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2021 CBHS College March Set for Dec. 17

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2021 CBHS College March Set for Dec. 17
Posted on 12/03/2021
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Casco Bay High School students’ college aspirations will be on parade Friday, Dec. 17, when CBHS seniors hold the school’s ninth annual “College March” down Congress Street to the downtown post office.

The public affirmation of the students’ higher education goals was scaled back last year due to the pandemic, when only seven students marched to represent their class. This year, however, the entire senior class of nearly 100 students will be able to participate in the outdoor event. Students will mail college applications or letters to a significant adult in their life who has supported their educational journey.

CBHS is a lead school within the EL Education network, formerly called Expeditionary Learning. EL Education is a leading K-12 nonprofit focused on raising student achievement across diverse schools and communities.

This year EL schools around the country have been asked to participate in the College March, and Casco Bay High School is in! The College March is a nationwide event whose roots go back to 2012, when more than 600 seniors from NYC Outward Bound Schools' five-borough network of public schools marched from their respective campuses to their local post office or mail truck to submit their college applications while hundreds cheered them on. Students hoped to inspire others to persevere through challenges en route to success in college and beyond. The event has now become an EL tradition.

Casco Bay High School strives for 100 percent of its graduates to be accepted to college, and is close to that goal: so far, 98 percent of CBHS students have been accepted to college. All CBHS seniors are expected to submit at least one college application.

On Dec. 17, students will be dropped off at the Portland Museum of Art at 1:15 p.m. and shortly afterwards march down Congress Street to the post office where they will mail either a college application, an updated transcript or a letter to a significant adult in their life who has supported their achieving this milestone.

After mailing the letters, the students will then head to the steps of City Hall at about 2 p.m. where they will be greeted by city and school leaders and a senior speaker will deliver an address on behalf of the class. The rest of the student body will be there too, cheering the seniors on.

This year, CBHS is excited to announce that the University of Southern Maine is sponsoring the event. “USM's philosophy of ‘college for everyone’ is a great fit for our belief that each and every CBHS student is college material, should they wish to pursue this path,” said CBHS Principal Derek Pierce.

The event happens each year with assistance from the U.S. Postal Service.

The CBHS annual "March to the Post Office" helps promote the Portland Public Schools’ goal of graduating every student college ready. Pierce said the idea behind the march is “to demonstrate to the school community and the world that every kid can get to college with hard work and adequate support, if they decide that is the right path. We want our students to graduate with as many options as possible – and we want college to be one of them.”

Many CBHS students are the first in their families to apply to college and some are from immigrant families. The College March is a powerful symbol of the idea that every student, regardless of background or circumstance, has the potential to thrive at a high-quality institution of higher learning.

The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 60 languages. 52 percent of the district’s students are white and 48 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.