EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Volunteers will gather at the new Opal Myrick School playground at Schenck High School on Friday to help make the educational center a more agreeable new home for the grade-schoolers taught there.
The goal is to set up new playground equipment in the open space at Schenck set aside for pupils at the new Opal Myrick, which is now a wing at the high school, said Angela Adams, a second-grade teacher.
“We want to get the new playground assembled as much as possible. We need men with wrenches, screwdrivers and hand tools and the ability to use the tools that may already be there,” Adams said Thursday.
School workers hope the volunteers can assemble the new playground equipment by Saturday morning so that volunteers from Emery Lee & Son Inc. can pour concrete donated by the company that the equipment will be anchored with, Adams said.
The school committee voted 5-0 during a special meeting in March to close the old Opal P. Myrick on Bee Street and move its population into Schenck this month in anticipation of a valuation reduction of the East Millinocket paper mill that cut into the school’s tax revenue by about $1 million.
State programs that aid municipalities that suffer sudden and drastic losses in revenue would cushion the impact of the revaluation, but not enough to make preserving the building feasible, Superintendent Quenten Clark has said. He estimated that the closure would save $100,000 in operational costs alone.
He listed several problems with the building, including asbestos floor tiles, a lack of disability access, and an aging heating system that consumed about 16,000 gallons of heating oil.
The new playground equipment is among the last steps toward making the Schenck complex a new home for Opal Myrick pupils.
“We are hoping for a large turnout tomorrow and Saturday so that we can also place bark mulch under the new playground equipment,” Adams said Thursday. “We are kind of excited because this is such good news. The kids are so looking forward to seeing the people they know working on the equipment.”
“The kids have melded so well with the high-schoolers,” Adams added. Attending school with high-schoolers “is not as scary as they thought it might have been.”
The work is expected to start about 8 a.m. Friday and continue into Saturday. Volunteers wishing to help should go to Schenck in the morning.