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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 29, 2006

Future Vals and Sals: More than just grades

By Holly Grosch

VOORHEESVILLE — An academic tradition will be revolutionized or tampered with next year, depending on one’s viewpoint.

This is the last graduation at Voorheesville where the valedictorian and salutatorian are declared based solely on having the best grades.

For the class of 2007, cumulative grade-point average is just one of five categories considered. Among others are extracurricular activities and hours of community service.

Voorheesville’s new trend started this year by not reporting to colleges where individual students were ranked by grades in comparison to their peers. Class ranks were sent only to military schools, where disclosure was "positively" required, high school Principal Mark Diefendorf told The Enterprise. An internal class ranking system was also maintained for determining the district’s valedictorian and salutatorian and for specialized scholarships. For example, a scholarship was created in 1990’s to be given to the student ranked seventh, because that was the rank of the donor, Diefendorf said.

Next year, a valedictory class will be recognized, Diefendorf said.

In order to apply to be the valedictorian or salutatorian in 2007, a student has to hail from within the valedictory class, which means having completed at least seven advanced placement, university, or honors classes and also being in the top 10 percent of the class based on grades, or having at least an 94-percent average, whichever qualifier will yield more valedictory students, Diefendorf said.

While the students will know that they are within the top 10 percent of their class, they won’t be told exactly where they fall in the ranking, Diefendorf said.

Generally, based on the current class sizes and grading trends, there will probably be 11 to 15 students in the valedictory class, Diefendorf said. They will then apply to the site-based management team to be considered for the school’s highest academic honors, of Val and Sal, Diefendorf said.

Clayton A. Bouton’s site-based management team is comprised of three parents; an administrator, who is currently Diefendorf; three students, two at the high school level, one at the middle school level; three teachers; and two members of the United Employees of Voorheesville union (UEV), meaning two staff members who are not in teaching roles, such as secretaries, custodians and bus drivers.

From within the valedictory class, there will be an extensive point system applied to determine a winner. The first factor of consideration is the student’s GPA. Next year’s top scholars will be determined based on cumulative GPA from after the third quarter, which ends in the first or second week in April. This year’s, and previous valedictorian and salutatorian were determined after the second quarter cumulative grades, right before the Christmas break.

A second factor is how many advanced placement, honors, or university classes a student took beyond the seven to even qualify. There are 24 of these classes offered, Diefendorf said. A valedictorian applicant will receive one additional point for nine advanced classes taken, and up to 5 points for 13 advanced courses taken throughout his or her high school career.

Then students will receive points for hours spent on extracurricular activities which include sports, clubs, and organizations. School-sponsored programs receive no more weight than community-based activities, Diefendorf said. Students can receive anywhere from 0 to 4 more points for extracurricular hours.

The third category is for community service. Again up to four points are available in this category. Four points will be awarded to students who have completed 101 hours or more beyond the amount of hours already required to graduate. These hours have to be submitted to and verified by Diefendorf.

The last stipulation is that the individual has to be in good standing with organizations they have or had belonged to; this is a test of good character, Diefendorf said.

This new high-school policy was created by the site-based team and endorsed by the school board last year, and was scheduled at that time to be implemented for the class of 2007, giving the students a year’s warning to prepare themselves.

The idea of the plan is to ensure that a student with a 96 percent GPA, on four athletic teams, with 200 hours of community service will be declared the valedictorian over a student with a 97 percent who "did absolutely nothing," Diefendorf said.

Class rank, weighted grades and naming top scholars have all been topics of discussion over many years, Diefendorf said, "I hope this finally settles" it, he said.

Additionally, Diefendorf said, students in the top 5 percent of the class are separated by just hundredths of a percentage point; for example, a student with a 98.77 percent receiving the honor of salutatorian and the student with 98.73 falling out of the limelight.

Two off-duty cops collide
Foley charged with DWI

By Michelle O’Riley

VOORHEESVILLE — Last Thursday, an off-duty Albany police sergeant and resident of Voorheesville was involved in a car crash and arrested for driving while intoxicated. His car collided with one driven by another off-duty officer, say Bethlehem Police.

Vincent P. Foley, 38, of the Albany Police Department, was driving westbound on New Scotland Road in the early-morning hours when his 1996 Chevrolet Caprice crossed the double center lines and collided head-on with another vehicle near Bridge Street, according to the accident report filed by the Bethlehem Police Department.

Foley was trapped in his car after the 2:54 a.m. crash and had to be pulled from his vehicle by emergency workers, the report says; he suffered injuries and was taken to Albany Medical Center for treatment.

Foley was charged with driving while intoxicated, first offense, a misdemeanor, and with two infractions — failure to keep right, and refusal to take a breathalyzer test.

Foley refused to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, according to the incident report filed by Bethlehem Police, but emergency medical services workers at the scene said that Foley "smelled of alcohol."

At first, the report says, a breazthalyzer test wasn’t administered because of injuries being treated at the scene. Later, at the hospital, "Foley was read his DWI warning and Miranda" rights, the report says. Because he refused the BAC test, he was read the DWI warning three times, the report says.

Under New York State Law, a reporting officer can determine the probability of a person driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated without administering a BAC test. This can be determined through field sobriety tests and also the presence of evidence such as the smell of alcohol on the breath and glazed eyes.

The other vehicle involved was driven by off-duty police officer Daniel D. Micare, 35, of Albany, who works for the Rensselaer Police Department; he suffered no injuries and was not charged, the Bethlehem Police report says.

Both vehicles had heavy front-end damage, according to the report, and they were towed from the scene.

Foley was suspended without pay for 30 days while the Albany Police Department completes an internal investigation, spokesperson James Miller told The Enterprise this week. The Albany Police Department would not disclose any details of the investigation and Miller said the department will use what is found to determine if any further steps should be taken.

Foley is scheduled to appear in Bethlehem Town Court on July 18. The court clerk has not received information on who will be representing Foley. He could not be reached for comment.

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