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Exemplary Students Win Principal’s Awards

Each year, Maine high school principals nominate one senior from their schools to receive an MPA Principal’s Award. The award, sponsored by the Maine Principals' Association, is given in recognition of a high school senior's academic achievement and good citizenship.

The 2024 MPA Principal’s Award winners from the Portland Public Schools’ three high schools are: Caden Hemond, at Portland High School, selected by Principal Sheila Jepson; Trip Marston at Deering High School, selected by Assistant Principal Halima Noor; and Olivia Chong at Casco Bay High School, selected by Principal Derek Pierce.

These award winners and their school administrators will join other awardees from around the state to be recognized at an Honors Luncheon on Saturday, April 6, in Brewer, where each outstanding student will be presented with an individual plaque. In addition, 10 students will be selected to receive $1,000 scholarships in the names of former Maine principals and MPA Executive Directors: Horace O. McGowan, Richard W. Tyler, and Richard A. Durost.

The Principal's Award is presented in more than 100 Maine public and private high schools by member principals of the MPA, the professional association which represents Maine's school administrators.

Below is more information about this year’s PPS winners and their accomplishments:

Here’s how Casco Bay High School Principal Derek Pierce described Olivia Chong:

Olivia Chong is driven by a love of learning and a love of people and is open to wherever the next adventure may take her. The one constant in her varied pursuits is a commitment to use her knowledge and passion to better her world. During her time at Casco Bay High School, as a leader, as a scholar, as an artist and as a human, Olivia Chong has created beauty and joy on our campus, while also cultivating unity and understanding. She was an obvious choice for National Honor Society induction last spring and is on track to graduate Summa Cum Laude. Olivia is co-chair of our student government, a member of our Community Council and a two-sport varsity athlete. Olivia is a non-traditional leader. She often leads from the side, coaching, modeling, probing – either inviting other voices in or in genuine partnership with others. Olivia leads because her community needs her, and she genuinely delights in problem-solving and serving others. In spring of 2022, Olivia earned the highest honor our faculty bestows, the Navigator Award for Excellence in Leadership, for the student who “builds community and takes action to better the CBHS world.”

Portland High School Principal Sheila Jepson had the following to say about Caden Hemond:

Caden has left his mark on Portland High School in many ways: his strong voice as he served as our student representative on the Board of Education, his participation in Student Council, Math Team, band, swimming and tennis.  He has taken the most challenging courses at PHS, clearly has excelled in the classroom and has earned Valedictorian of his class.  Simply put – he's a rockstar! Most recently I’ve gotten to see the fun side of Caden as he assists me in reading our daily announcements and delivering the Pledge of Allegiance.   He is a kind, respectful and dedicated member of our student body and I know that as he heads off to Princeton, he will continue to learn and lead.

Deering High School Assistant Principal Halima Noor described Trip Marston in this way:

I am immensely pleased and proud to select Trip for the 2024 MPA Principal's Award. When I think about who truly embodies the vibrant spirit and essence of Deering, Trip immediately comes to mind. From leading spirited chants at games to waving the Deering flag with unmatched enthusiasm, Trip has a knack for lighting up our school and making everyone feel proud to be part of our community. Trip isn't just a powerhouse of school spirit; he's also an incredible leader on the basketball court.

 As his assistant principal, I've enjoyed seeing Trip's leadership skills in action. And let me tell you, it's about more than just three-pointers and winning games with Trip. He's also a fantastic mentor to our younger basketball players. I've seen him take the time to check in on his teammates, reminding them of the importance of being in school and earning good grades. At Deering, our school motto is #LEARNINGTOGETHER, and Trip reminds his fellow teammates that it's through teamwork, respect, and kindness to one another that creates an atmosphere where they can push one another to thrive academically as well as athletically! Off the court, I have observed Trip patiently and skillfully teaching his classmates complex statistical concepts with warmth and humor, fostering an environment of understanding and camaraderie. Trip's leadership style is understated yet impactful; he never seeks recognition or praise for his efforts, as leadership for him is not a role but an intrinsic part of his character. Furthermore, Trip's teachers have consistently praised his exceptional interpersonal skills, noting his ability to engage and communicate effectively with anyone he encounters – a difficult skill to master at such a young age! His natural aptitude for leadership and his genuine kindness make him stand out as a remarkable individual with boundless potential. I have no doubt that Trip's future is incredibly bright, and I envision him one day assuming roles as a CEO, superintendent, or even president. It is clear that Trip is not only deserving of the 2024 MPA Principal's Award title but also destined for great things. Congratulations, Trip, on this well-deserved honor!