by Ian Roantree
On any given month, a regular Board of Education meeting falls on the first Monday of the month.
But last Monday—the first Monday of the month—no meeting was held. That’s because March’s regular Board of Education Meetings was saved for a special ceremony for this past Monday, March 12.
In the narrow hallway of the L.P. Quinn Elementary School entrance stood nearly a hundred friends, family and members of the community that came together to celebrate and commemorate the life of Michelle LaMere and take witness to the naming of L.P. Quinn’s library to the Michelle A. LaMere Library.
In the hands of some were books, for one of the ways to celebrate the memory of Michelle LaMere was by taking part in a Family Reading Night, which was organized by Margaret O’Leary, Juli Dukett and Meehan Bourgeois.
When the clock struck six, Board of Education President Jane Whitmore approached the podium situated in front of the library entrance. The crowd that had been chatting amongst each other had suddenly fellen quiet.
To officially commence the evening, President Whitmore began, “Thank you all for coming. At this time we will call the March Board of Education meeting to order.”
Behind her stood the Board of Education members, and above, yellow paper covered the wall.
She then asked Board of Education Vice President Jason Rolley to lead the pledge of allegiance.
Mrs. Whitmore then invited Superintendent Seth McGowan to speak.
“There are few people who believed so strongly in the importance of reading as Michelle LaMere. The power of the printed word ranged for her from the delight in children decoding letters into sounds, to putting those sounds into words, then into sentences, then into paragraphs, then into books, ideas and ultimately, into dreams.
“A room filled with books for Michelle, AKA Mrs. LaMere, or “Meechelle”, or simply “Meesh”, was the gateway to unleash those dreams. And not just for school aged children, but for children of all ages.
“As a teacher, Michelle always encouraged us to stretch our imagination through literature. As an educator, Michelle encouraged us to stretch our knowledge through research.
“Make no mistake, she was never quiet about it at all, and she modeled both everyday with a book for enjoyment in one hand, and the latest publication on the best practices for teaching of reading in the other. It was hard to keep up, and I for one felt inadequate.
“It was her unending energy and passion for the printed word, and it made us all better teachers and more importantly, better people.
“It is symbolic that this corner of the L.P. Quinn Elementary School has a door leading to the inside of the building, where the learning takes place, as well as a door leading out and into the community where life takes place.
“And it is at the same time the center of knowledge and a bridge to imagination. And so it is fitting that this, this same room is filled with books, and is being dedicated to a person who inspired a generation of readers with the gift of reading, inspired a generation of writers with the gift of voice, inspired countless generations as a role model and friend, and will be remembered always by each who passes through these doors.
“I am proud tonight on behalf of the board of education, to dedicate this library to Michelle LaMere, and doing so, welcome you to The Michelle A. LaMere Library.”
And in that moment, the yellow paper that covered the letters was carefully pulled down revealing the newly-installed letters and plaque that was placed on the wall to the left of the library entrance.
The lettering and plaque was installed by the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, Pierre St. Pierre, who spent nearly a week’s worth of time over weekends and nights to prepare the wall above the entrance for the lettering.
St. Pierre expanded the eight foot wall to 14 feet to fit the lettering and recessed the ceiling to add lights.
The crowd of friends and family then funneled through the doors stepping foot, for the first time, into The Michelle A. LaMere Library.
Inside the newly named library, family and friends enjoyed refreshments while they reminisced and shared memories of Michelle.
While some stuck around the library for coffee and cake, others took to the hallways of the elementary school to find a cozy spot to read their favorite books. Cafeteria manager Bob LaMare provided the family readers with cookies and milk.
Mr. McGowan said, “although we suspected that there’d be a large turnout, this is a little overwhelming, but certainly not surprising.”
McGowan went on to send out thanks to those who made the evening possible.
“Thank you to Dr. Pinard for your help and support, and Shauni Shumway who took care of the fine details.
“And of course the board of education for its unanimous support for this name in honor of Michelle. And finally to Tom, Ali and Robbie LaMere and the entire extended family of Michelle for allowing us to use her name for this library that will forever commemorate her life’s work.”
by Ian Roantree