February 22, 2018
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In Rockland, a school for memories

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — If the brick walls of the former Rockland High School on Lincoln Street could talk, they surely would tell tales of roughly 100 years of school carnivals, plays, basketball games and concerts they witnessed.

Fortunately, Ben Perry of the class of 1954 knows those stories, too.

“I’ve got a lot of [school] pride,” he said Sunday during the first all-year homecoming weekend held at the school, which now is the Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education.

The weekend’s festivities focused on famous sculptor Louise Nevelson, one of the most celebrated graduates of the high school. More than 200 people came on Friday for the opening of Maria Nevelson’s art show — another Rockland native who is Louise Nevelson’s granddaughter.

The Lincoln Street school served as Rockland High School until 1961, when it became the junior high and then the middle school. When that moved, too, in the early 1990s, the city formed a committee to determine the building’s future, and they chose to make it a community arts center, which has just entered its second decade of existence, according to Dale Schierholt, president of the board of trustees.

“We had a lot of really great creative energy,” he said of the community art project done on Saturday with Maria Nevelson.

While Nevelson’s silvery sculptures brightened an upstairs gallery, an old classroom featured a collection of a different stripe — the tiger stripe that’s close to the heart of Perry and other Rockland Tigers. He wore the school colors of orange and black as he prepared to lead alumni through the former classroom that is now a museum of school paraphernalia which he lovingly curates.

The room is packed with yearbooks dating back to 1893, trophies, a 1914 football jersey and socks, old playbills and even a graffiti-covered wooden door that Perry rescued. There’s a bandstand from alum Wayne Drinkwater, who went on to be an orchestra leader of some repute.

While Perry is the primary force behind the ever-expanding collection, he said that the word is out, and more objects are coming in all the time. Rockland High School was home to a lot of fun as well as learning, he said.

“I didn’t want to leave school, but the faculty thought perhaps I should,” he joked.

Many of the classmates still live locally and keep up old school ties, Perry said.

“We still have breakfast together on occasion,” he said.

One of those classmates sent him a mystery — a charm bracelet which belongs to a member of the class of 1942.

Perry dangled the delicate bracelet to display its charms: a rooster, a cowboy boot, a baby carriage, a wheelbarrow and a miniature class ring among others.

He has twice put an ad in the Free Press, a local weekly paper, but to no avail.

“It’s a mystery bracelet,” Perry said.

The Lincoln Street Center — including the alumni room — is open weekday mornings. For more information about the center, call 594-6490 or visit www.lincolnstreetcenter.org.

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