On Thursday, March 21, an article in the Daily Times identified some recent achievements for Upper Darby students and teachers. These successes are a direct reflection of the strong curriculum and the global culture of our schools. Having these successes acknowledged by the news media was great news for our community, which seems to have had more than its share of negative press over the past few weeks. These successes were originally highlighted by Superintendent Lou DeVlieger at the March School Board meeting. And although most of us associate School Board meetings with hot-button topics such as budgets, contracting issues, and school safety, our School Board designates time during its monthly meeting to honor students who demonstrate excellence at local, regional, and even national levels.

Written by Linda Reilly, the Daily Times article (view) mentions  various District achievements, including: the 4th and 3rd place finishes at Nationals for the Upper Darby High School’s Junior Varsity and Varsity Cheerleaders; the Wrestling Royals victory as the Central League Champions (11-0 league; 15-3 overall); and the honors given by the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) to teacher Tony Fortuna, who was presented with the “Honorary Life Membership Outstanding Service Award” at DECA’s International Conference.

Regional, state-wide, or national recognition in any athletic, academic, artistic, or community service discipline provides a source of pride that can last an entire school year and beyond. Competitions and projects also provide opportunities for students to draw on their knowledge base and apply critical-thinking skills refined inside the classroom to achieve a desired outcome – whether in performance, in service, or in problem-solving with a team or as individuals.

In addition to those successes mentioned at the March School Board meeting, there are many other talented Upper Darby students, teachers, coaches, groups, and teams who have demonstrated excellence inside and outside the classroom for the 2012-2013 school year, to date:

Excellence is Elementary

  • The Kindergarten Center held a Pennies for Haiti fundraiser to support a school that was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. By collecting pennies from October to February, students raised over $1800 in small change.
  • Hillcrest Elementary students raised over $7600 in February for the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart program. Jump Rope for Heart supports research for childhood heart disease and promotes heart-healthy activities for children and families.
  • At Bywood Elementary, 125 students participated in the first annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream’” Essay Contest. Winning authors received a McDonald’s gift certificate, a book on the life of Dr. King, and were able toread their essays to the school as part of morning announcements.

Those Amazing Middle Schools

    • Drexel Hill Middle School students presented a check for $6000 to Alex’s Lemonade Stand to support research for childhood cancer. The money was raised through lunchtime lemonade sales.
    • At Drexel Hill Middle School, eighth grader Julianna Latini participated in an essay contest sponsored by Rand McNally where students wrote to President Obama about a campaign issue that affected them. Julianna was chosen as a national semi-finalist, and her essay about the legacy of No Child Left Behind in public education will be published in an ebook for the Nook reader.Blog_1
    • The Drexel Hill Middle School Future Cities Engineering Team, under the direction of Dr. George Hight, won the “People’s Choice Award” at the Philadelphia Future City Regional Competition in January. Four hundred students representing the 40 participating public, parochial, and private schools voted for DHMS’s Future City, known as Terra De Vita, as the winner.

High School Royalty

    • The Horticulture Club received a third-place award in the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, in the flower box and hanging basket division. In keeping with the “Brilliant! Britain” theme, their entry was inspired by The Beatles’ classic, “Yellow Submarine”. The group also won a “Class Commendation” award.
    • The Upper Darby High School’s Future Business Leaders of America took first place at the Regional Leadership Conference in January, besting teams from district rivals including Garnet Valley, Haverford, Marple-Newtown, Radnor, and Springfield, among others.
    • The Upper Darby Marching Royals, led by band director Jason Majerczak, took first-place awards all season long, culminating at the Cavalcade of Champions in Hershey, Pennsylvania in November, where they defeated 57 other bands to win the gold. They also won top awards in “High Percussion” with a score of 19.9 out of 20, as well as awards for “High Visual Effect” and “High Overall Effect”.

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  • Roseann Burns’s three fall semester science classes completed original research through NASA’s Mars Student Imaging Project (MISP). All three groups’ projects are featured in the “Best of” category as examples for other schools on how to do research. Their research can be viewed at: http://marsed.mars.asu.edu/msip-team-results/bestof. Another group of students is currently working on NASA’s High School Lunar Research Project.

If you have an Upper Darby student success story that you would like to share, the Upper Darby Parent Coalition invites you to post it below. Be sure to include details such as the student’s or team’s name, the student’s school, the name of any teacher, coach, or mentor involved with the program, and how the District’s curriculum played a role in the student’s success.

The Upper Darby Parent Coalition proudly recognizes the high levels of excellence and diversity of talents and skills that our students, teachers, and coaches display with these superior achievements. Congratulations to all!

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