Hard Class? Think you won’t Pass?

Hard Class? Think you won’t Pass?

By Grace McIntosh Contributing Writer


Professor Timothy Breton teaching BIO 150, a class of 80 students. (Photo by Grace McIntosh

 As the semester quickly rolls by, some students may feel like they are struggling to keep up. Whether it is a seemingly impossible class, difficult professor, or lack of motivation, failing a course can be avoided. Professors and high-achieving students give their best advice on how to escape common mistakes and study efficiently to those who feel overwhelmed with the thought of not passing a class.

     Professor of Biology Timothy Breton said that the biggest mistake he sees when students study for exams is lack of active involvement. “Studying for several hours late at night and just glossing over the material is often not as effective as less time spent that involves quizzing yourself or pushing each other to succeed in an active study group,” said Breton. According to Breton, focusing on learning the material, versus how much time is spent on studying, increases the chance of successful outcomes.

     Alyssa Morin, a sophomore who is currently in Professor Breton’s class, said that it is critical to dedicate enough time to make sure the content of a course is understood. Morin also emphasizes the importance of finding the right place to study. “Find a quiet place with no one around,” said Morin. “I always find myself in the library or my dorm room.”

   Morin’s phone can also be a distraction to her, so she uses an app to lock it for a certain period of time. “It does not allow me to access anything and I just bust out the work that needs to be done,” she said.

    Abigayle Weston, also a sophomore at UMF,  stays motivated by thinking about her career goals. Weston’s advice to those falling behind is to make one giant list of everything that needs to get done and color-code it by priority. “My favorite way to study is by rewriting my notes,” Weston said. Rewriting notes allows for the content to be refreshed into Weston’s mind and helps her retain information.

     Morin encourages students who aren’t able to figure out course material to seek out help from professors. “Go to your professor’s office hours and make sure to set up tutor sessions in the learning commons,” Morin said.

   Morin also stated that a key factor to success is putting school before anything else. However, she also points out the importance of taking breaks and making time for leisure activities.

     Professor of Mathematics, Michael Molinsky, said that procrastination can be a sure way to do poorly. “By waiting until the very last possible minute to do homework or study for exams, students put themselves in a position where they cannot ask any questions about the parts the material that they don’t understand,” said Molinsky. Another problem that Molinsky sees often is students will memorize methods but not how to utilize them.

     For students who feel that a class is just absolutely impossible, Professor Breton said, “Be strategic, break things down, and spend the most time on very important topics you know will appear on an exam.” Allocating time to focus on material that needs to be understood as well as asking questions outside and inside class can be the difference of passing or failing a course according to Breton.

     “While trying obviously doesn’t guarantee success, you can certainly guarantee failure by not even trying from the start of the class,” said Molinsky. As a general rule of thumb for college, “Students should be spending an average of two hours outside of class each week for each credit,” Molinsky said. Students should be dedicating an average of eight hours a week for a four credit course. The weekend can be an effective slot of time to catch up on school work as well.

     Whether it is dedicating more time to studying, working harder in classes, or being more actively involved, utilizing this advice may make a difference in academic performance.

UMF Graduate Coaches “Fit Girls” Program

UMF Graduate Coaches “Fit Girls” Program

By Evan Gorr Contributing Writer

Catherine Dennis, 2017 UMF graduate and second year teacher at Cascade Brook School (CBS) in Farmington, co-coaches a reading and running program called Fit Girls, a community

Fit Girls is a club that inspires young girls to lead a healthy life. (Photo courtesy of Evan Gorr)

based program for girls in grades fourth through sixth in the Mount Blue District.

   Dennis is one of four coaches who helps inspire 45 kids participating in Fit Girls at CBS. The program aims to provide examples of healthy habits for the girls as they tackle the struggles of growing up in today’s society.

   “Girls in the age group we work with are in an increasingly vulnerable position,” said Dennis. “They are exposed to so many stereotypes and false images portrayed by people on social media.” Body image, healthy eating, and positive relationships are important topics that coaches discuss with the girls during their meetings.

   Deb Aseltine, the director of Fit Girls, believes that the program creates wonderful opportunities and strengthens the community. “There is an opportunity for the girls to express their individuality while creating healthier attitudes,” said Aseltine. “These healthier attitudes with the girls and their families fosters a healthy community.”  

   The coaches help the girls practice their healthy habits by meeting every Thursday to participate in physical activity and discuss different topics. “We always provide a healthy snack when we meet in the cafeteria,” said Dennis. “And we also read a short  passage that provides a positive message or lesson that incorporates one of our goals.”

   The second portion of each meeting includes a run outside. The coaches figured out a quarter mile loop around the perimeter of the school for everyone to run. Dennis, an avid runner, was proud of the girls for their efforts. “We worked our way up over six weeks to be able to run 35 minutes continuously,” said Dennis. “It got cold and even rained during the last couple of weeks, but the girls didn’t seem to mind.”  

   The meeting ends with happy thoughts and stretching inside. “Happy thoughts is an inspirational quote that we give the girls on a little card,” said Dennis.

       Another large part of the program is providing the girls with role models who are not involved in their familial life. “I think girls this age are more likely to respond to role models that aren’t immediate family, so it is very important to me to be that role model,” said Dennis.

