RSU 39 school board honors championship athletes, sets remote learning days

1 year ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou High School’s athletes gave the RSU 39 school board many reasons to celebrate during their most recent meeting.

On Wednesday, March 1, school officials recognized students who had placed first in the state championships for girl’s wrestling and alpine skiing.

Sophomore Grace Jean and junior Jocelyn Parlin recently placed first in their divisions during the Maine State Girls Wrestling Championship in Wells. They are the second and third female athletes at Caribou High School to win the state’s girls-only competition, which launched in 2019.

Prior to that, female wrestlers could only compete as members of the traditional male-dominated team, said Athletic Director Evan Graves. Now they can compete in classes of girls with a similar weight and body stature, which makes competition more fair and equal, Graves noted.

Board Chair Tanya Sleeper praised Jean and Parlin for setting a good example for girls wishing to compete in previously male-oriented sports.

“We want to congratulate you for your hard work and determination and for blazing a trail for women in the wrestling arena,” Sleeper said.

Senior Kayley Bell took home the Class B Classical State Championship during the alpine ski championships in Fort Kent. She also won Class B and was the overall winner for the freestyle competition.

“This is the second year in a row [that she has won], so it’s a pretty impressive resume for her Nordic career,” Graves said.

The school board also congratulated the Caribou boys state alpine ski champions. Prior to that competition, nearly 50 years had gone by since Caribou High School won an alpine championship.

Coach Travis Prashaw said that from the moment community members heard about the boys’ win, they’ve been nothing but supportive. That week, the team got a fire and police department escort to Caribou High School.

The win is especially poignant, said RSU 39 Superintendent Tim Doak, when considering the larger amount of practice hills that southern Maine teams practice on. In Aroostook, Big Rock Ski Area in Mars Hill and Lonesome Pines Trails in Fort Kent require a nearly hourlong trip both ways.

“You have to be proud of yourselves because the caliber of skiing you need to beat a southern Maine team, who skis the big mountains, is tremendous,” Doak said.

In other business, the school board voted unanimously to amend the 2022-23 school year calendar to include remote learning days in the place of traditional snow days.

RSU 39 had built three snow days into the current school calendar and has already needed five snow days.

Doak suggested declaring March 23 and 24 early release days for students. The move allows teachers and staff an extra workshop day that they previously missed due to a canceled school day.

The board approved that change, and voted to have June 15 be the last day of school and June 16 a professional development day for staff.

In a separate vote, the board approved using remote learning days during the 2023-24 school year after the three calendar snow days are used.

Observing more snow days without remote learning could move the school year into the warmer days of June, Doak said.

“We understand that some people don’t believe in remote learning, but now we’re up against graduation and the last days of school,” Doak said. 

Whenever a remote learning day is announced, K-6 students will receive homework packets from their teachers to complete. Grades 6-12 will complete work online. The school day will end at 1 p.m.

The RSU 39 school board’s next will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15,in the Caribou Community School cafeteria. A budget workshop will follow at 6:30.