Lincoln Academy senior Sean Burke is the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center 2015 Student of the Year. He was awarded the honor at a recent dinner hosted by the Maine Administrators of Career and Technical Education attended by Sean and his family as well as Lincoln Academy Director of Counseling and Studies Sarah Wills-Viega. When Ms. Wills-Viega announced Sean’s award at last week’s Friday Community Meeting, Sean received a standing ovation from the entire Lincoln Academy faculty and student body.
Announcing his award, Ms. Wills-Viega said, “Of the hundreds of students at Bath Regional Career and Technical Center (BRCTC), six seniors are nominated, and just one student wins this prestigious award each year. I was privileged to be at the presentation representing Lincoln Academy, and I am so proud of Sean’s accomplishment. We know he will go on to do great things in the future! My selfish hope is that he returns and opens a bakery in the local area!”
Sean is one of about 35 Lincoln Academy juniors and seniors who leave campus every day for vocational training at BRCTC and the Mid Coast School of Technology in Rockland. Programs offered at these two campuses include health science courses, early childhood education, welding, carpentry, and auto mechanics as well as culinary arts. Lincoln students who study at BRCTC and Rockland still take several of their classes, including English and other academic courses, every day at Lincoln Academy.
Explaining why the Bath Regional Career and Technical Center chose Sean as the Student of the Year, Center Director Joel Austin said, “Sean’s community service, his commitment to the Culinary program, his membership in the National Technical Honor Society, his completion of his Eagle Scout requirements, volunteer firefighting, his commitment to his job (a service of its own), all played in the faculty’s decision. The selection process is formal and involves the students who are candidates and the entire faculty. We are very proud of Sean!”
Sean lives in Jefferson, where he grew up and attended Jefferson Village School from kindergarten through 8th grade. “I have always wanted to learn to cook,” said Sean, when asked why he chose culinary arts as his vocational specialty. “I have relatives who are really good cooks, and I always wanted to be able to do that.” Asked why he thinks he was chosen for the Student of the Year award, he said, “It probably has a lot to do with all of my community service.”
Sean is a junior fire fighter and an Eagle Scout, and much of the service he has done over the years was part his Scouting with Troop 216 in Jefferson. His Eagle Scout service project was planting an apple orchard at the Jefferson Village School. “A lot of the service I do is really simple, like raking leaves for people, helping out with projects. But people appreciate it.”
“Another reason they might have picked me is my determination,” said Burke, who cites being a member of the National Technical Honor Society as one of his proudest achievements. “I got into that from trying my best. I am pretty determined, because I don’t like failing at things. I got this from my disability. I have a learning disability that made it hard for me to learn to read, and I was in special ed until the middle of seventh grade. I got major determination from trying to keep up with my classmates after I got out of special ed.
“When I got to LA I thought I might have to take advantage of the special ed program here, because reading is still hard for me. I struggled when I first got here, but I never went into special ed. I wanted to do it on my own if I could.” Sean’s hard work has paid off, and he is very proud of his education at Lincoln Academy, where he is a member of the varsity indoor and outdoor track teams. “Practically everything I know came from LA. I have learned so much here.”
Lincoln Academy history teacher Brian O’Mahoney has been Sean’s advisor for four years. “Sean Burke is as thoughtful and compassionate a student as I have met,” said Mr. O’Mahoney. “In school he is unfailingly kind and hard working. He pays attention to detail and is responsible by nature. His motivation to do well in school and life has always been his own. For me, he represents a steady and reliable model of leadership in the classroom. It has been my pleasure to be his advisor during his high school years, and I am proud that BRCTC recognized and rewarded Sean for his accomplishments.”
Sean will attend Johnson and Wales University in Providence Rhode Island next fall, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management.
Sean’s final comment was a parting thank you to the schools that have helped him reach his goals. “My schools are awesome, both LA and Bath. Without all the teachers that have helped me, I wouldn’t be here.”