(top from left) Violet Bailey, Ava Constantino, Amelia Crafts, Kayla Cruz, and (bottom left) Lucy White are Lincoln Academy’s Class of 2024 participants in the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, a three-year leadership program that will begin in the fall.

Five Lincoln Academy ninth grade girls have been selected to participate in the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute, a program that will begin next fall and work with girls during their sophomore, junior and senior years of high school.

Ninth graders Violet Bailey, Kayla Cruz, Ava Constantino, Amelia Crafts, and Lucy White were selected through a nominating process by the LA faculty and staff.

According to their materials, the mission of the Olympia Snowe Women’s Leadership Institute is to “elevate the confidence and aspirations of high school girls by helping them to build the leadership, collaboration and problem-solving skills needed to become successful in their lives, families, careers, and communities.” Girls in high schools around Maine participate in a three-year program where they meet monthly with Institute advisors to “explore and communicate their values and the role they play in their everyday lives,” as well as “learn from dynamic women role models, acquire leadership skills and consider opportunities that they may not have known existed or were possible.”

The Snowe Leadership Institute is dedicated to help girls overcome the drop in self-esteem that happens to many girls between middle and high school, which is 3.5 times more common in girls than in boys, according to their website. “This drop in female confidence often leads to a reluctance to try new things or take on bigger challenges, dropping out of school activities, and not believing they are strong in math or science. It has been demonstrated that this decrease in confidence can be diminished by interacting with successful women. The Snowe Institute addresses this by pairing groups of students with volunteer advisors for the three-year program.”

Lincoln Academy’s first class of “Olympia’s Leaders,” as participants are called, were selected for their leadership potential, academic standing, and participation in school activities, and an overall match with the demographics of the school population. The program hopes to develop a statewide network of young female leaders in Maine. Monthly meetings will take place at Lincoln Academy, led by representatives of the Snowe Leadership Institute.

The Institute partners with 36 schools in Maine, including Boothbay Region High School and Medomak Valley High School, and currently reaches more than 540 young women. This is Lincoln Academy’s first year participating in the program.

“We are very honored to be chosen as a program site for the Snowe Leadership Institute,” said LA Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kelley Duffy, who is the school’s liaison to the program. “The selection process itself was really delightful. Our faculty were able to identify so many ninth grade girls with incredible potential. I’m tremendously proud of these five girls and excited to see what they learn from this experience and how it impacts Lincoln Academy.”

The curriculum of the Snowe Leadership Institute is based on the motto “My values, my voice, my vision.” While the program addresses all three ideas each year, the 10th grade program focuses on “My Values: What do I stand for?” Sophomores are encouraged to explore and define their own strengths, giving them confidence and serving as an anchor for future decisions. In 11th grade the curriculum moves on to “My Voice: How do I get heard?” During the second year, girls will develop their presentation and public speaking, problem solving, consensus building, and leadership skills. In 12th grade the program’s focus is on “My Vision: Where do I want to go?” In their third and final year, students will focus on their own aspirations, including college and job training, what to expect during their next life phase; how to approach career choices; and ways to become leaders in their families, careers, and communities.

Violet Bailey ’24, who is the ninth grade Class President as well as one of the new inductees in the Snowe Institute said that she is “really looking forward to doing impactful things outside of school.”

“We feel so lucky that the Snowe Leadership Institute has made a long-term commitment to Lincoln Academy,” said Duffy. “By funding and supporting five girls each year, this program has the potential to change lives and to make a positive impact on the school community.”