News & Events

eSports wins State Championship in Historic Fashion

Sean Stackhouse, Tyson Thompson '26, Lucius Tran '23, Evan Rowell '23, and Scott Martin '26 celebrate after winning the State championship.

In its third year, MCI eSports captures the gold in platform fighter Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

After a fall sports season that was filled with records and achievement, one of the crowing jewels of competition so far this school year came from the most unlikely of places. On Monday, December 19th, MCI's eSports team "The Pack" traveled to Central Maine Community College for the first ever in-person MPA state esports championship, and MCI took home the gold in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Just as students compete in traditional sports like football or soccer, eSports requires participants to put their skills to the test in competitive gaming with different school across the state and country. The game that MCI competed in on Monday was Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a platform fighting game that tasks you with knocking your opponent off the map with a variety of popular video game characters like Mario, Sonic, Pac-Man, and many others.

Playoff action for the eSports programs across the state started on December 6th, finally culminating in the final showdown in Smash between MCI and Cape Elizabeth, the reigning state champions. The Super Smash Bros. team competing for the title consisted of three players: freshman Tyson Thompson, senior Lucius Tran, and senior newcomer Evan Rowell, who usually competes in Rocket League but had to sub in for Super Smash Bros. and learn the game in only a week.

"It was difficult to properly prepare for a live environment since the only one who has played in front of a crowd before was Evan," explained Sean Stackhouse, coach of the MCI eSports team. A majority of the regular season was played online, so the audience and stakes of an in-person event at CMCC were definitely felt in the gymnasium by all parties involved. Every Maine state championship in eSports since its inception in 2020 had been an online event, so this year's competition was especially noteworthy and exciting.

"Being in the state championship felt awesome," said Tyson Thompson. "Meeting people was really fun, and being on stage was a nerve-racking but thrilling experience... Even if we didn’t win, the fact that our team got that far undefeated made it feel great to be there. That being said, we were in it to win."

The ruleset for the State Championship involved three sets, played between the three players on each school's team. Each set consists of 5 games, with the first player to win 3 games winning the set and putting a point on the board. The team to win 2 out of the 3 sets would be crowned the MPA state championships.

Photo courtesy of Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Going into the match with Cape Elizabeth, the game plan was simple: isolate their best player, then play the numbers game and make sure MCI came on top in the other two sets. With the help of Thompson's elite Pac-Man play, a clean 3-1 victory put the Huskies on top to start the match. Rowell was tasked with going up against Cape's best player, and although he fought valiantly, the set went in Cape Elizabeth's favor with the set count tied 1-1. With that, the title of Maine's best Smash program came down to Tran's final set.

The bleak start to the set would have easily deflated the morale of any player or team. Tran was down 2-0, with Cape Elizabeth only one game away from earning the coveted MPA plaque. To close out the win for the Huskies, Tran would have to win 3 games in a row, a sizeable feat for a player of any skill level, but not an impossible one. Stackhouse and the other eSports players had an idea, and it involved a character switch.

"I had practiced against Lucius a lot, and I knew that there was another character (Little Mac) who was better for him than the one he played in the first game," explained Thompson. Tran switched to the star of the NES's Punch Out! after Game 1, and after getting a feel for the character and his opponent, he started to mount his incredible comeback.

"What really helped Lucius turn the match around was getting a better read on his opponent," said Stackhouse. "I don't think they were ready to see Little Mac... so it just became a case of baiting out some attacks, dodging around them and punishing any openings. Like a true boxer, really."

And just like a boxer grappling on the ropes, Tran was able to use his character switch and adaptation to take the last three games of the set, winning 3-2 and giving MCI their first eSports state championship. For a program that is only in its third year, this is the crowning achievement on all the hard work that the students and coach Stackhouse have put into growing the program and field of competition.

"We've been chasing a title since we started the program in 2020," expressed Stackhouse. "From day one... I wanted this program to be a model for everyone else to follow. Do things the right way, compete with pride and respect, and show everybody what it looks like to have the school and community fully backing a program like this."

With two new teams in League of Legends and Mario Kart arriving in the Spring, the eSports team at MCI is thriving and growing, and for students like Thompson, there is an exciting opportunity to really make a name for yourself in the growing field of competitive gaming.

