Student Leadership Group (SLG)

ABC Student Leaders present at MYAN Youth Leadership Conference

Hi Everyone. My name is Delia Harms and I’m one of the members of ABC’s Student Leadership Group. I, along with Michaela Carrow, another Student Leadership Group member, and Madison Westrich, a leader of one of our recently formed Arts Advocacy Teams, facilitated a workshop at the 2021 Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN) conference in April. MYAN’s mission is to build healthier communities for young people, and this year’s virtual conference was specifically centered around building connections among young people after a year of such tragic loss and disconnect. 

Michaela Carrow

As students involved with ABC, we saw that our experience with and passion for the arts fit perfectly into MYAN’s goals for this year’s conference. A strong presence of arts programs in schools is essential to building those healthier communities for young people. The arts in schools create emotionally safe environments for students to express themselves and grow together. This is the message we hoped to deliver throughout our workshop. This is why we focused our activities around creating space for meaningful conversations, all while building that inclusive, connected environment that we see the arts fostering in our schools.

Madison Westrich

I got to watch the group of students participating in the workshop get to know each other in small groups and engage in exciting conversations about advocacy efforts in their schools and what they are passionate about, which was wonderful for me to see as a facilitator. We are hopeful that we can continue to foster these safe spaces for conversations, often using the arts as a catalyst, at more events in the future and in our own schools in collaboration with all of our arts advocacy teams across the state!


ABC Student Advocacy Team Members Speak at Advocacy Day!

Watch them here!


ABC Student Leadership Group Organizes School Advocacy Teams

The Student Leadership Group (SLG) of the Arts are Basic Coalition (pictured above) is facilitating the formation of ABC Student Advocacy Teams at schools around the state. Within individual schools, these teams will serve to connect students engaged in different art forms. The teams will also form a larger network of young arts advocates from all corners of Maine, learning from each other and supporting each other. One of the signature activities of the teams will be to participate each year in Arts Education Advocacy Day, advocating directly with their state senators and representatives at meetings which will be organized and conducted by the teams themselves.  With ongoing training and support from the ABC Student Leadership Group (SLG), the teams will also begin to organize advocacy initiatives in their local school communities. We hope you will join us in this work as well. Please reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about how an ABC student advocacy team can be formed at your local high school or middle school.


May 2020 – ABC Convenes Arts Education Summit 

The concerns about the impact of possible major reductions to state and/or local funding next year on arts education was the subject of a Maine Arts Education Summit convened by the Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC) on May 20. In addition to the ABC group of MAAE and Maine ‘s four visual and performing arts educator associations, the Summit group included arts education leaders from the Maine Arts Commission, the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI), and the Maine Department of Education. While preparing for the possibility that stronger advocacy may be needed next year, the Summit attendees emphasized the special role that arts education can play during this time of change and challenges. A letter to Maine School Superintendents expressing that message was drafted by the ABC and sent out on ABC’s behalf by Steven Bailey, Executive Director, Maine School Boards Association and Eileen King, Executive Director, Maine School Superintendents Association. You can read it here.


October 2019 – ABC Student Leadership Group Inducted at the Blaine House

The 12 arts students from high schools around the state who make up the first Student Leadership Group of the Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC) gathered in Augusta this past Tuesday, Oct. 22.  The students were all selected elected for their commitment to the arts by the four Maine professional associations that make up the ABC: the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA), the Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA), the Maine Educational Theatre Association (MEdTA) and the Maine Dance Educators. We are sad to say goodbye to last year’s seniors who have graduated. Below are photos and short bios of the remaining students, followed by a recap of the group’s day in Augusta.

Student Biographies

Colette Carrillo (Music) is a junior from Waterville High School. She is an active member of the school’s choral program and has participated in the Kennebec Valley Music Festival Chorus for three years. She participates in the Waterville High School’s annual musical productions. Colette also composes her own music.

Michaela Carrow (Theatre) is a junior from Hermon High School. She is a member of Thespian Troupe 8263 and participates both on the stage and behind the scenes in plays, one-acts, and show choir. She has also sung in the District V Festival chorus and is very active in her school’s Art Club. She is currently working towards her Honors Diploma.  

