Our Magnificence of 2022 Graduates to Watch

This month, 1000’s of younger Mainers are making one among lifestyles’s nice transitions at highschool graduations around the state. For this annual characteristic, we hunt down seniors who, as a result of middle, skill or toughness, are more likely to make a distinction on this planet. Actually, they have already got.

Team of workers creator Kelley Bouchard stocks the tales of 10 exceptional contributors of the category of 2022 and their accomplishments thus far. They’re best students, athletes, social activists and neighborhood volunteers. They come with a member of the Civil Air Patrol, two Eagle Scouts, and several other singers and musicians.

There’s a gender-nonconforming writer who has written a tender grownup novel, an Iraqi immigrant who needs to construct a mosque, a pilot in coaching who aspires to be an astronaut, an avid birder who plans to be a clergyman and an Appalachian Path through-hiker who needs to make stronger international well being care.

They have got triumph over bullying, language boundaries, poverty, prejudice, main scientific demanding situations and on a regular basis youngster struggles. They usually excelled in spite of an international pandemic that pressured them to wait categories on-line, canceled a number of faculty occasions and adjusted their lives in some ways.

Their meant careers come with marine biology, industry, song, writing, social paintings, structure and engineering. They have got already performed such a lot and we’re excited to peer what occurs subsequent.


WILL ADDISON: Falmouth Prime Faculty

Will Addison hiked the Appalachian Path in 2020 and intends to hike Mount Kilimanjaro this summer time. He plans to check biology and international well being and building at Trinity Faculty. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

On June 5, 2020, Will Addison set out on a adventure this is tried via few adults, let by myself youngsters.

For Addison, who’s graduating from Falmouth Prime Faculty, mountaineering the Appalachian Path was once simply one thing he sought after to do.

Over the following 4 months, at age 15, he would hike 2,183 miles from Maine to the southern terminus of the path in Georgia. He would combat insects, blisters, loneliness and Lyme illness, all whilst managing hemophilia that posed an extra danger and supplied a concrete explanation why for his effort.

He would trek just about the entire mountain path by myself – it was once the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and most of the people had been staying house – and he would take most effective 3 relaxation days alongside the way in which. He additionally would meet and be supported via some unusual and unforgettable other people.

However after most effective sooner or later at the path, which starts at Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park, the skilled hiker and camper was once able to give up. It took him over an hour simply to arrange his tent.

“Blisters had already evolved at the bottoms and facets of my ft, and I didn’t see a unmarried soul that day,” Addison wrote in his faculty software essay. “After consuming rehydrated mashed potatoes, I crawled into my tent and had a breakdown.”

Addison used his battery-charged satellite tv for pc communicator to ship a textual content message to his father, David, an avid outdoorsman who had taken his son on weeklong backpacking journeys. His father then reached out to his Scout troop chief, Don Staples, who despatched Addison the primary of virtually day by day messages of encouragement and toughen that helped get the hiker to his function.

“He informed me to damage it down,” Addison recalled. “Take it one step at a time, sooner or later at a time. That was once my lowest second. I sought after to give up, however I were given a dangle of myself that day. I had a large number of the abilities wanted for the hike, however there was once a studying curve.”

Addison sooner or later hit his stride, mountaineering 8 to twelve hours on a daily basis, even by way of rainstorms and hurricanes. On his very best days he hiked 20 to twenty-five miles, particularly within the southern states.

He was once assisted via “path angels” and a community of different supporters within the hemophilia provider neighborhood that was once arranged via his mom, Victoria Kuhn. They met him when he stopped to resupply at street crossings each week or two, turning in the clotting issue he injects thrice every week to forestall continual bleeding.

In go back, Addison used his hike to lift $30,000 for Save One Existence, a nonprofit that is helping other people in growing international locations who’ve bleeding problems.

“I sought after to make the hike greater than with regards to me,” he mentioned. “They’re the one group that does this kind of paintings.”

Addison maintained best grades at Falmouth Prime in spite of lacking the primary month of his junior yr, partially via finishing studying assignments whilst at the path. He was once captain of the school observe workforce and a devoted Scout, changing into an Eagle Scout, a senior patrol chief and a member of the Order of the Arrow honor society.

He plans to check biology and international well being and building at Trinity Faculty, with a function of addressing the loss of good enough well being care in many nations.

Addison mentioned he’s thankful for the toughen he won from his circle of relatives, together with his dual sister, Grace, and his scout leaders and the individuals who helped him alongside the Appalachian Path. He’s particularly happy he met Rob Chicken, a well-known path angel who hosted 1000’s of hikers in Massachusetts and Tennessee.

