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Final basketball games played at Wallagrass school

Elaine Desjardins, who helps to organize the youth sports program in Wallagrass, was the referee at a community basketball game at Wallagrass Elementary School, Friday, March 10. Don Eno | SJVT/FhF)

Elaine Desjardins, who helps to organize the youth sports program in Wallagrass, was the referee at a community basketball game at Wallagrass Elementary School, Friday, March 10. Don Eno | SJVT/FhF)

WALLAGRASS, Maine — Children gathered Friday afternoon, March 10, at Wallagrass Elementary for the final community basketball games of the season, and what may be the final games played at the school.

“I hope this is not the last game here, ever,” said community activist and one of the youth sports organizers in the Soldier Pond/Wallagrass area, Elaine Desjardins.

Desjardins was among the many residents who had hoped Maine School Administrative District 27 leaders would have been able to find a way to keep the preK-grade two school open. However, the past few years have seen a decline in student population, with the higher grades having moved to a larger school in nearby Fort Kent, also in MSAD 27.

This fall, school board members voted to close WES, and following the end of this school year, the building will be closed.

The fate of the building itself is yet to to decided. The town of Wallagrass may chose to become the owner of the facility, although that would likely require substantial renovation expenses, if it were to be used as a community center or something similar. There are also the expenses of heating it during the winter.

New Canada resident Tonia Valcourt’s two children, Bryce, 12, and Kayleigh, 8, were among the children playing on Friday. She has heard various rumors about what will become of the school building. Regardless, though, she said it will be sad to lose the sports program the community has built during the past few years.

“It’s awesome,” said Valcourt, who added that she is not sure her son would be as interested playing in a bigger school or community sports program, such as in Fort Kent.

“The support we get here keeps us going,” said Valcourt’s mother Carole Theriault. “We have always had parent support,” Theriault said.

Friday, the first couple of games pitted the parents and adults against a team of pre-K to grade 2 players. When it came to the the adults versus the grade 3 to 6 players in the second games, things got a bit more serious, but still lots of fun.

In a small community like Wallagrass, the adults, some of whom were siblings, likely grew up playing sports against one another on the school grounds. There were as many laughs as there were points, Friday, as all the players cheered on one another.

The basketball program began January 1. Volleyball starts next and is followed by softball in the spring. Desjardins said the players usually alternate playing games in Wallagrass and Eagle Lake each week.

“We’ve been pretty loyal to the games,” said Soldier Pond resident Lincoln Jandreau, whose grandson Isiah Berry is on the team.

Dustin McBreairty, 9, lives in Soldier Pond and has played all season. He added that he may also sign up for volleyball.

“My favorite part is being on a team,” McBreairty said.

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