Penquis Valley senior portfolios to be reviewed

MILO — Currently seniors at Penquis Valley High School need to complete a portfolio, also known as an exit project, in order to graduate. The portfolio highlights some of the work the student has done over four years. 

This is required per district graduation policy and not the Maine Department of Education, and for some students completing the portfolio may be a challenge. The merits of the project were discussed during an Oct. 4 school board meeting at the Penquis Valley School, and the portfolio will be looked at by the policy committee.

Science teacher Katie Joyner-Roberston, who is a 1995 Penquis Valley graduate and has taught at her alma mater for 18 years, said the portfolio requirement began in order to meet New England Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation guidelines rather than those of the DOE. At first students had a physical folder and later they shifted to digital portfolios.

Joyner-Roberston said portfolio contents do tie in to other classes, such as students writing resumes and completing job shadows. “I personally feel it is a barrier to graduation,” she said. She said some students have completed all that is required by the DOE but were unable to march at graduation due to not having a portfolio completed in time.

“We believe professionally this is more a barrier than helpful,” Principal John Dow said.

Superintendent Darcie Fournier said the process for reviewing portfolios would have the requirement go before the policy committee to see if revisions are in order. “Then it will come to the board for review,” as the full table of directors looks at it and takes a possible action.

In other business, the school board heard from members of the Penquis Valley High School Student Council on senior privileges.The guidelines are based in part on those for Penobscot Valley High School in nearby Howland and have been reviewed with building administrators.

Seniors in good academic and behavioral standing are able to come in for the first class of the day, so they may arrive later if they have a study hall to start. If the members of the Class of 2024 have a study hall in the final period, they could also sign out early.

During the intervention time in the middle of the day, seniors could sign up in advance to relax in a lounge setting, be in the gym, or still use the time for academics. 

The board also approved the cooperative agreement with the Tri-County Technical Center in Dexter for 2023-24.

Fournier said the sending school districts and TCTC work to have similar academic calendars, as there can only be five days that do not match.

Business Manager Heidi Sisco gave the directors information on a community solar program for them to look over. Sisco said they can email her questions she can then relay to a solar contact and a meeting could be set up if there is interest.

“There is potential savings, it shows there is potential $10,000 savings,” she said, through an energy credit program.

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