Telstar students of the month involved in school, community
BETHEL – Telstar High School November/December (SOM) students are involved in school activities and community service projects.
In a Zoom meeting on Monday, January 31, Fransesco “Frank” Campra, a senior Italian and international exchange student, junior Emily Cummings, sophomore Matt Bean and freshman Ella Akers outlined their activities and goals for current careers.
Campra was a member of the cross country team and now plays basketball. He has not yet participated in community service activities, but believes he will in the future.
Talking with organizations is something Campra plans to do. He expects to showcase his accomplishments and how his life has changed as part of his Capstone project (required for graduation).
“I will be presenting at an assembly as the student of the month,” he said. Campra can discuss some of the major differences between the school systems in Italy and Maine.
“We don’t have classes where we change,” he said. “We have a class and the teachers change. We don’t have lockers, we just carry our backpacks, our books.
Laptops are used but schools in Italy do not provide them. “If you have yours, great, if not, too bad,” Campra said. “We still use books and notebooks.”
In Italy, students go to school six days a week, spend five years in high school instead of four in Maine, he said. School starts at 8:30 a.m., ends at 1:30 p.m. and there is no lunch, just a mid-day break, Campra said.
“You can’t choose your classes, you have to take the classes the school offers,” he said. “It’s like a university – you have to choose the field that interests you.”
For Campra, the most important difference – in a positive way – is the importance of sports activities here. “The Italian system doesn’t really care about athletics, it just cares about academics,” he said. “We don’t play sports at school. If you want to play, you have to join a traveling association, club or team. I was surprised how well organized the sports teams are here.
While Campra misses speaking Italian the most – because he loves his language – he teaches it to his friends so they can speak it with him.
The university is different in Italy and Campra always tries to find its best options. He plans to apply to colleges here and see what they can do, but he has to return to Italy and finish his final year there.
“I still have a year to think about it,” he said. “I’m interested in sport, quite good at maths so I’m interested in management first, then more specifically in sports management.
Cummings is part of Telstar’s JMG program which was established last spring. She is a secretary and part of the management team. During weekly meetings, she helped organize fundraisers like the Christmas fundraiser held last month.
“We’ve put together a resource cabinet for the school,” she said. “It offers personal care products, food and snacks for children at school.”
Outside of school, Cummings is involved with the Northstar leadership group.
“I have my own group that I do activities with,” she said. “I also supervise a group of young people. This summer, with my own group, we created a community garden. We will be moving to a larger location this summer.
“Last year we had a pretty small space, so all the food we grew was delivered weekly to senior communities across the city,” she said.
Cummings works at The Bethel Sugar Shack and is interested in agriculture or wildlife biology as possible careers.
“Northstar helped me pursue these things,” she said.
In the past, Bean was part of the Maine Outdoor Leadership program. He is currently trying to enter another. The application deadline is Feb. 8 and he would learn if accepted this spring.
“If I was accepted it would be another great opportunity,” he said.
Before it snowed and got really cold, Bean used Telstar High School’s practice room.
“I’m not a sporty type, I don’t play football, basketball, soccer, but I like training so I go,” he said. “What I’m trying to approach is more of a personal trainer. When I come home from school, I have an established routine for working out. I try to show others how I think it would be, what’s best for what they want to do.
Martial arts also interested Bean.
“There aren’t many options locally near Andover,” he said.
Akers is part of Telstar’s civil rights team. She is also part of the Nordic ski team.
“I haven’t done much community service so far this year,” Akers said. “I helped a few times in college which is very small. One of the days I went there for the day I had no school. I helped anyone who needed help with math or writing, something like that.
Another time, Akers went on a field trip to his mother’s herbal business. She said she sometimes helped grow the herbs, that she was probably more involved when she was younger.
“I go horseback riding,” she says. “Right now I’m mostly doing dressage, trying to get more into show jumping.” She doesn’t own a horse, takes lessons at Moondance Farm in Andover.
Akers isn’t really sure about her career goals, but is interested in psychology.
The SOM program is sponsored by the Bethel Rotary Club and recognizes students for their contributions to the school and community through service, academic pursuits, and being an excellent role model for the student body. Telstar High School staff nominate and select the winners.
Akers attends the Telstar Freshman Academy (TFA) at the 4-H Camp and Learning Center in Woodstock.
“Regular lessons such as English and social studies are held, and then we also do outdoor activities where we learn how to use maps and compasses, wilderness first aid, how to rock climb, things like that,” she said. “I think the goal is to teach how to be lifelong learners, how to have a good work ethic, be open-minded, try to instill in us some values that are important.”
“There’s a lot of negativity around TFA,” Akers said. “I know a lot of kids, a lot of people don’t like it or think it’s not good. I think that’s a really cool thing, there’s a lot of learning opportunities there. You kind of get out of it what you put into it.