The welcome sign Dike Newell elementary students were greeted by on Tuesday morning. Photo contributed by Jennifer McKay

Bath elementary students returned to school Tuesday, breaking in an alternate school set up in a hurry after a June fire destroyed the Dike Newell Elementary School.

“The first day has gone smoothly, and the school looks great,” said RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel.

Principal Jennifer McKay echoed Manuel’s enthusiasm.

A classroom ready for learning at the alternate Dike Newell Elementary location. Facebook photo

“We had a great first day at Dike Newell!” McKay wrote in an email. “What a wonderful feeling to see kids in the spaces we have worked so hard to get ready. Our first day was filled with exploring the building, art, library and guidance classes, a kid favorite — Bosco sticks — for hot lunch, and our first time on the new playground — between the raindrops.”

The fire that devastated the Dike Newell school allegedly was set by an arsonist back in June, leading district officials to seek out the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center as a substitute location for students.

The former technical center underwent several upgrades, with contractors, educators and community volunteers pitching in over the summer.


Manuel said officials replaced security systems, phone and internet services, plumbing, heating and alarm systems, in addition to upgrading classroom technology, such as tablets and projectors.

McKay said contractors also added walls to create more classrooms and lowered toilets and sinks to accommodate the shorter elementary students.

Manuel said around 150 Dike Newell parents and students attended an open house last Thursday for a preview of the transformed technical center.

Palix Fogg (first grader at Dike Newell), father Matthew Fogg and Brixton Fogg (pre-K student at Dike Newell) pose for first-day-of-school pictures. Photo contributed by Matthew Fogg

“We wanted to give families an opportunity to see what the space looked like to help ease the transition,” McKay said.

Dike Newell parent Stephanie Fogg said the building looked like a “new school,” and she was very happy with the work that had been done.

“I think the staff did a wonderful job putting the classrooms together,” Fogg said. “I was so impressed with the way RSU 1 and the teachers pulled together for the students throughout all of this.”


Fogg’s husband Matthew Fogg said their daughter Palix was “pumped” for her first day back to school. And said their son Brixton will join her Thursday when he attends pre-K.

Manuel said staff worked through the holiday weekend to complete the new playground and make final touches to classrooms before students arrived.

Palix Fogg (6) starting first grade at alternate Dike Newell School location. Photo contributed by Matthew Fogg 

“The teachers and support staff did a fantastic job preparing their rooms for students,” he said.

McKay said school staff will continue to “iron out little details to ensure smooth sailing.”

First and second graders began classes on Tuesday. Kindergarten will start this Thursday and pre-K will resume next Monday.

Comments are not available on this story.