A new beginning starts at Spruce Mountain Middle School
JAY - With a "have a wonderful phoenix day!" the sixth- through eighth-grade students began the school year this morning with a new school name, mascot, classmates and for many, at a different building in a different town.
The Jay, Livermore and Livemrore Falls school systems consolidated into one Regional School Unit 73 officially on July 1, and today is the first day of school for all of its kindergarten through grade 12 students.
The middle school is now Spruce Mountain Middle School, with all sixth- through eighth-grade students in RSU 73 attending. Spruce Mountain High School opened on two campuses, one at the former Jay High School and the other at the former Livermore Falls High School to accommodate all nine through grade 12 students. The schools' mascot, a phoenix, chosen by students last year, along with with the school name and green-and-black colors. Gone are the orange-and-black Jay Tigers and the green-and-yellow RSU 36 Andies.
"Do you know where you're going?" was repeated by Principal Scott Albert and a few faculty members, all wearing green T-shirts sporting a big phoenix and standing in the school's lobby to direct arriving students. Many of the students didn't know where to go next and were pointed in the right direction or escorted to their homerooms by Albert.
Buses were arriving a little late, not really a surprise on any first day of a school year, but especially expected here.
"With all the construction going on it will be interesting to see when everybody gets in," Albert said watching the school's front doors for signs of another bus. With the added miles of picking up students from the further reaches of Livermore and Livermore Falls, and the Route 4 road building going on, along with some of the students' families changing residences over the summer, bus schedules will probably need to be tweaked, Albert predicted.
The between 350 and 360 students who started at the middle school today will be getting a free green T-shirt with the phoenix mascot, thanks to a donation from Franklin Savings Bank. The seventh and eighth-grade students will be meeting in the gym today for the first time to get their laptops and instruction today. Tomorrow, all the sixth-graders will get their computers.
To learn their way around the school building, a phoenix-inspired relay of sorts will have students instructed to find a certain place in the building and then perform a math problem or sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," for example, before getting a clue for going on to the next place.
Friday is a teacher workshop day, rescheduled because of Tropical Storm Irene. Students will have a Friday though Monday break. Albert noted a lot of work has been done over the summer by teachers to bring the schools' curricular requirements into compatibility with each other.