POLAND — Months of planning and hard work to form a three-town middle school were celebrated Thursday night as hundreds of students and their families from Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot toured the newly-renovated Bruce M. Whittier Middle School on Route 26.

The open house was designed after the television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” in which a newly constructed house is revealed to the family by moving a large bus parked in front of it.

“I don’t think there was one of us who didn’t have doubts,” said Middle School Principal Ayesha Farag-Davis of the project. She and other staff members wore bright orange T-shirts with “Whittier” on the front and “work zone” on the back. Farag-Davis said teachers, staff and others spent countless hours planning, moving furniture and other work to get ready for the opening day Aug. 30.

“Plans are in place, procedures are in place. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone,” she said.

With that, the principal yelled through her megaphone, “Bus driver, move that bus,” and off went the bus with a honk and a cheer from the crowd as the entrance to the middle school became visible.

“Come on in,” Farag-Davis said as parents and seventh- and eighth-grade students from Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot swarmed through the front door.

A decision to have middle school students from all three towns in one school was made to save more than $250,000 in the RSU 16 budget, preserve programs, ensure greater equity for students, and offer more diverse opportunities.

Students coming to the middle school said they were excited about the renovations and the chance to interact with peers from the other two towns. Previously, only Poland students attended the school, which is next to Poland Regional High School.

“We’ll have more social time with the other kids,” said Adam Moody, an eighth-grade student from Poland.

“I’m looking forward to it. I know a lot of kids from being in sports,” said Nick Cote of Poland, an eighth-grade student.

Stephen Gaul, an eighth-grade student from Minot who has been attending the kindergarten-through-grade-eight Minot Consolidated School, said he was psyched about the move to the school in Poland.

“You have more friends and kids to hang out with,” said Gaul, whose sister Emma will be a student at the middle school in another year.

Gaul said the big difference will be what time he has to be at his bus stop. Instead of getting on the bus at 7:30 a.m., now he must get on the bus at 6:30 a.m.

And will he have any problems?

“Ya probably. But I’ll set my alarm clock and I wake right up to it,” Gaul said.

Parents and staff also buzzed about the renovated building, including a modular classroom out back and the opportunities the students will have this coming year.

“I think it’s wonderful” said Gaul’s mother, Elisa.

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