Raise Your Voice!

Producing for Raise Your Voice can be a great way to make friends, and share your ideas with our audience.

Raise Your Voice!, the Maine Education Project’s center for ideas and perspectives from students and teachers reaches a broad audience interested in education and we want your voice in the conversation.

We want to know what young people think about what they’re learning, how they’re learning, and what they’re doing with the skills they're gaining. And we want to know what it means to teach young people today, what challenges educators face, and how we as a society can ease the process and help improve the system.

For the second summer in a row we're inviting high school students to  join our Raise Your Voice Workshops, two-weeks of writing, making new friends, and creating multimedia. You'll gain valuable communication skills while developing work we'll feature on Raise Your Voice. These programs will take place at the University of Maine in Orono and at Baxter Academy for Technology and Science in Portland. They're free, and they'll run from July 23 to August 3, 8:30 a.m. to noon each day.

Space is limited so register early!

For more information about any of our programs, contact Dave Boardman, our education program coordinator, at dboardman@mainepublic.org, or call him at 207.423.6934. And if you're a teacher and interested in working Raise Your Voice into your curriculum, reach out. We'd love to talk about ways to connect your students with our audiences.

Part of The Maine Education Project and funded by The Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Raise Your Voice! provides a forum for students and educators to share what it means to teach and learn in today's world.

Click the headline of each story to read the full text.

Video: JMG Gives Students an Edge for Life After High School

Jun 16, 2018

If there's one thing that most seniors in high school aren’t ready for, it’s life after high school. 

Growing up is tough, but no matter what, it’s going to happen. One thing that most schools have is the challenge of helping students prepare for their future, but many are working to help students prepare ahead for their adult life by offering a program to get them started. 

Looking for a Healthy Change? Go Vegan!

Jun 16, 2018

“Going vegan is no burden; it is a liberation from being part of the violence and death that humans unjustly impose on the vulnerable.” - Gary L. Francione.

I grew up on a non-vegan diet and took it upon myself to change this past year. I gained interest in veganism because I thought it was wrong and inhumane to torture and kill innocent animals for a meal. After that I got really into health and nutrition which is the biggest reason why I went fully vegan. 

I have been vegan for about five months and I have noticed changes. I have lost weight and I have noticed my mood improve because I wasn't ingesting chemicals and hormones. My mental health and physical health have also improved greatly from how they were. Veganism has become a major part of my life and I have felt better than ever before.

“Reading is Moxie for the brain.” 

Well, that’s how one student put it. Reading is a crucial component to growing up, and fostering a love of reading is one of the most enjoyable tasks I get to take on each year. One way to promote reading? Let young people read. What they want, when they want, how they want -- feet up on the countertop or nestled in a beanbag chair, just let them read. 

PBS recently published the Great American Read list for 2018, the top 100 books most beloved by readers. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I encourage you to do so. But that’s not why I’m here; I’m here because my students have a list of their own. Between my two classes, roughly 55 kids, over 1,000 books have been read during the 2017-2018 school year. 

Economies, Jobs Get Hit When Red Tide Strikes Coast

Jun 11, 2018

There is an underrated problem that although only seen in coastal towns, can bring harm across the country, even to the most landlocked places. 

Living in Freeport, right on the shore of the Harraseeket River, we know all too well how important shellfish are to the economy and diet of Americans. So when red tide strikes, it is detrimental to a coastal town. Not only does red tide cease shellfish harvesting and hurt the economy, it stops all shellfish exports to those landlocked towns that purchase the bivalves. 

“Strictlys come down and line up!” 

When I hear this announcement, it's time to get ready to race. This is the best, yet the most nerve-wracking thing to hear to start out my day. I get my car ready and head to line up. As I wait to be called out on the track with the other Wiscasset Speedway Strictly Streets, which are stock 6/8 cylinder cars, I feel my stomach get into a knot. My foot starts to bounce off the peddle, and the anxiety comes to an all-time high. Some may think this is a bad feeling but coming from a racer’s perspective, there's no other feeling like it.

When the green flag waves, my heart rate jumps sky high. I stay focused and look at what's ahead of me, and try and do the best that I can. I focus on getting faster every lap, working on my groove, and keeping my eyes open for any sudden action ahead or around me.

We're in the middle of finals season, and students are beginning to prepare for their exams by making lists, writing flashcards, and memorizing facts. High school education has evolved from learning to memorization, promoting answering rather than comprehending. 

A majority of students are focused more on obtaining good grades rather than understanding the concepts that are being taught.  When school systems prioritize the importance of grades over education, students are likely to resort to cheating.

It's Time to Talk About Race in Maine Public Schools

Jun 7, 2018

Part One: Issues of Racism in Maine Public Schools

First in a series. 

As a white person living in a predominantly white community and state, I often feel uncomfortable discussing race. I feel ashamed and guilty. Like many white people living in this country, I’m ashamed of behaviors of those who share my skin color from the past and, in some contexts, the present.

