Royal Welcome Kicks Off Classy Scarborough Celebration

Former Governor Angus King welcomes the crowd and congratulates the team via Skype from Greenville, Maine.

Maine’s first governor, William King, was born in Scarborough in 1768. So who better to welcome the audience to Scarborough’s MCHP final celebration at Scarborough Middle School last night than the other Governor King — Independent Angus King, who served from 1995-2003. He did so virtually, via the online video-conferencing tool, Skype, from the wilds of Moosehead Lake.

The crowd at Scarborough Middle School listens to teacher Jessica Kelly (standing far left) discuss the technology the students used during the project. Team members Celeste Shinay, Flo Maguire, and Mary Pickard are in the foreground.

Even more fitting: Skype was one of the tools MCHP teacher Jessica Kelly used during the project to connect historical society members and her 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students — all of whom have online access at their fingertips, thanks to the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, or “laptop program.” And that program, which helped make possible the application of Maine Memory Network and MCHP in the classroom, was created under Angus King’s leadership.

Team Leader Scarborough Public Library Manager of Programming and Development Celeste Shinay talks about the hours and effort that went into MCHP tasks like cataloging.

After Governor King’s hearty congratulations to the team members and appreciation for the more than 200 historical state treasures they have uploaded to Maine Memory Network, MCHP team leader Celeste Shinay of Scarborough Public Library launched into some other amazing statistics about the project.

Bruce Thurlow speaks with a program attendee.

For example, a few quick calculations led her to determine that Scarborough Historical Society member Bruce Thurlow, who authored five of the seven exhibits on Scarborough’s website, wrote a total of 27,064 words, the result of 171,000 keystrokes. He used 121 separate sources in his research. Historical Society member Mary Pickard edited some 9,500 words out of Bruce’s drafts to produce the final products, and managed to write a beautiful narrative history of 350 years of Scarborough in just 3,220 words–an average of 8.57 words devoted to each year of the town’s existence. Celeste conservatively estimated that the team’s third Historical Society member and master cataloger, Flo Maguire, put in at least 85 hours to get items digitized and online. And it won’t stop there. Mary told the crowd that the Historical Society is already developing and researching new exhibits to add to the website.

Jessica (far left) and her students at the beginning of the project.

Meanwhile, there were those 19 incredible students of Jessica’s in her Gifted and Talented Education class who not only created the extensive “A Look Inside the Classroom Over Time” exhibit, but learned every component of the MCHP along the way. Celeste had statistics to share about them, too. In addition to several Skype sessions and numerous entries on the Ning classroom social networking site they used to analyze historic images, the students and their teacher put their collective 400 gloved fingers on countless artifacts during 10 hours of place-based learning during field trips.

Demonstrating all they’d learned, the students took the reigns during the final segment of the evening. Several tables in the back of the room had been set with pots of bright red Geraniums holding up signs for each exhibit topic.

Two or three students were stationed at each table, ready to help guide the 70 or so attendees around that exhibit. But to make the experience even more interactive, Celeste and Jessica had created scavenger hunt flyers with questions related to the exhibits: Who were the two famous aviators who once visited the airport? Who was an 1897 clamming permit issued to? What is the title of a painting by Winslow Homer with Scarborough as its subject? Only by surfing the site, and interviewing the students, could the answers be uncovered. It proved an excellent exercise to expose people to the depth of the site.

All that detective work makes one hungry. So as the evening wound down, attendees found themselves heading toward the elegant refreshment table on their way out the door. The pastries were compliments of the Historical Society who, as they did throughout the year, went above and beyond to  make sure all the details were just right. (That’s Mary Pickard’s chocolate bread on the right, by the way, and it was divine.)

No surprise. From the beginning, the entire Scarborough team served as a model of getting it right. Organized, efficient, professional, good-natured, and full of zest for the task at hand, team members worked together as if they had always meant to. A true class act.

About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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