PARKMAN, Maine — Parkman native and former Maine Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Vincent McKusick joined McKusick Elementary School pupils, staff and residents Tuesday in a bittersweet ceremony to say goodbye to an era of hometown education.
The Carroll L. McKusick Elementary School, named after McKusick’s father, is one of two SAD 4 elementary schools to be closed this year as part of consolidation efforts. The other school to be closed is the Guilford Primary School.
“It’s a great pleasure to be back here in Parkman,” McKusick of Cape Elizabeth said Tuesday at the event sponsored by the Parkman Grange. He said education is very important to his family. His father, who was instrumental in getting the McKusick school constructed in 1955 and who served in the Legislature for 12 years and later on the Maine State Board of Education, had a lifelong commitment to education, he said.
McKusick told those gathered Tuesday that if his father were alive today, “he’d emphasize the importance of education,” and tell the audience to “go forward and meet the new challenges” a new era brings to the community.
As the era ends for the school, a new one began Tuesday for former Parkman teacher Minnie Bridge, who celebrated her 101st birthday. Bridge started teaching in Parkman in 1929, and she served there for 22 years.
Bridge said Tuesday she was sad to see the school close, but she added, “I think it served its purpose and it was a good school.”
Susan Bridges Griffith, one of the event’s presenters, noted that Bridge held a public supper at her home early in her teaching career to raise funds to purchase two light bulbs for the school.
Those memories and more will last a lifetime in this small community, according to Elizabeth Morin of Parkman, who had attended the school. She was joined at the ceremony by her son Joshua Morin, and her grandson Logan Morin, who also had attended the Parkman school.
For current pupils, the move brings some sadness. “I’m really, really sad the school is closing because this used to be my mother’s school,” first-grade pupil Erika Kennedy said.
Anna Morin, also a first-grader, said the school “makes minds grow bigger and I’ll miss it.”
Elizabeth Morin agreed that it’s sad to see the school close.
“We’ve had some good memories here, but time does march on,” she said.