Monday, January 2, 2017

Honoring our Students and Their Accomplishments

It doesn't seem like its been all that long since we started the school year.  In just a couple of weeks, our high school students will be taking their mid-term exams, and we will be halfway through the school year.  It won't be long before the winter sports season finishes up, the musical cast will be involved in rehearsals, archery will be in full swing, and the Seniors will be anticipating graduation and their college admissions. 

"In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." 

One of the core elements of a student's educational experience is the recognition of success, and doing so in a way that allows us to be proud of what they've accomplished, without being prideful or arrogant.  It's important to distinguish between the two, and being proud of what our students accomplish is fine, if it goes hand in hand with bringing honor and glory to God, acknowledges his help, and provides encouragement.  With that in mind, there are some congratulations in order as we head toward the end of the semester. 

College Entrance Exam Results
At PCS, we use results and data from the PSAT and the SAT to make adjustments in our curriculum.  The detail that is now provided by the testing service makes it possible for us to see patterns in the performance of a group of students, as well as in individual student performances.  We generally see scores that are above the state and national averages, because most of our students are in advanced level courses in math, and many of them take college-level English in 11th grade. 

First of all, congratulations are in order for the senior class.  Most of them have already taken the SAT at least once, and in the tradition of their predecessors, did very well.  This particular group of students has been high achieving all along, so their performance wasn't a surprise, though initially the scores did cause some surprise until we realized that this is the new version of the test, and the perfect score has been adjusted to reflect changes that make the top score 1600 instead of 2400.  Our seniors have achieved scores well above state and national averages, with a class average of 1154 as of now.

Congratulations are also in order for the Junior class.  Their collective average score showed significant improvement from last year to this year, particularly in math.  Since about half of the class is still taking Algebra 2, which is the basis of much of the math on the PSAT, and they took this test in October, their scores were excellent.  Those in English 101 had just started that course as well.  And we have a couple of students in the 11th grade who are in the top 1%, which is the rank required to achieve national merit scholar finalist or semi-finalist recognition.  We are hoping for good news along those lines.

Our sophomore class really knocked this one out of the ball park, with a collective average score well above the state and national averages, on a test based on 11th grade academic requirements.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how they do on this test next year, because they potentially could be one of our highest achieving classes ever.  There were many high achievers, with about two thirds of the class actually finishing with a percentile rank at or above the 70th percentile.  So congratulations are in order for this group as well. 

Student Athletes
After a season of huge successes in Archery last year, the team is already turning in top performances in interscholastic competition.  Their achievement reflects practice, hard work, and good coaching and support.  Top scores were turned in at a recent meet in Belle Vernon, demonstrating the potential for another run through the state and national tournaments.  Congratulations! 

After a very successful season that included conference and league titles, and the Division 3 Championship of the NCSAA tournament last season, the varsity boys basketball team is deserving of a different sort of congratulations.  Following last season's success, the schedule got beefed up with the addition of some WPIAL schools, and not just the smaller ones.  The team has played against Ellwood City Lincoln, Union, Riverside, Western Beaver, Allegheny-Clarion Valley, and Sharpsville, in addition to several of our regular Christian school opponents.  All of those schools are larger than PCS, three of them four times our size.  The varsity went 2-4 against that lineup, playing without at least one of the regular starters in three of those games.  They capped things off with an exciting 48-46 overtime win over Sharpsville in their last game of 2016. 

The varsity girls won the conference title last season, and finished second in the league.  They also beefed up their schedule with WPIAL competition, adding in a game with Union, and a tournament at Commodore Perry High School about 30 miles up the road.  They've had their share of adversity, with one of their players benched at the beginning of the season because of a season-ending injury last year, and another starter sidelined with a knee injury early in this one.  But they've had players step up to make a difference, and while the Union game got postponed because of weather, they finished 1-1 in the tournament at Commodore Perry.

Television Stars
Three of our seniors, Austin Patterson, Eli Grove and Justin Harbison, represented PCS on a local television game show called Hometown High Q.  The show airs on Saturday mornings, and brings in nine students at a time, from three different schools, competing in a game-show format by answering questions and taking risks on their values to achieve the winning score.  PCS competed against Deer Lakes and Sharpsville, and though they didn't win, they were impressive in their representation of the school.  We hope participation becomes a regular occurrence for PCS in the future.  Thanks for getting us started. 

Keep watching the blog.  There are more congratulations to come.