On Tuesday, January 29, I addressed the entire student body of Kents Hill School in Readfield as the Amnesty International Human Rights Speaker. It's always an honor to speak to young people. My remarks combined personal history, a focus on community, ideas for a sustainable Maine economy through agriculture and food, and a special demonstration of slam poetry at the request of a student during question and answer. It was truly an honor to receive a spontaneous standing ovation as soon as I finished my address from the students, faculty, and members of the community who attended.
On Friday, February 1, I returned to campus to lead roundtable discussions in six classes (three English, AP Environmental Studies, Literature of Place, and Western Civ), meet with Head of School, Jeremy LaCasse, attend a school meeting, and break bread with members of the Student Council.
Overall, it was an extraordinary experience. The students were engaged, intelligent, wise and seeking creative and sustainable solutions for the environment and food systems that they will inherit from us as they enter adulthood. I thank Anne Richardson, Director of College Counseling, Director of International and ESL Programs and Amnesty International Advisor, for inviting me to participate this year. After completing my class visits, Anne sent me this email:
"On behalf of Kents Hill, I want to thank you for your energy, enthusiasm, patience, and, above all, your superb words at Kents Hill School this week. Your words about and your advocacy for the hungry and for food policy were moving and inspiring. I think you could tell from the stillness in the room that you kept an audience of 250 teenagers rapt for the entire duration, and then enthralled them with your poetry rendition. This is no mean feat, and I thank you for being one of the best Human Rights speakers we have had to date.
"In addition, every class you attended gave you rave reviews - again, we appreciate you giving your entire attention to us, especially when you were feeling slightly under the weather.
"I think the entire school joins with me in wishing you an energetic, fulfilling and productive legislative season, and great gratitude for the work you do for us. We are proud to have you representing us."