PORTLAND — Bill and Ann Weber believe more students at Portland High School should have the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities, which they say enriches the high school experience and gives students a chance to broaden their horizons.

That’s why the couple has worked with the Foundation for Portland Public Schools to create the Step Up Award, which provides students in the Make It Happen program with a stipend so they don’t have to work and can more fully participate in the life of the school and wider community.

The first two winners of the award, Beni Nkashama, a senior, and Mariam Douale, a junior, will each receive $1,250 per semester as long as they remain in good academic standing and can demonstrate that they’re engaged in extracurricular activities they would not otherwise have been able to access.

“Portland High School is a really magical school,” Bill Weber said during the Dec. 14 award ceremony, “but what really helped our sons to shine was the extracurriculars. This is a very important aspect of the high school experience and it’s a shame” that some students are prevented from participating by work or family obligations.

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Mariam Douale,left, and Beni Nkashama, students at Portland High School, are the inaugural winners of the Step Up Award, which provides a stipend so students can participate in after school and community activities.