December 27, 2013

10 Maine high school grads to watch


Thirteen thousand students will graduate this month from more than 130 high schools in Maine. The Maine Sunday Telegram asked high school administrators in the area to identify members of the senior class who are likely to make a difference in the world, then narrowed down the nominations to 10 of the most outstanding. They include a poet, a Presidential Scholar, a rugby player and a Rwandan refugee. There's a future U.S. Navy officer, an opera singer and an aspiring entrepreneur.

Many are actors and athletes. Some plan to pursue the sciences while others will go into community service.

Look inside for a peek at what they've accomplished -- and what they plan to do.


Sydney Kucine has studied under renowned opera soprano Jane Marsh and won the Classical National Association of Teachers of Singing competition for the past five years.

But Kucine says she didn't get her musical talents from her family, though they support her decision to pursue music as a career.

"None of my family sings," she said.

Kucine will graduate June 6 from Casco Bay High School, where she has made the honor role every trimester and was named to the National Honor Society. She also ran track, participated in theater and coached middle school basketball, in addition to teaching in a local girls choir.

"What is most striking about Sydney is her incredible work ethic, her compassion, her insatiable hunger for excellence and her professionalism," said Michael Hale, director of the school's college, career and citizenship program.

This fall the 18-year-old soprano will study music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music -- a school she chose after flying around the country auditioning at conservatories in New York, Boston, Maryland and California. Kucine's earliest musical memory is singing to the music of the Backstreet Boys when she was 4 years old. At the urging of her teacher, Jaye Churchill, who would later become her voice instructor, Kucine tried out for the all female choir, Musica De Filia, at age 6.

Kucine enjoys all sorts of music, including pop, dub step and electronic. She never considered herself a classical singer, but she would occasionally imitate opera singers as a joke to her friends, who seemed impressed.

So, her junior year, she decided to sing an opera for the entire school.

Now, she hopes one day to be able to sing on some of the most prestigious stages in the world.

"I'm hoping to change the world with my passion for opera," she said. "I just really want to influence people around the world and help them through song."

– Randy Billings


Shreyas Joshi, 17, can trace his career goals to a few specific memories: As a boy growing up in South Portland, Joshi would watch the jets take off and land at the jetport. In high school, a class devoted to engineering exposed him to unmanned aerial vehicles, and he was hooked.

"They're being used to kill people, to take lives, but I think we should regard them in a positive light," said Joshi, who helped design a theoretical craft to search for a missing child.

In the seventh grade, an English teacher introduced him to a no-stakes stock market game that mimed the real-world economy.

"That was really when I started looking into stocks," Joshi said. He quickly turned a virtual profit.

(Continued on page 2)

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