Superlatives were tossed about Monday afternoon, Sept. 9, during the ceremony marking the opening of the new $21.5 million regional technical school.

"This is a magnificent building that will provide students with the skills they need to join today's workforce," Region 8 Vocational Board Chair Jerry White of North Haven said as he and Executive Director Elizabeth "Beth" Fisher cut the ceremonial ribbon.

White later spoke about the importance of vocational education and said he hoped that state and federal officials would understand the importance of such education programs and not just college programs.

The veteran island educator pointed out that there is an 18-year-old who who will be serving as an apprentice at Cianbro Corp. and will make $17 an hour. After the student completes the apprentice program, the pay will go to $25 an hour.

"Fifty thousand dollars a year, that ain't chicken feed," White said. "Those are the kind of jobs we are training students for."

Among the people in attendance at the opening ceremony was Wayne Tibbetts of Rockland. Tibbetts was also present at the grand opening ceremony for the old Midcoast School of Technology when it opened in 1976. Tibbetts served as the second board chair for the regional vocational district.

"This is great; what a difference," Tibbetts said.

The new building is two stories with a total of 90,000 square feet.

The school serves 320 students daily and another 140 through satellite programs at the school districts that send students to the vocational center. There are 21 communities served by Region 8 from Islesboro to Newcastle.

White said the center has a partnership with Kennebec Valley Community College and that people can earn associate degrees.

"This is a tremendous step forward," White said.

State Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, independent of Friendship, said the new school was a great achievement because vocational education provides skills for people who will get good-paying jobs and stay in Maine.

Voters approved the bond referendum for the school in November 2016. Ground was broken in October 2017.