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UMFK plans 125th anniversary gala banquet for September 20; four individuals to be honored

August 22, 2003


The University of Maine at Fort Kent will celebrate 125 years of educational excellence and service to the St. John Valley with a gala banquet on Saturday, September 20 in the University SportsCenter.

The event, which will be preceded by a social at 5:00 p.m. and followed by dancing afterwards, is the focal point of a weekend filled with activity that includes the inauguration of UMFK's ninth president and Fort Kent's tenth annual Scarecrow Festival.

Newly invested President Richard W. Cost will preside over the evening festivities that will include a tribute to students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends in the community that have had an impact on UMFK since its founding as the Madawaska Training School in 1878.

In addition to honoring the university's rich heritage, the banquet will feature a tribute to four individuals whose lives have been touched by UMFK and who have, in turn, made an indelible impact on the campus community.

Father David Raymond, a recently ordained priest and member of UMFK's graduating class of 1975, will be presented with the 2003 Outstanding Alumni award, and Ryan Pelletier, town manager of St. Agatha and a 2001 graduate of UMFK, will be presented with the Outstanding Young Alumni award.

Also honored at the banquet will be UMFK senior education student Meranda Hafford Castonguay, who was selected by the University Alumni Association as this year's Outstanding Future Alumni, and John L. Martin, long-time St. John Valley lawmaker and UMFK supporter, who will be presented with a special "Honorary Alumni" award.

The Outstanding Alumni award recipient, David Raymond, was ordained to the priesthood on June 7 of this year. He is currently assigned as parochial vicar of three parishes, Holy Rosary in Caribou, St. Denis in Fort Fairfield, and St. Louis in Limestone.

Raymond was born 1953, the third of six children to Maurice and Marie Louise Raymond of Frenchville.

He was educated in local public schools in Frenchville and St. Agatha and then attended UMFK, where he majored in education and history. As a student at the university, he was active in the Can-Am club, which promoted Canadian-American studies. Raymond graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1975.

Shortly thereafter, he entered the U.S. Peace Corps and was trained in Niger before being assigned to teach English in Pala, Chad.

Upon returning to his native St. John Valley he began a 22-year career as an educator in Maine School Administrative District 33 in Frenchville and St. Agatha.

In addition to teaching in grades six through twelve, Raymond served the district in various capacities including as assistant principal and curriculum director, after obtaining his graduate degree in curriculum and school supervision from the University of Southern Maine in the 1980's.

After taking courses in French and bilingual education at the University of Maine, Universite de Moncton in Edmundston, New Brunswick, and at various universities in France, he secured an endorsement in French and Bilingual Education from the Maine Department of Education. Raymond then served as curriculum coordinator in various St. John Valley federal bilingual programs.

Throughout this time, he was very involved in both his local parish and community. He served as religious education teacher and chairperson of the religious education commission in Ste. Agathe for many years.

Raymond served as president of the St. Agatha Historical Society for eight years, and remains on the community advisory council for the Acadian Archives/Archives acadiennes at UMFK.

In the fall of 1998, he began his studies as a seminarian at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

During his years at the seminary, he volunteered in a number of capacities, including at the St. Aloysius homeless shelter, as a catechist in Chinatown, at the Little Sisters of the Poor home for the elderly, and for two years as a catechist for adult formation and as deacon at St. Joseph on Capitol Hill Parish.

In April, 2003, he was ordained as a deacon at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in the nation's capital, and in May of this year, he graduated from the Catholic University of America.

The Outstanding Young Alumni recipient, Ryan Pelletier, has been town manager of St. Agatha since 1999. Prior to this he served as town manager of Wallagrass.

Pelletier was born in Edmundston, New Brunswick, the fourth child of Clarence and Carol Pelletier. He was raised in St. Francis, and attended UMFK, graduating in 1999 with an associate degree in business management and in 2001 with a bachelor of university studies, majoring in political science. He additionally holds a certificate of municipal leadership from the Muskie School of Public Service.

The town manager is active in many regional and state professional and governmental organizations.

He is a representative to the Maine Municipal Association's legislative policy committee and also serves on the 12-member executive committee of the municipal association.

