NORWAY — Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Principal Paul Bickford has announced that Madelaine Miller is this year’s recipient of the Maine Principals Association Principal’s Award.

Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Senior Madelaine Miller is valedictorian of her class and recipient of this years MPA Principal’s Award. Submitted photo

Miller, who is also valedictorian of her senior class, is a three-sport varsity athlete, serves as the school’s National Honor Society president and has been a Viking Mentor to incoming freshmen for the last two years.

A member of the Viking’s basketball championship tradition, Miller has played soccer during fall sports and softball every spring. She was a captain on this year’s basketball team, and junior and senior captain of her soccer and softball teams.

“Maddie has recorded over 150 hours of community service,” Bickford said in an email statement. “She is a great representative of the OHCHS community and has made a positive impact on those around her. She is well deserving of this recognition.”

This year Miller’s impact involved transitioning NHS from a fundraising vehicle to be a more hands-on community support group.

“I’ve been working to organize more community-based activities for our chapter [of NHS],” Miller told the Advertiser Democrat. “A lot of what we did in the past was based on fundraising, but we’re seeing positive changes, with kids feeling more motivated to being involved. I think that’s been a really good change.”

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Last fall NHS decided to use its time to support Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative. Students attended WMARI’s annual recovery rally, listened to speeches and walked in the parade.

Currently NHS is working with WMARI to organize its second OHCHS Recovery Day, set to happen in a few weeks.

“We’ve met with them to give insight on different ways to engage the kids here when they’re talking about addiction, she said. “It’s a really interesting project to be a part of. Last year it was for freshmen but this year we’re holding it for seniors, too. We think that going into college, kids need to be really informed about substances before.

“WMARI introduced us to personas examples [of addiction], of kids around our area with their own stories. It’s hit me close to home. Because it’s a big problem that can happen to anyone. It’s all around us.”

Madelaine Miller was a captain on the 2023-24 Viking’s girls basketball team. Supplied photo

Miller was inspired to become a Viking Mentor because when she started her ninth grade, pandemic mandates made it impossible for group activities in school. She is one of 30 mentors at OHCHS who work as two-person teams with new freshman. Her partner is fellow senior Ava St. Laurent.

“When I was a freshman, I didn’t get to have a mentor,” she said. “So I really enjoy this program. Once a month, we get our own classroom of freshman who are kind of like our own kids.”

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“We connect with them so they have someone in the school they can look up to and ask questions.”

Mentors undergo group training before the start of the school year to talk about ways to handle different situations that may arise for younger students. On the first day at school, only freshmen and mentors attend, to make it easier to help them find their way around and figure out their schedules.

“Some kids in our area, some go through really difficult times at home. Just being there and supporting them is really important.

“Throughout the year we visit with them once a month, sometimes more, to check in, see how they’re doing and make sure they know what’s coming up, like Winter Carnival [this] week.”

For Miller, being a mentor has helped her own understanding of people’s differences in background and develop more empathy for other’s who have had different experiences from hers.

Her support of younger students extends beyond the program. She also tutors underclassmen.

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Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Principal Paul Bickford  with this year’s Principal’s Award recipient, senior Madelaine Miller. Supplied photo

“It’s helped me grow as a person, and I am going to bring that through the rest of my life,” she said. “A couple of freshmen and a sophomore, if they’re struggling in math, I’ll meet with them after school. That’s helped me learn that people learn at their own pace, and it’s important to respect that. I really enjoy helping kids, it’s one of my passions.”

Looking ahead, Miller will join a new rank of freshmen when she attends Bates College in Lewiston next fall. One of the draws to Bates is its softball team.

“I had a really great connection with the softball coach for Bates,” she said. “My high school coach connected me. After my tour and visit with the team, I felt so welcomed.

“I love the idea of a liberal arts school because it leaves so much academic freedom. I’m going in undeclared, leaning towards a pre-med or mathematics track. Math has always been my favorite subject and I’ve maxed out on the classes here. I really enjoy it.

“The funny thing is my mom is a doctor, but she’s not in any way trying to get me to go to medical school. But since I was little, I’ve looked up to her and I’ve always wanted to be like her. I still feel that way as I get older. I want to help people, like her.

“I want to figure out how to combine my school interests and helping people and making relationships, because that is also really important to me.”

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