Addison spent a number of days with Chicken in Tennessee close to the tip of his trek, and visited him once more this yr, in a while ahead of Chicken died in February at 74 from mind most cancers.

“His kindness was once incredible,” Addison mentioned. “He’s a task style I will be able to lift with me all the time.”


EMILY CHEUNG: Deering Prime Faculty

Emily Cheung helped to lift cash to construct a faculty dormitory in northern Vietnam and plans to check psychology and neuroscience at Yale College. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

Emily Cheung’s resume already contains accomplishments slightly few other people can declare in an entire life.

Cheung, who’s graduating from Deering Prime Faculty, led an effort to lift $50,000 to construct a dormitory at an basic college in northern Vietnam.

As a senior, Cheung served as a district governor of the Key Membership, presiding over a 28-member board representing 150 golf equipment and 5,000 contributors throughout New England and Bermuda. She spearheaded the dormitory fundraiser for Kids of Peace World because the district’s tasks chair, when she was once a sophomore. And he or she made positive the fundraiser met its function ahead of she graduated.

“It was once necessary to me as a result of my oldsters are from Vietnam and so they had such restricted alternatives there,” Cheung mentioned. “It felt like destiny. I felt fortunate to give you the option to present again.”

The venture is anticipated to make stronger get entry to to schooling within the mountain the city of Sa Pa, the place many kids will have to stroll no less than 3 miles to college alongside roads with out sidewalks or guardrails. Many kids don’t attend as a result of the lengthy, hazardous shuttle.

“There are children who’ve died on their approach to college,” Cheung mentioned. “The dormitory will permit kids to stick on the college all through the week, so they are able to attend with out risking their lives.”

The federal government of Vietnam, in the meantime, has agreed to rebuild the varsity itself, which is able to give scholars in Sa Pa an absolutely functioning facility. Cheung plans to consult with when development is finished.

“Training has all the time been crucial factor in my lifestyles – it’s the primary factor that provides me energy,” she mentioned. “My grandmother by no means had the chance to get an schooling.”

Cheung has taken a rigorous slate of honors and Complex Placement classes at Deering, in addition to six faculty classes on the College of Southern Maine.

She plans to check psychology and neuroscience at Yale College. “They’re two portions of the similar factor,” she mentioned. “They overlap and give an explanation for every different.”

She has already introduced a occupation in well being care. She studied biomedical science at Portland Arts and Era Prime Faculty. She finished internships with Maine Scientific Middle and USM, and he or she was once a junior volunteer for 2 summers at Maine Med. She’s not off course to turn into an authorized nursing assistant upon commencement.

“I believed it was once a in point of fact cool concept to depart highschool with a certification so I will be able to paintings and make cash in faculty,” she mentioned. “It additionally gave me an concept of what it’s love to paintings in medication.”

Cheung participated in Deering’s choir all 4 years and the Maine All-State Song Pageant choir in 2021 and 2022. She and her debate spouse, Balqies Mohamed, had been co-captains of Deering’s debate workforce and 2022 state champions in public discussion board debate.

Cheung was once Deering’s consultant to Portland’s college board all through her senior yr, and he or she volunteered at Lincoln Center Faculty homework golf equipment right through highschool.

She additionally has waitressed in her circle of relatives’s eating place since she was once 12 years outdated, which has given her a deep appreciation for all that her oldsters have performed for her and her older brother.

“They paintings 70-hour weeks,” Cheung mentioned. “I’ve observed how arduous they paintings. I’ve observed their on a regular basis struggles. There’s a large number of sacrifice in what they do.”


JARED CONANT: Yarmouth Prime Faculty

Jared Conant served as state ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Affiliation and held meals drives on his birthdays. He plans to check engineering on the College of Southern Maine. Derek Davis/Team of workers Photographer

Jared Conant is graduating from Yarmouth Prime Faculty with best marks for being an lively category member, taking care of others and staying certain, all whilst dealing with important demanding situations of his personal.

Conant has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic dysfunction that reasons revolutionary muscle degeneration and calls for him to make use of a wheelchair. But he doesn’t let the illness outline him and approaches each alternative to become involved and assist out with improbable spirit and power.

“Being certain is helping me be in a excellent position, each for myself and for people,” Conant mentioned. “It’s necessary to not get caught within the unhealthy stuff and concentrate on the great things.”

