Vinalhaven School Enrichment

VSE has an extraordinary history of providing integrated enrichment programs for classes at all grade levels. From art, writing and music residencies, poetry festivals, inter-island collaborative events and much more, VSE has enhanced the education of our children since 1999.

2023/2024 Programming

Mad Science!

April, 2024

We were thrilled to have MAD Science bring us an unforgettable day of hands-on science workshops. Pre-K and Kindergarten explorers had a blast learning all about wiggly worms and diving into the fascinating world of these little soil-dwellers! Grades 1-3 became magnetically charged as they discovered the incredible power of magnets. From attraction to repulsion, they explored the magnetic force that surrounds us. Our older scientists in Grades 4 and 5 delved deep into the properties of matter, from solids to liquids to gases, sparking curiosity and igniting a passion for discovery!
Thanks to the Vinalhaven Land Trust for sponsoring this program and the MAD Scientists for bringing such engaging and educational workshops to our school.

Alison Thibault – Glass Art

March, 2024

During the middle of March, talented local artist, Alison Thibault, collaborated with 8th graders and High-School students, teaching them the intricate art of glass cutting and kiln melting.  They first created fused glass snowmen and then were able to create a piece using their own ideas. These stunning masterpieces were on display at the VHS Art Show on April 4th.












Chrissy Fowler – Contra Dance

March, 2024

What an incredible week it was at the Vinalhaven School with artist in residence Chrissy Fowler’s Contra Dance! Not only did we have a fantastic dance night, but Chrissy also brought her expertise to RJ’s PE classes all week, spreading the joy of contra dance across our school community. And that’s not all! Musicians Willy Clemtson and John Pranio enriched Bill’s music class with their incredible talents, adding a rhythmic touch to our school day. A big thank you to Chrissy, Willy, and John for sharing their passion and skills with us!










Antonio Rocha – professional storyteller & mime

February, 2024

Antonio Rocha, professional storyteller and mime, visited The Vinalhaven School for five days to share his talents and teach VH students the techniques to be the narrators of their own stories. In addition to theater and storytelling, Antonio helped the students develop confidence in delivering their own stories to a public audience. It was wonderful to watch students confidence grow throughout the week, culminating in an outstanding performance on the Smith Hokanson stage before an audience of their parents, friends, and others from the community. With his own storytelling and other forms of expression, Antonio was quickly able to get each student engaged and comfortable expressing themselves. The community performance was a huge success and was recorded for those who couldn’t make it to the show to view on the school’s website. Above all it was an exciting and entertaining week for students, teachers, and staff, and an exercise in learning the value and power of our own stories.










Chewonki’s traveling natural history program

December, 2023

Chewonki visited the Vinalhaven School and did presentations for our elementary school that included live animals. With the pre-k, kindergarten, and first grade all participating in “Fur, Feathers, and Feet” they got the chance to see a live owl, a preserved fawn, and a preserved hare. After the presentation, each student had an opportunity to feel and touch: a bear fur, and many varities of preserved feet, wings, and skulls.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Second through Fifth grade participated in something even more lively! With a live owl, tarantula, and lizard, they learned all about the different biomes each animal lives in. It was fascinating to find out why the animals have specific adaptations for their biome!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
A big thank you to VLT for sponsoring and colloborating with PIE/VSEC on this event!                                                                                                                                                                                                   










Art Baron & Ingvild Waerhaug-Baron  – Artists in Residence at VHS

November, 2023

Art Baron and his wife Ingvild Waerhaug-Baron were guest artists-in-residence at VHS during the week of November 13-17.

Art is a long-time summer resident and noted jazz trombonist who started his career with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. An exciting and inspiring teacher, he shared his knowledge of jazz improvisation with music classes of all ages, but especially focused on Gr. 4 and 5 band students. The students loved working with Art and asked him to come back soon. 












Ingvild, a textile artist, created a special sewing project for Gr. 5, making cheerful, hand-embroidered wool wristers. She also spoke about her art and career with the high school art class, giving them a sense of options for creative work that exist in the outside world.










Many thanks to Fox Island Concerts for partially funding Art’s residency and to Heather White for co-funding Ingvild’s.

