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Home > Rules & Legislation > Letters from the Commissioner > Informational Letters > Letter 98



TO:               Superintendents of Schools, Middle School Principals and Middle School Guidance Counselors

FROM:           Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:            April 19, 2007

RE:                KickStart Campaign Update

In mid-January, Norm Higgins of the Department’s Center for Educational Transformation wrote to you to tell you about the KickStart Campaign - a media strategy targeted to 8th grade students in Maine.  This effort is sponsored by the Department’s Maine Readiness Initiative, a partnership with the Mitchell Institute and the Compact for Higher Education, with funding provided by the National Governors Association.  Research demonstrates that interest in college often stalls out as students transition into high school, where the realities of planning for college, courses, grades, finances and the lack of support becomes more real.  The goal of the KickStart Campaign is to maintain momentum during that transition and to help students believe that, regardless of the barriers, college is an option for them.  A number of activities will be occurring during the months of March, April and early May to engage 8th grade students to actively think about planning for college.

An advertisement featuring “Norm” (a talking donkey) was aired on February 4 during the Super Bowl with a KickStart message urging students to take high school seriously to ensure readiness for college, career and citizenship.  It directed students to the website to take an “R U Ready Quiz” and to get a free KickStart T-shirt.  The quiz will have students answer several questions, some meant only for fun and others meant to discern interests and preferences for higher education institutions in Maine. Once the student chooses an institution and submits the quiz, the student is entitled to get a free KickStart T-shirt and a College Planning Guide.  It is expected that the student will have a discussion with the principal/teacher/guidance counselor about 9th grade curriculum choices when the student picks up a T-shirt at the school.

T-shirts for each 8th grader in our public schools have been packaged and sent to sites in each county (see the attached list).  Please make arrangements to have your school’s T-shirts picked up for your 8th graders.  The packages also include a sufficient number of College Planning Guides for each of your 8th grade students.  The College Planning Guides were developed by the Mitchell Institute and the costs of printing were subsidized by Central Maine Power.  Each student should get a T-shirt after completing the College Finder Quiz on the website AND speaking with someone abut the courses they intend to select for their freshman year in high school.  Some schools are planning rally days for all 8th graders to hand out the T-shirts; others are completing the quiz in class all together.  I’m sure that you can find a way to convert this important conversation about college readiness into a rewarding and exciting event that suits your school’s schedule and programmatic needs.

A KickStart game show began airing on the CW Network on Thursday, March 29th at 7:30 p.m.  Twenty eighth graders from across Maine competed to participate in the KickStart game show; the winner will win a $10,000 college scholarship provided by Bangor Savings Bank.  The remaining episodes will air on the CW Network on April 19, April 26 and May 3. 

All of this excitement is to convince all Maine students that post secondary education is an opportunity for each of them if they graduate from high school ready for college, career and citizenship.

In addition to support from Bangor Savings Bank and Central Maine Power, other corporate sponsors that have supplemented the NGA funding for this initiative are Hannaford Brothers, Time-Warner and Apple Computer.  We appreciate their commitment to Maine students.

If you have feedback, questions or concerns, please contact Kay Rand or Sue Bell at 622-9671.

I hope that you enjoy these activities with your students! 

T-Shirt Locations


All have been delivered to the individual schools, including Jay in Franklin County


Caribou School Department; 628 Main Street, Caribou

Frank McElwain – 496-6311


Westbrook High School; 125 Stroudwater Street, Westbrook
Jane Burnes - 591-6226


All are being delivered by DOE personnel to the schools, except Jay which have already been delivered


Ellsworth Superintendent’s Office; Mill Mall, 248 State Street Malen Hsu - 667-8136


Capitol Area Technical Center; Augusta Scott Phair - 626-2475, ext. 3103


Mid Coast School of Technology; 1 Main Street, Rockland 594-2161


Mid Coast School of Technology; 1 Main Street, Rockland 594-2161


Oxford Hills High School; 256 Main Street, South Paris Linda Limatta - 743-8972


United Technologies Center; 200 Hogan Road, Bangor Greg Miller - 942-5296


All have been delivered to the individual schools


SAD #75, Topsham; 50 Republic Avenue Becky Brilliant - 729-9961


Madison High School; 55 Weston Avenue, Madison (Fairfield and Pittsfield are at Capitol Area TC, Augusta) 696-3323


Mid Coast School of Technology; 1 Main Street, Rockland 594-2161


University of Maine at Machias; 27A Kimball Hall, 3rd floor Betty Jordan - 255-1219


Wells Superintendent’s Office; 1460 Post Road 646-8331


Note:  There were 14 very small schools with 4 or fewer 8th grade students that have received their packages in the mail.