Archive for June, 2015

Making Sweet Music with The Lullaby Project

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

We are honored to have been selected again this year for participation in Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, in collaboration with Bay Chamber Concerts & Music School with additional support from Hearst Studios. The Lullaby Project is part of Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections program, which works with teen parents, homeless parents and incarcerated parents, pairing them with professional artists to write personal lullabies for their babies, strengthening the bond between parent and child. For the second year in a row we have had the privilege of working with Bay Chamber and Hearst Studios to write and record our own lullabies.

This year, seven Passages students participated, along with professional musicians Matthew Fogg, Stephanie Fogg, Nate Martin, April Reed-Cox, and Bay Chamber Concerts Artistic Director, Manuel Bagorro. The result was six beautiful lullabies, one of which was selected to be performed live in New York by Carnegie Hall musicians.

After many months of working on this project, we gathered at Bay Chamber last month to hear the final recordings, as well as live performances of two of the lullabies.  The results were fantastic!  The first lullaby we heard was “Hadley” with its lovely refrain, “I’ll be there for you”, written by Passages student Breanna Moody, who was pregnant with Hadley when she wrote it. “Every time I played it she would kick and move around,” Breanna said.  Now that Hadley is here, Breanna says, “I wouldn’t have chosen anything else, it’s perfect for her, I think she likes it.”

mom and babeBreanna and Hadley

Next up was “My Dear Addyson,” by Lindsey Hinckley. The room quickly grew quiet and several people became teary eyed listening to the music and lyrics. Afterwards, Lindsey said, ” When I first walked in here and realized we’d be making our own songs I thought, ‘no way’, I’m not capable of that. But we did it and it was an awesome experience. Seeing the recording studio was really cool. I never thought I’d be able to see the inside of a recording studio. It will be cool to get to share this experience with my daughter when she gets older.” Of the lullaby itself, Artistic Director Manuel Bagorro said, “It’s beautiful. It had an effect on this room, very calming, very effective.”

We also heard “Waves on the Shore,” the lullaby written by student Autumn Larrondo for her son, Donald, and “Babies Don’t Have Wings,” written by student Selaina Leigh for her daughter, Leah. Donald became very relaxed and calm while listening to his lullaby and Autumn said, “It’s cool to see how he reacts to it,” while Manuel added, “He’s very musical.” Of her lullaby for Leah, Selaina said, “One of the things I love about this song is that it’s her, completely. It’s been a fun process. Her face lit up and she was dancing.”


Autumn’s son Donald, taking a turn at the piano. 

dancing girl

Lindsey and Selaina’s daughters, Addyson and Leah, taking in the music.

Finally, we heard “Take a Breath,” by student Deidra Pushard and “Now You’re Here” with its beautiful lyric, “You’re perfect, in every way, you’re so beautiful, I can’t explain,” by students Brittany Sprague and Sabrina Jones-Jollotta. “Gorgeous,” was how Manuel summed it up.

He also said, of the whole process, “You did something really wonderful, something to be proud of. It’s taken a tremendous amount of courage and I’m proud of everyone who was involved. It’s a big deal.”

Passages teacher Erica Gates said, “I’m very proud to be part of this, it’s a wonderful opportunity for our students. I hope we get to continue this project with Carnegie Hall and By Chamber.”


Students, babies, teachers and musicians.

musicians and babesThe musicians, l-r, April Reed-Cox, Cello; Stephanie Fogg, voice; Nate Martin, bass; Matthew Fogg, piano. Here they are playing “Hadley,” which was selected to be performed live by Carnegie Hall musicians in New York. Also pictured are  Selaina’s daughter Leah, and baby Hadley with her mom, Breanna Moody, in red. After hearing her song was selected Breanna said, “I just can’t believe it, it’s crazy. I feel very honored.”


Artistic Director Manuel Bagorro

You can listen to all the beautiful lullabies, here. Scroll to The Bay Chamber Concerts section at the bottom to hear the lullabies recorded by our students. A very big thank you to Carnegie Hall, Bay Chamber Concerts and Hearst Studios!


Meet our Wayfinders: An interview with Wayfinder Elijah Harris

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


happy elijah

Elijah Harris, Wayfinder Schools Class of 2015

Recent Wayfinder graduate Elijah Harris impressed a lot of people at this year’s graduation ceremony with his dapper suit and bow tie, broad smile, warm energy, and his wonderful interview with visiting filmmaker Michael Boucher, excerpted here:

Back when there was still snow on the ground, and graduation day still seemed a long way off, we met up with Elijah for an interview about his hopes and dreams for the future. Here it is:

A Wayfinder Schools interview with student Elijah Harris, Winter 2015

 WS: What brought you to Wayfinder Schools?

