In the summer of 2011, the Saco Bay Rotary Club Board of Directors approved a new program designed to recognize and honor worthy area high school students from Thornton Academy, Old Orchard Beach High School and Biddeford High School. Each school then was approached with the proposal to determine their willingness to participate in the program.  All 3 schools enthusiastically endorsed the program and agreed to participate. As a result, this is the 5th year that our Club has recognized and honored a total of 35 outstanding students. Students enrolled in the Center of Technology in Biddeford are also included in this program.
How does the program work? Each month during the school year October through May, the high school administration and faculty from each school select a student based on the following criteria established by the Saco Bay Rotary Club.  To be selected, the students must:
  • Exemplify high ethical standards;
  • Have made noteworthy community / civic contributions;
  • Have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement and / or significant effort; and
  • Engaged in other noteworthy accomplishments worthy of this recognition.
As guests of the Rotary Club each month, the 3 students, their parents and a faculty member from each school are guests at a regularly scheduled Club meeting.  Recognition of the students is the program for that meeting.   The program starts by asking the parents to stand and be recognized.  Then the students, along with their teachers, are invited to the podium to speak to the Club.  The teachers describe the attributes of the students and explain how and why they were chosen as Student of the Month.  The students then step to the podium and make short presentations about themselves, their accomplishments and their plans for the future.  They may then answer questions from Club members.
At this point, The Saco Bay Rotary Club President congratulates each student and presents them with a framed, signed letter of congratulations from the Club along with the Rotary “Service Above Self” medallion / coin.  Additionally, each student’s name, and date of recognition, is engraved on a plate and attached to a perpetual plaque that hangs conspicuously at the administrative offices in each school. 
The Student of the Month Program accomplishes several important goals. It recognizes outstanding area high school students using criteria aligned with Rotary International values, and it makes important and unique connections between our Club and area youth.  The program has proven to be very popular with Club members, and praised by the schools and parents.
By Larry Littlefield, January 2015