PARIS — About 4,000 Oxford Hills School District students, staff and others marched down Main Street on Wednesday morning to show their enthusiasm to aspire higher, as scores of family members, friends and the business community came out to line Main Street in support.

The parade, which set off from the Oxford Hills Middle School and marched to the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, featured each of the district’s eight schools showing off its zeal for college and postgraduate aspirations by carrying school banners, yelling slogans and wearing signs of support.

“One, two, three, four, OES is the best, OES aspires higher!” screamed enthusiastic students from Oxford Elementary School during the 45-minute parade.

Aspire Higher was started 16 years ago by former Superintendent Mark Eastman when approximately 75 participants marched along Main Street in Paris to promote higher education.

The Oxford Hills School District had been conducting annual walks for education, for which students collect monetary pledges. In 1999, the idea was formulated to scale-up the walk and encourage anyone in the community to come out and march with the students to show their support.

The district provides numerous opportunities for the community to support students in raising aspirations through community-based activities, such as the career fair and guest speakers, through a four-week period surrounding the parade.


Additionally, Aspire Higher scholarships, donated by businesses and community members, are awarded annually in assemblies at each school.

Many people lining the street have been attending the parade for years.

“We come very year to see our kids,” said Karen Oliver, owner of Oliver & Co. Day Care of Paris. At least four students who attend her day care were marching with the parade along with former day care students now in the senior class.

“Police, they’re coming!” screamed one of the nearly dozen children from the day care center who waited anxiously for the parade to come by, including a bus load of preschool students who waved from their high perches.

The parade, led by School Superintendent Rick Colpitts, school board Chairman Ron Kugell and other board members and administrators, was followed by the high school marching band, who played a rousing rendition of “Louie, Louie,” along with the Class of 2016 and other high school classes.

One bus load carried high school students who waved banners out the window representing different colleges and universities, including Mount Holyoke and Swarthmore colleges and Columbia University.


Students from the Oxford Hills Middle School followed the high school students, pushing their Aspire Higher race car the length of the parade route.

Preschool students waved from a bus as students from the district’s six elementary schools followed, each showing their distinctive support for higher education.

Students in the Waterford Elementary School wore handmade signs that stated what the child aspired to be — dancer, teacher or shoe salesman.

Many of the schools will continue their Aspire Higher activities after the parade. The Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, for instance, was holding a career and college fair for the students. 

“It’s unbelievable . . . unbelievable,” Rowe Elementary School Principal Dan Hart said as he passed by with about 400 students from his school.

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