2022/2023 Programming

Northern Stars Planetarium

March, 2023

On March 9th, John Meader and his Northern Stars Planetarium transformed our gymnasium into a magical space for learning under the stars! John has been sharing his knowledge and passion with students since the late 1970s, and he has brought his giant inflatable planetarium to Vinalhaven School many times. His gift for storytelling captivated nearly every Vinalhaven School student. John offers 25 different age-appropriate programs from which teachers can select for their students. This year he presented: ABCs of the Sky for grades PreK, K & 1;  Earth’s Place in the Cosmos for grades 2 & 3; Heroes, Gods, and Monsters for grades 4 & 5; and Galaxies for middle and high school.  

The overwhelming response from students and teachers was, “Can he come back next year?!” 

Thank you, John!











Theater Residency with teaching artist Dana Legawiec

February, 2023

Teaching Artist Dana Legawiec provided a very special residency in physical theater for students in Grades K-5 — even with several winter weather interruptions!

Her patience, flexibility, and creative approach to teaching theater were impressive, and it looked like a fantastic experience for the students, too! It was remarkable what students did and expressed in such a short time. Gr. K-1 made up an entire play in 2 days (2 hours!), Gr. 2 and 3 did a great job acting out complex feelings; Gr. 4 worked on telling a story that involved fighting with imaginary broadswords, and Gr. 5 tried out different scenarios. Students asked when she was coming again, and are eager for more opportunities like this, so hopefully, we can repeat Dana’s visit in the future. Thank you, Dana!

Grades 4 & 5

Dana Legawiec (“Luh-GAHV-yetz”) is a professional Theatre Artist, Teaching Artist, and Arts Educator. As a community-based Teaching Artist, Dana uses physical theatre to empower and elevate the voices of young people in rural Maine.

Grades K & 1
Grade 2
Grade 3


Antonio Rocha: The Malaga Ship Story

February, 2023

On Friday, 2/17/23, renowned Maine storyteller, Antonio Rocha, brought his thrilling performance of “A Slave Ship Called Malaga” to Vinalhaven School for students in Gr. 6-12 and members of the community. Antonio held the audience spellbound. Using song, dance, and mime, he narrated this original historical tale from the perspective of the ship itself, while vividly exploring the reality and impact of the slave trade then and now. A moderated conversation between Antonio and the audience took place following the performance.

Antonio’s performance was brought to us through Portland Ovation’s School-time Performance Series and sponsored by PIE as part of the Vinalhaven School Enrichment Program. We are so fortunate to have had this opportunity and hope to have him back for more storytelling in the future. 














2021/2022 Programming

Leaps of Imagination, New Views and Animal Abodes inspired by Andy Goldsworthy

May, 2022

In May of 2022, Leaps of Imagination returned for its 7th year! Vinalhaven students, grades 2 – 5, bonded with nature while making art in the woods adjacent to the school. With ample space for them to explore and combine elements for building, they made decisions and crafted collaborative and individual works of art using sculptor Andy Goldsworthy as inspiration. Thank you to Leaps of Imagination for helping our students to think outside of the box! 




Theater at Monmouth, “Tales from the Blue Fairy Book”

May, 2022

In May of 2022, Vinalhaven students Pre-k through 8 were introduced remotely to fairy tales from around the world with the Theater at Monmouth. The Page to Stage production provided students  with an introduction for fairy tales while age-appropriate curriculum guides were available for the teachers. There was a live streaming performanace followed by a Zoom workshop for grade 3. While we all prefer in-person programs, we are grateful for what opportunities are available to us in these uncertain times! 











Sheryl Faye Presents Historical Women

April, 2022

Actor Sheryl Faye presented four different famous women in history to an attentive audience of Vinalhaven students and teachers. Each multi-media performance lasted approximately one hour. Sheryl’s performances of Anne Frank, Sally Ride, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Amelia Earhart used simple sets, projected images, recorded voices, and sound effects to transform herself into each woman. It was a fascinating and enlightening visit enjoyed by all grades!

