Pelham City Schools celebrates Panther Pride at special called meeting

Published 4:44 pm Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – Pelham Park Middle School served as the host of a special called Pelham Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, May 15, that highlighted a long list of achievements and successes from within the school system.

Taking place one week before May’s regularly scheduled meeting that marks the end of the school year, the special called meeting focused most of its attention on celebrating the students and staff within the system as part of an elongated Panther Pride presentation.

“This year, we’ve added one meeting per semester to invite those students and staff who have earned uniquely significant, state or national accolades to be honored in person,” Pelham City Schools Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter said. “As you can tell by the size of the crowd, tonight is one of those nights. We are so glad that all of you could be here with us to celebrate the accomplishments of our students and staff.”

Amongst the list of honorees during the evening was teacher Mary Beth Brennan from Pelham Oaks Elementary School. Brennan was recognized for her becoming a finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching overseen by the National Science Foundation. She will now take part in a national review process overseen by a selection committee that will select the final award winners this summer.

“This is a very prestigious honor to selected among just a handful of state finalists,” Ledbetter said.

Brittany Pollard and Kathleen Travis from Pelham High School were recognized as the Engage Professional Development leaders of the year for their outstanding achievement in teacher leadership, classroom instruction and student engagement.

“Engage was created by Pelham High School to provide personalized professional development where teachers are empowered to set goals for themselves and encouraged to reach beyond their comfort zone and take learning and engagement to new levels for all students,” Ledbetter said. “Mrs. Pollard and Mrs. Travis completed all of the activities on the entire board—more than double the minimum requirement.”

Pelham Oaks Elementary and Pelham High School were also highlighted for being selected as Schools of Distinction by the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools. Pelham Oaks Elementary’s additional selection as a CLAS Banner School winner was also marked as being the second year in a row that a PCS school had received the honor, with Pelham High School having been last year’s recipient.

“It’s one of only eight school’s statewide to earn the banner school recognition,” Ledbetter said. “Thirty-two schools in the state were recognized for a program—32 out of over 1,400 schools, and eight were recognized as banner schools. To have two in our system and having the banner school for the second year in a row in our system is unheard of. Congratulations to our educators, to our parents and to our families because this is all about what makes Pelham special. “

Student Gloria Phillips and her band teacher Justin Ward were also recognized for her recent accomplishments with the Alabama All State Band.

As a junior, Phillips has already been selected as a member of the Alabama All State Band and has also taken part in the Alabama All State Band Solo Fest. There, she was one of 10 students out of the entire state to be selected to perform at the festival. Phillips performed a full-length clarinet solo with piano accompaniment and placed fourth in the state.

Other recognitions and honors that received certificates and applause were among the following:

  • Pelham Park Middle School’s tennis team and their coaches, for their successes this season
  • Thomas Peerson, with PHS Wrestling, for his runner up status in the 150 pound weight class at the state tournament
  • Tyler Mason and Will McGough, with PHS Track and Field, for their high placements in recent meets, tournaments and competitions. Both Mason and McGough were recognized for having recently set new school records in their respective selections
  • Ava Santos from Pelham Park Middle School and her teacher Pam Simpson, for Santos’ first place win in the Shelby County Beef Cook-Off and her representation of PCS in the 2024 Alabama Junior and Senior High School Beef Cook-Off. Santos placed second in the Junior North Division of the statewide competition
  • Brenna Vickery, Owen Jarvis and Keilani Wheeler from PHS, along with their teacher Katie Travis, for their high placements and recognitions in the Alabama Writers Forum Competition
  • Conner McDonald, with PHS Scholars Bowl, for his being the fourth overall scorer in the state scholar’s bowl championship. McDonald also now holds the distinction of being the all-time points leader in total points in PHS’ history. He ended his high-school career with 4,315 career points
  • PHS’ Technology Student Association, for numerous high placements and rankings at the state conference. Many of the members also ranked high enough to take part in this year’s national conference in Orlando, Florida, this summer
  • The PHS Video News Production team, for placing second in the state at that annual SkillsUSA State Convention in Mobile. This was the highest PHS had finished in its three years of taking part in the convention
  • The culinary arts program at PHS, for ending their season with a second-place finish in the baking and pastry competition, second place at the Alabama ProStart Invitational and second place at the statewide competition.

“(I’d like to give) a shout out to the class of 2024,” Ledbetter said. “At Pelham High School’s annual Senior Awards Day, college and military representatives along with members of local scholarship committees attended the event to recognize the class of 2024 who collectively have been offered scholarships totaling more than $12.6 million.”

Ledbetter also recognized PHS Senior Miranda Pierce for her winning of the Pelham Way Award this year.

“This very special award was established to honor a PHS senior who represents Pelham with a unique caliber of character, pursues excellence regardless of adversity, exemplifies leadership with integrity and creates a strong sense of school and community pride,” Ledbetter said. “We are proud of the person you are and how you represent Pelham, Miranda, congratulations.”

Following the celebration of Panther Pride, Pelham Athletic Director Trey Simpson presented a summation of the many improvements and developments that have occurred to Pelham’s athletic department over the past 10 years.

Among the topics covered were the school system’s new artificial turf fields, upgrades that have been made to the school locker rooms and upgrades made to the PHS track and gym facilities.

“One of the things that we are working on in all of our areas is aligning our programs,” Ledbetter said. “Our athletics, arts and academics folks are all working to ensure that we are building as we go through and not just haphazardly doing things. We want our programs to build upon each other and everyone is doing a really good job working toward that. We are excited about where we are, but also really excited about where we are heading.”

At the close of the meeting, the Pelham Board of Education also voted unanimously to approve 13 personnel adjustments that included five resignations, three new employments and five transfers.