News & Events

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."

History Made: The 2022 Fall Sports Season at MCI

 

With historic regular seasons, postseasons, and championships, the 2022 Fall Sports season was filled with excitement and did not disappoint.


Athletics is one of the main pillars of excellence here at Maine Central Institute. Athletics allow students to create bonds outside of the classroom, to work as a team to solve problems on the field, and to continue the competitive tradition that is essential to the development of the individual athletes, the programs, and our institution as whole. With the Fall Sports season finally wrapping up this past weekend, let us take a look at each of our Fall athletic programs and all the accomplishments they shared this 2022 season.

This Fall season marked the achievement of two State Championships that were brought to our campus... both from the same sport. Owen Moore and Jillian Plamondon both won the Boys and Girls Class C Golf State Championship at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro this past October. Not only is this a stunning achievement for both individual athletes, but this is also believed to be the first time in Maine Principal's Association (MPA) history that a boy and girl from the same school have won the state title.

Owen Moore '24 and Jillian Plamondon pose with their State titles at Natanis Golf Course in Vassalboro.

"I just had fun this year," explained Moore. "I didn't even qualify for States last year, and I had never thought of golf as a mental sport until this year. I just let loose and always moved on from the last swing, that's what really helped me go all the way."

Plamondon, who is the first girls golf champion in MCI history, described how the State Championship was just business as usual for her. "Going through the course, I just played like I normally do," said Plamondon. "I tried not to think about it and just play... I wasn't worried about scoring well, and the rest is history."

With both Moore and Plamondon returning next season as seniors, they'll look to recapture the double gold next year and put even more banners into the rafters of Wright's Gymnasium.

Switching over to team sports, the MCI Boys Soccer team enjoyed its most successful season in over 10 years, finishing with an impressive regular season record of 11-3. After a rough season last year, the Huskies were anxious to prove the doubters wrong this year and succeeded in making a name for themselves this season.

Cole Allen '24 punts the ball up the field to the rest of his teammates

"We had a really bad season last year, so we were really hungry for a lot of wins," explained senior Wyatt DeGrasse. "A lot of our returning players have played together since elementary school, so we have a lot of built in chemistry and some really good dorm students that have really rounded out our team."

Going into the playoffs as the #6 seed, the Huskies blew out the Calais Blue Devils in the first round before going head to head with #3 seed Bucksport, pulling off the upset and topping the Golden Bucks 5-2 on their home field in the Class C North Quarterfinals. Although falling to Washington Academy in the Semifinals, the MCI Boys Soccer team has an incredibly bright future and is looking to repeat their success in the years to come.

The MCI Cross Country team also made historic strides this Fall season. For the first time in many years, the Girls Cross Country team was actually able to run and compete as a team. This team went on to win a meet for the first time since 2014, and found success that led them to a 5th place finish at the Class C North Regional Championships and notched them a spot to compete in the State Championships.

Addie Verrill '24 runs the course in the State Championship in Cumberland

Junior Addie Verrill led the way for the girls this year, but she emphasized that it is much more about the team. "It's almost more about the team itself than it is the running," said Verrill. "We're such a close-knit team, we're almost more just a group of friends going out and having fun rather than working or competing, and that's a team bond that I've really enjoyed."

As always, the MCI Football team is a staple of the community and always brings the MCI community together for those Friday night lights. Winning 3 out of their last 4 games, the Huskies clawed their way into the postseason, allowing all MCI teams to make the playoffs. While not the most successful season in regards to their record, the team did succeed in building upon the work ethic that the program is known for.

The scene from a Friday night on the MCI Football Field at Maine Central Institute

"Ever since I joined the team, I've always been impressed with the amount of effort and dedication the guys put into the team," explains senior Thongruangsak 'Clark' Manawongsakul. "It gives this program a sense of uniqueness, we always go 100% in every practice and just keep that mentality all year."

From the field to the screen, the MCI eSports team is enjoying a great start to the season, which continues on into December. "The Pack" is currently the #1 seed and undefeated in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, while the Rocket League and Splatoon 3 teams both sport 4-2 records going into the last chunk of the season. While eSports is only in its third year as an MPA sponsored sport, teams have risen up all across the state to show people what competitive gaming really looks like.

"The Pack" competes in a Splatoon 3 match heading into overtime

"You can be good at a game without understanding it from a technical standpoint, but once you learn the inner workings of a game, that's when you can take it to that next step," said freshman Tyson Thompson. "There's a lot of logic and quick-thinking, it gets really intense when you need to make split-second decisions and everything is on the line."

While MCI Boys Soccer had a break out season, the MCI Girls Soccer team built upon the accomplishments of last year and took their success to new heights. The girls ended with a perfect 14-0 record to cap off the regular season: the most regular season wins in program history and their second straight undefeated regular season. The goal this year was simple: learn from the experiences of last season, and grow from there.

"We did have a great season last year, all of our starters this year started last year as well, so we know what mistakes we've made in the past and how to improve," explained senior captain Alyssa Ardry. "We just click, we know where everyone on the field is, we work really well together and just enjoy spending time together, and I think that's really important for a team like this."

Olivia Varney '24 cuts the ball back before scoring one of her 4 goals against Winslow

Going into the playoffs as the #2 seed, the MCI Girls Soccer team had a bye for the first round of competition before facing Penquis Valley, who they cruised through in clean 15-0 fashion. The Class C North Semifinals brought about #3 seed Houlton, and after a grueling regulation and double overtime, the score of 1-1 would be settled through penalty kicks. Unfortunately, the Huskies' championship aspirations were cut short after falling to Houlton in the second round of penalty kicks. While not the desired outcome, with talents like Olivia Varney and a young core returning again next year, the future is bright for the Girls Soccer program at MCI.

Last but certainly not least, we have the MCI Field Hockey team, who surpassed all expectations this year. With a new coach and losing key players from last year, there weren't any assumptions that the Huskies were going to go on the run that they did. With a 10-3-1 record, the Huskies were able to nab the #2 seed going into playoffs. For senior captain Jenessa Foster, this team has been everything to her.

Jenessa Foster '23 winds up before driving the ball into the circle

"We've worked on a lot and improved a lot, the freshmen this year have really stepped up," said Foster. "This team is like a family to me, we all work together so well, I don't know what I'm going to do next year without them."

After beating Mount View 2-1 in the Quarterfinals, the MCI Field Hockey team was met with familiar foe Dexter in the Semifinals, a team that the Huskies had struggled with during the regular season. In a thrilling overtime finale, the Huskies were able to crack the code and beat the Tigers 1-0 to head to the Northern Maine Class C Finals.

For the Regional Championship, the Huskies were up against Dirigo, the #1 seed who had cruised through the playoffs so far, posting back to back shutouts leading up to the Northern Maine Finals. Despite the expectations at the beginning of the season, the Huskies powered through to beat the Cougars 2-0 to become back-to-back Northern Maine Class C Champions. Goals by Ella Bernier and Trinity Leavitt were able to lift the Huskies above and beyond to secure the program's fourth Regional Championship in the last eight years.

The MCI Field Hockey team runs across the field after winning the Northern Maine Class C Championship

While falling to Winthrop in the State Championship game, the MCI Field Hockey team has continued to further the rich tradition of athletic achievement at Maine Central Institute, as have all of our Fall athletic teams and programs. With two State Championships, a Regional Championship, and multiple winning and record-breaking seasons and performances, the future is bright for our Fall sports programs. As the weather gets colder and our student athletes shift over into Winter athletics, we can't wait to see what else our student athlete's achieve.