Portland School Notebook: Dec. 27

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First class of  Ovations ambassadors to take the stage

Portland Ovations Offstage has announced the inaugural class of six Offstage Ambassadors. The class is comprised of sophomores and juniors from four area high schools who will have a semester-long opportunity to explore what a professional commitment to the performing arts entails. 

The inaugural class of Ovations Offstage Ambassadors is: Julie Eglinton and Sophie Urey, Casco Bayl; Amelia McNeil-Maddox, South Portland; Felix Morrissey, and Ariel Leasure, Portland; and Catherine Bernier, Deering.

Offstage Ambassadors will attend a minimum of four Portland Ovations mainstage performances and outreach activities, and also job shadow Ovations’ staff to get an inside look at a leading cultural nonprofit organization. They will participate in a workshop with Bob Keyes of the Portland Press Herald in early January on the art of the review, as they will be asked to post their own reviews on social media sites and/or the organization’s website, PortlandOvations.org. The Offstage Ambassador program will run from December through June each season, after which student will receive community service hours. 

“We are confident that they are not the only ones who will benefit from our time together, as they will help us to connect more deeply with the aspirations and interests of their peers, on the cusp of adulthood,” Catherine Anderson, director of Ovations Offstage, said in a statement. 

Open houses help eighth-graders choose high schools

It’s time for eighth-graders to consider which of Portland’s three public high schools they want to attend in fall 2018.

Portland High School will hold an open house 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 10, while Deering High School will host an eighth-grade open house 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16. 

The events are designed to help families learn about Portland High and Deering as their eighth-graders decide which of Portland’s three high schools they want to attend next year. Casco Bay High School’s open house was held earlier this month.

The Portland Public Schools offers eighth-graders a unique opportunity to choose between three high schools, each with its own distinctive personality and offerings. A Letter of Commitment from families on their student’s school of choice is due by March 9.

Portland students may attend any of the three public high schools – Portland High, Deering and Casco Bay High School – regardless of where they live in the city.

Portland High’s open house will be at the school at 284 Cumberland Ave. Deering’s open house is at the school at 370 Stevens Ave.

Portland High School is the district’s oldest high school and, in fact, is the second- oldest operating public high school in the United States. Portland High, home of the Bulldogs, prides itself on its diversity. Its students come from dozens of countries and speak a wide variety of languages. Founded in 1821, PHS’ location puts it in the heart of Portland’s downtown. “The city is our campus,” the school says. PHS also stresses that it offers rigorous courses with personalized learning plans for each student and helps students prepare for their future through pathways that include job shadows and internships.

Deering, home of the Deering Rams, describes itself as the only International Studies Schools Network high school in New England and the most diverse high school north of Boston. Deering works to develop interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning that emphasize global competence. The school offers a wide range of academic courses, including numerous Advanced Placement options, tiered interventions, and online learning. Additionally, Deering students participate in a vast array of clubs and activities, ranging from drama to sports.

Casco Bay High School for Expeditionary Learning is a small and rigorous public high school that reflects the increasing diversity of the Portland community. Founded in 2005, CBHS is a school of choice for just under 400 students. Casco Bay challenges students to become college-ready through the school’s 3Rs: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships; 98 percent of graduates are accepted to college. In 2017, CBHS was again named one of Maine’s top high schools by U.S. News & World Report. CBHS is a credentialed school in the EL Education national network of schools, and one of the network’s original “Mentor Schools.” In 2014, CBHS was named one of 20 “Deeper Learning” schools in the country and won the $100,000 Larry O’Toole Award from the Nellie Mae Foundation for advancing student-centered learning in New England.

There is no enrollment cap at Portland High or Deering. Casco Bay High School is designed to be a smaller school, so if applications for next year’s ninth-grade class at CBHS exceed 97 students per grade level, a lottery will be held within the two weeks following a lottery form submission deadline of Feb. 14. The Casco Bay lottery, if necessary, will be held on March 1.

The snow date for the PHS Open House is Thursday, Jan. 18. The snow date for the DHS Open House is Wednesday, Jan. 17.

For more information, go to the schools’ websites:  https://phs.portlandschools.org/ or https://dhs.portlandschools.org/ or call Portland High at 874-8250 or Deering at 874-8260. Learn about Casco Bay High School at http://cbhs.portlandschools.org/ or call 874-8160.

From left, Julie Eglinton, Felix Morrissey, Amelia McNeil-Maddox, Sophie Urey, Ariel Leasure and Cat Bernier are members of the first class of Offstage Ambassadors at Portland Ovations.