I have a sense that I am one of millions of people who feel this way, but by avoiding the topic of race in order to keep myself comfortable, I’m allowing others to continue living in a state of discomfort, disrespect, exclusion, fear, and the list goes on. 

I had the recent privilege of attending the 2018 Maine Civil Rights Team Project’s State Conference, which was held in Augusta in May. It was here where I heard Shay Stewart-Bouley address hundreds of Maine students from grades 5-12 about racism, past and present. 

Technical school is a fun place for kids who want to learn a trade and work in their field. It's perfect for students who are hard workers, and who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. 

Auto technology, outdoor power, and building trades are just some of the programs that a school like Region 10 Technical High School in Brunswick offers, but I think they - and other schools around the state - should expand their offerings to add programs for plumbing and heating, and electrical technology. Those are two fields that are growing in Maine, and it is hard to find people to work in those fields. 

At Region 10 in Brunswick, and at other career and technical education centers across Maine, we need electrical and plumbing classes so students like me can get the training and experience we need to be successful in these fields. 

Everyone has undoubtedly had a difficult time finding the words to describe their feelings, even to a close friend. People do not know what to write in cards to relatives or even friends. Everyone has laughed at a meme, but some people cannot understand one word in another language. The struggle of not knowing what to say and how to express words to others through writing is like not being able to understand a person speaking another language because of your lack of knowledge.

School can seem like a great place so young people can work, hang out with friends, and look forward to the future. 

But to kids with autism, it can sometimes be scary. They intend to sometimes be alone, and they will try their best to socialize, but it can get awkward fast. 

This has happened to me as a kid and still to this day. I do socialize with a lot of people in my high school, but sometimes it gets awkward even when I don’t realize it. Some people will walk away from me and wonder if I’m strange or not, while others will accept the way I am and the way I act. 

Pop, Rap Lyrics Support a Culture Demeaning Women

May 9, 2018

Misogyny has always been a issue in media. The over-sexualization of women is appalling, and quite degrading. This problem often slips by unnoticed because we have become desensitized to it. It's never viewed as a problem, instead it's become normal to overly sexualize females in objectifying and misogynistic ways. 

Now one would think this is mainly in movies, TV, and video games. While this problem is certainly within these forms of media, the matter I find most pressing to address is the misogyny in pop music.  Popular music thrives off of the superficial process of repetition. It sticks to a small set of musical themes, and uses them until they're no longer trendy. It's never about art, it's about what will sell the most, and right now for male artists that topic is demeaning women. They don't care about the effects of these messages, as long as they're paid.

If there were one thing I was not prepared for when I signed up to lead a school safety walkout for March 14th, it was the amount of pushback I received while planning. There were days it felt as if I was standing in a room full of people, all wearing headphones, screaming, "You don’t want to die here either, right?" with little-to-no effect. Many, even my friends, couldn’t understand the point of a walkout. Some students didn’t want to side with the gun-haters. Many didn’t like the phrase, “gun control.”

I live in a very politically divided place. In my small, rural Maine town, you can guess just by looking at a classroom full of kids who owns a gun, whose family makes more than $30,000 a year, who is planning on going to college. There are few secrets when it comes to political leanings, and gun control is a particularly heated issue because of this. I had no idea how hard it would be to be a leader of these students, or how hard it would be to rally people for a cause that seems so obvious.

Most killers you hear about on the news, or you see on the covers of magazines, but not mental illness.

Millions of people are affected by depression, anxiety, substance addiction, and more. And sadly, sometimes mental illness can end in suicide. It is hard to diagnose many mental illnesses, especially in teens. Many things can cause mental health issues, and for young people that are affected by mental illness, schools should be taking a much larger role in educating youth on their mental health and how to take care of it. Mental illness is too big of a problem for people to ignore. 

Ready for College? Senior Doubts Proficiency Helped

May 3, 2018

I started going to school in Richmond in sixth grade, and in my first year there, they changed the grading system to standards-based.

For the first year, the new passing grade was 2.5 out of 4.0, but the next year they changed the passing grade to 3.0. A score under a 3.0 meant you weren’t proficient in that topic, and you could not pass without the teacher’s help. 

When they raised the passing grade, some people had to finish work from the previous year that only had a 2.5 because it wasn’t passing anymore, and that was when I started to dislike the new grading system.

The vision of the ideal college applicant grows in complexity every year.  It’s no longer just about your grades. It’s about your grades, your extracurriculars, and what kind of person you are. Many colleges, especially the most selective ones, have instituted the holistic admission process. 

Holistic admissions means that the college or university looks at the applicant as a whole as opposed to just bits and pieces. Although every admissions counselor will agree that your transcript is the most important part of your application, this is simply just the foot-in-the-door. The cold truth is that everyone has good grades and test scores if you are applying to a selective school. You have to distinguish yourself with your extracurriculars, community service, and most importantly, your character. 

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