Blue Hill Consolidated School 8th graders and their handmade, period-dressed marionettes were one of many highlights of the evening last Wednesday during the town’s Maine Community Heritage Project final celebration. Drawing on the energy of the bustling crowd of 75 in the school’s cafeteria/auditorium, the students dramatically and charmingly brought the lives of sea Captain Melatiah Chase and his family members to life against the backdrop of a schooner, rollicking waves, and a purple-hued Blue Hill landscape. It was a great testament to the endlessly creative and diverse ways the MCHP can come to life in a community.
With its large number of partnering organizations, the Blue Hill project in general has been an excellent example of creativity and diversity this year. Their website is the product of a wide variety of people, skills, and interests coming together in a dynamic and in-depth way. That was immediately evident as the site was unveiled and presented at the celebration.
The website tour began after convivial mingling and a fabulous pizza-and-salads dinner courtesy of the local restaurant/hotel Barncastle, a welcome by Blue Hill Historical Society president and MCHP team leader Tom Bjorkman, and remarks by Maine Historical Society representatives.
First up was George Stevens Academy teacher Bill Case and his three GSA students, who did their own independent study projects for the site. Josh Sawyer, Laura Peterson, and Vika Grindle researched and wrote about rusticators, music, and education in Blue Hill, respectively. Their presentations were articulate and gracious; each thanked a number of adult team members who mentored them through the process.
Next up was Brook Minner, representing The Bay School teacher Scott Springer and his students, who weren’t in attendance due to a class trip. Brook, the assistant director of the Blue Hill Public Library, worked closely with Scott’s class and spoke about the fun the students had learning about the history of the Blue Hill Fair, their contribution to the website. She also stressed how pleased the library was to participate in the MCHP overall.
Brook was followed by Della Martin and her Consolidated School 8th graders. Prior to presenting their bring-the-house-down puppet show, they delivered a multi-part speech about their year-long experience studying shipbuilding and seafaring–the processes they went through, the field trips they went on, and the fun facts they learned along the way.
Following the puppet show, team member and Jonathan Fisher House representative Caroline Werth spoke eloquently about how much she’d learned–about Fisher, technology, and collaborative work–by participating in MCHP.
She toured the audience around the Fisher exhibit, created by community member Andrea Hendrix and Caroline herself. With its sidebar full of albums organizing Fisher’s multi-faceted life into subject areas, the Fisher exhibit is a particularly excellent example of how the website tools can work in conjunction with one another.
Finally, Tom took the microphone again to review parts of the site contributed by other team members not in attendance, thank his teammates, and invite everyone to spend some time looking at the many poster-size historic images set up around the room. His final point was a reminder that while the project year has drawn to a close, the products–the website and the collaborations–will live on and be added to for years to come.