On June 4th The Maine Girls’ Academy gathered at Merrill Auditorium to honor its first graduating class. Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills delivered the graduation address and citing the poet Mary Oliver posed the question, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” Ms. Mills offered her hope to the Class of 2017 that it would be “many uncommon, uncomfortable things, and a chance to be of great use to the world.”
The Class of 2017 is an outstanding example of the power of girls, of resilience and of leadership. They started their journey as students of Catherine McAuley High School and are leaving as the groundbreaking first graduates of The Maine Girls’ Academy. They have embraced our new school while exemplifying the values and preserving the traditions of McAuley, which we all continue to honor at MGA. We may be a new school but we have over 100 years of experience educating and empowering young women.
This impressive class consists of state championship-winning athletes, dedicated service providers, bold community leaders, a merit scholar and civil rights advocates—all exceptional examples of the strength and impact of an all-girls education. The tradition of rigorous college preparatory academics of McAuley has continued at MGA as the Class of 2017 is the twelfth class in a row to achieve 100% college acceptance with young women advancing to prestigious schools across the country.
Reflected below is just a glimpse of what they were most passionate about during their high school years. And so, we present The Maine Girls’ Academy Class of 2017…
Valedictorian Madeline Beaulieu is the daughter of Brenda Downey of Yarmouth. Beyond her classroom achievements, Maddy was a three season athlete excelling at soccer, basketball, and softball. Maddy served as the Senior Class President for Student Council and participated in Social Action Club, Outdoors Club, Varsity Club, Language Club, and Art Club. She enjoyed spending time with her friends while participating in the activities that she was passionate about. Maddy also worked at Park Danforth and cherishes the invaluable relationships she built with the residents. Maddy was the 2017 Fall Athlete of the Year and received the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award. Maddy will be attending the College of the Holy Cross.
Salutatorian Claire Reid is the daughter of Colleen and Gerald Reid of Harpswell. Through her years at The Maine Girls’ Academy, Reid played soccer and lacrosse, enjoying the team camaraderie and staying active. As a member of Key Club, Claire found enjoyment in helping others and making a difference in their lives. Beyond her service with Key Club, she regularly volunteered at the Preble Street Soup Kitchen. Claire also volunteered as a basketball coach for 5th and 6th-grade girls through Harpswell Recreation. She received the MPA Principal’s Award and the Dartmouth Book Award. Next year, Claire will be attending the University of Notre Dame.
Batoul M. Berro is the daughter of Amal Salem of Westbrook. Throughout her years at The Maine Girls’ Academy, Batoul participated in Interfaith Fellowship, International Club, Art Club, and Key Club. She was the President of both International and Interfaith Fellowship her senior year, in addition to being the Key Club Treasurer and Senior Class Secretary. Batoul loved working at Panera Bread and the Annual Run for Hope was among her favorite volunteering opportunities. Batoul received the Regis College Book Award and will study Biology at Manhattan College.
Lillie Mahren Donovan is the daughter of Dawn and Andrew Donovan of Biddeford. Lillie played Softball all four years and was Senior Co-captain this year, enjoying a great team and sense of community with fond memories of team dinners and excellent coaches. As Co-captain of the Swim Team, Lillie enjoyed continuous growth and improvement with the team, teaching her to not only support herself but how to support others as well. Lillie enjoyed participating in CivilTEA, noting that she really thought it benefited the school opening up good discussions and helped her personally learn about not only others but also herself. In addition to her participation in sports and clubs at school, Lillie works at the Saco Hampton Inn as a Customer Service Representative. Lillie was a member of the National Honor Society and will study Business Management at Stonehill College.
Indigo Fulham-FitzGerald is the daughter of Lizzie Fulham and Robert FitzGerald of Portland. Throughout high school, Indigo participated in Cross Country and Field Hockey and was a member of Model UN, Civil Rights Club, and the Vice President of the Book Club. She also loved volunteering at the annual Friends of Portland Public Library Book Fair. She was a member of the National Honor Society and received the Sewanee University of the South Book Award. Indigo will study History at the University of St. Andrews in the UK.
Pricillia Uwimana Isimbi is the daughter of Sylvie M. Kabanda of South Portland. During her time at The Maine Girls’ Academy, Pricillia helped found the Civil Rights Club, loving how it allowed conversations on social conflicts to be expressed by those who want to converse. She also facilitated in CivilTEA Discourse, noting that having a program in which the entire school population discussed difficult topics and learned about social norms outside of the classroom was amazing. Pricillia was also a member of Art Club for four years and cites the club was an important contributor to the expansion of her love for art. Along with the clubs at MGA, she loved volunteering for summer bible vacation enjoying sharing her faith and working with children. Pricillia will study Political Science in International Relations and Emmanuel College of Boston.
