Quick takes on issues in the news this week in central Maine …

THUMBS UP to the Kennebec Valley Superintendents Association, for bringing together area high schools to show off student accomplishments at an expo held last week at Thomas College in Waterville.

Test scores and graduation rates are typically the focus of discussions about the health of Maine schools. Just as important, however, are the real-world, critical-thinking skills students develop while working together on projects or in clubs.

Allowing the students to demonstrate these skills to the public reinforces the importance those skills will play in their lives following graduation, and shows the public just how much is going on in schools that goes beyond traditional instruction.

“They’re bright, articulate and engaged,” said state Rep. Larry Dunphy, R-Emdben, who attended the event. “What more could you ask for?”

THUMBS UP to David and Jennifer Johnson, the Waterville husband and wife who ran against each other for city warden, a race won by Jennifer 127-76 on Tuesday.

First, the couple entered the race because they were disappointed that so many races go unfilled or uncontested. That sets an example of civic duty that is commendable. Maine communities, even the larger ones like Waterville, cannot succeed without the civic involvement of its residents.

Now, Jennifer Johnson is using the attention brought by the couple’s contest to raise awareness and funding for the new food pantry at George J. Mitchell School in Waterville, where two of their children are enrolled.

Hunger is a major issue at the Waterville school, and elsewhere in Maine. Seventy-two percent of the students at the Mitchell school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch; statewide, that number is 46 percent. Too many kids miss a meal or two during the day, making learning difficult.

The peculiarity of a husband-and-wife political race has brought national attention to a contest that normally would get little notice even locally. It’s good to see the Johnsons using it for the good of the community.

And speaking of election wardens …

THUMBS UP to the hundreds of election workers who staffed the polls on Tuesday. Maine has a long history of high voter turnout and smoothly run elections that it should be proud of.

Augusta and Waterville news

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