Six Foxcroft Academy alumni were inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame at a ceremony held in the FA gymnasium on the afternoon of Friday, May 6. The ceremony was held in conjunction with the presentation of medallions to the Class of 2016’s Rose Award winners in order to link outstanding students of the present with those of the past.
Nominations for the Academic Hall of Fame are generated by the Foxcroft Academy Alumni Office, which each year asks alumni, community members, parents, and faculty (past and present) to nominate alumni who demonstrated “success at Foxcroft Academy through academics and/or visual and performing arts, leading to notable accomplishments in a chosen career path.” FA’s selection committee then draws from a large pool of excellent candidates and carefully selects a new class each spring. Congratulations to this year’s outstanding inductees.
Marjorie M. Devine ’52
Marjorie M. Devine, Class of 1952, was born in East Machias, Maine. At the age of 2, she moved to Green Street Dover-Foxcroft and later to West Main Street with her parents James and Virginia (Gardner) Mealey.
She attended high school in the old Foxcroft Academy building her freshman through junior years and was a member of the first class to graduate from the new Foxcroft Academy campus.
During her years at FA, she played basketball and softball until a back injury prevented her from playing sports again. Despite this setback, Marge remained active participating in the Senior Play, National Honor Society, and Prize Speaking. She was a Rose Award recipient and received both the Babe Ruth Award for Sportsmanship and the Kiwanis Club Good Sportsmanship Award.
After graduation, Marge attended the University of Maine, Orono, where she was tapped as a Sophomore Eagle and a Junior Resident. She was also elected her senior year to the All Maine Women honor society and was a member of the Home Economics and Student Faculty Relations Committee during her time at the University.
Marjorie graduated from UMO in 1956 with a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics and went on to teach Grades 7-12 at East Windsor High School in East Windsor, Connecticut, from 1956-1958, and Bangor High School from 1958-1962.
After her stint teaching home economics at Bangor High, Marjorie returned to the University of Maine to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition. During her time back at the University, she also taught classes in the nutrition department.
In 1964, she continued her studies at Cornell University where she received a Ph.D in June of 1967. Upon graduating, she earned an Assistant Professor position teaching human nutrition and food at Cornell from 1967-1972, elevating to the role of Associate Professor and Coordinator of Undergraduate Program, Division of Nutrition Sciences in 1975. In 1976-1978 she was Associate Director for Academic Affairs at Cornell, and in 1978, she began her tenure as Professor and Associate Director of Academic Affairs, where she remained until 1989. After retiring from her position at Cornell University, she ran a tree farm in New York state for a number of years.
Marjorie received several fellowships and assistantships while at Cornell University, including a research assistantship from 1964-1965, a General Foods Fellowship from 1965-1966, and a Traineeship for the National Institute of Health in 1967. She belongs to several Honorary Societies–including Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Nu, and Sigma Xi–and several organizations, which include the American Home Economics Association, New York Home Economics Association, Society for Nutrition Education, Nutrition Today Society, New York Academy of Sciences, and the National Nutrition Consortium, of which she was president.
During her lifetime, Marge received a number of awards, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in teaching in 1977, the Danforth Associate Award in 1980, a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1982, the Omicron NU and Alumni Association of Human Ecology Presidential Scholar Award in 1987, and the Gamma Sigma Delta Innovative Teaching Award in 1989.
During her tenure as a scholar, Marge published many writings, including a laboratory manual, “Dimensions of Food,” which she co-wrote with Marcia Pimentel.
Marjorie now lives in Dover-Foxcroft and resides at Hibbard’s Assisted Living Home with her two cats.
Susan Stitham ’61
A member of the last class to hold graduation ceremonies in Central Hall, Susan Stitham ’61 captained both the basketball and softball teams, was president of the Future Homemakers of America and editor of the yearbook, earned a Rose Award, and received the Evelyn D. Buck Prize for English. Although Foxcroft Academy did not compute valedictorian standing in those years, both she and Tom Zilinsky ’61 have been certain for the past 55 years that each earned the honor.
She rapidly discovered that Middlebury College was not particularly impressed with a winner of the Evelyn D. Buck Prize, but after figuring out how to really study, she managed to graduate cum laude with Departmental Honors in American Literature. Accepted to a master’s program at Yale, she decided instead to earn the money to buy a car by returning to FA to teach English, while also directing plays and coaching both the softball team and an extraordinary basketball team to a 28-4 record. After two years, she accepted a teaching assistantship in the English Department at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, driving up the Alaska-Canada Highway with her guitar and skis in the new car she purchased.
