County Commissioner Justin Chenette, left, presents Tyler MacVane of Saco, a graduate of Thornton Academy, with a $500 check. Tyler is this year’s Chenette Leadership Scholarship for TA. Other winners include Derrick Webber of Old Orchard Beach High School, and Gregory Brunk of Bonny Eagle High School. Since 2015, the Chenette Scholarship Fund has provided over $12,000 worth of college scholarship awards to students at Thornton Academy, Old Orchard Beach High School, and Bonny Eagle. Contributed / Justin Chenette

One of my favorite times of the year is high school graduation season. It’s such a special time to celebrate the hard work and dedication of student achievement with the excitement of further career preparation ahead. I have fond memories of donning my maroon and gold at Thornton Academy, as I walked across the stage on the football field to get my well-earned diploma, while my family looked on in the stands of Hill Stadium. It’s an important life milestone that sticks with you.

Since 2015, I’ve had the pleasure of awarding college scholarships to some very deserving students, not just at my alma mater, but at surrounding communities as well. I established a nonprofit foundation to help amplify the qualities of good civic leadership and community service in Maine’s next generation. With your help and generosity, 26 students at Thornton Academy, Old Orchard Beach High School, and Bonny Eagle High School have received a combined total of over $12,000 in scholarship support.

This year, three area high school students have been awarded the Chenette Leadership Scholarship, totaling $1,500. This year’s recipients are Tyler MacVane, Derrick Webber, and Gregory Brunk.

Tyler MacVane of Saco is this year’s recipient at Thornton Academy. He volunteered heavily in the community with various causes and worked his way to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. His Eagle Scout project involved building picnic tables for community members to enjoy. Tyler takes the time to appreciate the service of others through efforts like Honor Flight Maine, Wreaths Across America, and placing American flags at Laurel Hill Cemetery for Memorial Day. It’s not just his own personal achievements that make Tyler so special, but more importantly the impact he has on those around him. He is someone whose kindness, positivity, and sense of humor is contagious. He makes others want to be the best version of themselves. He will be attending Southern Maine Community College this fall.

Derrick Webber of Old Orchard Beach is this year’s recipient at OOB High School. Impressively, Derrick completed at least 130 hours of community service over his time in school for various causes, including volunteering with the school’s Interact club. He has helped out at community events organized by the town’s recreation department, and he participated in Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), which is an intensive leadership experience organized by Rotary clubs where students develop skills as a leader. All while being an all-star athlete on the field and on the court. Derrick will be attending Maine Maritime Academy for Power Engineering Technology this August.

Gregory Brunk of Buxton is our Bonny Eagle High School’s scholarship recipient. This award recognizes his efforts volunteering through his church and youth group as well as his commitment to his studies with a 4.0 grade point average. He also excelled in sports, placing third in the state championship for wrestling. Gregory will be attending Maine Maritime Academy later this summer for Marine Engineering, with hopes of applying his knowledge working on various ships.


All three share an authentic form of self-expression through the service of others. No matter what their chosen path in life, their futures will involve making a difference and improving the quality of life of those around them. I’m glad this leadership award can play one small part in their story.

Congratulations to all of this year’s graduates as they embark on their next chapter. Maine’s next generation gives me hope that our collective future will be bright.

Learn more about the scholarship and how you can help fund future scholarships at

Justin Chenette is the county commissioner for Saco, OOB, Hollis, and Buxton and is a former state senator. He serves on the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission, Maine Right to Know Advisory Committee, and provides college scholarships through his foundation. Justin works as a communications and public relations professional and is the author of “The Great Whoopie Pie Debate: A Kids’ Guide to the Maine Legislature.” Get county updates at and email him at

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