Educational excellence

To the Editor:

Every time that I walk into my office at MDI High School, I pinch myself to check and see if I am dreaming. I am blessed with the opportunity to work in an educational environment where students are talented and eager to learn, teachers and support staff are both incredibly skilled and admirably caring, we have an engaged and dynamic school board and administrative team, and the community supports our mission enthusiastically. MDI High School is a special place that we all should be proud of.

The 2016-2017 school year has been exciting. This is our first year of full implementation of a proficiency-based model of teaching, learning and grading. The students and staff have risen to the challenge and have succeeded at unprecedented levels. Our students consistently outperform their peers in Maine on standardized tests such as the SAT. The class of 2017 ranked in the top 7 in the statewide assessment.

It is even more impressive when you consider that these rankings include magnet schools such as the Maine School of Science and Mathematics and private schools with acceptance criteria. Furthermore, MDI High School was ranked as the 8th best school in Maine by “Niche” and by “U.S. News and World Report.”

High scores on a standardized tests and rankings by external organizations do not tell the whole story. Our students excel in a multitude of diverse academic settings. Our four National Merit Semi-Finalists were complimented by five medal winners at the State Career and Technical Education Skills USA Competition. Students are challenged by 11 Advanced Placement (AP) course offerings across math, science, social studies, English, music and computer science. Those students who wish to further enrich their education have the opportunity participate in yearlong internships at The Jackson Lab or MDI Biological Laboratory.

We have a relationship with the College of the Atlantic that allows our students access to higher level math and science classes at that fine institution.

In a time that many schools are forced to contract their offerings, we maintain a thriving arts and technical education program. In support of this endeavor, we recently learned that we received a grant worth $65,000 to renovate a classroom space into an Active Learning Center in which students will have the infrastructure to plan, design and create prototypes for creations designed to solve real-world problems.

Students have a variety of physical education courses to choose from, which allows them to learn how to lead a healthy, active life after they leave high school. We offer multiple levels of both French and Spanish, while hosting courses in family and consumer science in which students learn the basic skills of caring for a household. Students at MDI High School can always find their niche and excel in it.

The past year has been one of great success outside of the classroom as well. Our student-athletes have performed valiantly, achieving unprecedented championships in football, track and field, and basketball. Along the way, the teams have received recognition for outstanding sportsmanship, receiving banners in football, golf and cheering. The performing arts continue to represent us well. MDI Drama won the state One-Act competition, multiple jazz ensembles received the highest level of commendation, Show Choir is ramping up for their state festival, and, as always, the MDI Pep Band sets standards that no other school can approach. It is a good time to be an MDI Trojan.

In spite of the accolades, we always aim to improve. Looking to the future, it only gets better. In the next school year we will add AP courses in environmental science and human geography. Additionally, we will host a satellite program of the Hancock County Technical Center in marine services technology, which will build skills in students who are planning on careers related to the ocean. Finally, we are building in more support for those who struggle with mental health challenges, a rising need in today’s society. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we hold ourselves to the highest standards.

All of this does not happen by accident. Our community has been gracious in its support of this high school. Without that support, none of the successes would have been possible. With that in mind, I invite you all to attend the High School’s annual meeting on Wednesday, April 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Higgins-Demas Theater at school. Citizens will have the opportunity to vote on the adoption of the budget. I look forward to seeing you there, and I want to give another big thank you for allowing me to be your principal.

Matt Haney


MDI High School

Bar Harbor

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