Kyrie, a 6-year-old student at North Elementary School in Skowhegan, reaches for soap bubbles that floated from a bubble machine Monday during the 20th annual Bubble Day celebration welcoming the start of spring. More than 150 students, staff, parents and others took part in the event. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

We Mainers celebrate the arrival of spring in myriad ways, such as by planting flowers or taking a sunny walk.

Children at North Elementary School in Skowhegan blow bubbles. Lots of them.

They make it a real occasion by inviting parents, friends, retired teachers, firefighters, police officers.

Bubble Day, held on the first day of spring at the school for the last 20 years, has become a joyful occasion, as I got to witness on Monday.

I was happy to have been invited, especially because North Elementary is where I attended kindergarten through fourth grade some 60 years ago.

And I may not have occasion to visit it again before it is demolished and becomes part of a new elementary school, scheduled to open in 2025 off Heselton Street.


The years have gone by quickly. The school now serves 85 kindergartners and about 50 pre-k students. When I entered kindergarten at North El in 1961, the school was only seven years old and the wood floors, doors and woodwork gleamed. Everything was new.

During a tour Monday, I visited my old classrooms, stood in the gymnasium with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the playground and marveled at the tiny chairs and desks that looked so big when I was young.

It will be a sad day when the school is razed, said Mary Merrill, who attended North El herself and has worked there as a teacher’s aide in the Title I reading program for about 35 years. She calls it the “best job ever.”

“I could cry right now,” said Merrill, 66, a Skowhegan Area High School graduate.

Assistant Principal Deidre Mitchell also attended North El and is a SAHS grad. She said it takes her breath away to open books that belonged to her own teachers many years ago.

“These people have really dedicated their hearts for the youngest learners in Skowhegan,” she said.


Four-year-old Autumn, center, and another 4-year-old, Tanner, left, both students at North Elementary School in Skowhegan, blow bubbles Monday during the 20th annual Bubble Day celebration at the school welcoming the start of spring. More than 150 students, staff, parents and others took part in the event. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

As Merrill and I strolled down the hallway, we ran into retired teacher Lorri Cahill, who taught at North El more than 30 years and comes back every year to celebrate Bubble Day, which she created for the children.

“It was a long winter and the kids had worked really hard and I just randomly bought bubbles one day, knowing spring was coming,” Cahill recalled. “We all went under the overhang of the main building because it was snowing and we just quietly and happily blew bubbles.”

Over the years, more classes and then the entire school and community got involved, blowing bubbles outside in all sorts of weather, including snow, sleet, rain and, at least once, on a sunny 70-degree day.

We headed to the playground where between 150 and 200 children and adults, including the police officers and firefighters, were blowing bubbles of all shapes and sizes. A cool wind carried them all over the playground, where employees of Redington-Fairview General Hospital were handing out coloring books, crayons and stickers.

“Happy Bubble Day! Happy Spring!” people were calling to each other.

“I love Bubble Day because Bubble Days are the best,” said kindergartner Blake Richardson, 6.


Teacher Carissa Booker said the kids had been excited all day about the event, which gives everyone in the school a chance to get together. That isn’t usually possible, even at lunchtime or recess, she said.

Officer David Daigneault, a 22-year Skowhegan police veteran and the school resource officer, was greeting children and blowing bubbles from liquid in a green bottle.

“I think it’s great to kick off the spring,” he said. “I think it’s awesome, and the kids get to see us in a different light. Community policing is definitely needed right now.”

Marilyn Gilman, a retired, 53-year teacher’s aide who also has attended all 20 Bubble Days, reminisced about her days at North El and envisioned its demolition.

“It will be sad because of all the history and memories of working in the district and the people that I worked with,” she said.

Like Gilman, I hold many memories of North El, though I vow not to be sad when the wrecking ball arrives. Instead, I’ll be grateful for having spent five happy years there.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She is the author of the book “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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