BLAIR COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)- An extensive application became national recognition for two local high schools. Administrations from Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School and Cambria Heights High School were excited to be receiving this award.
The Blue Ribbon recognition is awarded based on academic performance and achievement in closing subgroups’ academic gaps. 325 schools across the nation were selected for the 2021 award. The award is now in its 39th year.
Both administrations said they were informed about the award mid-morning Tuesday. Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School principal and assistant principal Maureen Letcher and Mark Harrington looked at their email and saw the invite to a ceremony and knew they were selected.
“When we got that email asking us if we would go,” Letcher said. “We were like, okay, I think we got this, and we were excited.”
Cambria Heights School District Superintendent, Ken Kerchenske, said that he found out at 11 a.m. He informed the district over the intercom and through social media.
“When we found out at 11 a.m. this morning,” Kerchenske said. “Everybody was really happy and super proud to be a highlander.”
The application process began back in the spring. Schools had to explain their extracurriculars for all students, athletics, demographics. Then, another question was asked about how the schools handled COVID-19.
However, both schools highlighted something different that made their schools unique that year. For Hollidaysburg, it was their community’s support. Cambria Heights chose to highlight the numerous graduation celebrations they held for the Class of 2020. The superintendent believed that was one of the main reasons they were selected.
“I think that was a big reason why Cambria Heights might’ve been selected,” Kerchenske said. “Because of how the community came together and responded to support our students.”
“We focused on the great community of Hollidaysburg and the community’s support we have here,” Letcher said. “And just the amazing and talented students we have here.”
The Pennsylvania Principal Association posted about the schools getting the award. The Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School said that they were receiving multiple calls and emails from fellow principals within that association.
Cambria Heights High School had gone through renovations within the past couple of years. The teachers had to make multiple adjustments, including tweaking the curriculum to adjust to their new labs. Both schools said that they wouldn’t be receiving this award without their students and staff’s hard work and dedication.
“The biggest thing is that it shows all the hard work that the teachers and students put in. It’s paid off,” Harrington said. “Then, just the support from the community that we receive at the high school. It’s kind of like an award for all of us.”
“Everybody has had a real trying past few years, and it’s good everybody is recognized for the hard work they put in,” Kerchenske said.
The Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School plans to have a message and celebration for their television station Tiger TV. Kerchenske said that they plan to have celebrations within the school sometime soon. Both schools say they are committed to keeping the momentum going by providing great education to their students.
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