The Junior Achievement Maine Business Hall of Fame now includes Yarmouth High School seniors Elliott Cowles, Frazier Dougherty and Owen Gillan, who were recognized for winning JA’s revamped Titan Challenge. Contributed / Kyle Dubay

Yarmouth seniors enter Junior Achievement Hall of Fame

Three Yarmouth High School seniors became the first team of students in the country to win the redeveloped Titan Challenge from Junior Achievement, for which they earned a spot in the Junior Achievement Maine Business Hall of Fame.

This past school year Elliott Cowles, Frazier Dougherty and Owen Gillan participated as a team in Junior Achievement’s newly redeveloped Titan Challenge, a simulation-based program in which students compete as business CEOs in the cell phone industry. The experience allows them to experience firsthand how an organization evaluates alternatives, makes decisions, analyzes outcomes and then strategizes what to do next. After intense competition, Cowles, Frazier and Gillan won first place and became first in the nation to win the redeveloped Titan Challenge.

According to Cowles, the team won this year’s challenge, held virtually due to COVID-19, by outmaneuvering their opponents to gain market control. In his speech at the Maine Business Hall of Fame, Cowles said, “We calculated our odds to maximize efficiency across multiple disciplines to create an optimal product for the varying market types. We made sure that our product was up to date with the newest technology, raising its value, to pass our competitors.”

During his speech, Frazier said it was the weeks of practice leading up to the competition that helped the team take home the gold, while other teams “crammed the night before.”

The team ended up not losing a single point in any round of the game.

Junior Achievement of Maine’s mission is to inspire and prepare Maine students through experiential, hands-on programs that focus on entrepreneurship, workforce readiness and financial literacy.

Lyseth educator named state phys ed teacher of year

Merita McKenzie, a physical education teacher and coach at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland, has won the 2021 Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award given by the Maine Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance.


The designation recognizes educators who conduct quality programs, serve as positive role models and are leaders in their profession, school and community.

“For more than three decades, Merita has supported kids in Portland in getting active, developing healthy lifelong habits and in being the best that they can be in every facet of their life,” Lyseth Assistant Principal Sarah Rubin said. “(T)his is such an incredible way to celebrate her for everything she has done.”

The criteria for determining Teacher of the Year award winners include: conducting a quality program; utilizing teaching methodologies and innovative learning experiences to meet individual student needs; serving as a positive role model; participating in professional development; and service through leadership, presentations and/or writing.

In the 2020-2021 school year, McKenzie completely redesigned her entire curriculum due to COVID-19 and worked with the Outdoor Learning coordinator to plan for an entire school year outside with her students. Merita took kids outdoors to engage in specific cooperative games and kinesthetic activities to learn how to work with each other, learn how their bodies work and learn how to take care of themselves.

“As a physical education teacher and coach, Merita has had a direct positive impact on the lives of thousands of children in Portland,” Rubin said, including writing “countless grants” to procure equipment and opportunities for her students.