Two years later, the assistantship was over but her love affair with Alaska was not, so she took a position teaching eighth grade English, eventually finishing graduate school and getting her teaching license with both an MA and MAT in English. “Graduating” to the high school, Susan spent the next thirty years—most as English department chair—teaching AP English and remedial classes, as well as AP European History and AP Government. She also sponsored the National Honor Society and the senior class and worked on a variety of educational reform initiatives. Of all the accolades she’s received, including the prestigious Milken National Educator award, she is most proud of the hundreds of her students who have gone on to make a difference in their communities, earning accolades of their own. In addition to her distinguished career in the classroom, Susan was involved in numerous statewide professional development initiatives, including co-chairing the development of Alaska’s student performance standards. She also served as local and state president of National Education Association affiliates, represented Alaska on the NEA Board of Directors, and served on the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards for its first six years. In 1987, she was appointed by the governor to the University of Alaska Board of Regents and, in 1995, to the Alaska State Board of Education, where she served as president from 1999 to 2002. After retiring in 2003, Susan and her partner Becky Snow moved from Alaska to southern Oregon, where she now teaches American history and Shakespeare as well as chairs the leadership council at the Osher Life Long Learning Institute and volunteers at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Whenever possible, she and Becky travel to visit their sons and grandchildren on the East Coast and in Germany, and each summer they seek out as many members of the family as possible at Sebec Lake.
Susan reports that in her time at FA, as both a student and a teacher, she benefited from the support of Principal Tillson Thomas and the staff: the challenges of Jim Howard who in his short tenure at FA showed students what critical analysis looks like, the faith of Lap Lary–the coach who believed in his girl athletes, and the encouragement of Miss Grace Chase who demanded excellence from herself and all who worked with her. It is heartening, indeed, she says, to see those traditions still living on at Foxcroft Academy.
Gerald Brann ’86
Gerald Brann, class of 1986, participated in many activities at Foxcroft Academy, including cross country, track, wrestling, concert band, marching band, jazz band, and chorus. He was named to the All-State Band, served as the Monson delegate at Dirigo Boy’s State, and was secretary of the senior class.
Gerald attended the University of Maine in Augusta and received his associate’s degree in jazz and contemporary music as a piano major. While attending college, he performed in the band The Deal, which signed a recording contract and recorded an album that was nationally released.
While constantly pursuing his music career as a performing artist and studio musician, he also had a variety of jobs. He worked for the internet tech support company Envisionet, starting as a part-time tech support agent and working his way through quality assurance to the position of ergonomics coordinator for the company. This company closed, and Gerald moved on to successfully manage a complex of businesses which included a music store, an electronics repair store, and a boutique. Eventually the complex sold and Gerald had to start again–this time at an electronics repair company where he learned the trade from the owner, who had served in the Navy, working in electronics. Inspired by this experience, Gerald applied to the apprenticeship program at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and after a yearlong process was awarded a position in the electronics department.
While at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Gerald was one of the first electricians to be called to work on the Virginia class of nuclear submarines. During this work, Gerald became a system expert in impressed current cathodic protection and wrote many of the refurbishment procedures for the system. In addition to this, he participated in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s first Virginia class submarine sea trials. Since, he has been called upon several times to work and consult at other shipyards including Pearl Harbor Shipyard in Hawaii. Gerald then went on to run the fiber optics department at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, playing an instrumental role in the shipyard receiving several certifications to act as the repair depot for many fiber optic pieces of equipment for the Navy.
Gerald eventually worked his way to his current position at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where he is an electronics engineer. While you may find Gerald’s eclectic job history interesting, it does not end there. He also, simultaneously, has served, for 14 years, in the role of Elton John in the successful Elton John Tribute band, Yellow Brick Road–a band that has performed all across the United States and places like Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic.
While speaking of his induction, Gerald shared that he is very grateful and proud to be a graduate of Foxcroft Academy. It is his belief that Foxcroft Academy provided him with the skills and confidence to boldly face whatever challenges life offered and still be successful. He pursued his musical interest as well as a variety of careers and married the love of his life Michelle Lewis, with whom he has a beautiful, successful 22-year-old daughter. He was greatly influenced by several teachers at Foxcroft Academy including Rusty Willette and Arnold Poland.
Kipp Larson ’89
Kipp Larson ’89, a Rose Award recipient, was actively involved in athletics and the music program at Foxcroft Academy. He was a captain of the soccer team, a school record holder in the 110-meter hurdles, and a member of the math team. He was also the senior class president, a state science fair winner, and drum major of the Spirit of America national marching band.
