DIXFIELD — More than 50 parents, teachers and other Regional School Unit 10 staff heard a report Tuesday night on the federal GEAR-UP program, a seven-year effort to encourage students to continue their education after high school.

The district is in its second year of the program, known as Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. It will receive more than $500,000 over seven years.

Among the supports offered to students from Mountain Valley, Dirigo and Buckfield high schools are small advisory groups, improvement with home-school communication and assistance for middle school students to enter high school.

“RSU 10 is unique with what it does,” said Eleni Margaronis, coordinator for GEAR-UP. “RSU 10 actually starts in the younger grades.”

Among the many activities and supports offered to students are visits to or from mostly Maine-based colleges, practice for the Scholastic Aptitude Test and information from colleges on requirements for attendance.

Mountain Valley High School Principal Matt Gilbert said teachers underwent training for proctoring PSAT and SAT tests; the high school schedule was redesigned to make more time for advisory groups; a Girl Talk program was begun; and eighth-graders were invited to the high school in Rumford.


Rachel Buck of Dirigo High School in Dixfield said a homeroom buddies program has been established, and invitations to University of Maine at Farmington professors to visit the high school are planned.

Buckfield Junior-Senior High School teacher Donna Whitney said some of the activities meant to encourage students to go beyond secondary education include providing college visits for younger high school students, virtual job shadowing and a summer academy.

Superintendent Craig King said the data collected from Tuesday’s session will be considered in developing the 2016-17 school budget.

RSU 10 member towns are Rumford, Mexico, Byron, Roxbury, Dixfield, Canton, Carthage, Peru, Hartford, Sumner, Buckfield and Hanover.

The next regular RSU 10 board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11, at Dirigo Elementary School in Peru.

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