The Bethel Rotary Club is pleased to sponsor the Telstar HS Student of the Month program. November/December Students of the month seen from left are sophomore Matt Bean, Senior Frank Campra, junior Emily Cummings and freshman Ella Akers. File photo/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — The November/December Students of the Month (SOM) at Telstar High School are involved with school activities and community service projects.

During a Zoom meeting Monday, Jan. 31, Fransesco “Frank” Campra, a senior and foreign exchange student from Italy, junior Emily Cummings, sophomore Matt Bean, and freshman Ella Akers highlighted their activities and current career goals.

Campra was a member of the cross country team and now plays basketball. He hasn’t been involved in any community service activities yet but thinks he will in the future.

Talking with organizations, is something Campra considers doing. He expects to present his achievements and how his life has changed as part of his Capstone Project (required for graduation).

“I will give the presentation during an assembly such as Student of the Month,” he said. Campra may discuss some of the main differences between school systems in Italy and Maine.

“We don’t have classes where we switch,” he said. “We have one class and the teachers switch. We do not have lockers, we just carry our backpacks, our books.”


Laptops are used but schools in Italy do no provide them. “If you have your own, good, if not too bad,” Campra said. “We still use books and notebooks.”

In Italy students go to school six days a week, spend five years in high school instead of the four in Maine, he said. School starts at 8:30 a.m., ends at 1:30 p.m. and there is no lunch, just a break in the middle of the day, Campra said.

“You can’t choose your classes, you have to follow the classes that school provides,” he said. “It’s like a university — you have to choose the field you’re interested in.”

For Campra the most important difference — in a positive way — is how important doing sports activities is here. “The Italian system doesn’t really care about athletics, just cares about academics,” he said. “We don’t play sports in school. If you want to play you have to join an association, club or traveling team. I was surprised how well organized the sports teams are here.”

While Campra most misses speaking Italian – because he loves his language – he is teaching it to his friends so they will be able to speak it with him.

College is different in Italy and Campra is still trying to figure out his best options. He plans to apply to colleges here and see what they can do, but he has to go back to Italy and finish his last year there.


“I still have a year to think about it,” he said. “I’m interested in sports, pretty good at math so am interested in management at first, then more specifically sports management.”

Cummings is part of the JMG program at Telstar which was put together last spring. She is secretary, and part of the leadership team. During the weekly meetings she has helped organize fundraisers such as the Christmas one done last month.

“We put together a resource cabinet for school,” she said. “It has personal care products, food and snacks for kids in school.”

Outside of school, Cummings is involved with the leadership group Northstar.

“I have my own group I do activities with,” she said. “I also mentor a younger group. With my own group this summer we put together a community garden. We’ll move to a bigger location this coming summer.

“Last year we had a pretty small space so all the food we grew we delivered to elder living communities in town every week,” she said.


Cummings works at The Bethel Sugar Shack and is interested in agriculture or wildlife biology as possible careers.

“Northstar has helped me be in pursuit of those things,” she said.

In the past Bean was part of the Maine Outdoor Leadership program. He is currently trying to get into another one. The application deadline is Feb. 8 and he would learn if accepted sometime this spring.

“If I was accepted it would be another great opportunity,” he said.

Before it got really snowy and cold, Bean used the workout room at Telstar High School.

“I’m not a sporty type of kid, I don’t do soccer, basketball, football, but I do like to work out so I go there,” he said. “What I’m trying to get into is more of a personal trainer. When I get home from school I have a set routine for working out. I try to show others how I think it would be, what’s best for what they want to do.”


Martial arts also interest Bean.

“There are not many options locally near Andover,” he said.

Akers is part of the Civil Rights Team at Telstar. She is also on the Nordic ski team.

“I haven’t done a lot of community service so far this year,” Akers said. “I helped out a couple times at the middle school which is very small. One of the days I went for the day when I didn’t have school. I helped out with anyone needing help with math or writing, anything like that.”

Another time Akers helped with a field trip to her mom’s herbalist business. She said she sometimes helps with growing the herbs, probably was more involved when younger.

“I do horseback riding,” she said. “Right now I’m mostly doing dressage, am trying to get more into jumping.” She doesn’t own a horse, takes lessons at Moondance Farm in Andover.


Akers isn’t really sure about her career goals but is interested in psychology.

The SOM Program is sponsored by the Bethel Rotary Club and recognizes students for their contributions to the school and community through service, their academic pursuits, and being a great role model for the student body. Telstar High School staff nominate and select the winners.

Akers participates in Telstar Freshman Academy (TFA) at the 4-H Camp and Learning Center in Woodstock.

“Regular classes such as English and social studies are held, then we also do outdoor stuff where we learn how to use maps and compasses, wilderness first aide, how to rock climb, things like that,” she said. “I think the goal is to teach how to be life long learners, how to have a good work ethic, be open minded, try to instill certain values in us that are important.”

“There’s a lot of negativity around TFA,” Akers said. “I know a lot of kids, a lot of people don’t like it or think it’s not good. I think it’s a really cool thing, there are a lot of learning opportunities there. You kind of get out of it what you put into it.”

Comments are not available on this story.