Blue Crew robotics team adviser Richard Wilde from Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington addresses Regional School Unit 73 directors at their meeting in Jay Thursday night, March 24, as team members from Spruce Mountain and Mt. Blue high schools stand behind him. Spruce Mountain High School teacher Rob Taylor, seated at left, and student Lily Bailey, foreground, are some of those from Spruce collaborating with the Blue Crew this year. Standing, from left, are students Ben Hatch and Noah Brougham from Mt. Blue, Owen Schwab from Spruce Mountain, and Jack Kramer and Emily Hammond, both from Mt. Blue. Student Quin Fournier from Spruce Mountain is behind Wilde. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

JAY — Regional School Unit 73 Directors Thursday night, March 24, gave permission for students participating in the robotics program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington to attend out of state competitions this year.

The Blue Crew team has five students participating along with Spruce Mountain High School teacher Rob Taylor serving as a team mentor. The students from Spruce began collaborating with the Farmington-based team after the season’s game was known in January.

Emily Hammond, Jack Cramer, Nathan Hall, Noah Civiello, Finnegan Zimmerschied, Noah Brougham, Benjamin “Kaleb” Daku, Benjamin Hatch, Jacob White, Kodi Quimby, Kyran Katzenbach, and Landen Rackliffe are Blue Crew members from Mt. Blue/Foster CTE Center. Lily Bailey, Ava Coates, Quin Fournier, Owen Schwab, and Daniel Wilson are from Spruce Mountain. Chandler Pike of Jay and a student at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone is also a member.

Advisor Richard Wilde said the Spruce students encouraged the team to try for the Chairman’s Award in competitions this year. Bailey and Coates from Spruce and Hammond from Mt. Blue High School represented the team for that part of the competition. The team won the Chairman’s Award at the New England Pine Tree District Event held at Thomas College in Waterville earlier this month.

At left Blue Crew advisor Richard Wilde from Foster CTE Center in Farmington discusses features of the robot his team built for competitions this year during the RSU 73 meeting Thursday, March 24. Seated at right is RSU 73 Director Joel Pike of Jay, winner of the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award at the NE Pine Tree District Event held earlier this month in Waterville. Pike is a Blue Crew mentor. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

At that event Director Joel Pike, also a Blue Crew mentor, won the Woodie Flowers Finalist Award.

The game this year is Rapid React with transportation as the theme. It focused on airports and airplanes.


“There’s no other program like this,” Wilde said. “I would really like to see you guys have your own team again. Until then Spruce Mountain will always be welcome on the Blue Crew.”

“It was a great experience for me personally,” Taylor said. “COVID was tough. It was really hard getting away from some of the things I had been doing. This is one I really enjoy. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it.”

Spruce joining with Blue Crew was one of the reasons they won the award, Taylor said. COVID leveled the field, teams couldn’t mentor LEGO League teams in the same ways they had in previous years but Blue Crew worked with Spruce teams last fall, he noted.

“They gave (Spruce) kids experience they would not have had,” Taylor said.

“Rob’s been such a great addition to this team,” Pike said.

Director Patrick Milligan said the future is in innovation and technology. He noted the importance of women in science, that girls would be sought after in those fields.


As winners of the Chairman’s Award, Blue Crew 6153 has qualified to compete at the New England District Championship April 13-16 in West Springfield, Massachusetts. The team will also be competing at the New Hampshire Pease/Seacoast Event March 31 to April 2 in Durham, New Hampshire.

In other business it was announced the district will hold a budget referendum meeting 6 p.m. April 7 at Spruce Mountain Middle School. The last two years a district hearing, different than the referendum meeting and with different rules has been held because of COVID-19. Voting on all budget questions separately will be done at the budget meeting. Some questions will only be considered at the April 7 meeting.

The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 is $22.17 million, up $1.42 million over the current spending plan. About 75% is for salaries and wages, Superintendent Scott Albert said in February. Special education is up 16% while health insurance increased 13% and liability insurance 23%, he said then.

Each town is being asked to pay $60,000 for food services (down from $80,000 last year) and $66,000 towards adult education – the amount approved last year.

There will be an article at the budget meeting seeking $45,000 for improvements to the Holland Strong tennis courts. The question will not be on the referendum ballot April 26.

There will be an article regarding the agreement for tuition students from Fayette. Voters will also decide if they wish to continue with the district budget meeting and referendum vote.

Because the state lowered Jay’s valuation due to changes at the Androscoggin Mill, the amount Livermore and Livermore Falls pay will increase.

Polls will be open in the three towns April 26 to vote on the proposed budget and other articles.

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