   Sylvia Brooks, a 2016 UMF graduate and 3rd year teacher at CBS, sees the positive impact of Fit Girls regarding confidence and leadership in her classroom. “It gives the girls an opportunity to become leaders to younger participants,” said Brooks. “It also gives them the confidence to do something athletic without the social pressure of having boys around.”

    In addition to encouraging healthy habits, Dennis believes that the program can play a role in strengthening her bonds with all those who participate. “I love spending time outside of the classroom with these kids,” said Dennis. “It allows us to build a stronger relationship and helps the girls become more comfortable with talking to me in school.”

   Fit Girls recently hosted their end of season 5K race on October 20th. The course ran along Wilson Lake, and there were over 70 participants. “It was a great event,” said Dennis. “The superintendent was there and another runner dressed up as a snap pea.” Dennis ran with one of the participants at the end to cross the finish line together, showing just how joyous her experience with the program has been.


Fit Girls began seven years ago at Academy Hill School in Wilton, and has since expanded to include the whole district. The program runs for six weeks throughout the fall ending with a district wide 5K race.

UMF Practical Politics Class Provides Students with an Opportunity to get Involved

By Aislinn Forbes Contributing Writer

Local Maine politics isn’t flashy. Candidates for Maine State Congress don’t have a lot of money, or high profile campaign organizers, or ads with perfect production value. But they do have a lot of say in Mainers’ daily lives.

Mariah Langton has been deeply involved with Jan Collin’s campaign, a Democratic candidate running for State Senate in Farmington’s district. Every week, Langton grabs a clipboard and walks or drives around Franklin County neighborhoods with Collins, knocking on doors and starting conversations with local residents about the elections. Langton has also served as a bridge between the other members of Collins’ campaign and the younger generation.

“I’m by far the youngest person on the team,” said Langton. “She really values my opinion.”

Langton is enrolled in UMF’s Practical Politics class, currently taught by James Melcher, which requires students to choose a campaign they would like to work on and dedicate time every week to their chosen campaign.

 “Students can pick whatever campaign they want,” assured Melcher. “I just want my students to play clean, fight hard, and learn something.”

Students aren’t limited to local campaigns; for example some students have contributed to Angus King’s campaign this semester and local candidates are very receptive to student involvement. Some local candidates even seek out Melcher to find out if there are students in the class at the time of their candidacy.  

Candidates, and their representatives, come into the class so students can get an idea of who they might like to work with. Allison Hepler, a History professor at UMF, spoke to the class about her bid to represent district 53 in the Maine House. Hepler was ecstatic to have students involved in her campaign.

 “Not only is it more efficient for me as a candidate,” said Hepler, “but also more fun!”

Langton decided to take the class because of her limited experiences and opportunities in the past. Living in rural Maine made it difficult for her to travel or get accurate information about her local campaigns, especially before she turned 18. The Practical Politics class presented her with the opportunity to learn more and get involved.

“I’ve learned a lot,” said Langton. “But as I learned it, it didn’t feel like a lot.”

 “Most people [that take the class] have never been involved in a campaign before,” said Melcher. But it’s not just about the experience and connections, ethics is also a big part of the class. Melcher wants his students to ask themselves, “What is ethical to do in a campaign?” and “Do I want to run myself?”


    Melcher inherited the class from his predecessor, Jack Quinn. Though Melcher is unsure of what year the class started, he knows it has been around since the early 1980’s at least. Many of the alumni of the class have gone on to professionally manage campaigns and serve in the Maine State Legislature, on both sides of the aisle. Lance Harvell, an alumni of the class, represents the Farmington area in the Maine House of representatives as a republican and has since 2009.


   “I’m proud,” Melcher said fiercely, “that my students are all over the spectrum.”

Letter to the Editor, Topic: Brett Kavanaugh

Dave Larsen Contributing Writer

 As a registered Independent I make an effort to listen to all sides while attempting to block the political noise and decide on the merits. I am a new student here, so I read the piece on the Kavanaugh confirmation with eager anticipation. What bothers me is in the article no where was the innate unfairness to Judge/Justice Kavanaugh brought up, much less condemned by the author.

How is it that a man, who by all accounts, leads an exemplary life, is considered an outstanding jurist, husband, and father can get dragged through the political mud in an effort to destroy his good name and everyone is okay with that? Has politics gotten so bad that its okay to trash a man’s reputation on zero evidence and a 35 year old recalled memory?

When good people sit by and say nothing while they slander one of the best of us, whose going to say something when they come for one of us? Are we witnessing the death of Fairness in this country when so many are willing to ignore the difference between right and wrong?

  You have an individual quoted in your article stating Senator Susan Collins “decided” not to do the right thing, perhaps this individual used mind reading skills to ascertain this critical information in which case I will use my mind reading skills to ascertain this individual succumbed to political correctness rather then standing up for the right thing which is Fairness for all Americans.

 As a newspaper, it’s your duty to call out injustice in our country, while I understand this was an Opinion piece, why didn’t the Editor of the paper come out in the strongest terms condemning this behavior. Drop the politics and be the umpire, call balls and strikes but don’t take sides, be honest, fair then let your readers decide for themselves.