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Maine Island students bypass their senior trip and donate money to help during the pandemic

[July 1, 2021: Jasmine Levy]

High school students in Maine have seen the world on senior-class trips to the Eiffel Tower, Icelandic volcanoes, Norwegian fjords, Italian canals, and the tropical beaches of Panama.

This year, 2021 Islesboro Central School class members (all 13) were looking to travel to Greece, or perhaps South Korea. But they didn’t go anywhere after all.

Instead, they donated $5,000 to help their neighbors struggling as a result of a pandemic.

It was definitely a pain. But in the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision.

“I felt it was clear that I needed to return to the island community,” said Olivia Briton, 17, of Belfast, one of the graduates of the month.


Before the pandemic, seniors worked in stores, held harvest and winter festivals, and hosted local dinners, raising nearly $8,000.

Much of that money will go to the island’s community fund to help people suffering from COVID-19-related unemployment put food on the table and cover unexpected costs.

Pandemics are not easy for any young person in the United States, and the close island community is keenly aware of its impact.

Five of the seniors at Islesboro Central School take the ferry from the mainland and the rest live on the island. The island has about 700 inhabitants annually. As a result, the students were not only isolated by the pandemic, but also had a three-mile bay between the island and the mainland, splitting without being able to gather for months.

The 2021 class has long been accustomed to doing things together. For Halloween, the class coordinated the group’s outfits, piled them up in a school-owned van driven by an English teacher, and did a trick or treat on the island.

By island standards, it was a large group. In fact, 13 seniors represented the largest senior class in recent years.


Once the pandemic reality had taken hold, seniors started an email chain to discuss what to do about travel. Greece, South Korea and Japan were no longer an option as overseas travel had nowhere to go.

They thought about shrinking it. Perhaps they were able to make a regional trip. It’s better than nothing. But even then, it began to look tremendous.

The world struggle weighed heavily on them as they sought to justify saving exotic outings against the backdrop of death and financial distress.

Liefe Temple, 18, of Lincolnville, said spending money on travel abroad during these difficult times seemed “strange and definitely wrong.”

“We could really see how the whole world and the islands are also struggling, so we do it with our money and return it to those who gave it to us. That was really good, “said Temple.

The president of the Islesboro Community Fund said there were cheers, high fives, and even tears when the board learned of the donation.


“When everything settled down, these students were very proud because their decisions showed their awareness of the difficulties of their community and their willingness to do something about it,” said Fred Thomas. I did. “They learned that giving is difficult, but giving is good.”

Some money was also spent to cover the unexpected costs associated with running the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic. The students kicked when they learned that teachers and peers had helped get the jab. They have decided where to donate the thousands of dollars that still remain.

Their gestures spread through news accounts in local newspapers. They received a warm response on the island, said Britton’s mother, Dr. Megan Briton, a family doctor who advised the 2021 class on financing for the trip.

Consensus: “People are complaining about young people today, but this really faces it, at least not these kids,” she said.


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