Walter Hill is running for the Ward 1 seat on the Lewiston School Committee.

LEWISTON — Former School Committee member Walter Hill, who said he wants to help the city’s disadvantaged youth, has announced he is running for a seat on the committee.

The election is in November.

“I empathize with those kids who don’t have perfect home environments and are able to succeed,” Hill said Friday. He said he knows what it’s like not to have three square meals a day and clean clothes ready to wear to school.

Growing up, he was taken from his mother and placed in a series of foster homes in and out of state. That meant attending a string of different schools.

By the time he was a student at Lewiston High School, he was poor, living on his own, “basically couch surfing,” he said. “Bob Connors was my mentor. He was the principal in 1986.”

Hill said he was working full time at Gates Formed Fiber and going to high school, and at times was so tired he’d fall asleep in class. When he was told he would not graduate because he was missing credits, Connors got involved, encouraging and helping him.

“Bob told me he wanted me to be able to walk down the aisle,” Hill said.

He graduated in 1988.

“It goes to show how important it is to have people who care,” he said.

Overall, Lewiston schools face enormous challenges, Hill said. “Our poor and struggling families simply can’t wait. That’s why I’m running for the Lewiston School Committee, to provide the best education possible for all our children.”

If elected, he would represent Ward 1 in the seat held by Renee Courtemanche.

Hill, 50, a former vice chairman of the Lewiston Planning Board, said other priorities for him are to attract and retain great teachers and to help raise Lewiston High School’s graduation rate.

“In today’s economy, a high school diploma is essential to a young person’s future,” Hill said. “We need to give our students the best chance to fulfill their dreams.”

Raising the graduation rate would also help grow the local economy, he said.

“If we are able to raise the graduation rate, we’ll see more employers looking to move to Lewiston because we have a more talented workforce,” Hill said.

Born and raised in the community, Hill has worked in sales, marketing and restaurant management with Marriott Corp., where he won the J.W. Marriott President’s Award.

He has also served on several boards, including the Abnaki Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, Community Concepts, Great Falls Balloon Festival and the Independence Day Committee.

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