Manchester School celebrated Community Day on Wednesday. This day is a celebration of what kids can accomplish when working toward a mission. The theme of the event is “kids caring for the community,” said teacher and organizer Stacy Sanborn. “We keep getting better at it. It’s amazing what the kids take with them after they’re done [at Manchester].”
All year, the classes at the school have worked on projects from taking care of the Presumpscot River to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals to birds and Veterans.
Keynote speaker, high school principal, Christopher Howell, said that it was his 10th Community Day. “I’ve never missed the chance to celebrate the community and all the things that happen here at Manchester School,” he said. “Our community depends on you.”
Howell also issued a challenge to the students and parents in the room. “Listen with your ears and look with your eyes. Be aware of people around you,” he said. He encouraged the students to get involved and have fun. If they find someone in need, they should find an adult and do something for them.
The other is what he calls “stealth community service”. Do something for someone else without them knowing it was you. He gave the example of paying for someone’s dinner at a restaurant.
Two AmeriCorps volunteers who work at the REAL School and are now volunteering at Manchester more than 40 hours a week, spoke. “Our students have taken ownership of these things,” Robert Deakin said. He told the kids that he has a few things he tries to do every day. “Try to make someone laugh, say thank you, help someone and do the best you can do every day,” Deakin said.
Local law enforcement and veterans were honored including Game Warden Pete Herring, who patrols the area. “I work with landowners keeping the land open for you folks,” he said. Eighty-five percent of land in Maine is privately owned. Those landowners often open their land for people to recreate on. “It’s not a right,” he told the student. “It’s a privilege. If it’s abused it goes away.” He also mentioned that this is “baby animal season”. He encouraged the kids to leave animals alone, even if it looks like they may be without their mother.
Teacher Sabrina Nickerson was named the 2015 Educator of the Year from the American Legion post 148. Pam Lantz, the former guidance counselor, was acknowledged for her help with the community gardens.
Another class donated $751 to the MSSPA for the care of two horses, Penny and Marley. Officer Matt Cyr organized a drive for non-food items for the food pantry in Windham. A competition between the fourth and fifth grades was fierce. With a tie being declared, just before a last minute donation from a fourth grader put that class over the top. All together the school collected 2,888 items.
“Isn’t this place awesome,” said superintendent Sandy Prince, who reiterated Howell’s challenge of being kind and doing random acts of kindness.
The event that started at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast for 270 people, ended with the announcement that principal Cindy Curtis will be retiring after 10 years at Manchester School. Some of the students that were in the school when Curtis took over, have gone on to the military or college. She loves to see what becomes of the students. “It has been an honor. I will be watching,” she finished.