DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — People often ask Priscila Muro, who hails from a large city in Brazil, how she ended up attending school in a town and state that’s mostly unknown to the greater world population.
“Everyone says how can you find Foxcroft Academy when it is so small,” the Foxcroft Academy boarding student said Thursday. For her and the 90 other boarding students that attend the secondary school in Dover-Foxcroft, it was easy. “Just Goggle for the best boarding schools and Foxcroft Academy is at the top of the list,” she said.
Jay Brennan, associate head of school, admissions and residential life, said the secondary school fields more than 100 inquiries a year from international and domestic students interested in the independent school that also educates SAD 68 students through a tuition agreement.
While at least one other independent Maine secondary boarding school has expanded its offerings by developing a school abroad to entice more students, Foxcroft Academy finds no need to do that because it has a waiting list.
Most of Foxcroft Academy’s boarding students are from Asia, but like Muro from Sao Paulo, Brazil, many find the academy through the Internet or from groups abroad organized by former Foxcroft Academy students and their families, such as the Korean Parents Association.
Only top students who have a 3.0 grade point average or better and who have a high level of English proficiency are accepted by the academy, according to Brennan. He said he makes annual treks to China and Korea where he interviews interested students and holds dinner meetings so parents can meet other parents of potential or enrolled students.
To make their learning a well-rounded experience, the boarding students — most of whom go on to attend Ivy League schools, are required to participate in an extracurricular activity sponsored by the academy, which integrates them into the community, according to Foxcroft Academy Headmaster Arnold Shorey. “The commu-nity is very accepting of the students,” he said Thursday.
Brennan agreed. “There’s an ongoing effort to allow the community to get to know the students and the students get to know the community,” he said.
To provide a family atmosphere, community and faculty members serve as host parents in their homes and as dorm parents in the three residential halls and in the new $7 million dormitory on campus, which holds 52 boarding students.
While the boarding students get a top education and a cultural experience, the community also reaps benefits. The boarding students pay $33,100 in tuition per person per year, which helps subsidize the education of district children, according to Brennan. Since 1997, the district lost 100 students, each of whom represented about $8,500 in tuition and that loss is being absorbed through the boarding program, he said. The boarding fees also help cover the academy’s maintenance and operation costs, he said.
In addition, local students have an opportunity to learn about other countries.
“These are small-town kids from little Dover-Foxcroft who are having the windows of the world opened up to them,” Brennan said. “Our day students are now being prepared to work and live and interact in a global community.”
Arnold agreed. “They’re [boarding students] bringing a lot of knowledge to a small community in central Maine that it wouldn’t ordinarily have,” he said Thursday.
Adrien Simon of Paris, France, sees the reverse of that. He said he will return to his home in France and tell his family and friends what life is like in a small Maine town. “I’ve always had this kind of [an] American dream,” Simon said. “It definitely was a good decision for me to attend FA because I received the help I needed to get an exceptional education.”
Fa Lin of Beijing, China, who is in his second year at Foxcroft Academy and plans to return for a third year, said his American experience has made him a better person. “The school is the best,” he said.
That comment was echoed by Muro. She said she initially had planned to stay at Foxcroft Academy for only six months to improve her English but she liked the school and the area so much she decided to stay the entire school year. “They care about you here,” she said.
“I will miss FA and my friends,” Muro said, of her return to Brazil this summer to prepare for college. It may be a small school in a small community, she said, but it has given her a great learning experience.