Calais High School's Top-Ranked Students Recognized


Top seven-ranked students from Calais High School's Class of 2015:  (front, left to right) Ellie Cox, Trent Stevens, Dominic Gayton, Brooke Smith, John LaPointe, Madison McVicar, and Carly Davis, along with faculty members who recognized the students: (back, left to right) Mrs. Wilkinson, Mrs. Cline, Mr. Moody, Mrs. Skriletz, Mrs. Ellis, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Leeman.  (Photo by Jayna Smith)

By Jayna Smith

On the morning of Tuesday, May 19th, family, friends, and students gathered at Calais High School to recognize a select group of students from this year's graduating class.  This special assembly was started in 2005 by then-principal Mrs. Jeanne Bishop-Peacock, Principal Mr. Matt Clark explained to the audience members, adding, "The Honors Parts Assembly honors the top seven students in the class (of 54) based on weighted grade point average up until their senior year through the third quarter."  

The highlight of the assembly for those top seven students was having a teacher whom they have either worked well with or have had a close relationship present a speech, reflective in nature, for each of them.  Additionally, these seven students have earned a speaking part in the upcoming Class Night or Graduation Ceremony.  "It certainly is a momentous occasion," Mr. Clark said as he welcomed those in attendance.

Teacher Mrs. Alice Wilkinson was first to the podium, recognizing Ellie Cox who earned the 5th honor part for the graduating class of 2015.  This allows Ellie the opportunity to present the closing address and thank you at Class Night.  Ellie is the daughter of Susan Provencher.

Mrs. Wilkinson stated, "Ellie has strong opinions and will express them firmly.  But I admire the way she controls when and how she expresses those opinions.  She defends her own rights and those of others when the time is right.  She speaks when it is the right time to speak.  And as her former English teacher, I know that when she writes, the clarity of her insight is expressed through the written word.  Her analysis has always shown the insight of the observer, the thinker, the person with the interior life."

Mrs. Wilkinson also spoke of Ellie's ethics.  "Everyone knows Ellie has a great work ethic, often working two jobs...let alone excelling at her academic work at the same time," she said.  "Ellie's quiet strength will help so many people in the future," Mrs. Wilkinson added.

Ellie plans to attend Husson University to pursue a Bachelor's, followed by a Master's degree, in Occupational Therapy.

Teacher Mrs. Brandi Cline spoke in honor of Trent Stevens who earned the 4th honor part for the class.  This achievement gives Trent the opportunity to address the undergraduates at Class Night.  Trent is the son of Sonya and Tate Stevens.

Mrs. Cline spoke of Trent's  "patience, focus, compassion, and empathy" in caring for horses, as well as his volunteer work at an equine shelter and work at a veterinary clinic.  "What does all of this mean?" Mrs. Cline asked.  "It says that a person is willing to work hard and perseveres in difficult situations.  It points to a quiet leader, a leader who does what is needed for the horses and animals he cares about in his  community."

She went on to add, "Leaders aren't just those who take office.  There are leaders who remain calm and collected in tense situations.  There are leaders who won't allow the anger or fear of others persuade their decisions.  There are leaders who lead by example.  Trent is one of those leaders."   Mrs. Cline added that all of these characteristic will serve Trent well as he pursues a degree in Psychology from the University of Maine at Machias. 

Teacher Mr. John Moody recognized Dominic Gayton who earned the 3rd honor part for the class.  This rank allows for Dominic to present the Welcome Address at Class Night.  Dominic is the grandson of Max Gayton.  

Mr. Moody said, "Each of the students being honored today has fulfilled the wishes of most teachers in that they have been involved in school functions, organizations, sports and activities throughout their days in high school."  After presenting a long list of activities Dominic has been involved with, including a top team scorer in US Academic Decathlon, a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, National Honor Society, and Student Council, among others, Mr. Moody stated, "I think one of the highlights of his career came in leading Meet the Candidates Nights for all of the local candidates for office for the past two years."

Student Body President and State of Maine Student Council President Dominic will be studying economics at the University of Maine, Orono, next year.  

School Nurse and Health Center Manager Mrs. Ann Skilretz honored Brooke Smith who earned the 2nd honor part.  This allows Brooke to give thanks and closing remarks at graduation.  Brooke is the daughter of Robert and Kristin Smith.

Mrs. Skriletz began by explaining she has known Brooke since Brooke was in grade seven.  "At that time, one of her teachers suggested that she would make a good representative to the health center's advisory board.  This was an underestimation of her contribution as she has exceeded all expectations:  giving great feedback for improvement of services, representing the health center at various fairs and trainings, leading the TAG team, and even giving the ribbon cutting speech at our grand opening," Mrs. Skriletz said.

