For the second time in two months, Marion Town Administrator Paul Dawson and the Board of Selectmen visited the campus of Tabor Academy to meet with Head of School John Quirk. This time, they brought some friends.
Police Chief Lincoln Miller, Fire Chief Thomas Joyce, Health District Director Karen Walega, Harbormaster Michael Cormier, and Board of Health Vice Chair Betsy Dunn joined the lunch gathering on Wednesday afternoon, participating in a free-flowing discussion that ranged from the recent Town Meeting to potential collaborations between Marion and Tabor.
“The school and the town are always doing big things, whether together or separately,” Quirk said. “But I’m a details guy; the little things matter to me a lot. The way we interact with the town matters to me a lot.”
If those interactions had been frosty in the past, they have thawed.
“There has been a noticeable difference in the past year,” Dunn said. “You’ve done a lot.”
Quirk, who started at Tabor in July of 2012, wants to do more. He said that the Solar Bylaws debate at Town Meeting, for instance, inspired him to take a closer look at Tabor’s capacity for sustainable energy.
“Tabor hasn’t been great at utilizing renewable energy,” he said. “I think there are possible partnerships between the town and school, educational opportunities within what has really become an ethical issue.”
Quirk also expressed an ongoing interest in evolving infrastructural policy in and around the Village of Marion. He told officials that he would be addressing his concerns about students’ pedestrian safety by possibly altering study period times that see peak off-campus activity.
“At my previous school, we were located near a reservoir, and I always worried about students’ safety near the water. Ironically, I don’t worry about this ever,” he said, looking out onto Sippican Harbor. “I worry about the street. I worry about Front Street.”
In turn, Quirk thanked Miller for inviting him to various public safety forums.
“You’re responsible for such a high number of people in such a concentrated area,” Miller replied. “It’s that much more important for us to include you.”
In closing, Quirk invited the Marion officials, as well as residents, to visit Tabor’s ongoing Senior Project Exhibition on campus, citing standout achievements in photography, music, the arts, and more.
“I’m looking for more and more ways to have the town participate in these types of events, because I think it’s a cool thing for everybody,” he said.
“There are lots of resources in the town for Tabor, too,” Dunn interjected.
“That’s right,” Quirk agreed. “The kids don’t think of themselves as residents of the town, but they are. We have high expectations for them in and out of class, and they need to be reminded of that.”
By Shawn Badgley