2015-10-12 / Community

Don’t be a fool, go to school

Sanford student’s art sends powerful message
By TAMMY WELLS
Senior Staff Writer

SUBMITTED PHOTO
Sanford Junior High School student Justin Kennedy, center,  was a winner in the Count ME In student poster contest that encourages young people to go to school. He is flanked by assistant principal  Joe Mastraccio and Susan Lieberman, Count ME In director.SUBMITTED PHOTO Sanford Junior High School student Justin Kennedy, center, was a winner in the Count ME In student poster contest that encourages young people to go to school. He is flanked by assistant principal Joe Mastraccio and Susan Lieberman, Count ME In director.SANFORD — A Sanford Junior High School student knows how important it is to go to school – and has parlayed that knowledge into a winning poster promoting attendance. Justin Kennedy earned a third place award from Count Me In Maine for his poster, called “Don’t be a Fool, Go to School.” Hs poster was chosen from over 100 submissions, said Susan Lieberman of Count Me In, a group she described as a collaboration of schools, young people, families, state agencies and others working together to help children learn and succeed. “His message reminds us that chronic absence affects all kids, not just the ones who are absent,” said Lieberman. Chronic absenteeism, defined as missing 18 or more days of school, impacts student achievement and can undermine success for too many students, Lieberman said, quoting a 2012 report on absenteeism. “The problem can start as early as kindergarten and first grade, impeding a student’s progress in reading and math.”  In a telephone interview, Lieberman said the program works with school districts and communities concerned about chronic absenteeism. She said it isn’t whether an absence is excused or unexcused, but days missed and the impact those lost days have on learning. “Kids could be absent for any number of reasons,” she said, pointing out that students who are absent a day or two a week over time end up missing a lot and the consequences can be felt later on, as the student moves on to high school and the work force. While the poster contest was open to all schools in Maine, she said Count Me In is working with two York County school districts, RSU 57, which educates students from Alfred, Limerick, Lyman, Newfield, Shapleigh and Waterboro, and MSAD 55, which includes students from Cornish and Parsonsfield and students from several Oxford County towns. Kennedy received a copy of his poster Wednesday at Sanford Junior High School. Other winners hailed from Fryeburg, Greene and Lewiston. — Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 327 or twells@journaltribune.com.

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