Student interest in extracurriculars on the rise

By Ashley Ward, Secretary and Assistant Editor

FARMINGTON 一 Extracurriculars at the University of Maine at Farmington have reported a struggle with student involvement and membership over the last 18 months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, group leaders believe that there is hope on the horizon.

For on-campus clubs, it was nearly impossible for students to engage in activities. Those that did join were faced with the responsibilities for several in-club positions.

“We took a hard hit last year with the pandemic and got all the way down to one member,” said Artemis Monteith, President of the Nightmare Club. According to Monteith, the club went all the way from 20 members to almost disbanding. Now the club has up to 16 members.

Learning Commons Coordinator William St. John noted increased difficulty in making new tutor hires for this academic year. “I’ve sent out dozens of emails…offering students jobs. Saying, ‘I’ll hire you! And you get to work your own hours, and get paid 12 bucks an hour!’ and most of them never replied,” St. John said.

St. John said that even though students haven’t been as aggressive at seeking out academic help from tutors, numbers are on the rise.

“…tutoring this semester is doing better than it was last semester at this time,” St. John said.

Despite the limited student participation last year, organizations on campus are optimistic about student interest levels returning to pre-pandemic levels with enough time. Advisor of the Student Senate Kirsten Swan said each incoming class of first year students brings a wave of reinvigorated enthusiasm back to extracurricular activities on campus. The increase of participation is observed in the demographics of several clubs and their members, as well as in the Student Senate.

“I think the future is pretty bright for the Student Senate. Everybody on the executive board is new, except for the President, and there are a lot of first and second year students that are Student Senators. There seems to be a lot of good energy in terms of wanting to get involved and wanting to find out what the Student Senate is all about,” Swan said.

UMF hosts first Inclusive Maker Summit to support rural students with and without disabilities

By April Mulherin, Contributing Writer

FARMINGTON, ME  (September 30, 2021)—The University of Maine at Farmington hosted the first Inclusive Maker Summit on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, to support rural students with and without disabilities in STEM education and career pathways.

The event, funded through a National Science Foundation INCLUDES Planning grant, brought together over 40 Maine educators, administrators, librarians, students with disabilities, and other community stakeholders to network and share knowledge around broadening the participation of rural students through accessible makerspaces. The $96,377 grant was secured by Gina Oswald, UMF associate professor of rehabilitation services, and Theresa Overall, UMF professor of secondary education.

“A makerspace is simply a ‘space’ filled with tools, resources, and work surfaces where people gather to design and ‘make’ something new,” explained Overall.

Participants gathered at UMF to engage in meaningful discussions and hands-on activities focused on facilitating accessible measures and fostering inclusion of all students within makerspaces, locations where individuals are able to prototype, test and refine solutions to real-world problems and products to meet community needs.

“During the previous grant activities that involved surveying teachers and completing site visits to makerspaces around the state of Maine, we learned that many teachers were already engaging in makerspace-type activities,” said Oswald. “Unfortunately, these teachers often feel isolated within their own schools and communities, unable to problem-solve everyday issues and concerns or expand their activities beyond their classrooms. We recognized quickly that makers around the state need a network and resources to thrive and bring meaningful STEM-related makerspace activities to rural students of all abilities.”

The keynote speaker at Saturday’s event was Sylvia Martinez, author of “Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom,” a book hailed as the “bible of the maker movement in schools.” In addition, a three-person expert panel included Lily Bailey, UMF NSF Consortium member and local student; Hailey Howard, vocational rehabilitation counselor II at the Maine Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; and Paul Meinersmann, Technology & Makerspace Director at St. George Municipal School Unit.

Breakout sessions also included presentations from Jeff Bailey and Matt McWilliams from Mountain Valley High School, John Brandt of Maine CITE, Susan Capwell of Searsport District Middle/High School, Stephen LaRochelle and Joseph Brittelli from Kennebec Valley Community College, and Theresa Overall of UMF.

Presentation topics included small maker activities for the classroom;, how to scale the ideas of the Maker Movement for your lesson, unit, classroom, or school; using different scanner types to create a 3D printable self-portrait; how to make electronic content (word documents, pdfs, videos, etc.) accessible; using Scratch and TinkerCAD software; and what do makerspaces around the country and the world look like.

Tours of the accessible Makerspace at UMF’s Mantor Library, the Center for Assistive Technology in the Spenciner Curriculum Materials Center, and Everyone’s Resource Depot in the Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center were also provided.

