JAY — When 8-year-old Max Dayson had concerns about proposed school budget cuts, he went straight to the top.
He wrote to President Barack Obama.
It was the second letter he had written to Obama with the help of his older brother, Rico Gortmans, 15.
Dayson is a third-grader at the Jay Elementary School. Gortmans is a freshman at Jay High School.
The first letter Dayson wrote was in February to say hello.
"I wanted to write to the president because he was the first black president," Dayson said. He received a reply in June thanking him for writing.
In his second letter he wrote in May, he shared his concerns.
"The schools were cutting all the teachers and I need them to learn," Dayson said Monday as he and his brother sat at the table in their kitchen.
The boys' mother, Heidi Dayson, said she never saw either of the letters they wrote because she was working.
Her husband, Rob Dayson, knew about the letters.
"I suggested for the second letter that he get his attention," the elder Dayson said.
His son did just that. He stapled a small, school picture to the letter so the president would know who he is.
Gortmans found the address to The White House for his brother, helped fix spelling mistakes, and mailed the letter.
Max Dayson took the first letter dated in June, out of a large envelope Monday. It was on White House stationary with an embossed seal. It came with cardboard backing it and was addressed "Dear Student."
Then he reached into a long, regular envelope and pulled out the second letter. It was on the same stationary with the seal and dated Sept. 29.
But this time the paper was tri-folded to fit in the envelope and was addressed "Dear Max."
"It's nice that he wrote back," Dayson said, before he read the letter out loud.
The president thanked him for writing to him about the tough times he was facing.
"I appreciate you sharing your story with me. As a young man, I too faced difficult moments," Obama wrote. "Like many young Americans I found hope and support in my family and community.
"Overcoming adversity is a test we all face, and it is often helpful to reach out to family, teachers, clergy and others we respect for guidance and assistance."
The president ensured Dayson he is "working hard to make our communities and homes better for all Americans."
"I think he was listening to me because he knew what to write back," Dayson said.
"I thought it was pretty cool that he wrote back, not that I didn't expect him to," Gortmans said.
The family moved to Maine several years ago from San Diego, Calif. They have lived in Jay four years.
"Max was worried about who was going to lose their jobs," his mother said.
"I was concerned leaving the middle school," Gortmans said. "I heard a lot of my teachers were getting cut."
The decrease in staff was eased some by a federal stimulus funding package.
The brothers are proud that Obama is the first black president.
"He's inspired me that I could do anything I want when I grow up," Dayson said. His brother concurred.
Dayson is planning to write more letters.
He'll be writing U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, next.
"I'm going to ask her if I can go to the White House," he said.