HA dedication 01 – bronco.tif

Weekly photo by David M. Fitzpatrick

The new bronze sculpture of a galloping bronco. Sculptor Forest Hart involved SAD 22 students in the sculpting process and paid for the endeavor with the sale of desktop replicas, making this bronco a true community project. This bronco echoes the original sculpture of a rearing bronco that has sat in front of the old Academy since 1992

HA dedication 02 – Greenier.tif

Weekly photo by David M. Fitzpatrick

David Greenier, longtime assistant principal at Hampden Academy, is set to retire this November. Greenier was surprised to learn that the new dining commons was named in his honor.

HA dedication 03 – Genest.tif

Weekly photo by David M. Fitzpatrick

Emil P. Genest, SAD 22 assistant superintendent, reacts to learning the school’s road was named in his honor. The SAD 22 board of directors wished to honor his 19 years of work to make the new school project a reality.

HA dedication 04 – bronco side.tif – alternate bronco pic – use cutline above

Weekly photo by David M. Fitzpatrick

Hampden Academy dedication exciting and emotional

By David M. Fitzpatrick

Of The Weekly Staff

After nearly 20 years of hard work, the new $49.2 million Hampden Academy was dedicated on Aug. 27 with the unveiling of a new bronze bronco statue, a ribbon-cutting, and a pair of very emotional moments.

The original rearing bronco, crafted by local sculptor Forest Hart, was installed in front of the old Hampden Academy in 1992. Hart told the crowd at the Aug. 27 dedication that, two years ago, Assistant Principal David Greenier asked him about a new sculpture for the new school.

“But he said, ‘We don’t have any funds… can you do something?’” Hart said.

The project was funded through the sale of desktop replicas of the bronco, and creating the sculpture involved SAD 22 students. They were involved in making the enlargement, sculpting in clay, and making the molds.

The bronco’s unveiling drew uproarious cheering and an extremely long round of applause. Unlike its rearing predecessor, this bronco, modeled after a wild mustang, is in full gallop, with only one hoof touching the Corinthian-granite platform.

After the unveiling was a special presentation to honor Greenier, the school’s longtime assistant principal, who came to work at Hamdpen Academy in 1967, four years before SAD 22 was established. Greenier, who will retire after 45 years this November, was visibly surprised when Kelley Bickmore, SAD 22 board chair, spoke about him.

“This morning, he and I were discussing his long tenure,” she said. “He said… ‘I would like to think I’ve helped at least one child.’ There is no doubt that he has helped that one child many times over.”

As the SAD 22 board sought a way to honor Greenier, one board member, an HA alumnus, recalled strong memories of Greenier presiding with folded arms and watchful eye over the cafeteria. As such, the board decided to name the new cafeteria the David J. Greenier Dining Commons.

The crowd again showed its roaring appreciation. Greenier, who says he’s no public speaker and one who tends to avoid the spotlight, was visibly stunned.

“I am blown away by this,” he told the crowd.

Greenier spoke of his love for Hampden Academy and his admiration for the students.

“A lot of the workmen in this building certainly were students at Hampden Academy — and were my kids,” he said. “And they’ll always be my kids.

“I will continue to try to watch this building, to say the least — watch the students that are attending here,” he said. “You have a great, great opportunity. I wish the alumni well, and I also wish our future students here in this building well.”

Just before the ribbon-cutting, Martha Harris, chair of the building committee, had a surprise dedication for Assistant Superintendent Emil Genest, who came to SAD 22 in 1993.

“He has grown immensely in his job and is easily the finest education business leader in the state,” Harris said. “He is modest, self-effacing; willing to be the anchor, the foundation, the framework, rather than the flash.”

Genest had worked tirelessly to make the new school a reality, along with many other financial accomplishments for SAD 22: creating a revolving renovation fund, balancing the district budget, and achieving a fund balance of $2 million, to name a few.

“Anyone who knows him knows how perseverance works — or should we say doggedness?” Harris said. “He works collaboratively but knows when to insist rather than cajole, when to call for assistance instead of doing it alone.”

When Genest came to the podium, he opened a ribbon-wrapped box Harris presented to him.

“Oh, my God,” he said.

He held up a street sign that read EMIL P. GENEST WAY.

“When you leave here, you will see the signpost,” Harris told the crowd. “This is Genest Way coming into this school.”

After the crowd once again erupted into applause, Genest collected himself and took the microphone while admitting that he was, for the first time, at a loss for words.

“I grew up in a French-Canadian family in Lewiston, Maine, and their biggest value was education — and I’ll always remember it,” he said. “An education is lifelong, it’s forever, and I truly believe that from the deepness of my heart.

“This building is yours, and make sure it always will be yours,” he told current and future students. “That’s why we built it the way we did.”

The new school boasts a 900-seat performing-arts center, second in size only to the Collins Center at UMaine; the largest closed-loop geothermal system in Maine, according to Genest; solar energy; a $1.2-million, 1,200-seat gymnasium; and a fitness center. Every student is issued an iPad, and each classroom has jacks to hook up those iPads, and more, to project onto whiteboards.

The school replaces an aging structure expanded over many decades, including a structure dating to 1843. Hampden Academy was first established in 1803.