EducationThe Examiner

Pleasantville High School Recognized as National Blue Ribbon School

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Pleasantville High School has been named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2021, the second time it has received the prestigious honor.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced on Sept. 21 that 325 schools received the designation nationwide, including two Westchester high schools, Pleasantville and Briarcliff. The award recognizes the work of educators, families and communities that contribute to a positive, safe and welcoming educational environment.

“This award shows a true partnership,” said Pleasantville Superintendent Mary Fox-Alter. “I am honored that the residents of Pleasantville entrust us with the education of their students and I want to thank the community and the board for their support in having an exemplary high school providing multiple programs and pathways to succeed.”

Fox-Alter thanked high school Principal Joseph Palumbo, Assistant Principal Gregg Fonde and the entire staff.

“That includes teachers, psychologists, counselors, support staff, assistants, aides, clerical, custodial and our incredible high school student body and their families,” she said.

The award is especially significant because it comes during the COVID-19 pandemic, a year that challenged educators and students. The school previously was named a Blue Ribbon school in 1991.

“It is very heartwarming to be able to celebrate this incredible achievement during one of the most challenging and unprecedented periods in public education,” Fox-Alter said.

Cardona also praised schools for achieving high academic success during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” he said in a statement.

A school must place in the top 15 percent of all schools for student performance on state English and math assessments and graduations rates.

Fox-Alter explained that there are two levels of consideration before a school is recognized for exemplary achievement needed to qualify for the award. The state reached out to the district when the school passed the first bar by meeting the criteria in performance, she explained.

The school district’s entry for the award described the high school as a place where “students actively engage in a 21st-century holistic education that fosters a passion for lifelong learning, service to others, and leadership. Also, that the high school was an inclusive learning community that celebrates diversity and empowers all students to realize their full potential.”

Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed some 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools across the country. The National Blue Ribbon Schools award “affirms the work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.”

A local ceremony for Pleasantville High School will be planned but the specifics have not been announced. A ceremony is expected to be held in Washington at some point in the future.

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