Support revival of old Peru school
To the Editor:
Mainers can be a pragmatic, unsentimental bunch, but they are also known for their love of history and tradition. I think the current disagreement over the old Peru Elementary School represents the collision of these two modes of thinking. Many people on both sides of the issue wrestle with these opposites, even within themselves. What bothers those who wish to see it gone is not that they hate the building, but that it’s empty, or appears to be empty. It’s a drain on the budget of the town. What motivates those who wish to continue its life—apart from the knowledge that it hasn’t been as empty as it appears—is a vision of what it can become. More accurately, it’s a vision of what it can resume being: the historical social and spiritual center of Peru—something that adds to, rather than drains, the welfare of the town.
Since the merger of PES with SAD 21 and the consolidation into RSU 10, Peru seems to have lost a certain amount of town spirit, a sense of cohesion and identity, perhaps even a bit of its civic pride. One can no longer stop by and watch the middle school teams compete against other towns. The school can no longer send home flyers from school that address exclusively Peruvian issues or events. There are no eighth grade car shows, school plays, or graduation ceremonies to pull Peruvians together. On top of this loss of communal focus, the current economic climate has brought to bear new budget pressures and opened old fissures in Peru’s electorate.
Friends of Peru Elementary School is a newly formed committee that aims to bring life back to the traditional center of town, not by duplicating the aforementioned activities, but by inventing new ones. FPES has come up with a long list of potential fundraisers and will soon begin investigating grant opportunities, all with the intent of defraying the building’s expenses for the long run.
The town is lucky enough to have been offered a $10,000 grant to support the Peru Community Center. This would provide FPES enough money to cover the expenses of the building for a year, while the committee pursues other fundraising initiatives. All the townspeople have to do is vote to accept the grant and turn over operation of the building to FPES at the special town meeting on August 29th.
On the wall of the Peru fire station hangs a plaque proudly displaying the motto: Peru, Maine, Neighbors Helping Neighbors. Many will remember that the renovation of the PFD in the early 1990’s was accomplished almost completely by volunteers. A photo album depicting the process was displayed recently at the wake of the late Conrad Knox, who spearheaded the transformation.
I don’t pretend to be a Conrad Knox, who seemed to know everyone in Western Maine, and was loved and respected by one and all. He grew up in Peru, loved the town deeply, and devoted much of his retirement laboring to making it a better community. But I have been around long enough to know that even without Connie leading the charge, the townspeople of Peru are still extremely proud of their town and still capable of working together in wonderful ways. I challenge the people of Peru to come together for PES as they did for the PFD.
Please attend the special town meeting on August 29th and support a revival of this marvelous old building. If you are interested in helping further please contact me at 562-7287 or email@example.com.
Friends of Peru Elementary School