Pelham City Schools receives statewide recognition for innovative programs

Published 4:17 pm Monday, May 13, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Achievements and programs within Pelham City Schools were again emphasized and recognized during an awards luncheon hosted by the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) on May 6 that saw both Pelham High School and Pelham Oaks Elementary School honored.

In March, both Pelham High School and Pelham Oaks Elementary School were bestowed with 2023 School of Distinction Awards by CLAS. That selection made the schools two out of only 32 schools across all eight school districts in the state of Alabama to receive the honor.

Those achievements were again highlighted and expounded upon during CLAS’ annual awards luncheon that took place in Prattville. After two months of anticipation, it was announced that Pelham Oaks Elementary School had been selected as the 2023 CLAS Banner School for State Board of Education District 3.

“We are extremely proud of Pelham Oaks Elementary School and Pelham High School for being named CLAS Schools of Distinction for 2023, and for Pelham Oaks Elementary being selected as the CLAS Banner School for District 3,” Pelham City Schools Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter said. “This is the second year in a row that one of our schools has been selected as the Banner School for District 3. Congratulations to Principal Chase Holden and the educators and students of Pelham Oaks who make the Panther Pals program such a success.”

Pelham City Schools held a weighted representation for the distinction awards going into the luncheon, with the school system garnering two of the four awards allotted for the State Board of Education District 3. Outside of Pelham, Stanhope Elmore High School and Thompson Middle School were also selected as 2023 CLAS Schools of Distinction in District 3.

Pelham Oaks Elementary’s achievement comes as a result of recent developments in its Panther Pals program, a student-designed and student-led program that encourages fourth and fifth grade students to take part in the education of younger classmates.

As part of the program, students take the time to mentor a kindergarten or first grade student in a number of subjects and provide a focused approached in the development of literacy and reading skills.

The spirit of that program continues throughout PCS with another iteration of Panther Pals also organized at Pelham High School. The high school program focuses on the development of cooperation and friendship among students of all levels and propagates the advocacy for disability awareness and inclusion.

However, Pelham High School’s selection as a 2023 School of Distinction was based on its novel Jitterbugs program which has been touted as displaying clear results in the development of increased student confidence.  The Jitterbugs program also focuses its attention on the inclusion of the school’s special needs students and does so by allowing those students to take part in a school-based coffee delivery service that is intended to construct a sense of independence and a network of social connections for the students.

The 32 schools represented as schools of distinction were selected out of 240 nominated schools across the state. Other schools announced as CLAS Banner Schools in the state included Gulf Shores High School, Randolph-Roanoke Career Technology Center, Rutledge Middle School, Saraland High School, Parkside Elementary School, Harlan Elementary School and Montview Elementary School.

“Congratulations to these wonderful Alabama public schools which provide excellent examples of the significant learning opportunities taking place in public education in Alabama,” said Vic Wilson, executive director of CLAS. “Further, the stakeholders at every school are to be commended for striving for excellence daily.”

Pelham High School was last selected as the CLAS Banner School for the district for their development of the Green and Gold program.