News

Bedford students named Granite State Scholars

Friday, May 6, 2011

By ANDREW SYLVIA

Correspondent

Recently, the New Hampshire Department of Education released its annual list of “Granite State Scholars,” and this year, 27 Bedford students received the prestigious honor.

Since it was put into law in 2006, the Granite State Scholar program has provided accolades and financial assistance for in-state college tuition for high school students graduating in the top 10 percent of their class and scoring better than a 1,200 on the SAT or an equivalent score on the ACT.

When the program first came to Bedford High School, it was enthusiastically welcomed by those such as James Brown, who is in his first year as dean of student services. However, it has taken some getting used to, due to the fact that Bedford High School does not rank its students in terms of percentiles.

“We don’t have a number one (or) number two (student), anything like that. We’re one of those schools that are more and more emerging in terms of not ranking their students and there’s a lot of philosophy and thoughts on both sides of that argument,” Brown said.

Through consultations with the Department of Education and BHS principal William Hagen, Brown was able to establish alternatives for the top 10 percent qualification.

Ultimately, he was pleased with the list as well as the fact that Bedford has built a school system that makes it easier than some other districts to produce students that perform well on standardized tests such as the SAT and the NECAP, where Bedford produced more proficient students than all but two other districts in the state in 2010.

“We’re a rigorous high school in terms of the program we put our students through,” Brown said. “The fact that so many of our kids are performing so well under this level of rigor is indicative not only of the kind of school we are at Bedford High, but really a lot of credit goes to the K-8 teachers that helped these kids prepare for high school.”

With the Granite State Scholars themselves, the award was a source of pride, but not a particular source of accomplishment in its own right.

Ryan Graff, one of the Granite State Scholars and son of Bedford School Board member Don Graff, didn’t even realize he had won the award until he was informed by a classmate.

“I was just sitting at a lunch table and one of my friends came up to me and told me there was a list at the guidance office and my name was on it and that I won some award,” said Graff, who hopes to be the first student from Bedford High to attend Harvard. “I wasn’t exactly sure what it was until very recently when I found out about it.”

Graff noted that the list was later duplicated on the wall in the principal’s office and more students within the school became cognizant of its existence, but it remains unclear if the award will become a significant milestone for future students in Bedford.

Even if the award is not particularly important to next year’s Granite State Scholars at Bedford High, Brown thinks next year there will be more of them, due in large part to the fact that this year’s junior class actually has a higher average GPA than the senior class did.

“The junior class coming up right now is pretty full of some pretty powerful academic scholars,” said Brown. “Not to take anything away from the senior class, which was phenomenal, but we’re optimistic for this year’s juniors to do as well as this current class and all indicators seem to point towards they’ll have a strong showing in these academic programs.”

Six hundred and twenty-three students from across the state were named Granite State Scholars this year, down from 835 in 2009.

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