Now that the school year is in full swing, I would like to highlight some of the special achievements and opportunities that Mineola High School provides the students for academic and social growth. Our small school size-775 students in grades nine through 12 -allows for a high level of personalization and interaction among the students and staff. All students are enrolled in Regents - level courses and must pass the "Big Five" in order to graduate from high school, including Math A, Living Environment, Global History and Geography, English Language Arts and United States History. These courses focus on both content and the development of critical thinking, reading and writing skills.
This past year, our students achieved much success in Regents exams. The passing rates for Regents exams increased in the 2005-2006 school year. Some of the highlights included an increase from a 74 percent passing rate to 89 percent for the ELA (English Language Arts) Regents, an increase from 83 percent to 94 percent for the United States History and Government Regents, and an increase from 87 percent to 98 percent for the Chemistry Regents. Unfortunately, Math A dropped from a 92 percent passing rate to an 86 percent passing rate. One of the biggest achievements is the increased number of students taking the rigorous Math B course and subsequent Math B Regents. This past school year, we had 202 upper-level students take the Math B Regents and 185 students passed the exam. This number helped move our Advanced Regents diploma rate over 50 percent for the first time.
Mineola High School offers 13 Advanced Placement classes in all subject areas and last year over 200 students took at least one AP class. Students begin to take AP courses and the subsequent AP exam in their sophomore year when they can choose between AP World History and AP European History. By the time they are juniors, their opportunities increase to AP United States History, AP English Language and Composition and an AP Science, including a choice of physics, chemistry, biology or environmental science. The choices increase in senior year to AP Government, AP English Literature, AP Spanish and AP Calculus. The research shows that students who take AP courses are better prepared for the intensity of college-level work. Many of our recent graduates who visit from college give us continuous feedback on the benefits of the rigorous nature of AP coursework and the diligence of their high school teachers.
We are planning several educational events for the fall, including the 8th grade parent/student orientation titled "Life after Middle School" scheduled for Wednesday, October 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school. This night is intended to be an information session about the educational opportunities offered at the school. Discussions will include the transition from the middle school to the high school, including Regents requirements, academic choices, science research, college trips and extracurricular activities.
On Thursday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the library, we are offering a Freshmen Guidance Night for ninth grade students and parents. This night affords the parents an opportunity to hear the counselors speak about academic and social opportunities at the high school, including New York State Regents requirements and the ninth grade curriculum.
In keeping with our mission of challenging our students, our school will be administering the PSAT/NMSQT exam to all juniors on Wednesday, Oct. 18. This exam includes the same types of critical reading, math and writing skills multiple-choice questions as the SAT Reasoning Test. The College Board emphasizes that spending your school years taking challenging academic courses and reading is the best way to get ready for the PSAT/NMSQT.
Mineola High School has developed a partnership with Kaplan SAT Prep in order to help our students get ready for the SAT. We are offering an Official SAT practice test for all those interested on Saturday, November 18 at the high school. This exam will help students reinforce test-taking skills, become familiar with the test format and learn strengths and weaknesses. This exam begins at 9 a.m. and there is no charge for those students taking the exam. There will be an informational night on Tuesday, Nov. 28 whereby a Kaplan representative will discuss and analyze the test scores.
In addition to our academic focus, we are providing numerous opportunities for students to become involved in service-related activities. Students can provide service through two different avenues. "Service Learning" projects are directly linked to curriculum and help students see the real world applications of their work. For example, every ninth grader will be involved in a tree planting initiative at Alley Pond Park, after learning about biodiversity and habitats. Eleventh and twelfth graders participate in oral history projects with local veterans and high school alumni. Students are also involved giving service after school. Our Walter B. Sysak Student Service Center just celebrated over 20 years of service to the Mineola Community. Over 350 students have signed up for this year's activities. Student Service Center programs include service to senior citizens through "Nursing Home Visitors," "Lunch Bunch," "Computeers," and service to children through "Future Teachers," "Gingerbread University," "Backpack School Supply Project," and "Ronald McDonald House Dinner Program."
In conclusion, we are continually developing a community of learners where there is a strong focus on student learning and academic achievement. I highlighted some of the rigorous academic work and successes of our students. These successes reflect the commitment of our teachers and our school's clear expectation that students work hard, be prepared and complete their assignments.