LEWISTON — After the third major structure fire in eight days, Farwell Elementary School students and staff made pans and pans of ready-to-eat meals that included lasagna, kielbasa and rich with peppers, macaroni and cheese, and taco salad, plus cookies, muffins and brownies.

They delivered them to grateful firefighters, and the act of caring lifted school morale, as well. “We benefited as much as they did,” Farwell Principal Althea Walker said.

Public education has been beaten up lately, Walker said. Last week, when the Maine Department of Education released its public school grading system, Farwell got a C.

It stung, “but we embraced it,” Walker said. “We decided C is for a caring community. We are truly a C school.”

Longley Elementary School teacher Debra Rodrigue took a similar attitude with the grading system. Longley, a school of poor students with far fewer advantages than middle-income students, got a grade of F. Teachers and students are working hard, Rodrigue said. “I say F is for fabulous, she said.

— Bonnie Washuk

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