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Spring Intensives Newsletter

Spring Intensives Newsletter

Junior Journey

Family Crew Night (May 25th)

Green Team Update

Big Dates for the Final Quarter

Fashion Design


Hiking and Photography

Native Plants

Nature and Writing

On a Roll with Robotics 


Queer History



Wilderness First Aid

Honor Roll

Dear CBHS Students and Families: 

Spring is the glorious time in the school year when student learning becomes more visible, when the growth cultivated through daily work and struggle and practice starts to sprout and blossom. We encourage you to bear witness! Come to Spring Family Crew Night on May 25th (6:30-8pm) where we will be communing for another great pot luck and showcasing exemplary student work 9-12. Come see your child’s Sophomore Passage Presentation (6/12-6/13). Marvel at the progress of your 9th grader at the Questions of Conscience culmination. Get inspired by the Class of 2023’s Final Words (5/22-5/31) and Graduation (6/8 at 6pm).

What may be less transparent is how essential deep teacher learning is for catalyzing deep student learning. We can ask and expect our students to do challenging and important work they did not think was possible because our teachers have the chance to do the same, because we recognize that teachers, like students, need the chance to routinely collaborate and commiserate and imagine large possibilities.

Since I am hoping you will all get to see firsthand the exciting student learning that’s been happening in the coming weeks (as well as in the pages of this newsletter about Spring Intensives), I wanted to spend this letter highlighting some recent teacher learning that is more behind-the-scenes. But equally extraordinary. In fact, our faculty learning culture has been featured in two recent education books: Schools of Opportunity: 10 Research-Based Models of Equity in Action and Leadership for Deeper Learning: Facilitating School Innovation and Transformation. 

The most consistent source of teacher learning are the intentional conversations about curriculum, instruction and student needs that teachers have every day with one another during their planning blocks. The best teachers of teachers are not outside experts but supportive, caring and skilled colleagues who are sharing the work. Our humanities teacher teams meet together at least every other day and weekly with their special education and ELL colleagues. Our full grade level teams meet at least once a week, typically during Wednesday professional development time. This year, for the first time, we’ve launched peer coaching cycles, so all teachers are getting visits and support from colleagues about an aspect of their practice they are focused on. All of our teachers’ goals this year center on some aspect of  improving student’s academic fitness and their willingness and skill in taking on hard, important work (their “self-efficacy” in education jargon). 

Some of the most transformational teacher learning happens when we are able to carve out

time for teachers to have larger chunks of time to work together. Last summer. Alex Taraschi (9th art) and Allison Sample (9th geometry) received a grant from the Foundation for Public Schools to plan interdisciplinary projects and the result has been several interdisciplinary 3-D projects that have enriched 9th graders’ appreciation and understanding of both art and geometric forms. This winter, our Student Support Team (counselors, social workers and administrators) took charge of the 9th grade cohort for a day of social and emotional learning and team-building. This allowed the 9th grade academic team to meet off-site and boldly re-imagine the Questions of Conscience expedition that our first year students are about to experience. 

Visits from outside educators also spur teacher learning as we are nudged to reflect on what we do and why. CBHS student and faculty work consistently draws regional and national acclaim and interest. This spring we are hosting about 70 educators from around the country - including 40 in March and another 20 coming up in late May. Comments from teachers during the March visit were typical and help buoy faculty. 

"It is so great to see a community of students that care about each other, their local community and the world at large.

"I am amazed at how intrinsically motivated students are to challenge themselves with rigorous learning experiences and expeditions.” 

"When done right, education is complicated and messy, yet you showed us how that messy experience can be done well when community, rigor, relevance and joy are the focus and when the entire school community is engaged in that work.

Sometimes, it takes an outsider’s perspective to make clear both what you need to work on and how much you’ve already achieved. The money we raise from hosting outside visitors is used to support further teaching learning (eg: summer grants) as well as faculty wellness initiatives. 

Perhaps the most important learning teachers do is from their students. Every day. We learn more each day from our students about who they are, what they need and all that they can accomplish - both as individuals and collectively. And then we strive to use that ever increasing knowledge to inform tomorrow’s instruction. One dramatic example of that this year was when our Black Student Union (BSU) led a walk-out this winter in response to incidents of hate speech in our community. Many students shared their voices and their pains and their need for our community to do better. They proposed an event for learning, reflection and empowerment - with student voices at the center - to help our community heal and grow and progress. Since then, student leaders and faculty - initiated by the BSU and advisor Mulki Hagi - but now also involving multiple student affinity groups - have been planning “What’s Up Day” in mid-May. The event will provide a chance for the entire community to have challenging, necessary conversations about issues from homophobic stereotypes and white privilege, to colorism and allyship. 

