BETHEL — The aunt of a Telstar seventh grade student notified principals John Eliot and Lindsay Luetje to say her niece had lost her father in the Lewiston mass shooting. Some of the victim’s other relatives are enrolled at Telstar High and Woodstock Elementary, too.

“You never truly know the ripples that go out for something like this until it is all settled,” said Mark Kenney who started his role as SAD-44 superintendent in July. “[The school planning] becomes a little more personal.”

Schools were closed in Bethel and Woodstock on Thursday and Friday as were most schools in the region. They will re-open Monday after a two-hour delay.

A murder suspect was still at large after killing 18 people and injuring several more at Lewiston’s Schemengees Bar & Grille and Just-In-Time Recreation, a bowling alley. Police have identified Robert Card of Bowdoin as a suspect

When the tragedy occurred Wednesday night, Oct. 25, Kenney was staying in Lewiston with his in-laws, less than a mile from the bowling alley. “We were listening to sirens and helicopters all night … [Lewiston is] where my wife grew up.”

He said in the last two days he has videoconferenced four times with superintendents from across western Maine and the Androscoggin County region. “It has been extremely helpful to be on the same page with everybody from here to Eustis, to Waterville to Gray-New Gloucester and everything in between,” said Kenney.


He has updated SAD-44 parents via email and said his staff met in person and on Zoom on Friday, Oct. 27. He said the crisis administration team — 13 or 14 people in all — will reconvene Sunday night and again Monday morning before the students return. Extra substitutes will be available to meet with smaller groups or with teachers that need a break next week.

“If families feel they need to keep their kids home on Monday … they have that option … We will work with that and honor that,” he said.

The principals will follow a secure situation in all the buildings with a heightened awareness. “We’ll limit access and keep everyone inside, if he [the suspect] is not found.”

“We’re going to ease into this… We’ll make day-to-day adjustments and not plan too far out. Because we don’t know what it is going to look like,” said Kenney.

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