Seneca Valley Middle School is once again a “School to Watch”

Matt Di Michele, Staff Writer

Seneca Valley continues to be honored with scholastic awards this year as its middle school has been re-designated as one of less than a dozen “Schools to Watch” in Pennsylvania.

The National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grades Reform has named its 2017 Don Eichhorn “Schools to Watch” earlier last week, and the Seneca Valley Middle School has once again been honored by the national foundation.

Eleven schools from Pennsylvania have been named this year as opposed to twelve from PA last year. Since the award’s founding in 1999, a total of 34 different Pennsylvania schools have featured on the list at least once.

Seneca Valley Middle School has been a “School to Watch” three times now. The school’s first designation came in 2011 with its next year being on the list coming three years later in 2014. Three years after that came the middle school’s second re-designation. Few schools have been able to be designated by the Middle-Grades Forum two times, let alone three.

The program itself is the brainchild of many different schools and organizations. In the state alone, the Pennsylvania Department of Education teamed up with the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education along with schools including Duquesne University and Edinboro University to put together the recognition initiative.

According to the official Seneca Valley School district website, “State leaders selected each school for its academic excellence, its responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, and its commitment to helping all students achieve at high levels”. Other criteria for selection by the National Forum included strong leadership, collaborative and continuously improving teachers, and a commitment to responsibility and accountability.

The selection process for the illustrious list was long and rather arduous. While many people may believe that Seneca Valley Middle School is arbitrarily named as a “School to Watch”, the National Forum really goes into great detail during the time period in which it chooses who to recognize.

In order to be considered, schools must first send a written application to the Forum and then become subject to tests and assessments by teams sent by the National Forum for extended periods of times. Only after the National Forum believes that a school has improved itself over that time period on a great deal of different levels will it place that school on its “Schools to Watch” list.

Winning the award grants a middle school a recognition at the Pennsylvania Association for Middle Level Education State Conference that will take place at State College in late February and a national recognition at the National Forum’s National Schools to Watch conference that takes place at the end of June in Washington D.C.