Last Year

Posted: 09/07/2011 by Chomela in News

This is our Viking Voices Blog from last year.

Though we were  engaged in writing stories for the Advertiser Democrat and this blog, this year we are solely reporting for the newspaper. This is a very exciting opportunity for our high school student.

Please click here to see read what we are writing NOW!


Breaking a Record

Posted: 05/24/2011 by clewis12 in News, Sports

By Crissy Lewis

How easy is it to break a school record? Apparently for Tyler Pelletier, at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School (OHCHS) it was pretty easy. Pelletier just beat the school’s record for race-walking, and he is going to be competing in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference (KVAC) and States.

Race-walking is a foot race, obviously, but it’s different than running. When you are race-walking you need to make sure you always have one foot on the ground, unlike running where that doesn’t matter.  Race walking can be a little uncomfortable because “you have to push up with your heel,” Pelletier says, and after awhile your shins can start hurting.

Pelletier joined the track team when he was in 7th grade. That year he began race-walking also. After that year, he decided to drop race-walking and concentrate more on the other events he was in. In his sophomore year he picked up the event again and made it to the KVACs. Ever since then he has been competing. Training has been a big thing with Pelletier. He’s had to train to get better and faster to beat his opponents. Pelletier had the chance to meet and talk with the Maranacook track coach Tuesday at their meet where the coach gave him some advice on his race-walking. He told him to lengthen his strides and to lower his shoulders.

The previous record, held by Josh Grenier in 2005, was 8:02. This year in 2011, Pelletier broke the record with a significant difference with a 7:20. Not only does he compete in race-walking, but he also does the 400 meter and the 4X4 relay here at OHCHS.

Tyler Pelletier is a senior at OHCHS and has been working hard to get ready for the KVAC and States.  He says, “I’ve worked on my form and pushing myself harder.”  The KVAC meet is next Saturday, May 28, at Morse High School, and the States is going to be held at Windham High School on June 4th. Pelletier is now ranked 1st in KVACs and 3rd in States.

Creative Read -a- thon

Posted: 05/20/2011 by typelle19 in Events, News

At the Norway Public Library on a cold and rainy Wednesday night, students  from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School  brightened up the town. Mrs. Chodosh’s period 3 and 6 classes came up with their own pieces to read to a small crowd of family and friends. These pieces ranged from short little lyrics, long rants and stories, and songs played and sung on guitar. Funny, serious, inspiring and a bit creepy, all pieces were read aloud and were followed with a round of applause. Not all pieces were hand written though, one reader chose to speak her mind through a quote from a famous book called “Waiting for Alaska.”

Although the reading was simple, the overall impact is much larger.

“It’s more than just writing and sharing pieces. This is a Library. It’s a real life setting. It adds another layer to the writing experience when students have to read their pieces to the public,” Ms. Chodosh said.

Architecture - Library of Congress

Image by blmiers2 via Flickr

Thirty pieces of original writing was read by twenty students. Group readings, which consisted of a class reading one poem line-by-line, was a different approach to reading aloud.

“I liked that these poems were experimental,” said Chodosh. We needed more time to practice and make the poems better, but the point was we did them anyway.” The group readings just as well as the individually read pieces. However, some pieces were read not performed. An awkwardness in the voice turns the listener away and a shot at learning about the reading is lost. Some of these readings did lose the listener. With a tad bit more practice on how to use the voice, these pieces could have been great.

A decent turnout of over 50 people was a good amount for this small library space. The crowd self seated in wooden chairs which formed a half circle around the readers’ podium. We all sat rather clustered but no one complained. The room was comfortable despite the lack space to walk. Students sat in the front and guests sat in the back, due to the students each taking turns reading their pieces.

The night went well. Almost all the students read and each had his or her own little spin. The two pieces that caught my attention were one done by Kristina Rogers and another by  Bradey Newman. Rogers’s reading was about what inspired her to go into a field of forensic science. The inspiration, although shocking, immediately made me fascinated. Right down the road from Rogers’s house a family was brutally murdered, and the killer, just smiled as he was sent to jail. She asked herself why he could do such a thing, and how he could just smile it off.

Newman’s piece was a bit more, humorous. He wrote about himself in Wal-Mart as he was attacked by monkeys. It was called Monkey Attack. Although the poem was in no way inspirational, it did grasp my attention. The absolute ridiculousness of the writing and how he put a picture in my mind about an actual attack in Wal-Mart by monkeys actually lead me to believe that this could happened.

A couple of people decided not to read. Instead they had others read for them, This didn’t take away anything from the show.

At the end of the show, drinks and snacks were offered and the book “Bits and Pieces” was on sale for $5 dollars. “Bits and Pieces” is a book comprised of pieces written by the students, most of which were included in the reading.

