Brendan Palmer sits in a stairwell May 11 at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris where he is No. 2 in his graduating class. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

PARIS — When Brendan Palmer was made a captain on the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School soccer team last fall, he knew it wasn’t because he was particularly good at the sport.

Rather, Palmer said it was his leadership abilities which set him apart.

Teammates would come to him for advice, he said. When he didn’t know the answer, he found someone who did. And as a difficult season eventually became a winless one, he learned how to handle conflict between his frustrated teammates and boost morale.

“It’s just so natural to me,” the Norway student said. “I just don’t like sitting back and watching things happen. I like to make things happen.”

Leadership is at the core of everything Palmer does. He’s a class officer, a member of the high school basketball team, the student representative on the School Administrative District 17 board of directors and the salutatorian of his graduating class.

“I always enjoyed being a part of a team and being a part of something bigger than myself,” he said. “That’s especially important to me.”


Later this year, he’ll move to Pennsylvania to attend Villanova University, where he’s been accepted into the honors program in politics, philosophy and economics.

The small class sizes and the cohort-focused program were a strong draw for Palmer. During his sophomore year, he and his fellow classmates in the program are planning to study abroad together in Cambridge.

Palmer said he doesn’t yet know what he wants to do after college, but he’s tentatively considering focusing on economics.

“Picking that option as the safest option,” he said. “Once I graduated from college, there’ll be so many avenues I could go down.”

But as excited as he is to take the next step, Palmer said he’ll miss the relationships he’s formed with people in the school and community, like his favorite teacher and neighbor, history teacher John Pinto.

Pinto said Palmer is a standout student among one of the best graduating classes he’s seen in a long time. His focus and commitment in everything he does sets him apart, Pinto said.


“He doesn’t have any fear to challenge himself,” he said.

The competition to make the top 10 was “ferocious,” Pinto said.

Even so, they’re all friends with each other, he added.

The Class of 2023 gives “you hope that you can make the world a better place,” he said.

Palmer, for his part, said he worked hard in school, but never really set himself a target of landing in the top 5% of his class or anything similar.

“To me, it was more about learning about the things I cared about, rather than getting a good grade,” he said. “Like Mr. Pinto always told me, if you try to learn history first, the grades will come. That’s absolutely true.”


Pinto said Palmer is well-liked and respected by school administrators, teachers and his peers. But while Palmer may be leaving the state for school, Pinto said he’s looking forward to hearing about his future accomplishments.

“You know, we’re going to hear about Brendan Palmer,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it. Every once in a while you get a student like that … he’s got so much going for himself.”

“I couldn’t have done it without my parents,” Palmer said. “They helped a lot.”

This is the 12th article in a series featuring high school seniors as graduation season nears. In the series, the Sun Journal will profile a randomly chosen top 10 student or the equivalent from 18 high schools in central and western Maine.

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