I don’t remember much about taking the SATs. I know that it was a topic that dominated discussion (along with that perennial favorite: boys) at my Westchester high school for at least one entire year, but I seem to have blocked out most memories of math equations and antonym questions. (Funny, though, that I still remember in great detail the array of concert T-shirts worn by a boy I had a mad crush on.) I do recall that on the day of the exam, my stomach grumbled loudly. My best friend and I promptly dissolved into uncontrollable giggles for a good 15 minutes; after the test, we panicked when we realized that we’d wasted half of the 30-minute section trying to gain control of ourselves. But it all worked out fine. I don’t remember my score, although I know that it was good and that I performed much better on the verbal section than in math. (Hence, my current career choice.)
Looking back, it seems clear that SAT scores are not an indicator of a successful life. Some of the most successful people I know today were no scholars in college; a few didn’t even graduate. Still, we want our children to have all the possible advantages that come with a good education. That’s why our annual report on the state of our local public schools is such compelling reading. It’s packed with facts and figures that can help you determine if your school is making the grade, or help you choose a new community if you’re considering a move.
I suppose the SATs and other exams have always been nerve-racking — after all, my stomach grumblings were clearly stress-induced. But it does seem that the pressure on kids to perform has never been greater. Imagine my surprise when I learned that there are now three SAT sections for kids to master — writing, math and reading. President Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative holds schools more accountable for their performances than ever before. Sixteen high schools in our region earned a “High Performing/Gap Closing” rating this year, and we spoke with principals, teachers and students at three of
them — Mahopac, Ellenville and Suffern — to find out how they do it.
Talk about getting results: a doctor in Mahopac insists she is having great success using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat a wide range of troubling conditions like autism and cerebral palsy. A national debate is brewing about how this therapy should be used, so don’t miss our article (page 78) about what goes on inside these sci-fi style chambers which some children refer to as “spaceships.”
It will be back-to-school time soon enough, but before the early-rising, test-taking drama begins, consider a quick escape to Saratoga Springs. There are the famous springs, the beautiful lawns of SPAC, and the main draw, horse racing. When my husband and I planned a last-minute trip to the Spa City last summer, we found out the hard way that nabbing a hotel room in August is a sport unto itself! Still, it’s well worth checking out our guide (page 83) to the many things to do and see in Saratoga (and throughout the Valley as well).
Finally, we debut our new look with this issue. Creative Director Bob Supina has been hard at work revamping our design — we hope you like it.
Enjoy the rest of the summer.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor in Chief