After leaving FA, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and philosophy with a minor in astrophysics from Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute. He later went on to earn a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Hampshire, a Master of Science degree in space systems operations management from Webster University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, focusing in bioastronautics.
After working as a professional ski instructor while at UNH, he moved on to Johnson Space Center in Houston as a mission operations lead and crew trainer in Mission Control for the Human Research Facility on the International Space Station. For the past 10 years he has worked at Ball Aerospace & Technologies where he is now the Mission Operations Manager (MOM), leading the team that runs NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which has discovered over 5,000 planets outside our solar system, including the first Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of their stars. During that time he also worked as an adjunct professor at Webster University where he taught graduate classes in satellite communication and spacecraft commanding and was an assistant instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Master of Science program in systems engineering.
Kipp has won numerous awards from NASA, most recently a NASA Ames Honor award for helping to save Kepler from a potentially mission-ending hardware failure. He has given talks at numerous conferences and has published over 20 technical papers in the areas of gamma-ray imaging spectrometer instrument design and spacecraft mission operations. His current area of research is the use of thermoelectric generators to create power using body heat in space suits. He is a senior member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and the Delta Mu Delta Academic Honor Society. He enjoys speaking to school kids about the values of science and space exploration and has served as a mentor for the Real World Design Challenge and Conrad Foundation Spirit of Innovation competition teams. A private pilot, he is also building an airplane in his garage.
From his time at FA, Kipp reports that he is especially indebted to Arnold Poland for giving him his first real chance to learn and practice leadership skills–lessons, which he still applies to this day. He also says he makes regular use of his appreciation of good logical arguments that he learned from doing geometry proofs with Gary Larson, not to mention the value of finding a little humor wherever you can – even in math.
Lance Walker ’90
Justice Lance E. Walker ’90 recalls with dubious accuracy but persuasive enthusiasm his exploits playing on the baseball, basketball, golf, and football teams during his time at Foxcroft Academy. Lance was also a member of the Latin Club and participated in the peer-to-peer mentoring program. In order to finance an unfortunate Chess King wardrobe and motorcycle habit, Lance could otherwise be found working at his parents’ hardware store or pumping gas at the Mobil station.
Lance attended the University of Maine, from which he graduated cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy. Lance began his legal education at Vermont Law School, where he founded a local chapter of a national law and public policy society and organized debates among nationally renowned policy makers, authors, and legal scholars. During the summer following his first year of law school, Lance served as a judicial intern for Chief Justice Saufley of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, who by the end of the summer had persuaded Lance to transfer to the University of Maine School of Law. At Maine Law, he was selected by the faculty to serve as a legal writing instructor, teaching a weekly legal writing and appellate advocacy class to a section of first-year students. Lance was also a member of the Trial Competition Team and Moot Court Board. He was awarded Top Oralist at an international appellate advocacy competition. Lance was also honored with the Justice Harold J. Rubin Award for Outstanding Trial Advocacy and the Judge Edward T. Gignoux Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy.
Upon graduation from law school cum laude, Lance was selected to serve as a Law Clerk to three Justices of the Maine Superior Court, where he was responsible for legal research and drafting decisions. At the conclusion of his clerkship, Lance was hired by the Portland law firm of Norman, Hanson & DeTroy, where he specialized in complex litigation and insurance law. The 45-lawyer firm unanimously elected him to equity partnership after six years. Lance has tried cases to juries and judges all over the state and in federal court. He has also argued several appeals to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, including a panel that included U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. He has been selected for recognition in the oldest and most respected peer-review legal publications such as Benchmark Litigation, Super Lawyers, and Best Lawyers in America.
In 2014, the Governor’s Judicial Selection Committee recommended Lance for consideration for appointment to the District Court bench. The Governor nominated Lance for District Court Judge, and the Maine Senate confirmed him unanimously. Lance served on the District Court for one year, primarily presiding in Oxford and Androscoggin counties. In 2015, he was appointed and unanimously elevated to Justice of the Maine Superior Court. Lance sits in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland, where he is honored to preside over some of the state’s most interesting and high profile cases. Lance lives in Falmouth with his wife, Heidi (Chambers, Class of ’92) and their two wonderful daughters, Ava (9) and Dylan (6).
When asked how his time at Foxcroft Academy contributed to his success, Lance shared the following:
I think that FA uniquely is able to cultivate in its students a benign confidence and quiet expectation of achievement that gives students a license to thrive, no matter how big the room gets later in life. Perhaps FA’s secret recipe is that while it’s an oasis of innovative educational opportunity, it also remains grounded upon the virtues of the rural community in which it’s situated. This combination, as I was reminded during the vetting process in becoming a judge, is held in high regard. In fact, people were always unusually interested in the fact that I come from a family of railroad men and small business owners from Piscataquis County.
