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LEW-PORT NO. 96 ON NATIONAL LIST

Lewiston-Porter High School ranks 96th in a nationwide evaluation of 739 high schools by Newsweek magazine, based on college-level Advanced Placement courses.

The mid-size suburban high school, with 850 students, came in No. 1 in the Buffalo Niagara region.

"This is exciting," school counselor Diane Salfi, head of the guidance and counseling department, said Tuesday. "It shows how highly motivated our students are. They thrive on an intellectual challenge."

The next-highest ratings for public schools in the region were Clarence High School, ranked No. 181 by Newsweek, and Amherst Central, No. 195. Four schools in the Rochester area were ranked in the Top 100.

Much farther down on the list were the Buffalo area's Williamsville North High School, No. 236; Williamsville South, No. 330; and Williamsville East, No. 366.

In the same Newsweek evaluation in 1998, Lewiston-Porter ranked 82nd.

"It's another way to measure success," said the new principal, Michael J. Gallagher of Orchard Park, who took over in November after longtime Principal Roberta Love retired. "I had heard good things about this school before coming here."

The Newsweek rankings covered public schools nationwide but excluded those, like Buffalo's City Honors, that select more than half their students by entrance exams or other academic criteria.

Salfi, a Youngstown resident who has been with the Lew-Port school system for 15 years, said the high academic standing reflects the general character of the students.

"Our students have a desire to achieve in various endeavors," Salfi said. "They are very involved in sports and do a lot of volunteer work in the community."

Helping in nursing homes and working with environmental groups are two areas high on their list, she added.

The "stand-up" soccer program and state-ranked volleyball team are two of the sports that helped turn out the academic achievers, Salfi said.

"Studies have shown that students who play a sport generally have a high academic average," she said.

The Lewiston-Porter School District begins offering college-level Academic Placement courses as early as grade 10 for higher-than-average students who have been recommended by their previous year's teachers. A "high number" of students take the AP courses in grades 11 and 12, Salfi said.

Students taking the required four years of English could take AP courses in English literature in grade 11 and English composition in grade 12.

"We have seniors taking AP courses in English, science and mathematics while playing three sports," Salfi said.

The high school's academic average nationwide was determined by dividing the number of AP examinations by the number of senior graduates in May 2002, Gallagher explained.

Of the 181 seniors in last year's graduating class, 91 percent went on to college.

Ranked first among the nation's high schools according to the Newsweek formula was International Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., followed by Stanton College Prep and Paxon, both in Jacksonsville, Fla.

e-mail: bmichelmore@buffnews.com

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