Ideally, student and faculty learning mirror one another. Students see our faculty working independently and together to create opportunities for them to work independently and together - and to use essential skills and knowledge to do work that matters. At its best, both faculty and student learning requires tenacity and constructive risk-taking, and expands each learner’s sense of what is possible, for themselves, their school and their world, And is ever imbued with joy. May we all get to witness and experience such learning in the days and weeks to come. 


Derek Pierce

Junior Journey

By Charlie Ferris

The week before April break the Class of 2024 took part in Junior Journey. Junior Journey is a class trip that Casco juniors take every year to bring them closer in a different environment to learn about each other and the nature around them. We stayed for three nights at Schoodic Institute on the Schoodic Peninsula in Acadia National Park. We were outside everyday, hiking, walking, finding crabs and playing games. We spent a day hiking Gorham and Great Head mountains - with beautiful views and supportive rangers. Then we went to the Abbe Museum and on a tour of College of the Atlantic. At the Abbe Museum we met Ms. Robinson’s former student intern, Nolan, who gave us a tour of the museum, and we learned about the native cultures that have lived in Maine for thousands of years. We got to visit and tour around the College of the Atlantic campus that looked like Hogwarts right on the water. We went crabbing the next day to collect data on Green and Asian Shore crabs at Schoodic Institute. We set up on the seaweed and tide pools of Schoodic peninsula and searched for crabs, identified their type and sex then put them back.  Later, at Schoodic we played games and had bonfires at night; we had s’mores and sang songs and told stories around

the campfire. Ben Parr said, “Junior Journey connected me to students I hadn't ever talked to before.” The last night of Junior Journey we had a talent show where many juniors showed off their varying talents in the auditorium. There were dance performances, teacher impressions, on the spot drawing and more. Each crew organized skits that each performed with the prompt of a Casco Bay reunion. In some the juniors were dead and some they were very elderly and hard of hearing. We had a spontaneous dance party to “Party in the USA”  and went to bed. Junior Journey brought the Class of 2024 closer together; we had a great four days. 


See more Junior Journey Photos here!

Family Crew Night


May 25th  (6:30-8:00pm)   

The whole community is welcome to attend! As we did in January, each grade level will have its own potluck to build connections between families and parents and learn about what’s going on at your grade level (6:30-7:30pm). Please share a favorite family or cultural dish.  Then we will all gather in the Great Space for a showcase of great student work from the spring (7:30-8:00pm).

Final Quarter Events and Big Dates at CBHS (as of 4/28/23, subject to change)

4th Quarter Launches - April 24th

SATs for Juniors - April 25th

NWEA Spring Window 10th - May 1st through 28th

Senior Soapbox Speeches (Monument Square)  - May 5th

Spring play - The Miser - May 5 & May 6

Make It Happen Celebration - May 10th (4:30-6:30pm)

AP Exam Weeks (APES - 5/2, AP Lit - 5/3 and AP US -  5/5,  AP Calc 5/8)

Spring Arts & Music Fest - May 13th

"What’s Up?” Day - May 17th

Seal of Biliteracy Ceremony - May 17th

Work is Play Culmination - May 18th

Junior/Senior Prom – May 20th at the Masonic Temple

Senior Final Words – May 22nd-31st

NHS Spring Induction – May 23rd 6pm

Advisor/Advisee Conferences on Progress Reports - May 25th-26th

Freshman Family Orientation - May 25th: 5:30-6:30

Spring Family Crew Night - May 25th: 6:30-8:00

Grade 9: Question of Conscience Culmination – TBD

Sophomore Solo - May 26th

Last Day of Senior Classes - Friday, June 2nd

Senior Awards Ceremony –  June 6th - 10:30am

Graduation – Thursday, June 8th: 6pm, Merrill Auditorium

Project Graduation – June 8th: 8:30pm On

Sophomore Passage Presentations – June 12th and 13th

College Pro Days – June 12th & 13th

Freshmen Finales – June TBD

Final Assessments Begin - June 15th

Final Grade Level Meeting - June 20th 

Final School Meeting/Cardboard Boat Race – June 21st

LAST STUDENT DAY – June 21st  

Last Teacher Day – June 22nd

Green Team

Greetings from the green team! We are doing a project this year to plant trees and offset CBHS’s paper usage. Our goal is to plant 200 trees, which will offset 240 tons of carbon. You can buy an eastern redbud, flowering dogwood, or river birch and either pick it up on May 20th or we will plant it in your backyard for you! The saplings will be five dollars or free if you can’t afford them. We hope to make this accessible to everyone. Order your tree at!

Fashion Design

Check out more photos from Fashion Design here!


