Remarkable Reciter

February 12. The day had arrived.  The Northern Regional Finals for Poetry Out Loud were here, and we couldn’t have been more excited. This year being Grace’s first time ever participating in such an event, we were pleased just to be there.  Catherine, Israel and I arrived early to find that the opening activities were for reciters only, so Israel and I left Catherine with the other contestants and filled our time exploring the downtown area of Bangor.

 Our first stop was the Friar’s Bakehouse, which happened to be closed, so we headed over to Bagel Central.  The offerings were incredible and we had a nice lunch, including pickles.  I cannot now recall the significance, but Israel had fond memories of pickles :).
After lunch, a rock shop caught our eye and we went in to explore.  What a treat!  It was a rock shop AND a museum of preserved insects, snakes, and more.  Here are a few photos of our little adventure.



After this short excursion, we headed back to Hampden Academy, where we met several Grace families who had come out to show their support.  As we took our seats, we were entertained with the wonderful sounds of music by Hampden Academy’s Jazz Band, the R&B Project. Their renditions of Frank Sinatra tunes were my favorite.

As the judges took their places, a hush came over the entire audience as the reciters entered the hall. With minimal introduction, we were down to business.  One by one, each reciter was called to the large stage and with just a small rug and a microphone for company. Round one…round two … then intermission. Catherine’s chosen poems for these two rounds were “Barter” by Sara Teasdale and “Idea 20: An evil spirit, your beauty, haunts me still” by Michael Drayton. During the intermission, Catherine was able to visit with all of us in the audience. As you can see, we have one proud mama. 

After the break, the moderator (Maine’s Teacher of the Year-Kaitlin Young) announced the names of the top ten students who would continue on to the third round.  Grace Academy supporters went wild when she called…Catherine Durant!  We were so proud of Catherine; she had done a fantastic job of reciting her first 2 poems and, let me tell you, her third poem, “Aria” by David Barber, was recited flawlessly. However, given the stiff competition from all the other talented young people, after Round 3, Catherine was not chosen for a spot in the coveted top 5, who would move on to the statewide competition. But she will be attending as a member of the audience in preparation for next year. The statewide competition will be held on Wednesday, March 14th at the Waterville Opera House.

Congratulations Catherine!

Our Beloved Benefactor To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

No big surprise here!  Our beloved benefactor, Norm Elvin has been named as the 2018 Peter G. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.  This award is given to community business leaders who have been active in the Kennebec Valley Region for many years.  Well, we can attest to the fact that although his philanthropy began decades ago, it is still alive and well in Central Maine.  Grace Academy Homeschool and Learning Center has a place to finally call home thanks to the generosity of this humble man.

Norm built the former Norm’s Chicken and Seafood in South China with love and with the expectation that he would be serving local favorites for years to come, but after deciding to spend more time with family and friends, he closed this well-respected eatery and gave it away.  That’s right, he didn’t profit from this adventure, he decided to use what he had built to make a difference in our little community. After approaching him in February of 2016 and explaining who we were and what we had accomplished and construing that we could do so much more if we had a place of our own, I asked him if he would be willing to donate the building to our homeschooling group.

In true style, Norm listened and instinctively volunteered to help in any way he could.  He was interested in providing a safe and welcoming place where children who were normally schooled at home could go and play and explore and be with other children outside of their own homes.  He believed it to be a unique opportunity to help a segment of the population that doesn’t usually receive outside help from any organization.  It was a dream come true, he gave us new home.  That’s right, being a man of his word, we signed the paperwork and he officially donated the restaurant and property to Grace Academy on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, 2016.

