The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 28, 2013

Magazine recognizes schools for excellence

Frank Sojak
fsojak@tribdem.com

— Ligonier Valley High School has won its second consecutive silver medal for excellence by U.S. News & World Report.

Nine other high schools in the region were honored by the magazine with bronze medals for commendable performance.

The nine are Greater Johnstown, Ferndale Area, Forest Hills, Glendale Area, Penn Cambria, Conemaugh Valley, North Star, Conemaugh Township Area and Berlin Brothersvalley.

The magazine, in developing its 2013 Best High Schools Rankings, analyzed 21,035 public high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia through data from the 2010-11 school year. Nebraska did not report enough data to be included.

Criteria included student performance on state assessment tests as well as how prepared students were to attend college, said Ligonier Valley Superintendent Christine Oldham.

Of Pennsylvania’s 687 high schools, nine received gold medals; 60 received the silver award; and 99 were awarded the bronze, Oldham said.

Ligonier Valley ranked 1,756th nationally and 51st in Pennsylvania, she said.

High school Principal Tim Kantor is proud of the achievement and credits the success to the hard work of the students and teachers, she said.

Ligonier school board President Bruce Robinson thanked the staff, students, parents and community for their ongoing commitment to the success of the students.

“Receiving this award for two consecutive years reflects the dedication that our entire community has in providing students with a quality education,” he said.

At Greater Johnstown High School, Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak said his district was recognized because the outcomes for students went beyond the high expectations that are in place.

What the district does to support students and ensure the growth of students is surprising to outsiders, not to the district, he said.

“As well, our offerings in the trades, engineering and college credit-bearing courses is noteworthy,” he said.

“Suffice to say, we are proud of our students, their teachers, parents and this great community.”

At the Ferndale Area School District, Superintendent Carole Kakabar said the district is honored to be a bronze medal recipient again.

“With a small student to teacher ratio, we are able to provide more individualized instruction for all students,” she said. “Our teaching staff is 100 percent qualified and very dedicated to the students.

“A full-time career counselor also provides comprehensive student planning and preparation for post-high school endeavors.

“Our entire staff knows every student and their family, which lends to our tight-knit community where the whole village helps to raise the children.”

Edwin Bowser, superintendent of the Forest Hills School District, said he would like to congratulate the administration, staff, parents and students for being recognized with the bronze medal.

“We would like to thank our staff and students for their hard work and the effort they put forth each day both in and out of the classroom,” Bowser said.

“It is a cooperative effort and every year we carefully review and scrutinize our entire Pre-K through Grade 12 curriculum to ensure we are providing all students the opportunity to flourish and reach their individual goals and career aspirations.

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