The title of Lincoln’s narrative history on its brand new MCHP website is “That Pioneer Spirit.” It’s a fitting testimony–not only to the town’s proud and persevering history, but to the Lincoln team’s penchant for breaking new ground.
Last fall, Lincoln was the first of the eight MCHP teams to hold its community conversation event to announce the project. Some of the methods employed at the event–feedback-generating posters, for example–were quickly adopted by other teams that followed Lincoln’s lead. The event also drew the largest crowd of the eight events with roughly 100 people in attendance.
Last night, Lincoln remained true to form by hosting the first of eight final celebrations and website unveilings. And they set the bar even higher for attendance–approximately 200 people made the cavernous Mattanawcook Junior High School gym seem downright cozy. (That’s about 4 percent of the town’s entire population, by the way.)
A variety of speakers opened the evening. These included MJHS Assistant Principal Anita McCafferty; teacher and MCHP team leader Heidi Harris; Lincoln Historical past and current presidents, Jeannette King and Bonnie Gray, respectively; and five students representing the nearly 180 who participated in some way in the project (a ground-breaking feat in and of itself). The speakers were followed by an unveiling of the website, and an opportunity for audience members to view portions of it from several tables of laptops. A celebratory cake and teeming bowls of fruit salad (well-received on this hot and humid evening) topped off the festivities.
There were several extra-special moments in a night full of highlights:
- Jeannette King–who just stepped down after 15 years as Historical Society president–gave a moving speech that included a tribute to her husband, George King, and her appreciation of the young people in the audience who will be the keepers of Lincoln’s history in the years to come.
While she drew a sigh of relief at having completed MCHP, Jeannette reveled in the opportunities she had to work with students and how many of them have come to think of differently about their town and its treasures.
- Bonnie Gray made elegant remarks about how, while she’s always appreciated history, she now has a new-found love for Lincoln’s unique place in it because of this program.
- The five students who spoke about the process and the products they created were eloquent, heartfelt, and, full of charm. A recurring theme was their surprise and delight at things they never knew existed in Lincoln, such as a ferry that relied on passenger power (via a pulley system) to move across the water.
- The expressions of delight and awe when Heidi demonstrated Maine Memory Network’s “zoom” feature on a couple of choice images.
- A Senatorial Sentiment presented to the students by State Senator Elizabeth M. Schneider for their hard work digitizing 150 historic items and presenting them in context on the website. The Sentiment reads, in part, “May they be honored and remembered for this valuable community contribution and for making the project a success.”
All in all, a banner evening for a hard-working, lead-the-way team. May they continue to break new ground–digitally, historically, communally–for years to come.