Community holding open house at Hilltop Elementary

7 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — After 67 years of educating young Caribou residents, Hilltop Elementary will be closing and transitioning into a senior living center. Before that happens, community members are organizing an open house and ice cream social at the school to honor its impact on the community. The event is scheduled to take place on June 11 at the school from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m..

Lori Knight, a teacher at Caribou Middle School and member of a newly formed Hilltop Committee dedicated to celebrating the facility’s community impact said her experience at the school as a child inspired her to get involved.

“I attended Hilltop from kindergarten to fourth grade a long time ago,” Knight said. “I just loved it. I made a lot of friends in kindergarten who are still my friends today, and I now teach their children in class. It’s fun to see their children growing up and, we see still each other all the time.”

Knight said she remembers all of her teachers, noting that her first grade teacher Gayle Smart, still teaches at the school today.

“She looks the same now as she did back then,” Knight said. “I loved her then and still love her now.”

The open house tour will take place on the Sunday before the last week of school, and Knight says, in addition to the ice cream social, old pictures, information, memorabilia, and a slide show will be available to those who attend.

Knight says she doesn’t have a strong opinion about the facility’s closure and transition into a senior living center, adding that “it’s nice that the building is going to be utilized.”

“I don’t feel strongly either way,” Knight said. “I think the building has done a great job educating a large number of kids, and it still looks great for its age. But now we’re moving onto something bigger and better with the new school.”

While the Hilltop building is being transitioned into another facility, Teague Park, Caribou Middle School, and the Caribou Learning Center, will be demolished to make way for a $50,000,000 PreK–8 facility, paid for by the state Department of Education. The new school will be located on Bennett Drive, where Teague Park currently stands, and is projected to be finished in 2020.

When Hilltop opened on August 29, 1960, construction of the building was awarded to the Rathbun Company for $456,300 at a cost of less than $12.50 per square foot.

Knight says those wishing to share their memories or experiences at Hilltop Elementary can send stories and photos to, and that the stories could be shared at a booth during the June 11 event.