A Warrensburg High School student helps a primary-grade pupil complete an assignment in 2012 in an ongoing mentoring program at the elementary school. Such personalized, attentive instruction of students of all ages, and a community dedication to higher education have been credited for the recent top regional ranking earned by the school system — Warrensburg High School students taking the S.A.T. college entrance exams in 2013 achieved the highest mean average score of all of the 83 schools in New York’s Capital Region.
Warrensburg High School senior Wil Yarmowich smiled as he stood in line with classmates, ready to enter his graduation ceremony June 27.
Yarmowich said he was proud of his Class of 2014 achieving a new honor for the school – the WCS students taking the national Scholastic Aptitude Test college entrance exams in 2013 attained the highest average score of the 83 schools in New York’s Capital Region.
“Our teachers prepared us really well,” Yarmowich said with a grin.
Days later, Warren County Economic Development czar Ed Bartholomew held up a report on the S.A.T. results that detailed the scores from the series of three S.A.T. college exams that Warrensburg students had scored highest on.
“Congratulations to Warrensburg Central and the Warrensburg community,” Bartholomew said, noting that five other schools in Warren County were in the top 25 schools attaining high average scores on the S.A.T. tests.
He said that such noteworthy academic achievement was likely to prompt more families and industries to locate in northern Warren County, boosting area commmunities’ prosperity. He added that five other Warren County schools scored in the top half – Queensbury High, Bolton Central, Glens Falls High, Lake George Central and Hadley-Luzerne High.
“This is a great indication of what our region can offer,” he said, noting that a regional ranking of schools using a wide range of criteria had listed Bolton Central, Johnsburg, Lake George, Warrensburg, Johnsburg and Glens Falls schools as high performers. “Our educational systems don’t take a back seat to other areas.”
Warrensburg students who took the 2013 S.A.T. tests achieved the mean average scores of 565 in Critical Reading, 580 on Mathematics, and 545 on Writing. The students’ combined mean average score was 1690 out of a possible 2400.
Statewide, the mean scores for high school juniors were 485 for Critical Reading, 501 in Mathematics and 477 in Writing. In the Capital Region, the mean average scores were 495, 524 and 478 respectively.
In this test ranking collated by the Albany Business Review, Warrensburg students scored higher as a group than their counterparts from the affluent suburban school districts of Niskayuna, Bethlehem, Shaker High, Guilderland, Shenendehowa, Queensbury and Saratoga Springs.
Warrensburg Superintendent of Schools John Goralski said that the achievement of the top ranking was due to an ongoing team effort, and a matter of high expectations.
“Warrensburg students and their parents really understand the value of both solid high school instruction as well as higher education,” he said. “Our students work hard to get into good schools, knowing it opens more doors for their futures.”
Laura Danna, president of the Warrensburg Central School District Board of Education, credited the school district employees for the students’ top achievement, noting that each student received personal attention.
“This is great – it’s a reflection of the dedicated work of faculty, administrators and staff over quite a number of years,” she said, noting that academic excellence takes time to nurture. “In our small-school environment, students are less likely to slip through the cracks. Teachers and administrators know each student, and respond to their individual needs.”
WCS Principal Doug Duell said that school staff, students, their parents, the bus drivers, school board members and local citizens deserved credit as well as WCS administrators and faculty.
“This is wonderful; a remarkable credit to everyone in our school community,” he said, noting that if a child receives positive encouragement from everyone from the bus driver, staff and teachers to parents and local citizens, they’ll pursue academic goals with enthusiasm.
Duell noted that many of the students spend a lot of time studying outside of school hours.
“We provide them with the opportunity and the access, and they take it from there,” he said, noting that 17 of the 63 members of the Class of 2014 were National Honor Society members.
The WCS Class of 2012, hailed as the top academically in recent history, might also have achieved similar top S.A.T. score rankings, Duell said, but the data wasn’t made available to the media in past years.
One factor in the Class of 2014’s high ranking is likely to be the S.A.T. preparation course arranged by school counselor Sarah Landers, Duell said. The WCS students took the course at night under the instruction of two retired teachers. Education experts, however, downplay test preparation, saying that many years of high-quality instruction and home environment make the difference in test scores.
This S.A.T. ranking isn’t the first accolade won by Warrensburg High School. In recent years, it was awarded a bronze medal twice and a silver medal two years ago as a top performing high school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Also, Warrensburg Central has been ranked intermittently by the Albany Business Review as one of the top schools in the Capital Region, based on a wide range of criteria, not just test scores. It rose as high as third overall in the rankings.
After the presentation by Bartholomew, Warrensburg Town Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said he was proud of the school district.
“The faculty, staff and administrators are to be commended for their work in helping our students attain this top award,” he said. “Warrensburg teachers and administrators inspire and encourage our kids, and it gets results.”