Lance gives thanks to Gary Larson for his wit and good humor, to Jim Brown for his grace, to Ed Hackett for his example, and to Don Cornett for predicting his career path, explaining Cornett’s prophecy as follows: during a practice when I was cross examining Coach Cornett on a play call or drill, he teasingly referred to me as a “Philadelphia lawyer,” which while not exactly intended as a compliment, was a portent of things to come.
Jennifer Michaud-Finch ’94
While at Foxcroft Academy, Jennifer Michaud-Finch ’94 enjoyed the entire spectrum of activities that the Academy had to offer. She was a three-season varsity athlete, participating on the field hockey, basketball, indoor, and outdoor track teams, of which she was captain her senior year. While on the field hockey team, she helped the Ponies capture Eastern Maine and State Championship titles. In addition, she was decorated in track and field, medaling in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles on multiple occasions at the Penquis League, Eastern Maine, and State levels.
Foxcroft Academy was where Jennifer was first introduced to anatomy and physiology–this, combined with her love of sports, sparked an interest that would later shape her career path. Mr. Gary Worthing was not only a mentor on the track but an influential teacher who showed that a classroom could be anywhere. Jennifer remembers canoeing in the swamps behind the school with her biology class learning about ecosystems. Her favorite FA memories include Mr. Millett using real-life physics demonstrations to teach, translating Latin with Mrs. Patty Mullis, engaging in debates in Mr. Rusty Willette’s social science class, and being introduced to her favorite authors in Ms. Dawn McPherson’s English class. Ms. Gene Philpot became a mentor to Jennifer, demonstrating smart, calm coaching and the right way to earn the respect of her players.
In addition, Jennifer enjoyed spending time off the field participating in musicals, concert band, jazz band, and Latin club.
After graduating from FA in 1994, she attended Springfield College, where she studied sports biology and competed on the NCAA Division II cross country, indoor, and outdoor track teams. It was during her time at Springfield College, she began to have direct interactions with the medical field–not only with the athletic training department and the emergency medical services department but also with medical physicians. In addition, Springfield College also offered the opportunity for Jennifer to gain hands-on experience with humanitarian medical missions to Haiti. She travelled to Haiti every summer during college to volunteer and offer support in Mother Theresa’s Missionary of Charities hospitals and orphanages. These interactions inspired her to one day attend medical school.
After graduating for Springfield, Jennifer attended Northeastern University in Boston and obtained a master’s degree in exercise physiology and continued to work in the division of cardiology in Boston area hospitals until her acceptance into medical school. During that time she concomitantly worked as a NCAA Division III head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country teams at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy.
Jennifer attended medical school at Lake Erie College of osteopathic medicine, graduating in 2006, and moved back to the Boston area, completing her internal medicine residency, Chief Medical Resident year and general cardiology training at Lahey Clinic. She has additional degrees from Boston Medical Center in heart failure and cardiomyopathy and is currently working at Massachusetts General Hospital, as the first sport cardiology fellow in the country, participating in the human cardiovascular performance program.
Jennifer has been successful in combining both her love of running, sports, and exercise with her practice of medicine. As a sports cardiologist, she is at the cutting edge of science and research working with the Cardiovascular Performance Program at MGH to protect the athlete’s heart and prevent sudden cardiac death. She has been invited to present at national conferences with the American College of Cardiology. Jen continues to run and has completed several marathons-including Boston, half marathons, adventure races, 10K and 5K races. She has worked closely with the Boston Athletic Association since 2003 as a medical volunteer. This April, she worked the finish line medical tent on Marathon Monday for her 13th year.
In addition, she’s been very fortunate to be supported by her wonderful family. She lives in Newburyport, Massachusetts, with her husband, Andrew, former US national team rower and her two children Drew, age 14, and Emma, age 8. Her parents continue to live here in Dover-Foxcroft, and Jennifer looks forward to returning home several times a year to visit. She still runs the snowmobile trails and loves to take her family to Sebec Lake.
Jennifer reports that she is most grateful for the support and education she received at Foxcroft Academy, saying that FA offers diverse opportunity and experiences and is a nurturing environment to challenge oneself. While at FA, Jen was fully able to participate in sports, the sciences, literature and history, and also the arts. She says that the coaches and teachers that she encountered at Foxcroft Academy gave her the knowledge, the confidence, and the resilience to pursue her dreams.