POLAND — A select group of speakers thanked the architectural and construction firms, commended school and municipal leaders, praised members of the educational community, and extolled local support at Monday morning’s ribbon-cutting ceremony heralding the new addition of the Bruce M. Whittier Middle School.

Regional School Unit 16 School Committee Chairwoman Mary Martin opened the proceedings by giving a brief outline how the new addition came about. Overcrowded conditions at the middle school soon became evident after all middle school students of the three towns that comprise the school district — Mechanic Falls, Minot and Poland — began attending the school in 2009. Modular classrooms were purchased and placed on the property.

A feasibility study committee formed in 2014 had transformed into a building committee by 2017, and voters in all three towns approved a $5.7 million bond in November 2017.  PDT Architects of Portland designed the project and Great Falls Construction of Gorham began work in 2018.

Quoting educational reformer John Dewey, Martin said, “What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community.”

Whittier Principal Shawn Vincent spoke about how grateful he is that the renovation brings “space, security and opportunity” for educational growth to the students.

First year English teacher at Poland Regional High School Kylie Martin, a Bates College graduate in 2019, said she was a 7th grader from Poland in 2009 when the consolidation of the middle school students took place.  Uncertain and insecure of attending school with students from the other two towns soon fell sway to friendliness and self-assurance, Martin said.  She added the middle school changed her life.  Due to that experience Martin says she approaches each day as a teacher with the sense of “open arms and happy heart”.

Eighth grade student Gerald ‘JR’ Tibbetts expressed liberation at leaving behind those modular class room trailers and warmly voiced, “We now have a home.”

Superintendent Ken Healey remarked he “especially thanked the tax payers of RSU 16” shortly before the grandnieces of Bruce Whittier, Margo and Jazmin Whittier, together cut the ribbon to the entrance of the renovated middle school.  Whittier, a Mechanic Falls resident, taught at Poland Community School.  Margo is an 8th grader and Jasmin is in the 7th grade at the middle school.

According to Healey, the renovation was done on time and on budget.

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