Maine Students Selected for United States Senate Youth Program

Students Headed to Washington, D. C. and to Receive $10,000 Scholarship

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) announces that high school students Ms. Natalie Barbara Emmerson and Mr. Shawn Jiminez will join Senator Susan M. Collins and Senator Angus S. King in representing Maine during the 61st annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 4 — 11, 2023. Natalie Emmerson of Woolwich and Shawn Jiminez of West Gardiner were selected from among the state’s top student leaders to be part of the 104 national student delegation. Each delegate will also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate study.

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. Originally proposed by Senators Kuchel, Mansfield, Dirksen and Humphrey, the Senate leadership of the day, the impetus for the program as stated in Senate testimony is “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people around the world.”

Each year this extremely competitive merit-based program provides the most outstanding high school students – two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity – with an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it. The overall mission of the program is to help instill within each class of USSYP student delegates more profound knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in government, history and public affairs. All expenses for Washington Week are also provided by The Hearst Foundations; as stipulated in S.Res.324, no government funds are utilized.

Natalie Emmerson, a senior at Morse High School, serves as the student representative to the Regional School District 1 School Board. She also serves as the president/co-founder of Morse’s Women’s Empowerment Club, a member of National Honor Society and the Maine People’s Alliance, and was a former member of the Feminist Action Board (Hardy Girls Healthy Women). She has accumulated over 200 volunteer hours since freshman year through swimming, climbing, the Teen Library Council and more. She has received AP Scholar With Distinction, AP Capstone Certificate, Phi Beta Kappa Certificate of Recognition, Harvard Book Award, Language Certificate in French from the University of Maine at Augusta, and the Seal of Biliteracy in French. This summer she won delegate of the week for her town at Dirigo State and attended the Cohen Leadership Institute. She swims competitively and hopes to major in political science or government in college.

Shawn Jiminez, a senior at Gardiner Area High School, serves as the president of the Interact Club and has been appointed to several leadership positions throughout his high school years, including serving as the president of the Drama Club and the Maine Junior Classical League. Shawn was named the 2021 Young Maine Volunteer of the year, accumulating over 300 hours of community service. In addition, he was named a 2022 national quarterfinalist in the American Legion Oratorical Contest, the runner-up in the 2021 Maine State Voice of Democracy Contest, a QuestBridge National College Match scholar, a Horatio Alger State Scholar, a National College Board Rural and Small Town Scholar, and a National Coca-Cola Scholar semifinalist.

Chosen as alternates to the 2023 program were Mr. Ryan Hafener, a resident of Hampden, who attends Hampden Academy and Ms. Carolyne Sauda, a resident of Bangor, who attends Bangor High School.

Delegates and alternates are selected by the state departments of education nationwide and the District of Columbia and Department of Defense Education Activity, after nomination by teachers and principals. The chief state school officer for each jurisdiction confirms the final selection. This year’s Maine delegates and alternates were designated by Pender Makin, Commissioner of Education. During the program week, the student delegates will attend meetings and briefings with senators, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, and leaders of cabinet agencies, among others.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors. Now more than 6,000 strong, alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service. Among the many distinguished alumni are: Senator Susan Collins, the first alumnus to be elected U.S. senator; Secretary of Transportation and former Mayor of South Bend Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, the first alumnus to be appointed as a cabinet secretary; former Senator Cory Gardner, the second alumnus to be elected U.S. senator and the first to be elected to the
U.S. House of Representatives; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first alumnus to be elected governor; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, former presidential advisors Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove. Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David Leroy, Provost of Wake Forest University Rogan Kersh, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and other university educators.

Members of the U. S. Senate Youth Program 2023 annual Senate Advisory Committee are: Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado, the 2023 USSYP Democratic Co-Chair and Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the 2023 USSYP Republican Co-Chair. The full USSYP Senate Advisory Committee consists of the vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders who annually serve as the program’s Honorary Co-Chairs; two senators, one from each party, serving as acting Co-Chairs who each have keynote speaking roles, and an eight-member bipartisan senate panel, four senators from each party, who lend their names in support. Serving on the Advisory Committee for the upcoming program are: Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Senator Bill Cassidy, MD, of Louisiana, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Senator Cynthia M. Lummis of Wyoming.

For more information please visit:

Resources to Prevent Opioid Overdose in Maine Schools

As directed by the 130th Maine legislature the Department of Education created and collected guidelines and resources for schools who choose to stock emergency medication for a suspected opioid overdose on school grounds.  Naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system; the medication has no effect if opioids are absent. It can be administered by trained persons, which makes it ideal for treating a person experiencing an apparent opioid overdose during school or a school-sponsored activity or otherwise on school grounds. The Rule for Medication Administration in Schools [05-071, Ch. 40, Section 6 (last revised 5/11/2022)], outlines the requirements if a school administrative unit plans to stock naloxone. However, schools must consider including naloxone as only one strategy in combatting substance use disorder.