Identified in 2nd grade, Conant was once state ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Affiliation for a few years, attending occasions and talking out to lift consciousness and cash to discover a treatment. Extra lately, he has been an lively scholar council member, making plans and collaborating in more than a few fundraisers, college tradition methods and occasions, together with the promenade.

For 6 years, Conant has arranged a fundraiser and meals power on his birthday for the reason that native meals pantry has a dearth of donations in February. His efforts have introduced in $18,500 and 17,000 kilos of meals.

“Giving again to other people makes me really feel higher than getting one thing from any individual,” Conant mentioned in his faculty software essay. “The donations are then dispensed to other people in want in my neighborhood. I think a way of pleasure in converting lives. I may just get misplaced in my very own wishes, however as an alternative, I make a choice to show my power towards serving to others.”

A sports activities fan, Conant participated in the highschool’s varsity baseball and football methods, successful awards for attending practices, holding stats or even taking part in a couple of mins in some video games. He additionally facilitated junior varsity football tournaments every yr to lift cash to ship Maine youngsters with muscle illnesss to summer time camp.

He received the 2021 Lindsey Berghuis Braveness Award, the 2019 Maine Starvation Discussion Formative years Management Award, and the 2018 and 2020 True Blue Clipper Award, in addition to honors in citizenship, refrain, Spanish and different instructional achievements. In his spare time, he builds Lego Megastar Wars fashions that he stocks on social media and his AwesomeBro Bricks YouTube channel.

Conant plans to check engineering on the College of Southern Maine, development on a mentorship program he attended for 2 years. He’s taking a look ahead to dwelling in a dormitory, being extra impartial and assembly a large number of new other people from other backgrounds. One day he’d love to assist make stronger web get entry to in additional rural spaces of Maine.

He’s maximum thankful to his father, Barry, who has transported him far and wide over time. He bodily lifted him, emotionally supported him and helped him write speeches. The entire whilst, his father has handled demanding situations and losses of his personal, together with the dying of Conant’s mom, Ada, from breast most cancers when Conant was once 4 years outdated.

“He’s helped me to have a extra certain angle in lifestyles and to reside sooner or later at a time,” Conant mentioned. “All of it made me develop up sooner. Existence is brief and you wish to have to concentrate on the great things that occur.”


CASPER COWAN: Westbrook Prime Faculty

Casper Cowan led efforts to make Westbrook faculties extra welcoming to transgender scholars and plans to check marine biology on the College of Maine. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

It was once a stunning lesson in what to not say to a transgender individual.

Casper Cowan was once a sophomore at Westbrook Prime Faculty. In 8th grade, he had pop out as a transgender male and brought a brand new first title, leaving in the back of the only he was once given at beginning. That had turn into his deadname, one thing many transgender other people try to hide.

Cowan was once sitting at school when out of nowhere the instructor began speaking about his deadname. The entire category was once listening, together with scholars from higher grades who didn’t know his deadname.

“She walks as much as me and says my deadname, then is going on a rant about how beautiful she thinks my deadname is, and the way she has no concept why I might ever wish to trade it,” Cowan recalled. “Then she begins looking to persuade me, pronouncing that there are some boys which are named my deadname. The entire time I’m simply watching her, deer in headlights. It simply uncovered one thing that I didn’t need someone to understand.”

It was once an excruciating however transformative second for Cowan. He has labored diligently to help in making the highschool extra inclusive to LGBTQ+ scholars, changing into the chief of the Spectrum Membership, a gaggle of queer and immediately scholars that helps equality for all. This yr he gave a presentation to highschool lecturers on learn how to engage with transgender scholars extra successfully and create a extra accepting lecture room, and he labored with college officers to replace insurance policies affecting transgender and nonbinary scholars.

“It in point of fact driven me to do extra for my neighborhood as a result of I do know that I will be able to rise up for myself,” Cowan mentioned. “However I see youngsters strolling in the course of the hallways who can’t discuss up for themselves. They don’t have a voice and so they don’t understand how to achieve their voice. I assume that talking up for them is the most productive that I will be able to lately do.”

Cowan is aware of how hurtful some scholars will also be. He skilled bullying from center college into highschool. He again and again deflected verbal assaults from boys who didn’t like that he was once other.

“It was once a large number of slurs or I used to be yelled at within the hallways or they attempted to play little pranks on me via asking me out as a comic story,” Cowan mentioned. “I by no means gave them a response, so (it) died down. Once we hit highschool, I by no means in point of fact noticed any of the ones guys anymore, however I heard in the course of the grapevine that they had been nonetheless deadnaming me, misgendering me and simply being impolite about me in the back of my again.”

