C.K. Burns School in Saco will reach a major milestone in 2022 – marking 100 years as a center of learning for Saco children. The school is planning a big celebration, and is looking for artifacts and memorabilia to display. Tammy Wells Photo

SACO — The year 1922 was notable for a number of events. In Maine, Percival Baxter won the election for governor. In Massachusetts, women were declared eligible for public office under the commonwealth’s Constitution — a step Maine had taken the previous year.

In Saco in 1922, C.K. Burns School — named for Saco native and businesswoman Clementine Kendrick Burns — opened, and began its long legacy of being a place where children learn.

These days, teachers at C.K. Burns School educate children in grades three to five, but it has served different classes over the years. Researcher Carey Johnson, a grade five teacher at the school, said it is her understanding the school originally taught children in grades seven and eight. Prior to Saco Middle School opening in 1974, it served as Saco’s junior high school, educating children in grades six through eight, and even ninth grade before that grade was eliminated.

Johnson, grade four teacher Cathy Baillargeon, herself a Burns alumnus, Principal April Noble and others are working on a celebration to mark 100 years of C.K. Burns School. While a firm date has not been announced, organizers say it will likely occur in May.

School administration and faculty are looking for memorabilia — photos, report cards, drawings, essays — or those with stories to tell from their own experience, that of a relative like a parent, aunt, uncle,  grandparent, or great-grandparent. Those with items and memories to share may call Principal Noble at 284-5081, or email her at: [email protected].

The Middle Street school was built on a location that used to be known as Hartley’s Field, according to Johnson.

“There used to be ice-skating there and torchlight parties at night,” she said.

When the building first opened, it had eight classrooms.

“It was considered very modern and state of the art,” said Johnson.

Later, with the opening of the Saco Middle School, another wing was added and eventually C.K. Burns School became a school for fourth and fifth graders, and then the third grade was added. In 1994, said Johnson, the newest section was added with a stage, a new gym, and additional classrooms at the back of the building.

“Those of us who have been at C.K. Burns a long time have many stories about working in the building,” said Johnson. “Some people from Saco also have great stories about teachers they had and things they have learned. I think it’s a great way to reach out to the community and to invite them to celebrate with us.”

Johnson said her own interest in the history of the school began with the photo of Clementine Kendrick Burns on the wall in the school.

Burns was the youngest daughter of Humphrey P. and Jane Kendrick of Saco. According to her obituary, published on June 30, 1922 in the Biddeford Weekly Journal, she was a supporter of the suffrage movement. A schoolteacher, she taught in Sabattus and in Goodwin’s Mills and later in Illinois, before returning to Saco and going into the retail business with her brother at H.B. Kendrick and Co. She married Henry N. Burns of Saco in 1878; the couple had six children.

The school’s 100th anniversary celebration committee has been meeting and making plans, Noble said.

“As part of our celebration, we are hoping to have  an ‘artifacts walk’ available for people to view,” said Noble. “We want the students here today to see what school looked like 100 years ago … or close to 100 years ago.”

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