LIMESTONE, Maine — The Maine School of Science and Mathematics held a ground-breaking ceremony on Aug. 10 a new student-designed greenhouse facility.

MSSM Executive Director Luke Shorty surprised attendants by announcing that the greenhouse will be named after Art and Fritzie Thompson of Limestone for their efforts in raising about $140,000 for the facility.

Art Thompson is the chair of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the magnet school.

The 7,500 square foot facility was designed by MSSM engineering students, who settled on a final layout and structure for the greenhouse after a competitive review of numerous student-created proposals.

Erich Hunter, president and CEO of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics Foundation, predicts that the greenhouse will be finished by Labor Day, and that students will be using it by the middle of next semester.

A number of contractors are ready to build this facility — James Sewall is the foundation engineer, Soderberg Construction will do the excavation, Craig Gustafson will pour the cement, Adams Heating will set up the heat systems, and O&P Glass will build the greenhouse.

“This greenhouse will provide a place for our faculty to work closely with students and their research,” said Shorty. “This would not have been possible without the help of all the wonderful people who made contributions. I want to personally thank Art and Fritzie Thompson for taking up this challenge and, for that reason, we will name the facility ‘The Art and Fritzie Thompson Greenhouse’.”

Luke handed Art Thompson a golden shovel and allowed him to say a few words.

“It’s a great honor. I have to say, it became fun to raise money over the winter. Part of the arrangement for this facility is that the kids from Limestone Elementary School will be able to use it, and MSSM students will be their mentors. When I mentioned this to the people of Limestone, they were excited to support young people in the community,” Thompson said.

“Now that we have the possibility of more kids using the facility and doing research, it’s hard telling what those young minds are going to come up with,” he added.

Hunter said the new greenhouse would feature climate control allowing the students to set more parameters in their experiments.

“Since this greenhouse is larger than the last one, it provides more students with access to more experiments and independent research projects,” Hunter said. “The greenhouse will not just be used for botany and agricultural science, but also chemistry, biology, and ecology courses. Students will take results from their experiments and apply mathematical principles for further analysis. It’s really incorporating a lot of math into sciences. That’s what is really exciting about the program, it’s not just math and science by themselves, but the integration of the two subjects in the research process, because they really do work hand in hand.”

Hunter also agreed the project would not have succeeded without the support of the Thompsons.

“They have been supporters of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics from the very beginning. They even acted as host families for some of our first students, making sure they had a home away from home in Limestone.”