PARIS — Last weekend Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School juniors and seniors got to enjoy a rite of high school passage that many doubted could happen this year – spring prom.
“The highlight of prom was definitely that it happened at all,” declared senior Oliva Gallan of South Paris. “Because we’ve been in pods at school, this was the first time in more than a year we were all together in one place.
OCHS’ prom was held at Field of Dreams, the ball field at Harrison’s RADR Recreation Complex, under party tents. One rule that students had to follow was no slow-dancing. Sans ballads, it was a big night nonetheless.
“It was a good time,” Gallan said. “It was better than I expected.”
One area where Gallan did not have a good time this past school year was with distance learning. She said she struggled during the days where school was done through ZOOM.
“It was awful,” she said. “When they closed school, they tried really hard, but it was hard for me. I’m easily distracted. I was working next to the fridge and my pets.”
Although she has been able to maintain her grades she still found it frustrating. As a junior, Gallan spent a large amount of time preparing for multiple choice questions as part of her advanced placement exams, only to have that part of the test eliminated since students had to take them remotely. This year, on the days when the whole school had to go remote, there were no class labs. Students had to watch teachers perform labs via ZOOM, which she found annoying and hard to focus on.
“And our internet is awful,” she said. “It seems like it always cuts out when something important gets covered. And with three kids [at home] having to share our connection…I prefer to attend in person, be hands on and be able to ask questions.”
While some might not have a problem with having their teacher do their class lab work, like dissecting rats and other small animals, it’s an important part of Gallan’s education and career plans. She will start college at Central Maine Community College in Auburn and then transfer to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences where she will pursue her doctorate in pharmacology.
She has always loved science and finds how the different parts of the human body works and function together to stay alive. The classes that have helped her stay focused this year – even with virtual labs – include human anatomy and physiology.
“For a while I thought I would study biochemistry,” Gallan shares. “But as I researched different jobs and fields, I decided to go into pharmacology. There are so many different aspects and lots of choices, career-wise.”
MCPHS has an accelerated curriculum that will allow Gallan to finish her PhD program there in six years instead of eight. But although she will shave a little time off to achieve her degree, she looks forward to starting college close to home.
“CMCC costs a lot less” to get started, Gallan said. “I’ll be close to home and able to commute. And I’ll be able to play ball there, too. I really like their facility.”
Before any of that however, Gallan will enjoy her senior events this spring, and spend her summer working at Norway Soft Serve and helping out with her family’s sawmill business.
If she gets to start CMCC classes in person instead of via ZOOM, that will be the cherry on top of her sundae.