In the filmmaking intensive we all made films ranging from two to five minutes long. We started off by learning about the basics of film, such as camera angles, script writing, sound design and editing. On the first day we analyzed a scene of our choice. We did this by writing about what we saw in the film, which included the things I mentioned earlier. On day two we drafted our script with groups, which took about the whole school day. We also met with a professional producer, and she told us all the stuff we needed to know about the film industry. Day three we started filming. We had requested to go off campus the day before, and groups set off to take beautiful footage for our films. On day four we finished filming and started the long, long editing process; well it was at least long for me. Also, we met with another professional over zoom and she showed us films she had worked on. She told us about her job and how to get into the film industry. On day five we wrapped up on editing and presented our final projects the next week. Making a film is not an easy process, but it’s super fun and I’m glad the opportunity opened up for me!

Hiking and Photography

By Fiona Nichols 

This photo was captured on Peaks Island, Maine while I was surrounded by the colors of early spring and the multicolored houses that are so distinct to the Island. Eventually, we wandered to Battery Steel, the old fort on peaks, with every inch now covered in graffiti. As the focus that day was on color, I thought this would be the perfect area for photos. In order to achieve the shot and to capture the idea of water between the photographer and subjects in the photo, I had to stand on the other side of the flooded area. The image shows two people walking on the other side of a flooded pool, a tire swing hanging in the center, and the wall of the fort covered in graffiti adding a burst of color. The two people are off center which follows the rule of thirds. I also liked how the light coming from the right of the photo reflected off the water, adding not only a contrast of light against the dark tunnels of the fort, but also a rippled texture to the water. These components all make the photo interesting to look at and give the photo a strong composition. 

Some of the most significant things I learned this week were the different ways to make a photo strong. By paying attention to light, color, texture, and other aspects, you can create a quality image. Often when we look at everyday scenes around us, we don't notice much, but when we are able to see the world through a photographer's eye, the way we look at things changes. Things become more vibrant or interesting when we are able to slow down and pay attention. To be able to see is to be able to look at ordinary things and make them beautiful. 


By Charlie Ashley

My legs were rubber. The past two hours of rushing about to make it back to the Portland ferry in time did a number on me, and the newfound April sun burning my skin didn't help. All that effort didn't even pay off either. I wasn't happy with the photos I had taken on the other side of the island. I heard the ferry blast its horn. We'd be back in Portland any minute. That's when I saw a flash of color hit my eye. Bright hues of primary colors swirled around and sparked me to linger behind and try to capture the vibrance. The multicolored buoys clumped together over the water gave a feeling of what Peaks is and what the day had meant. The display of color was astounding, and the sunlight reflected off the water onto the buoys to only elevate that color. In the photo I took, the background of the bright blue sky creates a shape with the buoys, and the clump of the buoys has a kind of bumpy texture. The lighting blends the yellow sides of the buoys so that it becomes a background. The red and blue of the bottoms of the buoys pop out and draw our eyes to them, contrasting between the bottoms and sides of the buoys. A very clear shape of a triangle for the eye to follow is drawn by the buoys, from the edge, down the right with the blues and reds. All these elements come together to create a whimsical, almost childlike image that sparks joy.

I hope that when viewing this image, people will experience the same joy in viewing it that I had in capturing it. Capturing this photo took a lot of work beforehand, learning how to properly take photos with a camera and what to look for in taking photos. I never knew before about the triangle, or rule of thirds, and now that I have a camera I can use this knowledge; I will definitely further improve my photography. Being outside with a camera pushes us to notice more details in the outside world and notice things we may not have otherwise noticed. It also lets us remember things we may not remember. I have discovered so much this week that I wouldn't have been able to discover and experience if I had not taken this class. I have discovered that I can put what I see truly into pictures––because whenever I tried that before, what resulted disappointed me. But this week I've taken pictures that I'm really proud of.

Native Plants

Native Plants is for avid outdoor learners.  If you like hands on activities and heavy nature exposure, THIS IS THE INTENSIVE FOR YOU!! In Native Plants, our goal was to inform the youth of the necessity that native plants play in the Maine eco-system.  We visited many outdoor places.  One honorable mention is the Maine Audobon, where we learned about keystone species and invasive species.  We also got to go bird watching! I asked the naturalists who took this intensive how would they describe it? Many mentioned it was fun with many outdoor engaging activities.  By the end of the intensive, our goal was to "bring nature home!"

Written by Faisal Azeez

Nature and Writing

Friday we headed to Audubon where we were met by a beautiful land that carried a bitter cold wind. Despite the weather, we wrote and read poetry where ever we went. We also walked around Mackworth and were inspired by the roiling ocean. Monday we hiked up Bradbury Mountain to see what seemed like an endless sea of trees. We read poems about the majesty of mountains and wrote stories and poetry inspired by our view. At Wolfe's Neck Farm, the rough tongues of new born calves that felt like sandpaper lapped at us while the interesting, airy smell of animals met our noses. Wednesday we were welcomed by the warm sand and beautiful blue ocean at Scarborough State Park. We wrote over 15 entries inspired by all these landscapes. Even Thursday, we took a walk in our own backyard (in back of CBHS) and drafted our writing. We were helped by two poets: Gibson Faye-LeBlanc and Beau Williams. They workshopped our writing and inspired us with their own work. Even Machar joined in and shared his work! This intensive, we focused on being one with nature while trying to find new styles of writing. We shared our work, performing for each other and one "golden line" for school showcase. 

