Archive - May 8, 2008
By JOHN FLOWERS
SALISBURY — Addison Central Supervisory Union (ACSU) officials will soon offer some recommendations on reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in district schools.
The recommendations are being developed in response to a parent’s inquiry into how the Pledge is being observed at the Salisbury Community School. Sal Morana, whose daughter attends the Salisbury school, brought the matter to local school directors’ attention earlier this year out of concern that not all students were being given the opportunity to recite the Pledge each morning. He learned that the Pledge was being offered regularly in some classes, but not in others.
“Those kids should be offered the opportunity to say the Pledge every day,” Morana said. “Here we are in a rural, agricultural town with kids who may grow up to join the military … and it was surprising to me (there is no Pledge policy).”
Morana shared his views last month with the Salisbury school board and ACSU Superintendent Lee Sease. Since then, Sease acknowledged he has received more than 75 e-mails from people weighing in on the Pledge, most of them in favor of its observance in ACSU schools.
“There is support for the Pledge of Allegiance and recognizing patriotism,” said Sease, who has discovered the ACSU has no uniform policy or guidelines on the Pledge of Allegiance. He noted some ACSU schools have a student recite the Pledge over the intercom; others leave it up to individual teachers or confine it to special events.
“While this issue has come up in Salisbury, I don’t think approaching this from a single school standpoint makes much sense,” he said.
By MEGAN JAMES & CYRUS LEVESQUE
ADDISON COUNTY — Only about 70 percent of high school students in the United States graduate in four years with a regular diploma, and about 1.2 million students drop out every year, according to a new report issued by America’s Promise Alliance.
By that standard, students in Addison County are doing exceptionally well.
Over the last five years the dropout rates at the four local high schools — Middlebury Union High School, Mount Abraham Union High School, Otter Valley Union High School and Vergennes Union High School — have all gradually fallen or hovered around already tiny percentages.
Counselors and administrators at all four local high schools credit some of their success in keeping youngsters in school to the fact that they address the different learning styles of students in different ways. Catching potential dropout students early on and engaging them in alternative education programs allows students to learn in nontraditional ways and offers them a sense of belonging in a different community, said MUHS guidance counselor Mark Thuma.
“The kids who feel disenfranchised with our system can find that sense of community with an alt ed program,” Thuma said.
Vermont kids start out in school with one advantage — geography. The Alliance’s report, which was based on school district data from the 2003-2004 school year, found that students in suburban and rural public high schools are more likely to graduate than their counterparts in urban public high schools, only about half of whom receive diplomas.
Local students have it even better. The most recent data from the 2005-2006 school year shows MUHS, MAUHS and VUHS all below the state average of 2.85 percent, and OVUHS just a hair above it.
By MEGAN JAMES
MIDDLEBURY — The Maine search and rescue organization that took more than 700 aerial photographs of the Otter Creek last month in an effort to locate missing Middlebury College freshman Nicholas Garza, has confirmed that a suspicious object identified in the river during that search could have been the 19-year-old’s body. Officials said it was the color and shape of a pair of blue jeans attached to what could have been a white shoe at the end of each leg that led them to that determination.
Garza was wearing a red, button-down shirt, blue jeans and white tennis shoes on Feb. 5, the night he disappeared from the Middlebury campus.
Down East Emergency Medical Institute (DEEMI) has known about this detail since its photographs were analyzed on April 17, but until this week the public and the Garza family knew only of an “object of interest” that prompted an unplanned search of the river behind Middlebury Union High School on April 18, resulting in no new leads.
DEEMI director Richard Bowie said his organization has a policy not to reveal details of the aerial photographs it takes in missing persons cases, in an effort to be sensitive to the family and to ensure general searching doesn’t stop.
This detail became public after news leaked out.
“We want the public to continue to look,” Bowie said. “We don’t want to say, ‘He’s in the water; stop looking.’ You have to continue looking elsewhere because what if it isn’t him?”
Still, Bowie stressed the object, which searchers have not been able to locate, is well worth tracking down.
“We look for colors,” he said. “We’re looking for jeans … it’s pretty easy to pick them out among Mother Nature. So when you’re looking at this thing in the river, you start associating shapes, sizes, dimensions. Nothing about this looked natural.”