Norm Elvin redefines philanthropy!  We typically think of philanthropy as just the giving of money and we tend to think of a philanthropist as the person who writes the check.  This just isn’t so with Norm.  Yes, Norm does make financial contributions to MANY worthy causes, but he adds to those donations by rolling up his sleeves and getting down in the muck to help organizations move the ball forward.  For us here at Grace, Norm has completely taken us under his wing and the roles have been reversed, he is teaching us.  He is advising us on how to stay true to our mission and grow with the times, he is instructing us on the importance of keeping financially grounded and he is helping us develop a strategy that will enable us to serve the community well after the current directors are gone. His advice and insights are invaluable and his presence on the board encouraging.   Imagine, a man of his stature and accomplishments volunteering his time to sit on the board of such a small nonprofit, now that’s philanthropy at work.

Norm has been quoted as saying,

“I give without conditions. It’s the only way I can do it. To me, that’s what being a philanthropist means.”

From personal experience, I know this to be true.  Norm is a rare mix of humility, compassion, honesty, hard work, and love of neighbor and he is truly worthy of the award being given to him next week.  Being philanthropic means giving of oneself to improve the human condition.  Norm does this day in and day out and the families of Grace are blessed to have been but one of his beneficiaries.  Let us thank God for men like Norm Elvin who see a need and don’t hesitate to answer the call.  His passion and kindness have had a great effect on me personally and all of us here at Grace Academy and I wanted to share this news with all of you, our loyal followers, so that you too, can see the difference one man can make.  Thank you Norm and Congratulations!

2018 Kenney Awards will be held on January 26, 2018 from 5:00—10:00 pm at the Augusta Civic Center

Give, and it shall be given unto you” – Luke 6:38


Photo Courtesy of Kennebec Valley Chamber – Facebook

Next Driver’s Ed Class Starts March 12th

Register Today!

A-1 Driving School will be hosting their next Driver’s Education Course at Grace Academy on March 12, 2018.  Seating is limited. Sign up today!  You must be 15 on the first day of class, March 12-No Exceptions.

To enroll or for more information please call A-1 Driving School at 622-1100, fill out this contact form or private message us your name, address, email, and phone number to get started!

Class Schedule is Mon-Wed 5:00pm-8:00pm and Thursdays from 5:00pm-6:00pm for 3 Weeks beginning March 12 and ending March 29.  Your permit is just weeks away!


Fresh Ideas for the New Year

pexels-photo-269370.jpegYour friends at Grace Academy would like to wish you a glorious, rewarding and productive new year. Around Grace, this time means a chance at a new beginning.

To quote a New England poet and exquisite thinker, Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“You have done what you could—some blunders and absurdities have crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

It is with this sage advice in mind that board members are weighing a host of ideas for the upcoming year.  One idea that received unanimous support was creating a newsletter/blog to help build a more cohesive community of friends and families who support the efforts of Grace.  We have actually had a blog for many years here and on our MARCH site, but with all the work we have been doing to get Grace up and running, we neglected this wonderful tool. So, here we are again.  We hope you enjoy it and please feel free to give us feedback.  Our next post will feature more new ideas.  Until then-Peace.


Goodbye 2017 and HELLO 2018

2017 was filled with bouts of growing pains and many, many good times. One of the best times came right before Christmas when we met for a prayer service, Advent/Christmas party,  and an act of service.  This season marks the 6th year we have purchased toys, toiletries, and clothing in order to fill the “Sweet Dreams” bags for the children at the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville.

During our Advent/Christmas party, the children also chose a prayer partner from the Christmas tree.  Red hearts filled our tree with the names and addresses of priests in our diocese. The children selected a heart from the tree, and pledged to pray for ‘their priest’ throughout the year.

Here are a few pictures of our day and yes, it does feel better to give than to receive.

It’s a wrap!


Building an under water robot is very cool. Of course, it takes a lot of time.   Building a Sea Perch ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) teaches basic skills in ship and submarine design. In addition, it encourages students to explore naval architecture, as well as marine and ocean engineering principles. It also teaches basic science, engineering concepts, tool safety and technical procedures. Students also learn the important skills of leadership and teamwork.

This year, winter evenings at Grace Academy were filled with busy hands and minds, as five teams of curious youths worked diligently to complete their robots and lab manuals  for the Northern New England SeaPerch Competition. (More on the competition results later!)