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 http://www.ed.gov/psp.

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 nicole.madore@maine.gov.  

Maine FFA Members Convene for Fall Workshop

Over 100 middle and secondary student members of the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) met at the University of Maine in Presque Isle on November 19, 2021 for a workshop on leadership skills and FFA opportunities.

The FFA is available to students grades 7 to 12 at schools featuring an agriculture or natural resources class/program that has chartered an FFA chapter.  As the largest student-run organization in the United States, with over 750,000 members, the FFA relies on its student officers to conduct activities and trainings.

The November 19th workshop was no exception, as the three State FFA Officers, Nickie Deschaine, President; Delaney McKeen, Vice President; and Ryder Brewer, Secretary-Treasurer, presented sessions that they themselves had developed to FFA students from Ashland High School, Ashland Middle School, Easton Junior/Senior High School, Central Aroostook High School, Central Aroostook Junior High School, Presque Isle Regional Career & Technical Center, and Washburn High School.

Workshop topics included:  “What is FFA?” “Qualities of Leadership,” “Balancing Life” and “Opportunities in FFA.”  FFA-cited opportunities included travel, competitions, awards, scholarships and a number of specific events available to members. Workshop participants left with information and resources to take the best advantage of their school years and their FFA experiences. 

For more information on FFA and on starting an FFA chapter, please contact:  Doug Robertson, Maine FFA State Advisor, Maine Department of Education, 207-624-6744, doug.robertson@maine.gov

Maine DHHS Announces Winners of Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest 

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in partnership with the Maine Department of Education (DOE), today announced the winners of the video competition for Maine children to encourage COVID-19 vaccination.

DHHS and DOE announced the contest on November 3, inviting Maine youth ages 5 to 17 to submit 30-second videos that they believed would encourage other children, along with their parents, to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The winners are:

  • 1st place: Renée Morin (sophomore), Olie Saywell (sophomore), Hunter Roberts (junior, created original score), Ian Kruger (senior, camera operator); The New School (high school), Kennebunk
  • 2nd place: Spencer Michalski (8th grade), homeschooled, Columbia
  • 3rd place: Natalie Waters (6th grade), Lincoln Middle School, Portland

The winning entries can be viewed here:

“Congratulations to the winners of our Maine Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest, who displayed creativity, conviction, and courage in their submissions,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah. “We’re grateful to every Maine child and teenager who submitted an entry – they are all public health champions. Thanks to people like them, Maine is quickly getting enough students vaccinated to begin returning to more normal ways of learning and having fun.”

“Getting back to normal and doing our part to end the pandemic inspired us to submit to the contest,” said the first-place team from The New School. “By spreading awareness and empowering fellow young people with facts about vaccination, helping younger Mainers to not be afraid, and using skills we learned in video production, we hoped to contribute to positive public health messaging.”

“My plunge into the frigid water was worth the sacrifice for the greater good,” added Olie Saywel.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is promoting the winning videos on social media.

Additionally, first-place winner The New School will receive $50,000; second -place winner Spencer Michalski selected Downeast Audubon as the nonprofit to receive the $25,000 second-place prize to fund summer camp scholarships; and third-place winner Lincoln Middle School will receive $10,000.

Schools can use the winnings to supplement school meals with healthy treats; purchase playground, classroom, gym, sports, or music equipment; enhance a special school activity; or support a school field trip for all students.

Over 50 submissions were reviewed, without identifying information, by a committee comprised of DHHS, CDC and DOE staff members. The selection criteria included originality and clarity of the message, consistency with public health information on youth vaccination, and potential to reach unvaccinated groups, among others.

Children could produce the video submissions on their own or as part of a school activity. Participation was limited to Maine residents.

The prize winnings are supported by the Federally funded Coronavirus Relief Fund at Maine DHHS, which was the source of funds for previous COVID-19 vaccine incentive programs in Maine.

The video competition is part of Maine DHHS and Maine CDC’s broader plan to support vaccination of children ages 5 to 11. Nearly 29% of Maine children ages 5 to 11 have received at least a first dose of vaccine, nearly double the national average of 14.7 percent and ranking Maine third in the nation, according to the U.S. CDC.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5 to 11 years old in a two-dose series, and is administered in a lower dose than the vaccine for adolescents and adults.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge at sites across the state. For information on getting a vaccine, please visit Maine.gov/covid19/vaccines or call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

WEBINAR: COVID-19 Vaccines for School-Aged Children: What Parents and Families Should Know

Please join the U.S. Department of Education and National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement for an informational webinar following the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech age 5-11 vaccine.

Thursday, December 9, 2021
At 8:00PM EST

This is a such special time of year, and this year, we all have one more thing to be grateful for: Kids ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, specifically formulated for young kids. And getting your child vaccinated is the best way to keep them safe from COVID, including the Delta variant. This is great news for parents and families.

During the webinar, esteemed panelists including United States Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten along with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics will address common concerns and worries among parents and families about the COVID-19 vaccine for their child(ren) ages 5-11.

Parents are invited to submit questions about the vaccine on the registration form. Pre-submitted questions will help plan the content of the session. Time will also be reserved for live questions and answers at the end of the event.

Register in advance for this meeting here!

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. For further information please contact cdchealthyschools@cdc.gov or visit https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/