Early College Online: UMF Course Gives Mt. Blue Senior the Chance to Research and Share Family History

Early College student Sylvie Haslam, a senior at Mt Blue High School recently published the first part of a three part story on University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) Professor and Author Luann Yetter’s website as part of an Early College course she took this past summer at UMF.

“Sylvie was just one of many high school students, statewide, really, who took advantage of the opportunity to take classes last summer, when the pandemic hit and UMF moved their summer classes online,” said Clarissa Thompson, Early College Campus Coordinator and Associate Professor of Secondary and Middle Education at UMF.

Early college courses are available to Maine high school students at University of Maine System Schools and Maine’s Community Colleges as well through Maine’s Aspirations Program, which is administered by the Maine Department of Education. Students may now apply for early college opportunities at all of Maine’s colleges and universities using one common application portal, this new tool is a significant usability upgrade for students and families navigating early college options in Maine.

The UMF course that Sylvie took is called, Local Stories/Your Stories. Along with classmates from across Maine, she dove into her own local town and family history as material for creative nonfiction, engaging in personal interviews, genealogies, and looking through old newspapers (among other things) to create a vivid story of her personal history.

“This is a great example of the types of expanded opportunities our high school students have as part of the Aspirations program,” said Amy Hubbard, Executive Director of Early College at University of Maine System.

As an introduction to Sylvie’s story, Professor Yetter writes:

Last summer when I taught my class on writing local and family history I got to read some wonderful work. One of the projects I know will be of interest to my readers is this one by Mt. Blue High School senior Sylvie Haslam. Sylvie’s family history in Weld is interwoven with the Cushman family, prominent in the 1800s, and with artist Seavern Hilton who made his mark in the mid twentieth century. Join us as Sylvie explores Weld history, family history and the folk art that traveled far beyond the village of Weld. I have divided her fascinating account into three parts. In Part I, below, we are introduced to the Michael Graham farm and the Cushman family, whose ties to the land go back to the mid-eighteen hundreds. I’m sure you will agree that Sylvie is a talented writer. This high school student has a great future ahead of her!”

Read Part One of Sylvie’s story here: The Shop Land, Part I

UMF and the other University of Maine System campuses, as well as Maine’s Community College System campuses offer a wide range of classes that Maine high school students have continued to participate in online.

“Students have really jumped at the opportunity to take them,” adds Thompson. While participation had been growing steadily before the pandemic, early college programming helped provide additional options for students as high schools adjusted to online and hybrid schedules. Students who participate in early college are more likely to attend college, have higher grades in college, and are more likely to graduate on time.

For more information about early college options at UMF specifically, contact Clarissa Thompson at clarissa.thompson@maine.edu.

Information for this article was provided by the University of Maine System and the University of Maine at Farmington as part of the Maine DOE Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. The Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign is an avenue for Maine schools to celebrate successes and share innovative ideas, practices, and models that can be adapted and easily implemented by other Maine schools. Stories are not an endorsement of specific materials, services, or practices and are not intended to promote learning programs that are of cost to students, families, or schools. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at rachel.paling@maine.gov.