"I’ve been playing Super Smash Brothers Ultimate for the past four or five years of my life, but I had never thought I’d actually get the chance to compete in it," explained Thompson. "I think this win shows just how important MCI eSports can be, and hopefully it will continue to gain attention here at the school. In the future, I’d love to have new people join the team so I can meet, play, and just interact with them. I’m also really excited for the next season of Super Smash Brothers Ultimate!"

The Nutcracker, A Classic Holiday Tradition, Returns to Waterville Opera House

Marie (Jane Weymouth '25) and the Nutcracker Prince (Noah Speed '24) share a final moment towards the end of Act I (Photo courtesy of Michael Wong)

Bossov Ballet's annual holiday performance continues to delight audiences for over 25 years  

The holidays are upon us, and it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Every person, family, and community has their own memories and traditions surrounding this festive season. One of the most timeless holiday traditions for both MCI and the central Maine community is the annual performance of The Nutcracker from Bossov Ballet Theatre, which returned to Waterville again this year for another rendition of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet.

From December 9th through the 11th, audience members were treated to the enchanting story of Marie and her mysterious journey to the Land of Magic, where toy soldiers, dancing mice, delicious treats, and the Sugar Plum Fairy are brought to life by the magic of Uncle Drosselmeyer. Artistic Director Natalya Getman strives to create new choreography each year to keep the show fresh and engaging for their audiences.

"Performing the Nutcracker year after year becomes a tradition, every dancer dreams of dancing new roles and looking for new challenges as they grow and mature in their skills," explained Getman. "What makes this group of dancers great is that they know how to work as a team. These dancers are driven by their love for ballet and performance on stage."

Seine Chin and her fellow Snowflakes split jump across the stage (Photo courtesy of Michael Wong)

One of these dancers is sophomore Seine Chin, who had the pleasure of dancing the lead role of Marie on Saturday evening and Sunday matinee in her first year at Bossov Ballet Theatre. However, Chin is no stranger to the Nutcracker production, having made her debut in the ballet at only 7 years old as an angel. Chin described her first time in a principal role as a nerve-racking experience, but also one that she had dreamt of since she was a young dancer.

"It was a dream come true to be able to perform such an iconic role," said Chin. "I love being able to show the audience what I am capable of... Ballet has taught me so much, it has helped me to become more confident, and has kept me in touch with my emotions and understanding my feelings."

All four performances were accompanied by very full crowds eager to witness the hard work and dedication that this year's dancers put into their craft. The Nutcracker's cast featured a wide range of international talent, with dancers hailing from Japan, Germany, Russia, Mexico, as well as different states across the country. When the curtain closed on the final Sunday performance, the cast was able to breathe and sigh of relief and revel in the joy and awe they were able to provide audience members during this holiday season.

The cast of The Nutcracker take a final bow amidst a standing ovation from the crowd (Photo courtesy of Michael Wong)

"The Nutcracker has such a wonderful storyline full of magic and happiness that I believe goes along with the meaning of the holidays," explained Chin. "Something about the tree that magically grows, the battle between mice and toy soldiers, and the Christmas party creates such a unique and fun production for all ages."

When reflecting on the Nutcracker and the future productions that BBT has on the horizon, Getman emphasized the necessity for dancers to express themselves through their art and for the public to take interest as well.

"In ballet you express yourself through body language, using the technique that you have been trained in for many years," said Getman. "You are alive as an artist only when your art is witnessed by others... And it is mutual, the audience also has the need to witness the beauty of art. Without art our souls would be empty. Art gives us an inspiration, helps us dig deeper within ourselves and our feelings, and teaches us to recognize beauty."

Led by Artistic Director Natalya Getman, Bossov Ballet Theatre at Maine Central Institute is both a performing company and an international pre-professional ballet school.  The program offers students a unique opportunity to study and perform classical ballet as part of the academic curriculum, allowing them to earn full academic credit for ballet training. For more information on Bossov Ballet Theatre, visit

Drama Club solves Retro Murder in Fall Production "Totally Rad 80's Prom Gone Bad"

The cast of "Totally Rad 80's Prom Gone Bad" line up for a final bow to the audience

The Drama Club's Fall production transports audience members to Mayhem High, where the neon lights conceal a deep, dark secret

It's always exciting to experience a blast from the past, especially if there's a hidden, sinister scheme going on that keeps us on the edge of our seats. MCI's Drama Club delivered on all accounts with their Fall Production "Totally Rad 80's Prom Gone Bad," a thrilling and inquisitive audience-participation murder mystery.

