Bricks have been laid at the front of the new building’s exterior. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY REBECCA ALLEY

RSU 24 preps for future while honoring the past

SULLIVAN — Views of Cadillac Mountain, screens and technology used by the Boston Red Sox and The Kraft Group, an expansive outdoor learning space — all that and much more are in store for students in Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24).

And with a crew of about 100 employees from Nickerson & O’Day Inc. — a figure that will climb to 145 throughout the homestretch of the construction process — all those amenities and more are taking shape at the new Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus.

That name is the all-encompassing name for the educational site. Sumner Memorial High School will be housed on the building’s first floor, with Sumner Middle School taking up the second floor.

Bricks have been laid on the building’s exterior, cabinetry assembled in a handful of classrooms and basketball hoops installed in one of the two gymnasiums.

A modern ventilation system — a decision that was made before the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of adequate air filtration — has also been implemented.

“It’s clean, purified and then it all comes back into the school,” Sumner Memorial High School Principal JT Green explained of the air exchange.

The details that have gone into building the $44 million project (about $34 million of which is in construction costs) have been carefully decided, including the paint colors that are starting to appear throughout the school’s web of hallways.

Colors to represent Maine’s natural beauty, such as hues of green, have been selected, as well as colors to showcase each of the district’s elementary schools, including purple to represent the Ella Lewis School in Steuben.
It was a choice that acknowledges “all these schools coming together,” Green said.

And while the plan is to have students in the new facility for the district’s first day of school on Aug. 30, fundraising efforts are still underway to pay for the building’s extra amenities that aren’t covered by state funding.

Sumner Memorial High School Principal JT Green (left) stands with RSU 24 Superintendent Michael Eastman amid the construction of the district’s new combined high school and middle school. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTOS BY REBECCA ALLEY

Green estimated that there is still about $600,000 to raise through private donations of an initial $1 million goal to cover the extra expenses. Some of those additional costs are for digital signage, landscaping, exterior field lighting, a 100-meter sprint track, an indoor batting cage, a sprinkler system and bleachers.

Upcoming fundraising opportunities include “Alumni Day” on April 9, which will feature events like a basketball tournament, and “The Last Dance,” an event for Sumner alumni on May 14 that will be held at the current high school’s beloved Clint Ritchie Gymnasium.

Information on both events is available by calling the high school.

Green said that students and staff are getting excited about the big move, and he noted that some — especially younger students coming from the district’s small elementary schools — are expressing some anxiety about transferring to such a large facility. About 420 students will occupy the new school, along with 50 teachers, not including other faculty and staff such as administration, support staff and custodians.

Plans to help introduce students and the community to the new campus are in the works, including a barbecue to be held before the first day of school.

“Our plan is to have additional support,” Green added regarding the first day of school, with extra staff scheduled to help students navigate the building.

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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