YARMOUTH – Around town and beyond, they’re known as the Bens — Ben McNaboe and Ben Nickerson — members of Yarmouth High School’s class of 2011 who have distinguished themselves as crusaders for technology in the classroom.

The Bens became best friends as freshmen, drawn together by a shared passion for technology. Both products of Maine’s now decade-old middle school laptop program, they recognized that white boards, Internet blogs, social networks and advanced video technology, among other things, were transforming learning into a constantly fresh and more collaborative experience.

They got to know the district’s technology resources from the ground up. They spent one summer clearing memory from the district’s 1,400 laptops so they could be redistributed to students in the fall.

“It was very clear from the beginning that they wanted to learn as much as they could while they were here,” said Alice Barr, the school’s instructional technology integrator.

As juniors, the Bens created a monthly webcast, “The Ben ‘N Ben Show,” highlighting instructional technology and 21st century education. Last spring, the show was featured at the Maine Learning Technology Initiative Conference in Orono and the Coalition of Essential Schools Conference in San Francisco.

At the Maine conference, the Bens presented a live audio webcast that included an interview with former Gov. Angus King, founder of Maine’s school laptop program, while he was in Israel promoting the use of technology in education.


“It was great,” Nickerson said. “Gov. King stepped out of his meetings with education officials in Israel to talk with us.

“We wanted to give kids and teachers an idea of what can be done with technology in school and what can be done in the real world.”

The Bens accomplished all that they have while excelling in academics, sports and extracurricular activities.

McNaboe, the oldest of four siblings, was student senate president, yearbook editor and stage manager and rehearsal pianist for school musicals. Nickerson, who has a younger brother, was senate vice president, liaison to the district’s school committee and a Model UN member.

In the fall, McNaboe will attend Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., where he plans to study nursing and pursue an interest in geriatric psychiatry that developed when he worked with Alzheimer’s patients at Bay Square at Yarmouth, a senior living community.

Nickerson will attend the University of Chicago. He’s interested in studying social policy, political science and education, and would like to become a high school principal one day.


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