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Lancaster

The start of the Lancaster School Board’s meeting last week resembled a mini-graduation ceremony, as the board individually acknowledged students who received their diplomas after completing necessary requirements through the district’s summer school program.

In all, eleven high school students received diplomas.

Superintendent Michael J. Vallely lauded the students who successfully completed it and those who earned diplomas. “These are students who had struggled for various reasons - both special education and regular education students. And now, they’re primed for success,” he said. “It was a good opportunity.”

Board President Marie MacKay said the benefits reached beyond the classroom. “These students need a mentor. You see the friendship and how they all came together, and they found a person who believed in them,” she said. “It just tugs at your heart.”

A total of 75 students participated at the high school level summer school, and another 38 at the Middle School level. A total of 75 students were enrolled in the Jump Start summer school program for incoming kindergarten through sixth graders.

“If you catch the kids as freshmen and sophomores, they can make up credits they’ve fallen behind on or failed,” said Marie Perini, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and pupil personnel services. “This is critical to getting kids to graduate from Lancaster.”

District officials lauded Lancaster’s summer school success, noting that 50 Regents examinations were passed and that 56 credits were received through six courses.

School officials also said they were pleased with their summer school programs in the elementary and middle school levels, as well.

The Middle School’s summer school initiative – also held at the high school – completed its third year, including the William Street School for the second consecutive year. Participation from the William Street School increased.

The Jump Start summer school program drew 78 students, an increase of 12 students from last year.

Lancaster’s graduation rate is now at 99 percent, with district officials keeping a close eye on that 2012 statistic. The district’s graduation rate had been just 86 percent in 2007, with 53 drop-outs that year.

Marked improvement was shown by 2012, when the district logged three drop-outs.

“Every year, we’ve gotten better and reduced that,” Vallely said.

Of last year’s graduates, 56.9 percent of the students received advanced regents diplomas – putting Lancaster in the 7th highest ranking for that category. That was the highest percentage of advanced regents diplomas awarded by the district in its history. “We’ve never been in the top 20 for that category before,” Vallely said.

Also this week:

• The Town Board meets Tuesday because of the Labor Day holiday. The board begins with a 6:30 p.m. work session, followed by a 7 p.m. business meeting in Town Hall at 21 Central Ave.

• The Town Planning Board meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Town Hall, 21 Central Ave.

• The Village Zoning Board of Appeals meets at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the Municipal Building, 5423 Broadway.