For one night only, the amenities of Parks Gym were transformed into the halls of Mayhem High, where students gathered for their Senior Prom with emotions running high. Who will collect the coveted crowns of Prom King and Queen? How far will any one student go to capture this elusive title?

Those in attendance were treated to a colorful cast of over 30 performers, each with their own role not only in the school, but in the ensuing murder plot as well. There was Peter Prez, the class president looking to extend his reign beyond the student council. There was also Bobby Backer, who's made plenty of enemies as captain of the Raven's baseball team and Mayhem High's token jock. And who could forget Debbie Taunte, the spoiled rich girl who knows how to use money and influence to get what she wants. With these characters and more filling the prom floor, the students of Mayhem High socialize with each other and the audience until an innocent life is claimed and chaos ensues.

Sarah Social (Addie Verrill '24) and her friends bust a move on the dance floor

For Director Debra Susi, the selection of "Totally Rad 80's Prom Gone Bad" as the Drama Club's Fall production was a calculated choice. "The Fall show always brings a mix of experienced and inexperienced actors," explained Susi. "(The students) read a number of scripts and decided the 80's time period would be great fun to design for and act in... this particular improvised/audience-interactive show allowed a number of students involved with sports and other activities a chance to be involved with both."

As Susi described, not only was this show comprised of many new actors and students new to theatre, but they also had to navigate the difficult task of improvising almost the entire show. Characters were not given lines, and instead only had specific tasks they needed to complete in order to progress the story. As an audience member, you would experience dozens of conversations going on at the same time, and it's your job to figure out which ones are important and who the killer could be. Cast members frequently strike up conversations and interact with the audience, which provides a whole new layer of fun and excitement.

"Improvised acting is always a challenge. When you add audience interactions to the mix, you really never know what's going to happen," said Susi. "As a teaching director, my job is to help actors discover ways to accomplish their "objectives" and rehearse what to do if "obstacles" get in their way. Of course, in real life the unexpected happens all the time. That's what makes the story interesting and eventful, adding another colorful layer to collaborative storytelling."

Principal Simpson (John Buys) clears the scene after a grisly murder has occurred

Audience members were given the chance to vote on not only the Prom King and Queen, but who they thought committed the heinous murder towards the beginning of the show. It's important not to spoil the fun for those who didn't get a chance to make it, but rest assured the perpetrator was caught and Mayhem High's prom was saved. After a successful Fall production and a night of retro festivities and fearful fun, Susi is looking forward to what's ahead for the Drama program this school year.

"Fall Drama Club actors are an enthusiastic blend of new and experienced actors. I love the community they build, the support they give each other and the new friendships that are made over the rehearsal and production time frame. I believe we are all looking forward to Drama Team auditions and working on our next collaborative story!"

To view an album of selected photos from the Drama Club's Fall production, click here.


A Portrait of Fall Community Service Day

Freshmen Jiacheng Harrison Yi and Jae Hyeok Alex Kim bag leaves at Pittsfield Public Library

A perspective on the annual day in October dedicated to serving the greater community that MCI is grateful to be a part of

The sun rises on Friday, October 28, 2022 on the picturesque campus of Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine. The crisp Autumn air is in peak form, as the 34 degree morning beckons students to come forth and reap the benefits of another day of learning and academic excellence. However, this day and this morning are unlike others, as students begin to pack the seats of Parks Gymnasium at 7:45, anxious for a day dedicated to giving back. October 28, 2022 was Fall Community Service Day here at MCI, a day not dedicated to serving the classroom, but to serving the community at large and giving back to the towns that have supported this school for years and years to come.

While the morning would eventually commence with labor, service, and hard work, it began in Parks Gym with a different word in mind: fun. With the entire MCI community packed up to the balcony of one of our school's most historic buildings, student leaders from the MCI Key Club addressed the community with fun and comradery in mind. The Key Club, a club dedicated to service and a rich tradition of giving back to those around us, offered up a series of exciting and lively competitions to get students pumped and excited for the service to come.

At the request of volunteers, three brave students from each graduating class relinquished their seats and stood proud in front of their peers, unaware of what hijinks awaited them. In the spirit of Halloween, each team had to pick one person to get wrapped up in toilet paper like a mummy, while the other two teammates did the wrapping. In a race that pitted Seniors, against Juniors, against Sophomores, against Freshman, the wrapping began and students stumbled around one another trying to quickly bandage their perfect mummy without ripping the delicate paper.

