The Outreach Committee has in the past couple of years supported a community college student who, due to circumstances, has taken time off from her program. The Outreach Committee began to look for other opportunities to support Wabanaki education and identified the Indian Island School in Old Town, Maine. Rather than selecting a particular student, Outreach purchased two gift certificates to school supply companies so teachers could buy supplies for the classrooms.
It was decided that to build a stronger relationship the certificates would be presented in person; a road trip was in order! Outreach member Kate Burke was up for the trip, and at the end of June we road tripped to the Indian Island School, a three-hour drive.
What a beautiful school! As you approach, the playing fields come into view, and then the beautiful single-story school building. Because it was summer vacation, there were no students or teachers present, but Sharon, the administrative assistant, greeted us and gave Kate and me a tour of the building. The décor of the building reflects the Wabanaki culture, as depicted in the beautiful mosaic in the entry above. There was also a handmade canoe hanging in the entrance lobby. It was in this lobby area that I presented the gift certificates.
The Indian Island School serves students from PreK through Eighth Grade with an enrollment of about ninety Wabanaki students. Just think, a one to ten ratio for teacher to student. The classroom picture is typical of all the classrooms, with the exception being smaller to larger furniture depending on age and grade. In addition, there is a school cafeteria, library, music room, art room, large gym, (which Sharon’s grandfather helped make a reality,) and the Cultural Classroom, where students learn Wabanaki history and language. The photo with the native language is posted at the door with shelves filled with books.
It was a wonderful field trip which was followed up by a Zoom meeting with Dr. Namin, the superintendent of the Indian Schools. We asked what else we might be able to do and Dr. Namin said they have a school supply drive for Indian Island School, Sipayik Elementary, and Indian Township in August.
I brought this to the Outreach Ministry, and they approved $750 for school supplies. I went shopping and bought pencils, pens, erasers, paper, crayons, glue sticks, folders, construction paper, pencil boxes, water bottles, and nineteen backpacks! I spent all but a few cents. It was time for another road trip, so Kate and I took all the items to the distribution center on August 11th. Any family needing supplies can come; no one is turned away.
Kate and I hope to make a trip when school is in session sometime this fall.
~ Deacon Kris