Issues progressed very much after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. It appeared to make some scholars extra compassionate.

“By the point we got here again in individual junior yr, not anything unfavorable was once mentioned about me,” Cowan mentioned. “I had a number of scholars, when one among my lecturers misgendered me, they corrected her for me. I will be able to’t say the similar for the more youthful grades at my college. If anything else, they were given worse by way of COVID.”

Cowan plans to check marine biology on the College of Maine, specializing in conservation and the damaging results of local weather trade and microplastics in our waterways. A scholar chief in Westbrook Prime’s band methods, he additionally intends to play tuba within the college’s marching band and sign up for a number of human rights and environmental teams.

He’s maximum thankful to his mom, Gretchen Lauer, who all the time supported him when different members of the family didn’t, and to college personnel who made him really feel welcome, particularly Caleb Taylor, an English instructor who instructed the Spectrum Membership.

“He’s all the time been tremendous great and being concerned,” Cowan mentioned. “He’d all the time wish to listen about any drawback I ever had. He helped me determine answers and techniques to battle it. I had by no means met an overtly homosexual instructor ahead of, and it was once in point of fact great to peer every other homosexual individual simply being an on a regular basis individual.”


SARAH DHALAI: Portland Arts and Era Prime Faculty

Sara Dhalai evolved her hobby in operating with younger other people on the Boys & Women Membership at Riverton Park and plans to check social paintings on the College of Southern Maine. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

Sara Dhalai was once nominated via two faculties, making her a shoo-in for the 2022 Graduates to Watch.

She established herself as a best scholar within the two-year early youth schooling program at Portland Arts and Era Prime Faculty, in addition to a standout scholar at Deering Prime Faculty and a pace-setter within the Boys & Women Golf equipment of Southern Maine.

Dhalai was once born in Kentucky to immigrant oldsters; her mom is from Somalia and her father is from Yemen. When their tough marriage ended, her mom, Ardo Sharif, moved to Portland, searching for a greater lifestyles for herself and her two kids. It intended ranging from scratch.

“We had not anything,” Dhalai wrote in her faculty software essay. “We began out dwelling in downtown Portland in a small rental. My mom attempted her toughest to make our revel in rising up the most productive she may just. Then again, because of her language barrier, she struggled getting a task, making buddies and paying expenses.”

Undeterred, her mom sooner or later discovered paintings, moved the circle of relatives to a greater community, were given focused on native occasions and was a neighborhood chief. Impressed via her mom’s blossoming independence and energy within the face of adversity, Dhalai has adopted and exceeded her instance.

“My mom is resilient,” Dhalai mentioned. “She made positive we by no means knew that she was once suffering. She’s all the time smiling. She’s all the time certain. She will be able to all the time discover a resolution.”

Dhalai credit her mom with signing her up for actions on the Boys & Women Membership at Riverton Park, the general public housing advanced the place they reside. She spent numerous hours on the clubhouse whilst her mother was once at paintings, taking part in more than a few a laugh actions that still boosted her self-confidence and inspired neighborhood involvement.

Like her mom, she started appearing as an interpreter and translating paperwork for different immigrant households, tapping her skill to talk Somali and Arabic. By means of her freshman yr, she was once operating on the clubhouse, tutoring kids in after-school methods and filling key management roles.

“(The membership) supplied me with a large number of toughen and sources,” Dhalai mentioned. “It made me wish to pursue my interest for operating with kids.”

As a junior, she enrolled in PATHS’ early youth schooling program, which supplies scholars hands-on revel in  instructing and taking care of babies. On the identical time, she finished an internship on the Riverton clubhouse.

This yr, Dhalai is operating for Portland’s sport division, supervising an after-school program at Ocean Road Basic Faculty, the place she has evolved and run actions for college students in kindergarten by way of 5th grade.

She additionally was once a member of Deering’s Muslim Scholar Affiliation and labored weekends at Panera Bread in South Portland.

She plans to check social paintings on the College of Southern Maine and hopes to sooner or later assist kids particularly kids of immigrants – get entry to neighborhood sources that can make stronger their lives.

She appreciates the liberty her mom has allowed her to turn into the individual she is – to play sports activities and move on box journeys and get dressed as she likes, whether or not or no longer she wears a hijab.

“She let me be who I wish to be and supported me,” Dhalai mentioned.


