The Samantha Smith Challenge

Samantha Smith Portrait by Robert Shetterly

Learning Through Engaged Citizenship


The First Annual SSC 2014/15 was a Huge Success!

Maine Teachers can register now for the 2015/16 edition (scroll down).



The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for Maine middle school students designed to build a bridge between the classroom and the world and to show students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them.


Get Started with these 4 Resources

Teacher Guidelines: Includes resources, classroom activities, and a detailed step-by-step guide to participating in the SSC. DOWNLOAD TEACHER GUIDELINES

Educational Standards: Many teachers want to know how the SSC fits with standards. Nancy Doda, PhD, has compiled a list of “Power Standards” addressed by SSC activities. DOWNLOAD SSC STANDARDS

engagEd: Browse through these unique lessons and activities created by AWTT portrait subjects, designed to connect your students with the committed changemakers working for economic, social, and environmental fairness. 

2014/2015 Projects: Take a look at what students from seven Maine schools did for their SSC projects last year.

Watch the video: Take a moment to watch Senator Angus King’s statement on the 2014/15 culminating SSC event.


SSC Background 

The 2014/2015 school year was the kickoff for the SSC, a program designed to honor Samantha Smith by encouraging students to act in her spirit.

In December 1982, Samantha Smith of Manchester, Maine, asked her mother if there was going to be a war. She said, “I asked my mother who would start a war and why. She showed me a news magazine with a story about America and Russia, one that had a picture of the new Russian leader, Yuri Andropov, on the cover. We read it together. It seemed that the people in both Russia and America were worried that the other country would start a nuclear war. It all seemed so dumb to me. I had learned about the awful things that had happened during World War II, so I thought that nobody would ever want to have another war. I told Mom that she should write to Mr. Andropov to find out who was causing all the trouble. She said, ‘Why don't you write to him?’ So I did."

From that one question, a peace-making venture unfolded that brought Russian and American students together to build understanding and appreciation of one another and to focus on building connections instead of armies. Sadly, in August 1985, both Samantha and her father were killed in a plane crash.

In 2003, Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) honored Samantha by painting her portrait. In 2014, AWTT partnered with the Maine Association of Middle Level Education (MAMLE) to continue to honor Samantha with the Samantha Smith Challenge.

The Samantha Smith Challenge encourages every Maine middle level student and classroom to start making a difference in the world today, just as Samantha Smith did 30 years ago when she wrote a letter to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov asking him, “Please tell me how you are going to help to not have war.”



You do not have to be sure what your classroom issue or issues will be to register. You can let us know what that will be later.

If you are registering as an Individual Student, put your name in the name form. If you are registering as a group or classroom, put the team leader or teacher’s name in the name form.
If registering as a group or class the User Account name should be [Name’s] Group or [Name’s] Class.
e.g. 4th grade, 5th grade, etc.
i.e., How can our school/town reduce its carbon footprint?
Use comma for separation
Yes or No

2015/2016 Schedule

OCTOBER 22­-23, 2015:​ Announce 2nd Annual SSC at MAMLE Conference.

FEBRUARY 1, 2016: ​ School and class registration deadline for SSC.

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016: ​SSC online workshops/school visits.

APRIL 1, 2016: ​ Teachers confirm student participation in Samantha Smith Day and submit the issues and questions to be addressed .

MAY 1, 2016: ​ SSC project reports & videos are submitted to AWTT.

JUNE 6, 2016: ​ Samantha Smith Day celebration for all Maine middle school SSC participants.