‘I feel I’ve been given a gift’

After slow start, Ash Point Community School quickly surpasses area schools

Posted:  Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 8:15pm
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OWLS HEAD — Three months into the academic year, it is now moot that the 164 students of the new Ash Point Community School started a week late in a building far from finished.

“I was teaching in the hallways,” said teacher Scott Herrick. “I taught outside until it got too cold, and I also taught in the cafeteria.”

The scent of fresh polyurethane and other floor stains still waft from the gymnasium and stage, which only saw completion a week ago. But, as Herrick noted, at least the school has a gymnasium.

Up until June, staff of the former Owls Head Central School were grasping at every inch of space in the now-demolished structure. The library was a corner of the all-purpose room where children ate and watched presentations on stage. More than one classroom was a former closet.

However, when that building was demolished over the summer, from where the parking lot of the new school now stands, a new light began to shine.

Whereas the final open house to Central School included conversations of needs and desires, the conversations filling the Ash Point Community School, during an open house, Thursday, Nov. 29, was as optimistic as the high ceilings, fluorescent lights, and open concept.

“I feel I’ve been given a gift,” said pre-Kindergarten teacher Ellie Ellwell, speaking about the new two-story building designed by architect Jason Merriam.

Elwell’s 16 students not only are learning the basic skills necessary for transition to regular school, they are doing so while already adapting to the regular school’s location.

Another teacher spoke of the benefits of a united, central location for the students of South Thomaston and Owls Head. She said that when employed at the former Guilford-Butler School in South Thomaston, saying goodbye to the second graders felt as if she were saying goodbye to them permanently. Now, at Ash Point, she’ll see the two classes of each grade, plus pre-K and other groups, as they walk from music to art to special ed to learning labs, for up to six years.

The morning sun shines directly through the south-facing classrooms, one teacher noted. The old school didn’t have south-facing windows.

It also didn’t have a second floor, an elevator, or ‘breakout areas’ in the hallways where students could meet with other teachers or small groups, or read quietly away from their peers.

Herrick and his students made use of these areas, as well, while waiting for their classroom to be finished. That was not a problem.

In the old school, not having a gymnasium for the energetic young children: “Now, that was a challenge,” he said.

 

Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com