There is little Rachel Barter has not done at Boothbay Region High School (BRHS).
Among her many activities and accomplishments, Barter is in the drama club and the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSTA), was last year’s highest scoring member of the math team, and is co-captain of the BRHS Chorus. She has co-written a play and starred in the spring musical. Her recent distinction as valedictorian of her graduating class is another impressive achievement to add to the list.
“I’m feeling pretty good about it,” said Barter. “It took a lot to get here.”
Barter explained, she struggles with anxiety about turning in assignments on time, but tries not to let herself get too overwhelmed so she can put her best effort into her work. Keeping herself on a schedule is also how Barter has dealt with the numerous disruptions to her school career, including COVID-19 interrupting her freshman year and the two weeks the high schoolers went remote due to the February flooding at Boothbay Region Elementary School.
“Even though in some classes you could log in, say hi, and leave, I would still want myself to do the work during that period because otherwise, I would probably get off track.”
Barter also credits her teachers and parents Gary Barter and Kristy Battles for their constant support. However, she said she would not be able to get through the stress of day-to-day school life without the help of her friends, especially class salutatorian Grace Campbell. “We know what each other is going through, and we’re in a lot of the same classes,” said Barter. This allows the two to come up with shared coping strategies and take turns being supportive when the other is struggling. “Normally we have different bad days.”
Beyond their shared distinctions as class valedictorian and salutatorian, Barter and Campbell are something of a dynamic duo. Earlier this year, the pair won student writer awards for their original play “The Census Taker,” based on a poem by Robert Frost, which was performed by the BRHS Drama Club at the 2023 Maine Drama Festival. The performance won the club first runner-up in the overall competition and the silver trophy for Class B schools (schools with fewer than 500 students). The two are also co-captains of BRHS Chorus, and recently got to share the stage in a different way as Sandy and Danny in the Drama Club’s spring production of “Grease.”
Barter usually writes or runs the lights for theater productions but felt confident enough this year to get on stage. “It was a fantastic experience to have Grace in the role across from me. I think (doing the play) has pushed me to be even more connected to the school.”
Considering the variety of her extracurriculars, it is no surprise Barter plans to stay just as busy during her college years. She cited the offered student activities as the main reason for choosing the college she did. Barter is set to start school this fall at Providence College pursuing a degree in mathematics. She is undecided on her minor but hopes to do something with data analytics. Her career goals range from working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “I’m just going to keep my options open and hope for the best.”
However, Barter still wants to pursue humanities in some form, whether by joining a club or picking up another minor. “Math fulfills me but I feel like a lot of the humanities have a greater mission that I still want to be a part of. I can go into English, or even history, and be like ‘Oh, these people need help. How can I spread the word?’”
Barter is excited about starting this new phase in her life but admits she is nervous about finding people she will love as much as the ones she has found at BRHS.
“I’ve been struggling with leaving the school and remembering how special it's been to me but I’ve come to realize that it's really the people. I feel like the environment in the school is a lot better, even from freshman year. It’s more accepting. It’s more caring. If you even have a frown on your face then someone is going to be like ‘Are you OK?’ And I just love that about the school.”