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Strong, a Mussul Unsquit village

A Legacy of Woods and Waters

Village Schools

By Kathy Lambert

Village School, cr. 1895

The first Strong Village School (Dist.# 5) was located in the building now used by the Aurora Grange. The back half of the current building was the original structure. The 1894 class motto was “Deeds, Not Words.” That year, the first high school students graduated from Strong High School. The program highlighted the ideals and standards of young graduates of that century.

Village School, cr. 1905

In 1900 it became necessary to construct a larger Village School due to an increase in population. The new building was built on the bank high above the Sandy River, where the Town Garage is presently located. In the winter the building was often so cold that only a small area near the register was barely comfortable. The wind swept down the river and up over the bank, making the building creak and crack in later years. Phillip Stubbs was the superintendent when the building was constructed. There was once an epidemic of scarlet fever which closed the school for some time.

Percy Spaulding remembered three special days in 1905 at the old schoolhouse; the picnic on the last day, Arbor Day, and a Friday afternoon when the primaries and intermediate grades hung Maybaskets.

Strong Public School, cr. 1951

Again in order to provide space for the increasing school population, and to meet the necessary requirements in the curriculum, Strong needed a new building.

Interest in a building project was sparked when the town received a bequest of $30,000 from the estates of the late Mrs. Emma M. Randall and her daughter, the late Mrs. Ella M Thomas, intended for the erection of a memorial gymnasium. Townspeople soon started a campaign to raise money for the new school. The project was stimulated when Carroll H. Brackley, a local business owner, donated a parcel of land on Upper Main Street, which was more than adequate for a school.

Project trustees were appointed November13, 1947. C. H. Brackley became chairman. Other members were Ralph E. Eustis, Charles H. Mallory, Mrs. Agnes Allen and Holman Daggett, who resigned in 1949 and was succeeded by Hervey B. Jennings. The trustees set a four-year goal to complete a new school construction project. Project funding was secured with a $125,000 bond issue, plus gifts of $30,000, in addition to the Randall-Thomas bequest. Under the direction of the trustees and the school board, comprised of Verne Flood, Mrs. Lawrence Eustis and Stanley Allen, construction of the new complex designed by Waterville architect, C. H. Crane, was started June 7, 1950 by Kenneth Bunker of Mercer.

Citizens were very proud of the new school under construction. They organized to raise funds to help furnish it. They held auctions, catered, had food sales, sold lunches at the mills, had booths at the county fair, and sold chances on quilts and other donated items. One group had the slogan, “A seat for every child.” Five teachers spent about two-week’s pay to purchase their own desks to assist in furnishing their rooms. A town project was reportedly never so well organized. Those who could not make monetary donations could make fudge, cream puffs, a pie, or a batch of doughnuts. All the citizens were involved, and the project was a tremendous success.

The town achieved its four-year goal, with the dedication of the new $185,000 school plant, complete with gymnasium and cafeteria, on August 26, 1951. Through the energy and persistence of its school-minded citizens, the new Strong Public School and Randall-Thomas Gymnasium was designed, built and equipped for the delivery of a modern educational program for all the children of the community.

In 1969 Strong joined several other area towns in a high school consolidation project. Students of high schools serving Strong, Avon, Phillips, Eustis, Stratton and Kingfield began attending the new Mt. Abram Regional High School in Salem, and Strong Public School became Strong Elementary School. Another era in education in northern Franklin County began.