Mrs. Skriletz went on to speak highly of Brooke's contribution to the drama club.  "She could always be counted on to help wherever she was needed."  An extensive list of the many activities Brooke has taken part in as a student at Calais High School was also given which included National Honor Society, all while she worked an after school job and volunteered outside of school.  Brooke also earned top grades as a CNA student and was named Career and Technical Education Student of the Year, according to Mrs. Skriletz.  

"If I were to describe Brooke in adjectives, I would say she is smart, organized, focused, mature, dependable, and a natural leader," Mrs. Skriletz said.  "All of these attributes will bring her continued success as she undertakes her college education at Simmons College, majoring in physical therapy."  

Teacher Mrs. Lori Ellis recognized John LaPointe who earned the 1st honor part.  This rank gives John the opportunity to introduce the guest speakers at the graduation ceremony.  John is the son of John and Sheila LaPointe.  

Mrs. Ellis began by telling the audience members of John's early learning advancements beginning prior to starting school.  "Even at this young age, he was preparing for his exhausting educational journey," she stated.  "By eighth grade he was enrolled in Honors Algebra at CHS and he was scoring in the 96th percentile despite his young age.  Ultimately he has concluded his high school career with a GPA of 95.1915, which has placed him third in his class of 54 students."  

John kept active in such groups such as National Honor Society, Academic Decathlon, and Student Council, according to Mrs. Ellis.  "And despite juggling soccer, golf, basketball, baseball, he was still able to secure leadership roles within a number of avenues.  Clearly a leader, he's earned the respect of his peers and faculty alike within the school and across the region as exemplified by his numerous executive office roles in which he's been elected."  

Mrs. Ellis concluded with, "Although John's team colors will change in the fall when he begins his post-secondary education at the University of New England where he plans on pursing a pre-med program of studies, his collaborate spirit,  his enthusiasm, his civic responsibility and academic inquisitive move on, and to me, he will always represent the best and brightest that Calais High School has to offer."  

Teacher Mr. Greg Smith honored Class of 2015 Salutatorian Madison McVicar.  The rank of Salutatorian, second in the class, gives Madison the opportunity present a welcome speech at graduation.  She is the daughter of Bill and Kim McVicar.

Mr. Smith said, "Madison has been involved in our school community for the past four years in a variety of ways.  Maddy has been a member of National Honor Society and student council.  She has been on several sports teams as well:  cross-country, soccer, basketball, and softball."  

He went on to explain Madison's "drive for excellent" both athletically and academically, and said, "Maddy never seems to let her emotions get the best of her.  If you watch her play any sport, you would not be able to tell if Maddy's team is winning or losing.  She has that 'never die' attitude no matter what the score."  

Madison will attend University of Maine, Orono, where she has received a basketball scholarship.  "I know the Calais community will be cheering for you," Mr. Smith told her.

Regional Manager of Jobs for Maine Graduates Mr. Ed Leeman recognized the Class of 2015's top-ranked student, Carly Davis, Valedictorian.  Carly will present the Valedictory Address at graduation.  She is the daughter of Jim and Karen Davis.

After providing humorous answers as to how one might earn the title of Class Valedictorian, Mr. Leeman explained that in Carly's case, she "worked her tail off, not letting obstacles stand in her way, never making excuses."  

Mr. Leeman said he has known Carly for a number of years and had her as a student last year.  "It was a wonderful experience for me to get to know her as the exceptional student and terrific young lady she is today.  Carly is the rare student who combines academic excellence with a natural ability and an eagerness to learn.  She wants to be challenged and she is never satisfied with the status quo.  Carly has an internal motor that is always running full throttle and wide open," Mr. Leeman said, adding, "I guess you could say that she is her father's daughter."  

To him, Mr. Leeman said, Carly's excellence academically is not her greatest accomplishment or attribute.  "Sure she is gifted academically, but it is her beautiful personality that sets her apart.  She always has a smile on her face and warmth in her heart.  Lending a helping hand to others in need seems to just come naturally to her.  Her compassion and enthusiasm are contagious and she seems to put everyone around her at ease."  

He went on to list the numerous functions, organizations, and sports Carly has been involved with at Calais High School, all while maintaining a 96.2 grade point average.  "'Pretty work' is what I like to call that," Mr. Leeman stated.

Carly plans to attend Unity College to study captive wildlife animal care and education where she can build on her knowledge and passion for wildlife and the outdoors.


Class Night for the graduating seniors of Calais High School will be held on Friday, June 5th at 7:00 pm.  Graduation is slated for Sunday, June 7th at 1:00 pm.  Both will take place in the gymnasium.