Nearly 300 eighth graders from 23 schools visited John Bapst for their Step-Up Day on Thursday. The event held every year is an opportunity for prospective ninth-graders to tour the school, talk to students, meet teachers, observe a school day and attend a pep rally.

Many Maine middle schoolers have a choice to make once they reach eighth grade: where they’ll attend high school.

As schools in the Bangor area woo students from towns with high school choice, John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor held its Step-Up Day on Thursday to give eighth graders an opportunity to tour the school, talk to students, meet teachers and observe a school day.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Some 280 students from 23 schools, including some homeschoolers, visited John Bapst for the event, according to Head of School Mel MacKay.

“They get to experience classes taught by John Bapst teachers, have lunch with us and attend a pep rally, all while gauging how well our academically focused, creative school might match their strengths and interests and personality,” MacKay said.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

During the pep rally, the band played, cheerleaders cheered and students, both current and visiting, gathered in Sekera Auditorium to sing and cheer for Bapst.

John Bapst is a private high school that enrolls students from throughout the Bangor area. Students from towns without a designated public high school, such as Orrington, Dedham and Holden, have their tuition paid by their hometowns. The school also has international students from almost two dozen countries who make up 15 percent of the population.

Georgina LaGrange, a junior at John Bapst, looks forward to Step-Up Day every year.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

“I love my school,” LaGrange said. “I want to share that with as many people as possible.”

A family information night for parents that was scheduled for Thursday night has been postponed until next Wednesday, Feb. 12 due to snow. Step-up night takes place from 6 to 8 p.m.