Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris, Maine, Closes and Deemed Unsafe
This announcement hits me right in the feels.
On Monday evening, the SAD 17 School Board voted to close Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris, having been declared unsafe due to a long list of issues. This is the school that I spent fourth through sixth grade at, and it was one of the best times of my childhood.
SAD 17 Superintendent Heather Manchester sent an email to the parents of Agnes Gray on Tuesday morning, informing them of the decision. It stated that,
The experts have advised us to close the building for further evaluation while the Board assesses potential repairs. While Incredibly inconvenient, this decision is to proactively ensure student and staff wellbeing.
The school was built in 1897 as West Paris High School and became Agnes Gray Elementary in 1967 when Oxford Hills High School was built. The 127-year-old building has a long list of repairs needed that were in the West Paris Community Group on Facebook, which include fire safety, a failing roof system, accessibility, and water damage to the gym floor. That's only a few of the issues to get it up to code.
Now the question remains. Will the repairs be made or will the school remain closed permanently?
I hope they keep the building. So many people who grew up in the Oxford Hills have gone to this school and have a lot of great memories, like me. That's me with my sixth-grade class, second from the left in the front row with the Steelers t-shirt on. I don't even like the Steelers. We're all squinting because the sun was super bright that morning.
Our teacher was the beloved Mr. Koch, who began teaching at Agnes Gray in 1973 and added the role of Principal from 1997 to 2007. He passed away in 2015, and this "Buddy Bench" remains on the school grounds in his honor.
The school is pretty much unchanged since I went there over 35 years ago. They even kept the same playground equipment that was there when I was a kid.
The fact that it hasn't changed may be the problem. I hope that they can bring Agnes Gray back to code and continue to make more memories for Oxford Hills students.
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