Class of 2017: South Portland twin sisters ‘motivate each other’

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Twin sisters who are among the high school’s top graduates have more than just impressive academic achievements.

One advocates for public schools, the other strives to make South Portland High School a better place for all students.

As might be expected, the 18-year-olds complement each other in many ways.

“We both aid each other and motivate each other to be better,” Julia Stanton said.

Ellen Stanton and her fraternal twin sister will join their classmates in graduation ceremonies at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 11, at the school’s Martin Memorial Field.

The senior girls are both straight-A students whose resumes are filled with awards, leadership roles, activities, honors, and volunteering. While they are similar in many ways, the teens can also be a study in contrasts.

Ellen was one of only two students in the state to be named a 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Both are members of the National Honor Society. Ellen is a National Merit Scholar, was the winner of Maine’s Principal Award and the Harvard University Book Award; Julia earned earned a Letter of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Program and the Dartmouth Book Award.

Ellen is the valedictorian of the Class of 2017, while Julia is not far behind, ranked fifth in their class. She was a Maine Research intern and worked for a summer at the Gulf of Maine Research Center in Portland.

“We do a lot of similar things but in different ways,” Julia said.

“Our parents raised us to be independent of each other,” Ellen added.

Julia is co-captain and the No. 1 singles player for the Red Riots tennis team; Ellen is also co-captain, and plays doubles.

Both sisters play in the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo. Ellen plays the alto sax and piano, while Julia plays the violin, clarinet and bass guitar.

As treasurer of the student Senate, it’s no surprise that Ellen’s favorite subject is math, while Julia loves creative writing. Ellen likes to work behind the scenes at the school musicals as assistant stage manager, while Julia likes to perform. Julia is president of the student senate.

Ellen, who was born first, said she is a little shy, but Julia is an extrovert. Julia calls her sister more organized and said she is more free spirited.

Julia calls herself more adventurous and says she wants to go everywhere, including studying abroad and backpacking through India.

Ellen is comfortable in her own space. “I am happy where I am,” she said.

“Ellen is more of a planner; I get stressed when I plan,” Julia said.

Ellen was vice president of the youth group at their synagogue, Congregation Bet Ha’am, and Julia is a member who also volunteered there and for the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals.

Ellen is co-president of the Gay Straight Transgender Alliance while Julia is also a member.

The twins are both members of virtually every social justice club the school offers.

Both girls volunteer for English as a Second Language classes.

Julia has served as a student representative on the city School Board for the last two years and helped play a role in determining later start times that take effect in September.

Ellen has concerns about students who abandon their public schools in high school to attend private schools. The result, she said, could be underfunded public schools.

“I like everything about South Portland High School. I love my time here, I am enjoying my last moments,” she said.

Both sisters are registered Democrats.

Next year, Ellen will be studying data analytics at Simmons College in Boston on a full scholarship. She said she wants to “apply quantitative math skills to social justice fields in order to make a difference in my community.”

Julia will be attending Emerson College, also in Boston. She plans on studying political communications with a focus in nonprofit organizations. Her goal involves political activism and speech writing.

“Ellen is the kind of person who motivates everyone else around here to do the best that they can do,” Julia said. “She has the energy of a leader, which draws everyone else to her. She has the capability, as well as the charisma to be a leader.

Julia said she loves to write and is working on a novel. She also writes poetry and has won awards for her short stories.

“She is definitely more creative,” Ellen said.

“You have your moments,” Julia replied. “You’re clever.”

 Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter@melaniesochan

Julia Stanton, 18, left, and her twin sister, Ellen, will graduate from South Portland High School on Sunday, June 11. Julia is ranked fifth in their class and Ellen is first.

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