Creative Writing was an elective before becoming a core class in 2009. Seniors can now take this course if they love to write and get a full credit in English. “The class has become a popular choice for seniors,” said Chodosh. Next year there are going to be three full classes of people who want to write.

These types of public readings should never be swept under the mat. This should certainly happen more often. Maybe with three classes there will be more than one opportunity to hear writing from our OHCHS seniors.

Good job to everyone who wrote and read.

Saving the world, one School at a time

Posted: 05/16/2011 by typelle19 in News

by Tyler Pelletier, Elizabeth Gemme, Crissy Lewis and Abby Shanor


Image via Wikipedia

Lately the entire Earth has been going green, in all sorts of ways. Whether it be planting trees or making chip bags biodegradable, the Earth is trying to save itself. With the world at war with oil prices, there is cause to “go green” in this area too, that’s where bio mass furnaces come into play. Bio mass heaters use waste products. For example wood chips are used to heat buildings for a much cheaper cost. Annually the cost is around $2,750  for the bio mass (the cost for what?mention the same thing in next sentence). An average household will cost around $15,000  annually. So the  difference is monumental. After talking with Bud Raymond, Head of Maintenance at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School (OHCHS), he gave me more information about the school’s biomass furnace that’s being put in.

The biomass furnace is a wood chip boiler. We are not the only school in Maine with this new technology. This idea came from Dr. Eastman, OHCHS’s former Superintendent. Eastman wanted to change and invest in this eco-friendly boiler so that we weren’t so heavily dependent on oil; Eastman was able to get a grant for the school to do this. A performance contract is in effect, which means that the money which the school is saving through this new type of technology will be paid back. OHCHS has been working to put this in the school since August 2010. Many things had to be done before building it, including adding a new building, installing new sprinklers and pipes. It will allow the school to produce energy much cheaper and  much more Eco-friendlier. The burning of wood chips will produce the energy to heat the school.

Mass amounts of wood chips will be needed to make this method successful. During heating season, 25 tons to 50 tons of chips will be needed a week.  A giant tracker trailer truck will come to the school and unload a pile of wood chips about six to eight feet high, and that’s only a two weeks supply. The job is labor free once it is unloaded from the trucks. Moving the supply into the furnace is from the moving floor that’s on hydraulics that will pull them into a pit. “From there, there is an auger that is going to push them into the next room which is the boiler room”, Raymond says. Raymond thinks that having a biomass in the school is great idea. The chips go through each auger and that pushes them to the boiler. The Biomass itself is big and there are two sections to it. “ The bottom part is the fire-box, the top part is where all the water tubes are. So the fire-box will heat up the water tubes and the water will come to the large storage tank and that’s what will heat the school”. There are ash bins on the side of the boiler. The wood ash will automatically be augured out and put into the bins. One idea of where the waste of wood ash can be put is on gardens. Wood ash makes a great fertilizer in gardens, just like fish compost. OHCHS Superintendent, Mr. Colpitts, says that the school has recently voted to apply for five more grants for the middle school and elementary schools to have a different type of boiler. This will most likely be a pellet boiler as well.

“When it’s running, you won’t see much of anything coming from the chimney” says Colpitts. According to faculty, the new biomass furnace being installed in the lower A wing of the high school wont be much of a distraction or disturbance to the students and the building. At this point, complications are limited. High School Principal Ted Moccia says, “students will benefit by having a school that is completely heated with a renewable energy source”.

However, students won’t be the only ones benefiting from this biomass furnace; the high school’s budget will also be saving more than $200,000 in heating costs. There also won’t be any hazardous or unwanted dirty smoke being produced from the furnace. Cathy Coffey
describes the process, “you’d here like a poof and instead of smoke it was almost like fairy dust, is the best I could describe it. It’s particles, it’s not smoke but it’s particles”. According to Superintendent Colpitts, the high school spends $280,000 each year on 100,000 gallons of oil to heat the building, but now with the new biomass furnace which uses wood chips for fuel, the school will only be spending about $67,000. The idea of having a biomass furnace installed in the high school was Dr. Eastman’s, the National Furnace System issued a grant for $750,000 to help with expenses, and Colpitts said that it took about seven months for the boiler to be built and shipped to the school. Oxford Hills is not the only school in Maine with a biomass furnace. Leavitt, Poland, and Falmouth high school also have them installed.

With the pros outweighing the cons in whether or not the biomass is better, these pros for the bio mass furnace may help. The bio mass furnace is CO2 neutral, meaning that trees can regrow within a couple of years while oil grows within millions. With these furnaces having waste material running them, you wouldn’t have to rely on foreign countries. The money spent, whether it be for wood chips, the people running it, or the people building it, would stay in the area, instead of going out.