MATTHEW GILBERT: Greely Prime Faculty

Matthew Gilbert was once the No. 1 birder in Maine in 2020. He plans to check ecology and environmental science at Cornell College and sooner or later turn into a Catholic priest. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

Matthew Gilbert sees the beauty of God’s introduction within the many feathered species of the arena, and he can determine loads of them within the wild when he catches a glimpse in their plumage or hears their calls.

eBird.com named Gilbert the No. 1 birder in Maine in 2020, when he recognized 298 species in individual around the state and recorded his studies at the citizen science database. In all, he can determine over 480 birds via sight, together with 140 species that he can even acknowledge via their songs or calls.

It’s one of the superlatives already bestowed at the Cumberland youngster, who’s graduating from Greely Prime Faculty on the best of his category and sooner or later plans to turn into a Catholic priest.

“I’ve been concerned with birds so long as I will be able to take note,” Gilbert mentioned. “It’s more or less bizarre as a result of no one in my circle of relatives is even concerned with nature.”

His hobby picked up all through the COVID-19 pandemic, when he got down to entire a “large yr” depend, which is an effort to seek out, practice and file as many birds as conceivable. He didn’t have a driving force’s license but, so he did chores to earn his mom Lisa’s chauffeur products and services. An hour of chores were given him an hour of power time. He scoured birding books and monitored birding web sites, blogs and social media to make a choice places for most likely sightings.

“I went out birding each morning,” he mentioned. “We traveled from the Golden Street in Millinocket to Acadia Nationwide Park.”

Gilbert’s self-taught birding efforts incorporated classes with the College of New England and Hog Island Coastal Maine Chicken Research, and a graduate seminar in ornithology at Cornell College, the place he plans to check ecology and environmental science.

“I’m in awe of the variety of lifestyles,” he wrote in his faculty software essay. “How organisms engage, how each species occupies a singular area of interest, and the sheer number of birds, animals and herbal communities.”

Gilbert mentioned he plans to extend finding out for the priesthood and can attend a Catholic seminary someday.

“I wish to be told past what a seminary can be offering,” he mentioned. “The entirety I do is in keeping with my religion. I think referred to as to be a clergyman. It simply looks like one thing I may just do this would assist convey other people to God.”

Gilbert took the toughest classes right through highschool, in addition to faculty classes in English, historical past and statistics. He additionally carried out yearlong impartial historic research for the Nationwide Historical past Day pageant. Subjects incorporated former Maine Sen. George Mitchell’s position in Northern Eire peace talks and puffin conservation efforts in Maine.

He’s going to attend Cornell on a complete scholarship from the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Basis. Final yr, he was once one among 5 highschool juniors around the nation who had been named Coolidge Students in keeping with instructional fulfillment, public coverage hobby, humility, public provider and essays concerning the former president, who served from 1923 to 1929. About 4,700 scholars carried out for the faculty scholarship.

“It’s wonderful so that you could move (to university) anyplace you wish to have and no longer fear about the way you’ll pay for it,” he mentioned.

Gilbert additionally received a complete scholarship to the College of Maine for his analysis on warbler migration within the 2021 Maine State Science Truthful.

He is an completed musician and singer, adept at piano, trumpet and trombone, and has carried out as a member of a number of school-based state, regional and nationwide ensembles. He’s additionally a member of The Psalterium Institute in Lisbon Falls, which plays sacred Catholic choral song.

Considered one of 4 brothers, Gilbert has been an altar server since 3rd grade on the Parish of the Holy Eucharist in Falmouth, the place he additionally now serves as a cantor at Sunday Mass.

He has labored or volunteered as a mentor, museum information, natural world surveyor, workshop presenter and artwork gross sales supervisor. He is also an Eagle Scout and Boy Scout assistant senior patrol chief, whose tasks incorporated documenting natural world habitats right through Yarmouth, canoeing the Allagash River in northern Maine and mountaineering Mount Katahdin thrice.

“It’s arduous to hike Katahdin or see loads of birds and no longer really feel the presence of God,” he mentioned.


FATIMAH LAMLOOM: Casco Bay Prime Faculty

Fatimah Lamloom received a grant to renovate the prayer room at Casco Bay Prime Faculty and plans to check structure and engineering on the College of Southern Maine. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

For her senior venture at Casco Bay Prime Faculty, Fatimah Lamloom studied the have an effect on of Islamophobia on mosque development in the US, the place mosques continuously are positioned in undeniable storefronts and neighborhood facilities.