By Idriss Houmed

Check out more photos here!

On A Roll With Robotics

During a week-long break from our our normal academics, a group of students in the 9th-12th grade participated in an intensive for Robotics. We got familiar with either the Sphero Bolt or a robot ball. We used a program called Sphero edu to code our ball with javascript. We got to familiarize ourselves with the bolt by doing challenges like the moon shot and the terrain park. We also got a chance to visit the Industrial Automation supply, where they showed us a “Cobot.” That is their robot arm that works along with them. We also had the opportunity to have guest speaker Thomas Bickford from Maine Robotics who came to tell us about USM for anyone who had an interest in a career with robotics. In our final days we split into groups and created demo programs for 5th graders at Lyseth Elementary School. We coded games like red light green light, tag, a zombie apocalypse game and more. Overall I really enjoyed getting to robotics and I recommend all people of any ages to try it out if they get the chance.

Written by Ayub Sheikh


The pottery intensive, made up of only seniors, took place at Portland Pottery on Washington Ave. The seniors were welcomed with delicious blueberry and raspberry muffins served by the Pottery Cafe. They also took a look around the cafe that was decorated by pottery to gain some perspective and inspiration on what they’d like to make. Each day was started with a journal prompt and informational videos before they took on hand-building and throwing. The students got to learn from Profe. Lynch Nichols and Ms. Taraschi the basics of pottery and how to manipulate the clay.

Moreover, experts also visited the studio to illustrate the different ways pottery can be presented and used. For example, on the first day, Hope Rovelto from Little Chairs demonstrated the different ways to incorporate pottery into other forms of art such as printing. Another example being Brian Buckland who answered questions about clay manipulations and pot making. Last but not least, the last expert was Steve Zoldac who takes inspiration from Ottoman pottery and taught the great lesson of never being attached to a piece. 

Written by Amira Doale

Queer History

During the Queer Activism and History Intensive students learned all sorts of things about the queer community's past,

present, and future. This week of learning was centered around both educating the youth about queer activism and helping them become their best activist selves. In the classroom, we studied groundbreaking moments in the national LGBTQIA movement, such as the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS crisis. We then used this knowledge and went out to explore the current queer scene in Portland. We spent two days at the Equality Community Center and got to interview queer elders in the community. We created linocut prints to celebrate their lives and activism. We also got to visit Pickwick Press, a local printing press and hub for activists. Along with all of this, we chatted about what our hopes and dreams are for the future of queer activism, art, and so much else.

- Jo Ellis


Liam Alexander

In the soccer intensive we have been progressing our skills as soccer players while at the same time learning about fitness, nutrition, formations, and the history of soccer. Our day in the soccer intensive usually is watching soccer film, then going to Fitzy to train and play our version of the World Cup. After that, we go back to school to debrief our play and study more soccer. The soccer intensive has taught us many important skills on and off the field. For example, one that applies everywhere is to have a positive/growth mindset. This skill is useful to be able to keep trying even when you are not doing the best you can. Another skill that we have learned in the soccer intensive is trying to keep the passes as simple as they can be so your team can have possession for longer. During our studying time in the soccer intensive, we learned about famous players, games, tournaments, and tactics to either help our soccer game or to expand our knowledge about soccer outside of being a good player. The soccer intensive has been very fun because the level of competition isn’t super serious but has enough competition to keep people motivated and engaged. Everyone gets along on the soccer field in the soccer intensive, and it makes a good community to have fun in and also to get better as a player. Personally, I enjoyed the intensive because everyone was a good sport and was friendly. Another thing that was great about the intensive was that there were great facilities that we had to play soccer on. A top takeaway from the intensive would be to always keep trying and to be a good sport. A very important lesson from the intensive is always being positive in the moment and then reflecting how to get better after the game. The soccer intensive was a great experience, and I would definitely recommend it to people who are just getting into soccer.


The songwriting intensive was so fun because we were able to leave the school and go to

317 Main Street. 317 Main Street is a music program where you learn to play instruments and learn to write and perform songs. The students were divided into three groups and each group had a specific teaching artist. The teaching artists taught us things like rhythm and beat and tones. Each group became a band and we wrote our own songs. Later we performed it in front of family and staff in the new beautiful performance center at 317 Main Street.

Written by Aviana Moulton

Wilderness First Aid

Quarter 2 Honor Roll