Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 23, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, August 23, 2018
Area schools use local communities to educate
by Monique Labbe
When students on the Blue Hill Peninsula start school this year, they will have unique opportunities to have educational experiences in and out of the classroom.
In Brooksville, the students work closely with the Brooksville Historical Society to learn the history of their community and where their ancestors came from. The students also get first-hand experience from a rich farming community, through field trips and visits from local farmers. The school’s garden club is also very active in contributing produce to the weekly Magic Food Bus program.
“Our towns and communities are some of the best teachers we have,” said Brooksville Elementary School principal Cammie Fowler.
Organizations such as Healthy Peninsula and the Blue Hill Heritage Trust also contribute. Most recently in Penobscot, Healthy Peninsula started a garden program at Penobscot Community School, under the direction of Anna Wind and Justine Appel.
Healthy Peninsula is also a partner in the summer garden program in Brooksville.
“Volunteer organizations and individuals breathe life into the curriculum and connect with kids to enrich and improve learning,” said Fowler.
At the Adams School in Castine, students take advantage of organizations such as the Wilson Museum and Maine Maritime Academy, as well as Witherle Library, a mere stone’s throw from the school’s front steps.
“Students of the Adams School greatly enjoy and benefit from an outpouring of community support,” said Adams School principal Sheila Irvine.
Adams School students are included in Castine Garden Club activities like wreath and yule log making in December and basket making in the spring, and are also able to use Maine Maritime Academy’s athletic facilities for physical education classes. Witherle Memorial Library is a place for students to go during and after school for educational support, and as a quiet place to study.
Irvine added that the school receives grants annually through The Hatch Fund, The Starfish Program and The Castine Educational Fund.
Each year, Wilson Museum education director Patty Hutchins goes to the schools in Castine, Penobscot and Brooksville, teaching them the history of the Majabigwaduce area, which comprised all three towns before they broke off individually. School competitions are held to determine the MAJA Trivia champions from each school, who then come together to compete against each other in the Tournament of Champions each spring.
“These organizations do more than build a bridge to the school. They make it possible for our children to be woven into the rich tapestry of cultural life in Castine,” said Irvine.