Sen. Susan Collins visits

Hope Elementary School recognized for high achievement

By Jenna Lookner | Nov 17, 2012
Photo by: Jenna Lookner United States Sen. Susan Collins, left, shakes hands with Hope Elementary School Student Council President Aiden Roberts as she enters the school gymnasium with Principal Carol Hathorne (center). Collins visited the school to participate in a celebration of the school's distinction as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Hope — Recently named a National Blue Ribbon School, Hope Elementary School is one of two schools in Maine that received the honor in 2012, and one of 269 schools recognized nationally, according to a previously published report.

To recognize the achievement, Sen. Susan Collins visited the school on Nov. 16.

Hope Elementary School was recognized in the "Exemplary High Achieving Category." The other Maine school to receive the award this year is Solon Elementary School.

Jude Pearse delivered a welcome and an introduction to the program before thanking guests. First- and second-grade students performed a rendition of "I Love My Country," prior to being joined by kindergarten students who assisted in singing "Welcome to our School."

Selected students in grades four through seven took the podium to share their essays about Hope Elementary's designation as a National Blue Ribbon School.

"Hope Elementary has teachers and other workers who really enjoy teaching," read Kaitlyn Turnbull.

"Our school deserved [National Blue Ribbon School] but we also earned it," Aiden Roberts said.

Students selected to share their essays were Kaitlin Heintzman, Charlie Griebel, Ella Pierce, Kylie Fong, Kaitlyn Turnbull, Aiden Roberts, Katie Southworth and Kira Barley.

Third-grade teacher Calvin Morin shared remarks from his two-decade teaching career.

"At the core of the Hope Elementary community is the belief that every child is important," he said.

Deb Friedman from the Maine Department of Education was on hand to share remarks from Commissioner of Education Stephen Bowen.

"Keep up the good work and spread the word," Friedman shared on Bowen's behalf.

Superintendent Tom Marx introduced Collins, who gave a slideshow presentation on a day in the life of a senator. She began by telling the audience about how she had grappled with flight delays but was determined to make it to Hope.

"it's a great honor to represent you in the U.S, Senate," Collins said, adding that when she casts a vote she always asks herself a question: "What will be the effect on the people of Maine and how will it effect this country?"

In addition to the slideshow, Collins discussed various aspects of her job — from policy making to visiting Antarctica.

"You wouldn't believe the number of people from Maine who were in Antarctica!" she exclaimed.

She said one of "the greatest honors" she has received as a U.S. Senator was the invitation to sponsor a Navy destroyer, the USS Farragut which was built by Bath Iron Works and launched in 2005. She regaled students with a humorous tale of covering bystanders with champagne as she was christening the boat. She said she wanted to be sure to break the bottle on the first swing, lest the ship be subject to bad luck.

"Believe me, that ship has good luck," she said with a chuckle.

Collins — who has a perfect voting attendance record — also stressed the importance of good attendance.

"I'm very honored to serve the people of Maine and to be here today to congratulate you on being named a National Blue Ribbon School," she said. She recognized Marx, a longtime educator, who will retire at the end of 2012, before presenting Principal Carol Hathorne with a copy of the congressional record commending the school.

"You are now part of that record, part of that history," she said.

Hathorne then took the podium.

"I have the opportunity to coach the very best team in education," she said. "We have won the championship game."

Collins joined other local legislators and officials including District 22 State Sen. Edward Mazurek, School Union 69 Superintendent Tom Marx,  members of the school board, representatives from the board of selectmen and town officials. In addition to students and school staff, numerous parents and alumni packed the gymnasium for the ceremony.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools award honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in students’ levels of achievement, according to a previously published report.

The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is “Exemplary High Performing,” in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The second category is “Exemplary Improving,” in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

The department honored approximately 219 public and 50 private schools at a recognition ceremony Nov. 12 and 13 in Washington, D.C.; Hope Elementary School Principal Hathorne was in attendance. In its 30-year history, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed this coveted award on nearly 7,000 of America’s schools, according to a September news release.

To select National Blue Ribbon Schools, the Department requests nominations from the top education official in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) nominates private schools. A total of 417 schools nationwide may be nominated, with allocations determined by the numbers of K-12 students and schools in each jurisdiction. The Secretary of Education invites nominated schools to submit an application for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Nov 17, 2012 17:12

Glad to see the Senator knows how to invest her time on what counts the most. Will remember that in 2014.  :)

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