Another interesting fact that makes this project cool is the inclusion of  the solar panels, installed this past fall on the roof of the school. “The solar panels are going to pre-heat the water before it goes into the boiler so the boiler works less on getting the water up to temperature before it goes out”, Raymond says. The school doesn’t want the boiler to be firing up cold water. If the school fills up their oil tanks with 95,000 gallons of oil, that costs the school about $40,000. The biomass is most efficient when it’s running a lot. It will run when the temperatures are under 40 degrees. OHCHS won’t be fully dependent on the biomass though. It will be producing about 90% of the school’s heat, while the other 10% will be burning oil.

“When mud season arrives the companies that delivers the chips have to make sure they have enough chips on hand and storage to continue to make deliveries here every two weeks,” says Raymond. If the school doesn’t get this supply, we could be in some trouble with the furnace not working. Raymond also thinks that there could be a problem with supply and demand in the future. Right now in our economy, oil prices are sky rocketing. Wood chips are available and there is an abundance of chips and chip suppliers. Although, if it becomes like what oil is today, than prices will rise. With everyone trying to find a way to become green, it’s hard to find something that replaces oil. More people and schools are going to start using biomass furnaces. Raymond is optimistic. He says, “As long as the chips supply stays good then the price for chips stays down and then you see a lot more schools looking at that option.”

Mr.Moccia MPA

Posted: 05/05/2011 by aeronroberts in News

Mr.Moccia received the “State of Maine Principal of the Year” award on Friday, February 18, 2011 at the Winter Carnival assembly. In order to get this award you must be nominated by another principal in the state. Then you must write an essay and send in statistical information.  Mr.Moccia became a finalist. After sitting down with an interview committee of fellow principals, he became MPA’s (Maine’s Principals Association) High School Principal of the Year.

Before becoming principal at OHCHS, Mr.Moccia was a assistant principal and a physical education teacher. Because physicality peaked an interest in Mr. Moccia, he also coached the track team and football team at OHCHS. During his tenure he received the Coach of the Year award.

Mr Moccia said this to the student body of OHCHS:
“I think we have the best high school in the state. I truly believe that. It wasn’t because of me that I received this award, it was due to everyone in this school, the students,teachers,support staff,office staff.”

High School Teacher Keeps A Positive Attitude

Posted: 04/14/2011 by gemme2011 in News, Profiles

Tamara Douglas says she has “always loved helping other people.” Maybe that’s why she’s so good at what she does. Mrs. Douglass works at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School with Special Education students.
She didn’t always intend on being a teacher, but after starting a career with her Business Administration major from the University of Maine-Orono, she realized she enjoyed teaching and began volunteering in classrooms when her children entered school. Soon after she earned her teaching certificate and began substituting.
Growing up in the same small town as Mrs. Douglas, I have had the pleasure of getting to know what a friendly and helpful woman she truly is. She is never found without a smile on her face and never passes by without a “hello”.
What makes Mrs. Douglas different than every other friendly woman is she doesn’t let her disease, Alopecia Areata, affect her attitude. Alopecia Areata is an auto-immune disease when the body rejects hair follicles, meaning she has no hair.
There are three types of Alopecia which are; Alopecia Areata, Alopecia Areata Totails and Alopecia Areata Universalis. This disease affects 4.7 million people in the United States alone.
Mrs. Douglas was diagnosed at a young age, having the disease come and go as she has aged. Although there is yet to be a cure for Alopecia Areata, she maintains her upbeat outlook and tries not to let it get in the way of her day.
Having struggles with Alopecia for so long, Mrs. Douglas has learned a lot. The most important thing she says is “Be accepting of other people and they will be accepting of you.”
For more information about Alopecia Areata you can contact the National Alopecia Areata Foundation or visit

The Start of Something New

Posted: 03/29/2011 by typelle19 in OHCHS Life, Sports
Indonesian High School Students play ping-pong

Image via Wikipedia

Schools around the world have a wide varieties of after-school activities, from sports to chess to larking. Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School offers a pretty wide variety of clubs and sports already, but the staff is always up for students coming up with new ideas and starting new clubs. That’s just what two juniors, Joel Doherty and Max Brown, are wanting to do. They have an activity in mind in which is fun and which will draw pretty big crowds. This activity is called table tennis or ping pong.

Ping pong has been around for ages, and has even had its own professional stage. The sport was featured in one of the most widely known movies in America, Forrest Gump. The main character, Gump, became a ping-pong champion after being injured in the war. He fell in love with the sport and quickly picked up the essentials of the game. In the movie, he could beat everyone.

“This sport is really fun and would hopefully get a bunch of people together, where they could meet new people and improve their skills,” comments Doherty, one of the juniors who is working on this. Says his friend, Brown, “The intensity of the game and it being not that hard to learn is the best thing about it.”

The Ping Pong Club is something they want to start as soon as possible. What’s stopping this is the lack of a counselor or coach. If you’re interested in helping the group out, get in touch with either Mr, Moccia or the two students who want this club to be an official activity at OHCHS.