Sophomore Caleb Kennedy makes his way around his target, wrapping as fast as he can 

By the time the mummys were fully encased, the race was still very close and it was now up to the "mummy" to eat a donut hanging off of a nearby string without dropping the delectable pastry. Try as they might, it was incredibly difficult to nab the swinging donut and secure the win for their class. With mouths agape, each student raced for the chance of bringing glory to their class.

Junior Skyla Dean tries aimlessly to snatch the elusive donut off its dangling string

Finally a winner was crowned, as the Sophomores were able to edge out the competition and secure the bragging rates through the frosted goodness of a glazed donut. Competition and absurdity aside, these activities brought a real sense of jollity and excitement to this year's Fall Community Service Day. The MCI Key Club succeeded in their goal: Making service fun. Now that laughter had joined the crisp Autumn air that morning, it was time to group up with their advisor groups and head out into Pittsfield and beyond to help those in need.

The suburb of houses and interconnected side streets stemming off Peltoma Avenue is the first stop for many of our students. Directly neighboring our MCI campus, this hub of Pittsfield life is a well known neighborhood for anybody that knows Pittsfield and especially those looking to reach residents in need of service.

This is the yearly stop for Mr. Johnny Buys' advisor group, who has been visiting the same house and family since his first year teaching at MCI. For almost a decade and spanning three generations of advisee groups, Mr. Buys has brought his students to the same house to rake leaves, stack wood, and foster a sense of community within this town that we all call home. 

Mr. Buys' advisor group stands outside their yearly community service destination

Of course, for those who are aware of Fall Community Service Day at MCI, whether through taking part yourself, through being on the receiving end of the student's labors, or through just common knowledge, you know that it consists widely of one basic form of service: raking leaves. It's the most simple Fall task in Maine, yet also one that is easily overlooked and almost always needed. When peak Fall foliage leaves our Central Maine towns in mid-October, the falling leaves litter our yards with crunchy colors that, although beautiful, need to be removed before that first snow hits. Raking is a quintessential part of this and every Fall Community Service Day because of its universality and its accessibility: anyone can pick up a rake and rake some leaves, acting as a gateway to all other forms of service that our MCI students carry our during the school year.

A pair of rakes hard at work on Fall Community Service Day

From Peltoma Ave, the quest towards giving back to the community stretches all across Pittsfield and beyond. Students flocked to not only the different houses in need of raking and cleanup, but to the various parks and recreation locations that give our greater community such beauty and wonder. From cleaning up the waterside views of Stein Park and Fendler Park, to sprucing up the course at J W Parks Golf Course, to raking around the iconic gazebo at Hathorn Park, these monuments and landmarks of the town are in need of upkeep and assisting them only heightens the service that we can bring to the town as whole.

MCI students discuss how to tackle the endless amount of leaves at Hawthorn Park

A ways down the road on Waverly Avenue, a group of students ventured off to the Pinnacle to see what service they could bring to the local ski hill. However, instead of raking and getting the hill ready for the approaching skiers, they instead worked to get the ice rink ready for the winter. Through raking, weed whacking, and moving boards, the students were able to get the area ready for families to come skating as soon as the cold weather hits.

A student helps lay the final boards down on the skating rink at the Pinnacle

At the end of the day, over 28 different houses, parks, and neighboring areas were visited by our MCI community in the goal of bringing service and assistance to as many of those that needed it this Fall Community Service Day. We hope that your lawns are bare, your wood is stacked, your house is banked, and that you feel as though MCI has your back going into the harsh winter season. We raked thousands of leaves into dozens of bags, and hopefully stirred the serving spirit into countless other communities in our area and beyond. Because that's really what service is about: not only giving back, but spreading that giving spirit to as many people as possible. As the sun has set on that crisp Autumn day of October 28, 2022, thank you for a successful and poignant Fall Community Service Day. We will see you all again in the Spring.

