From the Outside In: Troy Howard Middle School Students Visit the Hutchinson Center

How many times have you driven by the Hutchinson Center? Have you ever been inside? If you have, you know what we have to offer but if you’ve only seen it looming in the distance as you zip down Route 3, you might have no idea. In an effort to carry out our mission as an outreach center for the University of Maine and increase awareness about all the possibilities inside, we offer tours to local schools like Troy Howard Middle School (THMS) in Belfast.

For the past four years (excluding 2020), eighth-graders at THMS have toured the Hutchinson Center right before their graduation. We were delighted to have THMS eighth-graders back again this year. Eighty students attended a presentation about Early College and STEM opportunities at the Hutchinson Center, played a rousing game of bingo, toured the biology and chemistry labs, and participated in an interactive session demonstrating some of the fun technological equipment the Hutchinson Center has to offer.

Student with blue hair stands in front of screen where grass is projected

Despite the challenges brought by a year of pandemic-era schooling, the students’ curiosity, enthusiasm, and humor were palpable throughout the visit. In the labs, they asked, “What happens if you press that red button?” (as well as “What kinds of courses are available here?”) and during the tech session, they played in front of large screens where fantastical scenes were projected.

Group of students and teacher in science lab


After learning about the tuition-free Early College courses available through the Hutchinson Center, students said, “If I don’t have to pay for classes I’m going to need, I’ll definitely do it!” and “I think I’ll take some classes here when I’m in high school, it’s a good idea!” We agree—and so do the many midcoast area Early College students who have participated in these unique opportunities.

“We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Troy Howard Middle School,” says Early College Program Coordinator, Kari Suderley. “It was wonderful to watch students engage in this event as eighth-graders, knowing that whatever they chose to pursue in the future, they’ll remember that there is a local option for aiding their success.”

THMS teachers learned something new as well. The tour increased their awareness about the myriad programs the Hutchinson Center offers, from affordable biology and chemistry lab rentals to professional development, associate degrees, certificates and conference spaces. “I didn’t even know this was here!” one teacher was overheard saying as the tour exited the chemistry lab.

Since much of the Hutchinson Center’s programming moved online in 2020, the building has been a lot more quiet than usual. Slowly, but surely, that is beginning to change as we open back up again. Hearing the students’ excited chatter and imagining them accessing affordable college classes or using our video recording room to make their creative visions come to life filled our hearts with joy and excitement about what’s to come. Thank you for coming and we hope to see you again!

Would you or your group like a tour of the Hutchinson Center? Contact us today.

For more information on Early College, click here.

To learn about academics at the Hutchinson Center, click here.

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