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Chester County Press

Kennett Middle School celebrates its designation as a 'School to Watch'

06/02/2015 02:31PM ● By Richard Gaw

To paraphrase a well-worn saying that seemed to float high above the filled-to-capacity Kennett Middle School auditorium last Friday afternoon: 'What goes around, comes around...again.'

For the second time since 2012, Kennett Middle School was recognized by the Pennsylvania Schools to Watch program for its efforts in excelling in all facets of the criteria for the recognition, including academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structures and processes. As a result of the recognition, Kennett Middle School joined 31 other schools in Pennsylvania – as well as just 370 schools across the United States. The recognition will be in effect for the next three years.

As part of the evaluation process, representatives from the Schools to Watch program visited Kennett Middle School, and pointed out several initiatives undertaken by students, teacher and administrators. Among them were daily grade level team meetings that addressed student needs and challenges; the appreciation expressed teachers, staff and administration for the complexities of each student’s life and the effort made to know each student as early in the school years as possible; the effort to tap into the cultural diversity of the student population; and the success of the school's LEAD program that connects every middle school student with an advocate.

Representatives from Kennett Middle School attended the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education Professional Development Institute in late February, where school representatives presented highlights of the school’s programs.

For more than an hour on May 29, the school shut itself down in order to celebrate. To the exuberant strains of the Kennett Middle School Jazz Band, under the direction of Andrew Whisler, each of the three classes – sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade – were ushered into the auditorium, followed by teachers and administrators from the Kennett Consolidated School District and the Schools to Watch program.

After a welcome by students Emma Giancola and Molly Hohner of the Student Council, the Eighth- Grade Chorus burst into a rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner," followed by a performance of American Authors' "Best Day of My Life."

"We will continue to emphasize our strengths, but we will so seek to renew innovative ways to attack our areas of improvement," said Acting Principal Lorenzo DeAngelis. "Our goal is to be successful with high expectations– academically, socially, physically and emotionally. We know that becoming a School to Watch was not an easy task, but we're up to the challenge and look forward to celebrating this wonderful nomination again in 2018.

DeAngelis gave special credit to former school principal Dr. John Carr, for his 37 years at the Kennett Middle School. Additional comments were made by Kennett Consolidated School District Board member Joseph Meola, Teacher Melissa Keer, and Bruce Voburgh and Paul Meck, co-directors of the Pennsylvania Schools to Watch program.

A highlight of the celebration included a ten-minute video produced by Brenna Levi, which featured students, teachers, administrators and staff of the school. The celebration concluded with an appearance by the Phillie Phanatic, who paraded around the entire auditorium as the Jazz Band played "Moves Like Jagger," a song performed by Maroon Five.

The school will be recognized in Washington, D.C., at the National Schools to Watch Conference, at the end of June.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail [email protected].