Monmouth Academy senior Rhayna Poulin in front of the original 1803 school house, May 5 in Monmouth. The first in her family planning to attend college, Poulin had to a make a choice other Monmouth Academy students have been compelled to decide over the last 200 years: Harvard or Yale. Poulin chose Yale University in Connecticut after interviewing the faculty at the Ivy League school. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

MONMOUTH — When Rhayna Poulin was younger, her dream was to go to Harvard.

Her parents took her on a trip to Boston to see the school and she knew.

Now a senior at Monmouth Academy, she was tasked with choosing between her dream school, Harvard, or Yale. After interviewing faculty at the higher education institutions, Poulin chose Yale.

“It’s been a hard couple of weeks,” she said last month. “I got into Yale in December and found out about Harvard a couple weeks ago.”

Poulin is Monmouth Academy’s recipient of the Maine Principals’ Association Principal’s Award. The award is given to a student by their principal, in recognition of their academic success and good citizenship.

With a hybrid learning schedule, Poulin spends her mornings at Monmouth Academy for high school classes. Then, around 10 a.m., she would transition to online classes to earn college credits.

This semester, she took a calculus class and a psychology class. Last semester she took an AP government class.

She’s also involved in the Future Business Leaders of America Club, is president of National Honor Society, served on the Maine Department of Education Cabinet, is vice president of her class, and was captain of Academic Decathlon and the lighting director for the Drama Club.

“Most of my activities I started my freshman or sophomore year,” she said. “I think it’s definitely changed this year, where there is increased availability. If we want a meeting, we can schedule one online, we don’t have to worry about who’s in the building.”

Her favorite activity she’s a part of is Academic Decathlon, but that, along with theater, have a “special place” in her heart.

Last month, Poulin and her fellows Mustangs finished third nationally in Academic Decathlon Small School Division III. In addition to Monmouth’s 18 team medals, Poulin was the third highest honor division scorer in the nation for Division III, according to a Facebook announcement by her principal, Rick Amero.

For the past four years, she has volunteered at a local hospital and said this past summer, during the pandemic, taught her “empathy” and “changed her outlook on the world.”

“I do think it’s made me more resilient,” Poulin said of the pandemic. “I have lost a lot of things due to COVID. We always say we lost our senior year and we have gotten a little bit of normalcy, but it’s made us resilient. I wouldn’t be the same as I am now.”

Poulin will be a first-generation college student, and wherever she ends up, she wants to become involved in community service and maybe follow her passion for theater.

“But I might not stay with lighting, maybe be involved in production,” she said.

She plans on studying psychology, or cognitive science, with the hope of becoming a professor.

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