THE SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS Sept. 4 at the new Woolwich Central School. An open house is planned for Aug. 28.

THE SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS Sept. 4 at the new Woolwich Central School. An open house is planned for Aug. 28.

WOOLWICH

Walk into the new Woolwich Central School and it definitely qualifies as a “wow” moment.

You can’t even get past the mural — the first thing you see when you walk in the door — without gazing. And gazing. Beyond that, there are three floors of beautiful, high-tech space in the new school.

Better yet, students will be attending classes at Woolwich Central for the first time in two years when the doors open for the new school year on Sept. 4. An open house is set for Aug. 28, and additional tours are available.

THE PLAYGROUNDS were paid for with a fundraising effort by Woolwich residents. “They (Woolwich residents) raised $85,000 to pay for the new playgrounds and equipment outside,” said Principal Tom Soule, looking from inside the new school.

THE PLAYGROUNDS were paid for with a fundraising effort by Woolwich residents. “They (Woolwich residents) raised $85,000 to pay for the new playgrounds and equipment outside,” said Principal Tom Soule, looking from inside the new school.

Tom Soule has been principal at Woolwich Central for 15 years and Betsy Lane has served as administrative secretary for 12 years. Soule, Lane, staffers, students and parents all are thrilled about the town’s new showplace.

THE MURAL AT THE new Woolwich Central School, titled “The Gathering,” is by John Gable, a Woolwich artist.

THE MURAL AT THE new Woolwich Central School, titled “The Gathering,” is by John Gable, a Woolwich artist.

“There’s a tremendous amount of excitement,” Soule said last week. “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Lane said she is “slightly overwhelmed” by all that must be done to get the school ready.

“It’s going to be quite a moment for the students and the staff,” she said. “This building is incredible. It’s been fascinating with some of the contractors who’ve been in, and they said they’ve seen nothing like this. I’ll probably just sit and stare at that mural all day.”

During the two-year construction process, Woolwich students attended classes at Huse School in Bath. Woolwich Central was Kthrough 8 when it closed, but now will include pre-K.

“The transportation issue will be better now,” Soule said. “The Huse School was farther away. We all like our own community school. But parents were extremely patient and positive, knowing that they’d have a brandnew school in their own community.”

The original Woolwich Central School, built in 1950, had been in need of renovation for many years, Soule said. Twice, the state denied the school district’s application for construction funding, but on the third try it was the final project on the approval list. The state funded 98 percent of the construction.

Soule did not have overall figures but construction cost was about $12 million, he said.

As it does on all new construction, the state required Regional School Unit 1 to fund a piece of art, for 1 percent of the total project cost. RSU 1 commissioned Woolwich artist John Gable.

Gable, who has works hanging in the Smithsonian, began work on the 8-by-24-foot “The Gathering” last autumn at his Bath studio. “The Gathering,” which cost $50,000, sets the tone for the entire school.

The mural depicts artists and writers of children’s material who have a connection with Maine. Among the many faces in “The Gathering” is Dahlov Ipcar, artist and children’s author from Georgetown.

In addition to the artists, the mural depicts historical characters, including colonial soldiers and Native Americans.

There are flowers, children, animals, and a house on a hill overlooking a sailboat in the sea.

“Our entire school population would come over and talk to him about the process,” Soule said, “and he was absolutely fabulous with those kids.”

The rest of the school

The new Woolwich Central School will have students up to second grade on the first floor, grades 3-5 on the second floor and grades 6-8 on the third floor.

The administrative wing occupies part of the original building, but you’d never know it.

The entire building is loaded with new technology that will aid both students and teachers in their educational quests.

Every classroom includes a “white board,” an interactive projector connected to students’ laptops.

“This school was built for technology capacity,” Soule said.

All students in grades K-5 will have the use of iPads. iBooks will go to sixthgraders, and students in grades 7-8 will use laptops. Those students will be able to project to the white board through their laptops.

The big school library replaces the one that occupied the basement of the old school.

Students will go through the “trans-stairways” to access the upper floors, and there is an elevator. Soule was justifiably proud to point out all the great things in the new school.

“We’ll plant flowers and a tree in the staircase wells,” he said. “The tall ‘tree lights’ in the hallway will make the space well-lit at night. There will be solar tubes in all room ceilings. On sunny days, no electricty will be needed for lighting.”

Teachers will wear wands around their necks that will amplify the room with “surround sound,” and allow everyone to hear what they’re saying.

Between adjoining classrooms, tutorial rooms will enable instructors to speak more privately.

The new art room replaces the old one that was located in a portable trailer, and had no running water. No longer will art teacher Laura Devin need to carry five-gallon buckets of water to her classroom.

“She couldn’t be more excited,” Soule said.

RSU 1 will save money on heat in the new school, and help the local economy at the same time. A wood chip boiler will provide the heat, and the hope is to purchase the wood chips from a local dealer. A backup oil furnace is available.

The Aug. 28 open house will begin at 6 p.m. in the renovated gymnasium. School tours will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Eighth-graders Dakota Freeman, Danielle Harris, Catherine Seaman, Emma Holbrook, Tori Ceglinski and Grace Kneebone also will provide guided tours. Those interested should call the school at 443-9739.

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