The Substance Use Among Young Adults Summary in Maine was recently released by Maine CDC and reported that in 2020, nearly one in three young adult Mainers qualified as having a substance use disorder: ranking Maine 3rd in the nation. Research suggests that the area of the brain responsible for decision-making does not fully mature until 25 years of age, making this population more vulnerable to risky and harmful behaviors. Now more than ever we must focus on upstream primary prevention efforts before negative health outcomes occur. Prevention programs within schools can be part of comprehensive health education and social-emotional learning.

Health education can assist students to be better consumers of information, manage the complex world around them and be more inclusive of others. Through an effective skills-based health education curriculum, students will practice skills that protect, promote, and enhance lifelong health. Similarly improving foundational social emotional skills such as self-awareness, self- regulation, social awareness (empathy, compassion & respect for self and others), relationships and critical thinking skill development can be applied to address risk factors for substance abuse. These educational programs can complement a Substance Use Policy within a school administrative unit along with distributing naloxone and educating people about how to prevent, recognize and intervene in overdoses to prevent deaths.


Other Resources:

Contact the Office of School and Student Supports at with questions.

Free Postsecondary College and Career Resource Hub for Maine Parents, Students, and Educators

Earlier this month GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) Maine partnered with SEEDS Training (a world-class Social & Emotional Learning Company) to create an online postsecondary college and career resource hub for Maine students, parents, and educators at no cost.

The hub includes a College Readiness Video Series for High School students, a Parenting Tool Belt for parents, and a Professional Development Series for educators.

The hub can be accessed at

Highlights of the site include:

The College Readiness Series:

  • 20 Quick hitting videos, full of practical strategies for getting the most out of the college experience.
  • Ideal for graduating seniors and first year college students covering topics such as financial literacy, developing relationships with new teachers, managing time, dealing with anxiety, communication skills and more.

The Parenting Tool Belt – A five-part online training program to help families have more meaningful and productive conversations.

The Professional Development Series:

  • Recorded 60-90 minute sessions that work with your busy schedule.
  • Social & Emotional Learning content that is designed to get results
  • Professional development for you and take-away curriculum that you can use with your team, students
  • and parent community
  • Networking with other pro educators

For more information about this resource, reach out to Kayla Hopkins, GEAR UP Communications Coordinator at or visit the GEAR UP website.

Two Maine Students Named 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the 58th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

The Maine scholars include (hometown, scholar, school, location):

  • ME – Bar Harbor – Sirohi G. Kumar, Mount Desert Island High School, Mount Desert, Maine.
  • ME – West Gardiner – Brett J. Palmer, Gardiner Area High School, Gardiner, Maine.

“Our 2022 Presidential Scholars represent the best of America, and remind us that when empowered by education, there are no limits to what our young people can achieve,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Today, I join President Biden to celebrate a class of scholars whose pursuit of knowledge, generosity of spirit, and exceptional talents bring our nation tremendous pride. Throughout one of the most trying periods in our nation’s history and amid our recovery from the pandemic, our students have once again demonstrated their strength and that they have so much to contribute to our country. Thanks to them, I know America’s future is bright.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.

Of the 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2022 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists.

As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,900 of the nation’s top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

The Presidential Scholars Class of 2022 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer with an online recognition program.

A complete list of 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars is available at

Celebrating Week of the Young Child April 2-8

Every year, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) hosts Week of the Young Child. This year the celebration will occur from April 2nd through April 8th. Members of the Early Learning Team at the Maine Department of Education plan to share a video each day highlighting early childhood educators across Maine who are enhancing high-quality experiences for young children ages birth through eight. 

Each day’s video will focus on NAEYC’s theme of the day as follows: 

April 4th: Music Monday  

April 5th: Tasty Tuesday  

April 6th: Work Together Wednesday  

April 7th: Artsy Thursday  

April 8th: Family Friday  

The daily video will provide brief information and resources, showcase how related activities are already happening throughout our state, and celebrate the work educators are doing across a variety of early childhood settings. Each video will also challenge viewers to explore new activities in their classrooms, and to share their experiences through social media using the hashtags #WOYC2022 and #MEWOYC2022. 

You can find the daily videos and additional resources posted here as well as through the DOE Newsroom. Thank you to those who have contributed to the videos and photos thus far. We can’t wait to celebrate young children with you! 

Questions can be directed to Early Childhood Specialist Nicole Madore at