Two Gorham High School seniors have caught the attention of major college recruiters with their capstone projects.
Olivia Halle of Shelburne and Anna Roberge of Milan so impressed college recruiting counselors that Roberge has been interviewed by Brown and Harvard Universities and Halle has been accepted by every college she has applied to attend.
Director of School Counseling Christine Lemoine explained that each senior must complete a capstone project before graduation. Project requirements call for at least 40 hours of work, which can be done as a hands-on project, a presentation in a formal setting or a thesis paper. Lemoine said most students choose a field they are interested in.
“For example, one student who was exploring the possibility of becoming a teacher, shadowed a teacher, prepared lesson plans and taught a class. Another, interested in welding, rebuilt a motor; and another, interested in culinary arts, put together a pasta night,” she explained.
Olivia Halle said she has always been interested in history, researched and put together a 45-minute live presentation on the history of St. Anne’s and its artwork. She presented it during last year’s St. Anne’s feast. She memorized the entire presentation and was able to answer all questions.
“Some of the attendees thought I was a professional historian hired by the parish,” Halle said.
She has also participated in the American Legion Oratorical Contest and has made the national competition. Halle is undecided on whether she wants to be a history teacher or a lawyer. She hopes to have her talk and research on St. Anne’s history available to the public on CD soon.
Lemoine said that the focus of the capstone projects is to get students to focus on what life will be like for them after high school and college and for students to focus on realistic goals with some life preparation.
Roberge wanted to be a math teacher, but her capstone project and a life experience have made her change her mind.
“I want to help people,” she said. “I wanted to reduce the stigma of mental illness and help people with their difficulties.”
Roberge called her project “Operation Guardian Angel.”
She wrote articles that appeared in the Good Shepard Parish bulletin with titles such as “Dealing with trauma through God.” “You are worth something and everything.” She put together lesson plans and Bible quotes that pertained to each lesson.
Roberge has people who confide in her and talk of their issues with her every day. For them, she makes prayer cards.
She has two sayings that she quotes to herself every day: “Forever changed is not forever damaged.” and “Today is the first day of the rest of my life.”
Roberge has decided on a career in psychology. She shadowed the school counselor and did a presentation to the entire high school body on reducing mental illness stigma.
Roberge runs a peer-to-peer website, and she wrote a 10-page thesis on eating disorders and the effect on the brain. She says she has fellow students who talk to her every day. “Everyone needs positive reinforcement,” she said.
Asked if she considered herself a student leader, Halle replied, “I may be a leader, but I listen to what others have to say before I make a decision.”
Both students received a scholarship from the Faith, Hope and Love Foundation on the same day.
Roberge has decided to attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham and Halle St. Anslem’s College in Manchester. When asked of the possibility of returning to the community when they graduated both said yes.
Halle responded, “We have so many talented young people here that no one knows about. We hope we can help change things, and we appreciate the support we have received from the community.”
Olivia Halle is the daughter of Chris and Melissa Halle and Anna Roberge is the daughter of Jennie and Benjamin Roberge.