NORRIDGEWOCK — It is a bright fall day and Kim Richards, an education technician at Mill Stream Elementary School, is running an old-fashioned cider press outside the school.

The entrance is lined with scarecrows, and inside, students are playing games in the gym and munching on orange frosted cupcakes, while parents peruse rows of tables set up for an indoor flea market.

“People are smiling, people are eating and people are out with their families,” said Dana Beane, a sixth-grade teacher who has worked in the school district for 25 years. “It’s not that much different than the past.”

On Saturday morning, students, parents, teachers and members of the community celebrated Applefest, a tradition that originated at the old Norridgewock Elementary School but was lost when three local elementary schools consolidated four years ago.

This year a group of teachers called the Core Committee brought Applefest back.

One of the teachers who helped organize the festival was Sharon Kimball, a special education teacher who started working at the school just last year.

“I think a group of teachers were talking about it on the playground and it just sounded like so much fun,” she said. “I thought we have to bring this back.”

The teachers organized the festival, which included carnival games, face painting, an indoor flea market, food and a bake sale and was open to the public, as well as members of the school community.

In the two days leading up to the festival, they presold almost 2,000 tickets for the carnival games, charging $1 for five tickets. Kimball estimated that close to 400 people came out Saturday morning.
“It’s great that we were able to do this without using the district’s money,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of community and teacher support. One teacher brought a tractor and transported 6 bushels of apples.”

Patty Moody, 45, is also a special education teacher at the school and a former teacher at the old Norridgewock Central Elementary School. She said that not much has changed from the old Applefest she remembers, except that there was a lot more teacher involvement this year.

On Saturday, she was working at a bake sale in the school cafeteria, selling whoopie pies, brownies and peanut butter cookies.

“This was always a big community event,” she said. “It just seemed like the right time to bring it back.”
The school opened in a new building in 2008 after the district decided to consolidate schools in the sister towns of Norridgewock, Smithfield and Mercer.

Principal Bill Pullen said he was pleased that almost every member of faculty and staff —there are nearly 40 — was in attendance on Saturday.

“This is totally teacher-driven,” said Pullen, as he spun and bagged cotton candy Saturday morning. “They asked if they could do it, and of course, they can do anything for the kids.”

Rachel Ohm —  612-2368
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