From old school to new school

Published 9:51 am Monday, January 16, 2017

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

“Wow! Look at the new school,” my daughter exclaimed as we drove past Pelham Park Middle School’s construction site.

“Let’s take some progress pictures,” I said.

My photos revealed a barely discernable Pelham High School atop the hill in the background of the new middle school’s photos. The bridge between old and new seemed incredibly appropriate. Students who will one day transition from Pelham Park Middle School to Pelham High School will soon face huge transition when they graduate from high school.

When students return to PHS, the spring 2017 semester will be stunning for our graduating class as they begin the year they believed would forever escape them. The Class of 2017 will be balancing leaving behind the familiar while preparing for the unknown until graduation.

“In high school, my teachers and I really knew each other. I even knew my teachers’ families from church or school,” said Peyton Strickland, PHS 2016 Valedictorian.  “My high school teachers were willing to invest time to help me outside of school. College professors have other priorities beyond students.”

Strickland’s wisdom is poignant. High school students face many unknowns as they prepare for college—including the steps of preparation. Competitive Writing is the course offering that has helped to bridge the gap between senior year and college for many PHS seniors. As PHS students choose courses for the 2017-18, Competitive Writing is changing to Scholarship Search and will be open to both juniors and seniors.

“Scholarship Search reveals what happens in class,” Senior Madison Averhart said.

In Scholarship Search, all grades are earned by applying for scholarships and preparing applications, resumes, essays and projects used to compete for scholarships.  Students begin the year researching scholarships and may also participate in an in-depth ACT prep if needed.  Students apply for scholarships offered by their colleges and also a multitude of companies and foundations including Scholastic Art and Writing, Coca-Cola Scholars, Smith Scholarships, Taco Bell Live Más Scholarships, etc.

PHS Scholarship Search provides class time for students to begin their college transitions. As their teacher, I assist students in finding scholarships.