Good Will-Hinckley Opens Its Doors – Alfond Pledges $1-Million 

The first charter school in Maine history opened its doors Monday and for the faculty, staff, and students at Good Will-Hinckley it was a day filled with good news.Folks around the state have waited a long time for this day. Around a dozen state lawmakers, including Maine Speaker of the House Robert Nutting and Congressman Mike Michaud, joined school officials in welcoming 46 students representing 27 school districts to their first day of school at the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at Good Will-Hinckley. “It is wonderful to have the energy, the power back in this room,” the school’s Executive Director told the crowd.The school operates year round on a four day school week. As Maine’s first charter school, it aims to serve kids who struggle for whatever reason in a typical classroom surrounding. Kids like Nick Fothergill from Wiscassett who formally attended Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, but has since thrived in the hands-on learning style offered here. “I’m one of those kids, I don’t have any learning disabilities. I don’t have behavioral issues,” Fothergill said. “I just can’t stand sitting in a classroom all day. I feel like I’m bottled up. When I heard that 3/4 of the day is devoted to outside learning, I was hooked.”The curriculum focuses on agriculture, forestry and environmental sciences. The idea is to tap the strengths of Good Will-Hinckley’s central Maine campus by using the forests, fields and farmland as classrooms and laboratories. “Last year I worked with all the wonderful staff on campus to get chickens here whose eggs will shortly be going into school lunches. This year before I leave, my goal is to leave a functional barn,” senior Olivia Broadrick told the crowd.Gifts of $50,000 and $75,000 were given to the school Monday by the Unity Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. But the biggest gift came from the Harold Alfond Foundation, which pledged that if the school could get funding from the state, it would kick in to fund the residential part of the school. Monday, they made good on that promise. “Well, Harold Alfond always kept his promises,” Greg Powell, Chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation said during the presentation. “So on behalf of his foundation, Bill and I are pleased to keep our promise and present you with a check for $1 million.”According to school officials, the Alfond money, along with state funds, will help offset the cost of boarding students who live to far away from the Hinckley campus to commute on a daily basis.