Eric Weiss, Homeslice Puppetry: “Crank It Up!” (Shadow Puppets & Crankies)

February – March, 2022

Part 1: Shadow Puppets with middle school STEAM class! Homeslice is working remotely with the first of 3 sections over the next 6 weeks. Shadow puppetry is the oldest know type of puppetry and one of the first forms of storytelling known to mankind. In this class students are learning about shadow puppetry and its different types, as well as “Crankies” which are another old type of storytelling device using a moving panorama, and often utilized in conjunction with shadow puppets in modern puppetry. They will learn to build several different kinds of shadow puppets, a small shadow puppet theater, and a theater inspired by the “Crankies”, so that each student may create their own little puppet show.













Part 2: After working remotely with Homeslice for several weeks, learning how to make the puppets, the students then were able to spent a week with him in the classroom, putting refining touches on their puppets, learning to use lighting, and finally recording their performances. When the videos are finished, they will share them with the youngest elementary students. 

During the same week-long residency, Grades 4 & 5 created “mechanism” puppets of characters derived from their study of Maine history (Gr. 4) and climate change (Gr. 5). Grade 3 made “steamrolled” flat cardboard puppets, bringing them to life with sliding panels to reveal expressive eyes and mouths.












Michael Cole, Lighting Workshops 

January, 2022

Michael Cole, a lighting design specialist from NYC, was at Vinalhaven School on Thursday 1/6 to Monday 1/10, to work with Gr. 2-8th grade theater students, some high school students, and staff. In addition to sharing his experience as a professional working on Broadway, Michael taught them about lighting design and techniques, light gear identification and maintenance, and lighting color theory.











Michael also worked on a long-term theater lighting improvement plan for our auditorium, Smith Hokanson Memorial Hall. Thanks to a generous gift, PIE is able to provide significant support to make all of this happen!







2020/2021 Programming

Leaps of Imagination, In a Jar 

June, 2021

Many thanks to LEAPS of Imagination for a another terrific 2-week residency with grades 2-5! The program was outdoors and nature-based, and the kids were awesome artists! This year the theme was based on the book “In a Jar”.

Eric Weiss, Homeslice Puppetry

April, 2021

More superlative puppet making last week! Thanks to Homeslice for a great remote workshop, to teachers for helping kids, and to kids for doing such a terrific job. These puppets are awesome – and each one is so unique! PIE is happy to have provided this remote program as part of VH School Enrichment. 

November 30-December 11, 2020

Using STEAM and Maker principles (project-based learning), students created puppets to use in a music video they plan to publish online. The students were familiar with Eric (aka Homeslice) from his in-person residency in 2019, and they were eager to work with him again, and build on what they had previously learned.

The school moved to remote learning during this time, so Eric shipped all materials needed to the school, and teacher Emily Cohn made up individual packets of tools and materials for each student to use at home. Then, Eric led everyone through the puppet making process on Zoom. In spite of the remoteness, the kids produced some great sock puppets. It was fascinating to watch the presentation and see how fun and successful a workshop like this can be!

This was the first of three workshops to take place, once per quarter, in the middle school’s STEAM class. The other workshops are planned for Feb 16 – Mar 8 and May 3- 14. Grades 3-5 will participate in a separate puppet making workshop with Homeslice in the spring.

2019/2020 Programming

Teacher Appreciation Day: PIE thanks Vinalhaven Teachers and Staff

May, 2020

“That was the NICEST teacher present I’ve EVER received!”

The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic ended school as we know it on March 16. But the speed with which the school immediately transitioned to remote learning was really impressive. Teachers and staff went above and beyond to find ways to serve Vinalhaven students, providing regular deliveries of meals and learning materials, and finding fun and creative ways to keep kids engaged in learning online.

But teachers and students thrive on the simple physicality of school environments: rugs for circle time, re-configurable furniture, materials for art or math, basketball courts, class pets to care for, snacks and meals shared with friends and close physical interaction everywhere you look. A screen is a very poor stand-in and on-line learning can be deadening for students and exhausting for teachers.  

By the end of April, PIE board members felt that VHS teachers and staff deserved some tangible form of appreciation for their persistence in keeping every child both well-fed and well-educated. So, we came up with a twist on traditional May baskets. We visited every staff member’s home (using safe distancing) to leave a cheery white bag with daffodils and forsythia peeking out, and containing a delicious home-made treat, gift cards to two island businesses, and a thank you note. Recipients were surprised and delighted. There were no hugs, of course, but we saw huge smiles and a few glistening eyes.

