June 23, 2018
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Putting community before budgets in Corinth

By Kelsi McHugh, Special to the BDN

I haven’t found anything that can compare to the nurturing relationship a small community offers to a person in its midst. I have lived in a small town my whole life — Corinth — until I recently moved to a much larger city, Bangor, and became a student at the University of Maine. The relationships I formed in the community of Corinth are unique, powerful, and have shaped who I am today.

A small town isn’t for everyone, because your neighbors may know everything about you. However, it does provide trust and communication. After growing up in Corinth, I have realized this is a significant strength of the small town of roughly 2,700 people.

It is sad to say, but almost every year there are residents in Corinth who struggle in some way and need the support of the larger community. The community always finds a way to come together by holding a benefit dinner, an auction, or just by putting out donation buckets for a person in need. The community has the power and strength to come together for any deserving child or adult, no matter who they are or what they are suffering from. No one is left out. I have developed faith and trust in my community, and I know that the community will always be there for me.

The trust that I have been able to develop with the community of Corinth goes beyond helping a resident in need. I feel this same trust when there is an important decision that needs to be made.

Corinth is faced with several budget cuts, similar to most towns in Maine, due to the tough economy. Recently a meeting was held in order to hear the opinions of the community members and to open up communication lines.

One proposed budget cut is to close down a school that is underused and expensive for the few it serves. Some of the other proposals under debate involve cutting programs like the “B” sports teams at the middle school, junior varsity sports at the high school, the family and consumer science program at the high school and adult education courses offered at the high school.

From my experience of going to school in Corinth, it was not the building that shaped who I am, but the programs the schools offered me. For some students in Corinth, extra curricular activities and academic programs are what keep them going to school every day; it gives them something to look forward to. I was able to grow as a young adult by developing skills such as leadership, responsibility, commitment and passion — things that aren’t always taught in a classroom.

I want people to have the opportunity to form a relationship with the town of Corinth, just like I did. I was able to have a great relationship because I participated in community activities, sports and various academic programs. Cutting programs from the schools would weaken the character and quality of Corinth.

Parents look at what a community and its schools have to offer before they move to an area. A supportive community and nurturing school system with sports, adult education courses, extracurricular activities and strong academic courses are among the many resources that Corinth has to offer and none should be abandoned. Programs offered in and out of school foster life skills and lessons and allow for important community relationships to develop. The process of making a budget cut decision has been challenging, but has increased our awareness of the positive assets Corinth offers to its residents.

Kelsi McHugh was raised in Corinth. She is a student at the University of Maine.

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