People on Mount Desert Island love history.
There was so much excitement behind the documentary film “The Fire of ’47,” which commemorates the 70th anniversary of that event, that capacity crowds packed The Criterion Theater twice in October to see it.
Now, the creative team behind the “Fire of 47” project is reuniting for another documentary project: a yet-to-be-titled exploration of the founding of Mount Desert Island High School for its 50th anniversary in 2018.
Director Peter Logue and Executive Producer Kimberly Swan, both MDIHS alums, will revisit the events leading up to the merger of the island’s high schools through the voices of those who were there.
“Just like the Fire of 1947, we all have heard stories from those who lived through and were affected by the 1968 consolidation of MDI’s high schools,” said Swan.
“Some 20 years ago, the idea of pooling the island’s resources for secondary school education was suggested,” the Bar Harbor Times reported in Sept. 1968. “By no means did everyone agree, but the discussions continued, sometimes waxing warm, to put it mildly. State enabling legislation was defeated a number of times. Finally in 1965 a majority of people in all four towns voted to create a Mount Desert Island regional high school.”
The film will consider the those dynamics and tensions that came with having three rival schools become one — and the ways in which the high school unified the island community, and continues to do so today.
“It’s a story about all the towns on the island coming together,” Logue said. “We’ll delve into how it happened, the difficult conversations and decisions, but we also want the film to be a celebration of the role the school has played.”
Pemetic, Bar Harbor and Mount Desert High Schools will each celebrate 50th reunions next year with their final graduating classes, the members of the class of 1968.
Basketball played a large role in creating a sense of school identity, Logue said. Some remember the fall football season as being lukewarm, with students and families not yet used to being all on the same team. But by basketball season, their new identity had been more firmly forged.
“I am perpetually inspired by the stories that exist in our community,” Logue said, “and the incredible response to ‘The Fire of ’47’ validated the importance of making these local documentaries.”
In the coming weeks, more information will be made available for those interested in participating in the film, which will premiere in the fall of 2018 to celebrate the high school’s 50th anniversary.
A special section of the Islander commemorating the school’s anniversary also is planned.