The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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April 24, 2014

Districts feted for their feats | Windber, Westmont have reasons to be proud

JOHNSTOWN — In sports vernacular, a W signifies a win.

In academia vernacular, W signifies Windber Area and Westmont Hilltop school districts.

Windber Area has reached the top echelon of school districts statewide based on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment standardized test scores in science, reading and math.

The Pittsburgh Business Times’ annual Schools Guide ranks the northern Somerset County school district as 44th out of 495 schools in the commonwealth, bestowing an “Overachiever” tag on the district.

That’s a very lofty achievement for the Ramblers.

“It’s reassurance that what we’re doing in this district is working,” Glenn Gaye Jr., Windber Area education director, told our David Hurst.

However, the “Overachiever” rank is noteworthy in another aspect. When the number of students who receive free or reduced price lunches is factored in, Windber Area is at the pinnacle of school districts.

“There are 495 schools in Pennsylvania, and we’re No. 1,” Superintendent Rick Huffman said.

But the laurel isn’t just for school administrators and faculty. The students had to buy into the district’s push toward excellence. And the numbers prove the students are aboard.

And over in the West Hills, the Westy Tek Robotics club of Westmont Hilltop High School is riding the coattails of Seymore to excellence.

During regional competition at California University of Pennsylvania, the automaton dispatched robots from 47 other teams and was declared the winner of the Aerial Assist game. The object of the competition was to put as many balls into goals as possible during a timed match. Two competing alliances put three robots each into the contest. The more the robots worked together and scored, the more points each alliance accumulated.

After numerous rounds, Seymore was victorious.

It’s quite an achievement for the scientific and technical minds at Westmont Hilltop in only their second year of competition.

The district earned the right to move on to the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology international competition now going on in St. Louis.

“We’ve accomplished something and that is what we wanted to do,” sophomore Westy Tek member Bryan Mock told Tribune-Democrat reporter Kelly Urban. “It shows that we can do it.”

We offer our congratulations to both school districts for their outstanding accomplishments. And we can’t say enough good things about the adults who are guiding the young minds in their respective districts.

Jobs well done.

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