 EH: Change. I needed to get away from the environment I was in. The school I was in wasn’t working for me.  It was by chance that I stumbled upon Wayfinder. I was going to guidance to make up a test and they told me to go meet with Joseph (Residential Director) and Pam (Admissions Coordinator), who were visiting my school that day.  I learned that Wayfinder is small and focused on individual students.  I needed that individual time.

WS: What have you enjoyed most about your Wayfinder Schools experience so far?

EH: Just the growth that I’ve seen in myself and others.  It’s so important. Last year I wouldn’t have seen myself in the place I’m in now. I’m more mentally and emotionally stable. Wayfinder got me out of the slump I was in at my old school. My routine has changed and my habits have become better–more focused on what’s important to me.

WS: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far this year?

EH: Probably how to take someone else’s input and actually think about it and apply it to my life, and feel the importance of it and how my actions can affect other people. It makes me think about more.

 WS: What’s your favorite class and why?

EH: Wellness, because when we go to the Y, I get to play basketball, and basketball is my greatest passion. The more I get to play the better!

 WS: What’s the favorite meal you’ve cooked so far at school and why?

EH: General Tso’s Chicken. It was a big hit. The sauce came out perfectly. I grilled some peppers and added soy sauce and it came out amazing. Everyone thought it was great. I wish there had been more. My favorite meal that someone else cooked was the night Fiston made rice with tomato sauce, chicken, and green peppers. It was so amazing I could have eaten it forever.

WS: Where is your internship and what do you like best about it?

EH: Greater Androscoggin Humane Society. At first it wasn’t my ideal choice. I love animals but didn’t have the stomach for the cleaning up part. But I do like the environment there. Everyone is nice and friendly and they’ve been teaching me new stuff everyday. The bunnies and dogs are clean and well taken care of—the cats, too.  It’s nice to see the dogs—any of the animals—get adopted.

WS: What’s been you favorite trip at Wayfinder and why?

EH: Boston. Also a weekend trip to Portland. During the day we got to skateboard all around Portland and we were skating down this huge hill and we skated right to the (school) van. We got to hang out with everyone and explore all day. It was one of my favorite days so far.

WS: What’s been you favorite volunteer project and why?

Working with Tree Street. We mentor there. And I play basketball with them.  We took them to the Roller Dome once. I love working with kids,  I know how to work with kids. It’s nice to help out kids and people who are less fortunate than me but are great people, and I get to hang out with these great people feel like a little kid again.

WS: What do you hope to get out of your Wayfinder Schools experience?

EH: Wisdom, knowledge, help to keep growing and learning to grow by myself and with others. Learning and experiencing new things. I want to be able to get a job and new opportunities and get my life on track and be able to share my knowledge with other people, especially kids who may be struggling in public school.

WS: What are your hopes and plans for after graduation?

EH: Working a lot and making as much money as I can. I’m probably going to go to community college close to home so I can live at home, probably get a loan and a work study, making money while in college to pay off my loan, get books and car. I want to be self-sufficient, not depending on others.

 Editor’s Note:  Since the time of this interview, Elijah has been awarded a scholarship to attend New England College in New Hampshire, where he will be headed this fall.

WS: What would you like people to know about Wayfinder Schools?

EH: It’s a different place than you think it is. It’s definitely not easy, not what I expected. E very student is different but it’s more than worth it. This is the place that will get you to the place you want to be in life. They ask you what you want to be and where you want to go and how can we help you get to that path. Before I came here (STEP Coordinator) Mary Seaman told me to remember: this is going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But it’s totally worth it.

WS: What would you like the world to know about you?

EH: That I’m coming for them. I’m gonna get my name out there somehow. I’m going to try to change some of the ways we we’re fighting –shooting –I’m gonna try to bring people together. I want to keep climbing the ladder. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I want t leave my mark. I’ve always dreamed big. At this point I don’t know why I can’t dream big. I’m working hard. Give me some time and I’ll be there.

 A few facts about you:

Where you were born: Lewiston

Your favorite food: Pizza or a cheeseburger with French fries

Your favorite sound or smell: The sound of a basket ball dribbling on the court.  The rhythm, hard then slow, I can get it, I understand it, it’s music to my ears.

Your favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time: Basketball

Your favorite possession: My long board. It’s like my baby.

Favorite book you’ve read recently: Drown, by Junot Diaz. I really like him.

One place you’d like to travel to: I want to travel the word and see every life style there is. I think South America would be interesting– the rainforest the animals, the people. I’ve heard it’s beautiful.

