letter to the editor

Wiscasset: This choice is yours

Mon, 06/10/2024 - 4:30pm

Dear Editor:

To the citizens of Wiscasset:

I attended the Wiscasset Middle High School Class of 2024 Graduation ceremony. It was a celebration of the accomplishments of a wonderful group of young adults. I taught at WHS/WMHS for 34 years. I retired three years ago, and these graduates were my last group of ninth graders.

The future of any community is its young people, and these students give me hope for Wiscasset. The ceremony also alarmed me. The graduating class numbered twenty-three. While that low number allows each student to be known and connected, it also limits their learning options and opportunities. WHS once had graduating classes of one-hundred or more. We offered courses in a wide variety of subjects, for students of all ability levels. There were clubs, theater groups, marching bands, choruses, and a rich variety of sports in each season for both varsity and JV athletes. While much of this is still available, programming is severely limited.

I understand that Maine’s demographics have changed and there are fewer young people. I also understand that there are young families who are opting out of your schools because of an underlying and prevailing threat to close the high school. I happened to speak recently with two former students who have three kids in the system, and they are wondering what their future is in their hometown. Do they move to another town that will give their kids more opportunities, or do they stay and push for more opportunities for their children in the town that gave them so many wonderful options? This is a tough choice.

This choice is yours. You can decide that it was once good enough for you, but it is now too costly for you to support your grandchildren, or you can empower the school leadership to work to grow and expand and engage the community to rebuild the programming that you had not too many years ago. Wiscasset schools were once a model for other towns, and they can be so once again.

Thank you, with hope and best wishes.

Ralph Keyes