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The Difference a ‘Big’ Makes [Video]

On “dress-down” Friday, Jim Chasse, Principal of Orono High School, is found serenading his students with his guitar as they file through the hallway during class changes.

It’s not an unusual occurrence according to students, who may have the “coolest” high school principal, ever.

After all, how many school principals do you know who love to shoot hoops, and sing Led Zeppelin tunes?

Chasse has spent the last fifteen years or so in school administration and is in his fifth year as Principal of Orono High School.

Chasse is quick to credit his mother’s wisdom, who as a single parent got him involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, for his success in life.

“My mother, who is absolutely amazing, was a single mom working full time to become a nurse, and taking care of a VERY active third grader who was running around the streets of Lewiston,” Chasse remembers with a chuckle. “She recognized I needed a male role model in my life.”

He also remembers his “big brother” fondly, saying he was a “life-changer” for him.

It turns out, a Bates College student by the name of Guy Shebat, had signed up with the Big Brother Big Sisters program back in the 70′s, and it wasn’t long before Shebat and Chasse were matched up.

Forty years later, and now working with young people daily, Chasse says an adult role model can have an immeasurable positive impact on a child’s life. He says the research backs it up.

“Regardless of your home setting, whether it’s been good, or a challenge, that other significant adult plays a major part in what you become,” states Chasse. “It could be a coach, a teacher, or a non-profit organization like Big Bother Big Sisters.”

Chasse is in contact with Shebat via email and they hope to reunite this summer.

In the meantime, Chasse encourages you to look into the organization and consider volunteering as a “big.”

Don’t forget the Bowl for Kids Sake events this month and next.

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