To give a contribution her “slice of the answer,” Lamloom were given a $480 grant from Portray for a Function, a Portland nonprofit, and used it to renovate and embellish the highschool’s prayer area. Tucked in a garage room, it was once a colorless and uninviting position, with off-white partitions and a unmarried small rug the place scholars may just kneel and pray.

With assist from different scholars and personnel contributors, Lamloom remodeled it into an inspiring area. Now, the partitions are painted an attractive lavender and draped with cushy lighting fixtures and curtains. And there are a number of small rugs for the scholars who now sign up for her in prayer.

It’s a capstone venture for a tender lady who got here to the US from Iraq at age 4, when the one English phrase she knew was once “flower,” and now she is about to graduate magna cum laude.

“It’s very ethereal and non violent,” Lamloom mentioned of the prayer area. “It was once magical so that you could entire that venture. It felt like I used to be leaving a favorable mark at the college and town.”

The renovation is also a top level in a non secular adventure that Lamloom has taken for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic left her feeling lonely and closed off. She discovered shelter in her Muslim religion.

“There’s not anything as strong and wholesome as God,” Lamloom mentioned. “It’s the hand that by no means we could move. That is my function – to the touch other people’s hearts and remind them of that.”

She based the highschool’s Muslim Scholar Affiliation to be sure that scholars of her religion aren’t overpassed or discounted in class methods. The crowd lately hosted a neighborhood collecting to assist other people higher perceive Ramadan.

“Casco Bay is a in point of fact revolutionary college however as I delved into my religion, I spotted we weren’t represented rather well,” mentioned Lamloom, who has been tapped via lecturers to facilitate anti-racism occasions and mediate scholar conflicts.

As a freshman, she received the varsity’s Navigator Award for Excellence in Management, the absolute best honor given via college, and for 11 years she was once a member of Pihcintu, a Portland-based multicultural women refrain that carried out on the Kennedy Middle in Washington and the United International locations in New York.

“It was once so gorgeous and empowering,” Lamloom mentioned. “We got here from other backgrounds, however we sang with one voice. Should you recall to mind lifestyles as a tree, the refrain was once the trunk and my religion is the branches.”

She was once a Homer Fellow on the Portland Museum of Artwork and a learn about heart adolescence chief with the Portland Housing Authority. She volunteers on the Preble Side road soup kitchen, works phase time at Chipotle and competes at Portland Group Squash.

“The game itself taught me about decision and striving to be triumphant at one thing in point of fact tough,” she mentioned. “The entirety I’ve performed is sort of a puzzle piece of me.”

Lamloom plans to check structure and engineering on the College of Southern Maine, and he or she plans to center of attention her occupation on development worship areas that replicate her willpower to God.

“I’ve this in point of fact large dream to construct my very own mosque sooner or later,” she mentioned. “There’s one thing about designing a construction that brings other people in combination. I wish to construct an area that displays how gorgeous our religion is.”


LEIGH OLDERSHAW: Windham Prime Faculty

Leigh Oldershaw is a broadcast writer of a tender grownup novel and plans to check inventive writing at Columbia College. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

Leigh Oldershaw started spending each loose second writing at age 12.

Now, Oldershaw is the writer of a tender grownup novel, “Bach within the Barn,” printed via The Telling Room, an area for younger writers in Portland.

Set in Maine in 1995, the ebook’s central personality, 13-year-old Macy Griffin, is an instance of transgender id that Oldershaw as soon as longed to seek out.

It took a large number of braveness to create Macy.

“I had a large number of doubt about it to start with as a result of on the time that I wrote it, I wasn’t even in point of fact out to a large number of my circle of relatives,” mentioned Oldershaw, whose pen title is Leigh Ellis.

“The considered writing a ebook (with a transgender personality) was once very overwhelming,” Oldershaw mentioned. “However I all the time really feel like my function with writing is to inform the tales that I felt I had to listen when I used to be more youthful, in order that’s what I used to be in point of fact looking to do.”

For Oldershaw, who’s gender-nonconforming and makes use of they/them/their pronouns, it was once necessary to exhibit certain queer studies that had been missing in books, motion pictures and TV displays after they had been rising up.

“Just about each scrap of media I got here throughout starring a queer personality, of which there have been few, concluded with some number of tragedy,” Oldershaw wrote of their faculty software essay.

“Bach within the Barn” is a coming-of-age tale about a young person who’s grieving their deceased mom and taking care of a newfound alien creature whilst coming to phrases with their id as a queer individual.

