All Mountain Valley Middle School students in Mexico participated in a T-shirt design contest to show which college they hope to attend after high school. The 12 winners, selected by classmates, had their designs printed on T-shirts. From left, front, are seventh-graders Owen Gaudette, Isabella May, and Michael Chase and fifth-grader Dakota Hamner; back, sixth-graders Ausli McQuinn, Chloe Brown and Dylan Theriault, and eighth-graders Brooke Chase, Elizabeth Needham and Joseph Scott. The other fifth grade winners were Colton Gallant and David Bishop. Marianne Hutchinson, Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — Twelve students at Mountain Valley Middle School on Wednesday received T-shirts printed with their designs of colleges they hope to attend.

Three students each from fifth through eighth grades had their designs chosen by classmates as part of the federally funded Gear Up program, which helps students learn about and set goals for higher education.

Lisa Drapeau, coordinator of the Gear Up program at Mountain Valley Middle School in Mexico, on Wednesday presents students with shirts printed with their winning T-shirt designs of colleges they hope to attend. From left are Michael Chase, Isabella May and Elizabeth Needham. Twelve students — three each from fifth through eighth grades — were selected by classmates as winners in the Gear Up contest. Marianne Hutchinson/ Rumford Falls Times

Lisa Drapeau, school coordinator for Gear Up, said the contest is one way the program keeps students active in exploring their future educational possibilities.

The program is in the sixth year of a seven-year grant that pays for career fairs, motivational speakers, discussions on creating a positive school climate and culture, and building community.

Winners were: fifth-graders Colton Gallant, David Bishop and Dakota Hamner; sixth-graders Ausli McQuinn, Chloe Brown and Dylan Theriault; seventh-graders Michael Chase, Isabella May and Owen Gaudette; and eighth-graders Brooke Chase, Elizabeth Needham and Joseph Scott.

Drapeau asked students why it was important to think about what they will do after high school now. Some said because they are close to entering high school.

Fifth-grader Dakota Hamner said he chose the University of Utah because he wants to be a video game designer and they have a program there.

Eighth-grader Elizabeth Needham said the University of Korea was her choice because her “favorite band went there.”

Seventh-grader Isabella May said she chose Boston College because she lived in Boston until 2016.

Joseph Scott, also an eighth-grader, created a Kaplan University design because his cousin attended there. Kaplan was acquired by Purdue University in Indiana in 2018 and renamed Purdue University Global.

Justeen LaPointe of Roxbury, a parent of one of the students, printed the winning T-shirt designs.


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