The gift cards to local businesses were made possible with unused bunds from the 2019-20 PIE School Enrichment Program, which was cut short by the need to close the school in March. After struggling to find ways to support our school and community, PIE was very pleased to be able to support both in one small gesture. Although we neglected to take any photos of the project, art teacher Heather White sent us a photo of her bag along with her thanks. Thanks, Heather!

– Kelly Richards

Eric Weiss, Homeslice Puppetry

December, 2019

In December, Eric Weiss, aka Homeslice, brought his puppet-building skills and artistry to VHS for a week-long residency with grades 3-8.

Eric brought wonderful examples of his own puppets, and trunk-loads of materials with which to make a range of puppets: from sock puppets, to simple mechanism puppets, to complicated foam patterned hand puppets. Eric was as good a teacher as he was a puppet maker. He was creative, inspiring and fun to be with, as well as patient, practical, and well-prepared for working with all age groups. Each student designed and built their own puppet. 

Emily Cohn’s middle school STEM class made the most technically complex puppets, with latex-covered heads in wild colors. Grades 4-5 had the goal of creating Muppet-style puppets that reflected characters from stories written with the Telling Room earlier in the fall. Grade 3 made sock puppets, simple stick puppets.

The students had a blast working with Homeslice, and created wonderful puppets – every one filled with individual personality, humor and lots of attitude! 

The Telling Room: Planet Vinalhaven

Fall, 2019

Grades 4 and 5 were very fortunate to partner with The Telling Room of Portland, Maine, whose mission is to “empower youth through writing and share their voices with the world”. Working together during  six-week residency (two days/week), they created Planet Vinalhaven, a book of student writing. Teachers Pat Paquet and Robb Warren gained valuable knowledge working with the three lead teachers from The Telling Room, Caitlin Schick, Willie Ulbrich, and Nancy Lloyd. It was a very rewarding experience for everyone involved. A book signing celebration will take place in fall 2020.

“I really liked the Telling Room because of the fact that they give us a topic to write about, so we never have writer’s block. The topic also gives you room to write differently from other people, and interpret it a different way. Another thing that is fun is the fact that our work gets published into a hard cover book. It makes you feel like a successful writer.”               

Anne Barrett, Life Aboard a Whaling Ship

October, 2019

Anne Barrett gave a wonderful performance of Life Aboard a Whaling Ship for students and community members. Anne portrayed Mary Chipman Lawrence, who spent over 3 years in the 1850’s on a whaling ship with her captain husband and young daughter. Drawing from Mary’s journal of the voyage, Anne brought alive the perils and pleasures of her life at sea, and in sang sea shanties sung by the sailors as they worked.

Students were “really drawn into the stories” according to one 3rd grader, and they especially liked the songs! The performance was “perfect for the 7th graders” in American History, as they focused on the pre-Civil War period of expansion and studied whaling, westward expansion, and the gold rush.

Anne, a long-time seasonal resident of Vinalhaven, specializes in historic presentations and in-character portrayals of women in history.

2018/2019 Programming

Leaps of Imagination, Animal Connections

May, 2019

In May, Leaps returned to Vinalhaven for a fourth time.  “LEAPS of IMAGINATION is an in-school art program that interweaves literature, environmental, and social justice themes into long term projects for students at the elementary school level. Over the course of three weeks, in two-hour time blocks, students explore diverse mediums, journal, and collaborate with their classmates on topics that focus on stewardship.”

“Children in Vinalhaven’s second and third grades each selected and studied a creature that interested them, researching their animal from a collection of age-appropriate non-fiction books. Identifying their animal’s attributes, they discovered how they nurture their young and how they live and thrive with others in their environment. Using wooden pieces and other textured materials, they created oversized collagraph plates from which to make animal or insect portraits. Their final project was a double collagraph portrait of partners’ two creatures.”     Nancy Harris Frohlich, Director

Theater at Monmouth, Tall Tales Told Twice

April 29, 2019

On April 29th, four friendly, energetic young actors arrived off the ferry in a van filled with mountains, orchards, railroad tracks, a giant blue ox, and flies the size of platters—all for the performance of their 2019 show: Tales Tall and True. The actors performed three favorite tall tales—Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed and John Henry. Plus, the suspenseful, true story of Kate Shelley, who crawled 600 feet over a raging river on a stormy night to save a passenger train. Inventive staging turned packing crates into front porches, bridges, caves, tunnels, barnyards, and finally, a trestle bridge high over the Des Moines River. After the performance, the actors sat down with the audience to explore the ‘words to live by’ embedded in the stories. Everyone agreed on the main message:
“Help others, do your best, be brave when you’re scared.” Anything else? “Yes,” piped up a student, “Always listen to your mother.”