Maggie Lawless is the daughter of Michele and Peter Lawless of Portland. Maggie participated in many activities during her four years at The Maine Girls’ Academy, among her favorite are Outdoors Club and Model UN. Maggie loved playing Softball for MGA as well. Maggie took great pride in her nomination to the Seeds of Peace program and enjoyed participating in Seeds of Peace and sharing her experience with the school. Maggie has been a dedicated volunteer at Mercy Hospital as well. She received the Springfield College Book Award and will study Neuroscience at Wheaton College.
Ashley Nicole Littlefield is the daughter of Denise and David Littlefield of Scarborough. Ashley played Softball and Volleyball serving as the Senior Co-captain on both teams. She also participated in ASA Travel Softball and Fall Showcase Softball. She loved Softball because she loved the team atmosphere, being competitive, and having fun with her team. Volleyball gave her the opportunity to try a new sport. Ashley also participated in Foreign Language Club, was the Vice President of Social Media Club and did a Marketing Internship her senior year. Ashley received the Assumption College Book Award and recognition in English. Ashley also received an archaeology award for being the most resourceful recovering artifacts. Littlefield will study Integrated Marketing Communication at Nichols College.
Anne McManus is the daughter of Margaret and Edward McManus of Bowdoin. During her time at The Maine Girls’ Academy, she participated in Tennis and Key Club. Anne was most passionate about volunteering for Project Feed and loved working at Wicked Whoopies. Anne also played the flute throughout high school. Anne is a member of the National Honor Society and proud of her ranking of fourth in the graduating class of 2017. She received the Holy Cross Book Award and will study Business Marketing at Xavier University.
Ana Neff-Jendrasko is the daughter of Kristine Neff-Jendrasko and Peter Jendrasko of South Portland. Swimming is Ana’s passion and the swim team is like a second family to her. Ana was Class B 2017 Swimmer of the Year, State Champion in the 200 Breaststroke and a strong inspiration and role model to her teammates. Ana also enjoys teaching kids to swim. Outside of the pool, as a talented photographer, Ana will be directing the MGA Photography and Creative Writing Summer Camp. She received an honorable mention for her photograph “Ocean in Action” in the Maine Region Scholastic Arts Awards. Ana will study Marine Biology at Florida Atlantic University.
Megan Elizabeth Paige is the daughter of Ann and Christopher Paige of Portland. During her time at MGA, Megan played Basketball and enjoyed the opportunity to try something new participating in Track and Field. Megan was passionate about Yearbook and loved editing and producing the book each year. Megan was also a Maine Medical Explorer, learning more about the medical field. She volunteered at the Midcoast Hospital Junior Volunteer Program and at C.K. Burns Elementary School. Megan is a member of the National Honor Society and received Honor Awards for Service, English, and Science. She also earned the University of Rochester Bausch and Lomb Book Award. Megan will study Medical Biology/Pre-Med at the University of New England.
Elizabeth Ann Burkhart Polk is the daughter of Mary Alyce Burkhart and Kevin Lee Polk of Portland and Augusta. Throughout high school, Lizzie danced with the Portland Ballet and Casco Bay Movers. Dance is Lizzie’s passion and her goal is to continue dancing for the rest of her life. In addition to her own dancing, she volunteered every Saturday morning teaching dance to special needs children. Lizzie was proud to receive the Alpha Beta Kappa Award. Lizzie will be studying International Business at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, NB.
Brianna Reinhard is the daughter of Joyce Johnson and Luke Reinhard of Portland. During her time at The Maine Girls’ Academy, she participated in Key Club and loved giving back to her community. Brianna also enjoyed the great dialogue discussing important topics as a participant in Civil Rights Club. Brianna’s inquisitive mind earned her many “Curiosity and Excellent Questions” awards. She loved working with children and in particular, with disabled children. Reinhard will study Education at Loyola University in Chicago.
