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The surprising Maine county that sends so many kids to college

Editor’s note: This is a continuation of an ongoing series, Your School, that examines what is holding back teachers, principals, parents and communities from helping students realize their full potential, and aims to hold up promising efforts that other places might learn from. Along the way, please write to us with questions and ideas for coverage at

It was Julian McKenney’s junior year at Fort Fairfield Middle/High School, and he was struggling academically for the first time.

In addition to his regular classes, he was taking a full year of college-level chemistry and a semester each of college-level anthropology and psychology as part of a special agreement between his school and the University of Maine at Fort Kent. He was also balancing being a cheerleader with working three shifts a week at Bath and Body Works in the Presque Isle Mall.

The stress compounded, and he continued to fall behind on his coursework, he said. That’s when his teachers, with whom he had close relationships, stepped in and made sure he got caught up.

All throughout Aroostook County, it appears adults — whether teachers, family members or business owners — are making a point to catch and encourage young people in their schooling, so they might continue on to some type of college.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “The surprising Maine county that sends so many kids to college,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Tyler Blint-Welsh, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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