The more than 150 attendees of Guilford’s MCHP final celebration last Thursday night at Piscataquis Community Middle School (PCMS) were treated to a feast for the senses. A traditional New England dinner of beans-and-franks, music by the awesome Doughty Hill band, a show-and-tell of the newly-launched MCHP website, and lots of handshakes and hand-clapping all around made for a well-rounded experience.
Town manager Tom Goulette MC’d the evening, highlighting Guilford’s unique emphasis on economic development as the driving force behind its MCHP participation. After an overview of the website, assisted by team leader (and site builder extraordinaire) Cindy Woodworth, Tom turned it over to a few of the 50+ PCMS students who participated in the program under the tutelage of 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Rex Webb.
First up was student leader Elaine Riitano, who gave a lively rundown of the student process–starting with scanning and cataloging and progressing onto field trips to the historical society, digital photography, research, and writing. She pointed out a screen at the back of the room with a slideshow of students at work during the year put together by Spencer Martell, another lead student on the project.
Tom then introduced three additional students–Sammy Jo Brawn, Mike Fagan, and Morgan Gray–who performed a short and charming skit they had written about several artifacts from the historical society.
Closing out the evening was the rousing performance by Doughty Hill. The band writes songs about the region they know and love; it has spent time with local historical societies learning local lore and turning it into original folk- and blues-inspired songs. One memorable number recounted how the two halves of nearby Dover-Foxcroft came together as one town only after women got the vote in 1919. Another, “Moose Blues,” described the not uncommon experience of finding Maine’s largest creature tromping through one’s garden.
On the way out of the PCMS cafetorium, audience members could spend a few minutes perusing the new Guilford website up close, thanks to an array of student laptops, with students themselves there to act as guides.
And if anyone had neglected to pick up a commemorative magnet and and a blue “I Love Guilford History” bracelet with the new Guilford website URL imprinted on them, they were once again reminded as they filed out.
All in all, it was a well-organized and fun-filled event by a team that epitomized both those traits. The most interconnected of all the teams — quite literally, all but two of the team members are in some way related to one another — the Guilford crew somehow made every gathering throughout the year feel like this last one. An opportunity to hang out with old friends, sharing stories, snacks, laughter… and an overflowing, unabashed, historic sense of community spirit.