Exhibitors shared resources for funding opportunities for classroom teachers, information about Engineering Week, and a display of individual backpacks each with a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) focus (astronomy, entomology, forensic science and architecture.) The “STEM kits to go” backpacks contain books and hands-on materials related to each focus (a telescope, plaster casting materials, butterfly net).

Overall described the event as, “A day of networking and learning. We created opportunities for conversations among like-minded individuals, whether their commonalities were the grade levels they served or their geographic proximity to each other. Participants who weren’t even sure what a makerspace was, as well as some of Maine’s pioneers in maker education, all felt they left the event with new ideas and next steps they could take in their pursuit of inclusion.”

The Bite Me Beaver – October 2021

Dear Bite, My room does not have a thermostat and it gets a bit warm, even with the windows open. I am a chilly b***h and I like the slightly cooler climates, but the radiator gives heat that I don’t need or want. How can I stop the unwanted/wasted heat from escaping the windows without baking me or our precious, precious earth? – Polar Bear

Well Polar, I don’t know much about your human heating systems, but I’m pretty sure if you break the heating system of your building the radiator stops working. But that’s too easy. We need to do more. We need to make sure the radiator never works in your room ever again. So when you break the heating system of your building, don’t just break it with an axe or something like that. Burn that sucker until there is nothing left but a heap of molten slag. Your radiator won’t give you any trouble, and it’ll be ironic as hell.


Dear Bite, My roommate’s parents came over for the family fall fest, but I find them to be really annoying people. I can tell that my roommate can read the vibe, because they keep apologizing to me. How can I survive Family Fall Fest without broadcasting how annoyed I am with my roommates parents? -Restless Roomate

Well Roomate, the biggest problem here seems to be an issue of communication. While it might not seem like it, being open about problems is often healthier than keeping it all in. So start keeping score. Purchase a megaphone and a referee costume, and start shouting foul every single time that either of your roommate’s parents does anything to annoy you. Make sure that they are aware about how you feel at all times, even when nobody else is paying attention to you. And if all else fails, at least you can drown them out with noise!


Dear Bite, I don’t know how I can deal with all of this stress. I was fine just a few weeks ago, but it feels like everything has picked up all of a sudden, and everything is happening at once. How can I deal with all of the work that my classes are giving me and still have time to actually talk to other people? -Flustered Frosh 

Well Frosh, I have a lot of experience in being busy. Dam construction is a hot business this year! For your case specifically I would recommend that you spend a lot of time not sleeping. You might be really tired for the first 72 hours, but after that you’ll probably start to hallucinate! That won’t make you less tired or anything though, unfortunately. At least it’ll give you something to think about instead of all the things you have to do!

Horoscopes – October 8th, 2021

By: Autumn Koors Foltz, Staff Writer and Astrologer.

In the midst of Mercury retrograde, take a moment to evaluate your surroundings. Mercury is the planet of communication. Particularly in Libra season, where sociality and love is at a focal point, it can be validating to consider if the way you express yourself to those closest to you is translating. Have open, honest discussions with your loved ones to decipher the best ways to communicate your love for each other. Do you gravitate towards physical affection? Going on trips? Long talks at midnight? Though one typically thinks of how love is expressed in terms of romantic relationships, the communication of your bond is just as essential in friendships. With the moon entering Scorpio until October 10th, give in to the intensity of your emotions. Quickly following will be a moon in Sagittarius, which is best utilized as a time to act on all that you’ve reflected on. The fiery, traveling energy of Sagittarius invites you to do so. Do not use Mercury retrograde, the optical illusion of reverse moment, as a reason to stall your own progress. The stars are waiting.



Leave it alone, Aries. The more you readdress a previous issue, the more you risk your flames turning everything into char. Give the issue space, and air, before returning.



With the moon entering your polar sign, sister Scorpio, use this as an opportunity to connect with all traits you consider your opposite. They belong within you.



Oh, social Gemini. Your intellect is not failing. Reassess your relationships and remember that not everything within them is your sole responsibility. Offer yourself repose.



Your raw emotions are beautiful, Cancer, but beware your own flood.



Share yourself deeply – go lower than what you know, hotter than what you imagine. Let the air of the Libra season fuel your fire with oxygen and imagine what it would feel like to keep others warm.



