BAR HARBOR — Five sophomore girls at Mount Desert Island High School have been chosen as the school’s first participants in the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, which the former Maine senator started three years ago.
The institute is for girls in grades 10-12 for whom “exposure to the range of opportunities available to them is intended to build their confidence, raise their aspirations and enable them to become more successful in their lives and careers.” Sophomore girls who are selected to participate remain in the program for three years.
About three dozen Maine high schools currently have students in the program. MDI High School’s first participants are Emma Frye, Daisy Granholm, Ashley Graves, Sarah MacDonald and Camille Michaud. Their local adult mentors — called “Olympia’s leader advisors,” or OLAs – are Jackson Laboratory scientist Carol Bult and sculptor Katie Muhlfeld.
According to the institute, its program includes “an annual one-day intensive workshop, monthly in-school sessions, an online community and one-on-one interaction with women in the institute’s network who have chosen various paths to success.”
This year’s daylong workshop, where participants from all over the state come together, is in Bangor today (Thursday).
Julie Keblinsky, the high school’s dean of curriculum, told the school board Monday night that MDI’s first five participants were selected last spring by a team of freshmen teachers.
“We were looking for kids we thought would specifically benefit from mentorship, particularly in the area of leadership,” Keblinsky said. “Schools are only allowed to select five girls each year. It’s a great program, so it’s hard to just pick five.”
There are 67 girls in this year’s sophomore class at MDI High School.
Julie Meltzer, the school system’s director of curriculum, assessment and instruction, said girls weren’t invited to apply for the leadership institute, and that was intentional.
“They wanted girls who might not have stepped forward to apply to be the ones who would be able to take advantage,” she said. “They want to help them develop into women who will step forward in the future.
“It’s a prestigious thing for us to be involved with, but more importantly, it’s a really nice opportunity for our students.”