PARIS — All but the most basic elements of learning fell by the wayside for students over the course of the pandemic. School clubs, sporting and humanities programs, competitions and gatherings – the things that can help students find their passions and make education more rewarding – were put on hold.

In Oxford Hills extracurricular and intracurricular activities have been making a comeback. But obstacles that effected some educational experiences before, remain in place. Namely, the school district has no budget for school trips. Anytime a teacher or school group wishes to take its curriculum outside the doors it falls to parents and outside business and community organizations to fund the venture.

Jim Kothe, longtime Latin teacher at OHCHS. Courtesy OHCHS Library

Now, Robert Campbell, from OHCHS Class of ’87 and member of OHCHS Alumni Association’s Hall of Honor, is asking the community to join him in removing financial barriers so today’s OHCHS students are guaranteed a well-rounded education that includes field trips.

Campbell has donated $10,000 to the school in memory of former Latin teacher James Kothe to support what Principal Ted Moccia calls the “academic boosters.”

It is the second time this year Campbell has honored Kothe. And it is not all Campbell is doing. He will match all other donations made by the community dollar-for-dollar, up to $15,000 in an effort to establish an fund of $45,000 for OHCHS’ Academic Boosters Club. Moccia has served as the faculty chair of the club, which he said began at the beginning of 2020 but never got a chance to really get off the ground.

“Pre-COVID, students and their families have been asked to contribute (financially) whenever a class plans a field trip,” Moccia said. “Rob’s donation will make it possible for all kids to participate” on equal footing.


Moccia made the announcement Friday, releasing a letter written by Campbell explaining the impact that Kothe, OHCHS’ Latin teacher for many years, has had on him and how it inspired him to give back to his alma mater. Kothe taught at OHCHS between 1972-2001. He passed away in 2018.

“My name is Rob Campbell and I am a 1987 graduate of OHCHS. I was fortunate enough to be a Latin student of James Kothe for four years. Like many other students, Jim’s teachings and support had a positive and meaningful impact on my life that has lasted long into adulthood and throughout my professional career. He was an incredible role model and father figure to all of his students. I was very fortunate to be one of them.

“Jim Kothe had an incredible passion and deep knowledge of his subject matter. He encouraged all of his students to reach their full potential. Jim created an atmosphere where students felt valued as learners. He always referred to his students as ‘Latin Scholars’ and encouraged them to keep doing their very best, even after struggling with an assignment or test. He would frequently ask students to “redeem themselves” if they didn’t quite reach his expectations and they were always happy to oblige. Students always wanted to do their best for Jim. He respected his students and they respected him. He will always be remembered for his incredible gift for teaching and inspiring students.

“In addition to teaching in the classroom, Jim led many student trips outside of the classroom that facilitated additional learning opportunities and experiences for students. In memory of Jim and the positive impact he has had on students, I would like to make a $10,000 donation to the Academic Boosters Fund at OHCHS. In addition, I’d like to create a $15,000 matching fund so others who have benefited from Jim’s teachings can consider contributing as well. The funds will be used for educational opportunities for OHCHS students outside of the classroom.”

The OHCHS Academic Boosters began the same way that Campbell is working now to infuse the program – with a donation in Kothe’s name. Campbell gifted $5,000 in August of 2019 and another $2,000 was added through other private donations. Moccia said the school managed to tap into it for just one field trip in early 2020 before the pandemic shut down the project.

The Academic Boosters is overseen by a committee of staff and community members Jared Cash, Myung Kim, Heath Poland, Danielle Tran, OHCHS Assistant Principal Tara Pelletier and Moccia. Educators submit applications to the committee detailing the destination, purpose and cost of the field trips they are planning; the committee will review and approve requests on a quarterly basis.

While Kothe is a mentor that Campbell will never forget, he hopes that others make donations to the boosters honoring the Oxford Hills educators that inspired them as students.



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