October 7, 2009

RIP Traip Academy?

According to this article in the Portsmouth Herald, serious discussion is happening about the closing of my beloved high school, plucky little Traip Academy.

This is particularly troublesome to me, given that I just went to my 20th reunion this summer. Traip also underwent a major renovation in the 90's in which the original "Main" building was torn down and a new structure built to connect the two other buildings, and it seems a waste to close a building that recently had so much money poured into it.

The kids would be sent to Marshwood High School in the neighboring town of Eliot, which has the capacity to accommodate Traip's entire student body (currently numbering a fairly paltry 280).

Kittery is falling victim to the State of Maine's plan to consolidate the various school districts, as well as the downsizing of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard whose 'navy brats' comprised a sizeable chunk of the students. Kittery's school system is overbudgeted and underpopulated, and it's a legitimate argument that the consolidation plan makes sound financial sense.

Except that many Traip teachers would likely lose their jobs, likely including some that were teaching back when I was there. That's a more pressing concern to me than any sentimental attachment I have to my old alma mater.

But still, those sentiments still matter to me. Traip's drama club shaped my artistic aesthetic, which is why prefer serious drama over musicals. Traip was where working backstage on a one-act cutting of Agnes of God as a freshman forged the direction of my life. Traip was where we learned to make do with meager resources, ancient equipment, occasionally indifferent teachers, and cramped facilities, because it taught us how to deal with adversity and how to transcend it.

Before the renovation, we had to eat lunch in the gym because we didn't have a cafeteria. We had the smallest gym in the state, we didn't have an auditorium (just a stage in the gym), we frequently had to walk outside between buildings in the dead of winter, our athletic fields were halfway across town, etc. The memories of teachers who died too young linger with me: Ms March, Ms Ryder, Mr Whitten, etc. still wander the halls in my mind.

Still, sentiment for times long past aren't enough to justify keeping the place open. Alas for Traip Academy, which soon might join the other shuttered Kittery schools that I went to: Wentworth-Dennett (grades 2 & 3) and Frisbee (grades 4-8).

I hope that if they do close it, they at least keep the building in use. Traip could be the long-delayed new community center, an adult-ed center, a performing arts center, or, hell, all three.

1 comment:

Evansmom said...

I am a fellow blogger and the PROUD parent of a current Traip Academy student.

A group of concerned citizens is starting a campaign to keep Traip open. The reports of its demise is seriously overstated. There is a great deal of support.

ou obviously have a great deal of attachment to what remains a great school. Please consider going onto www.kitteryschools.org and emailing the members of the school committee your comments regarding your experience at Traip. It will make a difference.