“I wish to exist in an international the place my lifestyles doesn’t really feel like a scream,” Oldershaw wrote of their essay. “I believe storytelling is the easiest way to make this a truth. It’s some way of claiming, ‘we’re right here, and we aren’t going any place. I’m queer.’ ”

Oldershaw, who’s graduating from Windham Prime Faculty, wrote “Bach within the Barn” all through their junior yr after receiving a Younger Rising Authors Fellowship from The Telling Room. The paid, yearlong, after-school program permits scholars in grades 8-12 to write down their very own books with steerage from skilled writers and editors.

“At The Telling Room, the academics position the scholars at their degree,” Oldershaw mentioned. “We’re all simply having a dialog. It’s no longer like they’re talking at us. It feels very collaborative and it’s only a in point of fact calming area to be in.”

It’s a atmosphere Oldershaw attempted to duplicate in co-leading a workshop on the 2022 New England Formative years Id Summit held at Waynflete Faculty. It was once about how writing can be utilized to create empathy, which additionally was once the topic in their senior venture.

“I in point of fact revel in instructing,” Oldershaw mentioned. “I may just indisputably see myself doing that, particularly instructing writing.”

At Windham Prime, Oldershaw took a complete load of honors, Complex Placement and faculty classes. Additionally they led the Ingenious Writing Membership and took part in social justice and civil rights teams. They usually labored phase time at Cabbage Island Clambakes and Sherman’s Maine Coast E book Store.

They plan to check inventive writing at Columbia College, and perhaps delve into journalism and screenwriting, too.

Oldershaw hopes to encourage queer younger other people as others have impressed them, together with one older trans scholar they recalled from their early years at Windham Prime.

“I in particular take note this older trans man who all the time wore rainbow suspenders,” Oldershaw mentioned. “I might all the time see him and I might be so in awe that he was once ready to precise himself that overtly. I aspire to be like that.”


ANGEL ORTIZ: Waynflete Faculty

Angel Ortiz is an completed singer who taught himself learn how to play piano and is ready to unlock his first full-length album. He plans to check industry at Howard College. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

It could were a hard revel in for someone, however for Angel Ortiz it was once terrifying.

Ortiz suffered a vocal wire harm all through his junior yr at Waynflete Faculty and misplaced his voice for 4 and a part months. It was once heartbreaking for any individual who started making a song at church buildings and different public venues in 5th grade.

“I wasn’t ready to speak or sing,” he mentioned. “I’m all the time making a song. I believe my voice to be my superpower. It drove me just about to tears as a result of I believed I misplaced my superpower.”

Ortiz after all were given an appointment with a scientific specialist – it took a couple of months all through the COVID-19 pandemic – and then spent a while in vocal remedy ahead of operating with a vocal trainer to get well his complete voice.

Now, he’s wrapping up his first full-length album of unique songs, development at the certain studying revel in he had as a sophomore striking out a Christmas EP, to be had on SoundCloud at aloiii and on Instagram at aloiii song.

Written, composed and produced via Ortiz, the 10-song album can be relatively an accomplishment for any individual who taught himself learn how to play classical piano after he enrolled at Waynflete.

“I began messing round at the pianos in school when I used to be a freshman and I practiced so much all through the pandemic,” he mentioned. “There was once one thing in me that sought after to make stronger as a musician. I fell in love with the software.”

Being self-taught is acquainted territory for Ortiz, who lives in Topsham. He discovered to sing via imitating favourite artists at the radio. He mastered virtual song manufacturing at house by way of trial and blunder. He composed unique ensemble items for Waynflete occasions. He took an internet route at the song industry by way of New York College. He visited recording studios in Nashville, subsidized via buddies who consider in his skill.

And he taught himself Spanish, tackling courses on his personal each afternoon right through center college. He was once qualified fluent with the World Seal of Biliteracy after finishing a monthlong homestay in Spain as a junior. Studying Spanish made him really feel nearer to his Hispanic roots and helped him hook up with members of the family in Puerto Rico.

“I grew up in Maine, however none of my (prolonged) circle of relatives is right here,” Ortiz mentioned. “It’s a way of feeling I belong someplace, seeing individuals who seem like me, and being pleased with who I’m on all sides of my circle of relatives. I’ve a way of pleasure in being Black and Latino.”

Ortiz has participated in just about each task at Waynflete, however particularly in choral and instrumental teams, college musicals and particular person performances at all kinds of faculty occasions.

