ROCKLAND, Maine — Cindi Kalloch Hamlin said when the cargo ship El Faro sank last fall, claiming the life of 33 mariners including two who had graduated from Rockland District High School, she felt the need to do something.
The result is a memorial intended to honor all deceased staffers and students who graduated from the high school, which since has been renamed Oceanside High School.
The monument located on the grounds of the school consists of a round piece of granite that has been engraved with a compass rose, which happens to be the logo associated with the Oceanside Mariners. In addition, there are granite paving stones available to be etched with the names and years of graduation of any deceased who attended or worked at the school.
Eighteen stones already have been set around the monument. People who want to buy a stone to bear the name of a loved one who attended high school in Rockland — as a student or staff member — can contact the group through the Oceanside High School Memorial page on Facebook.
Hamlin said she knew one of the El Faro victims, Dylan Meklin, and his family. Meklin, 23, and Danielle Randolph, 34, both graduates of Rockland District High School, died when the El Faro went down during Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 off the Bahamas. Meklin graduated from RDHS in 2010 and Randolph in 2000. Both later graduated from the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.
At first, Hamlin and her husband David Hamlin planted a weeping cherry tree near the main entrance to the high school. But the couple wanted to do more. They then went to Bob Williams of Brooks Monuments in Warren to see if he had something appropriate for a memorial. The round stone fit the bill to match the compass aspect.
The stone was installed during the winter. ClayBrook Landscaping of Rockland volunteered its services to create a walkway to the memorial.
Classes at the high school raised money for the project. Businesses and individuals also donated money and services, including the Hamlins from South Thomaston, who operate Hamlins Lawncare and Snowplowing.
The cost to have a 5-by-8-inch granite paver engraved is $75 for a name, year of graduation and two lines. A third line can be added for an additional $25. The money just covers the cost of the stone and etching.
Of the 18 names so far, two are former staff members — a coach/teacher and a librarian. The remainder are students who graduated as far back as 1976 and as late as 2012. Meklin and Randolph’s pavers were donated by the Maine Lobster Festival. The ones for librarian Becky Harjula and teacher/coach Bob Morrill also were donated by the festival organization.
Forms to get a paver can be obtained from Sue Snow in the school’s guidance office or from the Hamlins at email@example.com.