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Inspired by a feeling of patriotism and bolstered by legal research, Donald Vautrinot, a senior at the Sandwich (Mass.) High School, has persuaded school officials to reinstate the practice of beginning each day with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

After realizing that he had forgotten the words to the pledge, Mr. Vautrinot did some research and found that Massachusetts law requires teachers to lead their classes in reciting it. He wrote the school's principal, John Pierce, who immediately agreed to place flags in every classroom and resume the daily practice.

"Quietly, the practice had fallen by the wayside," Mr. Pierce said. "Don jolted our consciousness on this. Everybody seems quite pleased about it."

Stephen S. Kaagan, Vermont's commissioner of education since 1982, has announced that he will step down from his post in February.

Mr. Kaagan, 44, gave no specific reason for resigning but said at a Montpelier press conference this month that "it is time for a change, for Vermont education and for me."

The commissioner said he had accepted a teaching position at an out-of-state university, which he declined to name, and that he would continue to live in Vermont. He will also direct a national study on education, which is expected to be announced later this year.

Gene Wilhoit, deputy director of the National Association of State Boards of Education for the past four years, will become the group's executive director Jan. 15.

Mr. Wilhoit, who has also worked for the National Community Education Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the U.S. Education Department, will succeed Phyllis Blaunstein, whose plans to leave nasbe were announced in September.

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