BTO_Group Shot_1



“I would live like no one else was around and be the person I was always meant to be.”

“I would teach. Play music. Love. Learn.”

“I would dance. Hell, that’s why I do dance because that’s the only time I feel free.”

“I would paint because it makes me feel happy.”

“I would play soccer all the time. All the time.”

“I would move to Cabo, buy a beach house and never leave.”

“I would be unafraid.”

BTO_Group Shot_2



Talkin’ trash: An Interview with Creative Arts Coordinator Oren Stevens about RUBBISH: One Day Sculpt & Build at Opportunity Farm

Friday, May 15th, 2015



Earlier this month, our amazing Creative Arts Coordinators Alexis Iammarino (Camden) and Oren Stevens (New Gloucester) planned a day-long art project at our Opportunity Farm campus with fellow artists Rick Hamilton, Lindsay Parker, Eric Leppanen and ten Wayfinder students.  Entitled: RUBBISH: One Day Sculpt & Build, it turned out to be a perfect day of creative collaboration, with some pretty amazing results.


Here’s what Oren had to say about it:


Wayfinder Schools: How did you get the idea for this project?

Oren Stevens: I had a dream about making sculptures out of refuse and started talking with Alexis about it. As it turned out Alexis has been a part of a midcoast collaboration called “Resisting Entropy” where artists take found materials and build sculptures for 24 hours. We were trying to come up with a name for the event and Joseph said, “I like the word, rubbish.” To me that captures everything, even in the sound of the word as you say it.

the guys

WS: What were the project goals?

OS: I took the New Gloucester students to the Gray Transfer Station last fall to tour the facility and get a sense of how much stuff gets thrown away and that a lot of it still has integrity and value. I wanted the students to work with random objects and create sculpture from inspiration in the moment. I also wanted students to collaborate with artists in the community as well as each other to create.

faith bike

WS: Where did all the stuff come from?

OS: Gray Transfer Station; Randy Cookson is the Director there and has developed an excellent facility that is dedicated to minimizing what goes into the landfill and directing materials to places they can be recycled. Randy was excited about our project and let me pick freely. Alexis also brought materials left over from the most recent “Resisting Entropy” project and other random goodies.


What was your role on the big day?

OS: I feel a real kinship with Alexis and I think we fuel each other. She inspires me; we were co-inspirers for the RUBBISH attendees. For me, teaching is lot about giving permission and nurturing choices to the next place. As host, I was also focused on making sure folks felt welcomed.

shannon myranda

WS: What would you say the highlights were?

OS: The weather could not have been much nicer. The artists needed zero prompting and just dug in. Being surprised by who worked together, Ethan, Rakeem, and Elijah making a sculpture about oppression or Alex Koch and Lindsay Parker making a haunting and potent installation. I learned a lot about Shannon, Erika, and Myranda by watching them execute clear visions of what they were creating. Papi is simply a joy to be around and be a part of his creating, which is a fluid experience. Rose and Fiston are craftsmen and settled into some detailed work, and Faith never misses an opportunity to deliver a message. My final highlight was just how well everyone got along–everyone seemed to know that something extraordinary was happening, and not necessarily the event, but the people, the weather, the project; there was a flow that was exceptional.

first man

WS: Anything else you’d like to say about this project?

OS: Thanks to Lindsay Parker, sculptor, Eric Leppenen, painter, Rick Hamilton, painter, Randy Cookson, Director of Gray Transfer Station, Joseph for supporting the vision, Wayfinder students for enthusiastic participation, Alex Koch for diving in, and Alexis for being such a great dance partner.


dot rose fiston


drum set!