This is the Long Lake Central School class of 2011, Stephen Pitcher. According to a school newsletter Stephen is an honors student who plans to attend Onondaga Community College to study electrical engineering. He was a member of the student council, played varsity basketball for the Long Lake/Indian Lake Orange, and helped build an electric race car, which his school team drove to second place at Watkins Glen. The school will not hold a graduation ceremony this year, at the Pitcher family’s request.
People in this Hamilton County town of 800 are exploring the feasibility of a magnet school, mainly to draw new students to their district. The school board has begun to research three specialties: the environment, the arts and “safe haven” schools, which provide alternatives for students in chronically violent city schools.
Many Adirondack schools struggle with low enrollment, and they share proms, sports teams and other resources with neighboring districts. Raquette Lake Central School closed in 2005, busing its last three students to Indian Lake. Hamilton County will celebrate only 52 graduates this week, according to the Hamilton County Express.
Some isolated districts are trying unorthodox things to keep their schools from closing. The New York Times last week profiled Newcomb Central School’s recruitment of students from 19 countries over the past four years. Schools are often an Adirondack town’s largest employer and social core as logging and other traditional economies decline or transition.
Long Lake Central School’s superintendent did not respond to telephone calls from the Almanack.