This fall, Deering High School in Portland began offering what is believed to be the state’s first Arabic language class in a public school. The course is part of a new Deering initiative to prepare students for the global economy by weaving an international focus into the curriculum. Abdullahi Ahmed, the Arabic teacher, also teaches earth science at Deering. From the elementary grades through college, all of his schooling was in Arabic. One student in the class, who previously lived in Iraq and Egypt, can read, write and speak Arabic fluently. Several others have varying abilities in the language and two are rank beginners. The students must master a new alphabet and learn to read in the opposite direction. Ahmed has students use their iPads to practice writing a few new words every day. He tailors assignments to their language abilities. Ahmed plans to teach students about Arabic cultures as well as the modern Arabic language. In addition to Arabic, Deering also is expanding its World Language offerings by hosting a University of Southern Maine class in Mandarin that is open to qualified high school students. Deering is creating opportunities for students to participate in international programming at the University of New England’s Center for Global Humanities and the World Affairs Council. In future years, the school hopes to create an international study program.
Samuel Hallowell, Katelyn Hallowell and Matthew Atherton were the Portland-area recipients of The Wright-Pierce Student Scholarship. The program was initiated 51 years ago to honor the sons and daughters of Wright-Pierce employees for academic achievement. Since 1962, the scholarships have been awarded to more than 225 students. Wright-Pierce views the scholarship program as a way to acknowledge the importance of higher education by rewarding students who have completed at least their first year of college. Katelyn Hallowell is in her junior year at the University of Maine, Orono, where she is an international business major. Samuel Hallowell just began his junior year at Southern Maine Community College where he is pursuing courses in plumbing and HVAC. Atherton is a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston where he is studying business/accounting and finance. President Bill Brown is proud of the company’s long standing student scholarship tradition, “We are a company that values education, and our employees, so the scholarship program has always felt like a natural way to support both.”
Seven high school students in the Portland Public Schools have been named 2014 National Merit semifinalists. They are among approximately 16,000 semifinalists nationwide who have an opportunity to continue in the competition for 8,000 National Merit Scholarships. The semifinalists from Deering High School are Cleo Barker, Zach Duperry and Jordan Roche. The Portland High School semifinalists are Sam Freedman, Evan Peaco and Jeremy Ravenelle. Ava Koenigsberg, of Casco Bay High School also is a semifinalist. About 1.5 million juniors entered the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. To become finalists, the semifinalists must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay and earn SAT scores that confirm their performance on the qualifying test. From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level. They will be notified in February.