New Afterschool Program

Happy August. Grace is rolling out a new enrichment program this fall.  Check out the details here.

We will have an information/registration table set up this weekend during the China Days celebration.  Hope to see you there!

PAL (3)

Mrs. Swegart Makes a Splash

Fourteen-year-old Thomas Nickerson stands aboard the whaling ship Essex and scans the Pacific Ocean. Somewhere beneath the surface lurks Maximus, the sperm whale that killed his father. Suddenly the whale charges and destroys the ship.

Mrs. Kathryn Swegart, a.k.a author K.F. Griffin, was the guest of honor at our Author’s Tea on Monday, March 12th.  She made the special trip from Rome, Maine to Grace Academy to discuss her first chapter book for children, The Wreck of the Essex.  A longtime homeschooling mom herself, Mrs. Swegart came prepared to talk and to teach.  She engaged the children by reading excerpts from her book, while artfully discussing the important elements of writing a good story.  Viewing the rough drafts of Griffin’s manuscript, the children could examine the difference in a writer’s first draft compared to her final copy. Afterward, Mrs. Swegart conversed freely with the children as they asked curious questions and provided their own special insights.  Raphael charmed our author with his cleverness and acute knowledge of whales.  Fun was had by all.


Overall, I have to give this event an A+.  Thank you Mrs. Swegart, for such an inspirational presentation.  We look forward to seeing you again in April to discuss your second book, Heavenly Hosts.

Heavy Lifting and Learning During Lent

Here at Grace we have been doing some heavy lifting in both our Elementary Religion Class and Science Class.

As we follow the liturgical year in our religion class, we are learning about the season of Lent. Students have been studying the teachings of the church in regards to penance, fasting and abstinence.  They have also been learning about the ways in which Christians have been using this time of year for centuries to employ the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.


Mr. Marc Doyon, our beloved science teacher, who now goes by the name of Marcimedes, spent time with his daughter building several simple machines for his science class.  As you can see, Heleana and Lucas quickly got to work testing them out.

THANKS Mr. Doyon for making science so much fun!

A Promise Kept

So often teens are stressed about Valentine’s Day and the pressures such a holiday bring, thanks to Hallmark and our modern culture.

Having three teens of her own, Daja decided that this Valentine’s Day, she would counter the angst.  Inspired by the book A Promise Kept by Robertson McQuilkin, and armed with formidable cooking skills, Daja planned a very special night for area teens. The night before Valentine’s Day, about twenty local teenagers gathered at Grace Academy to explore the true meaning of love. The atmosphere was very grown-up: semi-formal attire, candles and cloth napkins, fancy china. And a Six-Course. French. Gourmet. Dinner. Teens enjoyed one another’s company–no dates allowed–over this sumptuous dinner, and had arrived prepared for a mature discussion of McQuilkin’s book, required reading for the event.

It was a resounding success.

Much earlier that day, Daja and KelLee had taken to the kitchen for the extensive preparations (Grace’s new oven, donated recently by C. Caprara, had been delivered and hooked up only the day before!).  A small cadre of sous chefs, prep cooks, and dishwashers arrived later to assist.

The menu included:

  • Le Apéritif-Olives, Candied Nuts, and Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Sparkling Cider  
  • Le Entrée-Homard En Croute (lobster pie), Wedge Salad with Maple Balsamic and Sparking Lemonade 
  • Le Plat Principal-Coq Au Vin (chicken with wine) and Sparkling Water    
  • Le Fromage-Cheese Plate
  • Le Dessert-Ile Flottante-(Meringue floating in Creme Anglaise) with blood orange reduction
  • Le Café-Espresso or Hot Tea and Dark Chocolate 




The evening began with a small reception and light conversation. As teens gathered to dine, they began discussing the book.  A Promise Kept is a powerful true story of a husband caring for his ailing wife and the love and devotion he has for her.  McQuilkin allows us to experience their struggles, and awards us the opportunity to glean the value of true love through the remarkable lessons they learned about God’s infinite love.


The analysis of the book and the exchange of ideas about what it really means to love was a refreshing departure from what you see most teens doing and discussing today. The evening was a success on so many levels and one that the teens won’t forget for some time.

Thank you, Daja and KelLee, and all the assistants, for devising the concept and creating a beautiful evening for these precious souls. 

Fun times all around!


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