Emma Spies is the daughter of Allison and Richard Spies of South Portland. During her four years at The Maine Girls’ Academy, her favorite sport was Field Hockey. Emma enjoyed playing and leading the team as Co-captain during both her junior and senior years. Emma was also on the MGA Swim Team and swam for the Portland YMCA Polar Bears. She will always love the amazing friendships she formed through swimming. With a passion for helping others, Spies helped found the Kyle St. Clair Lemonade Stand, with proceeds benefiting Angel Flight NE. The lemonade stand has raised over $15K for the non-profit since it started. Emma is also a Junior Volunteer at Maine Medical Center and works at Ken’s Place Seafood Restaurant outside of school and volunteering. Emma was in National Honor Society and received the University of Rochester Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony Award, and the Portland Rotary Club Youth Service Award. Spies will study Marine Science with a minor in Earth Science at the University of Maine Honors College.
Theresa Tillman is the daughter of Kristyn Tillman of South Portland. Theresa’s greatest passion during her years at The Maine Girls’ Academy was Drama Club. Theatre opened up doors that would have otherwise been closed to her and it has shaped her life like no other thing has. Theresa was also involved in the GSTA, loving that it opened her eyes to issues around the world, and gave her the opportunity to meet incredible people. Along with her participation in clubs at MGA, she coached middle school girls in basketball. Theresa was proud to have received the Sage Book Award and will study Forensic Science at the University of New Haven.
Skyler Sustaita Vaughn is the daughter of Esther Sustaita and Miles Vaughn of Biddeford. Skyler was an active member of Key Club, with a love of volunteering and giving back to her community. She loved working on local projects including donating and collecting food and clothes and delivering to those in need. Beyond Key Club, Skyler was a participant in unique leadership training, service-learning and motivation-building experiences through the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership Foundation. Skyler played Tennis noting that her love of the sport is because it works as both a team and an individual sport, and it’s fun! A diverse young woman in both arts and athletics, Skyler was a 2017 State Finalist in the Poetry Out Loud competition and in addition to her love of tennis also has a black belt in martial arts. Skyler received the President’s Volunteer Service Award and the Harvard Book Award. Skyler will study Economics and Finance at Bentley University.
Meredith Paige Wheeler is the daughter of Dianne White and Max Wheeler of Westbrook. While she attended The Maine Girls’ Academy, Lacrosse was by far her favorite activity. Meredith was the team captain, received Rookie of the Year and the LeRoy Rand Award. Meredith will continue to play Lacrosse in college. Meredith also loved participating in Yearbook all four years. As a member of Student Council, Meredith loved planning events. She also participated in 207 Lacrosse and Seeds of Peace. Meredith balanced all of this while also working part-time at Plato’s Closet. Meredith is proud to be a member of the National Honor Society and will study Digital Marketing Management and Sports Management at Thomas College.
Samantha Lynn Witkowski is the daughter of Elizabeth Morse and Robert Witkowski of Portland. During her time at The Maine Girls’ Academy, Samantha was a three-sport athlete participating in Track and Field, Cheer and Field Hockey. Sam has been Track Captain for 3 years and just this month broke the school record for Pole Vault and won the Maine State Championship Title in Pole Vault with an impressive 9’ jump. Sam was Cheer Captain for 3 years and in Field Hockey won an award for being the Most Aggressive, which was the thing she enjoyed most as a goalie. Sam also spends over 20 hours per week working while balancing school and sports. She is a volunteer at the Visitor’s Center and a tutor at Holy Cross in South Portland. Samantha will be cheerleading in college as she studies Communications and Business at Loyola University in New Orleans.
Elena M. Woods is the daughter of Helen Muther and Paul Woods of Cape Elizabeth. Throughout her time at The Maine Girls’ Academy, Volleyball was by far her favorite sport. Although she participated for 3 years in Field Hockey and 2 years in Track and Field, she found that the one year of Volleyball was her most cherished. She loved getting to know her team and learning what the game was all about as a pioneer and Co-captain on the first Volleyball Team at MGA. In addition to athletics, Elena volunteered at the Mustang Rescue Ranch during her freshman year, learning about the unique needs of wild horses. This experience for her made her much more aware of the plight of the wild horses in America. Elena received the College of the Atlantic Book Award and will study Communications and Business at Eckerd College.
Theresa Caroline Rose Wunderlich is the daughter of Susan and Jimmy Wunderlich of Saco. Tessa loved having an outlet for self-expression through Theatre at The Maine Girls’ Academy. She also participated in Student Council, Book Club and loved the GSTA community at MGA. Tessa’s love of reading and books extended beyond MGA, with her volunteer work shelving books at her local library. Tessa earned a National Merit Scholar Letter of Commendation after scoring in the top 5% of the 1.6 million students who sat for the qualifying exam and is very proud of her National French Honors medals. Tessa received the Fairfield University Book Award and will study Linguistics at the University of Kentucky.