Bridging the Gap: How Andrew Schanck '12 Found his Niche in Bridge Technology

Photo courtesy of the University of Maine

MCI alum Andrew Schanck '12 is making waves in the world of bridge innovation, speaking out about his time at the ASCC and advice he would give to engineering hopefuls

There's something curious about bridges. A bridge acts as a gateway from one end to another, a means by which one travels from beginning, to end. However, while people always focus on the origins and destinations, the bridges between ends seldom get attention and appreciate for allowing us to traverse the obstacles in life. Maine Central Institute alum Andrew Schanck '12 has made it his mission to study and learn from bridges so that we might better understand how to better navigate the world that we live in.

After graduating from MCI in 2012, Schanck went on to the University of Maine at Orono to pursue his Bachelors in Civil Engineering. While initially unsure of where the field of engineering would take him, there was one discipline and resource that immediately stood out to him: the Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC).

"From the time that I learned it was there, the ASCC had a sort of mystique to it: a world-class engineering research lab in rural Maine," explains Schanck. "As a freshman we were given a tour of the facility, which cemented my aspirations... Everywhere I looked there was a student using what he or she had learned in class and applying it to a real problem. And once I started working there that was just my experience."

While working at the ASCC, Schanck was able to gain experience on a number of projects, such as interning at TEC Associates, a small railroad bridge consulting firm based out of South Portland. After graduating with his Bachelors, Schanck immediately began pursuing his Masters in Civil Engineering under the direction of his advisor, Dr. Bill Davids. It was here that Schanck was able to further develop his research and skills in a specific field of engineering: bridges.

"Bridges fascinate me for a lot of different reasons," says Schanck. "First, they’re simply big and impressive structures... second, their structure is out there plainly to see; the structural system isn’t hidden, and you can see everything that’s going on. Finally, they affect everyone – one improvement to bridge infrastructure can improve hundreds of lives."

Schanck's contributions to the field started in his time at TEC, where he spent his days redrawing old railroad bridge designs and doing bridge inspections. As his time in the field has grown, Schanck has gone on to live-load test numerous bridges across the state of Maine, developed a simpler numerical analysis method for older bridges, and helped develop a new fiber reinforced polymer bridge girder system. 

Andrew Schanck '12 looks out to the crowd at the 2012 MCI Graduation Ceremony, where he graduated top of his class as valedictorian.

Looking back at his time at Maine Central Institute, Schanck believes that MCI certainly prepared him for his career in engineering and at ASCC. "The high academic standards certainly set me up for success and taught me self-discipline," he explains. "The school’s size allowed me to be treated like an individual and allowed my specific needs... I grew as a person with a confidence of who I am and what I can accomplish."

Schanck was able to restructure his Masters work into a PhD, which he received in December of 2021 and is now a fully licensed professional engineer in the state of Maine. Looking ahead, Schanck is already trying to make a positive impact on the bridge systems scattered across the state. Schanck is trying to further develop and implement the girder system he helped develop, which simplifies the manufacturing process and allows for the replacement and design of bridges with a shorter clearance.

In a call to action for the youth today at MCI and looking to get into the field of engineering, Schanck had few a pieces of advice that he wishes he had known when he spent his time on our campus.

"Focus as much or more on English as you do on math and science. It is vital that you can communicate your work to a wide range of audiences both in writing and speaking," Schanck explains. "Find your niche – Find the thing that fascinates you and learn everything about it. Then turn it into a career and become an expert to whom people turn to when they face a tough problem that only you can solve."

For Andrew Schanck '12, that niche has been bridges. Not only was it the awe of their immensity or the exposed nature of their framework... but it was their impact on all of us. We cross bridges every day on the road, yet if there is no construction we think nothing of the immense structure holding us up as we move from Point A to Point B. A positive change on a bridge or bridge system can impact a vast number of people and their travel, which is exactly what Schanck is setting out to do.

We cross physical and figurative bridges every day, in both our work lives and our personal lives. Andrew married his wife Morgan Thies Schanck '13 back in 2014, who he had met during his time here at MCI. They have since brought into this world their son William and their daughter Margaret, who Schanck remarked "added 'Dad' to my CV."

Bridges do work as a pathway from beginning, to end. As Andrew Schanck '12 began his quest for knowledge at Maine Central Institute, his passion then bridged the gap to experiences at the ASCC, to making positive change in the world around him, and to all that is yet to come. We all have those passions that will eventually bridge the gaps in our lives, and in taking the advice of Schanck, those bridges are built through finding your niche and through putting yourself out there.

"Never miss an opportunity to learn something new or to gain some new experience in your field," explains Schanck. "You never know where an experience will lead you."