PERU — The Regional School Unit 56 board of directors voted Tuesday to proceed with student travel plans unless the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises it’s unsafe.

The board approved the Dirigo High School Speech and Debate Team’s trip to Chicago for the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Tournament, May 22-24. Coach and adviser Brad Conant requested permission for himself, coach Cassie Quinn and five students to attend the event.

T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School teacher Stacey Gilbert listens to Principal Jason Long read his letter nominating her as Teacher of the Year during Tuesday’s meeting of the Regional School Unit 56 board in Peru. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

The three students qualified to compete are sophomore Jennifer Decker and juniors Will Hines and Ashley Gurney. Team members Adrianna Belskis, a senior, and John Conron, a sophomore, also plan to attend as spectators.

Organizers were considering flying with only five ‘essential’ members, but will most likely take a van with five students and the two coaches.

Conant said the National Speech and Debate Association has prepared protocols such as frequent hand washing and no handshakes on stage.

The National Catholic Forensic League website Wednesday said, “At this time, based on the latest posted CDC travel recommendations, the NCFL Grand National Tournament will be held in Chicago as scheduled.”

Other trips approved by the board are:

  • An overnight trip to Bryant Pond for fifth-graders in May;
  • An overnight trip to downtown Portland for 10 eighth-graders enrolled in Jobs for Maine’s Graduates;
  • A two-night trip for eighth-graders to attend Camp Susan Curtis in Stoneham in early June;
  • An overnight trip for Project Graduation to G-Force Laser Tag in Brewer on June 12.

In other business, T.W. Kelly Dirigo Middle School teacher Stacey Gilbert was nominated for Teacher of the Year by Principal Jason Long. His nomination letter said one of Gilbert’s greatest strengths is classroom management and that she promotes kindness and academic excellence.

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