SEARSPORT, Maine — A new booster group created to support students at Searsport District High School in the wake of recent budget cuts is holding a road race this weekend on Sears Island.
Registration for the Viking 5K road race and walk, held by Together in Education, will begin at 8:45 a.m. Sunday. The race starts at 10 a.m. and will be professionally timed, for serious runners, and should be fun for everybody, according to Sharon Catus of Stockton Springs, a parent and member of the Regional School Unit 20 board of directors. She said that money raised will go to purchase school supplies.
“One of the things we’re trying to do here in Searsport is to say, fine. We’ve been handed down a really lousy hand,” Catus said this week. “You just have to deal with what you’ve been given.”
She said that some residents in the towns of Stockton Springs, which this fall saw its elementary school students bused to nearby Searsport in a money-saving move, feel marginalized by recent decisions from the board of directors and other school officials.
“It just seems like all the sacrifices, or a lot of them, have been made on this side of the river,” she said. “It’s been really hard. I’ve been extremely hurt by some of the rhetoric that comes from people who somehow see cultural differences and voice these things.”
The district’s towns on the western side of the Passagassawakeag River all have tried this year and many are still trying to withdraw from the eight-town district, which consists of Belfast, Belmont, Morrill, Northport, Searsmont, Searsport, Stockton Springs and Swanville.
At times during the long withdrawal process, people who wish to have their towns leave the district have said that they do not share the same educational goals or philosophy as Searsport and Stockton Springs, the communities that have not tried to leave the consolidated district.
Catus said that the race is the first major fundraiser for the booster group, and that so far there has been a good amount of interest from participants. The race will start on the Sears Island Causeway and continue in a loop along the main road on the island. There is no vehicular traffic on Sears Island, which is good for young participants and their parents, she said.
RSU 20 Superintendent Brian Carpenter said this week that the Together in Education group is a little unusual because it is focused on helping Searsport District High School. The district’s elementary schools have their own parent groups, but it’s not as common to find them helping older students.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for students.