Something you’re proud of: Committing to this school

Something new you’d like to try: Skydiving, because I’m scared of heights. And participate in something for a good cause. Give a voice to people who don’t have a voice. There’ are a lot of things to be part of.

Who would play you in a movie: Donald Glover. He might be the next Spiderman.

Your favorite spot in Maine: Lewiston. It’s so boring sometimes, but the energy I get there is different than I get anywhere else. It has great potential. People talk about it like it’s a bad  place but it’s not. There are beautiful parts and parts that could be better. We could make it a better place, clean it up, make sure the right things are coming.

 The one thing you’re most passionate about: Basketball














Grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities connects Wayfinder with new technology

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

A generous grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities provided new laptops for Wayfinder students and staff this year–the first time the school has ever received a gift of new technology for both programs (Passages and Residential) across three program sites (Camden, New Gloucester and Machias).

Not only did this grant provide students with the new technology needed to reach their goals, it also helped integrate all three campus sites, improve ease of communication among staff at different sites, connect students living in rural and remote areas, and fully integrate the curriculum.

“We are so grateful to Ronald McDonald House Charities for their incredible support this year,” said Head of Schools Dr. Dorothy Foote. “We have long needed updated, integrated technology for our students as they strive to reach their graduation goals and prepare for future success in Maine’s workforce. This grant helped tell these kids they are important, their learning is important, and we value them as learners.”

Program staff was also pleased with the new machines and Residential Program Director Joseph Hufnagel cited their role in helping students improve their research, create multi-media projects and remain in clear communication with their teachers.

Meanwhile, Passages Program Director Martha Kempe was particularly pleased with the ability to connect Passages students who often live in rural areas of the state.  “Our students receive regular home visits from their teachers,” Kempe said, “but between visits, they work independently, from their own homes. Having access to reliable technology is key to our program success. We are thrilled to be the recipients of this very generous grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine.”

faith computerFaith McQuatters, musician, writer & future fashion designer, working on her new computer, provided by a generous grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine.






A season of celebration

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Over the past month, we’ve graduated 19 students from throughout the state of Maine–students who once thought they’d never complete high school.

The first ceremony of the season was held on May 31st, as over 200 people gathered at High Mountain Hall in Camden to cheer for graduates Erika Bramhall, Rakeem Sullivan, Myranda McClure, Papi Musese and Rose Piscuskas. There was singing, dancing, laughter and tears as these five students headed off into their new lives as Wayfinder Schools graduates. Rose and Rakeem both received scholarships to their first choice colleges, and all five students are pursuing their goals in teaching, medicine, music, dance, writing, photography, business and art. Congratulations all!

ian etcL-R: Rakeem, Myranda, Erika, Rose, Papi, and Campus Director Ian Collins, all goofing off for the camera

Next up was our Washington County ceremony on June 1st, in which young parents Lexie Fitzsimmons and Skye Green were cheered by friends and family as they received their diplomas and headed out into the world not only as parents, but as high school graduates.  Congratulations Skye and Lexie!

lexie and skye

Left, Skye, Right, Lexie.

The following week was a busy one, in which 12 more students received their diplomas in ceremonies in downtown Rockland and at Opportunity Farm in New Gloucester. During these ceremonies diplomas were awarded to outstanding students Elijah Harris, Faith McQuatters, Fiston Mubalama, Shannon Coccia, Ethan Ward, Selaina Leigh, Haileigh Ingraham, Kelsey Saucier, Carrie Schaeffer, Kiera Satele, Kelsey Turner, and Amina Yunis. Congratulations to all these amazing young people!

almina and daughterAmina and her daughter

fiston's sister

Fiston and his sister


Faith, with Head of Schools Dr. Dorothy Foote

elijah kara elis

Elijah, with Overnight Counselor Kara and Lead Teacher Elisabeth

happy selainaSelaina

my mom graduated fromCarrie’s daughter

shannon hugShannon gets a congratulatory hug

Watch for our July newsletter, with profiles of all 19 graduates.  In the meantime, you can find more graduation details below:

Residential_Moon_June  Edition 2015

Passages Press June 2015


Help Us Reach Our Goal–Two Weeks to $20,000!

Friday, June 19th, 2015





Garden Coordinator Position Available at Opportunity Farm

Friday, June 19th, 2015










We are seeking a summer coordinator for our beautiful Opportunity Farm Gardens.  Details below.



Wayfinder Schools to host summer Diploma Institute with Clemson University and Maine DOE

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Wayfinder Schools is thrilled to be the host of this summer’s Diploma Institute with Clemson University and The Maine Department of Education.  Read all about it here:


Wayfinder Schools 2015 Graduation, Opportunity Farm Campus

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015