BELFAST — Students displaced by emergency construction at Capt. Albert Stevens School were allowed back to their classrooms Sept. 20, after two weeks spent at their temporary “Community Adventure School” at United Farmers Market of Maine on Miller and Spring streets.

The school sustained extensive water damage after a tarp blew off a roofing project and restrooms, hallways, the library, guidance and resource rooms were flooded. Eleven classrooms in all, including all of third, fourth and fifth grades, and some second grade classes, were displaced while construction was going on at the school.

Students play songs such as “Buffalo Gal” and “Jambalaya on the Bayou” on ukeleles at the Quimby Labyrinth Sept. 17. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

CASS Principal Glen Widmer said Monday, Sept. 20, “Yes, we are moving back to school!”  and added that the experience has been a whirlwind. 

Students were to be back at CASS full-time starting Tuesday, he said, while some construction still remains to be finished. “The school is still not completely back together,” he noted. “We still have a ways to go until that is the case.”

Many community partners have stepped up to help in this unusual situation.

A thankful Widmer said some of the community superstars include Chrissy Fowler and Belfast Flying Shoes, who put together a “great” program with the help of Ethan Tischler, Dean Anderson, Ando Anderson and many others.

Capt. Albert Stevens School students play songs on ukeleles Sept. 17. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Widmer said local churches all agreed to provide meeting places and Belfast Free Library and its new children’s librarian, Stephanie Holman, helped all students get library cards, opened its space to students, and Holman visited students at the Farmers Market to share her storytelling expertise. 

Waterfall Arts Education Coordinator Bridget Matros worked with CASS art teacher Nancy Brown to provide hybrid art education that Widmer said students will long remember. 

CASS has had a longstanding relationship with Tanglewood, Widmer said, which was strengthened in the past two weeks as the camp hosted field trips. Tanglewood employee Hannah Raymond also visited teachers and students at the farmers market to work with the fifth graders. 

Jenny Judkins and Cloe Chunn of Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition continued to support outdoor learning, as they do at CASS, he said, but this time adapting their instruction to the new location. 

Widmer said Owls Head Transportation Museum provided an outstanding introduction to all the museum has to offer for the fourth grade. Moose Point State Park, 4H educators Sadee Mehuren and Mackensie Schofield,  and the Penobscot Marine Museum all found ways to broaden the third grade’s understanding of Penobscot Bay. 

Megan Pinette, director of the Belfast Historical Society, presented an informative show on Capt. Albert Stevens School and led groups on tours of the museum in the streets. 

“Capt. Jack Ives opened up his schooner Charm to the school community, Norm Poirier and the town of Belfast shared the park with us, businesses supported us, with Rollies and Shannon Sommer Skincare being particularly generous,” Widmer said.

The YMCA supported families during transition times when there were unexpected interruptions to the school schedule. Emilie Noyes came out of retirement to help chaperone events and help where needed, while the second grade visited The Apple Farm in Fairfield for a tour of the orchard, apple tasting and an opportunity for some outdoor exercise. 

Gerry French and the bus garage were “exceptionally accommodating,” trucking students all around Waldo County. Driver Stanley Lanphier stepped up numerous times during the past few months to make sure students were getting what they needed. 

Lastly, Widmer said, Laurie Johnson, Derek Hustus and Lisa Rediker kept the kids fed, and the facilities clean. 

“Paul Naron, his son Jack, and Jamie were accommodating hosts for us at the United Farmers Market,” Widmer added. “Hannaford provided 200 reusable grocery bags for students to store their school stuff’ — i.e., their desks.

“We had a lot of fun,” Widmer said, “and a lot of help.”