Student-led campaign helps solidify support for Portland charter school

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PORTLAND — After the Maine Charter Schools Commission asked Baxter Academy for Technology and Science supporters to demonstrate support for the school, one enterprising student rose to the challenge.

Chris McCammon, now a freshman at Scarborough High School, brainstormed the idea for a fundraising campaign for the school. The project, called the 10 Day Campaign, sought to show the commission that there was support for the school by asking students and families make donations.

McCammon’s first step was to donate $100 of his own money, payable when the charter agreement is signed for the school’s fall opening. He challenged others to join him and, by the end of the campaign on April 4, the project received 344 pledges totaling more than $8,000.

As a way to get his message out to other would-be Baxter students, McCammon turned to his skill with technology and created a YouTube video that was posted on the school website.

McCammon said that while he likes Scarborough High School, he chose to attend Baxter because he felt he would have a better, technology-based education at the charter school.

His mother, Laurie, agreed and said that while McCammon is getting a good education at Scarborough, the school is not keeping up with the kids in terms of technology education.

“The example I gave the (charter) commission was that here is Chris, making these videos and having his own YouTube channel, and at Scarborough the only class they had that he could take this year was ‘Technology in the Real World’ and they were teaching him how to do searches on Google,” she said. “I knew at Baxter he would have a chance to do project-based learning, where he could explore things from his own level.”

Allison Crean Davis, vice chairwoman of the Baxter board, said the money raised by the campaign has not been earmarked for anything specific. But she said the show of support was critical in getting commission’s unanimous decision to grant the school’s charter.

“The fact that this was student-conceived, student-run and student-realized is very exciting,” Crean Davis said. “It is important for (the commission) to know the human side of it as well. I think the support is really important, to know that these students are so motivated to go to this school that they would actually do this on their own is pretty remarkable and compelling.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at [email protected] or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.