SOUTH PORTLAND — Eight Memorial Middle School students received medical treatment Friday after they were stung by insects nesting in the ground while walking on a nature trail near the school.

The insects swarmed when the sixth-graders passed the nest, stinging some of the students multiple times, Principal Megan Welter said in an email to the school community.

Paramedics were called to the school to provide treatment. Two students were transported by ambulance to Maine Medical Center, and a third student was taken by a parent to a quick-care clinic, Welter said.

“Administrators and nursing staff at the building determined that we needed paramedics on site to assist with monitoring students’ reactions and to help determine whether additional medical treatment was required,” Welter said. “When necessary and out of an abundance of caution, students were transported to the hospital for additional treatment and observation.”

All of the students were fine by Friday afternoon, Welter said, and many were expected to attend a dance at the school Friday night.

School staff members worked together to support other students who were feeling anxious, providing snacks and comforting conversations, Welter wrote.


“In cases where students were stung or very anxious, parents and guardians were contacted and made aware of the incident,” Welter said. “The emergency personnel stayed on site until every student was treated or released to parents.”

Superintendent Ken Kunin and the director of buildings and grounds will work with pest management professionals to inspect all school properties to ensure that other potentially dangerous nests are discovered and dealt with, Welter said.

“Though the Carter Crossing Trail, where this occurred, is not on the school grounds, we have already worked with grounds staff to address the ground nest and to check the area for other nests,” Welter said. “Students and staff will not be accessing the trail until the area is inspected and we are confident that it is safe.”

South Portland passed an ordinance in September 2016 that relies on education and outreach to encourage property owners not to use certain lawn-and-garden pesticides and herbicides. The ordinance also applies to city-owned land.

Welter said school staff will meet with students individually and in small groups on Monday to make sure they’re OK and to give them a chance to talk about the experience.

“We recognize that this was very scary for the students who were stung, for the students who saw it and for the students who heard about it,” Welter said.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: