Ed board stood up for senior prom

Ed board stood up for senior prom

Roslyn High School All-County varsity athletes who are seniors had the choice last Thursday of being honored by the Roslyn High School Board of Education or attending the senior prom.

Score one for the prom.

“I’d like to apologize to the board for scheduling that acknowledgement tonight,” said Roslyn Superintendent of Schools Dan Brenner. “When I sent out the e-mails inviting our students, I did so not realizing it was also prom night. We made that decision not knowing this was going to be a conflict.” 

The board wanted to honor its All-County varsity athletes at its last meeting before the end of the school year and on the same night guidance director Art Mandel presented his analysis of where the Class of 2013 will attend college, but no senior honoree was in attendance.

Instead, the board honored those who will continue their academic careers at Roslyn High School in the fall, as junior basketball player Paula Spatz and sophomore runner Scott Pourschalchi each received citations from the board of education for their All-County status and posed for pictures with board President Meryl Waxman Ben-Levy. 

Spatz averaged 12 points, 4 assists and 4 steals for the Bulldogs this year, according to girls basketball coach Beth Shackel-Scott, who introduced the star player, while Pourschalchi was named All-County for the winter and spring track seasons.

“Great students and great contributors are not made in a night,” Brenner said. “You look around and there’s a teacher over here and a teacher over there and you begin to understand how each of these people helped shape our students along the way to make them who they are.”

Mandel said 100 percent of the 287 students graduating in the Class of 2013 will be attending college this fall, with the one student who plans to enter the military to do so at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Schools like SUNY Binghamton, Indiana University, Boston University, Tulane University and the University of Miami, which Mandel said typically accept a high number of Roslyn students, did so again this year, but 12 students will attend Syracuse University, the most of any school to which Roslyn students were accepted.

“In reviewing your data, it shows that 12 of our students have shown remarkable judgment in choosing one of the best universities you can go to,” said Trustee Clifford Saffron, himself a Syracuse graduate.

Eleven students will attend the University of Maryland, of the 50 who were accepted, according to Mandel’s Powerpoint presentation detailing the school’s college admission rates, and nine will attend Stony Brook University, the most for any state school.

Roslyn students were also accepted to a variety of Ivy League schools, Mandel said, a few even to multiple schools, though none of the seven students who each applied to Yale University or Harvard University were accepted.

“We have traditionally been a school that has not done well at Harvard, and when you speak to them, they will tell you they reject two full classes of kids they are absolutely sure would be 100 percent successful there,” Brenner said. “[Harvard rejects] valedictorians, kids with 1600 [SAT scores], because they build their class out of such an amazing talent pool.” 

Harvard also did not accept any of the 12 Roslyn students who applied last year and Cornell University received 12 fewer applications from Roslyn students this year than it did last year, though Mandel said he was not concerned that either statistic implied a trend indicating school acceptance practices or student interest in a particular school.

“Each class is different, the strength of each class is different, so you’re going to get different results and a different number of applications for each school,” Mandel said.

Cornell received 30 applications from Roslyn students, with four out of the nine accepted choosing to attend, according to Mandel’s Powerpoint. Fifteen Roslyn students applied to the University of Pennsylvania and six out of the nine accepted will attend.

Two Roslyn students will attend Princeton University and two will attend Columbia University, though students were also accepted to Brown University and Dartmouth College, according to Mandel’s Powerpoint presentation. 

Among the most popular schools Roslyn students applied to, Mandel said Boston University accepted 64 percent of Roslyn applicants, though it accepted an average of 36 percent of high school students nationwide. Binghamton, which averages a 40 percent acceptance rate, accepted 63 percent of Roslyn students.

“All those kids who are applying to Brown from Roslyn and all those kids applying to U Penn from Roslyn, arguably that same pool is applying to multiple schools from other high schools,” Brenner said. “This is a very powerful number.”

Ben-Levy asked why a particular student could be accepted to one particular school as opposed to another even if the student’s grades were high enough to merit acceptance, but Mandel said factors like extracurricular activities or the strength of an applicant’s essay could determine the decision.

“It comes down to the person reading the essay, it’s as simple as that,” Mandel said. “If you take those two kids that have the grades, they have the scores, that’s it. So when I call the school and ask why, one reader says he likes the tone [of the essay], another says he didn’t like the tone. It’s as simple as that.”

Mandel said parents of junior students beginning to prepare for the college application process had shown interest in the breakdown of Roslyn acceptance rates, even if the student didn’t end up attending a particular school.

“[Parents of juniors] wanted to know which schools the kids got into that they’re not going to so that next year the[ir children] can apply to those schools if they might have a better chance,” Mandel said. “It’s a valid strategy, but I did go through it and explain the quality of the students is really the determining factor of whether you’re getting accepted or not.”

The danger in relying on year-to-year acceptance figures as a barometer of a college’s interest in Roslyn students, Mandel said, is that each student is accepted based on his own particular circumstances that are not reflected in those statistics.

“Parents look and see nine students were accepted here, but you don’t know out of those nine how many were legacies,” Mandel said. “How many were athletes? How many kids are minority kids who were accepted on affirmative action? So you don’t know the details of those nine.”

The Ivy League statistics were also misleading, Mandel said, because some students who applied to Ivy League schools chose eight-year medical programs at schools like Northwestern University.

Mandel said he has not collected data for students transferring out of colleges in the past, though he plans to starting next year. The only time he finds that kind of data, he said, is when a transferring student requests his Roslyn High School transcript.

Mandel also said the school does not collect details of the kinds of scholarships students earn from each college because families typically request to keep that information private.

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