WILTON — Built as a church, the small gray building on Main Street has served the area as a Christian school for several years, but that use has come to an end.
Western Maine Christian Academy closed its doors at the end of the school year for more than just the summer.
It was started in the mid-1990s by a group of parents who wanted an alternative to regular schooling, a Christian-based one.
“I really liked going there. The teachers were always there, and they were great people, but the main focus was getting an education based on following God,” said Melissa Sampson, a former student who will begin her junior year at Mt. Blue High School this fall.
The teachers were great but so was the experience of a small school, said Samantha Hawkins of Jay, whose children had attended the school in past years. The smaller teacher-student ratio was a real plus in her eyes.
Between years of home schooling her children, she said they attended the school
“I’m sad it’s closing. The option was there in the back of my mind for our other children,” she added.
In the one-room school, you get to know a person for who they really are, Sampson said of the five students with her in grades eight to 11. Sampson wanted to play soccer, so she took an English class at Mt. Blue, where she developed some friendships with team and classmates, but initially it took a couple classes before she was used to so many other kids, she said.
“The school was a great safe place for a lot of kids,” said her mother, Marti Sampson, whose husband, Robert, serves on the school board.
Sometimes taking them out of the public arena helps them develop more confidence in themselves, and they can go back in to public school and thrive, she said.
With the current economic situation, people can’t afford private schooling, and there weren’t enough paying parents, Sampson said. By the time the nonprofit school paid their teachers and the mortgage, along with the astronomical cost of energy, it was difficult generating enough money each month, she added.
“A lot of people put in energy, but the work falls on a few people,” she said of the many parents who volunteered not only their time and energy but also money to maintain the school.
Parent volunteers also did a lot of fundraising to add to monies received for tuition.
Two years ago the Sampsons supported a major reconstruction of the cellar, fixing a cracked and leaking foundation. Volunteers helped erect a second building on the site to separate elementary students from junior and high school students. Meant to help keep the school running into the future, now the improvements will probably add to the sale of the property, she said.
The loss of a couple key people this year, one who died and another suffering illness, was also difficult, she said. One served as treasurer and the other was like a Mother Theresa, she was a huge part of the school, Sampson said.
Along with traditional subjects taught at the school, an arrangement with the local school system, adult education and Foster Technology Center created opportunities for students to take courses like computer system drafting and culinary classes. Students were taken to the University of Maine at Farmington for fitness classes, and many field trips, including several to the Norlands, were taken, Sampson said.


The Western Maine Christian Academy in Wilton closed its doors at the end of the schoo yearl.  A private nonprofit, the school created in the mid-1990’s involved numerous volunteer hours to keep it running.

The Western Maine Christian Academy in Wilton closed its doors at the end of school.  A
private non-profit, the school created in the mid 1990’s involved
numerous volunteer hours to keep it running as an alternative school
based on God.

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