Kara Ellsmore of Gorham will major in social work at the University of Southern Maine.

Kara Ellsmore

GORHAM — High school senior Sara Ellsmore, with graduation just days away, has her eyes firmly focused on a career in social work. She’s aiming to graduate college in three years and then seek a master’s degree, and if her past efforts are an indicator, it seems likely she will.

Ellsmore will major in social work at the University of Southern Maine. “I want to work with children with developmental disabilities,” she said.

She is the daughter of Keith and Joyce Ellsmore.

Ellsmore will receive her high school diploma in commencement exercises at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 11, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. A week of graduation marching practice begins Monday, June 5.

She is graduating magna cum laude.

“Kara is a truly remarkable student who, through scholarship, participation in student groups like Girl Up, and her benevolence toward her classmates and teachers, will leave GHS a better place when she graduates than when she entered as a ninth grader,” Principal Brian Jandreau said.

She is a member of the National Honor Society and scored high honors in the last quarter. She said her grade point average for the past three years is 96 and last year she won the Maine Phi Beta Kappa Association’s academic award.

This year, she was a semi-finalist in the U.S. Presidential Scholars program. 

“She has taken some of the most advanced courses GHS offers and has done extremely well,” Jandreau said.

Ellsmore said her favorite course was pre-calculus taught by Catherine Emery. “She makes learning fun, gets everyone excited,” Ellsmore said.

Ellsmore is passionate, knows herself very well, and works hard, Emery said Wednesday. “Kara is an incredibly inquisitive student, always searches for the deeper meaning. She’s a delight to work with.”

Creative writing taught by David Patterson was also one of her favorite classes. “I enjoy writing poetry,” Ellsmore said.

Besides her studies at Gorham High School, Ellsmore has earned a behavorial health professional certificate at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center.

An all-around student and athlete, Ellsmore played volleyball for four years and tennis. She has twice run and finished the annual Beach to Beacon road race.

In her sophomore year, she founded a Gorham High School chapter of Girl Up that she says helps girls worldwide with health, safety and education. She served as its president for three years.

“She has spearheaded efforts, through Girl Up and other organizations, to make GHS and the world in which we live a better place,” Jandreau said.  “She epitomizes GHS’s core values whether in the classroom, in the halls, or outside of school, she is respectful, honest, courageous, compassionate and responsible.”

Outside of school activities, she has volunteered on the kitchen staff at Preble Street, a soup kitchen in Portland. She also helped clear trails as part of an Appalacia Mountain Club.

Ellsmore said ravioli is her favorite food. “They taste better when someone else cooks them,” she said.

She enjoys meeting friends at Mister Bagel and said graduation will be bittersweet. “I’ll miss the people around me,” Ellsmore said.

She said her passion for social work and working with kids has pushed her. For a  message to others, Ellsmore said, “Keep working, it will all come together.”

Jandreau praised Ellsmore. “Knowing that the students like Kara will be our future leaders makes me proud and gives me great hope in our future,” Jandreau said.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or [email protected]

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