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September 19, 2014
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Sullivan West looks to future with review of past and present; Advanced Placement and PEP programs examined


LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — As Sullivan West Central School District (SWCS) readies to prepare its budget for the upcoming school year, administrators and school board members began the process of program review at the board’s January 9 meeting. Presentations by recent alumni and Dr. Lynda Bracken of the physical education department were intended to aid the board in its assessment of the effectiveness of the Advanced Placement (AP) program and the physical education program (PEP).

Three 2012 alumni who had participated in the high school’s January 8 Alumni Day addressed the board, entertaining questions from board members afterward. Asked by board members about their interaction at Alumni Day with current junior and senior SW students, the alumni, all of whom are college sophomores in good academic standing, responded that the students seemed much more interested in hearing about dorm life and social aspects of college than in academic challenges faced by alumni. The board then asked specifically what AP courses the alumni had taken while at SWCS, how well those courses had prepared them for college work and, in hindsight, what the alumni would have done differently with regard to AP courses. Although those questions evoked varying responses from the alumni, they all felt that AP courses were excellent preparation for college study. And they each admitted that, given the opportunity to relive their high school experience, they would have taken more of them. The AP program suffers from chronic low enrollment that administration, faculty and board members would like to see reversed.

Bracken narrated a slide presentation detailing the district’s broad-based, PEP program made possible by a three-year PEP grant awarded to the district two years ago. What she described bears little resemblance to the gym classes of yore. Acknowledging that competitive team sports remain an integral part of the PEP curriculum, she emphasized that they are one component only of a curriculum that incorporates interactive games and current fitness fads as well as lifetime indoor and outdoor sports and recreational activities. The grant has allowed the district to purchase expensive equipment that would have been otherwise unaffordable. In addition to the hardware and software of computer-generated activities like Dance Dance Revolution, e-Twister, electronic games on the elementary school sports wall, and the acquisition of kayaks and mountain bikes, it has enabled the opening of a state-of-the-art fitness center at the high school that is available to adults and students alike. The district also now boasts a first-of-its-kind in the nation elevated bike rack designed by Bracken, patent pending.

Student board member Joseph Campanelli announced that the students will sponsor blood drives on March 13 and June 5. Donations of pet supplies and money will be collected to benefit the SPCA. Rehearsals are underway for the March 7 to 9 performances of the spring musical.

District superintendent Dr. Nancy M. Hackett requested that the district calendar be amended to reflect February 3 and February 14 as student school days. The board approved her request, thus providing extra flexibility in allocation of snow closure days.

After a long hiatus, the adult education program has resumed and will offer the following courses in January and February: Ins and Outs of Home and Auto Insurance; Basic Adobe Photoshop; Photo Editing Online; Microsoft Word 2007—Creating a Poster; and Elementary Math for Parents. For information about course content, requirements, scheduling and cost, please call 845/482-4810 ext. 3009. Participants must be at least 17 years old.