Though others may call you critical, Virgo, don’t let your keen ability for analysis pass you. Allow yourself to be caught in the levity of the season and bring a breath of air to your findings.



Libra, remember. Though you’re known for being the sign of balance, remember that your quest isn’t to keep balance: it is to find it. Don’t rush yourself in this journey.



It’s getting colder, Scorpio. Do you feel yourself freezing? Do everything in your power to not let that be so: if the water of your sign changes to ice, you’ll lose your ability to flow.



Sagittarius, your moon is coming. Follow your deepest impulses, but don’t do it alone.



Capricorn, don’t view your friendships as work. Though they require diligence and practice, avoid the habit of treating them mundane. There is nothing usual in your connections: embrace this.



There’s no need to be in opposition to quite everything. Though challenging the norms can be productive, consider what lies beyond the simple contrarian.



Pisces, don’t grow cruel beneath the moon. Let yourself soften. Let compassion flood you.

“Vital Traces” at the UMF Art Gallery

By Paige Lusczyk, Contributing Writer.

The University of Maine at Farmington’s Art Gallery will be showcasing installation artist Samantha Jones’ work, “Vital Traces,” until Oct. 28. Last week, Jones spoke about her work at a public reception on Mantor Green.

“Vital Traces” is split up into three different sections, one for each floor of the gallery. Each floor connects to a different feeling of grief.

“There is a joy that comes from the body that the brain can’t handle,” Jones said. The pieces shown in “Vital Traces” and the materials used helped Jones step out of her body and be one with her grief, she said.

“There is no border for me between personal and art,” Jones said. “Our Ego is in the way of our ability to connect to the rest of the world… in the way of saving ourselves.”

The first floor holds many different styles of art ranging from glasswork to jewelry sculptures to digital aluminum prints. Jones likes to call the first floor “Area 51” or  “Seance.” The work is all about reaching.

“It’s not human. It’s all types of being,” she said.

With her piece, “Seance with Malka,” Jones admitted to channeling her late grandmother-in-law to help her place each piece of jewelry. The jewelry itself was her grandmother-in-law’s and she felt even more connected to her as she placed each piece.

“She was a walking art piece,” Jones said, “I channeled her.”

One of the more curious display pieces of “Vital Traces” would be the breastmilk soap on the first floor. Jones saw the art as an excretion of the initial process. She connected a child to that process and actually used her own breast milk from nursing her son.

“The art that comes has its own life; it becomes its own. It then gets to teach me,” Jones said. “It is not doing it according to our bidding.”

The second floor is “where the pieces get to reach back.” As you walk up the stairs a beautiful piece is draped along the staircase that is full of life and conversation. The piece, “L’esprit de L’escalier,” was inspired by Diderot, an artist that talked about how we only think of good comebacks when we walk away from the situation. “When the earth starts to speak,” Jones said.

Pieces “Entanglement III” and “Seismic Dreams” are the largest pieces in “Vital Traces.” “Entanglement III” falls differently in every installation. It becomes one with the room.

“Seismic Dreams” was made with no plan. Jones worked in a way with the material so she would not interfere with how it wanted to form. The piece was not titled until Jones opened the folded cloth. “It was telling me what it was,” Jones said.

The third floor is more of a cathartic gesture. It holds only one piece titled “Immanence” which tries to capture the essence of topless churches in Rome. The piece brings a sense of “connecting the architecture to the atmosphere.”

Jones admitted that she sees the “materials [she] works with as living creatures.” Seeing her work as living beings helps the process be more organic for Jones. Although she did admit that “it’s terrifying not knowing where you’re going.”

However, Jones said her art is truly all about the process. Most of the work that she displayed in the gallery was made by trying to avoid a true plan and letting the art speak for itself.

“It is a way into care, it’s a way into reconnecting to things that we have subverted and ignored by trying to make a plan,” Jones said.

Gallery Director, Sarah Maline took the initiative to reach out to Jones. “I had been stalking her work online for a couple of years,” Maline said.

“Vital Traces” was postponed for another year after the initial acceptance because of the pandemic. “The whole show changed after that year. Right? Because you can’t have just…. something that you thought you had, then you’re in a different place, right? You gotta be where you’re at,” Jones said.

Recent UMF Alumna, Samantha Taylor, opened up for Jones in the public reception. Taylor performed by singing and playing songs on a guitar for a half hour.