School Article Inaccurate

I would like to correct some significant inaccuracies in the recent article about the Notre Dame Academy basketball program ["Private School, Public Image," Dec. 12]:

* Mr. Alan Goldenbach wrote, "In a school of 198 students, there are only eight African Americans; all are basketball recruits." There are more than eight African American students at Notre Dame, and they do not all play basketball. Also, Notre Dame Academy does not recruit basketball players any more than we recruit artists, writers or scientists; we are regularly contacted by students and families who are interested in the athletic and academic programs we offer, and we strive to build a rich and diverse student body.

* Mr. Goldenbach stated, "All [players] are recipients of need-based scholarships that cover the tuition." We do not offer scholarships, we offer financial aid, and 48 percent of our student body receives some form of financial aid. Athletes go through the same application process as any other student, and it is simply inaccurate to imply that basketball players do not pay tuition. We were never asked to provide financial information about any student, and naturally we would not release any such information.

* It is also inaccurate that Coach Larry Cullinane "became head coach this season when Ed Hoffman was named assistant headmaster of the school." Mr. Hoffman was hired as an assistant headmaster three years ago, and this has always been his primary responsibility at Notre Dame Academy.

In general, I appreciate the tone of this article, which does emphasize the strengths of an exceptional athletic program. I invite Post reporters to learn more about our academic program as well, which is the most significant reason our enrollment has grown so dramatically in the past three years.

HUNTINGTON LYMAN

Assistant Head of School

For Academics

Notre Dame Academy

SOLs' Failings Hit Home

Over the past two weeks, I have read with interest two letters concerning the Standards of Learning tests. Like the Levines ["The Flaws of SOL Testing," Dec. 12], I too believe the SOLS are not the way to go when trying to determine the quality of education our children are receiving.

When the SOLs were first given two years ago, my daughter was in third grade, so she had to take all four tests. The teacher reviewed the material with the class, and they were told to do your best, as they would be for any other test. My daughter is a good student who works very hard. Some things don't come as easy to her while others are a "snap." Sometimes she just doesn't test well, and other times she does. We received the test results in the spring of the following school year. My daughter was then a fourth-grader, with a B average on her report card. We found out she did not pass any of the SOLs given in the third grade and therefore summer school was recommended. How do you tell your child that she has to go to summer school because of tests she didn't pass the previous year? When I told her, she felt like she was being punished, like she was a failure. I talked to the principal and she was very understanding. Together we worked out a plan for the summer that would not involve summer school but did involve a tutor, working on math skills, reading every day and keeping a journal. The principal said she would not base whether a child passes or fails on these tests--that is just one part of it.

She acknowledged my daughter's success in fourth grade and we went from there. My daughter's self-esteem was reinstated and she worked hard over the summer. In this case, the SOLs had a very negative effect on a good student.

When SOL time comes near, the students and teachers are all in a panic. They are all frantically trying to cover SOL material. Everything gets put on hold until the tests are completed. Then everyone can go back to their normal routine of the teachers teaching and the students learning, with the stress of the SOLs gone until next time. That's no way to learn. I have had teachers tell me that they do not like the teachers they have become because of the SOLs. Their classes aren't fun anymore and they can't teach the way they have been teaching for years with great results. My daughter has one teacher in particular this year who has really sparked her interest to learn. She said he makes learning fun. What a concept--learning and having fun at the same time. SOLs don't allow that. There is a need to determine whether a school is doing its job of educating our children, but not at the expense of the children. We need to keep looking for a way to do that--SOLs aren't the way.

BONNIE S. TYRRELL

Lovettsville

Lyme Disease's Threat

I was interested to read the letter from Angela Pratt ["Lyme Disease Ordeal," Dec. 12]. It is really too bad that the medical community in this area is not more aware of the risks of contracting the disease, the importance of testing for it when certain characteristic symptoms are present in patients, taking therapeutic measures expeditiously and considering the merits of Lyme disease vaccination for selected sections of the population.

Incidentally, I am told by deer hunters that the bodies of deer are frequently covered with ticks of various kinds and sizes. Another tick host, the deer- or white-footed mouse, is prevalent throughout this area. Needless to say, our pets can also bring the ticks to us!

I contracted Lyme disease about six years ago and fortunately was diagnosed almost immediately after being infected because I just happened to be seeing my dermatologist, who was familiar with the typical rash around the tick bite. Result: An effective antibiotic was prescribed, and I did not get Lyme disease. Soon afterward I found out about the American Lyme Disease Foundation Inc. (Mill Pond Offices, 293 Route 100, Somers, N.Y. 10589) and obtained some most informative literature from them. They are doing a great job of spreading the word about Lyme disease risks, promoting research, explaining how to take precautions to prevent and deal with tick bites, etc.

I hope our regional medical community is beginning to realize by now that the presence of this disease goes beyond just "anecdotal evidence" and that it must be viewed and dealt with as an increasingly serious health threat to all of us who go outside or have pets that do so.

HARRISON SYMMES

Upperville