South Portland, ME (June 9, 2016) – Maine Connections Academy (MCA), Maine’s first tuition-free virtual charter school for students in grades 7-12, hosted an in-person commencement ceremony to honor its third class of graduating seniors on Thursday, June 8, at 3 p.m., in the North Wing Pine Tree Room of the Augusta Civic Center. Paralympic athlete and local inspiration, Joshua Kennison of South Paris, Maine, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony, imparting wisdom about the importance of overcoming obstacles, and never giving up on dreams. The ceremony included heartfelt speeches from three graduating students, who shared remarks about their own unique experiences and hopes for the future.
MCA’s third graduating class is comprised of 45 students, up from just six in its first year of graduating students in 2015. These rising numbers are a testament to MCA’s personalized curriculum and an increased desire among Maine families for online learning programs. Three graduates were recognized with Maine Principal awards, honoring students who have achieved academic excellence and embody exceptional citizenship.
• Anthony Moore, of North Yarmouth
• Julianna Saucier, of Sanford
• Leela Stockley, of Chester
Each of these three award recipients also served as student speakers, sharing their unique stories with the crowd, and expressing their gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of MCA.
Moore relayed his experiences of being bullied by peers and the lack of academic challenge he experienced prior to enrolling in the online academy. After joining MCA, he began to thrive, explaining, “MCA was the best choice for me, because I was able to be me.”
Saucier shared her struggles with severe migraines, which made attendance at her traditional school extremely difficult. After enrolling at MCA, she was able to sign up for dual enrollment courses through the University of Maine at Fort Kent, where she completed college classes, all while earning her high school diploma. She attributed much of her success to her teachers, stating, “I have always received extreme support from all of the teachers and staff at Maine Connections Academy.”
Stockley spoke of how much she has changed since joining the school, and expressed her appreciation for the connections that she has made along the way. “Maine Connections Academy has definitely lived up to its namesake, igniting connections within me and within all of its students to be able to create a brighter future.”
The keynote address was delivered by local Paralympic athlete, Joshua Kennison, who shared his story of overcoming great odds to compete and excel in the sport of Track and Field. Born with no hands, feet, or tongue, Kennison described how the support of family and friends helped him learn to speak, walk, and eventually run, breaking the T-43 World Long Jump Record in 2012. During his speech, Kennison encouraged students to always keep a positive mindset throughout their lives. “As long as you have a positive mindset, you can walk out those doors and do anything you want. So just go out there, have fun and help people.”
Kennison’s speech and the students’ remarks are available for viewing on the MCA Facebook page
“The entire MCA staff is extremely proud of our graduates, who are an exceptional group of thoughtful, determined individuals,” said MCA Principal Doug Bourget. “They have all demonstrated perseverance and self-motivation to get to this point, which will serve them well no matter what career paths they choose to pursue from here. I look forward to watching them take the skills they have learned with us, and apply them towards all of their future endeavors.”
MCA offers students an award-winning online curriculum and the opportunity to work closely with certified teachers using detailed daily lesson plans that can be personalized to meet individual student needs. MCA is currently enrolling up to 429 students for the 2017-18 school year on a first-come, first-served basis—it is recommended that families interested in virtual school submit an application as soon as possible.
For more information about MCA, please call (207) 805-3254, or visit www.MaineConnectionsAcademy.com.
About Maine Connections Academy:
Maine Connections Academy (MCA) is Maine’s first statewide, tuition-free, distance-learning public charter school for students in grades 7-12. MCA provides students with the flexibility to learn from anywhere there is an Internet connection. The combination of certified Maine-based teachers, an award-winning curriculum, engaging electives, technology tools, and social experiences, provides a supportive learning opportunity for students who want a personalized approach to education. The school’s teaching center is based at 75 John Roberts Road in South Portland. MCA is authorized by the Maine Charter School Commission and governed by non-profit local Governing Board. Educational programs and other services are provided by Connections Academy, a national leader in online learning that has supported schools with high-quality, online learning for more than a decade. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit MaineConnectionsAcademy.com.