Portland School Notebook: Feb. 15

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PHS grad is Keynote Scholar

Evan Peaco, a 2014 graduate of Portland High School and a junior studying aerospace engineering at University of Maryland, College Park, is the recipient of a nationwide search and competition for the Goddard Memorial Dinner Keynote Scholarship.

Peaco  was awarded a $10,000 scholarship, and will be the keynote speaker at the 60th annual National Space Club Goddard Memorial Dinner on March 10, in Washington, D.C. 

Peaco was chosen from more than 7,000 candidates who submitted applications. The group was narrowed down to 110 students who submitted videos and, from that group, six students were chosen for in-skype interviews. Peaco rose to the top of the competition with his strong academic record and experience in aerospace. His list of honors and accomplishments include being named a National Merit Scholar and receiving the University of Maryland’s Banneker/Key Scholarship. Peaco hopes to take his achievements and apply them one day towards advancing the world’s manned spaceflight capabilities, particularly to Mars or to the moon.

St. Brigid’s students give thanks

Younger students at St. Brigid School in Portland took their pencils, crayons and markers in hand Feb. 2 to apply their creativity to a project designed to thank the many supporters of their school community.

Pre-kindergarteners, first-graders, and second-graders made cards for priests, retired priests, parishioners at Our Lady of Hope Parish, and community members who have donated their time and talent to help make St. Brigid School a place where students are formed as people of spirit, mind, and faith.

“These cards are for the people who help the school,” said Mrs. Wescott to her class. “Like Fr. Sullivan.”

“He talks for God,” said Addalyn, a pre-kindergartener.

The complexity of the cards varied by the age of each artist. Pre-kindergarteners wrote “thank you,” drew a heart or cross, and signed their name, while second- graders created more elaborate tributes, featuring multiple colors and scenes.

The card shower was part of St. Brigid School’s Catholic Schools Week festivities which ran from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4. 

UNE earns strong bond rating

On the heels of receiving an A3 financial rating from Moody’s Investors Service, the first bond rating in the institution’s history, the University of New England is pleased to announce that Fitch Ratings has assigned UNE an A- rating.

The Fitch Ratings report points to several key ratings drivers including sound financial management, moderate debt burden and enrollment growth. “UNE has grown total FTE [full time equivalent] enrollment by over 30 percent in the past five years, largely by adding or expanding its graduate and professional programs in the health and social sciences fields,” the report said.

UNE Vice President of Finance and Administration Nicole Trufant said the report shows promise for the university’s longevity. “These reports from Moody’s and Fitch recognize UNE’s strategic planning in connection with significant enrollment growth. Through the leadership of President (Danielle) Ripich and senior administration, the university has secured a strong financial future offering a diversity of programs that meet the market’s needs.”

Ripich recently received the Robert R. Masterson Economic Growth Award from the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce. The university’s economic impact report for academic year 2016 demonstrated that its total financial impact for the year across the state of Maine totaled more than $1 billion.

MAMM expands to two city schools

The Maine Academy of Modern Music announced it will be bringing its MAMMOTH Rock Chorus program to two Portland elementary schools this year.

Emilia Dahlin will lead the rock chorus program during the school day at the Ocean Avenue Elementary School in collaboration with the school’s music teacher, Heather Sumner. Funding from a grant from the Portland Education Foundation will allow Dahlin to host students from the Presumpscot Elementary School after school at MAMM’s new location, just two doors down the street.

The MAMMOTH Rock Chorus brings local children and teens together to rehearse and perform popular songs in an inspiring and supportive setting. In both small and large groups the Rock Chorus will celebrate contemporary and classic rock, R&B, and pop music.

Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine announced Portland native Rowland Robinson, has joined his Washington, D.C., office for a spring semester internship.

“Rowland has already demonstrated a steadfast work ethic and passion for learning during his time in my Senate office,” King said. “It’s great to see young Maine people engaged in the legislative process.”

Rowland is a senior at Northeastern University in Boston, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs. As a junior at Northeastern he participated in a four-month internship at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore with the U.S. Commercial Service.