Outdoor college, he works as a singer and piano soloist at neighborhood occasions and coffeehouses. He additionally has been a peer mentor and scholar chief with Valo, a Yarmouth-based nonprofit that hosts loose retreats for youths of all backgrounds to assist them increase communique abilities and feature an have an effect on on their communities. He led efforts to make this system extra inclusive as a result of he continuously felt remoted as a queer Afro-Latino, he mentioned.

“It was once a predominantly white hetero surroundings,” Ortiz mentioned. “I felt youngsters of different demographics deserved to revel in what Valo has to provide.”

Ortiz was once elected to Waynflete’s scholar executive all 4 years and named co-president as a senior. His classmates selected him to talk at commencement and he received this yr’s Irvil Okay. Pease Award, which is voted on via all of the higher college scholar frame and given to the senior who emphasizes worry for others via being keen to concentrate and achieve out selflessly.

He plans to wait Howard College, drawn to the industry program as it amplifies alternatives for Black scholars. Considered one of six siblings, he’s maximum thankful to his mom, Bridgette, who got here to Maine when she was once stationed right here within the Military and now works as an assistant foremost at a Topsham basic college.

“She is any such arduous employee and supplier for our circle of relatives,” Ortiz mentioned. “She hasn’t ever let being Black forestall her from being the whole thing she will also be.” 


GEORGE THEALL: Portland Prime Faculty

George Theall flew his first solo flight at age 16. Now, he plans to wait U.S. Naval Academy with the function of sooner or later changing into an astronaut. Gregory Rec/Team of workers Photographer

George Theall were given his first style of weightlessness when he was once 10 years outdated, and it whet his urge for food for a occupation in area that also motivates him as he graduates from Portland Prime Faculty.

It was once all through one among his first flying courses. He was once 5,000 ft above Sebago Lake in a Cessna 172 and his flight teacher was once on the controls. Within the again seat was once his father, additionally named George, who had resumed flying courses after taking them as a child.

All of sudden, the aircraft dropped right into a nosedive, heading immediately for the lake underneath. Crumpled items of paper floated across the cockpit. Simplest his seatbelt stored him from floating as neatly. He heard his father giggling in the back of him.

After a couple of moments, the flight teacher pulled at the yoke and the aircraft leveled out of its fast descent. Theall felt gravity’s weight as soon as once more, however he by no means forgot the joy of feeling weightless.

“My younger mind began wandering and growing fantasies of spaceflight,” Theall wrote in his faculty software essay. “Those fantasies temporarily evolved into aspirations.”

Theall caught with the flying courses, finishing his first solo flight in 2020. That very same yr, he joined the Civil Air Patrol squadron on the Portland World Jetport, emerging to the placement of cadet commander within the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Drive.

Now, graduating as valedictorian of his category, Theall plans to wait the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, fly fighter jets within the Military and educate to be an astronaut with NASA. A self-described “area nerd,” he helps to keep observe of each development in area commute, analysis and exploration.

“I’ve all the time been concerned with area,” he mentioned. “In center college, I studied area and researched learn how to turn into an astronaut.”

Theall took the entire best categories in highschool, together with 9 Complex Placement classes that depend towards faculty credit score. He additionally carried out an impartial learn about to design physics lab experiments, together with one who makes use of antiquated apparatus as a lab historical past lesson.

He was once a varsity member of the outside observe, cross-country and Nordic snowboarding groups, serving as captain of the latter two. He additionally volunteered for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and Wayside Meals Distribution Services and products, and he works phase time as a chippie’s helper for a development corporate.

Theall mentioned he’s thankful to his oldsters for the alternatives they’ve given him, and to his lecturers and coaches for the management talents they’ve nurtured in him. He hopes to practice within the footsteps of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who has promoted public hobby in area and science basically.

“He took the trail I wish to move,” Theall mentioned. “I wish to open up as many alternatives for people as conceivable.”

As a result of for Theall, not anything beats the majesty of hovering by way of area. Since that first revel in of weightlessness, he has traveled upper all through go nation flights along with his teacher, or even upper in business airplane.

“Each and every time I am going slightly upper, I think just a little nearer to area,” he wrote in his essay. “I will be able to really feel the bond (that ties) me to the bottom slowly weakening all through every flight. … In the future it is going to destroy, freeing me into the vastness of area, liberating me to comprehend the desires of my 10-year-old self.”

Click on right here for the highest highschool graduates in Cumberland and York counties.


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