Thornton Academy is a grades 6-12 Town Academy (there is also a Middle School on campus), and has the largest student population of any school in Maine with 1,650 students. The students are taught by 160 teachers and 8 educational technicians. They have a 15% free and reduced lunch rate and have a special education population around 15%. There are 155 students who live on campus – the majority of these students are from abroad.
Walking up to majestic administrative building, you get a sense of history. Originally founded in 1811, Thornton Academy is older than Maine itself. This makes Thornton Academy, TA, great according to one of my senior tour guides, Alexandra. “This school is full of history, and you see it everywhere on campus.”
I was fortunate to be given a tour by three TA students. These kids could not say enough about their school. Andrew, a senior, said, “I think the breadth of our curriculum is what sets us apart from other schools. We offer 24 AP classes but we have access to 32. We have the opportunity to take classes outside of regular school hours: some are on-line, some start at 7:00 am and others are offered on the weekend. The school is really accommodating to our needs.”
Jack, a sophomore, agreed. “We have a wide range of teachers and if we have a particular interest and there isn’t a class that offers what we are interested in, there is a process and we always get that course. Last April I filled out the forms to learn Arabic. I expected to be able to take it my senior year, but the school not only found an Arabic teacher, they now offer a full Arabic class. It was less than three months after I proposed it!”
Alexandra stated, “We are a really large school, but just like with classes, if you have an interest in forming a club, all you need to do is find a teacher who will serve as your advisor and you have a new club. There is something for everyone! No one feels left out. We all belong here.”
The kids were very proud of not only the sports program, but of all programs. They stated how incredible the arts, science, and engineering programs are. “We all support each other,” Jack said, “They come to my football games and I go to their dance recitals and performances.”
TA has formed a partnership with the University of Maine system and the University of New England. Many students participate in the duel enrollment classes. It’s possible for a graduating senior to enter college the next year as a sophomore!
When asked what makes your school great, Principal Allen Young said, “The student body has a great blend of solid, high-end students. The staff provides a curriculum that helps students realize their dreams can be a reality.”
Headmaster Rene Menard proudly noted, “There is an amazing culture of TA – there is a sense of care, compassion and tolerance. Kids can be themselves. They have the opportunity to discover their passions and grow. Every student fits in.”
There is not enough space to write about all of the incredible programs and activities that Thornton Academy offers to customize learning for students. I highly encourage you to take the opportunity to visit and see what an amazing learning environment they provide for their kids. They may be the largest school in Maine, but the school is one of the most supportive, caring communities I have had the pleasure of touring.
Contact: Thornton Academy, 438 Main Street, Saco, ME 04072
Headmaster: Rene Menard Principal: Allan Young MS Principal: Tiffany Robert