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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 2, 2006
At Voorheesvilles high school
Moving from promising to proven
By Rachel Dutil
VOORHEESVILLE Todays youth are living in a world that is rapidly changing.
In order to keep up with the tides of change, educators must adapt their teaching practices to adequately prepare their students for living and working in the Technology Age.
"We are no longer in the Industrial Age," said Voorheesville Superintendent Linda Langevin. Society, as we know it today, will not exist in 20 years, she said of the "phenomenal rate" at which technology is advancing.
The Voorheesville School District, which was named among the top 100 outstanding high schools in the country by Newsweek magazine, really has a commitment to moving forward, said Helen Branigan, a senior consultant for the International Center for Leadership in Education.
"What we have found is that people everywhere care about kids," Branigan said to a small group of Voorheesville School District administrators.
Branigan visited the school district recently, on a two-day site visit. She held focus groups with staff and students, discussing with them the benefits of Voorheesvilles membership as part of the Successful Practices Network.
Branigan told The Enterprise that all the students she spoke with while visiting, "talked really highly about the opportunities at the school."
The Successful Practices Network is sponsored by the International Center for Leadership in Education, which was founded in 1991. The network is a not-for-profit membership organization consisting of more than 700 schools nation-wide, selected by the International Center for Leadership in Education.
The network was founded as a result of the impact of the federal No Child Left Behind Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2002, mandating higher standards for education.
"Moving schools from promising to proven," Branigan said is the slogan of the Successful Practices Network.
Membership which cost the district $10,000 for its first year has been discussed since July, but has been official since it was approved by the school board in September, Langevin told The Enterprise.
"Our faculty really loves the kids and wants them to succeed," she said.
An analysis of the districts strengths and weaknesses was performed. But, Langevin said, the district has not yet received the report.
The network offers a mechanism for member schools to share data, experiences, technical assistance, research, and best practices with one another, Branigan said.
It also offers a series of publications and a monthly newsletter with current ideas and teaching strategies. Each school is given a virtual liaison to answer specific questions or concerns. Branigan is the liaison for the Voorheesville School District.
Members can submit five "gold-seal lessons," to the International Center. The lessons are ones that proved very effective in the classroom. Once the member has submitted at least five lessons, it is then able to access lesson plans from any of the other members.
The center sells these lessons to non-members for $4,000 each, Branigan said.
The network also holds symposiums and conferences for members. Voorheesville got the ball rolling on becoming a member, after Langevin attended a conference in late June.
"It is just inspiring the things they are saying," she told The Enterprise.
The lectures and guest speakers really help you to understand what kids are going to need in the next few years and beyond, she said.
Langevin, along with six teachers, and five other administrators from the district attended a symposium in Washington, D.C. this past weekend, at a cost to the district of $9,000.
"It was fabulous," Langevin said.
A presentation outlining the conference will be made at the Dec. 11school board meeting, she said.
Branigan said that the Voorheesville team was at all the sessions. "We had wonderful participation," she said.
"It’s a wonderful, wonderful organization," she said, "We always try to help all kids."
"It’s going to open our eyes, our minds, and also our hearts," Langevin told The Enterprise about the influence the network will have on the district.
"We do things really well at Voorheesville, and we are looking forward to moving from a promising to a proven school," she concluded.
Sun sets on Legion hall
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE The big brick building in the center of the village may soon be home to something other than American Legion Post #1493.
The early 20th-Century three-story building at 31 Voorheesville Ave, assessed at $381,200 this year, might be sold, said John McClintock, the adjutant for the post. He wouldnt say who might be buying the building, though.
"It’s too big a building for our needs today," he said, citing declining membership as the primary reason. The post had 340 to 360 members at one point; today it’s closer to 210, he said, "and declining all the time."
National membership in the legion is 2.7 million, said Joe March, a spokesperson at the national headquarters. "We’ve been right around that mark for the last decade," he said. "From the national perspective, things are stable."
Although the enrollment numbers are staying about the same, members move, said March. World War II veterans and Korean War veterans, who have reached retirement age, often move to the Sun Belt, he said. "A lot of the rural posts are shutting down," he said.
Anytime a post closes down, a new one will open somewhere else in the state, according to a resolution that the American Legion just passed, March said. He added that a post doesnt have to have a building, many of them meet at local coffee shops or diners.
Voorheesvilles post hasnt made any decisions yet, said Chaplain Charles Renker Jr., but the members are weighing their options. Selling the building but maintaining a lease on the cellar, where there is a bar and lounge, is one possibility and selling the building and buying land elsewhere to build on is another, he said.
Heating the hundred-year-old, three-story building and maintaining the slate roof are expenses that McClintock mentioned as problematic for the post.
"The heat and electricity for that building is killing us," said Renker. "It’s just walloping us."
Fund-raisers and membership dues make up the budget for the post, McClintock said, and, although there are plenty of people who are eligible to join, they arent joining.
"The younger people don’t want to join and all our guys from World War II are dying off," said Renker, woefully. He added that the post will be holding an open house on Nov. 11, from 1 to 5 p.m. to attract new members.
"We don’t have any firm leads, just a couple of offers," McClintock stressed. "Nothing is set in stone."
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