Delia Harms (Music) is a junior from Massabesic HS in Waterboro. Her main musical interest is playing the bassoon in her school band as well as in the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra. Delia has also performed in the Maine Music Educators District One Honors Festival and All-State Band and in her high school chorus.

Alison Jones (Theatre) is a senior from Bonny Eagle High School in Standish, currently entering her third year of High School Theatre. She is on the BEHS Theatre student leadership board as the membership chair. An active member of Bonny Eagle’s Thespian Troupe 211 for two years, Alison is performing in and assistant-directing the fall production. She has also received an award for her performance in Humbletown at the state level of the Maine Drama Festival. Last year Alison achieved 3-star Thespian status, as well as recognition as a Vice President’s List Scholar. Her other interests include writing, for which she has received two Scholastic Keys, and was a participant of the Maine Playwright’s Festival workshop last spring.

Tyler Lucca (Music) is a junior from Yarmouth High School, where he plays trombone in the honors level Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band and sings in the honors level Chamber Choir. Tyler is currently playing Uncle Fester in the Addams Family fall musical. He also plays banjo in a youth bluegrass ensemble called Flight 317. This well-known and respected band based out of 317 Main Community Music Center in Yarmouth has a rotating cast of high-schoolers and performs frequently in many venues ranging from seasonal festivals to restaurants. 

Sophie Patenaude (Music) is a senior from Poland Regional High School in Poland. She is a classical pianist who also plays tenor saxophone in her school’s concert band. Sophie sings with her school’s chorus, chamber choir, a cappella choir and jazz band and her own acoustic duo, Meraki, as well as being a backup singer for The Masterstroke Queen Experience. She has attended several Maine Music Educators Association District II and All State Honors Choral festivals and will be attending her first NAfME All National Honors Choral festival in November. Sophie also performs frequently in musical theater and theater productions as a musician, actor, and dancer. 

McKenna Shoberg (Dance) is a senior from Lake Region High School. She is a member of the National Honor Society and has been dancing for 14 years. She took master classes with Carlos Garland from So You Think You Can Dance and has starred in The Wizard of Oz for Lake Region Community Theater. She also attended drama classes at Venice Little Theater in Venice, Florida. McKenna has choreographed dances and received an award for leadership in dance. Last year she won a laker pride award which recognizes being a positive role model, consistently helpful, and selfless.

The Students’ Day in Augusta

The day started the State House Welcome Center where we welcomed the students and their dedicated parents and teachers, who had driven them to Augusta. Then the students moved with us upstairs to the Hall of Flags, the site of the spring Advocacy Day on March 30 that they will be helping us to organize. The students had come prepared with get-to-know-you activities that they shared with each other.

These included signing a large map of the state that had been brought by visual art student Ethan Hayes, from Wisdom HS in Aroostook County.

The heart of the morning was discussion and brainstorming. Facilitated by Rick Osann, who will be the adult advisor for this group, this session was the first of many conversations, to be continued via group chat, through which the students will be refining their advocacy ideas and their individual and group goals.

After lunch the student group visited the Maine Arts Commission, where they were warmly welcomed by members of the Arts Commission staff, who described to them the many ways that the arts – and artists – are supported in our state.

At 2 pm the students arrived at the Blaine House.

Though the Governor herself was unable be there, the students heard encouraging words from DOE Commissioner Pender Makin and from Senator Rebecca Millett, co-chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

Senator Millett also did the honors of handing out certificates to each student.

Several of the students also spoke. We are thrilled to be working with these young people and we look forward to keeping you posted about the group’s work throughout the year! 

Schools with ABC Student Advocacy Teams:

Brewer HS
Calais HS
Edward Little HS
Freeport HS
Greely HS
Hall Dale HS
Hampden Academy
Hermon HS
Lake Region HS
Lewiston HS
Marshwood HS
Massabesic HS
Mt. Ararat Middle School
Narraguagus Jr/Sr HS
North Yarmouth Academy
Poland Regional HS
Shead HS
Waterville HS
Wiscasset HS
Yarmouth HS

Want to start an ABC team at your school? Contact us at!