Pelletier is the current treasurer of the Northern Maine Development Commission, serves on the Maine Department of Transportation Regional Transportation Advisory Committee, and on a legislative task force responsible for making recommendations relative for organizational structure and functions that provide adequate instructional opportunities for all students to achieve the state's Learning Results.

The 26-year-old has been a member of the Maine Town and City Management Association since 1999, and in 2001, was honored with the organization's "Rookie of the Year Award". He is also active in the Aroostook Municipal Association, serving as vice president in 2001 and president in 2002.

Locally, he was a founding member of the Northern Aroostook wells and septic project. He served two years as the group's first chairperson and now serves on the steering committee.

Pelletier is married to Liza Caron-Pelletier, a third grade teacher at Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville. The couple resides in St. Agatha.

Meranda Hafford Castonguay, a native of Washburn and current resident of Fort Kent will be presented the Outstanding Future Alumni Award. The honor is given to a graduating senior by the Alumni Association.

Hafford Castonguay, who will graduate from UMFK in May with a bachelor's degree in elementary education, is the daughter of Terry and Molly Hafford of Washburn.

She transferred to UMFK in the fall of 2000 after completing a year of studies at the University of Maine. Since that time she has been on the dean's list every semester.

She is the recipient of the UMFK's Gretchen Prize in Fine Arts, and has received numerous institutional scholarships.

Aside from school activity, Hafford Castonguay has been actively involved with several organizations and charities.

Since 1995, she has been an advocate for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, and became a national and statewide spokesperson for the program during her year of service as the 2001 Miss Maine.

The 23-year-old has also participated in functions and fundraisers on behalf of the American Red Cross, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation, the Diabetes Association, the Kidney Foundation, and the United Way of Aroostook.

A performer since the age of six, Hafford Castonguay has traveled throughout Maine and other parts of the country sharing her vocal talent and love for music.

On August 9, she married Jason Castonguay of Perham, a fellow UMFK student. The couple resides in Fort Kent.

A final award, the "Outstanding Honorary Alumni", is an honor that will be presented by the Alumni Association for the 125th anniversary year only. State Senator John L. Martin of Eagle Lake, who attended UMFK from 1959 through 1961, is the recipient.

Martin, who also serves as an assistant professor of political science and government at UMFK and as the executive assistant to the president, is a well-known political figure throughout the state.

Born in Eagle Lake, on June 5, 1941, Martin attended local schools and received his B.A. in history and government from the University of Maine at Orono in 1963 and did advanced graduate study in Political Science at the University of Maine at Orono.

The Democrat, who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1964, served an unprecedented ten terms as speaker of the house. Most recently, he was re-elected to his second term in the State Senate, where he serves as chair of the Natural Resources Committee and is a member of the Health and Human Services Committee.

Prior to becoming speaker, he had served on the Joint Standing Committees on Taxation, State Government, and Appropriations and Financial Affairs. He was elected minority floor leader in 1971 and served in that position until becoming speaker in 1975. He served as the chair of the Legislative Council in 1989-1990.

Martin is a member of the New England Political Science Association and the American Academy of Political Science. He also served as president of the National Conference of State Legislatures from 1990-1991. He was chairman of the State-Federal Assembly of NCSL in 1985-1986, vice chair of NCSL's Budget, Fiscal & Rules Committee in 1986-87, and chair of the Task Force on Reapportionment in 1987-1988.

In addition, he was a member of the board of the Foundation for State Legislatures and was vice chair of the Regional Executive Committee of the Democratic State Legislative Leaders Association. In 1990, he was elected chair of the State Democratic Leaders Association and served on both the Democratic National Committee and the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee. He was president of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation from 1979 to 1982 and Chairman of the New England Caucus of State Legislatures in 1982 and 1983.

From 1970-72 he was chairman of the Land Use Regulation Commission and was also chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Commission in 1969. Martin's other activities include serving as Treasurer of Northern Maine General Hospital, a non-profit organization which operates the Eagle Lake Nursing Home, the Eagle Lake Boarding Home.

Martin, Raymond, Pelletier and Hafford Castonguay will be honored as part of the gala banquet celebrating UMFK's 125th Anniversary.

Tickets for the event are $15 each and can be purchased through the university relations office by calling 834-7557, or can be purchased directly from any UMFK Alumni Association board member or UMFK 125th Anniversary Committee member.