HINCKLEY – Maine’s first charter school, The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences at Good Will-Hinckley, will hold its first graduation on August 2, and 10 of the 46 students who are enrolled at the school will receive their diplomas.
“We are really, really thrilled to see 10 of the seniors graduate,” said Rebecca Pollard, a spokesperson for the central Maine school. “40 to 50 percent of the students who came to our school indicated they were either on the verge of dropping out or already had.”
According to the school’s website, the charter school in Hinckley was the first public high school in Maine to focus their educational goals and curriculum on agriculture, sustainability, forestry, workforce skills training and independent living. Now they are the first charter to school in the state to hold a commencement.
Students in the graduating class have come to the school from towns and cities throughout the state. “We do a good job with outreach and parents and guidance counselors know about us,” Pollard said.
According to Pollard, the school has also made a conscious effort to add community based projects to the school’s new curriculum.
“We feel like community service is an important part of our curriculum,” Pollard said. “Our curriculum is really project based and focused on the outside of the classroom, and community service is embedded in that curriculum.”
The graduation ceremonies will take place at the Moody Chapel on the campus of Kennebec Valley Community College at 5 p.m., and speakers will include Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen and Professor (emeritus) Bernd Heinrich.
Heinrich , a retired professor of Biology from the University of Vermont and 1959 graduate of Good Will-Hinckley, may be best known for his book, Why We Run: A Natural History. The book focuses, as a scientist would, on the sport of long-distance running and he describes his own personal experiences running a 100-kilometer (62.14 miles) race, a race that started his own ultra-marathon career
“We are not sure at this point how many will be in the graduating class next year, but we hope to increase the enrollment to 67-70 students,” Pollard said. “Our school is year-round and the graduation in August coincides with alumni coming back. We hope it’ll be like this every year.”