By Jacqueline Sexton - June 8, 2006

It looked as though just about everyone in Chilmark crowded into the library for the Friends farewell party for departing library director, Cathy Thompson, last Saturday afternoon. After the assemblage had had their fill of shrimp, Brie and smoked salmon, Norman Freed, trustee chairman, Marvin Joslow, president of the Friends of the Library and Kristin Maloney, longtime colleague of Mrs. Thompson, all paid tribute to Cathy's prowess, skill, and good nature during her 17 years as director. Mr. Joslow, on behalf of the Friends, announced the creation of the Catherine A. Thompson Fund for Continuing Professional Development. Ms. Maloney led everyone in singing along "The Chilmark Library Song," which bore a marked resemblance to "The Chilmark School Song." In any case, both were composed by Ms. Maloney. Ms. Thompson declared that she was "overwhelmed," and that tributes should be paid to the "wonderful Chilmark community." It was a bittersweet occasion as the town wished her well in her next endeavors. It may take her another 17 years to read all the messages in the jam-packed book that guests signed, at length. The presence of photographer Alan Brigish, who has shifted his focus from close-ups of wild African lions to, well, tame Island natives, pointing and shooting away during the proceedings, added a certain flair to the event.

It is of course the time of year for endings, as well as new beginnings, as is clearly apparent from end-of-year activities at the school. All eyes are on the fifth graders who will graduate June 16. It has been a year of field trips both on- and off-Island, research fairs, energy fairs, and general in-depth learning on many fronts, and there's a lot going on in the final days of this exceptionally productive school year.

Among other things, students this year have delved into the basics of community communications, which included paying regular visits to residents of Windemere. The students have invited their Windemere friends to visit the school for a luncheon, which is certain to be a memorable occasion for both the students and their guests.

K/1 students will hold their animal research fair today, 6:30 to 8 pm. They have some surprising facts to share.

The two/three class will have a photo essay exhibition at Featherstone Center for the Arts as a finale to their project "Growing Up Island" this Saturday and Sunday, June 10 and 11, from 2 to 3 pm each day.

Christina Soulagnet received praise from principal Diane Gandy in the current issue of the Bell Tower for her two years as PTO director, a post that will be filled next year by Mary Ambulos. Ethel Sherman and Ann Dietrich have been thanked for their K/1 reading classes. Both plan to return next year. The "energy kids" have distinguished themselves as usual. The "Energy Sisters," Katy Smith and Lindsay Tocik, according to a press release by Cape Light Compact, "have brought their knowledge of solar energy to...demonstrations and exhibitions. This is the third year these fifth-grade girls have been part of the school's winning team!"

The annual art and music festival for parents and the whole community will take place next Tuesday, June 13, beginning at 6 pm. Joanne Cassidy will lead students in singing their favorite songs, while Nancy Hawksbee will direct the string students in concert. Afterwards, the students will go to The Galley in Menemsha for the traditional ice-cream treat.

Susan Larsen, who has been four/five teacher's assistant for the last five years, will leave Chilmark School to teach French next year at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. Bon chance, Susan!

This is a great deal of school news for one column, but it's only the highlights.

Meanwhile, Ethel Sherman is busy preparing her jams, jellies and fresh vegetables for the Farmer's Market, which opens in West Tisbury this Saturday, June 10 at 9 am.

Summer is overtaking us.