Student from Saratoga Springs named Presidential Scholar

Paul Mains of Saratoga Springs, who has been named one of just four U.S. Presidential Scholars in


Paul Mains of Saratoga Springs, who has been named one of just four U.S. Presidential Scholars in New York state, considers himself a normal high school senior.

Normal — but with a perfect 1,600 College Board score and a 3.9 grade point average at the Doane Stuart School in Rensselaer.

Mains, who will be 18 later this month, says he has a normal social life, a love of classical music and a part-time job.

His favorite sport is downhill skiing at places like Okemo in Vermont, West Mountain in Queensbury and Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks. “I ski with my friends or go on [ski] bus trips with my dad,” Mains said.

His parents, Amy Durland and Robert Mains of Saratoga Springs, have urged him to give up his after-school job at the CVS pharmacy in Saratoga Spring because of his heavy course load at Doane Stuart, a private, college prep school with small classes.

But he has kept the job for two years.

“I don’t like to ask my parents for money,” Mains said. “A lot of my friends once worked at CVS as well.”

He and 140 other Presidential Scholars from across the country will be honored for their academic accomplishments in Washington, D.C., in mid-June in an expense-paid visit to the nation’s capital.

Doane Stuart teacher John Foster has been invited to join him on the trip and receive a teacher recognition award that is part of the program started in 1964.

“He’s just, like, very into teaching,” Mains said about Foster, his English teacher.

“He has engaging lectures,” Mains said. “He is dedicated to making his students better writers.”

Mains is still undecided as to where he will attend college in the fall. He is debating between Williams College in Massachusetts and Carleton College, a small liberal arts college in Northfield, Minn. He has also been accepted at Yale University, Middlebury College and Kenyon College, among others.

Mains attended Caroline Street Elementary School in Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga Independent School, and then, starting in seventh grade, Doane Stuart School.

“He’s amazingly well-rounded,” said his mother, Amy Durland. “He’s a regular guy. I think he’s pretty well liked.”

Durland is a lawyer by training but in recent years has concentrated on volunteer work on city issues. She is a member of the Saratoga Springs Planning Board and a former member of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

She said Paul learned to ski with his father and older brother Alan, 20, who at one time was a nationally ranked snowboarder. Alan is currently attending Plymouth State University.

“He played T-ball but skiing was the thing that really grabbed him,” Durland said about Paul. He also loves languages. He has taken independent study classes in linguistics and Japanese at Doane Stuart.

Mains said he really likes linguistics, which is the science and study of languages. He said this is one of the reasons he was considering Carleton College over some other colleges, because that college has a program in linguistics.

His father, who is a securities research analyst specializing in the health care field, said he enjoys skiing with his son because it is the one time they really get to talk to each other.

“It’s a good time to visit with him,” Robert Mains said. He said he and Paul take ski bus trips from Saratoga Springs to Okemo Mountain and enjoy the time together.

Robert Mains said his son is a very good classical piano player, but “it seems like a lifetime hobby, not a vocation.” Mains has taken private piano lessons for years in Saratoga Springs. He also occasionally plays piano at Doane Stuart.

Earlier this year, he and another student organized the annual music night at the school where students from the entire school perform. The evening also included a silent auction during which $1,200 was raised to help earthquake victims in Chile.

The other three state residents selected for the Presidential Scholar program all live in New York City or the greater New York metropolitan area.

The students were selected from among 3,000 high school seniors who qualified for the program on the basis of outstanding performances on the College Board SAT and ACT exams. Mains had a perfect 1,600 score on his verbal and math SATs. He has a 3.9 grade point average (out of 4.0) at Doane Stuart, he said.

“We are particularly proud that he accomplished this all by himself,” Durland said. “He is fiercely independent.”

She said Paul did all his own college application work, never asking for their assistance.

Mains said he always seems to find time to get his school work done, have a social life, and keep his part-time job. He said his friends are split between his Saratoga Springs friends and friends at Doane Stuart who live in the greater Albany area.

“Time management is not a huge issue,” Mains said. “There is more time in the day.”

Both Mains and his mother noted that he has never been interested in video games. However, Mains said he does spend some time on Facebook on the Internet.

The students selected for the Presidential Scholar program have all demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship and contribution to school and community, according to a statement from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, which is appointed by the President, selected the scholars.

For the past 46 years, this prestigious program has honored more than 6,000 of the nation’s top performing high school seniors.

Since 1983, each Presidential Scholar has invited his or her most inspiring and challenging teacher to travel to Washington to receive a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education and to participate in the three days of recognition events.

Categories: Schenectady County

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