- Police Beat
- The Forecaster
CAPE ELIZABETH — A recommendation to name the high school auditorium after a veteran English and drama teacher will be considered by the School Board on March 12.
An informal committee of five Cape Elizabeth High School faculty is planning to present a document with their request to dedicate the CEHS auditorium in honor of retired educator Richard G. “Dick” Mullen, Superintendent Donna Wolfram confirmed.
The committee officially made its recommendation to Wolfrom in early February and has since gathered 180 signatures from alumni, parents of alumni, as well as current and former staff members in support of their proposal. The signatures, along with testimonies praising Mullen for his impact, are to be presented to the board at the Tuesday meeting at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall.
Mullen, 82, taught for 60 years until he retired on Jan. 26. He ended a 40-year career at CEHS as an English and theater teacher, as well as a speech and debate leader.
“The hours, days, weeks, and years spent in the auditorium with thousands of students have earned Richard Mullen the honor of the auditorium bearing his name: The Richard G. Mullen Auditorium,” Andrea Cayer, a former CEHS teacher, wrote in a letter to accompany the petition.
The performance hall is not named after anyone and is simply known as the Cape Elizabeth High School auditorium.
School Board’s Policy states that renaming a school facility can be done to recognize an individual “who has made significant contributions of time, talent or treasure.”
“There is precedent,” Board Chairwoman Susana Measelle Hubbs said in an email earlier this week. “The Board would consider the renaming of any school facility with great seriousness and sensitivity.”
The Donald L. Richards Community Pool, housed at CEHS, is named after long-time former swim coach and Moulton Field is named in memoriam for Rey Moulton, a former Cape Elizabeth resident.
During a phone interview, Ellen Jordan, a parent of four students who worked with Mullen at CEHS, praised him for being “on par with those” who had institutions titled in their names.
“I just have found him to be extraordinary. He is not a typical teacher,” Jordan said. “He is very old school, but the lessons that he has taught our children are lessons that they have carried through college and beyond.”
Many of the alumni supporters who signed the petition have careers in theater and film making, reflecting on Mullen as an influential mentor in their past.
“I walked into my freshman year drama class a precocious 14-year-old with a chip on my shoulder from years of performing in outside theater,” wrote Sara Friedman, who graduated with the Class of 2009. “Mr. Mullen was the only person to check my ego, and make me realize that as an artist and citizen of the world, I could never truly be done learning.”
Though still in touch with many former students, Mullen said he has not been involved in the recommendation process.
“I got formal wind of it from a former student. … He let the cat out of the bag, which I think is a pretty big thing to keep hidden at this point,” Mullen said. “I am aware of it, but I’m not aware of people who signed it or have been involved.”
Mullen said he was surprised upon hearing of the recommendation and humbled by the suggestion.
“I’ve had seven or eight kids be in touch with me with very poignant letters about what I had done for them, and I wasn’t particularly aware of it.
“I didn’t go about to change lives, I didn’t go about to become a father figure, but that’s all a part of teaching.”
Cape Elizabeth High School teachers, alumni and others want the School Board to name the high school auditorium after longtime English and drama teacher Richard “Dick” Mullen. A group of teachers, alumni and parents are proposing to name the Cape Elizabeth High School auditorium in honor of Richard “Dick” Mullin, who recently retired after a career lasting four decades at the school.