RSU 5 boasts new school in Durham, new program in Pownal

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FREEPORT — Regional School Unit 5 will welcome students back on Tuesday, Aug. 31, with new athletic opportunities, a new self-contained special education classroom in Pownal and a new school in Durham.

Superintendent of Schools Shannon Welsh said the biggest change will be the Durham Community School at 654 Hallowell Road.

Welsh said the building was designed to provide numerous academic learning opportunities for students.

“It is a beautiful learning space,” she said. “Teachers and administrators are looking forward to setting up their rooms and starting the school year.”

The library space is designed to hold many classes at the same time, without disturbing one another, she said. There is a sitting area for the younger children, and an area for older students to gather information and do research. There were additional local funds used to make the gymnasium larger than what would have been built with state funding and the computer lab has a fast Internet connection made possible through a grant from Maine Learning Technology Initiative.

Welsh said the classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards, audio enhancement systems and work stations with Powerpoint presentation projectors.

The old school has been demolished. Its space will be landscaped and transformed into a soccer and softball field, she said.

This year, Pownal middle school students will attend either Freeport or Durham schools. The three classrooms that once housed the middle school program will now be a self-contained special education classroom for students from throughout the district.

Lisa Demick is the new principal at Pownal Elementary School and has replaced  former Principal Peter Buckley. Demick was employed as a teacher leader and math strategist by School Administrative District 51 in Cumberland last year, Welsh said.

In Freeport, Tom Ambrose is the new principal at Morse Street School. He has taken over for Cherie White, who retired after 20 years.

Seth Thompson is the new RSU technology director. Thompson was most recently employed in Bath at RSU 1. He has replaced Jeff Brazee, who has moved to Minnesota.

Kelly Wentworth, former town clerk in Pownal, will start this school year as the new director of finances. Wentworth has a financial background and is looking forward to her new position, Welsh said.

Since there are nearly 500 students enrolled in the high school this year, Welsh said there will be enough interest to create an additional girl’s soccer team. The first-year team will be for freshman and first-time soccer players, adding another level to the junior varsity and varsity teams.

“I am looking forward to the second year as a consolidated school system,” Welsh said. “We will continue to grow and collaborate and make efficient use of our resources as we provide quality education.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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Durham Elementary School students pose for a photograoph in front of the 50-year-old school last spring. The school has been demolished, and will be the site of a new soccer and softball field.

The new Durham Community School is at 654 Hallowell Road.

School dedication in Durham

Residents of Durham, Freeport and Pownal are invited to attend the Durham Community School ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Aug. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Immediately following the dedication, students from the seventh and eighth grades and community volunteers will conduct tours of the school. Light refreshments will be served.

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