Maggie Behen – star student

Freshman Maggie Behen advanced in the past year by taking classes at the high school as an eighth grader.

Megan Friel, Feature Editor

One student at BHS recently caught the eye of many peers after jumping ahead of the academic game.

Maggie Behen, a fourteen-year-old freshman, brought attention to herself in the past year with her academic achievements. As a freshman, she took all honors classes, not unusual for some freshmen, but also an AP class, while balancing sports as well as several extra curriculars. This all started for Behen in middle school.

As an eighth grader, Behen already took all of her eighth grade classes as a seventh grader, so her only option was to advance to high school level classes. She moved up to the high school, taking four classes a day that most freshman usually take.

“It was in sixth grade, and I felt that my math class was too easy, so I wrote letters to Mr. Lamontagne, and I got put in algebra one in seventh grade,” said Behen. “When I got to eighth grade, I had no classes I could take left at the middle school so I had to come to the high school to take classes.”

This continued for Behen throughout the rest of middle school. When Behen’s seventh grade year approached, principal Jeremie Sirois even came up with the idea of bringing her to the high school full time as an eighth grader.

“She came in, did her four classes every other day, and went back to the middle school with her friends for a couple of blocks, so she kind of had the best of both worlds,” Sirois said.

Gifted and talented teacher and AP coordinator Jessica Larson also helped in directing Maggie to taking classes at the high school.

“When her eighth grade came…kind of like the spring of her seventh grade year, we started talking about the classes she was going to need, and math came up,” said Larson. “I started thinking, now with CLB in the middle of the day, this might work with you [Maggie] taking classes.”

Behen’s mother, Erin Behen, helped Behen with her transition.

“It was exactly what she needed,” said her mother. “As a teacher and her mother, I knew she needed the academic challenge.”

For Larson, her concern focused on Maggie’s scheduling needs when taking classes at BHS.

“We have to put the student first, but then you also look at the social, emotional needs – some students aren’t ready,” said Larson. “Maggie was ready. So, we kind of looked at that whole big picture, what does she need, is the scheduling going to allow her to go…it was more of, ‘was it going to work for her to go to the high school?’”

Behen stayed at the middle school and commuted to the high school instead of completely skipping a grade because she wanted to stay with her friends at the middle school.

“I think she kind of wanted to be with her friends a little bit, and this allowed her to take some advanced classes but also allowed her to have that contact with her buddies,” said Sirois. “As a 13 or 14 year old student, that’s kind of important.”

Her mother agrees, happy that Behen’s needs were met.

“It was well balanced that her needs were met at BHS in the morning and then returned to BMS for everything else,” said her mother. “She was able to participate in extracurricular       activities, field trips etc. with her peer group.”

When it came to someone so young taking classes prematurely, Sirois didn’t have much of a problem with it.

“I thought it was great [that she was taking classes here], obviously you worry about mixing eighth graders, you know, kids that are 13, with 18 year olds, but if they’re the right kind of kid; you know, the driven mature, not necessarily with age but wise beyond their age, you certainly can have them come up at change classes,” Sirois said.

Larson supported Maggie’s decision to step forward classwise.

“I think when you have students like that that are ready – if they want the challenge if they want the push, I’m there to support them,” said Larson. “That’s my number one goal, that’s my job. I really hope it opened that door to future possibilities for students to think about if they’re ready.”

Now, as a freshman, Behen takes classes that most students take as a sophomore or junior, such as honors algebra II and AP U.S. history. Along with this, Behen also takes part in student council, math team, band and chorus, theater, interact, and plans to do Model UN. Behen manages her time carefully.

“I sort of manage whenever I have time to do it,” said Behen. “ I make sure to get things done if I have a game or if I have something else to do. It’s nothing I can’t handle, it’s nothing too big that’s going to stop me. Like, ‘oh, I have a lot of work to do, I’ll just have less time to do leisure activities.’”

Despite being such a young student in higher level classes, Behen doesn’t feel very different from any other student at BHS.

“I just happen to be taking higher level classes,” said Behen. “I’m just a hard worker, I just have a plan and I have steps I need to achieve it, but it’s not like I’m a crazy Albert Einstein.”

The workload isn’t overwhelming for Behen, as she even admits to “liking the challenge.”

“My mindset is I just have to get my work done and then I’ll move on and do something else,” said Behen. “I think I’m able to assess myself and what I can handle, and I’ll know when I’ve had too much and when I need to stop and pull back and focus on one thing instead of focusing on too many things.”

Behen said her favorite subject is math, but her favorite class is english.

“My brain is very math oriented, and very ‘x+y=z’, and this plus this is that, except I like the way English works,” said Behen. “I like to read, reading is my favorite hobby, so then I love the way English works. But math is easier.”

As for the future, Behen plans to be a neurosurgeon, and hopes to take classes at the COT in order have some experience with the profession before heading off to college.

“I expect her to probably take every AP class we offer, I expect she’s going to take advantage of classes over at the COT,” said Sirois. “She’s a very bright student who would excel there as well, maybe get some college credit. I would expect her to do everything she can academically, and also get involved in co-curriculars as well.”

Behen doesn’t think of herself as anyone out of the ordinary. She simply believes in being a hard worker, as well as having a love for school.

“Everyone has their strengths, and my strength just happens to be working hard at school. But when I go to field hockey, I’m not the best player and that’s where some people shine, and everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses, and it just happens to be school is my strength.”