Waterville Senior High School is a grades 9-12 high school in Waterville, Maine. It houses 575 students who are taught by about 50 staff. They have a 60% free and reduced lunch rate and they have a 21 % special education population.
When asked what makes his school great, Principal Don Reiter says confidently, “There is a welcoming feel from the staff and kids.” He is absolutely correct, from the moment you walk into the newly renovated entrance to Waterville Senior High School you feel welcomed. The office staff is exceptionally friendly and the students work quietly with each other as they sit on the “Senior Benches” in the lobby waiting for their classes to begin. Every staff member I met in the hallway smiled and said, “Hello.”
I had the pleasure of speaking with two seniors: Sarah and Morgan about their school. Both of the girls glowed with pride when describing the school, “It’s not a big school so we are a community. We aren’t separated just because of what class we are in – we are all friends and equals here.” The two girls also spoke about the clubs at Waterville Senior High. “The clubs we have bring us together. If there is a club we want to start, the teachers here let us. All we need to do is find an adult who will supervise and can form a club.”
The girls stressed that the staff focus on both academics and sports equally. They also bragged that over half of the kids in the school were in at least one musical group: strings, band, or chorus. They love the fact that the school has a strong focus on academics and this is demonstrated by the large number of AP courses. “The students strive to succeed here and the teachers help us to succeed.” 100% of the teachers and most of the educational technicians in the school are advisors to the students in the school. These small advisory groups help the students feel safe and supported.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Jamie, a junior in the Bridge Program at Waterville Senior High. Jamie is an incredible advocate for that program. She beamed when explaining about the program that includes 13 students who travel together to all of their classes. “We’re a family. We go on field trips together and help each other with homework. Our classes are tough. We are all enrolled in college classes this year. By the time we graduate, we will have 30 college credits!”
When asked about their assistant principal, Brian Laramee, the girls said that he’s “really good at discipline and getting us to school.” They said that “Mr. Laramee sets an attendance goal for us. He announces the goal and the classes who had the highest attendance rates at Community Homeroom.” Community Homeroom is a time where all of the students come together and hear announcements, say the “Pledge of Allegiance,” hear the weekly stats (such as attendance rates), and motivate students by having staff share their personal stories as to what brought them into teaching. “The stories tell us that not every plan that we start will end the way that we think. It’s a journey and it all works out.”
As for their principal, Mr. Reiter, “He’s very approachable and has a great sense of humor. He supports us by coming to our sports events. He’s the best!”
Contact: Waterville Senior High School, 1 Brooklyn Ave, Waterville, ME 04901 207-873-2751
Principal Don Reiter, Assistant Principal Brian Laramee