High School Report Card
SATs, RaMPs, PhDs... We give you all the stats, info, and explanation you need to evaluate your local high school.
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Palmer wasn’t the only winner from Ossining. In one of the world’s most widely known events, the Intel Science Talent Search, six Ossining seniors—the largest number at any one school in Westchester—were named semifinalists. Honored in 2008 were Micah Joselow, Caitlyn Lia, Yingna Liu, Andrei Popescu, Asha Smith, and Lauren Southwick. “We started the program ten years ago and success breeds success,” says Andra Meyerson, director of Math and Science at Ossining. That success has become somewhat of a tradition at the school, with a huge number of students signing up for the demanding, three-year program that leads to the competitions. In the spring of their freshman year, every student in the school hears a pitch for the program delivered by students currently participating. To be admitted, interested students must get a teacher’s recommendation, fill out an application, submit an essay, and undergo two interviews, one by a student, the other by a teacher.
About 90 kids—nearly a third of the freshman class—apply each year. Approximately 45 are accepted. Over time, there is some attrition, and the program has a total of about 90 spread through three years.
During the first year, the students read much of the literature in the field they’ve chosen to study and identify scientists, social scientists, or mathematicians to mentor them. Students work with professionals at institutions like New York Medical College, IBM, Mount Sinai, Fordham Robotics Lab, Carnegie Mellon, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
The next two years are spent conducting original research and preparing presentations about it. All work is done independently and supervised by the mentors and the program’s two teachers, Angelo Piccirillo and Valerie Holmes. Students devote hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to studying, data collection, and presentation work that spans summers, after school, and weekends over the three-year program.
Sabrina Albrecht graduated in 2004 and is now entering graduate school at Coastal Carolina University to continue her study of marine biology, a passion she honed while working on her Ossining project, Age and Growth of the Scalloped Hammerhead Shark. She was mentored by a scientist in Rhode Island at the National Marine Fisheries Service, so she took a day off from school once a month to travel there to work with her.
“Time-management and organization are things I took away that I still use today,” she says.
The science competitions are important (and sometimes lucrative), but they’re not the ultimate reward students receive for three years of grinding study, according to Meyerson: “You develop writing ability, learn how to manage your time, and gain confidence in yourself because you’re working in a professional community. These things happen whether the student enters competitions or not.”
Honor Roll: Outstanding Programs
Lakeland and Walter Panas schools joined forces for a serious debate team. Coach Stefan Bauschard joins the team.
Debate Rules at Lakeland and Walter Panas
“The kids who do really well in debate are more competitive than athletes,” says Lakeland District Debate Director Stefan Bauschard. A personal note: having debated three years in high school and gone through college on a debate scholarship myself, I can attest that he’s correct. Debaters are intense.
That’s especially true in Shrub Oak’s Lakeland High and Cortlandt Manor’s Walter Panas. The two schools have fielded debate teams for many years and combined their programs into the Lakeland District Debate Team in 1986. They’ve been a powerhouse ever since, winning three National Championships and 13 New York State Debate Championships—more than any other school in the state.
Most recently, seniors Jason Wright and Taylor Roth won the varsity division of the New York State Championship in 2008. Wright also was named the tournament’s best overall individual speaker. In junior varsity competition, the teams of Mackenzie Carroll/Jack Chong and Chris Grossman/Patrick Cheung finished third and fourth in the state. Both Wright and Roth were named Academic All-Americans, the highest rank awarded by the National Forensic League, which organizes the sport nationally.
The Lakeland District Team has 24 members this year. They competed in 20 tournaments, traveling to Wake Forest, the University of Michigan, and Harvard, as well as to numerous meets closer to home. Bauschard is a full-time coach, one of the few in the area.