Freeport High School to debut $4.5M track, field

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FREEPORT — The grand opening of the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field at Freeport High School will be held Friday, May 18.

The event will open with music from Freeport High School students and close with a ribbon-cutting and an inaugural “Jog with Joanie” around the new, three-quarter-mile track for anyone who wishes to participate.

Superintendent of Schools Becky Foley will emcee a brief ceremony that will include remarks from Samuelson, an Olympic gold medalist and founder of the annual TD Beach to Beacon 10K;  School Board Chairwoman Michelle Ritcheson; John Paterson, secretary of the Tri-town Track and Field Project, and Jorge Casimiro, vice president of global community impact at Nike.

After the ceremony, the Freeport Falcons will compete in their first-ever home meet at 3:30 p.m. Competing in the meet will be Lakes Region High School, Old Orchard Beach High School, Yarmouth High School and Greater Portland Christian High School.

Before the track and field were completed, the Falcons would practice at Bowdoin College in Brunswick.

All Freeport High School soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football teams will now practice and host games on the turf.

The nearly $4.5 million project was expected to be completed in time for the fall 2017 sports season, but Foley said construction took longer than anticipated.

About $1.4 million was funded by Regional School Unit 5; nearly $2.3 million was raised by the Tri Town Track and Field Committee, including a $1.35 million donation from Nike, which also produces the Nike Grind material that was used for the project. An additional $760,000 in leftover funds from Freeport High School renovations was also put towards field and track.

The most recent addition to the project was the “Falcon Pride” mural. The artwork was designed by Nike’s Adriano Furtado and painted on the brick wall of the school that faces the track by Portland-based Better Letter Hand Painted Signs. The mural was completed May 8; on Saturday, May 5, RSU 5 invited members of the community to help with the finishing touches.

According to Foley, about 50 students, parents, staff and others pitched in. The mural was first outlined and then filled in by volunteers based on number and color coordination, in a paint-by-number fashion.

The final design, which was chosen by students, was inspired by the three RSU 5 towns; Pownal and Bradbury Mountain are represented by earth tones towards the top of the mural, blue depicts Freeport’s coastline at the bottom, and green is in between to portray Durham.

There are still three aspects of the project to be completed, Foley said.

A final coat of paint will be laid on the track this summer, the bleachers will be replaced by the fall, and the softball field at the front end of the school will be finished by July 1.

All in all, she said she couldn’t be happier with the final product.

“It’s a great example of when the community comes together … great things can be accomplished,” the superintendent saidsaid. “We now have a world-class facility for students and the community to enjoy.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Regional School Unit 5 Assistant Superintendent Cynthia Alexander, left, and Superintendent Becky Foley in front of Freeport High School’s new “Falcon Pride” mural on May 10. Members of the community were invited to help apply the finishing touches to the mural.

Regional School Unit 5 will hold the grand opening of the track and field named for Olympic Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson on Friday, May 18, at Freeport High School.

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