Port Veritas, Poetry Residency

April 16-19, 2019

The Port Veritas Poetry Workshops have become a highly anticipated cornerstone of creative writing in Vinalhaven School. For a fourth year, Nate Amadon and Robin Merrill challenged, inspired, and fostered
working relationships with middle and high school students. Even reluctant writers responded to the various prompts Robin and Nate offered them. Some students brought out last year’s poems to read again.



Chrissy Fowler, Contra Dance Recidency

March 4-8, 2019

In the cold doldrums of March, just before our two-week winter break, we had fun and stayed warm contra dancing with Chrissy Fowler, a master teacher and one of our favorite visiting artists (this is her 4 th visit). Chrissy taught contra dances to all ages, with PE teacher Jake Tuminski as her enthusiastic host and assistant. Musicians Julia Plumb and Baron Collins-Hill, of Velocipede, came to play for the dancers and taught contra dance tunes to high school musicians, along with music teacher Bill Trevaskis.

On Thursday, March 7, we had a community pot-luck supper, followed by a rousing contra dance in the gym. Velocipede was joined by local and high school musicians, making for a very fun and festive evening for all ages! The general consensus was “let’s do it again”!


Northern Stars Planetarium

February 20, 2019

John Meader brought his magical inflatable super-dome planetarium to the Vinalhaven gym for one day in the deep of February, and took students on a trip to the planets, start, galaxy and beyond. There were three programs: Stars (middle school), Earth, Our Place in the Cosmos (gr. 3-5), and Our Family in the Sky (K-2). Each program was totally age-appropriate and engaging. All aligned perfectly with curriculum. John had a good way of describing things for each age group, with cultural references that were appropriate and relatable for kids in Maine. It helped students connect and absorb the information.

This is a return visit for Northern Stars. VSEC invites John every few years so that students can experience different programs at different ages. Many students asked when he was coming back. Some of the older students remembered the dome from 2015. Others can look forward to seeing it again in 2022!


Leland Faulkner, World of Wonder

January 23-25, 2019

Leland Faulkner, Maine actor, mime and magician, spent three days at Vinalhaven School during late January 2019, and his visit couldn’t have come at a better time to liven up our School in the dead of Winter.  His performance, World of Wonder, was magical, showing us amazing things you can do with your hands (shadow play), paper (origami), and storytelling (magic). He was an excellent, inspiring teacher, with theater games and physical theater activities that were fun and engaging for all ages.



Annegret Baier, Percussionist

November 28-30, 2018

Annegret Baier is a master percussionist who teaches West African drumming and performs solo and with several bands around New England. She came to Vinalhaven School from November 28-30 for a wonderful three-day and worked with students in Grades K-12 in learning all about West African drumming, rhythm, and culture. Annegret introduced the students to specific rhythms and brought an enormous array of drums from Gambia and Ghana. As part of the residency, high school music students performed some wonderfully complex music at the Student Recognition assembly with Annegret. The following day there was a special assembly for K-5 students that gave them the opportunity to perform on the stage with Annegret and teacher Bill Trevaskis. They did such a good job! Annegret performed solo as well and “wowed” everyone with her incredible musicianship. We were pleased that parents and members of the community also came and enjoyed the assembly.

This is Annegret’s second residency at Vinalhaven School. Her first was in 1997, in the old school, almost 20 years ago!


Past Programming

Click the below links to see what exciting programs Vinalhaven School Enrichment has had in years past or to view our gallery!

 2017/2018                                          2013/2014                                      2009/2010

2016/2017                                          2012/2013                                       2008/2009 

2015/2016                                          2011/2012                                       2007/2008  

2014/2015                                          2010/2011                                                                                                                                                                          

More fun photos from Vinalhaven School Enrichment: