Maine Connections Academy in Portland, a tuition-free, online charter school for grades 7-12, hosted an in-person commencement ceremony recently to honor 78 students in its fifth class of graduating seniors. The ceremony took place in the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta. Shannon Kinney, Maine native and technology businesswoman, served as the keynote speaker.

The graduates include Makayla Hilton, Brandi Lee, Je t’aime O’Neal, Alexa Wills, Daniel Collin, Grace Williamson, Xianna Whitehead, Ashlynn Conley, Erin Myers, Usha Stockley, Morrigan Beliveau, Kaily DeSantis, Autumn Levier, Eva Schroeder, Eva Seger, Charlee Brown, Cassandra Lepari, Shawna Thibodeau, Autumn Finkle, Raeney Davis and Kaitlin Barron.

Also, Amber Lee, Olivia McCray, Ty Davis, Connor Nicholson, Gage Stryker, Mykenzie Plummer, Emily Wilkinson, Kelly Remedis, Fletcher Cummings, Zoe Walker, Ashley King, Violet Mikita, Joseph Florencio, Franz-Peter Jerosch, Alice Yokabaskas, Hunter Raye, Zachary Elliott-Stratton and Zaynah Smith.

Also, Frances Jewell, Eli Wall, Isaac Cobb, Rowdy Vear, Ian McNaughton, Stephen Billings, Nathaniel Vincent, Darien Andrews, Reese Bayne, Hannah Bierwas, Isaac Breton, Chloe Cassidy, Iris Cote, Morgyn Crowley, Cheyenne Hebert, Makayla Hilton, Joshua Hopkins, Lillian Hubbard, James Jarvis, Molly Libby, Haley Marini, Alyssa McEwen, Eli Murphy, Allison Parker, Nicole Patterson, Jeremy Pratt, Maraim Reda, Katelin Reed, Corbin Schiner, Nicholas Sudsbury, Khadija Sugule and Christina Wallace.

As an online school, MCA students learn from wherever there is an Internet connection. For many, this ceremony is the first time they have met one another in person.

Kinney, keynote speaker, founded Dream Local Digital, a digital marketing solution company, in 2009 “to bring the power of online marketing to small- and medium-sized businesses. In her keynote address, she urged the MCA students to “be your own tornado,” to “find and honor your voice and tell your own story.”


MCA’s valedictorian was Madeline Grace Williamson, who plans to attend Liberty University in Virginia. Eli Murphy is salutatorian. Student speaker Kaitlin Barron plans to attend the University of Maine Presque Isle.

Principal Chad Strout rounded out the ceremony with some advice for the graduating seniors: “It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to fail. Surround yourself with positive people. And most important, enjoy the world and try new things.”

The academy is enrolling up to 429 students for the 2019-20 school year on a first-come, first-served basis.

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