PARIS — Members of the Class of 2017 received more than $730,000 in scholarships this year, directors of School Administrative District 17 were told Monday night.

“That’s just unbelievable and we do this year after year,” veteran Director Don Ware of Norway said.

The largest single award was $50,000.

Superintendent Rick Colpitts and the school board noted the large amount of money awarded to many of the 235 Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School graduates.

Also Monday, directors voted unanimously to accept more than $11,000 in anonymous donations to pay student debts.

A $10,000 anonymous gift was presented to the school district to pay the debt accumulated by graduating seniors for items such as technology and the food services department. If unpaid, the student could be prevented from graduating with their class.

Another anonymous donation of $1,427 was accepted by directors to pay debts to the food service department at the Oxford Hills Middle School.

“Not only do we donate three-quarters of a million dollars (in scholarships), we also pay off debt of students in school to wipe the slate clean,” Colpitts said.

Additionally, directors accepted a $5,000 donation from Hannaford supermarket in the form of a credit at Good Shepherd Food Pantry to help start a food pantry at the Paris Elementary School.

The program provides “kid-friendly” nutritious meals and snacks that are sent home with students on weekends and extended breaks, at no cost.

“An empty stomach is not conducive to learning,” Mary Lou Peterson, principal of the Paris Elementary School, told board members Monday night.

At the June 5 board meeting, directors approved an anonymous donation of $1,000 to Paris Elementary School to help start a food pantry. The pantry will be supported through donations and not taxpayers, Peterson said.

According to Peterson, the school is above the state and district average for the percentage of students eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches. The state average is 38 percent, the Oxford Hills School District is 52 percent and Paris Elementary School is 66.5 percent.

Last year, the Rowe Elementary School in Norway began a food pantry, which serves 50 to 75 students, giving them food each week to take home.

Peterson said the school would partner with the Oxford Hills Food Pantry and purchase food from the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn. Good Shepherd can deliver food to the school as well as volunteers from Goodwin Motors and Hannaford.

The program also will allow students to learn how to prepare some of the food they will eventually take home.

Some students are already involved in learning about nutrition and preparing food through their weekly trips to Roberts Farm Preserve classroom in Norway.

 In other business, the board of directors:

• Approved a conceptual plan to move a former railroad building on town land to a leased parcel at the Hebron Station School;

• Voted to award the staff Chromebook bid to CDWG for $45,628 after a presentation by Technology Director Mike Dunn on teacher Chromebooks at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School; and

• Approved the superintendent’s nomination of six elementary school teachers at various elementary schools, a high school social studies teacher, middle school counselor and head custodian at the Paris Elementary School.

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School Administrative District 17 directors examine a Chromebook computer, one of many they agreed to buy for teachers. The board met Monday night in Paris.

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