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Back to School
Rachel Averill shows her dirty, callous hands from working at Rustic Roots Organic Farm while Baily Williams displays his ID card from Franklin Memorial Hospital.
Upward Bound summer program
What could motivate high school students to go to school during their summer vacation?
For the Upward Bound students at University of Maine at Farmington, it certainly wasn’t their poor grades. Just the opposite – they want to learn more, explore careers and obviously make new friends.
The students stick to a rigid schedule that keeps them busy from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. They have four hours of academics, including five classes. Career Experience for three hours in the afternoon involves students volunteering in the community. Time for reading and studying are also factored into the schedule. Then, there’s “activities” – a favorite among the students.
MVHS senior Shawn Bennett took courses in Russian, pre-calculus, physics, English and senior Success Seminar. He wants to major in aeronautical engineering or electrical engineering. However, he mentioned two activities as the most fun.
Bennett said, “I loved rugby. I learned the basics. I’d never played until then. Square dancing was fun. I used to do that at my old school in New York.”
His volunteer experience was with Literacy Volunteers and at the UMF Computer Center.
With classes in physics, calculus, Japanese, English and senior Success Seminar, Dirigo High School senior Baily Williams worked on the med/surg area of Franklin Memorial Hospital.
Williams explained, “I would like to become an OB/GYN surgeon. My Career Experience showed me the intricate relationships between doctors, nurses and patients.”
Rachel Averill, a MVHS senior, learned about organic gardening in addition to her classes in pre-calculus, physics, English, Russian and senior success.
“I worked at Rustic Roots Organic Farm,” Averill described. “I planted, weeded crops and set up new beds. When it was raining, we even cleaned out a garage. I learned about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).”
Seniors at Upward Bound take senior Success Seminar as one of their classes. Averill explained, “Dan coaches us how to go through the college application process, FAFSA, college essays (English) and we filled out a UMaine application for practice.”
MVHS junior Tristen Webber took classes in life science, pre-calculus, English, Russian, Blast Off (all about rockets) and Art and Art History.
UMF Upward Bound is a TRIO program and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. It operates year round. During the school year, services are offered at the high schools and on the UMF campus. An intensive six-week residential program takes place at UMF during the summer. The University of Maine at Farmington Upward Bound Project aggressively identifies, recruits and selects participants in the program.
According to Director Lynn Ploof-Davis, “We’re funded to serve 60 students in River Valley, all the schools in Oxford County. Aug. 31 completes the first year of a five-year grant.”
With federal budget cuts, Ploof-Davis is always concerned about ongoing funding. She explained, “Grant funding is always tenuous. We wouldn’t be here without strong support from our Congressional delegation to Washington. We are so grateful for their support.”
Participants from MVHS include Rachel Averill, Shawn Bennett, Anthony Boucher, Travis Ford, John Freeman, Morgan Gordon, Karissa Murphy, Sara Parlin, Shannon Santillo and Tristen Webber. Dirigo students are Carolyn Campbell, Krystal Coady, Elliott Eno and Baily Williams. Jeremy Austin and Kara Libby represented Buckfield Junior/Senior High School.