Claire McBride is valedictorian for the Class of 2022 at online charter school Maine Connections Academy. Courtesy of Maine Connections Academy

Maine Connections Academy, the state’s first online public charter school, has named Claire McBride of Richmond as valedictorian of the Class of 2022.

McBride began attending Maine Connections Academy in 8th grade after years of homeschooling to have access to a wider array of academic and extracurricular activities during high school.

In addition to her academic success, McBride has participated in various clubs – ranging from the school magazine to National Honor Society to baking club. However, it’s her work on her community 4-H robotics team that stands out to her the most, as she says that ultimately helped her find a passion for engineering. Her team, Delta Prime Robotics, is becoming more prominent in Richmond.

She credits the online charter school’s flexible curriculum with allowing her to fit these activities and work experience into her schedule. It also benefitted her when the pandemic hit, as she was already accustomed to learning at her own pace online.

“Everything was changing, but the one thing that didn’t was school,” she says.

McBride spoke during the school’s June 3 graduation ceremony at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, urging her classmates to take pride in the obstacles they’ve overcome in recent years and to carry those lessons forward into the next adventure.

“The same perseverance, courage, and strength that got us through these past four years and challenges is the same thing that will get us through the next four – whether that is college, a job, trade school, the military or just simply taking a break from it all,” she said.

She was also recognized as the recipient of the Principal’s Award, which is awarded to a student who has demonstrated outstanding academic and social engagement during their time at Maine Connections Academy.

McBride is moving on to Northeastern University. She’ll attend this fall with her sights set on a degree in mechanical engineering, which aligns with her love of math and science. Her goal is to eventually pursue a career in the biomedical field.

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